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Update #1 to My Authority Site Project; Fail Quickly

Update #1 to My Authority Site Project; Fail Quickly

Well, I began my Niche Authority Site Project about a month and a half ago.  I wanted to review some of the things that I have done, my results so far, and what my plans are for this project in the future.  Unfortunately, I have to provide a bit of a twist for this project, but such is life!

So, here is what has happened, since I wrote my initial plans for my project: read plans here. I chose what I believe is a good keyword (still do), and have added over 60 articles to the site in the past month and a half.  Within the first 30 days, the site was ranking well for lots of different long tail keywords.  Also, within the first 30 days, I had earned $34.76 via Google Adsense.  For a brand new site, this is stellar!  Trust me, a new site usually takes a bit longer to start earning over a $1 per day.  So, everything was looking like I had picked a real winner (and I still think I have).

However, about 3 weeks ago for lack of a better term, my site was “sand boxed”.  My site went from receiving 30 to 40 unique visitors a day (pretty decent for a brand new site) to essentially no traffic from Google.  I was originally ranking well for lots of long tail keywords as I had planned; however, once this “penalty” was applied I am no longer around.  Essentially the site now gets a few stray image searches or other random phrase searches, but overall, no real traffic from Google.

Presented with a Decision

So, I was left with a decision to make.  I know from experience that sometimes new sites bounce around in Google – and this is important to know.  Newer sites will bounce up and down the rankings for a week or so before they settle in a position – but never stay down for 3 weeks like this one has.  However, I also know from experience that what my “authority” site experienced was a more severe penalty than just bouncing around.  I highly doubt that it will ever come back.  And this is a phenomenon that I have noticed from time to time.  I would say that some domains perform perhaps better than they should and others perform much worse than they should (like this one).  I wish I understood why Google does things sometimes, but I can’t explain why some sites get penalized and why others don’t.

However, I have recognized that this site has essentially been killed.  Its still in Google and like I said gets the stray visitor from Google, but nothing like it should.  So my decision was:

  • Do I keep the site and continue to overcome the penalty?
  • Or do I start with a fresh domain and try again?

My experience has taught me to recognize your failures quickly and get back in the saddle just as quickly.  So, I am throwing in the towel on this domain and starting a brand new site.  I also know from experience that overcoming a penalty like this is nearly impossible – so its just not worth the effort.

The only problem with my decision is that I have already invested a lot of time and money into my authority site!  I have paid for about 70 articles to be written and that’s a pretty penny to just throw out the window.  So, I am going to try something that is perhaps risky but may save me from having to pay for 70 new articles on the same topics all over again.  I am going to reuse my articles.

Killing My Old Site

That’s right, I am going to start placing my articles from my old authority site onto my new site.  But won’t I get penalized for duplicate content you ask?  Well, first of all, duplicate content gets ranked all the time; but more importantly, I am going to do my best to remove my original site completely from Google.  Yep, I am shutting down my original site, removing all the files, and this site will no longer be in existence.  So, when Google tries to crawl my site again, the site will be gone, and the site will eventually be completely removed from the Google index.  This is what I want at this point.

Once the site has been completely removed from the Google index, I will start placing the articles from my old site onto my new site.  I am hoping that this will allow the new site to be seen as the original provider of the content and all will be well.  If not, that will be a learning experience that I can share with you as well!

But hold onto your seats, the twist doesn’t stop there for my new Niche Authority Site Project!  I am going to test out my theory that some domains for no real reason just tend to perform better than others.  So, I am going to register 3 different domains all targeting the same keyword and start each with 2 or 3 original articles.  After a couple of weeks, my guess is that one will start ranking much better in Google than the other 2.  This better performing site will start getting more articles and will eventually be built into my authority site.  That’s the plan.

Fail Quickly

I do want to make clear how difficult this post is for me to write.  It pains me to have to share a failure with all of you.  After all, many of you view me as an expert on building niche sites (and I appreciate that).  But even with all the niche sites that I have built, I still have failures – it just so happens that this one is public.  The truth of the matter is that if anyone tells you that you should succeed at every site you ever try to build, they are filling you full of fluff.  So, while it pains me to share a bad outcome of something I was trying to make an exciting success for all of you to share in, it also provides some valuable lessons that we can all learn from.

First, I honestly value as one of my reasons for success with niche websites is my ability to recognize my failures quickly and keep trying.  In fact, the entire theory of smaller niche websites is based on the theory that with enough tries (new websites) you will be able to have enough successes to offset any lower performing sites.  I know that for every 10 sites I build that 1 or 2 will make almost no money.  But I also know 5 or 6 of those 10 will perform about as expected and 1 or 2 will outperform my expectations and more than make up for any losses on the poor performers. And in fact, I have written an in depth post previously about the Risks Associated with Building Niche Websites.  This is one of those risks.  So, if you are getting into this business, you need to be aware of the very real risks.

So, overall I like the advice that other people have given to “fail quickly”.  This simply means recognize when something is not working as hoped and stop throwing money at it.  Try something else.  There are lots of places that discuss the importance of “failing quickly”, and here is just one interesting article by Brad Feld: “The Best Entrepreneurs Know How to Fail Fast.”

Here is an article about a company that did not “fail quickly”.  They continued to waste 5 years and $330 million before they finally owned up to the fact that the project was a failure.  Don’t do that.

So, as difficult as this post is to write, I felt like I needed to be honest and up front with all of you.  In one sense, I hope it shows that I am not trying to just make up my successes here.  Everything I share here is real, and this is indeed my core business.  If I were to write my own story, my income would grow every month, and my authority site would be rocking Google.  Unfortunately, I’m just a normal guy that is willing to share my failures right along with my successes.

So there you have it.  My new plan for my niche authority site project.  I want to keep it going since I received so much feedback from all of you on how much you wanted to see this unfold.  I am killing the old site, building 3 new domains, then the top performing domain gets the old articles.  What do you think about my plans?

Overall, I would love to hear your thoughts on my post here – thanks for sharing!

177 Comments for this Post

  1. Sell-My-Timeshare

    Sell-My-Timeshare

    I don’t see any problem here – you were providing a real-life example of a niche site, and one of the potential problems is getting sandboxed by Google…so this is a fantastic real-life situation that shows how to handle it. Don’t get locked into it – take what you can from the experience (in this case some experience for you and all of us following the experiment) and move on quickly.

    You did the right thing – good luck with the new sites!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey thanks for the positive feedback! It can always be difficult to share a set back – but this is indeed a real life issue, so this experience should be valuable to others as well. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Shirley

        Shirley

        Sorry to hear this has happened…You mentioned you purchased your content from Textbroker.com …Are you 100% certain that the articles you purchased were actually original?

        Were they run through Copyscape? I realize copyscape is not perfect but it can be a good indicator on whether or not an article is original.

        I write content for Textbroker as well as a few others. While the Textbroker term of use clearly states writers are not allowed to submit articles copied elsewhere…they do not have anything in place to stop that from happening. I only write original content…but I also know that there are many “writers” who simply cut and paste from other sites…and unfortunately they manage to get paid for this.

        Just a thought.

        • Spencer

          Spencer

          Shirley:

          Actually Textbroker.com has a built in copyscape scan of all articles submitted to me. If the articles do not pass copyscape, they get rejected. So, in fact I am 100% sure that all the articles are original.

          Nope, you get a warning on an article if it does not pass copyscape. Check textbroker.com and you will see that this is a built in feature.

        • Shirley

          Shirley

          Right you are! My apologies…

  2. Steve Eason

    Steve Eason

    Sounds like a great plan. I had other thoughts as I read this that would have been interesting alternatives to try out. Like ranking for #1 on Bing, maybe driving traffic to the site via paid ads through Facebook or Adwords, etc. But in the end, the path you’ve chosen might be the best option available. I’m going to be very curious to see if any of these new sites end up getting affected in the same way. Only time will tell.

    Good luck with the new sites.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Steve, yes I could have done the Bing and Yahoo thing as well – and I think there is some value in that experiment as well. But I made a decision and went with it (already killed the site). Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. LInda Smith

    LInda Smith

    Oh well. And this happens to somebody who is telling us what to do and how to do it. Red Flag.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I do my best not to tell anyone what to do. I simply share my experiences with niche sites. If you see it as a red flag, then don’t buy my course; oh wait, I don’t sell a course here…

      • Ron

        Ron

        The ???? was meant for Ms. Smith.

        Ms. Smith, no one is telling you what to do. You do what you think is best.

    • Ron

      Ron

      ??????

    • Bookman

      Bookman

      Red flag on whom? This just shows us that a perfect success record is not likely for anyone.

  4. Brad

    Brad

    Wow, sorry to hear the bad news. But man, thanks for owning it and it and sharing the experience with us. Definitely looking to hear how this one all unfolds.

    One of my sites recently took a bit hit. It almost coincides with the recent Google update, but is a few days too early. I wondered if I was sandboxed, but the weird thing is that one of my keywords for the site actually still ranks well. It’s just all the others got knocked down. Is that possible with being sandboxed? I’m hoping I got an early ding from the update somehow and I can still recover.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Bad news is never fun; but after thinking about it – I figured the best course is to share everything and move on from there. Interesting experience. I don’t think I have ever seen that where 1 keyword ranks well but the others dont (that once were).

  5. Chris

    Chris

    Sorry to hear this, I to have experience problem similar to this lately and it drove me back to webmaster tools to repair.
    My issue was Russian hacker that infected several sites and a week of pouring through and removing their scripts has exonerated me in goggles eyes and I have recovered.

    It hurt never the less due to the whole account and every site being effected, but now i have regained my ranking and getting back on track.

    the Google monster is a tough on to figure out and I hate using their tools, but unfortunately I had to and it did work out, hope you have better sucess with the change in domains..

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Wow, that’s great that you were able to find the issue and recover! Either way, its a nightmare when things don’t go as planned – especially when an outside force was causing the issue…as your russian hacker experience!

    • Jeremy

      Jeremy

      Is your site hosted in hostgator? Those russian hacker love to attach hostgator websites. through my experience.

      • Spencer

        Spencer

        Its on an seohosting.com account which actually is owned by hostgator.

  6. Steve Wyman

    Steve Wyman

    Hey Spencer

    Up and at them as we say this side of the water.

    Your attitude, drive and sharing should continue. THE no BS approach is what I value.

    There are otehr guys around making $1000 a month saying they get it right all the time and follow their course (which you pay for) and hey ho you’ll be rich. Luckily I can tell snake oil salesman from the real deal. (Or i hope i can :-))

    Im following the same path and have experince this effect. What i can say is you may be able to pull it out of the “sandbox” or what ever happened to it but its not worth while. do move on. I have one site ive pulled back out 3 times now and randomly it fall outof the top 1000 its not a google dance its something else.

    You could throw a ton of link building at this site and try to give it authority but heck you current idea is much better.

    I look forward to seeing the results of you expereiments.

    Qudos

    regards

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Steve:

      Thanks for the kind words as usual! I’m definitely not selling any snake oil here – just sharing some of my experiences. I have tried to pull previous sites out that have had penalties without any luck; so I just prefer to move on since this site is only a month or 2 old anyway. Just start from scratch again.

  7. Jason R. Cunningham

    Jason R. Cunningham

    Spencer, I wouldn’t give up on it. My business partner and I teach people how to build niche websites, kind of like you do here, and one thing that he tells all of the students is that you are going to hit a spell like this where it seems like you’ve fall out of favor with Google. He counsels that it normally takes 2-3 months before it happens, but if you keep dripping articles to the site and keep on building high quality backlinking, the velocity you create will pull you back up in the rankings. I’m about “failing quickly” as well…but I’m more about succeeding than I am about failing any day of the week.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Great advice Jason. However, I chose a different path and went for it. I think there is nothing wrong with what you suggest. However, to get the quickest results possible, I am just starting from scratch. The old site is really less than 2 months old anyway.

  8. Bryan

    Bryan

    Hey Spencer, I’m wondering if you think you did anything differently to cause this. Maybe the content or the links you have built to it?

    I have had sites dance, and sites that sat at rankings #100, #200, and #300 plus for months (penalized or sandboxed perhaps) but nothing has ever failed to bounce back.

    With such a large site like this I’m surprised you decided to kill it. In your experience, what did it take to bring a site like this back?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      No, I did everything the same. I guess the only thing different was I added lots of content (around 65 articles), but even this was over about a 2 week period and not all at once.

  9. Lonnie

    Lonnie

    I assume that your backlink campaign for your authority site is the same campaign you would use for your smaller niche sites? Therefore, you think it is the domain name that caused the site to get sand-boxed?

    Also, in the name of perseverance, my first (and so far only) niche site experienced a drawn-out, long, google induced time-out, something like almost 8 weeks. It was very hard for me, because this was my first site I have created, and it left me with all kinds of doubts. I didn’t abandon it, but I barely touched the site during that time (added a couple articles, and built a handful of backlinks with Blog Blueprint). But the site has since recovered and is now a consistent money-maker (so far at least!). The episode taught me a lot, mainly its probably best to work on more than 1 site at a time. Also, maybe its too soon to say the site will never recover. You have more experience with this than I do, so I would defer to your expertise. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading about your new plan.

    All the best!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Lonnie – You are right that it may have recovered eventually. But I wanted to jump start the process by just starting a new domain. Maybe its not the right decision, but its what I am going with. Rather than spend a bunch of money on links and articles for a penalized site, I just figure I would start with a clean slate and spend my money there.

  10. Arryn Grogan

    Arryn Grogan

    Hi Spencer,

    Thanks for doing what you do. Your insight, whether good or bad, is still sooo useful!

    I just started my first niche website a few days ago; I’m still trying to sort it all through. Just got my articles today from textbroker.com and am excited to get them on my site! I’m sure you’ll hear more from me in the future.

    Thanks again!!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Awesome Arryn! Best of luck with your site!

  11. Desmond

    Desmond

    Well, Spencer that sucks, but I’m glad that you posted that because it shows that your human….alot of people think that once your seeing success that there’s not going to be any more problems at all down the line. Also good point about failing fast instead of being stuck and not getting anything done. Keep it up.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Desmond!

