Is Google Destroying Blogging?

Updated
Home » Blogging » Is Google Destroying Blogging?

This post may contain affiliate links.

It’s been a very tough few months in the blogging world. At the end of 2023 the HCU (Helpful Content Update) and Spam updates started destroying livelyhoods, crushing sites by just not sending them any more traffic.

I escaped, my traffic was actually rising until March 2024, when another round of month-long updates started.

How did the update affect me, as a totally legitimate, not AI, not a spam blogger? Well, I’m about to tell you and try to give you some ideas for recovery.

Graph of blog traffic after Google Update
On the 8th of March 2024, Google started decimating my traffic. Today, I’m on 50% of my normal traffic and income. I’m a mum, I help support my family. I am an authority and published author. And still they take it away.

How The March Updates Affected Me As a Blogger

The March update started on March 6th 2024 and will be rolling out for a month.

The first two days I saw nothing, no effect at all. On March 8th I received two emails from Google Search Console, two of my sites were completely de-indexed and marked as “pure spam”. A manual penalty had been applied.

You can see manual penalties in your Search Console dashboard.

These two sites are small, they only make me a few hundred bucks per month, so that wasn’t the end of the world.

I appealed the “pure spam” penalty and those sites were indexed again after about 10 hours and their traffic has risen since. Those two sites seem fine, unaffected by Google’s cataclysmic reshuffle of the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages). Those two sites are on Ezoic, they’re all good for now.

Ironically, on one of those sites (Tropicalfoodgarden.com) I’d had 2 comments that week telling me how “helpful” that site was. Comments from real humans. Google is not for humans, it seems.

That day my traffic to my main site, this one, World Travel Family, went into free fall.

Traffic fell and fell, I’m now on about 50% of my usual daily traffic. Remembering that my traffic still hasn’t recovered since the huge drop at the start of 2020. You can see my Analytics graph on this page.

We’re nowhere near the 10,000 daily page views we used to enjoy. Today I’ll be lucky to see 2000 page views. My income is cut in half, yet again.

We were earning a living up to last week, now we’re earning pocket money. Is it time to quit blogging? Has Google destroyed the industry in favour of its own AI results (with information taken from our sites), and Google’s partners (Reddit)?

Have you seen Redditt and Quora at the top of the results now? Google seems to think answers from some random person are more accurate than those from bloggers who invest years into studying and covering a topic.

So has Google ended blogging? Yes, at this point I think it has. We can no longer guarantee traffic from Google. I’ve ridden that wave for 12 years, I think it’s over.

Please help by saving this to Pinterest, thanks.

Recovery From The Update and Moving Forward

I will not be doing anything to existing content on this site for the next month. We need to know exactly what Google has done before we start improving, fixing and updating.

I normally update posts every day, it’s something that’s always ongoing with a site this big. Every day I add more information and better photos, tweaking the SEO, it’s a very important thing to do.

I did watch a nice pep-talk type video on YouTube, you may find it helpful too, it’s below. I found it quite inspiring and it helped get me out of my initial depression.

So what am I going to do? I’ve started a new site, by coincidence I started it a few weeks ago and that’s where my focus is right now. It’s portdouglasaustralia.com.au. I’d like you to search for it rather than me giving you the link. That will send better signals to Google, I think.

Check her out, she’s very pretty, and built from a free Generate Press Template. I’m a big fan of GP and this site (on Trellis by Mediavine currently) will be moving to GP soon.

If you need a site building I’m open to doing that for people, by the way.

It will have to cut overheads too. With my income down to a pittance, I can’t be paying for a $100+ per year theme, plus SEMRush (over $100 per month) plus Affilimate (same). The toys will have to go. I’m keeping my expensive Agathon hosting because those guys rock and dig me out of holes often.

By my calculations I’ll be $2-3000 worse off per month if this update sticks.

And then think of the travel costs. How many thousands of dollars have we sunk into travel to make this website the huge success it always was? For everything to be destroyed. I was just about to set off to travel solo for a few months. I think my efforts are better put into growing food so that we can eat!

OK that’s overdramatic, but I do feel a bit useless now my contribution to the family’s finances has been smashed.

