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How Google's Latest Search Update Impacted My Niche Sites

Day 8 of 1095

· niche site

On March 12th google released a core update. As with all core updates, they rip through like a blizzard and makes everything look different. It's a fun time to be a niche site owner, because sometimes everything looks different, and sometimes it just looks iced over and dangerous.

My biggest observation of this update is that results seem less relevant. I am having a harder time finding what I search for.

Outside of the lack of relevance are some other observations.

  • Pages with adsense rank higher
  • Forums show for more results
  • Pages with less dynamic content seem to rank higher
  • SSL'd sites are more prevalent in higher search results
  • Older sites are more prevalent in higher search results
  • Sites with valuable links rank higher
  • Pages with affiliate links are ranking lower

My sites do not use pbn links, but they do have AMP, ssl, adsense, and tend to be more static than dynamic. I made these observations after looking through google analytics and webmaster tools.

I personally saw my biggest sites double in traffic on the day of the update, only to gradually settle back to normal a few days later.


The extra traffic was sent to pages that had high value incoming links, with the pages themselves linking out to valuable external sources.

It seems like some link neighborhoods have been devalued, which may account for why sites with more "valuable" links improved rankings against sites that had links devalued.

I have some other observations, but these I am less sure of, and want to look more into. I'm really hoping they aren't accurate, because it'd just make life as an affiliate marketer even more difficult.
Ultimately, with this update, it's looking like building a referral network out of web2.0's will be an important strategy going forward.
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