We all know having a website listed on the first page of search results for a specific keyword is like being featured on the front page of a newspaper. By being on page one, that website will get tons of visitors (potential customers) for free without having to spend a dime on advertising. Ideally, you want your site ranking in the #1 position because 42% of all visitors click on the #1 spot.
Major search engines say if your content is good, other websites will link to your content, and your site will eventually get a good search engine ranking position. Although it is true to certain extent, it may take months or even years until your content becomes popular (if it ever happens). So website owners have a choice. They can create good content and patiently wait to be discovered, or they can proactively create backlinks to their content.
The proactive approach (which is frowned upon by the search engines) uses various backlinking methodologies including but not limited to creating links on article directories, blog networks, web 2.0 sites, forum, wiki sites, social network, video and document sharing sites, etc.
Blog networks in particular are very powerful tools to help move a website site to the first page. In recent years, many SEO specialists used the BMR and ALN blog networks to proactively push websites to page one. You can read more about blog networks here.
But when Google’s algorithms updates targeting blog networks were rolled out in March 2012, it was like an earthquake for SEO industry. Many of those very effective blog networks were reduced to rubble! Thousands of blogs in those networks were de-indexed. Niche sites pushed to page one with blog networks lost their link juice and fell in rankings. Much of the SEO industry was in chaos with some experts crying that the sky was falling.
Some of my niche sites got hit hard, too, and tumbled down from their top ranking positions. It was devastating to see the income drop significantly along with the SERP rankings. I was so disappointed and discouraged that all I wanted to do then was go hide in a cave for awhile, but I can’t and I didn’t. I began reflecting on my SEO activities analyzing what was right and what was wrong. To cheer myself up, I also re-read some of my favorite self-help books.
“Our greatest glory is not never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Confucius
Refocused, three days later, I was re-energized and ready to fight to bring my niche sites back to their page one rankings. Let me share with you one of the sites I brought back to page one.
The niche site I am going to talk about was created in the third week of February. Theisniche is one of my hobbies, and I have 2 other sites in the same niche. I know the niche well and the best ways to monetize the traffic. I had 3 targeted keywords as a start. I wrote ten 1,000+ word articles, published the first five in the first week, then scheduled the remaining to be published one per week.
Feb 29, 2012: I started backlinking on Feb 29 using BMR and ALN. I usually backlink my site from diversified sources, but the competition for the targeted keywords for this site were so weak that it landed on page one before I started using any other backlinks methods.
Mar 14, 2012: The site was ranked #2 for the keyword 1 and hit the 100 visitors/day mark for the first time.
Mar 15, 2012: I added affiliate links on Mar 15, and as expected, the keywords were profitable, and site starts making money on the same day. I felt like I had won a mini-jackpot.
Mar 18, 2012: Four days later, while I was busy creating web 2.0 backlinks, the site was promoted to #1 in Google US for that keyword (and most of the web 2.0 backlinks hadn’t been indexed). I got 203 visitors on that day (I wonder now why #1 is only 2 times of #2, but traffic is low on weekend for those keywords).
Mar 19, 2012: But my success became very short lived when Google de-indexed a very huge number of blogs in BMR network on March 19. The site was in the money until the evening of D-day. Just before going to bed I checked the site’s ranking and I was shocked to see it wasn’t on page one! The site was still indexed but no longer in first five pages. Until then, most of the indexed backlinks to my site were from BMR and ALN.
Mar 20, 2012: The next morning I discovered BMR was hit so hard that they decided to close the business and ALN was having big issues. Have a look at that site’s income after D-day.
No Traffic, No Lead, No Money Made: The traffic graph was almost flat, and so was the income. Like I said earlier I was devastated and wanted to crawl into a cave and hide, but then I realized I had to focus on the goal – making money online.
Being re-focused, I realized I’d used only a few weapons from our imFuse backlinking strategy for that site. My other sites that were using diversified backlinking methodologies dropped only a few spots/pages in ranking. Re-energized I decided to run the SEO campaigns again.
Here is the summary of four actions I took to revive this site. (I did similar things to other sites, and got similar results).
1. Build More Backlinks
The drop in ranking was obviously due to loss of backlinks so I had to replace them. I decided to proactively re-build backlinks to that site as fast as possible. (People were saying that Google penalizes websites that lose a lot of backlinks in a very short time period. I wonder whether my site got a -50 penalty. This is speculation, and only Google knows the facts).