I’m also going to put more effort into emails. I’ve neglected them for years. Back in 2019 when traffic was booming, I was sending out an email to subscribers weekly. Is that coincidence, that traffic was strongest when my emails were strongest? I don’t know.

“They” have always said that your list of subscribers is your gold in this industry because Google, Facebook, or Pinterest could pull the plug at any minute. I never thought it would happen!

Diversification is important too. I have 9 sites now, on different topics, no AI, no spam, all genuine. That’s some diversification, but branching out into selling actual products, merch, pdfs, courses, consulting, will have to take priority.

I’m opening my blog mentoring group again soon. If you’re interested, tell me in the comments. But with this Google bombshell, I do wonder if it’s worth anyone’s while to go into blogging.

So how did you go with this latest update? Tell me. Get it off your chest, vent (no swearing.) I think more than ever bloggers need to band together and support each other. There are enough of us to float this sinking ship. Click on the results from genuine bloggers, ignore big companies, Reddit and Quora, ditch Chrome for Bing (I have).

I tried to ditch YouTube (it’s Google) but that’s too hard.

Oh, and create a Grow account. That widget bottom right, log in. That will combat Google’s Cookiepocalypse, also rolling out this year.

Mediavine will now take sites with just 10,000 monthly sessions. Did you know that? But running Grow is essential to get in.

I do see some recovery in SEMRush this morning, so all is not lost, keywords are going back up somewhat. We can only wait it out. But do watch that pep talk video, above. I will never quit.

Tell us all about it in the comments.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

14 thoughts on “Is Google Destroying Blogging?”

  1. My traffic also tanked too. After the September update I saw a slight dip, but I worked really hard to pump out quality articles and I saw my traffic increase two-fold. But this update wiped me out too by 50%. I lost my top rankings for numerous keywords, and now articles that aren’t as helpful are ranking ahead. Instead of getting an exact match for a search term, I get irrelevant articles on the destination. It sucks that Google is favoring the big guys like Hotels.com, Tripadvisor and Reddit. They’re really affecting ordinary people’s livelihoods and incomes, which I think could have a profound effect on the economy without them realizing it. I’m extremely worried and concerned at this point, and considering focusing my efforts more on social media by creating branded videos, UGC content and possibly launching an ebook. Blogging is extremely time consuming. It takes hours to create long-form content and if it’s going to get no traffic, then what’s the point? Might as well create short snappy videos that take half the time. My friends also said they don’t really look at websites anymore for inspiration – they just go straight to Instagram. A lot of travel sites were hit. Some sites are still doing well, but I think you need a lot of backlinks from very high authority websites these days, so it might be worth it to focus on PR.

    Reply
    • This site is DA 50 Victoria, still got smashed. But this morning, April 4th, I’m seeing a strong uptick in SEMRush. I haven’t dug into it yet but it’s looking like recovery. Apparently the first update, back in 2023, was a site wide modifier and if Google thought you were spam, that’s it, whole site throttled. I escaped that one. But the March one was page by page. I have some that are up, and have been up throughout March. I think there’s hope of recovery from this one. I find shortform video and reels unbearably spammy, so I’m never going to do them. And they’re deliberately spammy to generate clicks and comments, because that’s what creators get paid for. It’s a deliberately created arena of hate and trolling, people against people. It’s very wrong. I’m as guilty as anyone of just zoning out and flicking through them sometimes. I’m trying to catch myself and do something useful instead. Good luck. I’m hearing this from all my friends. List / products / maybe YOUTube. My heart is in blogging, it’s been my business for 12 years. I’ll stick with it and figure out something.

      Reply
  2. This is crazy. I feel like this update is not ALL that helpful because the SERP is filled with old Quora/forum posts, spam, and AI AI-generated content. It is sad actually.

    Reply
  3. For quitting with YouTube, yes thats kind of impossible. But there are some apps helping to stay hidden from the algorithms. Like freetube. It’s YouTube but without the tracking. Works well for me.

    Hope you will recover!

