Client’s Case Study: Fixing the Site’s Fundamentals For (Current) ~ 35% Growth

Client's Case Study: Fixing the Site's Fundamentals For (Current) ~ 35% Growth

Here is a case study about a client’s site that got hit hard by September 2023 HCU update. The site had good content, but some E-E-A-T fundamentals were missing.

In early December, we pushed the staging site with all the changes live, and after a few weeks, the site currently has a roughly 35% growth compared to the lowest point.

In this case study, we will share the data and things we did on the site.

IMPORTANT: This is definitely not an HCU recovery case. Don’t think that doing these things will help you regain all the traffic. On the contrary, it 100% won’t – at least not until the next big update. What this case study shows is that by fixing E-E-A-T and technical fundamentals on the site, you are giving Google some signals to reevaluate your site and potentially increase rankings a bit. Also, seasonality probably helped with some of the traffic gains.

Some data

At the beginning of September, before HCU, the site averaged a solid 6-7k daily visitors. After it got hit by HCU (and again, probably with the November Reviews update), the site was down more than 50% to around 3k visitors a day.

We started the work on-site during the November Reviews update and pushed everything live in the first half of December when traffic was at its lowest.

Client's Case Study: Fixing the Site's Fundamentals For (Current) ~ 35% Growth

After roughly two weeks, we started seeing the first signs of a traffic boost. Currently, we are experiencing a roughly 35% boost compared to the lowest days.

Client's Case Study: Fixing the Site's Fundamentals For (Current) ~ 35% Growth

Why this isn’t a HCU recovery case

First of all, recoveries from Google updates can’t come if a new update isn’t released. We have never seen a case when a site regains all the traffic in between updates. It just doesn’t happen. To recover from an algorithm update, a new algorithm update must come – and there simply weren’t any.

Secondly, two weeks is just too small a time window for a big recovery. Some small gains like this are possible, but definitely not enough to trigger a big uptick in traffic.

And thirdly, article rankings are still not where they “should” be compared to other search results. There are still tons of UGC and lower-quality sites out there on competitive SERPs.

Still, a boost this big, during these post-HCU days, and in January (when RPMs are notoriously low), is a great motivator to continue with your site! So, what did we do on the site?


What we did

Of course, we won’t be sharing any details; we will just give a list of things we did to give you sort of a checklist to compare if you are missing any of the stuff on your site:


  • The homepage used to be a list of recent articles. Now, it contains different sections, socials, hiring pages, and a bit smoother design.
  • Site branding: A new logo was created. Also, we agreed upon fonts and site colors to use.
  • The header & footer were redesigned to give the site a more “legit” look.
  • Related articles were integrated into articles to increase the pageviews/user ratio.


  • Meta information was added to articles – bylines, dates, and social share icons. Also, a “trust signal” in terms of how the content is created was added to articles.
  • Other pages were created/redesigned to give Google (and visitors) a clear look at what the site is about – the About Us page, contact page, hiring page, etc.
  • Author boxes with all the information and social links were added to articles.
  • The proper schema was applied to authors, articles, & sites in general.
  • Built some profile pages for authors and the site on trusted sources.

Technical stuff:

  • The number of taxonomy URLs was lowered.
  • Everything was optimized for mobile (really overlooked these days, but super important as Google has recently turned to mobile-first indexing).
  • Fixing all the technical errors on site (broken links, redirects, etc.)


The bottom line

The fundamentals for the site’s future have been set. We’ve added context to all those articles on the site. Google will now, hopefully, know who created the content, what’s the site purpose, etc.

Does this mean the site will fully recover? No. No one can know that for sure. But, our goal is to keep giving Google more and more good signals to trust this site more.

We are playing a long-term game. There will always be ups and downs. And these are probably not the last downs (nor ups) this will see. What’s important is to stay consistent and keep fighting against updates!

Check out our services

Need help with article writing, keyword research, or a site audit? Check out what we do.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments