I Analyzed 10 Sites After Google’s “Helpful” Content Update

It is Sunday night, and I decided to play a “fun” game.

I downloaded Mediavine’s seller.json file and had ChatGPT Advanced Data Analysis extract 200 random domains from the list.

Then I ran those in Ahref’s Batch Analysis which shows things like the traffic for each domain.

Next, I exported that and had ChatGPT Advanced Data Analysis tell me the top 10 domains by traffic.

Then… I manually went through one by one and analyzed each site looking at on-page EEAT signals and content quality. I left some notes about each site then made a guess about if their traffic increased or decreased.

Finally, I looked at their actual traffic on Ahrefs to see if my guess was right.

Results below :slight_smile:

1) Informational / Mixed Niche Site

  • Editors’ LinkedIn pages are missing or show 404 errors; profile pictures appear fake.
  • Articles are poorly written and contain factual errors.
  • Sponsored or guest posts are not marked as such.
  • Topics range too broadly, from selling feet pictures to how to write guest posts (the irony here is this was clearly a guest post advertising a third-party guest post service… you can’t make this up)

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: 30% drop

2) Informational / Business Niche Site

  • Main posts with traffic are unrelated to the site’s domain name and what they say their site is about.
  • Author appears fake; no about, author, or social media pages.
  • Articles are poorly optimized (too thin).

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: 20% drop

3) Informational / Food Site

  • Clear about page with a real author.
  • Some posts feature original embedded videos.
  • Original photos.
  • Articles are well-written but could reduce fluff.
  • However, she is clearly building an audience and so some of that fluff might help resonate with her target audience.

Traffic Guess: Up
Actual: Slightly up, increasing for 2+ years

4) Reviews / Home Site

  • Clear about page with a real author.
  • Original photos demonstrate hands-on experience.
  • Includes genuine, helpful expert quotes.
  • Successful YouTube channel and Pinterest page.

Traffic Guess: Up
Actual: 7% drop, slightly up over last 2 years

5) Informational / Food Site

  • Non-US traffic; content in Spanish.
  • Real author with clear about page.
  • “Collaboration” page mentions sponsored post (don’t do this).
  • Poor-quality original photos.
  • Good social media presence.

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: 20% drop

6) Informational / Specific US State Site

  • No real people on about page or social media.
  • Well-chosen article topics with good enough quality.
  • Very poor-quality photos.

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: 7% drop

7) Reviews / Fashion Site

  • Real author with clear about page.
  • Original photos show hands-on experience.
  • Significant YouTube channel subscribers and views.

Traffic Guess: Up
Actual: 8% drop, up 3x over last 2 years

8) Informational / Tech Site

  • Homepage and primary category features an outdated technology term.
  • Poor-quality images.
  • No photos or links on author pages.
  • Poorly written content.

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: 12% drop, slight long-term increase

9) Informational / Travel Site

  • Good niche; real person on homepage linking to related consulting service.
  • “Work with Me” page has legitimate media kit.
  • Articles are fluffy and could be better optimized.
  • I often found myself forgetting what the article was actually supposed to answer.
  • Consulting service is heavily advertised, potentially spammy.
  • Lacks active social media presence.
  • Some article topics are not related to the niche which contain sponsored links and appear spammy.

Traffic Guess: Down
Actual: Flat, up 10x over last 2 years

10) Informational / Travel Site

  • Legitimate business with employees and displayed certifications.
  • No individual author pages, but good third-party reviews.
  • Professionally written or reviewed articles.
  • Decent-quality stock photos.

Traffic Guess: Up
Actual: 10% up

Common Negative Factors

  1. Missing or fake LinkedIn and author pages reduce credibility.
  2. Poorly written and factually incorrect content is a liability.
  3. Lack of transparency in marking sponsored or guest posts.
  4. Thin or poorly optimized content.
  5. Non-cohesive topic selection or articles not aligning with site’s main focus.
  6. Poor-quality photos.

Common Positive Factors

  1. Clear and authentic “About” pages build trust.
  2. High-quality, well-written content.
  3. Successful use of social media channels.
  4. Original photos and embedded videos add value.

Traffic Trends

  • Poor credibility, content quality, and lack of focus generally correlate with a traffic drop.
  • High-quality content and social media presence generally correlate with traffic increases or stability.

The biggest upsets were the two legit review sites that had a very real person behind them with active YouTube channels. However, it seems like they are doing well with YouTube and I bet people have been signing up to their newsletters so I’m sure they get a very good chunk of traffic outside organic Google traffic.

Also the earnings potential for a review-focused site is higher than the typical informational site so I would bet they have $60+ RPMs year round. I hope to see Google reward them in the future for their high-quality content.

Overall, the traffic changes were not a big surprise. The clearly low quality sites had the biggest drops.

Did you lose traffic in this update? Read my post about things you can do to help recover your traffic.

I do not think this is representative of every site and I am not trying to make any comments about this update in general. I am only sharing my observations from looking at 10 sites in case it is helpful to anyone.

Reminder: Try to diversify your traffic. If your Google traffic drops 50% and you get 100% Google traffic then your total traffic dropped 50%. But if your Google traffic is 30% of your total traffic then your total traffic only dropped 15%.