A few months ago, MetaFilter founder Matt Haughney revealed in a blog post that a decline in Google traffic resulting from a 2012 algorithm update had led him to lay off some of the site's staff. He wrote:
Today I need to share some unfortunate news: because of serious financial downturn, MetaFilter will be losing three of its moderators to layoffs at the end of this month. What that means for the site and the site’s future are described below.
While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.
The long-story-short is that the site’s revenue peaked in 2012, back when we hired additional moderators and brought our total staff up to eight people. Revenue has dropped considerably over the past 18 months, down to levels we last saw in 2007, back when there were only three staffers.
Google even confirmed that the site was hit by a previously undisclosed algorithm change, which it did not confirm existed back then. Google's Matt Cutts indicated in May that a solution was on the way.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) June 12, 2014
While it may have been more like months than weeks, it appears that the solution may have finally come. The site's traffic is now reportedly back on the rise. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to data from Searchmetrics suggesting the site's traffic has nearly recovered.
So far, we haven't seen any acknowledgement of this fro Haughey, but apparently some other sties hit at the same time MetaFilter was are recovering as well.
Image via MetaFilter