NOTE: This is a day late for St. Patrick's Day, but I was out drinking green beer yesterday. :)
The most recent Google Panda 3.3 update has claimed many casualties in the Internet Marketing world. Most prominently, this update seems to be targeting specific blog networks that have been used for backlinking purposes. As a result of huge de-indexation of blogs (translation: removing them from Google's index), many have lost not only their blogs but their rankings as well.
One particular target was Authority Link Network, which is an extremely popular service as of late. According to other reports it's been said that they have lost approximately 20% of the blogs powering the network. Recently, BuildMyRank closed its doors to the general public, leaving many without a chance to use their hybrid network. Many suspect a similar kind of de-indexation problem, but likely they are just trying to preserve what they have in their network currently.
In short, Google is on the warpath yet again, for the third time in recent months following the January Panda 3.2 update and the "ads-above-the-fold" update that affected many.
Blog Networks Not Only On The Radar
To my dismay, I recently learned that Wes from Chasing Pace had his AdSense account banned, for invalid clicks apparently. I know of more than just a few cases of the AdSense banhammer coming down upon seemingly innocent victims as of late, which is extremely disappointing. The AdSense team isn't the same as the webspam team led by Matt Cutts, but it seems that they are more on the prowl for Terms of Service violations more than ever.
Rolling With The Punches?
This is often a term I hear from the gurus in the IM world. It's not easy to do when you're starting out, but if you're serious about maintaining a business then these changes from Google are something that you're going to have to deal with. I suspect that many people will just outright quit the niche marketing game and move onto other methods of making money online. That might be a good strategy. For me, I am still sticking with AdSense until I meet my goals for the year, but during the journey I think that I will be researching other methods to diversify my portfolio. Amazon or some other affiliate program makes the most logical sense, but that's not to say that there are other possible revenue streams out there. I am so intrigued and interested in SEO right now, that I could see myself running a service in the future.
Despite my usage of ALN I don't seem to be affected too badly. I've dropped rankings across the board, but for some of my sites I've actually been getting several natural, organic links from authority sites in those niches that I believe has helped stabilize my spots. I have some information/educational niches and I have some highly authoritative domains linking to me, which is good. But it's time to retire ALN and other networks like it.
I'm confident that what I'm doing is right, and that I have quality stuff out there. I think that the whole niche marketing aspect of IM gets a negative rap because people think that putting up small sites are somehow bad for the Internet and the public in general. If you're putting out quality content, what should it matter? Sadly, it doesn't matter what you or I think, or what the public thinks. It's actually about what Google wants, despite what anybody else tries to tell you. At the end of the day they are a business, and they're driven by the bottom line eventually. Even if this means shutting out the little guys in the end.
You Should Have Seen This Coming
If you cared to check your history you'll see that Google has done changes a few times before with respect to Panda that have wiped out entire businesses overnight. 2012 and beyond will be no different, and given the amount of change we've seen in such a short period of time I think that we can expect that constant changing and tweaking of the landscape is inevitable.
Often we may realize this, but once we see a measure of success we tend to rest on our laurels and keep doing what's working. Not many adore change, but what we have to realize is that nothing lasts forever, and to stay in business successfully I think that you need to be ahead of the curve at all times. This means trying out ideas, new concepts, etc. This can be applied to niche research, marketing strategies, content, backlinking, monetization methods, etc. It's enough to make the average joe exhausted with so much choice.
I tend to look at changes like this in another way:
- More things for me to experiment and tinker with.
- Some of my competition just quit, sweet! (This is huge)
- I have a chance to revisit my strategy, tweak things, change it up, etc.
- I can split test old methods vs. new methods.
What's Coming Next
With respect to Google, I don't know, but I'll bet that their whole "quality score" ideal will extend beyond what's on your site right now. If you haven't done so already, you need to take action and start trying out new things. There's enough information out there: pick something you like and get going. Then, TEST. Test, test, test.
Has Panda 3.3 Affected You In Any Way?
Somehow I think it has only affected people who've gone "all-in" on blog network spam, but I could be wrong. If you've experienced some difficulties with the most recent update, let's hear it!