Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill's Remarkable Google Update Recovery Story

Last updated: Jun 30, 2023

This video is about Tony Hill's journey of recovering a website from the May 2022 Google core update, where his website went from getting over two and a half million page views a month to being hit by the update, and he shares the 20-30 different things he did to update and improve his website, resulting in a full recovery and now getting over 8 million page views per month.

This video by Niche Pursuits was published on Jun 2, 2023.
Video length: 01:00:36.

In this video, Tony Hill shares his remarkable story of recovering a website from the May 2022 Google core update.

Prior to the update, his website was receiving over 2.5 million page views per month, but it was severely impacted by the update. Tony walks through the 20-30 different strategies he implemented to update and improve his website, which eventually led to a full recovery. At the time of recording, his website was receiving over 8 million page views per month.

The video provides valuable insights and inspiration for those who have experienced traffic loss due to Google updates.

  • Tony Hill shares his journey of recovering a website from the May 2022 Google core update.
  • Before the update, his website was getting over two and a half million page views a month.
  • Tony used a variety of tools and techniques, including Google's NLP and sentence structure analysis.
  • Tony's website has made a full recovery and now receives over 8 million page views per month.
  • Recovering from a Google update requires a comprehensive approach and a willingness to try different strategies.
  • Understanding Google's algorithm updates and making necessary adjustments is crucial for recovery.
  • Perseverance and continuous improvement are key to overcoming setbacks and achieving success.
  • Tony's story serves as a reminder that recovery is possible with the right strategies and mindset.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating website content is essential for maintaining and improving performance.

Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill's Remarkable Google Update Recovery Story - YouTube

Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Background and Introduction

  • Tony Hill shares his journey of recovering a website from the May 2022 Google core update.
  • Before the update, his website was getting over two and a half million page views a month.
  • Getting hit by the update was overwhelming and frustrating.
  • Tony shares 20-30 different things he did to update and improve his website.
  • His website made a full recovery and now gets over 8 million page views per month.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Recovery Process and Strategies

  • The recovery process started in the March 2023 update and continued in the April 2023 review update.
  • Tony used a variety of tools and techniques, including Google's NLP and sentence structure analysis.
  • He also manually reviewed and updated articles on his website.
  • Tony shares specific strategies and tactics he used to improve his website's performance.
  • He emphasizes the importance of understanding Google's algorithm updates and adapting accordingly.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Success and Results

  • Tony's website has made a full recovery and now receives over 8 million page views per month.
  • His website's recovery is a testament to the effectiveness of the strategies and tactics he implemented.
  • He emphasizes the importance of perseverance and continuous improvement in the face of setbacks.
  • Tony's success story serves as inspiration for others who have been affected by Google updates.
  • He encourages website owners to stay informed, adapt their strategies, and never give up.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill's Remarkable Google Update Recovery Story - YouTube

Conclusion and Takeaways

  • Recovering from a Google update requires a comprehensive approach and a willingness to try different strategies.
  • Understanding Google's algorithm updates and making necessary adjustments is crucial for recovery.
  • Regularly reviewing and updating website content is essential for maintaining and improving performance.
  • Perseverance and continuous improvement are key to overcoming setbacks and achieving success.
  • Tony's story serves as a reminder that recovery is possible with the right strategies and mindset.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Background of Tony Hill's Online Business Journey

  • Tony Hill started his online business journey in 2003 by setting up AdSense on his school website.
  • He earned around $20 a day from clicking on ads until his account got banned.
  • He and his partner started building health websites in the medical niche, which were easy to rank back then.
  • He has experienced ups and downs in his 18-year journey, being hit by various Google updates.
  • He understands the volatility of the industry and the importance of celebrating wins along the way.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Changes in Google's Updates Over the Years

  • Google now releases updates more frequently, sometimes within a couple of weeks or multiple updates at once.
  • There is a lot more information available now, with people sharing their insights and experiences.
  • Keeping up with the updates has become more challenging and nerve-wracking.
  • Great sites can suddenly tank and then recover within a month.
  • Tony's approach is focused on the long term, considering his 18-year-old site and its constant evolution.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

The Site's Makeup Before the Google Update

  • The site was focused on creating new content and targeting trending keywords.
  • Tony admits to suffering from shiny object syndrome and chasing after the next big keyword.
  • The site had a lot of content but lacked a clear strategy and organization.
  • There was a lack of user engagement and interaction on the site.
  • The site relied heavily on organic traffic from Google.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Impact of the Google Update on the Site

