“We added the link on July 24. Within a few days, organic traffic from Google dropped more than 80%”

While there doesn’t seem to be any official word that I can find, the evidence strongly suggests that Google has a serious problem with Coupon Mountain, on online repository of promotion codes used by several national retailers including Gap, Dell, Nordstrom, Home Depot, Land’s End and many, many others.

Each of these retailers has created on online coupon that is submitted to Coupon Mountain. As part of the agreement, these retailers are supposed to put a link on their site that points back. Some do; most don’t. One of our clients, Marilyn’s Keepsakes, purveyor of wedding accessories and personalized gifts, recently signed up with them in an effort to generate some traffic as we head for the fourth quarter. They asked us to add a link back Coupon Mountain in the footer. We did. Here’s what happened.

We added the link for Coupon Mountain at the bottom of the pages on the site on July 24. By the next day, traffic from Google (from organic search results) began to slow down. Within a couple of days (though no one noticed it for awhile), the traffic from organic search results on Google dropped by more than 80%. This trend continued for several days. Thinking that Google may have changed their search algorithm, we began hunting down the cause. We couldn’t find any reference to a recent change from Google so we checked the analytics on several other sites to see if they were experiencing a similar traffic decrease around the same time. They weren’t.

Realizing that Marilyn’s Keepsakes was alone in this regard, we went back through logs to see what changes had been made to the site around the time the traffic began to decrease. We found one thing, and one thing only: the link to Coupon Mountain. We removed the link immediately and waited to see the results on traffic from Google. By the next day, it was climbing. In two days, it was back to normal.

What caused this precipitous drop in both the site listing on Google and the resulting traffic? The link to Coupon Mountain. Why? Well, theories abound here, but since Google seems to be pretty mum on the whole issue all we have is speculation, so I won’t get into that. But I do know this: I wouldn’t recommend adding a link to Coupon Mountain on any site without being very aware of the possible consequences.