  12. Kelly

    Kelly

    I think your new plan sounds great, Spencer. Crazy how you got sandboxed like that. My first niche site failed miserably and I just wrote a post about it as well. I was pretty embarrassed about it. Going to write about my iPhone app “failures” as well. Like you said, fail fast seems like the way to go :) Just pivot, persevere, and move on.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sorry to hear about your first niche website Kelly :(. Hope your projects in the future work out better!

  13. Karen Comer

    Karen Comer

    Bravo! someone with the balls to come out and tell the truth! Building niche websites can be a real b**ch sometimes, you get everything right and G pulls the rug from under you and it’s impossible to tell why.

    Thanks to WP we can

    pick ourselves up
    dust ourselves off
    and start all over again

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Karen – this stuff aint easy – and that’s the truth!

  14. Neeraj Sachdeva

    Neeraj Sachdeva

    You will get a lot of sympathy messages for this one. Not another one here.
    Well done on folding your hand when you were down. I think it takes a humble man to admit that this was perhaps not his day. It is hard for online marketeers to put their ego aside, especially if they have succeeded before.
    Though I should ask, what are the chances this could happen to you again? Have you gained any info from this site that you could use to prevent similar fate for your other projects?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Neeraj:
      Thanks for the kind words. It could obviously happen again and DOES happen to others every single day. I am always doing my best to research why things could have happened and try to learn from them.

  15. TonyS

    TonyS

    I live in fear of this happening to one of my humble sites.

    I`ve only been at this for a couple of months, so each day there`s a minor downward trend in earnings or rankings I reach for the valium.

    From what I gather, they come back after a while!?!!?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      It depends. If its just a “google dance” they will come back. But sometimes its more severe and they don’t.

  16. aldo

    aldo

    Hello Spencer.

    I would like you to ask you some question about your site to see if i could help you on that.

    Are you building Backlinks to that site?

    If yes, I would like to know what type of backlinks what tools are you using for that.

    If you arent building backlink yourself someone should be using a tool for degrading your site so will be nice you to check the links on that site, your competition maybe want to kill yoursite because outranking them.

    On what place was the site top ranking? and know do you know where it is on the top 1000 ?

    Have you changed some plugins or theme lately ?

    Also I have experience Google Dance for even a month and kept building links and reached high top ranks again.

    I would like you to share some more information to see if we could make this case study or your site to reach top rankings again. I would like to help on this since this could be a nice material to learn on how to solve this issue and not just building another site without knowing the main reason .

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  17. Daniel

    Daniel

    Sorry to hear about the authority site trouble Spencer but thanks for keeping us updated on the project.

    Here’s an article I found interesting about getting a site sandboxed and bringing it back. Naturally I can’t verify the claims and haven’t done it myself but the other SEO info seems solid and has helped me.

    http://internetindependence.com/links-you-need

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Daniel, I’ll have to check that out.

  18. Clint Wilde

    Clint Wilde

    Spencer, I love the idea of failing quickly. I have seen so many projects get money dumped into them and are finally cancelled in the end. So unfortunate. Anything we can do to avoid this is a good thing.

    You are doing the right thing by trying to salvage the content you have created.

    Another idea – have you thought of using this content and creating a site on squidoo? Would love to hear your thoughts on that site in terms of money making possibilities vs standing up a wordpress site. e possibilities of making money there. You can use ad sense, amazon etc to monetize there.

    Best,
    Clint

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for the support Clint! I can see that some people like my decision and that others don’t – that’s just fine! I prefer to own my own property than to put it up on Squidoo or HubPages etc where you only get a percentage of the earnings.

  19. Gabe

    Gabe

    Did you do much backlinking to this site?

    I have about 5-6 sites doing the same thing right now. It’s very frustrating, I only sent a few social bookmarks to them and maybe 20 forum profiles….maybe that is the problem with these sites.

    My next sites I launch will sit for a few weeks with no backlinks…then I’ll post an article or two at the article directories and go very slowly from there.

    • Gabe

      Gabe

      Also, yes I think letting the winning domain get the articles is a good idea.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      yes, I did some backlinking – but not very much.

  20. Boris C.

    Boris C.

    It would be best to keep this site and starting with another while working 80/20 on both. You would have more experience to share and people would be curious to know how both are doing. That way you would kill 2 rabbits at the same time.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Perhaps you are right, but I’m going in a different direction.

  21. Justin | AdSense Flippers

    Justin | AdSense Flippers

    Spencer,

    I really like your plan to create 3 mini-sites and see which comes out on top that you can build on. I’m wondering, though…how long do you wait until you decide to go with “THAT” one?

    Like you, we’re far from immune at site failures. One of our BEST earning sites was UP, then down…UP…then down. Makes like $10/day or so when up and around $1 – $2/day (Bing/Yahoo traffic) when down on Google. REALLY wish it would have stuck…would have been worth a ton at auction, but because of heavy fluctuations we just wouldn’t feel good about selling it.

    Lastly, love the honesty, Spencer. It’s difficult to talk about your failures, but what I’m finding is when it’s difficult, that’s EXACTLY what your readers want you to write about! Your fans (us included) will appreciate you even more for it…so keep it up!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Justin:

      I’m not sure how long I will wait; I’m hoping the choice will be obvious – so I will kinda play it by ear and see.

      Thanks for sharing your up and down experiences! And I appreciate the kind words…thanks!

  22. Vijay

    Vijay

    I still think it can come out of sanbox if you continue to post original articles and get some quality natural backlinks over time!!

  23. Tom Ewer

    Tom Ewer

    Hey Spencer,

    Although I definitely bow down to your superior knowledge when it comes to niche sites, I am surprised that you are giving up without a fight.

    Is it possible that Google has penalized you for an overeager backlinking strategy? I myself was penalized by Google last week – I was ranking between 1-10 for several keywords, and then my site fell to the 4th-5th page for all of them at the same time.

    I believe that this has happened because I was building too many backlinks with the same anchor text on a regular basis. I do not know this, but it is my hunch.

    So, for the next month I am going to continue to build backlinks, whilst making sure that they are varied in terms of the pages they target and the anchor text.

    If my rankings haven’t climbed after this period, I will probably “own up” to Google, ask for them to lift the penalty, and promise not to do any of the same type of backlinking again.

    If nothing else (i.e. if the site never recovers), the extra time taken in my efforts will teach me some important lessons.

    Thanks for being so candid Spencer, this was a really interesting post to read and I look forward to seeing your next update.

    All the best,

    Tom

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Tom:
      I suppose its possible that it may come back, but I have to decided to move on. I was not aggressive at all in my backlinking – didn’t do much at all honestly. I wish you all the best in getting your site back up!

      • Tom Ewer

        Tom Ewer

        Strange…Google is mysterious in its ways…I guess my worry would be that if I don’t know why it happened, what’s to stop it happening again?

  24. Grants College

    Grants College

    Hey Spencer – thanks for posting your results (as always) – I think what might have happened is too many articles, too quickly. For some reason google doesn’t think people can produce & publish more than 1 article per day to a site (at least on a new domain).

