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We’re now one month away from the one-year mark for the No Stone Unturned case study site, and thanks to the Helpful Content Update, we’re nowhere near where we were hoping to be.

Before we jump in, if you’re unfamiliar with this case study, be sure to check out the full playlist over on YouTube or the previous posts over on the blog.

For this update, I’m going to skip some of the usual numbers and focus on the impact of the Google updates. In short, we added another 30 or so posts to the site, which is our current plan going forward.

Algorithm Updates

As most of you know, Google released the Helpful Content Update in late August, which ended up dropping the traffic on this case study site by about 50%. The impact didn’t start until about a week into the update, but once it dropped, it was very noticeable.

If that wasn’t enough, Google decided to launch the September Core Update three days after officially ending the Helpful Content Update. Luckily, this update didn’t have any impact on this case study site (although we did actually see a large boost on three of our other sites).

For those of you with product-based posts, you also had to deal with the Product Reviews Update before the core update was done rolling out. 

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Let’s hope with these back-to-back-to-back updates behind us, Google will give us a break through the rest of the year.


Below, you can see the extent of the damage done by the Helpful Content Update. This first screenshot is a lifetime view from Search Console.

Site # 6 Search Console

The next screenshot is a lifetime view from Analytics, showing pageviews by month. We were right around 20,000 pageviews in August and dropped down to roughly 12,500 pageviews in September.

Site # 6 Analytics

Moving Forward

With such a drastic drop in traffic, many people would either give up or make significant changes to their site. In our case, we’re going to stay the course.

We believe the site is solid and that the hit was mostly due to a lack of authority. We’ve published a lot of content relatively quickly, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Google might not trust the site quite yet.

As far as the basic approach and the content for the site, we’re not changing anything at this point. Google says they want sites built for visitors, and that was literally the framework of this case study site.

We’ll give it some time and reassess, but something tells me that this site will bounce back with a future update. In the meantime, we’ve basically lost about three months of progress, so we’ll have to wait and see how quickly we can get back to where we were and beyond.

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Final Thoughts

Losing 50% of your traffic is never fun, but that doesn’t mean we should lose all hope. Sites often bounce back from updates like these without any changes, and that’s what I anticipate will happen in this case.

Even if we were to make changes to the site and saw a bounce back with the next big update, we wouldn’t know if our changes had anything to do with it.

If we legitimately thought we were doing something wrong with this site, we would make changes. Instead, this site is inline with the basic approach of our other sites that were not hit by the update, and in many ways, this site provides a better visitor experience.

Like I said, we’ll stay the course and reassess down the road. With any luck, we’ll see a bounce back with a future update.


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