Bringing Niche Sites Back from the Dead, Part 1 [Case Study]

Given all of Google’s recent changes, I thought it would be interesting to take a few of my good sites that lost rankings, and see if I can recover them.  I’m a big fan of case studies, so whenever possible, I like to document these types of experiments and make them public for all of you to read.

This experiment could ultimately fail, but I think it’ll be a good learning experience for both you and me.  Keep reading, and I’ll dig into the details.

Why Your Niche Sites May Have Been Hurt by “Penguin”

There’s a fair amount of speculation on what the Google “Penguin” update changed and no one seems to know with certainty exactly how websites were affected and how to go about fixing a site.  Based on my reading of various articles around the web, these seem to be the most significant causes of sites losing their rankings as a result of the update:

[Note: These ideas were taken specifically from this article, which I think is a great read.]

  • Too many links to a single page (or pages), or similarly, too many links to just the root domain (and not to any deeper pages).  Both situations likely appear unnatural to Google.
  • Disproportionate anchor text usage – We have the tendency of linking to our sites with our primary keyword as the anchor text more often than other types of anchor text.  Again, this is unnatural to Google, and thus is a likely target of Penguin.
  • Links from unrelated sites/content AND/OR from spammy sites – I’m not sure how much the relevancy of the content matters…for example, I could quote Shakespeare in this post and link to a Shakespeare website, and obviously my site would be completely irrelevant to the site I’m linking to.  I think links from poorly spun content on spammy websites (that exist solely for the purpose of backlinking) are much more likely the culprit for a loss in ranking.
  • Heavy keyword density on the site - This is probably one of the only on-site factors that may have been targeted by the Penguin update.  I think this has always been something Google has looked at negatively, but perhaps that view was strengthened with Penguin.

Again, this is all speculation.  There may be other causes not listed here, and one or more of the causes listed above may be false.  All we can do at this point is make an educated guess and test those guesses.

Let’s Experiment and Try to Fix the Problem

While it would be nice to try and bring all of my niche sites back to life, I’m going to focus on a select few.  Specifically, I’m going to focus on the following:

This is going to give me a good mix of sites, since they were all created at different times and I used a somewhat different backlinking strategy on each.   If I can successfully regain my rankings on one more more of these sites, there’s hope that the process can be replicated on my other sites.

Here are my current rankings (as tracked by Long Tail Pro):

As you can see, the sites still rank OK on Yahoo and Bing, however I never really concern myself with those search engines.  Generally, if you focus on ranking well for Google, you will rank fine for Yahoo and Bing.  They focus on the same major ranking factors, but give each factor a different weight than Google does.

Here’s the Strategy

Obviously, there are going to be no guarantees with the strategy I’m going to propose here, and based on the results, they will be subject to change.  I just want to map out the plan ahead of time, so that I have something concrete to follow (initially).

Adding Fresh Content

While I don’t think the Penguin update had anything to do with the “freshness” of content, I’m still going to incorporate it in my comeback strategy.  Most of my niche sites had content added over the first month from the point that they were created, but since then, I haven’t really added much.

So, I’m going to add one piece of quality content to each of the sites.  This will be outsourced via TextBroker.

Evaluate and Correct On-Page Factors

This step doesn’t have any specific tasks – I’m basically going to skim through my content on each site and make sure my keywords aren’t too dense (I think 1-2% keyword density is probably okay).  I’ll also check on the site loading time, make sure there are no broken links, etc.   I think keyword density is probably going to be the most important factor to look at however, as far as what might have been impacted by Penguin.

This probably isn’t a super critical step, but if I’m going to try and get my sites back on track, on-page factors shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Adding Quality Backlinks with High Anchor Text Diversity

This step is going to be the bread and butter of my attempt to bring these niche sites “back from the dead.”  I have no doubt that the evaluation of backlinks was the most significant part of Google’s Penguin update.

I believe my anchor text is too heavily focused on my primary keyword, which is a big no no to Google.  Checking my sites on Open Site Explorer confirms this.  So, to try and dilute this problem, none of the backlinks I create for this case study will use my primary keyword as the anchor text.

This step is going to be the most time consuming, so stick with me while I map it out.  Here’s the plan for each niche site in this case study:

1) Add one quality article to each the following article directories:

What I will probably do here, is outsource one article relevant to my niche, and have it added to Ezine Articles.  Once it’s approved and live, I will then manually spin it (i.e. I will be the one spinning it) with The Best Spinner, to ensure that the spun copies are unique and read as if they were not spun.  After spinning the article, I will submit it to the remaining 4 directories.