    What would be intersting to see is if the domain was an aged domain if this would happen.

    Good luck on the new domains.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Perhaps – maybe I will slow it down.

  25. brian

    brian

    Did you post all those articles right away…it probably got sandboxed because too much content too fast…if the pages are still index then it can come out of sandbox in a week or so.

    most people recommend having no ads on a site in the 1st couple weeks especially adsense(since google tracks it) and dont and I have some info about tests done by some guys and they found that a good rule to follow is dont post mroe than 1 Time Per Day and No more than 5 Posts in 7 Days for the first 3-4 Weeks

    • aldo

      aldo

      I’m 300% percent sure that the content is not the issue .

      Unique content will always be accepted.

      and for that will be nice to post it with different autor names also…

      But if building links and pinging a lot of them could be an issue

      • Spencer

        Spencer

        The articles were posted over a couple of weeks. I don’t think this was it, but perhaps I will dial it down to a couple of articles a day or something – can’t hurt I suppose! (Although large sites post dozens or even hundreds of article per day without issue).

  26. brian

    brian

    also in addition to above…..no link building in 1st 2 weeks

  27. Moon Hussain

    Moon Hussain

    Hey Spencer,

    This is a really interesting turn of events and it’s cool to read about failures as well. Quick question: how do you know it’s not a temporary sandbox and something more severe?

    This is what I really want to know. If you can build a new niche site and have it earn $35 in its first month, holy crap! Mad skills there :)

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      From my experience a temp sandbox is lifted after a week or so; this has been over 3 weeks – so I’m just going with my gut on this one!

  28. Bryan

    Bryan

    I know exactly how you feel man. Nothing is worse than seeing your hard work come crashing down in an instant, but you definitely have the right mindset and I think moving to a new site and starting over again is the right move.

    I had a similar thing happen to me last week with a few of my Adsense sites, except that it wasn’t the fact that they were sandboxed, but completely de-indexed. Still unsure as to why, as I spent hours going through every site, trying to decipher what the issue was. No bad links, no sketchy linking schemes, no poor content, no virus or malware, nothing. Went from an average of nearly $70+ per day via Adsense to nearly zero.

    Weird thing is that all of my Amazon niche sites are still alive and kicking, yet they followed the SAME build-out backlink plan as the sites that got nixed. I’ve since requested reconsideration via Google and sent them a few lengthy letters, so we’ll see how it pans out. Until then, I’m working on really building my Amazon and CB niche sites.

    Good luck with the new site, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out on this project from here!

    Bryan

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Bryan, its pain me to read about your experiences as well! I had some sites completely deindexed last year and it was a big hit. But I picked up the pieces and built my business to 2 to 3 times as big as it was.

      That’s interesting that its only your adsense sites. I might have to play around with some CB and Amazon sites – might be good to add some of these to my portfolio anyway.

      • Bryan

        Bryan

        Yeah – Wasn’t any issue with Adsense either, as my account is still alive and thriving. The downfall with Google is they will never tell you the EXACT reason for something like this. Instead, they just point to the guidelines and try to make you figure it out. Doesn’t really give you a whole lot to lean on, especially when you don’t have a clue as to why it happened.

        As far as the other sites, I think it would be a good move to add them to your overall portfolio. Nothing wrong with a little diversification!

        Bryan

  29. Web design Dublin

    Web design Dublin

    Hey Spenser
    At least you are honest enough and man enough to come out with it..
    not too many would and would ensure a “quiet death” for the site with a refusal to discuss on the basis of “I don’t disclose my niches etc.”
    Terry

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Terry – while I don’t disclose my niches, I do try to share what is going on. Thanks for the encouragement.

  30. john

    john

    I think I read that you buy and continue to buy backlinks from a guy in Michigan who advertises on the Warrior Forum. My first thought is that those backlinks are probably not nearly as good as what he is billing them out to be.

    I know he”s a MSU grad, which makes him alright in my book – but I worry about the effectiveness of any purchased backlinks – and I have a decent idea of what his are all about … and it would concern me pushing those kinds of links to a new domain – unless the site was being updated daily to possibly justify them … or something like that.

    But who knows, I could be all wrong.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Interesting thoughts John, thanks for sharing. Definitely some food for thought!

  31. Master Will

    Master Will

    Spencer! Great post!

    All I am going to say is:

    It takes a real master to share a failure and that is a exactly how I view you as. =-D

    We all as content publishers/ entrepreneurs must understand that there will be set backs, there will be bad days, you will have more than your fair share of failures.

    What counts is how you react to that and get yourself right back up into the thinking lab to redirect your approach.

    Big applause to you! I’m sure this time around your authority site will do great.

    Again thanks for sharing! You Da Man Mr. Hawes! lol

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Master Will!

  32. Lando

    Lando

    Do you think Google in penalizing you based on your adsense ID….since they de-indexed all your other sites, wouldn’t they keep track of that id and do the same to any site it’s on?

    And what about all your other deindexed sites? Can you pull the content off of them? Why not shut them down as well?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Lando – this site is on a separate adsense id from the previous deindexed sites.

      Also, I didn’t pull content off of my previous deindexed sites, although I guess I could have. But I did buy new domains and get new content on them and those sites are performing extremely well now.

  33. MARK

    MARK

    Spence.

    Go back to the little micro-niche sites. 6 good articles, on to the next. Split up you authority site and make lots of little ones from all those expensive articles. It’s still your bread and butter you must admit. A wordpress hacked plugin caused you to take this route in the first place. That was all.

    Nothing you did wrong with your micro niche sites.

    Authority sites. Naw.

    Mark

    • Justin | AdSense Flippers

      Justin | AdSense Flippers

      Like your post, Mark.

      You’re right of course…since he’s got the niche thing down…why not just duplicate the hell out of it to turnover more $$$.

      He probably should…but if he can keep that running AND try to branch out a bit, that’s probably a good thing. Aside from the diversification…it’s just a good idea to try something new, something that’s a little outside of your comfort zone, etc.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Mark, I hear you loud and clear! I have not given up on the micro niche sites at all. its still my bread and butter. In fact, I have built more micro niche sites in the past couple of months than I have built in a long time. I have had lots of great successes in the past couple of months actually with my new sites. This new authority site is the failure that just happened to be public.

      I’m not giving up on my micro niche sites or plans to keep building more, I’m just trying something new. If I can’t seem to get it right, I just won’t do it anymore :)

  34. Chuck@ecofriendlyclothes.org

    Chuck@ecofriendlyclothes.org

    I really didn’t like this post. Sites get sandboxed all the time and I believe it’s a waste of time and money to simply give up. If the new site gets sandboxed will you quickly give that up too.
    I think you should just continue building backlinks to the sandboxed site and then if you want to start a new site too, go ahead.
    A lot of sites get sandboxed then eventually come back.
    Just my nickel’s worth.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Chuck:
      I made a decision and went for it. I appreciate the feedback and the fact that not everyone thinks the way I do. That’s okay!

  35. Paul

    Paul

    Hi, How do you know when your domain is sandbox?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      When you site is not ranking well (like it used to), and nothing you do for a few weeks causes the site to move.

