Why do web sites (affiliate, Adsense or other) get penalized or dropped in rankings on Google? Is it really just because Google wants to penalize the little guy for trying to make a living from home? A lot of people would have you believe that. I don’t believe this, and I guess I am one of the few people that think Google are trying to make their search results better. Whenever I say this, I get a lot of emails telling me that I am wrong, from people who have had “high quality” sites that “have done nothing wrong”, get penalized. I even wrote a report (Affiliate Site Autopsy) that analyzed 5 such sites in detail, and all of them had VERY good reasons for being penalized.
Incidentally, I don’t recommend you buy that book now, as I will be updating it with more information and releasing it as a cheaper Kindle book later this year. For those that cannot wait for that release, I have decided to do an affiliate site autopsy in my newsletter. This will be serialized over the next few weeks, starting today.
In a previous post, I wrote about the problems with backlinking in 2014. In response to that post, I had a comment from a long time subscriber who said:
In response to this first part of his comment, I’d like to say that I didn’t say “just quality content” was all that was necessary. What I actually said was:
“Isn’t it time we all go back to basics and concentrated on the one thing you know Google wants? Quality content and providing your visitors with stuff they want to read, interact with, bookmark and share with their friends! Either that, or find another source for your traffic”.
The bit in bold is equally important as the quality content, and the two don’t always go hand in hand.
However, don’t think I am having a go at the commenter. I am not. Glenn is a long-time subscriber to my newsletter, and has bought some of my products. I know that he is extremely frustrated, as are so many.
In the last year or two, Google didn’t so much move the goalposts for SEOs, they removed the altogether for certain activities. The things that Google tolerated 2 years ago are no longer tolerated. Whereas Google previously ignored certain activities (like backlinking for ranking) and just took away any benefits that behaviour gave a webmaster, now they penalize it. And it’s not just a penalty for that activity going forward, it’s a retrospective penalty. If at any point in the history of your site you engaged in “web spam”, your site could be penalized for it. Google are saying clean up your site, or don’t expect free traffic.
OK, back to Glenn. In his comment, he said:
So Glenn researched and wrote his own content, and got compliments and even an offer to buy his site. I haven’t looked at the content in details yet (I will look at it during the process of my affiliate site autopsy and show you the results), but the problem may not be the content itself. In his comments, we are getting a few clues to off site work he did, namely backlinks on Ezine Articles. He goes on to say:
Again, Glenn is talking about some off site activities that would not have helped his site ranking in the long term. The sad thing from this story is that he only started the really spammy backlinking 6 months before Penguin, the algorithm that was released to catch the spammy backlinkers.
In included that second paragraph to make a simple point. Contrary to common sense, taking the advice from someone on the Adsense team is not always a good idea. They will also tell you to put more ads on your site, yet these things can actually cause you problems with Google search. Google Adsense and Google Search are two separate entities in my mind, and over the years I‘ve seen enough conflicting advice given by these two sources to believe that you should never take advice from the Google Adsense team if that advice is about how to make more money with them.
From everything Glenn told me in his comments, I have a feeling that the problem with his site is not the site or its content. It’s much more likely to be toxic links pointing at his site. Something that confirms this to me is another point that Glenn made about his site. He said:
“I was not hit at all with Panda”
To me, Panda is related to onsite content quality, and Penguin is related to backlinks and over-optimization. If the site was not hit by Panda, the content was at least good enough not to have been penalized when it was first released.
In the next few posts in this series, I will go through the site carefully, investigating on-site and off-site factors. I’ll post everything I find, good or bad (and after a quick look at the site, there is a lot to like about it). If you want to take a quick look at the site now, you can find it at: