Podcast 43: Niche Site Project Update, Disavow Links, and Recovering in Google

By Spencer Haws |

Last week, I finally broke the silence about what happened to my survival knife site, from niche site project 1.

As revealed in that post, the site appeared to have been hit with negative SEO.  And then when Penguin 2.1 came out in October 2013, the site finally tanked in the rankings (the spammy links obviously being the reason that it was affected by Penguin).

I tried several tactics for over 9 months trying to bring the site back from the dead without much success.  However, last week some interesting things started to happen: the site started to rank for keywords and the traffic was increasing rapidly.

The discussion in the comments of that last post was fantastic, so Perrin and I decided to sit down and record a podcast to further that discussion.

What's in the Podcast?

During the course of this podcast recording, we cover a number of topics including:

Overall, the topics we discuss during the podcast are the same as I wrote about in my last blog post.  However, Perrin add his own experiences, and we have a chance to talk things over in more depth than we did in the last blog post.

So, I hope you'll give the podcast a listen…and would love to hear your thoughts below!

Listen to the Podcast

Podcasts | 21 comments

By Spencer Haws

Spencer Haws is the founder of After getting a degree in Business Finance from BYU (2002) and an MBA from ASU (2007) he worked for 8 years in Business Banking and Finance at both Merril Lynch and Wells Fargo Bank.

While consulting with other small business owners as a business banker, Spencer finally had the desire to start his own business. He successfully built a portfolio of niche sites using SEO and online marketing that allowed him to quit his job in 2011. Since then he's been involved in dozens of online business ventures including: creating and exiting Long Tail Pro, running an Amazon FBA business for over 3 years and selling that business, founding, and co-founding You can learn more about Spencer here.

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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Thanks for the podcast. I learnt a lot. By the way, I’d like to request for a new Long Tail Pro feature – a web-based version of the tool. Something similar to Google’s Keyword Planner so we can do keyword research on our tabs and smartphones whenever we can’t access our PCs or laptops.

Spencer Haws

Glad you enjoyed the podcast! Feel free to send any suggestions to longtail pro . com / support


Hi Spencer, happy to hear you getting back with that website
i hope you have better than before.

i left you an email i hope to answer me about it about the content 🙂

Spencer Haws

Yep, I’ll respond.


Here is my opinion on how you might of received an extra push in traffic. I’m just thinking outside of the box.
When I received the update email on Aug 27 I looked over the whole project. To investigate further (due to not knowing the new URL for the site) I simply searched the same keyword you are still ranking for on Google. Pretty much found the site you had because it’s still the same content (just different theme). Because of this search, you just gained an extra visitor. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who did this. The question now is, with this “increase” of traffic are you seeing more sells? Or can it just be NP visitors checking up on the progress of the site?


*correction* Aug 28 was the email update

Spencer Haws

I didn’t blog about or send an email update until AFTER I started seeing an increase of traffic…so the increase had nothing to do with NP readers. So, I say a natural increase in traffic starting on Aug 25th and 26th. Then I sent an email out on Aug. 28th. Then obviously after the 28th, some of the traffic coming to my site will be from NP readers, but not all. This podcast and the last post discusses the increased traffic that clearly came before I announced it here on my blog.


Thanks for clearing that up!


Hey, Spencer

I’m awaiting the new Penguin update as well. Although I have a lot of sites out there, I’m actually curious to see what Google has been planning. I’ve heard you talk about having hundreds of sites that make your Adsense income, but I’m wondering why you never talk about them.

I think it would make for some interesting posts if you were to take screenshots of the webmaster tools data and analytics without showing any information that would give the sites away. You could do like a “heres some stats of my top 20 adsense sites” type of post. Anyway, enjoyed the podcast. Also, shoutout to perrin.


I got spikes at the same time and so did many others. nothing to do with disavow. I would bet TODAY its dropped back a bit.

6-9 months is too long to wait for disavow to get its act together. its a failure.


*sorry post above went off acxidentally on my phone.

meant to say ..its a failure on googles part to take so long to rectify (disavow) victims of negative SEO when they have worked tirelessly to get sites up and running yet are quick to apply penalties in other areas eg banning someones adsense sites, reviewing their sites (which they dont do manual reviees ..thats another joke) etc. seems google has gotten too big for its boots.


Spencer’s best survival knife website has a different URL now. It actually is on the first page. So it’s not lost in the ranks. 😀


Awesome lessons here guys, and glad to hear you are getting back on track with the site!


While it may be a review of the information you covered in your last post, I still learned a bit from it. Do you think Google will speed up the disavow procedure in the future?

Spencer Haws

I would suspect so, but I really don’t know. I would imagine they are still testing whether the disavow links tool will become a permanent fixture for them or not.


Good news about one of my niche sites. It was ranking #2 or #3 for the primary keyword until May 1, 2014 when it suddenly fell to the fifth page. There was no manual action or anything, so I assumed it was the result of an algorithm update.

I was prepared to let the domain expire until August 25 when it shot back to the first page. The only changes I made in August were WordPress updates and minor updates to the front-page text. No new articles or links.

Google is a mysterious mistress!

Spencer Haws

Glad to hear your site bounced back!


Yeah me too congrats on your site bouncing back like Spencer said above:)

Secondly there are some good seo tips in the pocast I gave up on seo a while ago I just stick to the basics:) I provide excellent content and let everything else fall into place.

Any traffic I get from Google is just a bonus in my book, but on the flipside free traffic from Google is some of the best traffic that you can drive to your business.

Trying to figure out Google nowadays will drive you crazy:)


Hej Spencer and Perrin! Really enjoyed the podcast with its valuable insights. Thanks for being so transparant and to be honest – thats what the public niche site is about and i really apprechiate that you share ALL your information – also the bad experiences, because thats when we all can learn a lot! thank you for your effort!


Well, in other words, do you think G is keeping a database of penalized sites content and penalizes all new sites that re-publishes this content?

Jitendra Shekhawat

I learnt a lot. By the way, I’d like to request for a new Long Tail Pro feature – a web-based version of the tool. Something similar to Google’s Keyword Planner so we can do keyword research on our tabs and smartphones whenever we can’t access our PCs or laptops.

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