      • MARK

        MARK

        Mr Nossie famed for His Bookmark Wiz Software just advertised an online backlinking subscription tool, (coming soon) subscription based on the WF

        When you get on his waiting list he sends you a very interesting E-Book on Panda update stuff and seo etc. One of the interesting things he said was that Google only really scrutinises your site every 30 days or so. So if you have been going cazy doing backlinking and not getting results in ranking, simply wait till the next cycle kicks in.

        He also said that a lot of people do some crazy backlinking and see no immediate results and then the very last thing they do before the site gets scrutinsed again is say a social bookmark blast and bang, the site is back so they think that form of bookmarking is brilliant and go and write a WSO about it. LOL

        So if the above info is true then its just a case of continuing to backlink and add posts like nothing has happened and suddenly it roars back.

        Perhaps it will :-) But you gotta wait 30 days.

        I had a site dissapear for 2 weeks but it came back.

  36. AJ

    AJ

    Sorry for your lost time and resources and thanks for your honest post. I have a large domain portfolio and tested niche websites with mixed results. After months of research and testing, I’m not sure relying on traffic from google will secure a profitable business model. I always believe in diversification in my investments and offline businesses and google basically controls your success or failure with niche sites.

    best of luck with your new sites,
    AJ

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      AJ – I agree that niche websites are risky. Which is why I wrote an entire post on it as linked to in this article. I have a few other businesses in the works that will be diversifying my income.

  37. arik

    arik

    lameee, so there’s no way it’s the big g dance I’ve read they do that to see what people will do with it well I guess it’s trial and error right you know best I’m reading your stuff and it’s great man the idea of getting 3 feeler domains to see what one dOminates first then use the lower ranked ones as satellite sites with intext links linking to the high ranking one read that on a site called zenduck.com he talks about if google does that you have those other satellite sites as back up and still ranked and still linking together I guess gives more weight so I read I definitely don’t have the expertise like all you guys do but I’m playing catch up and learning from great marketers like yourselfs sorry so long peace!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Arik!

  38. Tammie

    Tammie

    Hi Spencer,

    Thanks for sharing your results and your strategy for dealing with the penalized site. There are many of us struggling with penalties since Google essentially changed course earlier this year, and it’s very frustrating when you’re suddenly slapped with a penalty, and not given any indication as to the reason that it was levied upon your site.

    In my case, it appears that I have been levied a -50 penalty across the board for my entire account, and I have been fighting it since right before the first Panda update, therefore, building new sites is not working as they are all slapped to -50 the minute they are indexed.

    In my case, I am continuing to build the niche sites, however, I am focusing on traffic from Bing and Yahoo. It’s very slow going, but putting all my eggs in the Google basket in the first place apparently wasn’t the right thing to do, either.

    So, instead of continuing to research and rebuild all the sites, I’m just concentrating on adding content and building out the rest of my sites. At first, I tried deleting and rebuilding sites, sending multiple requests for reconsideration on different sites (especially since the penalty is across the board), etc., but I ultimately decided that I was wasting a huge amount of time trying to please ONE employee of one search engine who apparently did a manual review of my account and devalued the entire account based on who knows what reasoning.

    If it bounces back, great. If not, I will eventually build enough traffic elsewhere that it shouldn’t matter so much, and another penalty won’t destroy my income the way this penalty has.

    Again, thanks for sharing – I’ve been following your progress for some time and look forward to your posts.

  39. Spencer

    Spencer

    Tammie, sorry to hear about that. Its frustrating trying to deal with a penalty when there is no one to talk to! Best of luck with your projects and new sites!

  40. Bill Eisenhauer

    Bill Eisenhauer

    I have recently read a book called ‘Outsmarting Google’ which details the author’s opinions on the idea of sandboxing and penalties.

    He talks about a site’s TrustRank which is his own term, but is meant to be a more real concept for the way Google views sites. Its basically the PageRank + the Google secret sauce.

    Anyway, one of his points is that you are automatically sandboxed for the first couple of months. If this were true, your site should not have received much traffic at all. Seems like I can recall that you can get sandboxed for other reasons.

    I like the suggestion by someone to continue working the site or at least continue to monitor it to see if it rebounds.

    Bill

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Bill: I know was from my experience that most sites do not get sandboxed for the first couple of months. Some actually rank very well right away. However, generally speaking it does take 90 days or so for a site to start ranking well.

  41. Nate Burgoyne

    Nate Burgoyne

    Love your transparency. In addition to launching 3 sites simultaneously, what specifically are you going to do differently this time around with those 3 sites. Surely it wasn’t just bad luck that you got sandboxed and I know you’re a problem solver.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Nate, thanks. I will have to think about this for a bit and perhaps write an entire post on what I will do differently. But I suppose for starters, I will post content slower and make sure my link profile and anchor text is more diversified. (I thought it was originally, but I will be extra careful this time). We’ll see what else I can think of.

  42. Nate Burgoyne

    Nate Burgoyne

    Love your transparency. In addition to launching 3 sites simultaneously, what specifically are you going to do differently this time with those sites. Surely it wasn’t just bad luck that you got sandboxed and I know you’re a problem solver.

  43. Shane

    Shane

    Spencer, buy an aged domain with high PR and you won’t run into this problem again. That’s all I ever do nowadays.

    I have reused articles where the original site got sandboxed. Works fine. Registering new domains is a far slower strategy. Plus you can push links at the aged domain with no problems.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Shane: Probably a good idea. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  44. rob

    rob

    lets see, overall you make over $10k a month in adsense,,,,,,,,,,,,what failure? great post, thanks.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Gotta keep it positive! Thanks Rob!

  45. William Graham

    William Graham

    Spencer

    I must say, I feel your pain, but it’s Google’s loss as far as I’m concerned. As people have said earlier in the comments, it’s not impossible for your site to bounce back. My advice, keep adding quality original content 2 – 3 times a week, remove your adsense code until it ranks again, cut back on the backlinking, and concentrate on other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, etc. Before you know it, your site should be back in the Google SERPs. Let it stop doing the google dance before adding your adsense module back in again. Chin up, it should all work out!!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey thanks for the positive comments William! I already back in the saddle with new sites and this experience has made me rethink how I do things a bit – which is always a good thing in the long run.

  46. Kickass SEO Expert

    Kickass SEO Expert

    Hey Spencer,

    Don’t quit on this domain.

    I ran an SEO Company for three years (sold out) and the sole focus of the company was building authority domains for real estate agents. For example, we would build a website like ClaksvilleTNRealEstateAgent.com.

    We would fill the site with relevant content and build 20 – 30 links per month.

    Without fail Google would sand bix our sites every time. They would not show up in the SERPS for 6 months and 9 for the very competitive markets.

    But…when they did they would be ranked in the top few spots on the first page in Google.

    These sites would be worth several thousands of dollars per month in free traffic alone…every month.

    This is standard issue when trying to establish authority domains.

