When last we left, the latest of my money earning sites seemed to be lost in the desolate wastelands of ~ No. 300 in the Google search results. No one was ever going to find my website, and it was surely never going to make any money! Obviously I did something wrong, and Google wanted me to know. Thankfully, I was able to get a clue as to what my sin was and what I should do to correct it.
Here’s what I did to get my niche site back on track. If you’d like to read previous chapters, follow the links at the bottom of this post.
A Lesson in Too Many Links:
How many of you have submitted your blogs to directories? Why not? They’re easy to get a link from and quick. All you have to do is spend about 1 minute filling in some generic fields and “boom” – you’re done!
With My Money Design, I had really only ever used this technique a handful of times. But with my niche website, I decided to really max this strategy as much as possible. After all, Spencer from Niche Pursuits mentioned that he was going to submit to 50 directories or so with the expectation of gaining 10 links to his niche site.
But once I started applying, I noticed something: Whenever you apply to a directory, they usually give you a handful of options:
- Pay to be listed. I say “F” that!
- Join for free, put a reciprocal link (or badge) on your site, and we’ll add you after 1 or 2 days. Who doesn’t want to be listed as soon as possible? This one sounded okay…
- Join for free without a reciprocal link (or badge) on your site, and we’ll add you after 3 or 4 months. Woof! I don’t want to wait that long! I want to start making money now. Option 2 is looking better…
As you can probably guess, I went with Option 2 for a few of my directory applications and posted their reciprocal links on my homepage. Altogether I had about 5.
And that was dumb …
Right around the same time, Niche Pursuits came out with an update where their latest site was also way up there in the 200’s and basically being penalized by Google. The problem: Too many affiliate links. Spencer had built a nice comparison table with a lot of nofollow links to various products. Once he reduced the number of links, the penalty went away and his site was back in the search results around No. 26.
“Could that be what’s going on with my site?” I thought …
I went to my site and made all my directory links nofollow. That seemed to do no good. The rank never seemed to go down:
- 3/13/2013 311
- 3/14/2013 291
- 3/14/2013 312
- 3/15/2013 289
- 3/16/2013 302
So I decided to take more drastic measures: I completely removed all the directory reciprocal links from my homepage.
That seemed to do the trick!
- 3/16/2013 31
- 3/16/2013 322
- 3/17/2013 29
- 3/17/2013 28
- 3/18/2013 30
- 3/18/2013 30
- 3/19/2013 28
- 3/19/2013 20
- 3/20/2013 20
With the links gone, my Google penalty seemed to be removed.
The lesson learned: It’s okay to have one or two external links on your homepage. But when you’ve got a young site with not a lot of authority or trust, and you start putting a bunch of unrelated external links on your page, it’s going to look suspicious to Google and you will get a penalty. The bottom line: Watch how many links you place on your page (either nofollow or dofollow) and pay attention to relevancy. It CAN make quite a difference!
Next Steps for My Money Earning Sites:
Since lifting my penalty, I’ve been having a difficult time having my niche website crack the Top 20 in the search results. It just seems to keep hovering around the third and forth pages:
- 3/21/2013 29
- 3/23/2013 27
- 3/24/2013 25
- 3/25/2013 29
- 3/26/2013 27
- 3/27/2013 26
- 3/29/2013 38
I’ve made sure to maintain a diet of slow but steady link building actions such as commenting, submitting to carnivals, using social media, social bookmarking, etc. In fact, Open Site Explorer says that I have over 900 external links pointing to my site!
So what’s the problem?
Well, a further examination reveals something very subtle and often overlooked: I have almost no links pointing to my site with the exact anchor text of my keyword (according to Ahref’s).
Perhaps if I can get my anchor text distribution a little bit more balanced, my site might do a little bit better in the search results.
With that said, there will be no rest until I am on page 1 of Google! Therefore, my to-do list will be:
- Continue to publish one new post every one to two weeks
- Continue with my current backlink strategy including a few planned guest posts.
- Experiment with other white-hat backlinks to try to increase my link diversity and anchor text
If all this talk about ranks and links is starting to sound like blah, blah, blah, don’t worry! In preparation for the upcoming Google Pagerank update which should take place sometime in May, I am working on a post that is all about making improvements to your site. If you’re feeling lost when it comes to SEO or just want to learn something new, then I think you’ll enjoy this post!
Readers – Who else had money earning sites that got hit by a Google penalty? What was the cause and what should we avoid so that we don’t get hit as well?
Previous Niche Website Chapters:
- Starting the Next of My Extra Income Ideas – Building a Niche Website
- Niche Website Project Part 2 – The Unveiling
- Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 3
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net