I Made a Mess – Google Dumps us Down the Rankings!

Windsurfing Malaysia I Made a Mess   Google Dumps us Down the Rankings!Time for a quick post I’d say!

Well, guess what – we made a mess of it, so I can put that planed windsurfing holiday to bed for now because I am no longer jumping up and down for joy icon wink I Made a Mess   Google Dumps us Down the Rankings!

Who’s we?

Me and Chris is “we” – my young protege (for want of a different word) who hails from Texas in North America and is aiming to achieve an income of over $4,000 within 12 months from a start of zero.

Previously, in a post towards the end of last month, I was shouting my big gob (mouth) off about him making $4,600 for last month, which would have been 8 months into the project – a full 4 months shy of our target date.

Well, we/ I got our/ my come-uppance and guess who is responsible… Do I hear you say “Google”?

You got that right!

In actual fact, not quite – its ME who is responsible and not Google. Its me who is responsible and not Chris. Me, Me, Me!

I’m supposed to be the “tour” guide. I’m supposed to be leading by example, but fact is, I took my eye off the ball, very much down to the reason that I was happy to shout my mouth off about how well it was all going, and also partly because I was and am so busy with many other aspects to my business. So the blame lays at my door step – not Google’s and not Chris’ either.

 

So, what went wrong?

Good question!

Our top earning site got dumped from the rankings! And believe me when I say top earning, I mean TOP EARNING. I think that site was making around half and perhaps a little more of our total monthly haul. They say to never put all your eggs in the one basket. Well, we don’t, but its just panned out that way is all.

My communication with Chris got to the point of us both emailing each other about how we were going to invest our money in the months and years to come. Where it would have been wiser to be focusing on who was doing what with regards to working on the websites.

You see, I do take a large part of what goes on, under my wing – I did not just say to Chris – there you go mate, its your game so get on with it. It was the same with Kevin – my very first student, who turned out not to have enough desire for success. I played a large – very large – role in his activities each day. I knew for a fact that if I just laid it all on a plate with no other input from myself, he would quickly sink.

This game is not just about the actual doing – its very much about the support that is provided while the doing is going on. If I am saying to Chris (or to all of my other students and joint venture partners) that everything will work out, we are doing great, its going superb – even when the rankings are not panning out just how we want them to, its really great encouragement all round. And this is vital to success at the end of the day!

I fully believe in my own abilities (even though Google can mess things up really badly for little reason at all), and I want my students and joint venture partners to also believe in theirs. Thus I constantly infuse a sense of well-being no matter what happens. No matter what happens, I know that we will be successful over-all. There will be some failures along the way, but the end result is going to be utter success, come what may!

 

Why did Goog hit us badly on that one site?

Too much backlinking to too few pages, and not enough anchor text variation. Perhaps also, too much backlinking too early on when the site in question was not quite ready to handle it. Simple as that. No other reasons exist here, not to my knowledge. I took my eye off the game plan and we suffered and are suffering for it!

In fact, most of our income on that site was coming from a single keyword ranking, which we had in top spot in Google. We had another high end kwd phrase on the site that we’d only just managed to get top ten – 40k local search volume per month in the US, according to Google. Its a very competitive niche, so we were incredibly happy with that ranking. But suddenly, very suddenly, it was all gone!

The high ender kwd phrase dropped like a bomb! There were a few other kwds we had top ten on this website, and they all dropped down to between second and fifth pages. The main earner – fortunately – only dropped down to mid second page. Only? Only? Mid second page makes you jack squat income! And boy, we were both pissed, I can tell you!

But we knew what we had to do. We knew that Google could indeed penalize us again and again and again for the merest infraction according to their terms and conditions. This is what happens now when you have a website that is fairly heavily penalized – you tend to find that Google watch it with an eagle eye for a long while after the first penalty is incurred. So you have to be very careful and pay attention to details that previously you may not have worried overly much about.

 

So how are we now faring, some 3 weeks after we were punished harshly?

Well. Not very well, but well enough.

We kept the focus. We moaned and we groaned a bit. But we kept the focus and we kept on backlinking to the site. But we are much more careful with it now.

Chris has been writing up a lot more content for it, and the articles he is writing are very lengthy and top notch too! We both have been varying up our anchor text a whole lot more than previously. Adding in an extra word here, taking out a word there, juggling the previous anchor text (keyword phrases) we were hoping to rank for around, and more.

We are also linking to many more pages on the site. Not merely the handful that we were aiming to gain top flight rankings for, but also most, if not all of the other inner pages.

And is there any difference to rankings now?

Yes. Our biggest earning term has now come up from mid second page to mid first page in Google, and I sense that we are in line for a top placed ranking with that within the next couple of weeks – we’ll see… I’m touching wood!! (Update on that – I just checked in Scroogle and we are now ranking in 2nd, where in Google US, we are still mid first page, but likely to follow suit with Scroogle’s rankings shortly, I’m expecting/hoping).

The other terms are still bobbing around well outside the top ten, but all in good time for those!

Time is money, but in this case its a matter of slow and steady wins out in the end!

Make no mistake about this please as its vitally important to your own well-being in terms of Google rankings. If you get slap happy with your backlinking when a website is too green, chances are good that you will be penalized for it. If you get slap happy with your backlinking just after a ranking penalty in Google – perhaps out of sheer frustration on your part, then you will almost certainly be given a further ranking penalty by Google.

Take your time and don’t see this as a race. Okay, see it as a race of the snails or something.

 

And what beckons for the near future for Chris and I and our expedition to earn over $4,000 a month from our endeavours?

I’m not going to shout my mouth off again, and I will be touching wood too while I spell this out…

We are very much on target to reach our initial goal – in fact, last month we fell short by a mere couple of hundred dollars, and that would never have been the case if we were not penalized. An income of $4,600 was on the cards for last month.

This month, we’ve not faired so well up till now, but things are turning around once more, purely due to the fact that we’ve emailed each other 200 times in the past 3 weeks, LOL! Now you can see why I don’t get around to writing up many blog posts icon wink I Made a Mess   Google Dumps us Down the Rankings!

But I’ve also got quite a few students to coach and joint ventures to focus on, and that is very time consuming as you can imagine. Its great to see my student’s rankings really pick up too though, so I will be continuing with the coaching side of things for some time to come and see just how that goes.