    Reply
    • Does Freetube block ads then? Or give you unpersonalised ads? So I might get ads for baby food (or worse) when they’re not relevant to me? I’m a big fan of personalised ads, they’re useful, much less spammy. That’s one of the reasons Cookiepocalypse is so stupid. If it’s an ad blocker it’s theft from the creators. And thanks, I know I’ll find a way, I has the smarts and the dogged determination 😉 I’ll only go to YouTube now if its important. Most of the creators I’ve been following since lockdown have gotten old, tired, and desperate now anyway.

      Reply
    • @Alyson Long, with freetube you get no ads at all. Don’t know how it works but there are no ads at all. 😉

      Downside is: you get no personalized stream, no recommended videos based on your history, because google/youtube can’t track you’re history.

      But on the other hand it is great to break out of your youtube bubble. 😉

      Reply
  4. I read this with interest, and whilst I’m sorry to hear of your pain, I think it’s a lesson that you (or anyone) cannot rely on any company. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest. You name it.

    At anytime they could change an algorithm, which changes the total dynamic of a website, blog etc. Neglecting your email list has been a terrible oversight as well. Any business knows that “money is in the list”. This is something you control, having emails and contact numbers are what you control, not google or any other form of social media!! I have never visited your site apart from the time I signed up….since then I have received little from you, but this week – multiple emails (& now I know why) I personally think you should target your list more often.

    Also, it was disappointing to read your comment about “How many thousands of dollars have we sunk into travel” and now that is all gone! REALLY? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that at all. You have AMAZING Memories that are going to be paying you Memory “Dividends” for LIFE. Surely you cannot complain about that?

    Overall, whilst a tough situation, it’s a massive lesson for anyone relying on a 3rd party company for anything.

    Good luck though, I genuinely hope it works out for you and wish you well.

    Reply
    • There was a glitch with the sign up process BK, which I only discovered 2 days ago. Emails were being collected, but not going to the relevant lists, it was a Mediavine issue. I also accidentally toggled on the MV Autoresponder (which is pure spam in my eyes) and some people will have got one from there. I got one, that’s how I know. I switched it straight off. So you may have been one of the email addresses stuck in the matrix. I’ve always sent out emails of new content when I think they have mass appeal and there have always been autoresponder sequences set up so my eggs have never truly been in one basket. I have subscribers that have been with us since 2012. Platforms like Pinterest and Facebook just no longer perform. Back in 2015 I could guarantee 1000 PV per day from Pinterest, but over the years that’s dwindled down to maybe 100, despite sustained effort. Everything just got harder. But I’m very lucky to have ridden the blogging boom while it was still a boom, and to have been able to use it to fund our years of travel, it was awesome. What I meant was, imagine if I, or anyone, had spent that much just to create a business. We obviously didn’t. A lot of people own travel blogs created from their office, they never set foot outside their front door and use AI or paid writers, hopefully they have gone now. I have 8 other sites with lists and autoresponders to sort out too. Unfortunately MV’s Grow tech is very buggy and emails do go astray. We have to use it. When I was using MailerLight things flowed much better.

      Reply
  5. So if content sites, niche sites, blogs etc were to disappear how would Google and it’s AI get content? There would be no fresh content for it to spin.

    Reply
    • Why does AI content need to be fresh? Everything is there now, they have it already. Current affairs maybe, but most informational content is evergreen facts. A lot of bloggers blocked ChatGPT via their robots.txt file a while ago. I didn’t and I’m glad I didn’t because that’s what Bing uses and Bing actually gives links to sources in its AI SERP responses (or extracts, lifted exactly from content). So while the reader can get a 1 or 2 sentence answer to a query, and not have to click through to open the source, at least Bing gives them the option to read more detailed information. My Bing traffic is up significantly, over 100% this week. They still have a very small share of the market, but its a big market. It will be interesting to see how this pans out, it’s still early days. The court cases against Google will be interesting too. A lot of bloggers lost huge proportions of their traffic back at the end of last year. I was one of the lucky ones to hold onto it until this update. Imagine if it was your only income, it paid your mortgage and school fees. I’m not in that situation thankfully but I know a lot who are. Everyone is busy cooking up strategies though, not many give up.

      Reply

Leave a comment