I think the misconception with spun content is that it’s always low quality.  If you manually spin something and actually proofread the output of each spin, you can very easily have high quality, unique content, perfectly suitable to use for backlinks on article directories.

On each article, I will have one link pointing to the root domain of my niche site, and one link pointing to a deeper page.  Assuming each article allows 2 links, I will end up with 5 links to my root domain, and 5 links to deeper pages.

2) Use Unique Article Wizard in a smart way.

I still believe UAW can be effective in this zoo of Google Pandas and Penguins, if used properly.

The people who run UAW have been staying on top of Google’s updates and are doing everything they can to make sure they aren’t rendered useless.  Recently, they sent out a newsletter to reassure their members of the steps they are taking to make sure that, if UAW is used properly, it will continue to be a viable tool.

I tend to believe them, as most of my micro-niche sites (which are sadly not well-monetized at the moment) were backlinked exclusively with UAW and didn’t really see a dip in traffic in the wake of Penguin.  Also, they’ve been around forever, while other backlink services (such as BMR) have come and gone.  The key for them is that they don’t have a “private” network – they have a constantly changing database of websites that are independent, and publish content submitted through UAW.  Basically, it’s not much different than a bunch of random, unrelated blogs, that like to publish guest posts.

So, here’s how I’m going to use it:

  • Once the above articles are published, I’m going to backlink them with UAW with a relatively slow submission rate (20 submissions per day). Remember, of the 20 that are submitted, only a portion will be accepted.  From there, they may not be published immediately.  Then, it may take a while for Google to index each article.  At the end of the day, you have a relatively natural link velocity.
  • With new, manually spun articles, I will set up a backlink submission schedule directly to my niche sites with extremely slow submission rates (5 submissions/day).  I believe this will be slow enough where it may only add 0-1 backlinks per day, which will not set off any red flags in Google’s eyes.

This whole process (up to this point) is very similar to Pat Flynn’s “backlink strategy that works” which my backlink tracker is modeled after.

3) Pin an image on Pinterest.

With the fresh content I create, I’m going to try and utilize some kind of attractive image that would work well on Pinterest.  If you’ve never used Pinterest, I kind of view it as Twitter for images.  Instead of retweeting someone’s tweet, you re-pin people’s images.  It’s a very addictive social network that I believe is now the 3rd most popular social network behind Facebook and Twitter.

When you pin an image from your site, the pinned image becomes a backlink to your site from Pinterest.  The cool part is, each time someone re-pins your image, the new pin becomes a new backlink.  I’m not sure if these links are dofollow, but frankly, I don’t care.  It’s a good way to add to your link diversity and send some “social signals,” which seems to be one of the newer buzz words in SEO.

If you want, you can follow me on Pinterest.

4) Back to basics: Blog Commenting

Remember when blog commenting was constantly talked about as a great way to build backlinks and traffic? I feel like it’s not a hot topic anymore, but I still think it’s a great way to diversify your backlink profile and make it look natural.

The key here is to manually write thoughtful comments on blogs/websites that are relevant to your site’s niche.  I’m not going to be hung up on the anchor text of your comment…if anything, it’s probably best to use your name (or any normal-sounding name) so that the comment is more likely to be approved.  This will also help to further diversify your backlink anchor text.

For each niche site, I will find 5 relevant blogs and leave a comment on each.

That’s All!

So, that’s my plan to start.  Again, I may tweak this as I go, but this is what I’m going to follow for now.  If you have a site that has recently tanked in the rankings, feel free to follow along and try these steps with your site.  I think this strategy will help me dilute any bad links my sites might currently have, and add some good quality backlink “juice”.

What I may do is write a short weekly update in addition to my normal weekly content, so that you can see how my sites’ rankings have improved (if they’ve improved).

What do you think of this plan?  Do you have any suggestions?  I’m still willing to add to or change this strategy!

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50 Responses to “Bringing Niche Sites Back from the Dead, Part 1 [Case Study]”

  1. Hi Eric,

    Just continuing our discussion from here – http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/my-passive-income-report-april-2012/#comments.

    I personally think this is a crazy idea.

    Here’s why:

    You have set up a labor intensive plan that will span a number of weeks/month. But it’s entirely based on speculation as to what ‘may’ have gone wrong and what Google ‘may’ want to see.

    Why not just take control of your own business?

    In the time it takes you to set up this system, organize the outsourced services and do the work you yourself are going to do, you could have put together a KICK ASS product.

