September 2012 was still a good month for me up until, oh, the tail end of the month around the 28th or so. It was then that Google decided to put out four updates simultaneously to their search algorithm. If you’re into IM of any kind then you definitely felt their presence: Panda, Penguin, and the now-infamous Exact-Match-Domain (EMD) update. Last but not least, there was also a major change to their Google Images algorithm. The updates are mentioned here:
I haven’t paid attention to Google updates lately but unfortunately, they’ve caught my mine this time around. I’m not sure which update got what, and I don’t really care, but the bottom line is that my portfolio got decimated. As of this writing I’m down to a handful of sites that are ranking well and making money. The rest are gone, just like that.
Virtual Assistant Situation
I’m just going to skip topics a bit here, and follow up from last month. If you recall I was looking for a virtual assistant, and I’m pleased to say that I believe that I’ve found a good one that I’m doing a trial with right now. She is looking after content and site management. I also have two more potential candidates, another site manager and a dedicated content writer, that I will likely put on a trial month with me. No doubt that their services will come in handy given the arduous task of rebuilding my sites, making the process a lot easier to stomach. I saved up a lot from my niche site earnings so even though I’m almost starting from nothing again, I have quite awhile before I deplete my resources. So, I’m happy that my extensive (and exhaustive) searches for a VA seem to be paying off.
What to Do with a Damaged Portfolio?
Long story short, I’ll be rebuilding my niche sites on new domains. I’ll only be doing the top 20 or so domains that have gained me steady earnings over the past year. I’m taking the time to test various things out now, so I’ll be using a mixture of various things that I’ll mention below. I know everyone has lots of questions, asking what everyone else is doing, etc. I suspect that there are a lot of fence-sitters right now, not knowing what to do. Here’s what I’m up to:
- Rebuild top earners on small sites and also consolidate some onto bigger sites related to some kind of theme/niche (health, business, travel, etc.).
- Use a mixture of new domains and aged/expired domains to build sites on. I lost EMDs, PMDs, and also branded domains in the recent flurry of updates, so I don’t believe that any of the three is at risk more than the other two at any given time. This means that I will continue to use all three types of domains randomly.
- I will not attempt to recover old sites. I did this for several sites after Penguin and while it worked, I would say that the effort didn’t necessarily match the outcome.
- My backlinking strategy is always the same. Copy the guys who are still ranking. It’s that simple. Although with my own private blog network I can be more flexible now.
- My VAs will help me create new content to build the newer, bigger sites, and revamping old content.
Over-analysis, and Analysis Paralysis
I’m only going to say this once, because I’ve been in your shoes before: DO something. You aren’t going to get anywhere sitting on the fence doing nothing. If you have penalized sites that you’re trying to rebuild, the worst that can happen in the end is that you have another dead site that isn’t ranking again. Stop trying to decipher and dissect each Google update every time one rolls around. It’s a waste of your time. It’s far more efficient to look at who’s left that’s ranking and try to understand why they are that way. You can view their content, site structure, and backlinks. That’s a good start, and that’ll give you enough to go on.
So, get back to work and earn money again.
Recently I got invited to alpha/beta test a new app, Domain Spoon. Essentially what the tool is designed to do is to help you find expired domains if you’re one of those who values them. What you do with those expired domains is entirely up to you, but typically they are used for private blog networks (PBNs) and domain flipping for high PR domains. Sometimes you might find them re-used for niche sites.
Anyway, you feed Domain Spoon a list of domains and it will do the following:
- Check for duplicates in your list, and remove them.
- Check for available domains, and remove the unavailable ones.
- Check the remaining list of domains through the SEOmoz Mozscape API for domain metrics.
- If there are any Blogspot domains in your list, it’ll run those through the above as well.
It does all this through a snazzy AJAX interface, and supports file upload if for some reason you want to examine up to 100,000 domains at a time. I’ve been using it for awhile and it works pretty well. I hope to be making a video review soon so that you guys can get a sneak peek at what it can do. I believe that the beta period is ending soon so it should be ready for prime time very shortly.
Where to Go from Here
From speaking with a few of my readers I know that there are several that are considering throwing in the towel on small niche sites at the moment. While I can’t tell you what to do, since that’s your decision, what I can tell you is something that was shared with me during my conversation with Hayden Miyamoto from NohatSEO. He told me that his portfolio’s been nuked several times, but the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is all about how well you come back from setback, disappointment, and adversity. What is most disappointing is when you have people capable of bringing themselves up again but fail to do so, simply because they didn’t try.
I’ll leave it at that.
Well it should be fairly obvious that I want to at least get my top 20 sites rebuilt quickly. I think that I’ll fall a bit short given that I’m re-doing some content on certain sites that I felt wasn’t up to par, plus I’m building bigger sites as well. It’ll take some time to get everything together before I want to start link building again, so I want to get at least 10 sites fully built out by the end of the month that are up to my standards. Don’t forget that I still have to do VA training and evaluation, so I’ll be stuck with a little more admin work than usual.
As always, you guys know that I love to experiment. I have a bunch of sites dead in the water so I’ll be thinking of creative ways to use the old domains if in any way possible. Other than that, it’s business as usual, but with a lot less earnings. Sigh… at least I know which keywords are profitable though.
Until next time!