But fact is – if you do commit these sort of glaring errors, you learn from them and you get more familiar with what Google wants to see. And by doing so, you get better and better at playing the SEO game and the IM game on the whole.

Thus, I really have no regrets that this has happened, believe it or not.

Imagine that in my SEO and IM career I had committed no huge errors up till now. I doubt I’d be a good coach, would I? Quite honestly, if I’d not committed lots of errors up till now, I’d not be doing nearly enough each day to move my own business forward at a pace.

I learn from my mistakes and I move along very swiftly, just as Chris is now able to do. And just as you too should do. There is no doubt that you too will make some poor errors in judgement along the path to riches. Its good! Its to be expected! Its a must!

Moan and groan when it all seems to be going wrong. Get that out your system. But be sure to pick up on where you left off and get going again. And be sure that you are actually learning from your mistakes so you do not commit the same again – that is crucial to long term success! Well, okay, I should have known better for sure, but I’ve provided the reasons as to why this did occur.

I wish you well with your own IM career!

Joseph

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92 thoughts on “I Made a Mess – Google Dumps us Down the Rankings!”

  1. Hi Joseph,

    It’s a big coincidence that you posted this – I myself got a slap from the big G just one week ago, for the exact same reason!

    I don’t know what I was thinking – the problem was that I wasn’t, I think! I was building up backlinks with the exact same anchor text, pointing to the exact same page…stupid!

    So now I’m heading out on the long road to recovery…

    Tom

  2. Wow, Joseph. The title of this posts is scary.
    I’m glad to see that after the storm your ship is again under control and you only need to repair the broken sails to keep on track.

    One question, could you tell us more about the 1st punishment by Google? (Maybe you explained that already and I missed it).

    Cristina
    (landlubber)

  3. Hey Tom, its not to say that building up backlinks with the same anchor text is entirely the wrong way to go (you can focus on the one page and be trying to rank for a number of different kwds on that page alone, so its extra-productive if you can successfully work that strategy), but in combination with a few other issues, and you surely are on the way to Google ranking doooooooommmmmm! I would say that backlinking too fast to either a fresh domain, or a domain that has not seen much backlinking recently, is probably the number one reason for a good “dumping” down the rankings. But for sure – to mix up the anchor text in your links is the way to create a solid foundation for future rankings in our friend Google. Even though it does in some ways feel counter-productive to what we are actually aiming for – top rankings for perhaps a single kwd phrase on a single webpage, hence we want to focus all our efforts on that phrase alone.

    Good luck with your road to recovery, and do take good care with that!

    Joseph

  4. Glad to see y’all are back on the road to domination! I can see how this would be very easy to do. Stay focused and hang in there ! It is easy to see that with time and determination you have the skills to bring many sites to the top of google and as always thanks for sharing this insightful information.

  5. Hi Cristina (or as Rob Cornish likes to spell your name “Christina” ;-) )… Yes, the title is a bit daunting, but that will have good effect on bringing in the visitors. After all, its a very important subject that affects so many people, so its worth reading up about it, particularly when there are some juicy tips about how to avoid the same sort of fate.

    I think you got that right – the ship went through a fairly big storm and the sails are now in need of some repair to get us on course once more.

    The 1st punishment by Google – apparently there is a “rule” called 950 or something – it was Chris who told me about this, and I really could care less ;-) But supposedly, if you are punished with the Google 950 rule, its the worst thing that can happen to your site, apart from the “sandbox” and what is worse – de-indexing. Basically, the 950 rule means that a webpage on your site is demoted from a high ranking in search to somewhere around 950th spot in search. And one of our webpages has suffered this ordeal, where most of the other pages were merely demoted by about 15 to 40 ranking places.

    I’m not really one for technicalities though Cristina. All I know is that we can bring this website back to former glories and a lot more besides, if we are careful and methodical in our efforts. As mentioned within the post, already I am seeing our best performing kwd phrase (in terms of income) dancing up and around 2nd spot in the Goog rankings, so it would surely appear that we are mending the ships’s sales successfully.

    Hope things are going well in your part of the world!

    Jo

  6. Hi Blake, I thought you were in Mexico getting married, but here you are commenting on my blog, LOL!

    Yup – getting a ranking penalty in Google is very, very easy to do! In fact, they are happy to derank sites willy nilly at times for little to no apparent reason – that’s been my experience. In this case however, we are fully aware of the reasons why we were dumped. And therefore, its fairly straightforward to get back on track, and mend the ships’ sales to weather any future storms that may be coming our way.

    Here’s hoping that your time in Mexico is going very well!

    Jo

  7. Cristina – I do apologise for not spelling your name correctly. My fat fingers and attention deficit again!

    Joseph, I’ve had a few Google bounces in my time but nothing really like this. I can imagine the horror though.

    It’s very interesting to see that Google seems to issue these “slaps” as punishment rather than just ranking webpages on a linear scale. Of course, it’s all really a bit of a mystery how the Big-G actually works. I wonder how many people on the planet have full knowledge of it? I bet less than 100.

    Thanks for writing this up though, I think it’s especially good to know that Google’s slap is temporary and you can partially redeem yourself in what seems like a relatively short period of time.

    Cheers, Rob.

  8. One moment Rob – I’m being attacked by a very persistent mosquito…

    LOL – I think its usual for us UK folks to spell Cristina with an “h”. Some folks spell my name as Josef.

    Yes, this is a bit of a Goog Slap, Rob. But it was to be expected, and I/we are fully aware of what we did that was “not right”. There have been other cases where Goog have slapped and the reasons for which are far less obvious, and quite honestly, thoroughly uncalled for in my opinion. A teeny infraction of their god-like rules and your whole website is history in their ranking system. And when you consider that often what is at or near the top of their rankings are websites with little valuable content on offer, and webpages that don’t even load up properly. Let’s face the facts, Google rankings are still thoroughly flawed, but not as badly flawed as they were in previous years.

    How many people have full knowledge of how Google ranks webpages? I suspect if anyone had full knowledge, they would be on a hit list. They’d be worth billions and too much of a risk for Goog to take ;-) I best be watching my back then, LOL!