    That product is an ASSET. You control it and you can monetize it.

    Everything you describe above is HOPING to create an asset (ie a site that gets organic traffic).

    I’ve read your blog long enough to know that you’re a busy guy and your free time is in short supply.

    There is a genuine cost to you spending your time. The myth of “free” traffic is just that, a Myth. Your time has real value – in fact its the most valuable thing in your life.

    –Eric, not trying to cause trouble here, I just think you’re a nice guy with serious drive. I would love to see you plan a system that creates a real business and execute it to make a ton of money.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Doug,

    Once again, I appreciate the honest criticism. I won’t disagree with anything you’re saying because it’s all true. You’re absolutely right – I could use this time to create a kick ass product.

    But there’s an underlying assumption here, which you may be overlooking. What product is it that I’m going to create? How do you know it will be “kick ass”? I appreciate the fact that you believe I can create such a product, but let’s take a second to evaluate the risk of this approach. I could put a lot of time and money into a product that ultimately doesn’t go anywhere.

    If I had an idea for a kick ass product, believe me, I would be working on it right now. Assuming we’re talking about creating some kind of informational product (I’m not currently willing to invest in building software), creating a product is not any less risky than building a website of content that earns revenue based on advertisements and affiliate commissions.

    It sounds sexier to build a product, but in reality, it could flop just the same. Any informational product I could write, outside of the internet marketing niche, would probably be no better than the content I publish on niche sites.

    What I’d like to do, if I can get these sites back on track, is to grow them into “authority” sites that provide real value. They’re in niches that I’m genuinely interested in.

    I agree that traffic on Google isn’t free, but I have to look at “time” as a constant. No matter what I do (build a product, watch TV, build a niche site), time will be incurred. There is an opportunity cost for doing anything, but to enjoy life, you sometimes have to ignore it. I have a regular job that pays the bills (with plenty left over for me to buy what I want – nothing extravagant though).

    So what I’m doing right now is what I get the most enjoyment out of. While the ultimate goal is to make money, I’m balancing it with doing what I enjoy, which has value to me (personally). If I wanted to make real money, I could consult for people as a CPA. My billing rate at the firm I work for is $150/hour – far surpassing any hourly rate I’m going to make working online.

    So, in my limited free time, I want to work on the things that I like to work on – I won’t always be doing what’s going to make me the most money.

    When I come up with an idea for a product, I will act on it. If it’s something that interests me, I will do it.

    Right now, I have a certain amount of fun taking niche sites that were “dumped” by Google and seeing if I can get them ranking again. Even if it’s not the best use of my time, I’ll enjoy doing it, and I think people here will enjoy reading about it.

    I realize that this answer may frustrate you, because I’m probably sounding a bit reckless – going against what is probably the “smarter” thing to do. If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you know that I like to try different things, sometimes to the point where I’m spreading myself thin and it becomes detrimental to my results. I’m accepting that, because I still believe I can find gems here and there.

    Anyway, I hope this doesn’t scare you away from reading my blog. And one day, when I do create a kick ass product, I do hope you’re still here to tell me, “I told you so.” :)

    [Reply]

    Doug Reply:

    Ok. best of luck.

    My one final comment relates to “Authority Sites”.

    If it’s a real Authority Site you shouldn’t have to rely on spinning articles to promote it.

    True authority sites grow organically based on their exceptional content. If you need to try and ‘game’ Google with automated backlinking software and the like, you actually don’t have a solid enough site.

    Authority Sites are a heck of a lot harder to create than everyone thinks. People think ‘bigger’ means authority. 5 crappy articles is a niche site and somehow 100 articles is an authority.

    That’s not the case.

    [Reply]

    Adam Reply:

    Eric,

    A Kick Ass product would be great as Doug mentioned, however, your have a business plan already so you need to stick to it. There have been hurdles before and you have overcome them, so there is no point to stop now just because your sites dropped.

    Also, while all the other niche site builders are waiting for somebody to come up with a plan for link building and getting their sites back you can move ahead of them by doing what you THINK will work. By the way, I believe that what you are doing will work.

    What I have been doing lately?

    In the past couple of weeks I have been publishing around 5 articles on sites like Ezinearticles, Infobarrel and Squidoo and pointing them to my niche sites. This has slowly started to bring my sites back and I think in the next couple of weeks they should be ranking even higher than they were.

    A lot of people want great rankings but they stick to 100% automated links. Automated links will work, however, in moderation like you mentioned above.

