I had been working pretty hard at improving my on-page and technical SEO for my wine blog, Honest Wine Reviews, during much of 2019 in order to get more search traffic.
And I was definitely getting some traction.
But, in early November of 2019 everything changed.
Organic search traffic started taking off like a rocket!
Right around that time, day after day, I kept seeing search traffic going up steadily.
Maybe a little slow at first, but like a rocket, as it gained momentum it just kept going.
Here’s the Google Analytics Data:
Here’s a look at my Search Console data:
So, what happened?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I had been working on improving SEO for my site.
And as part of that, I had been paying attention to what Google had been saying webmasters should be doing.
Specifically, I did the following:
- Did a deep dive on the link profile back to my site and disavowed links that I suspected were problematic. I wrote about that in this post: 3 Simple SEO Tips that Boosted My Site Rankings
- Checked to make sure that my keywords, titles, meta-descriptions, etc. were 100% relevant to the posts that I wrote, and to what I believed the searcher’s intent would be, when looking for content like mine. Good keyword research using the Google Keyword Planner directed me to exactly what users were searching for.
Preparation Meets Opportunity – An Algorithm Update
Now to be clear, it’s not like I knew an algorithm update was coming and I was trying to prepare for it.
What I was doing though, was listening to what Google had been saying about watching out for bad links AND publishing high quality, relevant content that satisfies a user’s intent.
Then, that November, a big algorithm update dropped and I firmly believe it rewarded the work I did on my site.
Here’s what it was…
The Google Algorithm Update of November 8, 2019
If you pay attention to the world of SEO (which I do, closely), November of 2019 was a very active month for Google Search Algorithm updates.
But the update that really got everyone’s attention was the Google Algorithm Update of November 8, 2019.
Google even addressed it in a series of tweets from the Google SearchLiason.
Here’s a screenshot from Twitter of those tweets:
Now of course Google didn’t give any specifics of what the update targeted or provide any guidance about what to do. They rarely do.
But, once all the dust settled, the general consensus was that it revolved around a few different things, including:
- Link Issues – Are there spammy or questionable links pointing to your site?
- Relevancy – Does the page content match the relevance of the searcher’s intent?
So let’s start putting all this together and how it relates to my site’s 900% search traffic increase.
My theory is that when the November update crawled the sites with the bad links to mine, it used the disavow file I submitted and stopped counting those links against my site.
Thereby increasing my site’s ranking.
Speaking of links, I’ve never tried to get backlinks to that site, or to this site for that matter.
Over and over again Google tells us not to try to get backlinks, since they’re unnatural links to your site.
If you have to ask for a backlink, it’s not a natural link and Google will penalize you for it. Simple as that.
I don’t understand why there’s still so many people out there trying to get backlinks.
You don’t need backlinks to rank well!
OK, rant over!
My wine review site has over 200 wine reviews that have been specifically crafted using on-page SEO in order to satisfy the intent for someone searching for a review.
That’s a lot of wine reviews!
In other words, lots of content that is 100% relevant both at the site level and the post level.
So, my theory is that when the November update hit, it was super-obvious to the algorithm what the site was about.
I also believe this was a case where Google improved its ability at recognizing relevance.
Perhaps my site was already pretty relevant but was being held back?
You see it’s not just whether your site is relevant or not.
It’s also how well Google understands relevance.
And now Google is better at it.
That’s what I think.
Final Thoughts as to the Search Traffic Increase
So here’s my final conclusion, putting it all together:
With the November 8, 2019 update, Google’s algorithm rewarded my link disavows and improved its own realization of the relevancy of my site.
By rewarding my link disavows, Google opened the flood gates to allow the site’s relevancy to take center stage and as a result, search traffic increased 900% year over year.
That’s what I think happened.
So what do you think?
Leave a comment below with your thoughts or even a question about SEO, if you have one.
Happy to help!