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Google’s Recent Algorithm Change – Have You Been Hit?

Have you noticed a change in your organic website traffic this year?

Googles Penguin algorithm

In February 2017 Google released an algorithm update that shook the internet right up (Penguin 4.0). According to the community, it was targeted at PBN’s (Private Blog Networks), who use nasty spammy links to drive more traffic to their ecommerce sites.

How do you know if you’ve been affected?

If you take notice of these things anyway then you’ll have noticed either a positive or negative impact.  If you’ve been positively affected, congrats! If you aren’t sure or you have noticed a downturn, read on.

The first place to look is in Google Analytics. Look at your organic traffic (this is your natural search traffic not paid for or generated by campaigns) and compare traffic from a previous period and the same period last year.

Here’s how to find it: Go to Acquisition>Overview

Locating aquisition overview in goggle analytics

In the top right, change your date range and select compare option, then select compare to, click the drop down for custom range or previous year etc..

How to find the date range in google analytics


If you’ve been badly hit, you’ll see it here, your organic traffic will have dropped. This is down to the keywords and content on your site that have previously brought in traffic that are no longer being listed as high in google as they were previously. For some sites and businesses this can be catastrophic and needs to be dealt with quickly in order to recover.

It is worth mentioning, and this is why we haven’t written this article until now, that sometimes even when you are hit hard initially, a recovery is possible after some time when things settle.

Let’s assume you have been hit hard and not recovered or not quite recovered.

Why have you been targeted?

Google uses a best practice guide, which they update, called the Search Quality Guidelines. They put the user at the centre of the whole concept which is a good thing of course, and it aims to save us all from those horrid sites that are stuffed with ads everywhere and irrelevant content and links as well as generally poor quality websites.

If you’re site isn’t up to date, isn’t responsive (adaptive for mobile traffic), has badly implemented pop ups, ads or is spammed with links, it’s time to change.

When anyone comes to us for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) help one of the first things we do is check the following things:

  • Is the site well designed and well built, and is it responsive?
  • Does the site sit on https url?
  • We’ll ask for access to the analytics and we’ll check how the site performs
  • We’ll ask about previous marketing strategies including link building activities
  • We’ll find out what the target keywords are for each page on the site and then check that these keywords are working
  • We’ll look at the homepage specifically and look at layout, clear information, calls to action, and content.
  • We’ll look in Google and see where those pages sit and who the competitors for those keywords are.
  • We’ll look for things like broken links (404 errors), duplicate content, and generally good and bad SEO

We use various tools to track our client’s keywords; this is a really good way to keep on top of things without having to trawl Google every day for thousands of keywords. Just search for Keyword trackers and you’ll find an option that suits your level and budget.

So, how do you put things right?

Usually, if someone has been doing quite well in Google and it has suddenly dropped, it isn’t always quick and easy to find the exact element that is causing the issue, but it is of course possible.  Getting a marketing professional on board is usually a good move unless you can see something obvious and know how to fix it. Using an SEO tool that crawls your site and provides a report afterwards can be helpful, as long as you understand how to implement the recommendations, they can often be quite technical.

Whatever you do, don’t undervalue a bad hit from Google, if not rectified, you are unlikely to ever recover and your site traffic will forever more be reliant on paid for advertising alone, an expensive route.

If you have any questions or we can help you with any concerns you have on your own site, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Philosophi, drop us a line at hello@philosophi.uk say hi on social, or give us a call on 01326 567182 and have a good old fashioned conversation.