    Anyway, I hope your strategy works as I am currently doing a similar strategy and am seeing decent results.

    Adam
    Adam recently posted… Your First $10 Online – And Turning It Into $10,000

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the support, Adam. While the odds seem to be against this type of thing working, I’m still willing to experiment.

    And Doug, I absolutely agree that more content does not always = authority. The site I’ve been working on is much more than a bunch of outsourced articles. Most of the content is written by me, with real, personal experience integrated.

    You’re right, it’s going to be very difficult to succeed and gain traction in the niche as an authority, but I’ve been slowly and steadily working on it. It’s my priority, although that’s not to say I won’t work on other projects (such as the one outlined in this post), to keep things interesting for me.

    Andre Garde Reply:

    Finally! Someone who understands what an authority site is and is not (talking about Doug here). Great comment!

    To Eric, I think you’re over thinking things here. Have you taken a look to see at what the top 3-5 in your niche are doing in terms of ranking? This has been far more fruitful to me when I know what props them up. Then I just doing something similar + one little thing extra.

    By the way, you already have a “product”, except it’s a service. Your SEO plan! I’m sure someone would find this of value on WF or some equivalent Internet Marketing forum. Package it all up and sell it as a service. Or do just the site creation part.
    Andre Garde recently posted… April 2012 Progress Report

  2. I don’t think this is a crazy idea and most of what you are doing may help. I still think using UAW and spinning article is going to bite you in the long run. If this does work I’d suggest selling these sites after 3 months and hope Google doesn’t slap them again before then.

    Spinning articles and submitting to spammy article directories is not going to be a stragegy that works going into the future. Especially right to your money sites, it just isn’t smart, even if it does work for the next couple months.

    If you are just going to get hit again with the next update why not just do it the right way now? You know Google is going to stop giving those links any weight eventually. Any site that takes the crap coming from UAW is going to get hit by the Big G eventually.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Tyler. I recognize that UAW may not work in the long run, but I’m still going to use it as a way to efficiently dilute my sites’ backlink profile. Perhaps if I were starting a new site, I wouldn’t bother with it. But because these sites have already used similar types of links, I’m just going to roll with it and see what happens.

    Again, the main factor I’m trying to isolate is anchor text diversity, which I believe to be a HUGE part of what Google was/is targeting.

    [Reply]

  3. Eric, I’d suggest you to grow one Amazon site and one Adsense site as Authority styles one.

    The ranking will stick and your traffic will grow for long term.

    This is an interesting case study, and you could just focus and grow these niche site traffic/income over time.

    Instead of adding one quality content, add 10-20 articles instead in a month.

    Also in your 2nd link tier, beside Article Directories, I’d add WordPress, blogspot, tumblr, livejournal etc. Make it even more diversity, but more work.

    This is what I have been doing as in my May monthly plan. Adding quality content to my big winners and grow them even bigger.

    Just my 2 cents, Buddy.
    Kent @ Make Extra Income recently posted… MMO Monthly Report April 2012

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Great suggestions, Kent. If I determine that I can actually gain some traction in regaining the sites’ rankings, I’ll consider putting more resources into expanding them further.

    I like the idea of adding WordPress/Blogspot/etc. blogs to the 2nd tier – I actually meant to include those, but as you can, I forgot. :)

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Eric,

    You may have mentioned this before, but around how many articles are on the niche sites you are trying to revive? A bunch of my niche sites were killed in the Penguin update however I have decided that the days of 5 article micro niche sites are over and that it is time to move on and create authority blogs that will actually help people and make a difference.

    I actually think that it’s going to be harder for you to revive an old niche site rather than create a new one unless you have at least 20 posts on your site. The reason I say that is that Google probably has a “grudge” against your existing site for whatever reason it was slapped to begin with. If you create a new site with new content and fresh authoritative backlinks I think that would be easier than reviving an old site.

    Just my $0.02…looking forward to seeing how it works out for you! Best of luck!
    Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon recently posted… Is the Mobile App Market Too Saturated?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    The sites I am trying revive all have 10+ pages of content. I do agree that it would be easier to build a new site instead of trying to revive ones that were punished by Penguin, which is why I’m only trying to revive three of them. If the experiment fails, I’ll happily admit it and move on. :)

    [Reply]

  5. Your strategy boils down to creating some “non-anchor text” links to your niche sites, and adding a little content. New links are always helpful, but I’d suggest adding more content in the mix as a priority.
    jadedragon recently posted… How to Save Money In a Home Office

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Jade. Overall, I think you are right about more content being a stronger factor, however I believe the Penguin update was much more focused on backlinks, not content. Therefore, to try and “reverse” the effects of Penguin, I need to put more focus on backlinks.

