• author: Matt Diggity

Why AI Websites Lose Traffic: A Case Study

In this article, we will dive into a case study that explores the reasons behind the decline in traffic on an AI-powered website. We will discuss the initial success of the website, the factors that contributed to its downfall, and the strategies employed to reverse the decline. Additionally, we will highlight the importance of technical SEO and content optimization in navigating Google's core algorithm updates.


The AI website in question initially experienced remarkable success, generating $8,000 per month and enjoying a substantial increase in traffic. However, things took a turn for the worse when a sharp decline in traffic occurred in late March. Despite this setback, the website continued to generate $20,000 per month, indicating the presence of underlying factors at play.

Understanding the Initial Success

The initial rise in traffic can be attributed to two key factors:

  1. Utilizing an Aged Domain: The website was built on a domain acquired from Otis, a reputable marketplace for aged domains. The domain's previous topic aligned well with the current website's focus, and it had a strong backlink profile, serving as a solid foundation for success.

  2. Implementing a Topical Authority Approach: Instead of solely targeting money keywords, the website adopted a comprehensive approach by creating content across various topics within its niche. By covering a wide range of cat-related subjects, the website positioned itself as a topical authority. This approach compelled Google to recognize the website's expertise and reward it with increased visibility.

Factors Leading to the Decline

The decline in traffic can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Google Core Algorithm Update: Google periodically updates its core algorithm, which impacts websites' rankings by reevaluating their quality scores. These updates can either benefit or penalize a website's visibility. The March 2023 core update negatively affected the AI website in question, leading to a significant loss of traffic.

  2. Lack of Continuous Link Building: Although continuous link building is essential to sustain and grow traffic, the AI case study deliberately avoided this strategy in order to demonstrate the viability of an AI-powered approach without relying on backlinks. This limited the website's ability to mitigate the impact of the algorithm update.

Strategies to Reverse the Decline

When faced with a decline in traffic following a core update, website owners should adopt a comprehensive approach to recover their rankings. Here are the key steps taken to reverse the decline:

  1. Technical SEO Audit: Conducting a thorough audit of the website's technical SEO aspects is crucial. Common issues to address include crawl errors, missing titles and descriptions, broken links, duplicate content, indexing issues, problems with schema, and issues with core web vitals. Rectifying these issues improves the overall quality score and enhances the website's chances of ranking higher.

  2. Content Audit and Optimization: Evaluating the quality and relevance of the website's content is vital. This process involves identifying and rectifying thin content, eliminating keyword cannibalization, ensuring an appropriate balance between informational and commercial content, optimizing subtopic coverage, and analyzing the competition's content structure to improve the website's topical authority.

  3. Establishing Link Building Initiatives: Although the initial case study avoided link building, the revised strategy includes actively building high-quality backlinks. This is essential to attract natural backlinks and signal the website's authority and credibility to Google.

By diligently implementing these strategies, the AI website has been able to regain lost traffic and improve its rankings.

How to Structure an Article for Google Success

When writing an article with the goal of ranking well on Google, it's essential to research and analyze how your top competitors have structured their articles. By examining their subtopic coverage, you can identify the key areas you need to include in your own article. For instance, if you were writing an article on how to lose belly fat, you might find that top-ranking articles discuss subtopics such as eating fiber, avoiding trans fats, and limiting alcohol consumption.

However, it's important to note that when a core update rolls out, it can cause a reshuffling of the top-ranking articles on Google. This means that the subtopics required to answer a specific query may have changed. To stay up-to-date and ensure your article covers the most relevant subtopics, it's crucial to regularly monitor and adapt your content.

To assist in optimizing your article, you can utilize tools like Surfer. When using Surfer, there are several key aspects to check:

  1. Word Count: Compare the word count of your article to the average of the top five articles on Google. This will help you determine if your article is the appropriate length or if adjustments are needed.

  2. Optimize Words, Phrases, and Entities: Surfer allows you to assess how well your words, phrases, and entities are optimized. Google expects to see certain keywords and terms within specific frequencies in your content. Over-optimization can negatively impact your rankings, so it's crucial to strike the right balance.

  3. Linking and Citing: It's important to review if you're linking out to credible sources and properly citing the information within your article. Google's quality rater guidelines emphasize the importance of citing references, and neglecting to do so can harm your website's credibility.

  4. E-A-T: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust (E-A-T) are key factors in Google's assessment of a website's quality. To demonstrate these qualities, state who your authors are in each post, use author schema to highlight their credibility to Google's algorithm, and feature your authors on an about or author-specific page.

Additionally, having a contact page where owners of the website can be reached is beneficial. While the algorithm does not verify the credentials of authors, it does consider the presence of authorship and credibility signals.

To enhance the overall quality of your content, Surfer audit provides an opportunity to update and refresh existing information. Regularly updating your content signals to Google that you are actively maintaining and improving your pages.

Another crucial aspect to consider is your website's backlink profile. While Google can ignore most spammy links, it's important to be proactive in managing your backlinks. Creating a disavow file allows you to inform Google about links you want them to ignore, helping to protect your site from potential penalties.