  • The site experienced a devastating traffic loss, going from over 2.5 million page views per month to a significant drop.
  • The update affected the site's rankings and visibility on Google search results.
  • The site's revenue and monetization suffered due to the decrease in traffic.
  • Tony realized the need to take immediate action to recover and improve the site.
  • He implemented 20-30 different strategies and updates to recover from the Google update.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Loss of Traffic and Google's Algorithm Update

  • The website experienced a significant drop in traffic after the May 2022 Google core update.
  • The drop in traffic indicated a lack of trust and freshness in the content.
  • Users expect up-to-date and accurate information.
  • Some niches require more frequent content updates than others.
  • The publishing schedule for new content was reduced to one day a week.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Website Scope and Prior Traffic Numbers

  • The website had around two to two and a half million unique visitors per month before the traffic loss.
  • Additional traffic came from Google Discover, with up to 100,000 people per day.
  • The website had 1,200 articles in the lifestyle category, focusing on both text and media.
  • Recovering from the traffic loss required extensive work on existing content.
  • The website currently receives close to 4 million unique visitors and over 8 million page views per month.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Impact of Traffic Loss and Recovery Efforts

  • The traffic loss was not as severe as a previous drop during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The team managed to keep the website running but experienced a significant decrease in traffic.
  • Despite the challenges, niche websites can be profitable due to their margins.
  • The recovery efforts involved dedicating resources to improving existing content.
  • The website's traffic has now surpassed its pre-update numbers.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Future Focus and Discover Patterns

  • The website is back in Google Discover, although not as booming as before.
  • The focus is on identifying patterns in Google Discover and conducting tests to improve performance.
  • Initial tests have shown promising results, with significant traffic gains.
  • The website owner is excited about the current traffic numbers and future opportunities.
  • Managing a large website with 1,200 pages requires ongoing updates and improvements.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Preparing for the Google Update

  • The speaker had experienced previous Google updates and was not surprised by the traffic loss.
  • They mentioned that their medical websites had been severely impacted by a previous update.
  • The speaker explained that they had been following Google's recommendations for health websites, but still suffered a significant traffic drop.
  • They mentioned that having high-level backlinks from authoritative sources like the New York Times or WebMD is crucial in the medical niche.
  • They decided to give up on their medical website as they were already implementing recommended strategies and still saw a decline in traffic.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Analyzing the Site and Identifying Issues

  • The speaker recommended using Google Search Console and Google Analytics to identify which pages and sections of the site were affected by the update.
  • They mentioned conducting various experiments and tests prior to the update to learn from different sources.
  • They admitted that they were not consistently evaluating the impact of these experiments on traffic.
  • The speaker emphasized the importance of taking notes and trying out different strategies on multiple articles.
  • They mentioned having around 30 different strategies that they had tried over the past year.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Implementing Strategies for Recovery

  • The speaker advised implementing strategies that had shown positive results in previous experiments.
  • They emphasized the importance of taking notes on what was learned from podcasts and other sources.
  • They recommended trying out strategies on a few articles and monitoring the impact on traffic and rankings.
  • They acknowledged that not all strategies would yield positive results, but it was important to keep trying and moving forward.
  • The speaker suggested setting reminders to regularly check analytics and rankings to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented strategies.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Persistence and Patience in Recovery

  • The speaker shared their frustration with trying multiple strategies without seeing immediate changes.
  • They mentioned that even during a previous core update, their efforts did not result in any significant improvements.
  • They advised persisting and continuing to implement strategies despite initial setbacks.
  • The speaker recommended documenting and tracking the strategies implemented, dates, and outcomes to learn from the process.
  • They acknowledged that in some cases, certain strategies may not have a noticeable impact on traffic or rankings.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 1: Taking Action and Implementing Changes

  • Encouragement to take action and implement SEO strategies rather than just learning them
  • Importance of fully implementing suggestions from SEO courses
  • Starting with the lowest performing category on the website
  • Focusing on one category at a time for updates and improvements
  • Not neglecting neglected categories and articles
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 2: Recovery Process and Multiple Core Updates

  • Recovering from a core update may require multiple core updates
  • Some articles may take longer to fully recover
  • Tracking and setting goals for recovery projects
  • Having a team for accountability and support
  • Suggesting joining forums or Mastermind groups for additional accountability
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 3: Analyzing Content and Identifying Weak Spots

  • Reviewing content written by experts and freelance writers
  • Identifying weak spots in the content
  • Getting feedback from others on the quality of the articles
  • Noticing patterns in the content that need improvement
  • Reading competitor's articles word for word for comparison
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Improving Content Writing