    Don’t give up…it’s scary to build and build without results for months…but the very fact that you got sand boxed doing legitimate practices would indicate to me you are likely on the right track and just have to wait it out.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for the input! I guess I have just seen too many other sites not ever come back from the sandbox. So, I figured I would kill it quickly and try again. Most of my sites never get sandboxed so this is just not the norm for me. We will see what happens in round 2. But if it happens again, I will indeed live with it as you suggest and hope it comes back after 6 to 9 months…thanks for sharing!

  47. Phil

    Phil

    As a fan of your blog, I appreciate your honesty about this: I learn as much, if not more, from failure as I do from success. Keep up the good work; you are an inspiration to the rest of us trying to succeed with niche websites!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Phil!

  48. Lisa

    Lisa

    Hi, Spencer,

    I think there is one more correct solutions to solve a problem. I like you to explore a new way and appreciate you share your experiments with us.

    Do you know whether Google gives the penalty to the site if it belongs to a Adsense ID that has too many sites?

    How many sites is too many?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I really don’t know if there is a threshold for “too many sites” on one adsense id. Although I know there are publishers with MUCH more than I do.

  49. bo

    bo

    What else have you done to the site? Are you sure its domain and not link building?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I suppose it could have been anything. I don’t necessarily think the domain was “tainted”, I just am going to start out fresh and be a bit more careful (perhaps in the linkbuilding area) and see if there are some different results.

  50. Dave

    Dave

    I have been following your success for a couple months now. I am sorry to hear about this set back. Here are some random thoughts.

    You could turn lemons into lemonade by selling the site on flippa. It should go for 10X the monthly earnings or about $350. Kind of unfair for a sandboxed site, but it probably will come out of the sandbox sooner or later.

    I didn’t see how many backlinks you created in a month. I have taken several WSO courses that say anywhere up to 50 a day is ok. Personally, if I were google I would think 50 links in a day to a new site is not reasonable for a site that only has had 5 visitors. (have to continue in another post, can’t see hwat Iam typing

    • Dave

      Dave

      Do you run traffic at the site before backlinking? I have been doing this myself with reasonable results (no sandboxing but dancing between 1st page and 10th page for a couple weeks before settling around 2nd or 3rd page)

      I also seem to have more luck setting up products for sale sites. For instance, I am in a furniture niche. I bought a WP plugin that adds products from Commission Junction. I put up 20 or 30 products initially and then drip 2 or 3 a day. I have never been sandboxed using this method. I really don’t care if I ever sell anything from CJ but I tend to get a lot of clicks and nearly a 10% CTR from this method. I am currently wondering if I did this with Googles marketplace if they would ever sandbox me because it would hurt their own product sales.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I wouldn’t sell this site on Flippa. The articles themselves cost me more than $350 to create – which is why I am going to reuse them. Plus its a not earning money now, so this would be really bad for my reputation to sell a failed site.

  51. mitz

    mitz

    Hi Spencer
    Failure is exactly how you became successful, but I would not call this a failure yet!

    This is a perfect chance to use this site as a test case for getting out of “the sandbox” in Google.

    Go for it! If it really fails later just use the content in another site!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Mitz – thanks for the encouragement! Yes, failure in a sense has brought me to where I am today – so its not all bad.

  52. Michelle (The IM Koala)

    Michelle (The IM Koala)

    This is just my educated guess, but assuming you dumped all of your content in during a two-week period, I’d bet your site was riding high thanks to the QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) part of the G algo during that first month when it earned almost $35. It then got sandboxed because it was no longer being kept as fresh.

    Whatever the real reason, we’ll never know. I’m definitely with the crowd that thinks the sandbox is worth waiting out (and yes, I’ve even had aged domains sandboxed when I abused them sufficiently…anything is possible).

    I’ve never tried the “pick 3 domains, see which google likes best” trick, but it sounds like a good idea. I’ll be very curious to see how things work out this time around.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for the comment Michelle – its very possible that it was “riding high” and then changed due to the fact that I stopped adding fresh content.

  53. Quentin Pain

    Quentin Pain

    And G are now looking at their FB smasher G+1 and seeing how they can use that to ‘crowdsource’ the best sites! Big battles are looming ahead I fear. Very sorry to hear about your authority site, but thanks for sharing this. Kickass’ post just above is also very revealing, and a story I have not heard before.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Quentin – always great to hear your point of view! I agree that there are constant changes and plenty more in the future for SEO…

  54. Ben

    Ben

    Hey Spencer,

    That sucks about the authority site. I guess life with Adsense sites has it’s ups and downs, or as The Dude would say, “Strikes and Gutters.”

    It’s great that you’re using this as an opportunity to test some things that you might not have tested otherwise. Maybe that will lead to revelations that will be much more valuable in the long run than this authority site could ever be. As always, thanks for the transparency, and good luck!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Ben!

  55. Dave

    Dave

    Hi Spencer

    This sandboxing by Google just happend to me with my very first site. It went from #5, where it had been for 3 months, down to #605. To say it was very discouraging is an understatement! With 17 sites in process of getting ranked I am somewhat concerned that this could happen to any one of them, and for no reason that could easily be determined.

    I think your aproach of moving on and starting new sites is the best approach. Me, I’m just going to let the site sit where it is at and see if over time it makes any moves up the ladder.

    Have a great day.

    Dave

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Dave: Thanks for sharing your experience, its obvious that I am not the only one that this sort of thing happens too. Best of luck with your 17 sites.

  56. Kevin

    Kevin

    I have a comment about google crawling. I just signed up for the site I listed on this comment, its barely a month old, but google craw says my page was created in october of 2003. When i look at the cache someone else had this url before me. I’m not sure if this applies to you as your using a different URL but it might be something to check into.

  57. Brian M*

    Brian M*

    I haven’t been able to read all of the replies, I’m sorry but it’s nearly one o’clock and I shouldn’t be reading this ;-)

    I posted on a popular forum about lots of ways I want to make money, and this makes me think that it’s not right to put all of your eggs in one basket.

    I’m hoping to make money from a variety of different ways. If Adsense is the way you want to make money, and I do, it’s just one method to consider.

    My two pennies. And good night everybody!

    Brian

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for staying up late enough to comment! I agree that diversification is important, which is why I have multiple projects outside of just niche sites as well.

  58. ShakD

    ShakD

    Excellent! Sorry to hear that all your efforts have affected you, but good thing it was sooner than later! I too have been affected, even though I only have about 15 pages. Still getting sadly 6-15 visits a day using referrals/direct and rarely a few search engine traffic, I am confident there is still a little hope. I was advised to just try to add a few more articles, and see what it does. It’s been in the box for well over 2 months without me doing anything to it. Still makes me some sales which pays for the site and some. But I appreciate you showing us that you a transparent marketer, and yes, it IS OK to have some failures, and the high rollers still do face problems! Thanks again! Looking forward to your next posts! Cheers

    ShakD

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sorry to hear about your experience as well. Thanks for the comment!

  59. Kim

    Kim

    Sorry to hear about this set back. I look forward to seeing how the new domains work out.

