So, 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 with traffic that my servers couldn't handle it for a while! I may be moving this blog to a VPS server if this becomes a recurring problem. Anyway, the point is that you have all spoken loud and clear that you are interested in this subject! And I also want to say a big “THANK YOU” to those who had encouraging and kind words!
Obviously, many of you have lots of questions about what exactly happened to my site, so that you can all avoid the same issues with your own sites in the future. I don't have all the answers. But I do have a few “clues” as to why this might have occurred to my site. So, I want to cover some of the issues. But first I want to discuss a bit further what happened to my site, and re-explain why I am NOT pursuing this site any longer – but rather I am starting on a new domain.
3 Types of Google Penalties
First, what happened to my site. As explained, I called that my site had some sort of “sandbox” penalty for lack of a better term. To be clear, my site was still indexed in Google. You can always see if your site is included in the Google index by typing in the query, site:http://www.yoursite.com. If your site pulls up, then you are indexed in Google – and my site was indeed in the index.
If your site is deindexed, its nearly impossible to get it back. You can submit your site to Google for reconsideration, but your chances of getting a response from them are very small.
I was shared a link by one of my readers here about a great article that explains the difference between 3 types of Google negative effects:
You can read the full article on What to Do When Your Site Drops in the Google Search Results by ElectronPlumber.com. I really like the way he separates out the 3 different types of penalties that can occur to your site. So, my site wasn't deindexed. But I believe it was “penalized”. The reason I believe it was more than just a drop in rankings (#3), is because my site would not show up even when I typed in its exact domain. Because I had added a suffix to my domain (keywordsuffix.com), my site should have pulled up when I typed in “keyword suffix”.
The keyword and suffix combination was unique enough that no one else was using it. My site should have pulled up in the first result because I was the only one online using that combination – but it didn't show until the last few pages of search results. This is a sign of a penalty. This is why I decided to kill it. This is why I knew it was more that just a drop in rankings. A drop in rankings may not be a huge deal – its just the Google dance. But when you site doesn't pull up for its exact domain search or an exact sentence search, you know something is off.
My Decision to Not Fight the Penalty
Now to be clear, I DO believe that I could have overcome this penalty possibly. Its a maybe. It would have taken a lot of time, effort, money, and a little luck. Instead of sinking a bunch of time and money on linkbuilding and article creation for a “maybe”, I decided to opt for creating a new domain which is MUCH more guaranteed to not suffer from a penalty.
I had already spent over $500 on articles for this site. I could have gambled on a “maybe Google will be nice” and lift the penalty; or I could have started a new domain that is not penalized and use the $500 worth of articles on this new domain. I went for the option that guarantees I will be able to utilize the $500 worth of articles and is MUCH more likely to not be penalized in Google. I hope that explains my decision a little better.
You have to remember that my new authority site had only made me $34 at this point. If this was a site that was making me $1000 a month or something of course I would have tried a little harder to pull it out of the Google penalty box. But this was essentially a brand new domain – it wasn't worth fighting over.
I know all of you would have loved to see a “case study” of me trying my darndest to pull myself out of a Google penalty. But the truth is that I'm not interested in case studies per se, I'm interested in building my niche websites business. I made a business decision that I believe is MOST likely to give me the most bang for my buck. If I was simply interested in building my blog here, yes I would have just done a case study. But because I am most interested in pulling in money from Google Adsense – I went with what my gut told me was the best business decision.
So, having said that, I am still going to do my best to provide why my site may have been penalized and how you might be able to avoid such a penalty with your own sites.
Why My Authority Site Was Penalized
I believe the primary reason I received a penalty by Google is because of the linkbuilding done to my new site. I believe that I made 2 linkbuilding errors:
1. Overuse of keyword anchor text
2. Questionable link sources
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First, I believe that I may have overused my primary keyword as anchor text when building links to my site. I believe that at least 75 to 80% of the links built to my site were all using the same keyword anchor text and going to the homepage. I guess in my haste to build some links to the site, I didn't do a good enough job about paying attention to link variation. In addition, after watching this video on SEOmoz.org (called Beyond Exact Match Anchor Text to Next Generation Link Signals), I am going to change my anchor text strategy a bit.
I always do vary my anchor text, but with this authority site, I didn't do as well as I usually do. However, I am now going to be adding more “partial anchor text” to my linkbuilding strategies. I will probably only use the exact match phrase closer to 25% of the time perhaps. The rest of the time will be only partial keyword anchor text and non-keyword anchor text. This is a much more natural approach in Google's eyes.
Second, I looked back to see what I might have done differently on this site, and I did indeed find a couple of things as far as linkbuilding is concerned. I ordered a couple of link packages off of Fiverr.com (my first time EVER!) and a couple of Warrior Forum linkbuilding packages that I had not tried out before. Now, I don't have all of the details where all of the links came from, and its very possible (and perhaps likely) that some of these links were questionable. Questionable links could be spam comments on blogs or .edu blogs, forum profile links, overused social bookmarking, or other tactics. I can confirm that I did order a .edu package and some social bookmarking on Fiverr.com. These links very likely played a role in why my site was penalized.
So, my advice is to be VERY CAREFUL with the type, quantity, and anchor text used in your link building efforts. Yes, linkbuilding is very important – but I have learned that more is not always better. Going forward, I am going to be varying anchor text a bit more and only building links from sources that I am a bit more familiar with.
My Strategy for my NEW Authority Site
Anyway, that's what happened to my authority site, and I'm sticking with it! Now its time for me to move on and look to the future. I think I have learned a thing or 2 from this whole experience and that's always a good thing.
Since I last made a post, I went ahead and purchased 3 new domains all targeting my primary keyword for my NEW authority site. I have ordered just 1 article for each site at this point. Once I get the sites built and the first article placed on the sites, I will go back in and order a few more articles for each site. Then it will be time to start seeing if any of those new domains starts performing better than the rest. I will start following my new guidelines for linkbuilding, and at that point I expect a least 1 or 2 of these new sites to start showing up on the Google radar somewhere.
Once I find one of these new sites performing better than the others, I will be placing the articles from my old authority site onto this new site. And of course I will keep all of your posted as to what happens along the way. Hopefully I will have some better news down the road!
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject – what say you?