    [Reply]

  6. I’ve just done a similar post to this and our approaches are also similar.

    What content are you using for the UAW submissions to the article sites (ezine etc)? I’m using stuff from Article Builder.

    After reading your post I will have a look at the internal linking on my site as I think it is over optimised and something I had forgotten about.

    I like Doug’s idea re. creating a kick arse product but like you say, what kind of product could you make? Maybe one on how to be a CPA making $150 an hour!

    I agree with the others that adding one quality piece of content to your sites probably isn’t enough. I am adding about 5-10 a week to the site I am trying to bring back.

    Maybe also do a test creating a new site in the same niche targeting the same keywords and see if it is easier to rank a new site than bring an old site back?

    If you’ve the time have a look at my latest blog post to see my post-Penguin claw back plan.

    Cheers, Joe
    Joe recently posted… A Tale of Two Sites

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    For the UAW submissions, I am going to use content that I outsource on Textbroker, and then that content will be manually spun and reviewed by me.

    I am starting to realize that adding one piece of content probably won’t make much of a difference, but as I mentioned in another comment above, this is really going to be more about the backlinking (which is where Penguin had more of its impact).

    Thanks Joe!

    [Reply]

  7. I admire the fact you are putting a good deal of effort to get your site’s rankings back. Quite a few people are just sitting around twiddling thumbs.

    I normally don’t comment drop, but I can’t help it (you linked to my site and I came to see what the deal was), seeing the amount of effort you are looking at putting into your niche sites post panda.

    A+ for effort, but D- for the type of effort as you are doing the wrong thing completely.

    Mate, your intentions are good (and probably right) with the “Adding Quality Backlinks with High Anchor Text Diversity” idea, but you are going about it all wrong, in fact building complete crap links to your sites — the sort of links that landed probably landed your sites in the penguin tank in the first place. You are just putting more wood on the penguin fire with those links.

    These “high quality links” you are getting are:

    1. Overspammed Article Directories (these count for almost zilch these days in terms of links value). Not only this, you are using SPUN content to do your submissions!

    2. UAW — back years ago, UAW used to be ok. Now, it’s beyond crappy. UAW, BMR (which was the best of the bunch, back a couple years ago), etc are one of the reasons why people’s sites landed in the panda tank. I would NOT advice touching anything with UAW

    3. Pininterest — ah, won’t do too much. It’s a link, but of such low quality, it won’t do anything.

    Let me offer some advice: Quality links are not article directory links (even if the PR is HIGH on the domain, the actual PR from the article you write is 0 unless you link build to it) or Social Network Links or UAW spam (and UAW is complete spam — deindexed or super low quality blogs with hundreds or thousands of spun content posts posted to them!). Those links will HURT you more than help you post Penguin.

    Look for real links from real sites in related niches. Sites that get real search traffic and have keyword authority. Sites that actually get real visitors. These help you rank. Public backlink networks and automated link building spam links won’t help your site any at this point.

    Yes, it’s hard to get those links, but that’s the reality of SEO and ranking sites these days. It’s not for the faint of heart.

    Anyways, enough of my ramble. My .02 for what it’s worth. Best of luck with your projects :)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Ben,

    I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and write a thoughtful comment. I’m a big fan of your content (and the post you just recently published is helpful).

    I pretty much agree with your analyses above of the various types of backlinks I’m going to build. I understand that these are the lowest quality links (and not coincidentally, the easiest to obtain).

    What I’m doing here is really more of an experiment, not proclaiming that I have the champion SEO strategy. I’m trying something that won’t be terribly time consuming, just to see if these sites can improve. If not, I will happily admit failure and move on.

    I’d just like to be able to answer the question, “Will these backlinks have any impact (positive or negative) on sites that are in relatively low-competition niches?”

    While you and many others would probably skip the experiment and just answer a simple, “No”, I’m willing to play around with it and see what happens. :)

    [Reply]

    Ben Reply:

    I’m all for experiments! If it works out, awesome. What might be interesting is to see if you can still rank NEW sites with those links — I suspect you probably can. There is probably a regular “refresh” of the penguin algorithm (like the panda) though which will probably catch those type of sites.

    Do let me know how the experiment pans out!