    Take care Rob! Hope the mid-September weather in London is favourable!

    Jo

  9. I used to spell your name with an “h” too Christina, so I should not be pin-pointing Rob here, even though I found it fun to do so ;-) Sorry Rob!

    Thanks for your feedback re the post, I always value your feedback, dearest Christina!

    Jo

  10. Thanks guys, I feel better now!

    I agree that Google’s ranking is flawed – some crazy “content-lite” sites at #1. I guess its a numbers game for them though and like you say things have improved. Hey, it wasn’t so long ago that keyword stuffing still worked!

    -R

  11. Rob, it was not long ago that pornographic sites laden with viruses and trojans were ranking in Google, but these all seem to be gone now.

    How would I know about that, you may be wondering?

    Well, I read up on Google rankings and stuff, don’t I ;-)

  12. Ha I am back from Mexico ( as of last night) although I did manage to get one post in on your blog I think. By the way it was amazing! got my first article approved on ezinearticles but also got my first one sent back for problems while I was away but the good news is It has been re posted on a site so I am hoping over time That will grow into many links. I should be starting on my restaurant niche site but working on my fun projects until tomorrow. Getting adjusted to normal life again ! :)

    Blake

  13. That was something of a short trip to Mexico then Blake. What happened – is your wife missing the deer too much or something? LOL!

    Ezinearticles have been notorious for being difficult to gain successful publishing, and I suspect its even more tricky now, since they received a huge Google slap in one of the more recent algorithm updates.

    I would think the restaurant niche will be all the more fun when you are seeing a good income from it and helping a lot of folks out with your capabilities. Don’t delay long on that or some other talented folks may be snapping at your heels to grab that business away from you!

    Joseph

  14. That is a good point I have already been thinking I should prob at least get the basics figured out. The key seems to be a little work each day over the long term so I will go ahead and get the ball rolling ! As for the short trip I wish I could have afforded to go longer. We stayed at a very nice and Expensive (for me) hotel so we could not stay long ! Hopefully we can head back soon though If my website(s) start taking off !

    Blake

  15. Can somebody tell me what was wrong with how Google ranked sites over a year ago? Why did they feel the need to change it? For Google depends on sites for their content for the user to find information on a particular subject, they sure are making life difficult. Good content is good content and to be penalized for no reason doesn’t maker sense.

  16. Joseph,
    Just curious how are you so positive you know the cause of the decline? Did you interact with google to officially find out?

    Regards
    Mark

  17. Blake – I would say this is the ideal way to progress an online business when you are focusing a lot on SEO! In fact, if you have a part time or even full time job to go to each day to take your mind off your online “job”, its a really healthy mix and match, particularly in the earlier days, months, and even first year or two. You may be wondering why I – Joseph Archibald – of all people am suggesting to have a “real” job whilst you build up your online business. Many a time have I craved for something else to do, simply to get a break from working online – in order to achieve the happy medium. There are few jobs I can do here in Malaysia, other than to teach English (which I may well be doing sometime soon, on a very part time basis) or offering to do some stuff voluntarily, which I may also do at some stage – if I had the time available, which right now I don’t. So, if you can work this SEO stuff part time in the earlier stages, and at the same time manage to keep fully focused on your goals, you’ll be well served by doing so!

    Yes, it was a short break you had. But a short break is far better than no break – I personally much prefer short breaks now too, unless I’m on a long haul flight to the west. In which case its wise to stay for a few weeks rather than a few days.

    Jo

  18. Hey Get Out of Debt Girl,
    Google are constantly trying to improve their search ranking algorithms so that they continually improve their search results for the end user – much the same as any search engine does, such as Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com and so on. They want to continue to dominate the online search market because they make an insane amount of money by doing so. Many people say that search results are worse now in Google than previously. I am not so sure about that myself – I tend to get good results when I perform a Google search (even better results if I see my own webpage at the top of the rankings ;-) ).

    Nevertheless, you make a good point here – Google still do rank many a crappy webpage, where just below there are far superior webpages struggling to achieve higher rankings. Google are working on this though – they put more weight these days on things like Twitter tweets and Facebook Likes which the website visitor is responsible for – much like a vote of confidence being made with regards to sharing a quality piece of work with other people who are spending time online. Nevertheless, this does not always work well at all – many websites that have superior content, simply do not attract tweets or Likes, simply due to the nature of their content. But this is where website visitor retention rates and visitor returns come into play – the longer a site visitor spends on a particular website and the more page views they make, or if they bookmark the site and return to it fairly often, this too is supposed to go in favour of helping to rank a webpage or webpages in search. The downside here is – there are tons of websites with great content etc. that never get found, so they never receive any Google “love” in terms of branding. But there are ways and means of attracting people to a website, and not only via search engine rankings. Social media now playing a huge part in that side of things.

    I hope that helps to shed some light on this matter, Get Out of Debt Girl. Sorry if it merely confuses you more.

    All the best!
    Joseph

  19. Hi MK, yes – I have a telephone line here in my home which is dedicated to Google staff, and I give them a call on a regular basis to see what’s up with my websites ;-) I wish!!!

    No, in actual fact, you get a sense of what works and what does not, particularly if you are “guilty” of spending a huge amount of time each week working on your websites and on clients websites etc. Therefore, I can pin-point what I did wrong here, and I can also discern what must be done to put things right again – simply through a whole lot of previous experience of ranking webpages in Google, and trying to earn money from doing so.

    Its a bit like when you are passionate about your job and you’ve been doing the same job for years and years – you become very skilled in what you do, and you can see things that most other people never will see, which is what makes you an expert in your field. I’m not claiming to be an expert though, but I do spend a whole lot of time working online, so I have built up my own skill levels to the point whereby I’ve developed something of a sixth sense in many respects with what works well and what does not. Simple as that, really. Its not about magical powers or voodoo ability (I can see Cristina and Ralph smiling :-) ).

    Regards
    Joseph

  20. Joseph,
    Thanks for the reply. One last question what plugin do you use for the recently posted option in the comments section here.

    Seems a cool option to help others with the link diversity problem somewhat vs. everything going to the main home page plus a neat way to see what others are writing.