  • Comparing and analyzing competitors' content to understand their approach and structure.
  • Noticing that some writers can be wordy or include fluff sentences to meet quotas.
  • Having experts who are not great writers and working on improving their writing skills.
  • Using Google's NLP API to analyze content and determine salience scores.
  • Realizing that word choice and word order matter in conveying meaning to both readers and search engines.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Using Google's NLP API

  • Pasting paragraphs of content into Google's NLP demo to analyze entities and salience scores.
  • Discovering that Google's NLP may interpret content differently than intended.
  • Realizing that tweaking words, sentence structure, and word order can make a significant difference.
  • Putting the subject or most important information first in paragraphs and sentences.
  • Understanding that NLP can pick up on and highlight different entities based on word order.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Example of Word Order Impact

  • Using the example of writing about hiking snow-covered mountains.
  • Noting that the sentence "It's important to have a waterproof backpack when hiking snow-covered mountains" emphasizes the backpack rather than the mountains.
  • Recognizing that the primary subject and intention of the article is hiking in snow-covered mountains.
  • Highlighting the importance of aligning word order with the intended focus of the content.
  • Understanding that Google's NLP may prioritize certain entities based on word order.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 1: Importance of Word Order and Starting Sentences

  • The word order in a sentence affects the salience of the words and their importance.
  • Reversing the order of words can change the salience and importance of the sentence.
  • Moving the most important words and subject matter to the front of the sentence can have a positive impact on the salience score.
  • Starting a sentence with the word "if" should be avoided as it is better to move it to the end of the sentence.
  • Putting the most important information at the beginning of an article or paragraph catches the reader's attention.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 2: Implementing Word Order in Content

  • Paragraphs and sentences were rewritten with word order and salience in mind.
  • Editors were trained to spot and adjust word order for better salience.
  • The Hemingway app was used to tighten up sentences and make them less verbose.
  • The Google NLP tool and Hemingway app were used together to improve content.
  • Chat GPT has added more complexity and time to the process of adjusting word order.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 3: Using Word Order for SEO

  • Adjusting word order can improve the salience score and help Google interpret the content correctly.
  • Word order can be used to highlight important keywords and phrases.
  • Improving word order can make content easier to understand and more engaging for readers.
  • Word order adjustments were made on a large scale by training editors and using tools like the Hemingway app.
  • Word order can be a powerful tool for optimizing content for search engines.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Section 4: Practical Examples of Word Order Optimization

  • Editors manually adjusted word order in paragraphs and sentences.
  • The Hemingway app was used to follow instructions and tighten up sentences.
  • Word order optimization was done before the introduction of Chat GPT.
  • Word order adjustments were made to improve the salience score and overall content quality.
  • Word order optimization can lead to better rankings and increased traffic.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Adding Categories and Subcategories

  • Top competitor had been using this strategy for a long time.
  • Mega menus can be overwhelming, and navigation is not heavily used.
  • Structured and ordered the entire site in a logical way.
  • Categories help narrow down content for different types of visitors.
  • Articles can be in multiple categories.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Using Sketch Engine

  • Sketch Engine is a tool used academically to understand language and words.
  • Used it to analyze big keywords and see which sites were ranking number one.
  • Identified sites like New York Times, Forbes, and Healthline as top competitors.
  • Learned about the level of expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) required to rank for these keywords.
  • Used this information to improve the quality and depth of content.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Updating Articles with NLP

  • Used Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze articles and identify areas for improvement.
  • Added more context and depth to articles to match the level of top-ranking sites.
  • Focused on providing comprehensive and valuable information to readers.
  • Used NLP tools like Surfer SEO and Clearscope to optimize content.
  • Improved readability, structure, and overall quality of articles.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Improving User Experience

  • Optimized site speed and performance.
  • Implemented lazy loading for images and videos.
  • Enhanced mobile responsiveness and usability.
  • Added internal links to improve navigation and user engagement.
  • Optimized meta tags and titles for better click-through rates.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Identifying Patterns in Language

  • Used a tool to analyze the language of top-ranking websites
  • Noticed specific words and phrases that experts would use
  • Found that the language used was more second person and directed towards the reader
  • Realized the importance of being clear, specific, and confident in language
  • Applied these patterns to their own content to improve it
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Applying Confidence and Specificity in Language

  • Big publishers consistently used confident and specific language
  • Clear instructions and specific details were given in their content
  • Excitement and passion for a topic were conveyed through confident language
  • Confident language signaled to readers that the content was worth trying or exploring
  • Confidence and specificity can be applied to various niches
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Improving Content without Deleting Articles

  • No articles were deleted, but some were redirected if they were redundant
  • Fluffy sentences and paragraphs were removed
  • Questioned the helpfulness of sentences and paragraphs
  • Added more information and examples to make the content more detailed
  • Worked with expert writers and editors to improve the quality of the content
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