    Best

    Ben

    [Reply]

  8. I’ll be fascinated to see how you do with this – and we’ll certainly feature the end result over at IM Gourmet.

    I’m curious on the spinning front – in the time it takes to set up an article for spinning, couldn’t you just write the article in a few different ways? I know once I’ve got the facts and basic thesis of an article laid out, I can generally produce a bunch of variants on the same theme within an hour or so.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Hugh. You’re right that instead of spinning, you can simply rewrite an article. For some people, that may be more efficient, provided you make sure your revised copies are still unique.

    The reason why I like spinning vs. rewriting is that in most spinning software (including The Best Spinner, which I use), you can select from a list of synonyms for each word. Even though I’m still manually selecting everything, it’s sometimes quicker for me to pick words/phrases from a list (instead of thinking of them off the top of my head).

    [Reply]

  9. Google alghorithm is very weird. I have seen 2 different behaviors from 2 of my sites. All of them have been blasted everywhere and used the same techinques and blast services. 1 disappeared from Google, the other one sits at the #1 position for its keyword. All after the latest Panda update. How can you explain that?
    I think Panda its a fake

    Thanks

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    The best way to explain the different effects on different sites is that each site targets different keywords. Different keywords have different competitive environments, and therefore, the rankings will vary.

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Eric,
    I don’t have any experience (yet) w/ Pinterest, but your explanation of how it’s kind of like an “image Twitter” type of social site is intriguing.

    I have to say I don’t care for Twitter, but this might be worth investigating.

    My biggest issues revolve around backlinking, and I always write really good content (at least I think so! Ha ha!).

    I will be VERY interested to see your results. I think I might use some of your strategies, although I use Submit Your Article instead of UAW…

    And, like @Adam mentioned above, don’t ignore sites like Squidoo. I have one of my Squidoo “lenses” (that’s what they call their pages) that is in the #3 spot out of more than 103 million results – so Google obviously likes Squidoo as well.

    Finally, part of my own strategies will include making some simple (VERY simple) videos as well that link to my sites. It’s worked in the past, and since Google owns YouTube, it might be a good angle to try.

    Eric Lancheres just launched a course called “Panda Breakthrough” that looks like it’s full of good strategies for dealing with these and future updates, but the $495 price tag is too much for me…

    Please report back soon on your results!
    Cheers, Kathy
    Kathy@Get Bring the Fresh recently posted… I Think This is a Success Story! :)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Kathy! Pinterest is fun to use – even if you don’t use it for backlinks (and even if backlinks there carry little to no weight), it’s still an enjoyable site to browse.

    I like the idea of using YouTube videos for SEO purposes – I’m sure it’ll have a positive effect of some sort. If I was willing to put in the effort for my niche sites, I’d probably do the same. In time, I definitely plan on creating videos for my authority site.

    [Reply]

  11. The comments act as if Eric is new to ranking site and has no experiences to draw from and guide his next moves, nor track record showing how he’s figured things out before.

    I think the guy saying to ditch it and go to selling an asset is not thinking big picture. The idea is that if this works on these 3 sites, Eric can expand it and get everything rolling again.

    It’s not like he’s only got these 3 sites to work with. R&D needs investment, that’s what this is!
    Joe Helms recently posted… Impact Wrench vs. Impact Driver

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the support Joe. Although I’m not new to this, I still consider myself inexperienced. Also, my track record isn’t too impressive.

    With that said, I’m not discouraged. You’re right in that I’m giving this a try for these 3 sites – if it fails, I simply move onto something else. It’s an investment I’m willing to make.

    [Reply]

  12. Hi Eric,

    I have alos been following your ups and downs and can really appreciate how you must be feeling after having spent so much time building your business and or exeprimenting with ideas, only to have this happen to you.

    I am really beginning to think that close on 100% of yoru effort should be on creating content.

    Peopl talk about autheority sites, if you really want one then you need to start thinking about updates to your site twice, three times, of even every couple of hours or so. If you do this, this will be noted by Google and it will be noted by clients who will in turn come back more frequently. If I thought you would uodate more often then I would also be back more regularly, then you would get more comments and the site would become more ‘authority’ and faster.

    Good luck in your pursuits.

    Paul
    Paul recently posted… Hello world!

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Paul. I agree with you that creating content is probably one of the best areas to spend my time, in general.

    I’m not sure if your comment was referring to this blog (My 4-Hour Workweek). For the record, I don’t make a conscious effort to build the traffic and following of this blog – it’s my personal “passive income experiments” journal, that I share publicly.

    I would update content more frequently if I felt I could put out good quality content that often, but right now I pretty much stick to 1 post per week.

