When Google Doesn’t Like You Anymore

Google Headquarters SignI have spent the last three years working on a project that began as Narrow Bridge Adventures. That project, now known as Narrow Bridge Finance, has become a big part of my life.

It has been amazing

Through Narrow Bridge I have built a small business that supplements my income.

Through Narrow Bridge I have made dozens of great friends. Some of these relationships have moved from the internet to the “real world.”

I recently spent a weekend in Chicago because of Narrow Bridge.

I have poured out my heart and soul to my readers.

I have given advice to people who needed it.

From my blogging, I have learned to help other friends start blogs and websites (what they did with it from there was out of my control).

Blogging at Narrow Bridge has been a life changing experience and I am thrilled to have written my 600th post this week.

It all came crashing to a halt

But on Friday, October 14th, 2011, it all changed. Google ran a massive update codenamed Panda and my traffic came crashing to a halt. About 60% of my daily traffic is gone.

Traffic is everything on the web. While it has recovered a bit in the last week, it is still far below where I was a week ago today. When your traffic goes away, so does income. So does a feeling of success. So does some of your inspiration to keep going.

What Next?

I have a few options for what to do next, and I hope you all share your thoughts in the comments for this post. At the end of the day, I was blogging because I love the topic and the readers and the community (and the money and the delusional celebrity status).

  • Keep on trucking. Just keep writing and hope my traffic comes back and keeps growing over time.
  • Start a new site. I bought a new finance related domain that is ripe for content.
  • Give it up. I am not really going to do this. No way.
  • Other ideas?

Right now, I am thinking about a combination of keeping Narrow Bridge alive but posting less often while starting a new site that gets the bulk of my attention and affection. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that my favorite company in the world, Google, a company that I have cheered for, beta tested for, visited, received a free laptop from, used for income, suggested to friends, bought a phone from, got a web browser from, and use to keep track of my life, has turned its back on me.

Yes, it was not like I was singled out of the crowd. Thousands of sites were hit just like mine. But I am angry and upset and a little depressed when I visit my blog. It is like the balloon of inspiration was deflated.

I could use your thoughts and words of encouragement. Proceed to comments.

(PS – My five year old Israel blog did not have the same traffic loss from Panda as Narrow Bridge. It also makes about $10 per month compared to hundreds at Narrow Bridge.)

Image by Håkan Dahlström.

Comments

  1. says

    Don’t give up. I’ve been doing this for years and have lost 50% of my Google traffic seemingly half a dozen times. In every case without exception it’s come back higher than before. I don’t anticipate this time being any different.

    • says

      Kyle, this is a scary stat. Doesn’t seem right that one losses 50% of Google traffic a half a dozen times! Tell me this ain’t so!

      Eric, have you recovered as this post is 1+ years old?

      Sam

      • says

        Google seems to like me again. While not 100% from Google, I saw a big recovery in Q4 last year. I am thankful for the links and support from some high-profile finance sites and blogging sites that helped push my traffic to an all time record.

    • says

      I might use this as a reminder to keep my other products/idea in focus. I do a lot online and can’t let one setback keep me down for too long.

  2. says

    Sorry to hear about this. I hope that things turn around for you soon — hopefully it’s just a glitch in the algorithm that gets worked out soon. Keep going — you have a strong network backing you up, lots of great content, and you’ll come back soon enough.

    • says

      Thanks for the support! I don’t think it is a glitch, but I have been doing some reading about how I might be able to turn things around. It takes a lot of patience though.

  3. says

    Keep your chin up. You are doing great and I think your traffic should return. It seems like Google messes stuff up without any warning for a lot of people.

    • says

      The most frustrating part is that they never tell you why. I just have to make a lot of assumptions and hope that I can tweak things to get back on G’s good side.

  4. says

    Hey Eric, sorry to hear about your traffic problems.  Hopefully it’s just a glitch in the algorithms and it will correct itself.  I sincerely hope you don’t give up, but I can understand you feeling like the wind was taken out of your sails.

    I think the combination plan you mentioned is a good one.  Starting a new blog will be a challenge but it can give you another stream of income, and when Narrow Bridge bounces back you’ll be in better shape than ever.

    • says

      I did the URL change a couple of times with different blogs. Narrow Bridge is on its third, and final, URL. Each one helped in the long run, but I know how tough it is to move.

  5. says

    I wouldn’t worry about it too much.  It’s more of a setback than anything else.  With the history that you have, and the following you’ve grown, it’s only a matter of time before you get the traffic back to where it was and even further.

    • says

      I have been a Google fan because they never gave me a reason not to be a fan. They have given me free stuff (laptop) and services that I have really enjoyed. This is the first time I felt otherwise.

  6. says

    This last update really seems to be crazy.  It came a couple of weeks after another update so there may still be an update soon.  Keep going and give it some time to see what the real fallout will be.

    • says

      I hope you are right. I have did a little searching and I didn’t drop off completely, so it is not like I was banned. I just got pressed down the rankings quite a bit.

  7. says

    I am glad you shared your honest, open thoughts about your experience with Google. Letting your readers know what happened is a great way to connect with them and let them know how much effort you do put into this space of yours on the web. You should totally continue to blog- as a relatively new reader since the personal finance blogger conference, I think it would be a loss to the community if you decided to start over or stop blogging altogether. Yes the internet can be frustrating but keep trekking and your readership will come back in full force and perhaps more. 

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am glad you liked what you have seen so far. Knowing that my writing makes a difference is the best reason to keep on the same site.

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement. I think I am going to just press forward as usual for a few weeks and see what happens. I made a few tweaks already to hopefully make Google happy with me again.

  8. says

    Have any ideas on how to lessen the damage? I have been reading but couldn’t come up with any concrete action plan… Would love to brain storm if you are up for it…

    • says

      Biggest things I have seen are try to kill off any keyword stuffing posts, remove big lists of links (sadly, like ones to the entire Yakezie list), beware of some advertisers

  9. Anonymous says

    You definitely can’t quit! This could very well be a temporary glitch of the latest update, that will get corrected shortly.

    Maybe you can also work on a few products/courses that depend more on community than new traffic.

    • says

      I am working on a re-launch for my eBook (updating for version 2) and have ideas for new eBooks and an email auto-responder series. I should jump on those.

  10. says

    Hey Eric,

    Don’t give up. Panda hits some sites one time, then boosts the traffic the next time. It’s hard to tell when it’s going to do what, or how hard the impact is going to be. I personally haven’t relied on search engine traffic at all on my blog. I’ve mostly relied on referral traffic, from other sites by commenting or guest posting. Maybe you can ramp up those efforts. Also, if you have another domain, I say start writing content for it, and see if you get some different results. Have it be like a little experiment and see what you do differently, what works and what doesn’t. Don’t give up! Bloggers have ups and downs, but they’re never permanent. You’ll be back on top soon enough. It’s a field where we constantly have to adapt to new change. You’ll survive :)

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words. Early on search engines gave me nothing, but I got used to it over the years. I only had gains or non-impacts from prior Pandas. This one got me so bad that it got me down.

  11. Ziv says

    Hey Eric
    I am from Israel. I make a living out of the Internet.
    My 2 cents – Continue to work as if Google doesn’t exist.
    Branding is the key:
    1. Strengthen the presence in social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. 
    2. Build quality links all around the web – Wikipedia etc
    3. Establish your authority in the niche.

    + Check your traffic – articles/pages that aren’t getting any traffic (pre-Panda hit) are those you’d rather consider improving or removing.
    Stay well,

  12. John says

    This update on 14th october didnt affect that many websites like the 24 th Feb Panda update.The referral traffic from google has significantly gone down for some of the websites

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