No More Movie Reviews for the Time Being, Courtesy Google.

I have always loved writing fiction, but it isn’t something that led me to watch a plethora of films and shows. I started seeing fiction because I enjoy stories that unfold in the most creative ways. Specifically, binge-watching grew manifold post the Covid-19 pandemic.

Back in the day, my usual inclination was toward stories, scripts, and long-form fiction. I had an excellent knack for them. I still do, but the dynamics of my life have changed to great lengths. 

When I decided to launch my website in late December 2021, my primary idea was to create a blogging platform to promote writing, explore different niches, and, obviously, earn money.

In the process, I couldn’t make time to write my own fictional stories and could only allot a meager duration of my daily routine to my passion.

Did I Plan to Start Writing Movie Reviews?

No, I did not have even a pinch of intention to write movie reviews on the Word Street Journal. It came as a surprise, even to me. My only plan was to hire budding writers and motivate them to write on the website. However, when paying them became tough, I decided to pull back.

But before telling you how it all started, I must bring to your attention if I ever wrote reviews early on in my life. When I was in college and had an active Facebook account, I used to create review posts on the platform.

Furthermore, as a freelance writer, I have written a bunch of OTT film reviews for a website. Apart from this, I only had a love for cinema and fiction.

So, when the budget for hiring writers grew big on me, all I had was my instincts as a writer to work with. This was further accentuated by the rise in traffic I received after penning down some reviews.

Over months, Word Street Journal has had a mix of posts, ranging from healthcare and travel to sports and entertainment. We managed to give a tough fight to our competitors since we could bag a substantial rise in traffic in September and the first half of October 2022.

What Has Changed Now? Why no Reviews Anymore?

If someone had asked me this question a week ago, I would have ridiculed them. Writing reviews came naturally to me, and I have honed the process pretty well in the past 4-5 months.

Some of my reviews also ranked in the top five positions on Google. Then what changed? How did I come to this point? Why am I writing a post I couldn’t imagine in my dreams a week ago?

Google. That’s it. That’s the answer.

I was flourishing with over a thousand views regularly. My website was receiving over 20k search impressions on Google daily. On October 1, 2022, the Word Street Journal received over 144k search impressions on Google, all organic. Everything was going fine with future plans in place. See for yourself:

Our stats on October 1 2022.
Our stats on October 19, 2022.

The Word Street Journal received over 24k Google search impressions on October 19. I was happy about the website’s prospects. Seeing people reading our articles and interacting with us through the comment section gave me immense pleasure.

And bang! Came a shocker. On October 20, our traffic reduced substantially. Something I had not imagined because I have never indulged in nefarious activities when it comes to writing. It is pious to me. This is what our stats looked like:

Our stats on October 20, 2022.

Well, 10k is still a good number, if not great. Even though we had a fall of over 50%, things weren’t as bad. I was hopeful and thought the decline was due to a fall in search queries. But then, you can be wrong so many times in life. On October 21, I was in for a tough night. Here’s the reason:

Our stats on October 21, 2022.

From 24k two days ago, the Word Street Journal came down to a mere 1474 impressions. It was staggeringly insane. I was starting to go nuts because of the efforts I had put into building the site. The change was hard to fathom. I have been through tough days, personally and professionally, but this hit differently.

You know, writers have a remarkable instinct. They might not know if their work will work, but they surely know if their work is worth it. And I knew that my blogs weren’t flushable. They had the quality to not fall beyond a certain point after reaching a high level.

That’s what made me more paranoid. I kept writing, though, in the back of my mind, I had several confusions and questions.

What did I do Next?

Imagine you are traveling in a faraway land and enjoying every bit of the atmosphere. Your next week’s itinerary is ready, and you can’t wait to explore the place. However, when you are out the next day, your luggage is stolen, your mobile phone is lost, and the travel agency you booked through turns out to be fake.

Where do you go? What’s the next thing you do? Maybe, go to the police station and lodge a complaint. Or find a good Samaritan who could offer help?

When I saw what was happening with my website on October 21 (in real-time), the first thing I did was search through Google about what could have caused the sudden dip.

I would have focused on the future if it was only about the falling traffic. But the real problem was that my new posts were not getting indexed on Google. For a post to appear on Google, it has to go through three major steps: 

  1. Discovery.
  2. Crawling.
  3. Indexing.

My new posts were stuck at the first stage. They were only getting discovered. This gave me chills. I couldn’t decipher what was going on. For two days, I kept hunting for reasons on Google, talked several times with WordPress customer care, and read hundreds of articles that could solve this for me.

Also, I switched to a different SEO plugin and was almost close to purchasing a premium plan, something I had never considered doing.

But nothing worked.

On October 23, I found out that I was not alone.

What was the Real Reason Behind the falling traffic?

As they say, only the ones you love can hurt you. Others lack the requisite powers. Google to publishers on the web is like God, but it can act like a devil too.

While looking for reasons, I came across Google’s Help Community for Search Console. There was a thread from another website owner about their sudden fall in traffic. The headline gave me hope. I was close to finding the source of my sorrow.

In the replies to this thread, I found someone linking the fall to Google’s latest algorithm change that came into effect on October 20, 2022. Guess what? It was related to SPAM. Google has rolled out a new update that punishes spammy websites by removing them from search results.

Now, it was a bigger shock to me. How could the Word Street Journal be spammy? None of the reasons quoted in Google’s content policy were ever ignored by the other writers or me. We don’t buy traffic, never have we exaggerated affiliate posts, and the number of ads is not on the higher side either.

Hundreds of publishers are left in the lurch by Google after their October 2022 spam update. Here are some of the screenshots that will give you a better idea.

I understand the number of crappy articles on the web is above the roof. But that doesn’t mean Google should start targeting every other small or new website.

What is Next for the Word Street Journal?

Well, for now, since none of our new blogs are getting indexed, I am going to play the waiting game. Specifically when it comes to writing reviews because they take a lot of time to complete. First, you have to watch, then think, write, and finally, publish.

I won’t be publishing any new reviews until the recent ones are indexed because what is the point of writing if the readers won’t be able to find the posts in search results? Maybe, I will write about a few theatrical releases but that’s about it.

If Google indexes the already hung posts, I will resume with the movie and web series reviews. In the meantime, it is better I switch back to fiction or personal blogs.

So, bear with me as you have over the past months.

This post might not make it to the Google search results, and it is not meant for that either. I have written it to inform the subscribers of the Word Street Journal.

Maybe, this whole fiasco is for the best. Back to the drawing table to come up with something new.

Cheers!

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