    [Reply]

  13. Eric,

    This is a GREAT idea for a case study. It’s about time someone took the reigns to see what works and what doesn’t work.

    I’ve seen Pinterest thrown around as a backlink source like crazy over the past week. I just got my invite, so I’ll be adding it into the mix very soon.

    I think you’re correct in using UAW to create slowly dripped links. I’m doing this too with Drip Feed Blasts.

    Keep us updated on how it turns out!
    Vin@Rank For Profit recently posted… How to Earn Money to Make Money

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Vin. Let’s hope the results turn out well – if not though, it just means I need to do some more experimenting!

    [Reply]

  14. Gday Eric,

    Couple of points from me.

    I was thinking that Google may have worked out that I hated the second Happy Feet movie and punished me accordingly, but the chances of that seem low at a second glance.

    My experience to date has been that 1 site has tanked about 1/5 of its traffic and another site has increased around 400%.

    The problem with one site seems (yes I am guessing) that it was getting thousands of links from another site that had decided to include a link to mine in the template page and every page it was creating was sending a new backlink.

    The other site that has increased is using an anchor layer with blog, facebook, article directories and indirect layer of shitty links to the anchor layer.

    Now on the topic of forget it all and write an ebook etc, overall the concept espoused is right and you and I know it. But here’s the point, you ARE the product.

    Keep reviewing, discussing and keeping it real etc. But you could perhaps think about it your business plan in terms of your own personal brand and how you develop it, because your name (or your business name?) and how people relate to to it, will be where you make your serious 4 hour working week money.

    (Jim Cockrum is a good case study on a person being the product)

    Australia doesn’t have 2 cent coins anymore so I needed to round it up to a whole 5 cents :)
    Nigel recently posted… Business Card Design

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the 5 cents, Nigel. :) Interesting to see how your sites were affected differently.

    In many cases, you are right, I “am the product.” While I enjoy interjecting my personal “flavor” into content and websites I create, I’ll never be able to scale anything if it all revolves around me.

    Ultimately I’d like to create value and income while taking myself out of the equation (i.e. the income is passive).

    Obviously, I haven’t found a winning formula yet, so I’ll just have to keep pushing forward and see where it goes.

    [Reply]

  15. The comments act as if Eric is new to ranking site and has no experiences to draw from and guide his next moves, nor track record showing how he’s figured things out before.

    ——–

    ** Here’s Eric’s track record.

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/online-passive-income-and-blog-update-october-11/
    – Google slap. Lost a ton of revenue.

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/my-passive-income-report-march-2012/
    – Google slap. Lost a ton of revenue.

    http://www.my4hrworkweek.com/my-passive-income-report-april-2012/
    – Google slap. Lost most of the remaining revenue.

    I’m not trying to be mean here and I have nothing against Eric. It’s just that this ‘relying on Google traffic’ model is fundamentally flawed.

    ——-

    I think the guy saying to ditch it and go to selling an asset is not thinking big picture. The idea is that if this works on these 3 sites, Eric can expand it and get everything rolling again.

    —-

    ** You are 100% wrong. I am absolutely thinking ‘big picture’. The big picture is that building any ‘business’ that relies on someone else for its most vital component (ie in this case traffic from Google) is like building a skyscraper on sand. It may look pretty for a short while, but ultimately it will come crashing down. Don’t believe me? I refer you to the Income Reports I linked to above.

    —-

    It’s not like he’s only got these 3 sites to work with. R&D needs investment, that’s what this is!

    —-

    ** You’re right. He has a ton of thin Niche Sites that are poorly ranked in Google, receive little or no traffic and make pennies a day.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE. YOU NEED TO BUILD A REAL BUSINESS, NOT SOME TEMPORARY INTERRUPTION IN GOOGLE’S VERY PUBLIC ATTEMPTS TO KILL THIN SITS. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU FIGHT GOOGLE ON THIS? YOU WILL LOSE EVERY TIME.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for being the “voice of reason” here, Doug. :)

    You’ve linked to the proof – I’ve been on a decline for awhile now, which tells me that SOMETHING needs to change.

    Big picture, you are right – a sustainable, successful business model is one that is well diversified (in multiple ways, INCLUDING not solely relying on Google to be successful).

    What I’m doing now is a mix of creating new assets while still spending a small portion of my time kicking the tires on old, damaged assets. I can honestly say that I am close to throwing in the towel on these sites, but I feel obligated to see what I can do while I still own them.

    When it comes time to renew domains, I’ll obviously cut off anything that isn’t at least passively earning the cost of another year’s domain renewal.

