Google challenges marketers all the time by changing its algorithm often. One change that occurred in early 2017 might still be affecting some marketers. iQuanti found the flaw after a large publishing site that averages more than 600,000 monthly visits lost 28% in organic traffic site visits from January to February 2017.
Companies experiencing unnatural dips in traffic might want to look more closely at Google's Freshness Update, as put by Michael Bertini, an online marketing and search strategies at iQuanti. The algorithm is intended to address the increasing volume of data being made available by ensuring that the most recent data serves up in the response to a search query. And each time the update is made, Bertini says, marketers can experience a significant drop in traffic due to older content being hosted on their site.
"People are still being hit with the algorithm and don't realize it," he said, suggesting it could take years. "JCPenney didn't get hit with their backlink building tactic for four years."
iQuanti's markets began to dig for a reason to explain why the site dropped in ranking, and began to break out the traffic for each page that lost significant amounts of traffic. The list came down to a set of 20 URLs. All were articles created prior to 2014.
After iQuanti's marketers took down the old content and began repurposing it by adding new elements and republishing it, the site saw a lift in search ranking. The exact same content published with a more recent date ranked better for more keyword terms.
Then in May of 2017, the site got hit again with “Google's freshness update” that caused a drop in traffic once again. This time it was for another set of articles that were published in 2014.
The test conducted on 20 URLs saw a 101% increase in traffic and an 80% increase in share when repurposed and republished.
The results also suggest that the maximum amount of traffic an article produces occurs during the first two months, and after this point it stabilizes. And the average traffic for the content created in 2017 drove 26% less traffic than in 2016.
So if there is a dip in search traffic to a website, marketers may want to dig into the site looking for Google's Freshness Update.