In January of 2014, my main money site took a hit in the rankings. It went from #1, a spot which it held for almost 3 months, to #3.
Almost exactly one month later, the rankings dropped again…
This time the website went all the way down to #10 for the primary keyword.
This post is the start of the series that will track the progress of returning to the top (or at least near the top) of the rankings in Google.
Here are some posts about the site if you are just starting to follow along:
- Total 2013 Earnings and January, 2014 Earnings
- Podcast as Cubicle Free
- Success Story at Niche Pursuits
I started a brand new website last year in July. It was quite successful overall and here are some details:
- Achieved Rankings in the top 10 within 60 Days.
- Sustained the Rankings from October to December, 2013.
- Stopped adding content and adding links during October to December, 2013.
- Rankings fell in January and again in February.
A lot of people wonder how long it takes to get your site indexed in Google, then actually ranking in the search results, and then getting traffic. You can get your site indexed pretty quickly, normally within days. I don’t really even take any action to try to get a post, page, or site indexed.
Unfortunately, I did not keep detailed records of the rankings over time. I did not think it would be very important or that I would need the data.
I don’t have the data about moving up in the rankings but I do have the traffic information which is probably more important. I will let the graphs tell their own story…
Here is a graph from July to August, 2013.
Here is a graph of the traffic from September to October, 2013.
Here is a graph of the traffic from November, 2013 to January 10, 2014.
Here is a graph of the traffic from July, 2013 to January 2014.
In addition, here is a graph from Google Webmaster Tools from the Top Queries Section. The graph illustrates the number of impressions in the Google Search Results from December, 2013 to February 28, 2014.
An Update Caused a Fall in Rankings
On January 9th or 10th, 2014 there was a retroactive update rolled out. Actually, you can see the fine print in the graph above.
Update: an improvement to our top search queries data was applied on 12/31/13.
What was the update all about?
Why did the website fall in the rankings?
I’m not quite sure. The initial theory was that the exact match anchor text was over optimized…The exact match anchor text was about 12–14% which is a little high these days. However, the #1 result right now has just about the same anchor text profile. So, that’s not the problem.
The onpage SEO seemed fine overall – most all of the posts are over 500 words written by me or native English speakers in a natural way and the keywords are not overused.
My best theory was that backlinks were no longer recognized for one reason or another. The backlinking strategy that I implemented makes use of free web 2.0 blogs (called Tier 1) that link directly to my site. Then, I build backlinks (called Tier 2) to those free blogs to boost the authority of those sites (Tier 1).
I thought that maybe the Tier 2 links were no longer valued or they were deleted. The impact would cascade up causing my money site to drop in rankings.
The other thing to note is that I did not add any content or links from October to December of 2013. I had other projects that I was working on and simply neglected the website. I am sure that did not help!
Wait, it gets worse…Another Update?
About one month after the first drop, there was another change in February. The website dropped from #3 to #10. The traffic impact has not been too substantial this time though. It’s a little surprising that the traffic didn’t drop more.
There was an algorithm update rolled out that week but it seems to be targeting sites that are ad heavy above the fold. My site is not ad heavy at all…there are a lot of affiliate links but they are within the text of about 4,000 words.
I want to get the site ranked in the top 3 again. I definitely can see that it is worth the time. I have a few strategies that I am implementing right now.
Add more content
I had not added any content in several months. I hired a couple writers to help out and I have some new articles up now. I will probably continue adding more information to ensure that the content is not stagnant.
Add More Links
This is the big one. I need more backlinks. I really should have been making an effort to keep the backlinks growing over time.
- I like blog commenting. I’m starting the campaign for commenting again on relevant blogs. I am aiming to make 5–10 comments per day (on most days) for the next month. They are nofollow but it adds a nice diversity to the overall backlink profile. The number of referring domains will go up significantly.
- I am now adding links on my Private Blog Network (PBN). I have been able to invest in a small, humble network. I only hear good things about PBNs so I’m checking it out myself.
- I will outsource some link building to paid services. I tested out the HOTH (affiliate link) last month on another site. The results were remarkable. The site moved significantly (bottom to the top of page 1) after the campaign finished. In addition, the customer service from the HOTH is amazing. I was reviewing the final report that was emailed to me this week and saw that one of the Web 2.0 properties that they created was removed. I emailed the support team and within 10 minutes I had a reply. They said the HOTH already found that it was removed and replaced it with a new property. It was reflected in the report in my account but I did not see it since I was looking at the report in my email. Basically, they detected the problem and fixed it before I even figured it out. I’m a customer for life now! After the email exchange, I purchased a Platinum package to help with the link building.
- Finally, you can’t beat the links that you get with old fashioned networking and outreach with other webmasters. The process takes time and work. This will be long term campaign of emailing and creating relationships. I haven’t started this part yet but I hope to kick it off next week.
Check the Progress and Results Each Week
It is my goal to get this site back up in the rankings. I am taking checkpoints frequently to review the success of the action plan.
I am probably checking the progress too frequently. 🙂
I will post updates on a weekly basis to track the progress.