    The economic term “sunk costs” comes to mind as an argument AGAINST still putting more effort into sites that I had previously invested in, so I’m well aware of the somewhat irrational action I’m taking.

    While I’m still in the process of creating new, more valuable assets, I will continue to experiment with my existing niche sites. It’s not that I believe it’s the best use of my time – it’s just something that I enjoy doing, and it keeps me from getting bored of everything else.

    [Reply]

  16. Cool Doug! I concur with your views. Let’s remove Google in our mind prior to creating a website. Let’s create websites that are worth sharing through other media and not just sites that are push onto top of SE in the hope that they make money from those crappy contents. It’s time to make internet a better place! :) Niche sites are dead!

    [Reply]

  17. Great idea Eric, nice that someone is out there testing what Google is up to and how it effects us smaller players. We have a relatively new site that we are hoping will become a retail platform, so monetization is different, but we still need traffic and SEO insight!

    Cheers,
    Tim

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the support, Tim, we’ll see how it goes!

    [Reply]

  18. As for me, though I hardly believe or trust anything google (i hate it when G tries to dominate the internet and makes us dance to their tunes always) I’d prefer to spend my time and money buying solo ads and face book ads. Though I plan to spend $50 on each niche site I bring up just for normal SEO and should google like it, send me traffic and if not, screw google.

    BTW: I love to capture e-mail address of visitors so it will help me to sell them directly later.

    I love paid traffic

    Sheyi
    Sheyi @ Ivblogger.com recently posted… Lenia Evangelinou Interview: Succeeding Against All Odds

    [Reply]

  19. Hi Eric,

    The same thing happened to my niche sites, went from earning $25+ per day to around $1 per day, all due to the Penguin update.

    After that happened i came up with a new strategy for my niche sites that is quite different to yours (i wrote a post about it on my new blog if your interested).

    Im not sure if my new strategy will work, only time will tell, but i will be sure to keep an eye on your case study as im very interested to see what really works post-Penguin.

    Daniel
    Daniel @ MyFinancialFreedomChallenge.com recently posted… My Old And New Niche Website Strategies

    [Reply]

  20. Sheui where do you get paid traffic? I mean real one and not fake, thanks.

    [Reply]

  21. Hi Eric,
    I always appreciate your honesty. Keep the updates coming and it will be an interesting experiment if nothing else. Interesting feedback from everyone else – sounds like Google continues to be the subject of many peoples nightmares. All you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other. Good Luck.
    David recently posted… Part 2 of an interview with Claude Desjardins about his sailing journey in “Pere Peinard”

    [Reply]

  22. A lot of people in the business were hot hard by the recent updates pulled off by Google. Bringing back such niche sites will be hard but if you have the proper layout on the things you should do, then you’re off to a good start.

    [Reply]

  23. I will definitely try this approach and I will let you know how it goes
    Dorina recently posted… chaise lounge chair

    [Reply]

  24. Hi Eric,
    Thanks for sharing your experience especially related to Amazon and readers could learn alot from your post and its a really helpful post for bloggers.
    Pete Goumas recently posted… What Is Mythology

    [Reply]

  25. Best of luck to you Eric! Push the social media sharing and anchor diversity really hard and I think you’ll be quite happy to see your results come 4 weeks down the road
    Austin recently posted… How My First Ever Digital Product Sold Over $500 Worth In Under 30 Days

    [Reply]

  26. These Google updates have really shook things up. Tough to call what is effective now until things shake out a bit.

    I wish you luck on this endeavor. Hope it brings results.
    Tim recently posted… Benefits of Chiropractic – Omaha Chiropractors

    [Reply]

  27. Hey Eric, I’ve been reading a few of your posts and I like your writing style.

    I’ll be following your progress from now on as I think I can learn a lot from what you are saying.

    My question here is, how did your strategy work out to rebuild your niche site rankings? Have you seen improvements in your rankings?

    I’m slowly getting into IM and I have a few sites that got hit as well as some sites that are holding steady.

    I def think link diversification is a key and over use of anchor text can hurt you. Would def love to hear how this went.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Dale, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, my quest to improve my niche site rankings didn’t go so well likely because of previous link building I performed that Google didn’t like. Probably overused the same anchor text, and had too many lower quality links. For the most part, I have decided to move on past these sites and work on other projects that should have greater potential.

    [Reply]

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  1. 90 Days Challenge to Bounce Back After Penguin Updates | Online Niche Income - June 8, 2012

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