I have reason to believe Google just started using your traffic stats against you! I’ve come across two cases this month where the exact low performing keywords were abruptly removed from Googles search results resulting in a 20%+ loss in organic traffic. If this happened once, I could see this being just pure coincidence but lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice and its happened on two different sites in different niches.
Further evidence that the penalty only removed high bounce rate keyword is that the day after the penalty took place, the overall bounce rate decreased significantly. This is exactly what you would expect to see if Google used Analytics data against you.
Even more reason to stop using GA is on September 23rd of 2013, Google removed keyword data entirely as reported by SearchEngineWatch.com making it almost useless.
This is a tough decision for me as I have been using the platform since it first came out and I am Google Analytics Certified.
Starting today I am conducting experiments to see if removing the Analytics code from one of my sites will have any effect on the rankings of my lower performing keywords. I’ll be replacing GA with Piwik a more private, server based system. Continue to check back for the full details and reports.
I hope I’m wrong but if my findings are conclusive, I’ll never use GA again and mark this as the night they drove old Google down.
Results Day 3 After Removing
Its been 3 days since I removed Google Analytics from one of my sites and as Modelcircle speculated in the comments below, I think I may be seeing the lash-back that he warned me about. So far my index dropped from just over 10,000 pages indexed to 6,220 which means Google has removed 40% of my site from their index. This is very disappointing as the index for this site usually increases rather steadily from user generated content adding new pages daily.
The 2nd thing I noticed is a sharp drop in traffic from an average of 1,100 visits per day to around 800 visits per day which are roughly 26% loss in traffic. This could just be that Piwik is not recording all the visits correctly but I don’t think they would be 26% off because that’s a pretty big discrepancy. Maybe after 1 full week of no GA, I run GA and Piwik together to really analyze the discrepancy.
So far things aren’t looking good, it’s too soon to say but I still think Google could be using your data against you but they might punish you for removing GA altogether. GA might be like women, can’t live with em, cant live without em. 🙁