About a year ago, we shared our journey of boosting traffic from 10k to 200k within two years at popupsmart.com. Fast forward to eight months later, Google rolled out the 'Helpful Content Update', a term many SEO experts are familiar with. Unfortunately, like many other websites, we at popupsmart.com also faced a significant %60 drop in SEO traffic following this update.

Summary of the blog post to recover the Google updates:

Focus on your niche: Targeting keywords outside your niche, even if highly valuable, can hurt your website's ranking.

Keyword value trap: Don't be swayed by just search volume and cost-per-click (CPC). Google seems to prioritize overall site relevance over a single high-value keyword.

Scenarios after ranking for irrelevant topic: Delete the irrelevant article (recommended) .Create a separate website for that topic. Don't try to force your entire site into a new niche.

Updating irrelevant content can backfire: Google might penalize you further for trying to adjust the content to fit the wrong niche.

Focus on Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) for your niche.

Check your highest-value keyword: If it's irrelevant, address it before Google demotes your entire site.

In this blog post, I'll be sharing our experience in a friendly and understandable way. Who was affected by the Google algorithm updates, what steps did we at Popupsmart take to bounce back from the traffic dip, and what was our journey throughout this process?

Failure stories add as much to a person as successful stories.
In this blog post, I will tell you why we experienced such a thing and what we did to recover. We believe that sharing our setbacks and recovery efforts will provide valuable insights and lessons for

What is Google Helpful Content update according to the Google.

Google is defining the helpful content is like that:

The Google Helpful Content Update is a system that generates a signal used by Google's automated ranking systems to ensure that original, helpful content is displayed in search results. This system is designed to reward content that provides a satisfying experience for visitors, while content that doesn't meet a visitor's expectations won't perform as well. The system uses a machine-learning model and operates continuously, monitoring both new and existing sites.

Google also says that which websites are effected as:

Websites that are affected by this update are those that have high amounts of unhelpful content. This includes content that has little value, low-added value, or is not particularly helpful to people. Even if a site has some helpful content, if it is determined to have a high amount of unhelpful content overall, it is less likely to perform well in Search. Therefore, removing unhelpful content could improve the rankings of the other content on the site.

My take on Google's recent updates:
The key point is Google is not your friend.

Which websites are effected negatively and positively:

In a world where everyone can easily create great content with AI, what other important SEO criteria emerge? Authority and backlinks. Trustworthiness metrics are now more important than ever. The winners of this update are user-generated content platforms like Reddit, LinkedIn Pulse, etc. If the content is not produced on a specific expertise, Google no longer considers these contents as helpful.

What is the Google Helpful Update?

Google's Helpful Content Update is a new standard for maintaining efficient Google search results with the ease brought by AI in content production. It's an update that requires more user-focused, more trust indicators and takes into account more user interactions. In fact, it's an update to elevate the SEO game a notch higher.

Exploring the reasons behind Popupsmart's 50% traffic dip after Google's helpful content update

traffic drop of popupsmart

As Popupsmart, we provide no-code popup builder that boost sales for websites with our no-code popup builder solution.

I can summarize the reasons why we are affected by Google updates as follows:

Topical Authority is more important and the effect of the affiliate content blog posts.

Over time, to increase our affiliate revenues, we used our authority to produce tool directory contents, which we call listacle, on different topics such as web scraping, proxy, vpn, live chat, YouTube, and we were earning about +$25K per month from these.

Google pushed back our positions to 2-3 pages even if our contents were as good as the experts on topics we are not experts in. I interpret the main reason as the content we produced in different expertise. Thats why topical authority is more important after the update.

Some Google SERP Features Moved Up

With this update, Google has started to display more shopping, video carousels, and image boxes in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Even when you search for "best SEO tools" in listacle format, it displays the relevant tools on the SERP.

UGC are winners #1

It's clear that from now on, User Generated Content (UGC) sites will appear earlier in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) for all our searches beyond 2-3 words. Google seems to be moving away from displaying long blog posts of 4-8K length in long-tail searches. Instead, it appears to be prominently featuring platforms like Reddit and similar forums, which can offer content with diverse perspectives that could be helpful to users.


Reddit Organic Traffic Changes After HCU

Website Speed and Some Technical SEO Stuff

improving page speed insights for popupsmart

We had technical SEO problems due to the same CMS we have been using for about 5 years, and metrics in our content that did not engage the user. Many companies, including Jotform, told me that this update also greatly affected sites with low website speed.

What we did in last 6 months to recover the organic traffic loss?

The fact that Popupsmart was affected by 50% from the Google Helpful Update was truly shocking. Our signups fell by 20%, our affiliate revenues were affected by 60%.
help google updates traffic loss

While these were happening on the Popupsmart side, our other B2B SaaS websites, livechatai.com and qrcodedynamic.com, were positively affected by this update.

Before I start explaining what we did after Popupsmart's Helpful Content Update, let me briefly explain why our other websites were not affected.

LiveChatAI: Despite being only a 3-month-old startup, LivechatAI had reached 800 daily visitors. At LiveChatAI, we were sharing content entirely in the AI related topics and developing free tools that interact with this area. Therefore, we were not negatively affected by the Helpful Content Update (HCU) and experienced a 20% increase in traffic.

QRCodedynamic.com Our website QRCodeDynamic offers many types of QR codes for free to everyone and is helpful, so this site did not experience any negative impact.

1) We started with our affiliate revenue targeted blog posts.

When our traffic at Popupsmart started to be affected, the first thing we did was change the link structure in our affiliate-focused money content. In addition to writing content on different topics, we thought this was a negative metric because Googlebot can understand affiliate links. Normally, we converted links that were clearly affiliate, for example: https://acompanyaffiliates.com/?id=23423 to a URL that provided a 302 redirect through our own domain, like https://popupsmart.com/redirect/a-company.