The Lengthy Process and Serious Approach

  • Recognized the seriousness of the situation and the potential time it would take to recover
  • Approached the process of improving content one sentence at a time
  • Viewed the recovery as a long-term investment in their livelihood and the support of their team
  • Started to see a recovery after putting in significant effort
  • Took the process seriously and were pleasantly surprised by the progress made
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Importance of Publishing Quality Content

  • Realizing the importance of publishing content that you are proud of.
  • Using competitors as a benchmark to improve your own content.
  • Recognizing the need for a painstaking and detailed process to update and improve your website.
  • Understanding that getting help can expedite the process and increase the chances of success.
  • Learning and growing through the process of analyzing and improving your content.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Implementing E-A-T Principles

  • Creating a contributors page to establish authorship and credibility.
  • Developing an "ask the expert" section to provide valuable information to users.
  • Paying experts to answer questions on platforms like Quora and Reddit.
  • Recognizing the importance of authorship and credibility in maintaining and updating content.
  • Expanding the reach of your website by establishing a strong online presence.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Exploring New Sources of Information

  • Expanding beyond traditional keyword tools and exploring questions from real people.
  • Setting up profiles on platforms like Quora and Reddit to engage with users.
  • Utilizing experts to answer unanswered questions and provide valuable insights.
  • Recognizing the value of different perspectives and sources of information.
  • Planning to implement a form submission feature for users to ask their own questions.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Long-Term Strategy and Persona

  • Creating a persona for your website that can last for a long time.
  • Ghostwriting content to ensure longevity and flexibility in updating and maintaining it.
  • Establishing the credibility and authority of the persona through authorship.
  • Recognizing the importance of authorship and maintaining it even if writers change.
  • Planning for the future by ensuring the website can adapt and evolve over time.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Expertise and Schema

  • Using experts to provide accurate and valuable information for niche websites.
  • Finding experts on platforms like Upwork.
  • Importance of licensing for blue-collar experts.
  • Updating schema on every article, including author schema.
  • Linking author schema to their bio, LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit profiles.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Schema and Entities

  • Adding extensive schema to articles, even more than competitors.
  • Using co-author schema for articles featuring contributors.
  • Using the TextRazor tool to identify entities in articles.
  • Adding entity data to schema, including links to Wikipedia and WikiData.
  • Using WordPress tags to tag articles with entities.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Internal Links

  • Emphasizing the importance of internal links.
  • Linking liberally within the website.
  • Using internal links to improve website structure and navigation.
  • Ensuring that internal links are relevant and add value to the user experience.
  • Using anchor text strategically to optimize internal linking.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Other Important Factors

  • Improving website speed and performance.
  • Optimizing meta tags and titles.
  • Creating high-quality and engaging content.
  • Building backlinks from authoritative websites.
  • Monitoring and analyzing website traffic and performance regularly.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Internal Linking Strategy

  • Adding internal links to related articles multiple times within a single article can be helpful for users.
  • Setting a goal for every paragraph to have an internal link can improve user experience.
  • Looking at Wikipedia as a model for internal linking.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Google Discover Traffic

  • Google Discover is somewhat of a black box.
  • Analyzing the articles that show up in Google Discover can provide insights.
  • Noticing a pattern of related articles popping up in Google Discover.
  • Testing by changing the URL and publish date of an article to match a related topic.
  • Following the current patterns of topics that are working in Google Discover.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Recovery After Google's Core Update

  • The website was getting about two and a half million page views per month before the May 2022 update.
  • Experienced a recovery after Google's March 2023 core update.
  • No specific numbers mentioned for the current page views per month, but the recovery resulted in over 8 million page views per month.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Recovery and Growth

  • The website went from getting over two and a half million page views a month to being hit by the Google core update.
  • They implemented 20-30 different strategies to update and improve the website.
  • The website has now fully recovered and is getting over 8 million page views per month.
  • They saw another bump in traffic after implementing a new content strategy that focused on experts with personal experience.
  • Google rewards websites that provide helpful answers and have personal experience or expertise.
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill

Lessons Learned

  • Recovery is possible after a Google update, but it requires effort and commitment.
  • Fixing a website after an update may involve getting your hands dirty and making tactical changes.
  • Surrounding yourself with others who can hold you accountable is important during the recovery process.
  • Recovery is not just about regaining lost traffic, but also about achieving significant growth.
  • It's inspiring to see that a website can recover and thrive after being hit by a Google update.

Watch the video on YouTube:
Devastating Traffic Loss to 8 Million Views: Tony Hill's Remarkable Google Update Recovery Story - YouTube

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