Bringing Niche Sites Back from the Dead, Part 2 [Case Study Update]

As promised, I’m going to periodically update the progress of my case study as I attempt to bring a few of my niche sites “back to life” (you can read part 1 where I explain everything here). [Warning: This is a very short post!]

So far, it looks as if things are going well.  It’s always difficult to tell if changes are a result of efforts that I’m making, or some external forces (like Google algorithm changes).  Here’s a quick look at the improvements over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s what my rankings looked like before I started this little experiment:

I haven’t yet completed all the tasks I wrote about in part 1 of the case study - remember, good SEO is often slow SEO.  In my original post about this experiment, I did receive a lot of criticism, and for good reason.

Here is part of one of the comments I received:

There are a lot of great points here (and this isn’t even the entire comment), and if you want to see my response (along with some other great discussion in the comments), head back to the original post and check them out.

My plan of attack with this experiment really doesn’t involve me spending a lot of time on it – at least, not all at once.  It’s something I may spend 10 minutes on each day in the morning while I drink my coffee, before I head out to work.

Most of my time (and it really hasn’t been a ton of time yet) is spent working on what I believe will be real assets to my business.  I’ve got one authority site in the works that I’ve been working on little by little for the past few months, and I have another idea for a site that I think could be huge, because of how passionate I am about the subject/niche.  It’s something I could see turning into a real business (going way beyond posting articles that other people have written).

I’m trying not to spread myself too thin though, so that idea will have to wait until I finish up my current projects and determine whether or not I think they will go somewhere worthwhile.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the rankings as of today:

As you can see, the results are pretty mixed, but I’m happy with them so far.  Although two sites declined slightly (and when sites are that far down in Google, minor movements – positive or negative – don’t really mean much), one site has shot back up in the rankings.  Site #2 went from 74 to 11, so now it sits right at the top of page 2 for its target keyword.

That’s all for now – stay tuned for another update, probably in a couple of weeks.  

Have you been able to improve your rankings after the Penguin update? What’s been working (or not working) for you?

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23 Responses to “Bringing Niche Sites Back from the Dead, Part 2 [Case Study Update]”

  1. You said you haven’t completed all the tasks that you planned, but you also didn’t say which tasks you have done, which might be responsible for the increase in ranking of site no. 2.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    So far, I have created 1 article for each site and published it on Ezine Articles. Also, I have pinned an image on Pinterest, and have done a little bit of blog commenting. The biggest thing I haven’t done yet is backlink my backlinks with UAW, as I described in my original post. Still lots to do!

    [Reply]

  2. Hi Eric!

    Are you doing anything to the sites themselves or you put all your focus on SEO? I have found that actually putting articles to your site and fattening it up gets you some great long-tail traffic.

    I’m glad that you have found a passionate niche site. I believe that the key really is building quality niche sites and nurturing them.

    Small sites disappear with the next Google update.
    Kris @ Detailed Success recently posted… 20 Site Theory – A Detailed Guide To Success

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I have added a little bit of content to each site, and will continue to do so, but my focus has primarily been on SEO and backlinking, since this was what the recent Google Penguin update targeted.

    I agree though, more content = more long-tail traffic, which is definitely a good thing.

    My biggest fear with these smaller niche sites, like you said, is that they can (and perhaps will) continue to be knocked down by each Google update. The challenge will be making sure they are strong enough to withstand those updates.

    Thanks for the comment, Kris!

    [Reply]

    Marc Reply:

    Hi Eric I’m new to all this but what I’m finding out is that updated content is almost as important or as important as back linking. Google likes fresh updated content. The content doesn’t have to be affiliated related but related to your niche. What I’m doing is consistently adding content mostly 200-300 word posts optimized with my keyword and a related you tube video.

    I think the days are gone where you create a niche site and leave it alone. Constant fresh content for the audience is essential from my investigation. Takes more work or more money if you want to outsource. I outsourced info content; 200 word info posts at very reasonable price. I get a batch of 10 articles at a time and upload article one per day. I also post a review article as a sticky from time to time.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Marc, and I agree that fresh content can be very important. Although I think 200 word articles may be a bit too short (I try to aim for 400+), I definitely think you have the right idea.

  3. Hi Eric,

    Good to see your making some progress bringing your niche sites back.

    I would be interesting in hearing more about your authority site project. What’s your strategy for the site?

    Daniel
    Daniel @ MyFinancialFreedomChallenge.com recently posted… My Authority Site Strategy

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hi Daniel,

    The basic strategy right now for the authority site project is just to create content as much as possible (I write most of the content myself). Right now, that usually means 1 post per week.

    I’m also working on gaining some traction in social media (primarily Twitter, where I already have a couple thousand followers). While SEO is one way to get your content found, social networking can obviously be another powerful way (since other people are sharing your content).

    Finally, I’m working on building an email list. Right now, I only have 15-20 subscribers on the list for that site, but I’m confident the number will grow over time as I test different things and increase traffic.

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Eric,

    At least you’re making some progress with keyword 2! SEO is a long term thing though so I guess you can’t really expect more than what you have seen already. Still sticking with my opinion that it would be better in the long run just to set up new sites, but I’m definitely rooting for this to go well for you!

