Google Penguin and Panda update | Skoola

11th February 2013

At the start of 2012 Martyn and I set out to build a review website for Schools. This would be aimed at parents and serve as a tool on which secondary school choices could be made. After a few months of building the site we were ready to launch. On April 1st we were ready and Skoola was launched.

The launch went great, we showed the site to family and friends and after lots of engagement started pushing it out social networks. By the end of April we were pushing 50 users daily. This was great, and more than we could ask for.

But this was only the start!

Along came May – the month Skoola kicked off… Word went around on the social networks and before we knew it, search engines had picked up on the site. Within 6 weeks we were firing on 3 all 3 fronts, Google searches, word of mouth and social media referrals. Across May we averaged 100 visiters a day, sometimes peaking at 180.

And it just carried on, June came and after 2 weeks we climbed above 200 visiters on 4 days of that week. We thought we finally made it… Google Adsense was starting to be quite fruitful as well. Of course we didn’t want to get carried away, but how could we not get our hopes up with these results only 2 months in!

And then it happened, Google released an update. A few days/weeks later, it all came tumbling down.

Skoola analytics | Apr, 12 - Jul, 12

Now I’m no SEO expert, but I know we weren’t using any underhand tactics (or not knowingly doing so), we didn’t pay for back-links and we didn’t have any links pages on our site full of free and not relevant links. So we were pretty shocked to see how quick the hits fell (and still are).

Half a year later, a few more animal named updates from Google and we are finally starting to climb again. Averaging 40-50 users per day, 90% from Google, and over 1000 a month. We can’t be too unhappy, as it was probably a bit of a lucky start that we had back in April. But all in all it helped us, it made us focus on the site and get our act together.

What we did:

  • Cleaned up the code
  • Made the site faster
  • Streamlined the search process
  • Installed W3 Total Cache on to the site

These few things made a difference, I am not sure how much – but it has helped. We are seeing the benefits of this now and the site is better and more usable for it.

Maybe one day I can afford to get an SEO Guru on the case, but until then I am happy to let Google do it’s thing. Just as long as we don’t get punished again!

If you, or anyone you know has any questions about Skoola or the data on the site please get in touch here.