  21. This is just some minor setback for you and Chris and I’m not surprised that you’re regaining your top rankings. Good advise about the snail race. Patience is what you really need when SEO is your main business model.

    When I build Amazon sites, I publish one post per week and drip feed some backlinks into the homepage. I would get first page rankings in a few weeks and I would get some consistent sales. But the weird thing is that after a few days since the sales started coming, the homepage would be dropped by Google and you won’t even see it in the top 100. It was still indexed but this scenario always happened after a few weeks to new websites that I create and I was really concerned about this pattern.

    The solution is just simple… I just kept on adding some fresh content every week and kept on drip feeding some backlinks without saturating the main keyword that I’m targeting. So far I’ve been able to get my top rankings back and that’s why I believe that your money makers will come back stronger. Now I just smile whenever Google drops my pages like a hot potato. hehehe

    Last night I found out that one of my new sites (over 1 month young) has been dropped again. This was also earning some consistent sales and so I ordered some articles the next day and had my wife write an article. I wasn’t really expecting any results until after a few days but I was surprised when I see my homepage jumped back at the no.1 spot! Instant gratification is really sweet especially when it comes to SEO. hahaha!

    I hope you update us with your progress. I really love reading your posts. Please tell Chris I said hi! Cheering for you both and wishing you all thousands of dollars per month! :)

  22. Joseph,
    Thank you for replying, I understand what you’re saying but I still don’t agree with Google’s methods.
    Years ago I was a loyal Yahoo fan and I fought switching to Google. The reason I switched is due to the fact that I could easily find the best information on Google. I had to search harder on Yahoo. As you commented, I have had issues in the past year or so finding the good content as easily as I use to on Google. It seems, you have to be more technology savvy in order to get to the information you need quickly.

  23. Get Out Of Debt Girl,

    I definitely understand your points about Google not providing the best results at the top. It is no secret that some of the best information on the subject you are searching might be buried all the way on the second page where no one usually searches.

    However, I can honestly say that out of all the search engines in existence today Google is without a doubt the best one. God (Google) usually hits the mark 8 times out of 10 when it comes to providing useful results.

    Looking at this from Google’s perspective they have a lot to contend with. A lot of people try to take advantage of their system by creating sites with little or no value and spamming links to it to get it to the top. Believe it or not it actually works for them for a while but usually always will be caught and corrected by Google. Now, on the flip side a lot of those spammy type sites are making quite a bit of money for Google b/c those spammy sites almost always have AdSense. So, Google is careful not to punish all of the spam type sites that don’t provide good information because if they hit them all across the board it will cut into their profits.

    Google doesn’t want to have a reputation of being a spam search engine (which they are not but they want to control the internet marketplace as Joseph stated above). So, in an effort to raise the overall quality of sites on the web they institute these algorithm updates (Panda Updates). With each update they are slowly but surely cleaning up the web.

    My way of thinking has completely changed when I first started this challenge with Joseph. I was always of the mindset of creating a small site and ranking it high but that is not enough anymore. Now, if you want to be the top dog you have to go above and beyond. Sure, backlinks are very important but you have to create a resource that is worth linking to.

    This was also one of the problems with the site that got hit by Google. I had stopped writing content to it completely and focused on the other site that is still ranking. So, the site with 15 pages of content got hit and the site with 110 pages of content keeps rising. HMM….. SHOCKER!

    Joseph and I are seeing incredible results by truly building an authority site. Now, all of the content I write is completely unique, is a minimum of 800 words and here is the incredible part. Whatever long tail keyword I want to target it indexes literally in a minute. For example, I targeted a phrase the other day and it indexed in a total of 43 seconds at the #3 spot. I am not even exaggerating either.

    Anyways, I think I have said too much already because Joseph and I need to keep some things secretive until we are ready to go public.

  24. Chris,
    Thank you for responding. As a reputable site, I’m with you completely. We put out 5 to 7 articles a day and Google has been very good to us. Having to conform to Google’s way of doing business, I think as been an adjustment to all of us who have been on the internet since the beginning.
    I’m just really complaining as a user. I preferred having not to search each and every link to find what I’m looking for. I like having the best links come up at the top so that I don’t have to spend hours looking for my content. That’s how I remember Google before the change.

  25. 5 to 7 articles a day is absolutely fantastic. I wish I had the energy to do that. I could outsource it I guess but truth be told I don’t think anyone quite knows the niche like I do so I don’t trust anyone to get the articles right.

    As a user I can definitely see your point with Google. It can be challenging to find what you are looking for sometimes but personally for me that rarely happens. The only time when I have trouble finding information is if it is some ridiculous sociology concept from my College classes. Try finding a comparison between Marxisim and Structural Functionalism LOL!

  26. By The Way,

    I just had a look at your site or the site you are currently working with (don’t know if you own it or what the story is there) but it is definitely looking like a nice authority site. I am impressed. Good job with that!

  27. Chris –
    It definitely seems like the best way to get to the top of google ( at least for low competition words) is to have lots of great content! Of course link building is important / helps but If you are spending all of your time link building and not making good content you are shooting yourself in the foot. That being said I am doing just that for my site right now to test how well writing articles and linking them to my site works but I think when I actually post some of the info reworded on my site it will do more to help then months of back-linking alone. Thanks for the info love the updates on your project. I am afraid I have fallen down the SEO rabbit hole and there may be no going back !

    Blake

  28. Hi MK, hmmm… I’m not too sure to which plugin you are refering – can you be a little more specific please? Does it show in the sidebar, and is there a heading to it?

    Thanks

  29. Hi Raymond, thanks for your feedback! Patience is absolutely vital in this business – patience and belief in your own abilities, which comes with time and exerpeince, as you rightly mention in your comment.

    Yes, you got it Raymond – you’ve experienced what happens with your own sites – you gain high rankings early on, then you drop from those high rankings. But in time, and with perseverance, you regain the rankings once more.