    One question — You mentioned that it is stellar for a site to earn over $1 per day in the first month. Would you mind sharing the revenue trajectory for a few of your sites sometime? So for example, you could take a site you feature in your Top 5 and show us a chart of what that site made in month 1, month 2, month 3, etc., through the present. I’d understand if that’s more than you want to share, but personally it’s something I’d find interesting, especially since I’m just starting out. I think it would be helpful to see how some of your sites have ramped up over time.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Kim – I think that I could share some of these stats in a future post. I think that certainly may provide some value. Obviously each site is different; some will earn $1 per day and that’s about all they have potential for. Others may start at $1/day but have potential for $100/day. I can walk through both types of examples.

  60. Miggy

    Miggy

    Hey Spencer, I’ve been following your site for quite some time now. Sorry to hear about your site. But I have an almost similar story. One of my niche websites, which is turning 5 months old, experience a great traffic surge on its 3rd month.

    It got almost 10,000 hit then. But on its 4th and 5th month, it probably got ‘sandboxed. to some degree. Now, it’s getting around 20-30 visits per day. I guess, it’s still a good level of traffic. But it sure would be better if the visit was around 100-200 per day, just like what happened 2 months ago.

    The site isn’t really a failure but I’m gonna test some stuff you recommend before moving on to another project.

    Good luck on your next authority site project. I’ll definitely keep coming back to learn from your progress.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Wow Miggy – 10,000 visitors a month is great for a niche site! That’s unfortunate that is only gets 20 to 30 visitors a day now. Best of luck getting the visitors back or with your future projects!

  61. Carl Reid

    Carl Reid

    Hey Spencer,

    I am a bit unclear as to why you think you got sandboxed… or is that just an unknown? I know you are very experienced with building sites… but could you have possibly jumped the gun with the sandbox assumption? A brand new site with a lot of links could just be an extended Google dance. Personally speaking, I would wait it out at least 3 months… 90 days is not long enough to determine if there is a real problem, IMO.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Carl – I perhaps need to go into more detail as to why I think it was sandboxed, but essentially even when I would type in my domain name, like “Niche Pursuits” it would show up last in Google. This a sign of a real penalty that I have never been able to overcome once placed. This is very different than a Google dance.

  62. Rory

    Rory

    I think a similar thing has happened to my first niche site spencer! :-(

    I have what I think is a a low competition keyword and after 3 months the site ranks in the top 10 in Yahoo and Bing but on Google it languishes in the 80’s! I’m really not sure whether it is worth putting more effort into or whether I should just cut my losses and move onto a new site and keyword.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Sorry to hear it Rory.

  63. Rahul

    Rahul

    Hey spencer, My site also got sandboxed a year ago. Now this site gets 50k page views/month. Imagine for 8 days this got no traffic from Google. It was 8 months old that time. So, i suggest you to work on this site occasionally. It is not wise to make site too big and outrank tons of big sites in 2-3 months.

    I guess your site not de-indexed which is good. it will come back for sure and better then before.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks for the advice Rahul!

  64. Jeremy

    Jeremy

    Hey Spencer. I don’t consider it as a fail project or authority site but I consider you have discover another new step towards building Google authority websites.

    Success is full of bumps and we are know it. It just how we digest the problem, find the real root cause and move forward ;)

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Jeremy, very true!

  65. Dennis

    Dennis

    Hie Spencer,

    This is not exciting news but before you proceed with building a new site,we must understand why you got sandboxed.We have heard about your article outsourcing but can you tell us how you did your backlinking as I feel that the problem might be lying there.

    I have a site that gets zero traffic from Google and 3000 visitors a day from Bing and Yahoo.Google is very unpredictable.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Dennis – Agreed. I think I will write an entire post on this (what may have caused it) and what I am going to do differently.

  66. Kevin

    Kevin

    To me it looks like the best thing to do is to diversify in the amount of Niche sites created. That way when one gets sandboxed you still have the other sites that you made at the same time running.

  67. Mike

    Mike

    I’m not sure when exactly this has happen to you but there was definitely something going on at Google. Late August and start of September, the rankings seemed frozen. I added new content to my main site on weekly basis, starting with march this year, and closely watched the behavior of my (keyword targeted) new articles. I did no backlinks to them because I needed to see their “clean” evolution. After 3 months, I could already pinpoint a pattern.

    Bu something changed first weeks of September (maybe starting from august, I don’t really know). Every position in rankings (mine and competitors as well), for more than 20 small key words, seemed frozen. Also the Webmastertools didn’t update some of the main parameters for about 2 weeks starting with August 26th or so.

  68. Andrew

    Andrew

    Hello sir,

    I respect and appreciate your honesty. Not only does it show how decent a chap you are, it gives people a clearer picture of niche site building.

    Best of luck with your new website sir.

    Andrew

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Andrew!

  69. Steve Sherron

    Steve Sherron

    I feel your pain. Same thing happened to me. Had a fairly new site getting 40 – 50 visits per day and on August 5th, plummeted straight to 0 visitors and I’m lucky to see 3 or 4 per day since.

    I don’t have many sites but this was my first experience with a Google penalty of some kind.

    I think the lesson to be learned here is diversify.

    There are some communities in the IM world who are pushing single authority sites. I personally think that is a recipe for disaster.

    You are super successful already and the saying goes, Dance with the one who brought you.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Never heard that saying – but I like it!

  70. Yeok Heng

    Yeok Heng

    I have been working on a niche site for the past 1-2months. The rank of the site for my targeted keyword is around 60-70th. I am wondering that I have fail or I should continue to work on link building to improve the ranking. Hope to hear some piece of advice from you.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Yeok – if you are 60 to 70 you should keep working at it. If you are targeting a difficult keyword, this is a pretty decent ranking after a couple of months. Stick with it.

      • Yeok Heng

        Yeok Heng

        Your words make me feel stronger! Thanks Spencer!!
        I will continue working on it!!

  71. Peter Carrick

    Peter Carrick

    I love how you decided to cope with this situation. Building 3 different sites targeting the same keyword is brilliant and a great experiment.
    My niche site is in a google sandbox, even tough it’s doing great on bing and yahoo. I think I’ll just wait it out since it’s my first site.
    I look forward for more updates! Good luck!

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Peter – I look forward to seeing the experiment as well!

  72. Louis Capece

    Louis Capece

    Absolutely great info – I hugely appreciate ypur honesty as well fact that you seem to really want to add value to the prospects of your readers. Wishing you the best of luck on your redeployment of the new site.

  73. Daniel D'Laine

    Daniel D'Laine

    Hey Spencer… Sorry to hear about that!

    Some thoughts…

    1. How on earth do you manage to get $34.76 from Google Adsense in just 30 Days? (which, by the way, you need to be careful about broadcasting!).

    2. Are you using some ‘backdoor’ traffic methods that you haven’t mentioned to get you sandboxed?

    3. 60 articles in 6 weeks sounds a bit ‘robotic’ (even if they weren’t!) Articles are funny old things (to Google!!).

    4. Have you been happily ‘pinging away’ too quick??

    I had a ‘hydroponics’ niche site sandboxed because of too many Adsense blocks! It’s a real bummer, but just not worth the effort trying to bring it back.

    Anyway, respect!
    Daniel D’Laine

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      1. I ranked well for lots of really long tail keywords.
      2. I don’t ever use any “backdoor” traffic methods – its all natural search engine traffic.
      3. Maybe
      4. I never ping any of my sites or articles. (other than anything that’s automated in WordPress).

