Back in November 2010 my partner Adam Green and I saw that Groupon was growing to become a giant in the daily deal space. We knew that this was going to be a big industry so we started CouponSlap, a Groupon aggregator that took their daily deals and re-posted them to our site.
The whole thing was basically a test to see if Google would rank us. We take RSS feeds from sites like Groupon and re-write the URL's, copy all the information on the page, add an affiliate code, and they give us a commission if we made a sale or referred someone.
Nothing happened with the site for nearly 6 months until the Google Panda update at the end of May this year. When this update happened we didn't notice it for around two weeks. We logged into our Groupon account and noticed that we had earned around $40 in Groupon bucks.
After seeing our minor success and the traffic that we were getting we decided to aggregate more Groupon like sites to the site. Our traffic started doubling every two weeks. The average person over the next 3 months would spend an average of 1.22 minutes on the site with a bounce rate of less than 3 percent. Ninety-two percent of this traffic was from Google. Here's a breakdown of our growth.
- We hit 100 for the first time on June 3, 2011
- We hit 200 for the first time on June 20 (17 days later)
- We hit 300 for the first time on July 11 (21 days later)
- We hit 400 for the first time on July 21 (10 days later)
- We hit 500 for the first time on Aug 2 (12 days later)
- We hit 800 for the first time on Sept 22 (30+ days later)
We thought we were on a roll, our average day we were getting 700+ people coming to the site and earning $30-60 Groupon bucks per day. We thought we had struck something amazing because traffic kept going up day after day.
Life was good, I was doing nothing with the site and it was making me $30-$60 Groupon Bucks a day, not to mention the other sites that were paying us real money. Our test had proved to be a really good thing that had made us good money.
Last week I checked my Google Analytics, to my surprise my traffic had dropped from 846 people on September 23 to 59 people two days later. On Monday September 26 we got Google slapped.
If you look at our traffic over the history of our account you will see that Google referred 92 percent of our traffic. Google no longer has been referring any traffic to us as of Sept 23. They don't find what we're doing valuable.
What Happened to Our Traffic and Why Did it Go Away?
Long story short, Google is trying to eliminate spammy sites. Our site was what they would call a spammy site.
Basically what we do is take and RSS feed, take the title and re-write it into a URL then add an affiliate link to it. This can all be done easily with WP Robot 3 and CouponPress. I personally think that any site using these plugins will have been hit in this past update. If you copy information that is posted somewhere else and change the URL you will get the Google Slap.
In Google's quest to eliminate traffic of people who are bending the rules and copying information we were hit and many others alike. Google has been saying for years that original content is king, last week they took action against our site and many others. If you are a site that is copying info, changing it up a bit and then re-posting it you may as well stop it, you will get the slap.