    I’m currently working with a client in SEO and he emailed me yesterday and said that he was getting very worried because his main kwd phrase was stuck at 17th in Google. Well, we’ve been working on this site for all of 12 days, LOL!! But I did say to him in my reply that this is normal for the “newbie” – to get all nervy about the fact that the rankings are slow. After all, I’ve been hitting the site with all of 2 to 4 backlinks per day, and this particular kwd phrase has a search volume of 60,000 per month on a global basis, in Google. I mean, come on, chill out :-)

    Its very unusual to have such a fresh site as one month old be able to get a top spot ranking Raymond, but I’m guessing you are choosing kwds with very little competition. Its a good way to go, particularly after you’ve got a number of sites up and running – those trickle sales soon add up, don’t they…

    Thank you kindly for the moral support Raymond! I’m sure Chris is reading your comment right now – he’s taking a very active part with his commenting on this particular post so I see, which is unusual cos he’s normally in the bar getting drunk. LOL – he doesn’t actually drink alcohol, so that’s just me being silly once again ;-)

    All the best to you Raymond!

    Joseph

  30. Well ladies and gentlemen, its been very enjoyable reading up on the recent comments here, and Chris is doing a very good job in providing excellent answers. But here’s a thing… I have a site that is about 2 years old – a bit more. It has all of 4 pages of content on it, simply because if I tried to write any more, I would be venturing into somewhat unrelated territory – the sub, sub niche I tackled is very acute and there simply is very little else to discuss on the topic, other than the info I’ve added to the site within those 4 pages of content.

    I’ve only targeted 5 kwds on the site – very narrow, I know. But its a site within a high paying AdSense category, so the potential for income, even though search stats are pretty small, is good. For 4 of the 5 kwds I’ve targeted I have them top ten in Goog – one is a bit newer there, but the other 3, two of which have double page rankings, and are all sitting in top five, I’ve targeted on and off with backlinks over the months and years – many months I don’t touch it at all, some months I decide to up the ante, and Google seem to just relish this type of SEO so it seems – mature backlinks mixed in with some fresh ones now and again. There is only one kwd yet to reach top ten on the site – its sitting mid second page, but I’ve not given it much love in terms of backlinking.

    Now, the point here being – I believe I’ve done a good job of providing high quality info to the end user. The site is as basic as basic gets – not even a header graphic, LOL! But the info contained on the site is highly relevant and qualitative. And my reasoning here is, if you provide this sort of content and you do work some “magic” with your SEO – some on-page, some off-page, then you can do very nicely in terms of rankings, and you can gain some Google branding as time passes on. Of course, the site is not going to achieve many long tail rankings simply due to the fact that the amount of content is very limited. But that does not stop it from maintaining very good Google rankings, regardless there rarely is any fresh content added.

    Apologies to throw something of a red herring in here, but its a very interesting line of conversation and I thought it would get even more interesting by adding a somewhat different viewpoint to the equation.

  31. There’s an idea Cristina – so you are saying that the second page or results tends to be better quality and more relevant than the first page…

    Thanks for the tweet on the post, as always!!

    Jo

  32. And why would you do that then Cristina? I hope you are not burning the candle at both ends my dear – seems you are on a late nighter/early morning job today!

  33. The awesome thing about promoting Amazon products is that there are a lot of keywords that have little to no competition. But right now I’m refraining from building new sites because my efforts are not focused enough.

    Your experience about having only 4 webpages is really interesting. I was always concerned that Google will not favor my site if it’s only a thin site. However, my goal is to always have 10-15 articles on a site within the first 2-3 months. But it’s still nice to know that your site is still going strong even if it has a few pages. Really makes me think. hahaha!

  34. Joseph,

    sorry if I didn’t explain myself. I was about to jump to bed :D
    What I meant is I usually jump to the second page because the results in the 1st one are crappy. It’s always Wikipedia (which is ok) and then Ezine, About, How-to, etc which are very poor and repetitive articles. If you dive into the next pages you find treasures.

  35. Hey Raymond, yes – there’s been a big thing over the past 8 months or so – since that Panda algo update on Google – where folks are saying that thin content sites don’t hold rankings any longer, or don’t achieve rankings any longer – well, that’s obviously not the case as the proof is in the pudding so to speak. This site I mentioned in one of my previous comments is as thin as thin gets pretty much, but yet its rising up very nicely. I just checked Google US rankings and its now got a 3rd and 4th spot for one main kwd phrase, a 3rd and 4th spot for another of my main kwds, and a 4th and 5th for the other main kwd phrase. In fact, you still can find a lot of sites with severe lack of content ranking top in Goog. If the site offers value to the searcher, then I don’t see why this is a bad thing at all.

    Good luck with your Amazon sites! If a few of them have something of a Christmas focus, watch out for December – sales tend to go through the roof!

    Joseph

  36. Yes Cristina, I see what you mean. Wiki is very good, if you are looking for info – but not much good for anything else. Ezinearticles is the same, About.com etc. I’ll be sure to heed your advice and dive straight to the 2nd page of search in future!

    Take care Cristina!
    J

  37. Joseph,
    Some how I missed the name before (not sure how its right at the bottom) but it looks like your using the commentluv plugin which I like a lot and started using on my site yesterday after noticing it here.

    Thanks
    Mark

  38. Great post Joseph! One of my sites have also fallen in rankings but I didn’t take the responsibility as you did. I’m back to the drawing board and I’m going to rebuild it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  39. Thats really interesting on your paper thin site joseph. It makes me think … Maybe it has to do with a large portion of your page being the keywords needed but its not penalized for being “keyword stuffed” b/c there is so little content? not sure here but this proves that the one thing no one will ever truly figure out is the Goog Algorithms ! Good to know a thin site can rank well .. hope it keeps climbing for you! …

    Ps … when do your sites normally start receiving traffic from goog? Page 2? Page 1? top 5? just curious

  40. Joseph,

    What a coincidence, I just wrote a post on google’s penalties.

    It seems that you in fact received one, but that’s the life of us SEO guys… we win some and we lose some.

    Love the “race of the snails” reference as well. Seems that its still easy to rank in Google with thin sites but I am packing a secret weapon… lol.. and it does a better job than anything I’ve tried before.

    Great to hear that Chris didn’t run away from the problem as that’s what most people do. The best thing to do is fight through it.

    Regards,

    Tom

  41. Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Yup – there are a number of sites I’ve had in the past that I got over-zealous with in terms of backlinking, particularly as I was being hit by Google with almost all of my eBay sites rankings at the turn of the year – it was kinda like out of desperation that I had to get some new sites up and ranking to shore up on my ever-decreasing eBay income, which back then was by far my largest asset. Thus those new sites came to nothing and I did not go back to focus on them either, so I’m guilty as charged here too Peter.

