Host, Aurora Morales, from Publisher Policy Education at Google, discuss common reasons site owners may be experiencing changes in their website traffic as well as best practices for ensuring good traffic. Learn how Google identifies invalid traffic and if Google is having trouble finding or reading your site!

Video Transcript

♪ [upbeat music] ♪ Welcome back to the series Sustainable Monetized Websites. I’m Aurora, and I work in Policy Education for Publishers at Google. [throat clearing] Oh, and these two are my cohosts: Organica and Monetized. In this episode, we will cover the reasons behind traffic changes, and we’ll share best practices to help ensure good traffic on your site.

So, I’m here to learn ways in which my monetization strategy with Google AdSense can help my organic performance on Search. I’m glad that you’re bringing that up, that’s actually a common misconception. Monetization does not affect how a site runs in organic Google Search results. You can check more on how Search works in the resources linked in the description. Let me start by saying: traffic should result from genuine user interest. Any other method to manipulate it, could lead to demonetization of your content and manual actions on organic search.

Invalid Traffic

Google AdSense calls this manipulation: invalid traffic. In a nutshell, it’s any interaction that doesn’t come from real people with real interest in an ad or your site. Some invalid traffic is accidental, like when a badly placed ad gets in the way of something the user is trying to click on. Some is deliberate, like botnets or people who maliciously click on ads. Invalid traffic includes but is not limited to:

  • Publishers generating clicks or impressions on their own live ads
  • Publishers encouraging clicks on their ads, by explicit asking users to click on ads, or by implementing ads in a way that may cause a high volume of accidental clicks.
  • Automated clicking tools, or traffic sources, robots, or other deceptive software.

Clicks on ads must come from genuine user interest. High levels of invalid traffic on your account can lead to suspension of your monetization through Google AdSense. Advertising budgets are refunded for invalid clicks and this will impact your finalized earnings.

How does Google identify invalid traffic?

And how does Google identify invalid traffic? Through a combination of automated systems as well as human reviews. Our Ad traffic quality team is dedicated to stopping all types of invalid traffic, so that advertises don’t have to pay for it, and the people who cause it don’t profit from it. What if I am a victim of sabotage? We understand that a third party may generate invalid traffic on your ads without your knowledge or permission. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility, as the publisher, to ensure that the traffic on your ads is valid. If you think you have invalid traffic from a third party, use this form linked also in the description to report it to our traffic quality team.

Website Fluctuation

On the organic content side, your site’s traffic might fluctuate due to a series of factors that could affect the ranking, impressions, and clicks on your site. Before you get much further, make sure that you have your sites verified in Search Console. Do this as early as possible so that you have access to the tools and the data when you need it. Don’t focus too much on your site’s absolute position or even in small fluctuations. However, if you see a dramatic or persistent drop in position, you can start by checking the Search Console Performance reports. It will help you understand what numbers have changed for your site and whether the drop is related to a specific category such as query, country, or device. Some of the causes for a website’s traffic fluctuation could be due to– Users seeing your site but not clicking through. Maybe other search results are more compelling, reliable, updated, or authoritative. Perform a search for some queries to see which sites are doing better than yours and why. You can read about how to improve your titles and snippets on the resources linked in the description.

Is Google having problems finding or reading your site?

Google is having problems finding or reading your site. If you recently made big changes to your site like moving to another domain name, you moved existing pages to new URLs on the same site, or you moved from HTTP to HTTPS, give us a few weeks to update our index. You can follow the progress in the index Coverage report in Search Console. You used to qualify for Search Appearance features, but do not longer do so. Exam your rich results and AMP reports in Search Console for new errors. Your site’s mobile usability has decreased. Check the Search Console Mobile-Friendly Test tool for this. There was a change to our ranking or reporting algorithms. Visit the Search Central Blog and our Data anomalies page. You have a manual action or a security issue. Open the Manual actions and the Security issues reports in Search Console to fix them. A periodic drop. Is there a weekly, monthly, or yearly pattern in your traffic drop? Use Google Trends to understand how this pattern relates to your site’s content. For example, if your site is about swimsuits, you might see a drop in search traffic around winter. These periodic fluctuations are hard to avoid, but you could try to create content that is relevant all year around.

Practices to minimize Penalties and Fluctuations

Now that you’ve heard about what can cause these issues, here are some best practices that you can follow to prevent or minimize invalid traffic penalties and organic traffic fluctuations in your monetized sites. On the organic side, make pages primarily for your users, nor for search engines, which brings me to: do not trick search engines. Ask yourself, am I doing this for my users or to improve my search engine rankings? Make your website stand out from others in your field by making it unique, valuable, and engaging. Try to keep it accurate, useful, and up to date. Regularly check the Search Console tools and reports available to you such as the Index Coverage and Performance reports. These will help you understand how your site is doing in Search. Review the SEO Starter Guide and keep up with changes on the Search Central Blog. And don’t demonetize the site, understand your ad traffic and site’s visitors. Monitor proactively how your traffic sources are performing so that you can make educated decisions. Avoid partnering with untrusted or low-quality parties that send bad traffic to your site. Don’t click on your own ads, even if you think it’s okay to do so. We may disable an account if it looks like a publisher has been clicking on their own ads to inflate their earnings. Double-check your ad implementations, make sure they follow our ad placement policies and have no programming errors. Also, check your ads in different browsers and platforms to ensure they work as intended. Ask your questions on the AdSense Help Forum. Most likely, another publisher encountered the same issue as you.

We hope this video helped you understand the reasons behind traffic fluctuation, both for your organic website and your monetized content. We wish you a healthy navigation. In the next episode, we will talk about duplicate content and what to do with it. Subscribe to this channel so that you don’t miss anything. Do not forget to like and share this video. And leave a comment if you have any good topic suggestions for future episodes. Adieu.

♪ [upbeat music] ♪

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