A few years ago, I noticed a significant change in the SEO visibility of Giphy.com, a widely-used meme website, during one of Google’s core updates. Giphy experienced a drastic 90% drop in SEO visibility, which was a clear indication that drops in traffic during core updates might be closely tied to these updates.
In this article, I’ll share some intriguing cases of traffic loss linked to indexing issues, focusing on the recent October Spam Update.
Case Study 1: Complete Recovery Post-Update
The first case is particularly noteworthy. During the October Spam Update, Google deindexed 22% of this website’s pages on October 10th, leading to a 60% drop in SEO traffic.
However, as you can see on the chart above, by the end of October, a rollback occurred. The site’s indexed pages and traffic returned to their original levels.
Interestingly, the site then began to receive even more traffic than before. This raises the question: Was the October Spam Update too harsh on this website?
Case Study 2: Significant Traffic Drop = Significant Indexing drop
Another website experienced a 35% decline in traffic around the same time in October. Coinciding with this, Google deindexed 50% of its pages on October 14th.
Was this just a coincidence? I don’t think so 😀
Case Study 3: The Most Intriguing Scenario
The third case is perhaps the most fascinating. On October 7th, we observed a simultaneous drop in both traffic and indexing.
What sets this case apart? Shortly after the main traffic decline, Google deindexed numerous pages due to duplicate content issues.
However, this wasn’t your typical duplicate content problem.
Google mistakenly identified many product and category pages as duplicates of the homepage, which was clearly inaccurate and sonded like a Google bug.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Last year, I noticed four similar cases and wrote about them in an article Google’s duplicate detection algorithm is broken.
Key Takeaways and Recommendations
In addition to these cases, I’ve found several other instances where Google deindexed numerous pages during recent core updates, resulting in significant traffic drops.
Whenever I notice a drop in traffic, I review every report in the Google Search Console to look for clues about what happened.
I particularly focus on indexing reports to determine if the traffic drop could be related to indexing issues. This includes overall indexing trends and specific issues like ‘Crawled – currently not indexed,’ which might indicate deindexing by Google.