    But some sites are most definitely worthy of re-couping from being trounced by our friend Google. It is really a matter of patience combined with slow and methodical perseverance, whilst keeping an eye on the end goal – to regain those upper echelon rankings. Self belief though is at a premium – if you have no real long term belief in what you are doing, and so, so many IM folks don’t yet have enough experience of success to have that – then you will inevitably be shooting yourself in the foot on a regular basis, and not only when things go wrong in terms of previous Goog rankings go on the big slide.

    Best wishes Peter!

    Joseph

  42. Jo, what an incredible post. For all of us (self included) who are using your methods, and are a bit jaded by all the IM hype that goes on in this space, your tranparency and honesty are so incredibly refreshing to read.

    You could have never posted a single word on what happened. You could have fudged the truth and pretended all was well. Instead, you took full responsibilty, admitted your mistakes in judgement AND took steps to make amends and correct it! That is ballsy.

    We all could be guilty of doing the exact same thing – after all, who really wants to write more unique content than you need to, post links to nearly every internal page on your money site if its not required, vary the anchor text to as many keywords as you can remember if its not needed?

    Not me. But I will now.

    The thing that always bugs me about IM gurus is the never tell you about all the things that dont go well, or go as planned, or that just flat out fail miserably. But you do. Awesome.

    Anyone whos been in this space for any amount of time knows that there is far more failure than success…but thats the only way you really learn. You said you wouldnt be much of a coach if you didn’t make any errors. How true. You never know how far to push it until you hit that point. You did and your readers benefit vicariously.

    But in the process of showing and explaining those very same missteps, you helped us all to become better IMers thanks to reading this post.

    Best regards, dont ever give up (I know you won’t) and keep up the voodoo! :-)

  43. LOL – Blake, I don’t even know if I have used my chosen kwds within the content on the pages. Although I did do the writing for this site, I just go with the flow and let it run, and I never focus on kwd count or anything of that sort. This particular site – although it does not make a heap of income (the search stats for these kwds are not high enough) it is now making some money almost every day, so it makes good business sense to keep investing in it, hopefully to achieve some top spots with it, providing those in the top slots right now are not too heavily branded for me to dump them down.

    Regards when do sites start seeing traffic regularly. In terms of trying to rank in Google (not in terms of long tail natural rankings though, or other sites sending your site traffic), if its a fairly high end kwd phrase then you will begin to see some traffic when you are second page in the rankings. High end kwd meaning probably something over 10k search I would say. Anything lower than that, and you really have to be on the first page or you see almost jack squat traffic, unless Cristina is searching in your niche ;-)

    Anything with really low search volume (according to Google stats, that is), say around 100 to 500 searches a month, and you really have to be top 5 in the rankings to see much in the way of visitor count, albeit that does depend fairly heavily on your niche – often you get the likes of Wiki in at top for something that relates more to a buyers type kwd phrase, so many people who are actually looking to buy something will circumvent the Wiki and look below that to find something more specific to their needs.

    Jo

  44. Hey Tom, yup, we surely did receive a penalty and suffered the consequences. So be it though. What to do but re-group and get on with things regardless.

    A secret weapon, huh Tom? I know if I had a secret weapon I’d probably want to keep it hush hush, at least for now. So I expect you’ll be doing the same…

    Ya – good point – many folks would probably take flight if something went wrong and income dropped rather harshly. But Chris has tasted the success now, so there’s absolutely no way he’d ever think about downing tools and going on strike cos Google don’t like us ;-) Plus, he’s an innate grinder. If he gets hit badly, he comes back harder – fighting like a mad man, LOL! Some of the emails he sent me just after we had been somewhat trashed by the Goog wrath brigade were aggressive. But the reason being – he’s just so pent up about making this game a real success, so its totally understandable. There’s no way this guy would ever make a decent pen pusher ;-)

    Best to you Tom!

    Joseph

  45. Hi Ralph, thanks for taking the time to comment so “vicariously”, LOL! Now, let me just look up that word so I got it…

    Vicarious – performed, exercised, received, or suffered in place of another.

    One I’ll have to remember for sure!

    I’m actually really happy to make mistakes Ralph (does that sound insane?), in which case I am more than happy to discuss them on my blog. At one time, I hated, hated, hated making mistakes – it was all time wasted, all efforts had gone in the trash can, months of hard work simply vanished – puff, voodoo-istically!

    Now however, its merely another notch on my wigwam. Another string to my fiddle (violin). The key is to learn from the mistake or mistakes, and you’ll be the better one for doing so. Thus, although they are still mistakes, they are path-finding mistakes. The path becomes more brightly lighten when mistakes are committed and learning comes as a result.

    The only downside of what happened in this instance is – we make a bit less income this month, and our egos are a little tarnished. Other than that though, I am one happy man! We’ve regained focus on our game, to levels unseen before, and we are now seeing results because of it. Which provides more confidence for the future – you know that if you do make a serious error in judgement once more, which is inevitable – we are human – you can put things right once more. Thus the error is a mere speck of dust which makes for very little reflection on the flow of the over-all game plan.

    And I guess the over-all game plan is to achieve something that we term as “happiness and fulfillment”. So, I’m not going to beat myself up because of this error. I’d much prefer to go out and have a few beers (or some of the amber nectar known as Scots malt whisky) and get all swimmy brained, than to bang my head against the wall due to making an error in judgement. Then I’ll pick up where I left off – when I feel fresh and ready to boot up once more and carry on from where I left off. No time to be flushing my head in the toilet pan simply because I’m a misery, LOL!

    Yes – I really don’t see any reason to hide this sort of stuff Ralph. I’m very happy to share the highs and the lows – it makes me more credible to others after all, and not always bragging about how good I am and how wonderful everything is in my world. That soon gets boring – both for you the reader and for me too as the writer. I’m not merely some machine who makes $1029.54 per hour at the press of a button on my laptop ;-) Aren’t you amazed by the amount of emails you get these days that are claiming such facts as those? And you almost always get the cents in too – as if the claim will be more believable if the cents are added in.