- I asked my VA to submit 3 articles to Ezinearticles.com, and then submit the spun versions to hundreds of other Article Directories.
- I hired a contractor from oDesk and asked him submit 100 blog posts to a Private Blog Network.
- I asked another contractor to manually create 50 blog comments links on high PR blog pages.
- I bought a Web 2.0 link pyramid package which includes 30 properties in Tier 1. These properties are manually created with unique content and images.
- I prepared and submitted a Press release.
2. Boost Social Signals
I realized the site was social signal deficient, so
- I set up a few Synnd campaigns for that sites
- I went to Fiverr.com and bought some social media gigs i.e. (a) to share my website on Facebook & Google Plus (b) and to Tweet about my niche site to their followers.
3. Add More Content
I know search engines love fresh content, so I created 5 more articles (800-1000 words) with images and relevant YouTube videos. I didn’t have enough time to create my own videos, so I ended up embedding relevant ones from YouTube.
4. Improve Existing Content
I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to make already published posts media rich, so
- I added 2-3 relevant images per post
- I also made sure 50% of published posts had at least one video per post.
- After that, I added PDF downloads to some posts.
These are a lot of work, and those weeks were really tough for me. But after 20 days of active promotion, the site was gradually coming back. Yeah! ….. It’s worth all of the effort. See the stats below. Traffic is back and the site is now in the money again.
Being at #1 for a few days confirms that this niche site can easily make $2,500/month. This isn’t a million dollar niche, but $2,500/month is good enough to pay the home mortgage. Moreover, 75% of the traffic generating this revenue is from keyword #1.
I believe the site used in this case study has a lot of growth potential. By adding more content and deep linking to inner pages, it’s possible to double the traffic to this site with long tail keywords. I really want this site stay at #1 as long as possible for the chosen keywords.
My plans to sustain the top search engine ranking positions are simple.
1. To regularly add quality content so that it is always the most relevant sites for those keywords,
2. To consistently and proactively add diversified backlinks to both home and inner pages with closely related long tailed keywords.
3. And to create more social buzz.
Did you experience ranking drops during the recent Panda update? What are you doing to recover your sites? Please share your experiences in the comment section at the end of the post.
Apr 24, 2012 Update: Google rolled out webspam algorithm update on April 24 2012. As a result, tons of affiliate websites tanked in rankings. People are saying it is like a nuke to the SEO industry. So you may wonder the impact of that update to my site? Fortunately, the site in this case study was smiled upon by the Big G. Traffic suddenly sky rocketed after the algorithm update, and so has the income.
Please be informed that not all my sites are up! About 20% of my sites tumbled down from the top. So far, it seems sites with quality content and a well diversified portfolio of backlinks (platforms, anchor, PR, etc…) are more algorithm-resistant. I read some people complaining that their legit sites tanked after the update. Google’s algorithm is just a super complex formula, and it will never be as smart as a real human. False positives are inevitable. I myself experienced many ups and downs, and I do understand the pain, frustration and anger caused by the loss in SERP rankings and income. If you are one of the unfortunates, never ever give up. Allow me to remind you again the famous saying by Confucius “Our greatest glory is not never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
SEO is a cat and mouse game, and will never end. The following image is from a warrior forum thread and describes it best.
My final advices to you are
(1) Quality sites are more Google resistant, so please consider creating authority sites rather than thin, made for Adsense site. If creating content by yourself is an issue, outsource it. Hire an industry expert to write for you. I spend up to $50-$100 per article depending on the niche. And it works. If you are fighting against the Big G, you are going against a company with very deep pockets which made $32 million/day net income in the last quarter.
(2) Search engines are not the only source of traffic. Learn to use other traffic sources.
(2) Google doesn’t want people proactively build links. But we need backlinks to rank high, so make your link building approach appear as natural as possible.
(3) Please remember the famous saying by Warren Buffet “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful”. Be fearful when a particular technique/service becomes too popular (eg. homepage backlinks, blog networks, etc). Many hard to beat sites were blown away from lucrative niches by this update. I think it is a perfect opportunity to go into those niches. (eg. http://www.101waystomakemoney.com/ dominated many make money online keywords, now it’s gone).
Thank you for reading my article! If you wonder how we hunt for profitable keywords and the way we practice SEO, you can join us here.