  74. Matt

    Matt

    Hi Spencer – Sorry to hear about your authority site. I know exactly how frustrating it is to work hard on a site and have all of your efforts go up in smoke due to a Google slap. Keep your chin up.

    I would like to ask a question though. You mentioned that you know this penalty to be a severe one that essentially kills your site. How is it that you made this determination? Is there “tell-tale” signs of which penalty you’ve been hit with?

  75. Federico

    Federico

    I’m just reading a thread on warrior forum now… “Google starts to de-indexing blogs networks!”

    That’s a post from Patrich…

    “I believe the network he is referring to is the same one that I discussed in the thread here in WF that was about ranking for a competitive term like car insurance or something. The $200/month high pr network.

    It was deindexed and the people that run it posted on another forum that they believe it was deindexed because they were using the same name servers for the domains in the network. So, Google removed everything pointing to those name servers.

    So, as you said, definitely not a wave of blog networks going down, but rather a network going down based on a poor choice of configurations. Will be interesting to see what happens to that “car insurance” site now.”

    I think we’ve got to be really careful with backlinks. I saw another thread on WF,but I lost its track which is saying the Google is updating every 17-19 minutes average, crazy I know…Maybe you guys can google and try find the link where this comes from,they made or will make something like 500 updates. So that be said I believe our sites are always in risk big time, we must concentrate in give value content for the readers and build link in a logic way.

    So funny how everybody here is so sorry, that means everybody here failed and keep trying(me include:)),

    I think we’ll all learn much more now with Spencer site going to sandbox.
    Niche Pursuits becomes a “must read” …

    All the best Spencer

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I agree that backlinks may have been my issue as well. Its very important to be careful here.

  76. Javier

    Javier

    Spencer, I know you have decided to kill your site, but you might want to take a look at this post, they suffered something similar and recovered the rankings (the difference is they were earning $$$$ when it happened).

    http://www.josepharchibald.com/made-mess-google-dumps-down-rankings#more-2065

  77. Michael

    Michael

    Hey Spencer, too bad you didn’t play that out.
    Aggressive action on any new site can cause it to drop big time but I have found they will come back, and stronger.
    Building an authority site you should expect to take some hits.
    Cheers, Michael.

  78. Karen

    Karen

    Hey Spence……what I really like about you is….you are not to afraid to tell it like it is. We get all the good stuff from you but you are also willing to share what has not worked for you. Good on you mate.

    I have been wondering if aged domains are a good way to go in order to prevent google from de-indexing our sites?

    Cheers,

    karen

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Thanks Karen! I have never tried aged domains, so I really don’t know.

  79. Dave M

    Dave M

    Hey Spencer,

    First, hate to hear about your site. That sucks in a major way.

    I saw you mentioned something about this being on a different adsense account than your other niche sites. My question (and I’m sure you’ve answered it somewhere) is how many accounts do you have? I fully understand if you don’t want to disclose the exact number.

    Do you give any credit to the $100 per day threshold manual review stuff that gets posted all over the place? Would you advise splitting your accounts at some point to minimize risk?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      I would advise splitting up adsense accounts to minimize risk. I don’t put much stock in the $100 per day threshold manual review rumors that go around. I own 2 business entities with adsense accounts.

  80. Mark McLemore

    Mark McLemore

    Spencer,

    What do you think killed your site? I saw that you posted 60 articles, saw it was indexed, but I didn’t see you say that you had built in any backlinks yet.

    Any thoughts on what killed it?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Hey Mark – good to see you are still following along! I am actually going to do a post today about this – I believe it was the source and type of backlinks that I created.

  81. aldo

    aldo

    Spencer at the time you killed you site, if you search it for site:yourauthoritysite.com do you see it?

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      Yes, it was there. As I explained in my post Aldo, my site was not de-indexed.

  82. aldo

    aldo

    I really dont know to what posicion it went but if you kept building nice backlinks and adding unique content i think it would go back to normal, This could be a nice case study to do.

  83. What Happened to My Authority Site? | Niche Pursuits

    What Happened to My Authority Site? | Niche Pursuits

    […] DiggSo, as expected, I received a huge response from all of you on my last post about the fact that my authority site was hit hard in Google.  In fact, the response was so huge that my site NichePursuits.com was actually slammed so hard […]

  84. Tho Huynh

    Tho Huynh

    Honestly, I would love to hear about failure rather than success. There are too much success stories on the internet and you don’t know whether to believe them or not. Listening to a failure is quite different. People don’t often admit their failure. If they do, they’ll have some lessons for you.

    Thank you for sharing your REAL stories :) And I hope that your new site will performance better.

  85. Don’t do it Spencer! – My experience with a “google penalty” to an authority site | Internet Money Hustle

    Don’t do it Spencer! – My experience with a “google penalty” to an authority site | Internet Money Hustle

    […] a fellow Adsense guru and acquaintance of mine named Spencer had one of his authority domains hit hard by google. This can be a crippling blow when you are seeing traffic and authority being sent to your domain, […]

  86. John | Prostate Cancer

    John | Prostate Cancer

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with us. I agree with some of the things you said but not all. I think it’s way too early to give up on the site, especially considering the fact that it’s a new site and a new domain name. Google does this all the time. It’s just a matter of time before the site picks up again… and it will pick up well.

    If I was you, I will just keep adding 100% unique articles to the site and doing high PR quality backlinking. Trust me, the site will come back up and even better than before!

  87. Kief

    Kief

    Hi Spencer,

    I’ve read the entire post. Interesting to say the least!

    Perhaps I’ve missed the obvious but which domain are you closing off…this one – nichepursuits?

    I definitely think its a matter of backlink source and/or rate…nothing more. The fact it is NOT de-indexed seems to suggest this. A Google test.

    Cheers!

    Kief

  88. paul

    paul

    Spencer whats the best way to find out what your ranking is without a paid service.

    • Spencer

      Spencer

      That’s a tough question. Obviously there are lots of tools – Long Tail Pro at http://www.longtailpro.com includes a rank checker as part of it. For free thought, there is Scroogle.org, but this service has been VERY unreliable lately.

  89. John J. Ziemba

    John J. Ziemba

    Hey, Spencer:

    I certainly can feel your pain in writing this post, but I do agree with you that to fail and fail quickly is a good thing for an entrepreneur.

    I’ve had several. And I can say that I usually hated them as they were happening, but grew wiser after the fact. Now, as a “mature” relatively newbie internet marketer, I find that all of my job skills and life experiences are coming together now.

    Call me a late bloomer. Call me anything you wish, I cannot overemphasize the importance of failure. Every successful inventor or business owner will always tell you this –mostly in private. That’s why my hat is tipped to you for declaring this publicly. In my eyes you will not be demeaned because you failed, but grow in stature because you have talked about what a lot of us experience and are reluctant to admit.

  90. Satbir

    Satbir

    Hi Spencer.!!
    It takes so much courage to share the failure and take a decision after. Thank You for sharing it and this article gave me a strong lesson about how to handle this type of situation..!!

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