    Happy holidays Ralph and I’ll get back to your “just one more question” email very shortly, sir! :-)

  46. Oh and I should add – for anyone who dreams about the incredible life-style that you and your family can have if you focus on internet marketing as your business/business model – just check out the link on Ralph’s comment above. He’s not merely dreaming any longer – he’s DOING!

  47. I agree with Ralph. It’s very important to share this kind of issues. Many people believe you can make money quickly and easily, everything’s smooth. You only need to work a few hours a day. Because some folks are selling the perfect dream. It’s like they never have any problem, they are super productive 100% of the time, they make tons of bucks and they’re only worried because you are not making money (and to help you they sell you a $97 course).

    B.S. That’s what it is.
    Anybody who has read your post, Joseph, has learnt more in 10 minutes than what they would learn in that $97 infoproduct.
    There are too many gurus telling us how to make money and not enough teachers telling us that there’s life for your sites after Google strikes.

  48. Thanks for your feedback on this Cristina – very much appreciated, and thanks too for the further tweet!

    Off out to celebrate our 4th anniversary now – not that we will ever get married, but we are happy as we are – me and the girlfriend. We are going out to a little fishing village, where the restaurant over-looks the South China Sea, and we’ll sit and watch sunset wrapped up in our dreams of the present and the future!

    Jo

  49. Very cool Ralph !
    It is very cool to see someone living out such an awesome dream ! You were not like so many others who just talk and talk you took the necessary steps and took action ! Hope your rving continues to go well as well as you and your wife’s businesses

  50. Thanks Blake for the well wishes. Business has been up and down for the past few years but thankful for more ups than downs!

    We hatched this crazy idea about 4 years ago as we were both slogging through the corporate bs thinking wouldn’t it be nice if…? IM and my wifes biz made it happen. Now that its September, we now just have to learn how to home school our kids on top of it all…another niche website idea? Lol.

  51. Thanks for the vicarious mention Jo. I think you are bucking for a case of buffalo steaks? :-)

    Mistakes are the only way to learn, I’m going to use that one on my son who’s petrified of making mistakes. The more mistakes you make (then learn from them) make you more credible and successful you’ll be in the end.

    More mistake – one more “feathers in your cap” (you missed that one in your analogies :-)

  52. Ralph, home schooling kids and using the internet for that is really becoming popular these days. So when you said could this be another niche website idea – it most certainly can! If I remember correctly, AdSense payments are attractive too.

  53. The more mistakes you make Ralph, the closer you are to success – howz that!

    As for the case of buffalo steaks – not for me sir, thank you! I’ve been a beer swilling vegetarian now for 23 years and there ain’t no goin back, siree!

  54. Hi Joseph

    My first website (only 5 months old) just got slapped from page 1 #5 to number 605!! Thought I did everything correctly in regards to seo etc and was making a little bit of money every month – about $40… so I was happy and have been in process of building 16 other sites. Why one gets slapped and others don’t will be somewhat of a mystery to me for quite a while – and to most other IMers I suspect. I like the fact you live where you want to live and your internet/seo business allows you to do so. I do as well, as I live in Waikiki and am aspiring to get out of my career and other small business to become a full-time IMer.

    Have a great day!

    Dave

  55. Hi Dave, a $40 per month income whilst ranking at 5th, is potentially a $300+ monthly income if ranking in the top spot. That’s a shame, but all is not lost!

    I recently read from an SEO expert (and in my mind, this gentleman is actually a true “expert”) that its best to start afresh if Google heavily penalizes your site. I would have to disagree with this. Although our site (the site mentioned in this blog post), in this case, was not de-indexed, we still faced a heavy penalty on a good number of our kwds, but yet we’ve managed to get our top earning kwd phrase back to top spot in Google, within just over 3 weeks since the penalty was “awarded”.

    I agree with you – its odd how some sites get away with “murder” in terms of backlinking etc., whilst others get penalized for very little. One of my client’s sites was recently penalized too, and it was for the most teeny weeny infraction. Never mind, I’ve got that back on track now, and the rankings are really coming along nicely. But fact is, seems to me that this ranking penalization is becoming part and parcel of SEO on the whole. Its becoming something of a normality. Therefore, when it does happen, its good to have a method for getting things back on track each time. And I’ve explained my methods in this post and they do work and work well.

    Waikiki, huh? I trust that is a beautiful part of the world. I’m something of a fan of Hawaii-Five-O ;-) The scenery is spectacular and the people are beautiful :-)

    Yes, you don’t have to make a huge income online to live in a very exotic (and erotic) country. When I first came here to Kuching, I was earning around $500 a month, and had around $4000 savings, most of which went on the initial down-payment of my rented appartment. The fact is that the pressure of not making a larger income can be enough to really get you focused on your online business, as it did for me. Without that financial pressure, I probably would have dilly-dallied around for months and months, but that was no longer a choice I had.

    All the best Dave!

    Joseph

  56. I can imagine, Ralph! I bet they smell great when being cooked! On that note, you don’t get buffalo meat here in Malaysia – not that I am aware of. Here’s a good idea for a web business – set up an online shop selling top notch quality cuts of buffalo meat ;-)

  57. Then think about not.having to spend all that money..The truth be known is that the number one factor in.Google giving your website top ranking consists of.one major thing.the number of one-way backlinks.pointing to your site. This tells Google.your site is important..Yes you can nail the right keywords the meta tags .the title tags even the perfect SEO domain name.along with a fresh unending supply of content. But.none of those will do for your site what the power of.backlinks will doespecially if it is lacking in these.other SEO optimized necessities..I know from experience with a website I have that.has even had first page Google presence for some.time now only because of a well optimized domain.name.

  58. See, so we could all get a website together which focuses on selling buffalo meat at home and abroad. What was the meat your parents used to grill at home Cristina?

  59. You guys are making me wayyy too hungry. Buffalo steak, great with a nice Rioja…..

    Buffalo steak niche website, now there’s a niche for you: 590 exact matches and 27,100 broad. I think I smell a niche website coming from Jo, although he may have some major “content writing” issues with this site ;-)

  60. Believe it or not Ralph but I already did some kwd research for buffalo meats ;-) 590 is a bit on the low side but there are other related stuff that is quite a bit higher. Mind you, I also found the competition to be stiff, which surprised me – there must be good money to be made here!