In recent years, Google has become stricter with anchor text over-optimization. Each URL on your website should have a balanced mix of target URL, brand, topical, and miscellaneous anchor text, as determined by the competition on the first page of search results.

While recovering from the effects of a core update takes time and requires patience, monitoring your progress through tools like Share of Voice can provide valuable insights. Share of Voice graphs estimate your traffic based on keyword rankings, and an upward trend indicates positive growth.

Moving beyond traffic, it's important to focus on monetization strategies. Negotiating for higher commission rates once you've achieved a decent amount of sales is a smart move. This simple action can significantly boost your earnings.

Implementing exit intent pop-ups can also be highly effective in driving sales. By displaying these pop-ups when users show signs of leaving your site, you can redirect them to targeted offers, maximizing your conversion rates.

In terms of conversion rate optimization (CRO), it's crucial to prioritize providing users with speedy results. Today, users expect instant answers to their queries. Make sure your content clearly distinguishes the best product or solution and avoids requiring extensive reading or scrolling.

By following these guidelines and continuously adapting your approach, you can improve the structure and content of your articles, increase your website's credibility, and ultimately increase your chances of ranking higher on Google. For a more comprehensive content audit checklist, be sure to check out our in-depth article on the subject.

Remember, success on Google involves not only optimizing your content for search engines but also providing value to your readers. By creating well-structured and informative articles, you can establish yourself as a trusted authority in your field and attract a larger audience.

Link to the full content audit checklist article here.

Maximizing User Experience in Content Creation

The success of content creation depends heavily on the ability to capture and retain the attention of readers. In a digital world where attention spans are dwindling, it is important to optimize user experience (UX) to ensure that visitors stay engaged and find the information they seek easily.

The Importance of Clear Navigation

One of the fundamental principles in UX design is to keep navigation clear and intuitive. Visitors should be able to access the desired information with minimal effort. When it comes to ranking in search engines, relevant content is crucial, but the presentation and accessibility of that content are equally important.

  • Avoiding Information Overload: When visitors land on a webpage, they should not have to spend excessive time searching for the answers they seek. Displaying the information prominently and ensuring that important details are easily visible can encourage users to stay on the page and explore further.

  • Scrolling and Reading Habits: Studies have shown that if users have to scroll excessively or read through lengthy text blocks, they are prone to losing interest and leaving the page. Therefore, it is essential to make content easily scannable by using headings, subheadings, bullet points, and lists. This helps readers quickly locate the information they are looking for.

Effectively Communicating the Best Product or Solution

When users are seeking advice or recommendations, it is vital to clearly highlight which product or solution is the best. Failure to do so can lead to frustration and prompt users to abandon the page.

  • Comparative Analysis: Providing a comprehensive comparison of different options can assist users in making informed decisions. Utilizing lists and tables can make it easy for readers to compare features, pros, and cons at a glance.

  • Visible Recommendations: Placing the favored choice prominently and explicitly marking it as the best option can increase the likelihood of users following the suggested recommendation. This can be achieved through various visual cues, such as badges, icons, or labels.

Monetizing Informational Content

Content creators often wonder if it is possible to monetize informational articles. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, informational articles present excellent opportunities for monetization.

  • Answering Specific Queries: Addressing a specific search query and offering a concise answer can be valuable to readers. For instance, when discussing whether protein powder makes you fat, a straightforward response followed by a recommendation for a low-fat protein powder allows for a seamless transition to promotion.

  • Internal Linking for Sales Funnel: If a direct pitch is not possible within an informational article, internal linking can be an effective strategy. Guiding readers through related content and leading them down the sales funnel can increase the chances of conversion. For example, redirecting them from an article about whether protein powder makes you fat to a comprehensive guide on the best protein powders maximizes the potential for generating sales.

Future Strategies for Content Creation

To stay ahead in the constantly evolving world of content creation, there are a few strategies worth exploring.

  • Leveraging AI for Content Optimization: Tools such as Surfer AI can aid in optimizing articles by stacking topical authority silos. This technique enhances the expertise and authority of the content, increasing its chances of higher rankings in search engines.

  • Link Building to Boost Visibility: Building a network of quality backlinks remains a crucial aspect of SEO. By actively engaging in link-building strategies, content creators can strengthen their online presence and improve visibility to their target audience.

As content creators, it is essential to adapt to emerging trends and consistently refine our approaches. By prioritizing user experience, effectively communicating recommendations, and exploring monetization opportunities, we can elevate the quality and impact of our content. Stay tuned for more valuable insights and updates by subscribing to our newsletter.The decline in traffic experienced by the ai website following a google core algorithm update serves as a valuable case study for website owners and seo practitioners. it highlights the importance of understanding google's ranking factors and continually optimizing technical seo and content to maintain visibility and organic traffic. by implementing a holistic approach that addresses these factors, website owners can navigate algorithm updates and ensure long-term success.
The way you structure your article is essential for achieving success on google. by thoroughly researching your competitors, monitoring for changes, utilizing optimization tools, and incorporating effective monetization strategies, you can optimize your chances of ranking well and generating significant revenue. don't forget to regularly update your content, provide valuable information, and always prioritize the needs of your readers.

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