    Thomas
    Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon recently posted… How to Hit #3 in the App Store: An Interview With Maciej Czekala – Developer of Gravity Maze

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Thomas. I do think you’re right that new sites will have a better chance of succeeding, at least in the short term. I’m confident I could get a new site ranking, but it would only be a matter of time before the sites were viewed no differently than many of these other sites I created, if I do everything the same.

    Bringing back some of these older sites is much more of a challenge, which is why I think it makes for a more interesting experiment. If I fail, oh well. :) At least I can say I gave it a shot.

    [Reply]

  5. Site #2 looks promising, but the other still very far from the top. I will keep up with your process to see how these sites perform. Good luck 2 you
    Robert recently posted… Prooduct – Premium WordPress Theme To Sell Digital Products

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Robert!

    [Reply]

  6. Glad to see one site has moved up!

    The site I am working on to try and bring back hasn’t moved back in to the top 200 results in Google for its main keywords.

    I am adding more content which is getting some long tail so the site isn’t penalised as a whole – just for the main keywords I was targeting!

    Long tail traffic is a nice idea but I’m not sure it is ‘buying traffic’ though.

    I’ve got so little time my authority site hasn’t had much attention but will try and ramp things up next month.
    Joe recently posted… Whats all this about a New EU Cookie Law?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Joe. It’s somewhat discouraging when you see that new content is receiving traffic from long-tail keywords, yet your primary keyword is somehow “penalized.”

    While the long-tail traffic is great, the goal is obviously to rank well for that high traffic, primary keyword. This is what I’ve been experiencing on several of my sites, and I don’t know what to make of it. Will we ever be able to get back our rankings for that primary keyword? I guess time will tell.

    [Reply]

  7. Eric,

    I am glad to see you have a site that is coming back. I too have a bunch of sites that I have been working on and it looks promising.

    What I have done:

    I recently wrote 5 articles targeting long tail keywords and published them 2 days apart. I then linked to them with 1 unique article on Ezinearticles and then I built links to my ezinearticle using UAW.

    In less than 2 weeks all my articles are within the top 18 of Google and rank within the first page of Yahoo and Bing (Not like it really matters though).

    Also, I have seen that the more links my inner pages get the higher my homepages ranks for its primary keyword. My guess is this has something to do with creating an overall quality site as opposed to just a few pages with the majority of links pointing to the homepage.

    Anyway, I can’t wait to see your sites get on the first page. Just keep plugging along and you will get there.

    Adam
    Adam recently posted… How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Adam,

    Thanks for sharing what’s working for you – It’s great to hear that you’re trying something similar to what I’m doing and seeing good results so far. Hopefully things will start looking up soon!

    [Reply]

  8. Personally I don’t think you should be using UAW anymore but it is cool your still trying and showing people what and how your doing it.

    For niche sites, since you’re only going after some weaker keywords anyways, I’ve been writing 5-10 articles to fatten up my site and snag some longtail. Also, helps increase your page views per visitor and diversifies your keyword profile. Spend some time adding 2-3 more internal links in the body of articles to some of the weaker pages as well.

    A site geared toward only 3 keywords just doesn’t look like a real site but if you have 20-30 variations on those 3 you’ll pick up traffic and look “more” natural and less like a MFA.

    [Reply]

    Adam Reply:

    Tyler,

    I agree with you to a certain extent. I understand why you would say to stop using UAW however, they are still very powerful and if used correctly it can benefit you. Like Eric mentioned, submitting 5 articles per day might only get 1-2 links published and that will look very natural as long as you keep adding content and building other links.

    I have been using UAW for a long time and I don’t see them going anywhere. Also, UAW works wonders to link back to article directory links and Web 2.0 links in order to strengthen them.

    In my opinion I would not write off UAW just yet, they still provide a lot of value and you may hurt yourself for dropping them already.

    Adam
    Adam recently posted… How To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Tyler, and I appreciate the suggestions. I like the idea of adding more content, and I think that’s probably one of the best ways to get “on Google’s good side” for these smaller niche sites.

    Even if UAW isn’t the best way to go about building links, I’m going to stick with it at least a bit longer to see what happens. I agree with what Adam said, in that if you use UAW properly, it shouldn’t set off any SEO red flags.

    [Reply]

  9. congratulations on the upward tick. i am trying something similar with a couple niche sites that got hit. traffic is indeed improving.

    what i also see help a lot is diluting the exact match direct links i have, but doing so in a very gradual manner (drip feeding mass article submissions)

    but like you said, it is very difficult to pin point what action is causing which result
    Sunil l Expediting Wealth Through Extra Income recently posted… 2 Basic Personal Finance Fundamentals That Don’t Change

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Sunil. From what I can see, overusing anchor text has to be the primary reason many of my sites were hurt. Because I’m not able to go back and edit or delete the links that are likely hurting me, the best thing you or I can do is dilute them. We’ll see what happens…

    [Reply]

  10. Personally I don’t think there is an “optimal” number of posts. Google likes fresh, original content so I would think that it’s always a good idea to add a new post if/when you have something new to say.
    tinafreysd recently posted… homes for sale etobicoke

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Tina – thanks for the comment!

    [Reply]

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