Google Slapped Me

It finally happened…

Google Ranking Drop

Take that! Love, Google

After reading countless people’s horror stories on IM and SEO forums all over the internet over the past few years, I finally had one of my money-makers slapped down to the depths of the SERPs.

Before it got slapped, this site was getting almost 1000 visitors per day.  Originally this site was used as an experiment in order to cross-sell to one of our beauty products.  It wasn’t working for a number of reasons.

Let me give you just short background on the site.  The domain is roundface-hairstyles.com, and it was registered by my partner John in 2006.  Like I said, he originally used it to cross-promote one of our beauty products as well as some small affiliate offers.

Not much was done to it for a couple of years, and early this year I began creating content for it, most of it outsourced.  Good content too.  I also began building links to it.  I honestly didn’t put too much time into it, maybe a few hours a week.

At first I was going to make it an Amazon review site, so I threw in some links here and there advertising products, but it just didn’t feel right.

To me the site was about just browsing and looking for information.  It wasn’t really a ‘hot’ niche with many ‘buying’ keywords.  I think that’s one of the main reasons it didn’t work well cross-selling to our beauty product or with affiliate products.

That’s when I decided to add Adsense to it and give that a go.   But I didn’t add the Adsense right away.  I continued to build content and build backlinks to this site for about 3 months.  Then when I was getting over 700 visitors a day I decided to add the Adsense…this was around June 25th or so.

I’m not going to discuss specifics as far as CTR (click-through rate) and other Adsense stats, but adding Adsense turned out to be a pretty good move as we were getting a couple of thousand page views and the CTR was pretty high.  This was a nice little add-on income and pulled in around $300 for the month of July.

Then on August 1st my rankings dropped site-wide…by this I mean ALL of my rankings dropped.  Take a look at the awfulness here…

google slap

The main keyword, which was ‘hairstyles for round faces’ went from page 1 position 4 all the way down to page 5.  Ouch.  This keyword gets around 50K exact searches per month.  And I wasn’t ranking the home page, I was ranking roundface-hairstyles.com/blog.  The homepage is a squeeze page.

After working for MONTHS to get this site from 150 visitors per day to around 700-900 per day, suddenly Google tanked it.

Just looking at that screen shot hurts my soul.

So I talked to some of my SEO friends, had them take a look at the site, the content, etc and they gave me some advice and their thoughts.  They were pretty much the same as mine.  Some possibilities:

1)  Panda related update -  It seemed this was not a Panda-related update, as from everything I’ve read online the last mini-update to Panda was July 23rd.  This was a full week after that.

2) Intrusion – No intrusion that I could tell.  I checked with my hosting company as well.

3) Adsense location and/or amount – Maybe.  I did change this, as explained below

4) Thin/duplicate content – I don’t think so

5) Over-optimized? – Maybe, but I really don’t think so

6) Some strong backlinks I had dropped or disappeared?  A big possibility on this one for sure

This is NOT a thin site, that’s for sure.  By thin I mean very few pages with crappy content.  What you might think of when you think of those MFA (Made For Adsense) sites that used to be popular.  OK it wasn’t ground-breaking material…it’s a site about hairstyles for crying out loud.  And there isn’t a TON of content.  But the content was well-written and compared to the sites in Google’s first page now, I think MUCH better overall content.

So what am I going to do now?

First I made a change to the Adsense location.  At first I thought I would remove all of the Adsense right away.  But I really don’t think it was the Adsense.  But just in case, I did make one small change.  This site uses CTR Theme which is awesome because once I switched to it my CTR was increased around 4X.  (Yes that is an affiliate link.  I still think the theme is awesome and I really don’t think the theme had anything to do with my drop).

But anyways, just in case I removed the Adsense blocks that sometimes show at the TOP of the content.  With this theme, your ads rotate automatically.  And sometimes, I had 2 Adsense blocks at the top of the content, and sometimes I had them at the bottom of the content…but they were never at the top and the bottom at the same time.

From my research, just in case it was indeed a Panda related slap, it seems many sites with too much Adsense above the fold seemed to get slapped.  Even great sites with fantastic content.  Here is a screenshot of the site so you know what I mean:

Adsense location

So the way I have it now, there is never any ads above the content except for the text ads at the top.  This is all extremely annoying, because if you ask most Adsense experts and even the Google Adsense team, they will tell you it’s a good idea to have as many ads above the fold as possible.  This team is unfortunately a completely separate team from people at Google who work on search quality.

What else am I doing?

I am continuing to build content and build backlinks.  I will do this for another 2 months.  If by the end of October there is not much of a change, I will remove the Adsense completely and then continue to build backlinks and content.

If I have any big updates I will post them here at IMW.  If not, you can assume there were no changes yet.  At the very least you will see a post from me at the end of October regarding this.  HOPEFULLY though you see an update from me sooner, as that would mean that rankings are back and so is the cash.

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About Bill Zimmerman

If you want real online marketing tips and tools, you are in the right place! I enjoy building businesses in the online world and helping others do it as well. I've been doing it since 2008 and love every minute of it. I love the freedom and the creativity and strive towards high levels of passion and leadership every day.

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