  61. I know this site is about ranking but the comments are hilarious. There’s nothing better than talking about Google Rankings over food. Love it.
    Thanks for the content too Joseph. It’s awesome to read about the pitfalls of SEO and how to bounce back. Your ‘aprenticii’ must be very grateful.

  62. Yes Josh, we normally get a goodly bit of banter in the comments section. Even though I initially wanted to make this blog about SEO, I soon got fed up with that! So its now metamorphized into a jack of all trades, and if we can have a good laugh during the commeting sessions, all the better for it! :-)

    Thanks a lot for your feedback!

    Jo

  63. Yes, you can learn more in the comments section than the actual post section.

    I’m just about to do some insight work on our niche Cristina. I’ll get us some decent kwds and hopefully find us a domain name too.

  64. Agreed on all the above. IM is a solitary pursuit and it helps to keep up the friendly banter to keep up the motivation! Which if you’ve done this at all, waxes and wanes….
    However on this blog, you often learn more from the comments and Jo’s incredibly descriptive answers than you do on the posts – which of course are fabulous SEO voodoo (voodoo that works however, as opposed to other SEO voodoo) to devour as well!

  65. Depends on what sort of voodoo you are thinking about Blake G, sir! I hope you’ve managed to work some voodoo on coming up with a few good niches?

  66. Joseph,

    Some great info here. One of the most important things in life is learning from your mistakes. I never feel bad about these small screw-ups as long as I learn what went wrong.

    Particularly since you were able to turn it around pretty quickly.

    Anyhow I found your site from Cristina’s article. All the good things she said about you definitely got me interested. I will be checking out more articles and I am sure I will be back after that.

    (adding you to my feedburner now)

    Keep the good stuff coming!

    -Steve

  67. Hi Steve, thanks for taking the time to visit the blog here – very much appreciated – I know you are a very busy guy!!

    Ah well, in actual fact, we thought we were turning it around but Google kept slapping us back time and time again – truth be told. No matter what we did (or did not do) Google were basically saying – nope, you are not getting back up the rankings!

    Nevertheless, after 47 days (8 hours, 2 minutes, and 35 seconds, LOL!), seems we’ve finally broken through and over-all, the rankings for our pages are re-appearing. Too early to say for absolute sure Steve, but does look like it. Another lessson here – for a site that is fairly heavily penalized in Google – one page got dumped over 1000 rankings, whilst most of the others lost between 1 page and about 3 pages of ranking places – if you keep at it, you will break through and Google do lift the penalty.

    Thanks indeed for adding me to your feedburner, and yeah, the article that Cristina did about the new “challenge” was a superb write up (the cheque is in the post to her as we speak ;-) ) and I am truly grateful for her support!

    Regards
    Joseph

  68. Hi Joseph

    As I mentioned in one of my earier comments to this blog post dated September 18th where one of my sites went from mid first page to #605 I think I may have corrected the ranking problem as this morning my site re-appeared at #10. Having two sites get slapped in the same week alerted me to the fact that I had not diversified my anchor text at all – meaning 100% went to my main keyword for both of these sites. What I did to get it back was to say “what the heck….I’ll just through some semi-related and non related anchotext links at it via UAW and purchasing 500 blog comments with 5 semi-related keywords; after all I had nothing to lose and everything to gain! Then, this morning I am back on page one. Now I am stretching out my page length to hold 20 posts vs 10, having the 5 to 7 bottom posts showing the entire posts and adding a few more posts in hopes that with this page showing on the face of the page over 2,500 word count with about 1% keyword density. Hopefully this will keep my site on page one for a while.

    Joseph, you truly offer great value with your blog here!

    Thanks!!

    Dave

    Aloha!

  69. Hey Dave in Hawaii, that’s great news sir! Congratz on the re-rank and long may it stick to first page in Goog! You may see some bouncing around, but that’s pretty much to be expected. But its very interesting to note that you merely changed around the anchor text to get the re-rank, some 34 days after the initial penalty was incurred. I like to note how long it takes to gain re-ranking after penalty cos I’m a geek that way ;-) For me and Chris – its taken some 47 days to gain re-rankings, and they are not quite as good as previously, where now we have a couple of top spots for long tails and our main kwds are around 4 to 10 places off where they were previously ranking. Obviously we incurred a different penalty to yourself. Over-zealous backlinking on a single day may have been the main culprit, but we may also have been a bit guilty of lack of variability where anchor text is concerned also.

    Thanks too for pointing out how you are setting up your front page. I have also heard that Goog like to see a lot of content on the front page – whether that be down to a very lengthy homepage, or indeed – as you have set things up – make the front page a combo of a number of different pages. Kwd density – yeah, I still feel that many folks get that wrong – they over-do it at the expense of a nicely flowing article. 1% sounds like ti could be near perfect.

    Great stuff David – I’m really happy for you!!

    Joseph

  70. Hello Joseph,

    Been there, done that. G seems to be very sensitive to too much identical anchor text these days – even for well aged sites. I definitely mix up my anchor text much more than I used to – and some forms of linking are just off my radar these days.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you’re on your way back up the SERPs. Too tightly focused anchor text is, thankfully, rarely a permanent or long term penalty.

    Good luck with your project. sounds like your well on track to meet your goal.

  71. Hi Hamish, unfortunately with this particular site we found that when we were rising and achieving good rankings all over, Goog would then slap us down for what appeared to be no reason at all. I think if I had the patience mixed with the monthly cash flow, I would have happily left the site for a few months to see what came of it. Then probably re-start on the backlinking once over. Unfortunately, I’m not quite at the stage whereby I can happily afford to travel around in business class ;-), and quite a good chunk of my monthly income is re-invested in my work – more than ever before. Furthermore, since this was one of the main sites in our $4k challenge, the pressure has always been on to get it making good money. So we had to “push the boat out” perhaps a bit further than what we would have liked on occasion.

    Yeah, mixing anchor text has become the norm for me too. Long gone are the days where I would utilize the same anchors over and over – that’s simply asking for trouble if you wanna rank in Google.

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