Secondly, we decided to strengthen our affiliate blog posts in terms of content and delete very irrelevant blog posts.

Here is the redirection code that works on Cloudflare workers. If you wanted the same you can use it.

addEventListener('fetch', event => {

const REDIRECT_MAP = {
  '/redirect/wix': 'https://wixstats.com/?a=XXX' // Affiliate Link

async function handleRequest(request) {
  const url = new URL(request.url)
  const redirectUrl = REDIRECT_MAP[url.pathname]

  if (redirectUrl) {
    return new Response('', {
      status: 302, // Temporary Redirect
      headers: {
        'Location': redirectUrl,
        'Cache-Control': 'no-cache' // Ensures the browser doesn't cache the redirect for dynamic link changes in the future
  } else {
    return new Response('Not Found', { status: 404 })

2) We developed & deploy free tools to be helpful!

free tools development for seo

In the early years of Popupsmart, we prioritized developing free tools that would benefit people. This provided us with significant advantages in both getting interaction from the visitor and obtaining backlinks. However, in recent years, we were unable to develop new tools in free tool development. After the update, the first thing I did was to make plans for new free tools. While we developed the software for some tools from scratch, we purchased the ready license for some tools and offered them to our users.

Here is the list of free tools we developed:

AI Bar Graph Generator

AI Meta Title & Description Generator

AI QR Code Generator

AI Privacy Policy Summarizer

Instagram Post Generator

+26 PDF Tools

3) We created a forum community that gets organic traffic.

discourse community popupsmart

As we mentioned, user-generated content has now become very prominent in the SERP. When we examined the organic traffic of companies' forum pages, we noticed a significant increase here as well, and we opened the Popupsmart community forum with the discourse infrastructure.

Here, our goal was not just the correspondence of our customers, but we aimed to appear in the rankings with question and answer like producing a normal blog content. We chose a discourse platform, and it is very easy to set up and open-source!

4) Our Shift from listicles blog posts to how-to guides.

best website builders for small businesses listacle blog post.

As you know, there are many types of content to get traffic. We were mostly creating listicle type list contents. Now, we have increased to produce content that will be more useful to the user with how-to content that provides step-by-step guidance.
Simultaneously, we placed a greater emphasis on the selection of our target keywords for SEO, thorough SERP analyses into our decision-making process. Recognizing the dominance of platforms like Reddit, Quora, and LinkedIn Pulse in Google's search results, we strategically tailored our content production to align with this trend.

5) 🔄 Switching Lanes: From Vue.js to Webflow

webflow migration popupsmart

When we launched Popupsmart nearly six years ago, we utilized Vue.js for our website frontend and Grav CMS for our blog. However, as time passed, we noticed that our technical stack was leaving certain SEO issues unresolved. This led to a decline in our traffic, prompting us to take a radical step towards recovery - switching to Webflow.

Our positive experience with Webflow while developing our LivechatAI product solidified our decision to migrate Popupsmart to this platform. Despite the daunting task of moving approximately 1,500 pages, our dedicated team of three successfully completed the transition in about a month and a half. This significant change not only resolved our SEO issues but also enhanced our overall digital presence.

If you ask why we preferred Webflow:

  • Fine-tuned controls over SEO markup, indexing rules, and redirects.
  • No need for plugins or engineering assistance.
  • Automated SEO features for defining meta titles and descriptions.
  • Easy sitemap controls for updating or optimizing page titles and descriptions.
  • Robust 301 redirects management for easy site migration and URL updates.
  • Simple alt tag editing to ensure images are indexed by Google and accessible to screen readers.
  • High-performance hosting with over 100 datacenters worldwide for fast load times.
  • Scalability to handle any traffic volume.
  • Built-in SSL for all sites and no need to manage or update risk-prone plugins.
  • Powerful content marketing tools including a flexible CMS and custom fields without plugins.
  • Simple editing tools for content teams to add, edit, and publish new content seamlessly and safely.

We need some time.

we have made many attempts to correct a traffic decline over the past six months but have not yet received a clear positive response. SEO is a long-term strategy, and I believe our efforts will yield positive results. I think we will recover our traffic in a short time.

In conclusion, we have been working tirelessly to recover from the traffic drop we experienced due to Google's algorithm updates. We have taken numerous steps, including changing our link structure in affiliate-focused content, developing and deploying free tools, creating a forum community, shifting from listicles to how-to guides, and changing our CMS to Webflow.

Despite these efforts, we have not seen clear results yet. However, we remain hopeful and committed to improving our SEO performance. We believe that our experiences and the lessons we have learned can be valuable to others facing similar challenges.

Stay tuned for more updates on our journey. We will be sharing our progress and insights on our blog. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive these updates directly in your inbox. We appreciate your support and look forward to sharing our journey with you.

Before we conclude, we would like to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude to our dedicated SEO team. Their relentless efforts and unwavering commitment have been instrumental in navigating the challenges we faced due to Google's algorithm updates.

A special shout-out to Bengü, our SEO team lead at Popupsmart, for her exceptional leadership and strategic insights. Her expertise has been invaluable in guiding our recovery efforts and shaping our SEO strategy.

We also want to acknowledge the significant contributions of Perihan, Berna, and Ece. Their hard work, creativity, and dedication have been crucial in implementing our SEO initiatives and driving our progress.

Our journey has been challenging, but our team's resilience and determination have kept us moving forward. We are incredibly grateful for their efforts and are confident that their expertise will lead us to success in the future.

Thank you, team, for your outstanding work. Your dedication and commitment to Popupsmart are truly appreciated.

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