Unlocking the Secrets to Beating Google’s Algorithm?

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

I got a lot of inquiries after last week’s post… apparently you guys like seeing sites that are winning AND action items that you can take! Thanks for all of your feedback (you’re always more than welcome to hit reply)!

First off... unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Google’s update is rolling out strong… very strong. But, just a reminder… take a deep breath. This update is going to take a month to roll out, and the big G promised lots of volatility.

Here’s a site of ours that took a hit last week but is now rebounding. So, one week in, lots of reasons to be patient.

Analytics report of a website's performance rate over a few months

So, with that in mind, lets piggy back off my previous post. Let’s do an even deeper dive this week. All the chatter on Twitter the past few weeks has been: show me sites that have recovered from the HCU.

Gael and Mark did just this recently on a great episode of the Authority Hacker podcast. Give it a listen, and read below for a site by site analysis of what makes these websites stand out.

*This episode is well worth the listen, and not just a recap. I double checked with Gael to make sure they were alright with me recapping this killer deep dive, but you really should just go listen/watch the full episode.

1. Shaver Check: The Art of Engagement and Authenticity

Shaver Check stands out with its detailed reviews and high user engagement, boasting pages with hundreds of comments.

Their secret sauce? Original product pictures and a focus on big, high volume keywords, paired with a simple, user-friendly design.

Despite minimal social media presence, their expertise and directly commenting on or critiquing the approaches of competing review sites inject personality into their content, making them a trusted source in their niche.

My Thoughts: This DR 34 site has taken some hits over the past 6 months, but still ranks for some amazing keywords.

Sample report of a website's organic traffic

2. Safe in the Seat: Prioritizing Education Over Sales

This site’s strength lies in its genuine expertise and educational approach to child safety seats.

With minimal monetization and high-quality content, Safe in the Seat builds trust by offering personalized consultations and leveraging media appearances.

Their strategy showcases the power of recognized qualifications and a community-focused approach.

My Thoughts: A DR 39 site that has more than 8x’ed organic traffic this year!

One year analytics graph of a website's organic traffic growth

You might be interested in my spreadsheet with 124 perceived factors in Google’s Helpful Content Update. You can score each one 1-10 to help you evaluate what to improve on. Get your copy HERE today!

3. Pack Hacker: Where Design Meets Expertise

PackHacker’s visually appealing design and in-depth reviews set it apart in the travel gear niche.

The founder’s web development expertise shines through, offering an engaging user experience with features like PackHacker Pro and innovative content presentation.

Their YouTube sponsorships and interactive elements highlight a diversified monetization strategy that doesn’t compromise on quality.

My Thoughts: A DR 54 site that is basically flat on traffic year over year. Not bad in the HCU era.

Analytics graph of a website's organic traffic over a couple of months

4. Doctors of Running: A Community of Expertise

Leveraging the credentials of physical therapists, Doctors of Running dives into technical analysis and product reviews with a focus on running mechanics.

Their minimalist design emphasizes content quality, engaging their audience through comments and extending reach via a podcast.

This site exemplifies how deep expertise and community engagement can elevate a niche website.

My Thoughts: A DR 39 site that slides right through the HCU.

Organic traffic report of a website from May 2023 until January 2024

5. Believe in the Run: Growth Through Quality and Engagement

With detailed reviews and high-quality visual contentBelieve in the Run has seen significant growth.

Their community building and brand searches benefit from an active social media presence, and innovative features like quizzes enhance user engagement.

This site proves that SEO success in competitive niches is achievable with a strong focus on user experience and quality content.

My Thoughts: All of the Core Updates and HCU loved this site, as it has grown dramatically in the past 6 months.

Analytics graph of a website's organic traffic

If you’re in the dark on what your website needs, take a look at our Website ReviewsThey are affordable ways to get an over-the-shoulder look at what needs improvement. You can read dozens of reviews on the service HERE.

6. Audiophile On: The Technical Edge

AudiophileOn.com’s technical reviews and focus on long-tail keywords demonstrate the site’s deep understanding of its audience’s needs.

Despite using stock photos, their detailed content and potential YouTube integration suggest room for growth in authenticity and brand development.

Their recovery from SEO volatility underscores the importance of adaptability in content strategy.

My Thoughts: This DR 41 site did great through all of the updates but has since taken a bit of a hit in the new year.

Organic traffic report of a website spanning for 6 months

7. Hungry Huy: Savoring the Flavor of Success

HungryHuy.com’s exceptional food photography and user-friendly design elements, like the “Jump to Recipe” button, make it a standout in the food blogging space.

Their balanced approach to SEO and monetization, coupled with a strong brand identity, showcases the site’s commitment to authenticity and engaging content.

My Thoughts: Flat year over year, this DR 59 site did not see any adverse effects from the HCU.

Analytics graph of a website's organic traffic report

Summary: A Blueprint for Success?

Across these examples, several key themes emerge as pillars of success:

  • Quality and Authenticity: High-quality, detailed content supported by original visuals and personal anecdotes builds trust and establishes authority.
  • User Engagement: Active engagement, whether through comments or social media, fosters a loyal community.
  • Thoughtful Design: Simplicity and usability in design enhance user experience, while innovative features add value.
  • Strategic SEO: Adaptability to Google’s updates, paired with targeted keyword strategies, drives traffic and visibility.
  • Expertise and Authority: Demonstrated expertise, whether through credentials or in-depth knowledge, is critical in establishing credibility.

So, there you have it. There’s plenty of nuance that you can pick up on by listening to the full episode.

Emulating these strategies doesn’t require reinventing the wheel but refining and adapting these principles to fit your unique niche and brand.

As we’ve seen, the blend of authenticity, engagement, and strategic SEO is a potent formula for not just surviving but thriving in the digital age.

Have any questions? Hit me back!

Photo of author

Jared Bauman

Jared Bauman is the Co-Founder of 201 Creative, and is a 20+ year entrepreneur who has started and sold several companies. He is the host of the popular Niche Pursuits podcast and a contributing author to Search Engine Land.

Leave a Comment