Then I started getting warning emails. This site is banned and that site was banned. I got really worried and emailed them. But Google only directed me to their webmasters guideline and TOS. I read every word of it and didn't see anything that I was obviously violating their terms. Emails after emails, I had no luck getting my account reinstated. I didn't know how to fix my sites to comply with their mystery policy. It was a very stressful and disheartening time. Sure enough, within a few weeks, my entire account got banned. I went from $6000/month income to around $300 (affiliate and links).
As you can imagine, I was desperate. I had quit my job months before this and always planned to focus on diversifying my business, but I was drink too much of Google's Kool Aid and it was GOOOOOD for the time. I got lazy and complacent. So now I had to scramble to at least pay rent which was $900. It was a sobering time, but I knew I was in the right field and I'd pull this through.
I've heard so many IM gurus in worse situation than me when they finally pulled through to make their millions ie (Frank Kern - failing business with no money, John Reese - 6 figure CC debt, and so many others..) The point is they didn't quit. They fought on. I figured it was a blessing in disguise. It's the universe's way of wake me up to start making some REAL money.
I had to fight on.
I had a few options. I'll tell you what I was thinking and what I actually did, which I think helped me at the end.
1) Open up more Adsense Accounts and move everything to there. I actually did this and it worked for a while, but since I didn't know what violation I was breaking from Google, they caught up to me and promptly shut all my accounts down again.
2) I could have moved the sites to the new accounts and sold the sites off as soon as I had some earning to prove it. I considered it, but then I would be selling TOXIC ASSET to someone. They may get their Adsense banned. I don't want to be like those shady mortgage brokers who sell off bad loans. I couldn't consciously do that. It's bad karma. So I avoided this.
3) Using other Adsense alternatives. I tried them all. adbrite, selling text links, you name it I tried it. The sad truth is they make fractions of what adsense brought in. I knew Yahoo's publishing had a fighting chance, but at the time they were in beta and for the life of me I couldn't get accepted. And I tried, oh did I try..
4) Finally, I decided to park a dozen domains. This means I abandon the site I built and direct them to a parked page. Since a lot of my site's traffic came from Ezinearticles, they would get direct hits to the parked pages. It would get very high CTR and I was making almost the same as Adsense. However, when you migrate them to parked pages, your search engine ranking drops off over time. So after a few months, your only source of traffic was from ezinearticles. Fortunately, I was writing relevant articles about the site topic, so I get good amount of clickthrough from the articles and get a good CTR.
After I migrated most of my domains to parked pages, I make about $2000/month from those banned sites now. It's about 1/3 of what I used to make from adsense. I review my domains every half year or so and stop renewing the ones that make less the $10/yr to cover cost. Surprisingly, a few domains make over $100/month.
The lesson learned:
- Don't drink too much of Google's kool aid, because they can take it away any time without a reason. That means, focus on other businesses outside of adsense if it's your only source of income. I know.. It's common knowledge, but it's really easy to get sucked into the easy lifestyle when you're making $200/day and not doing anything for weeks at a time.
- Submitting ezinearticles related to my topic saved my lazy ass. I know there's a lot of talk about writing the most popular topics and just add the bio with the right keywords. Basically using it solely for backlink purposes, but if I did that, I know I wouldn't have gotten the referral traffic to my parked pages now.
- Be white hat. I think the reason a portion of my site was banned was due to it being deindexed from google. Adsense eventually started banning all sites that are deindexed from google (my theory). Although I used ezarticles and other ezine directories, I was aggressive with my linking strategy and got into some link networks I now regret. Think very hard on how your SEO strategy will work for you in the long run. It may work well short term, but Google seems to catch up fast to any glitch, loop hole or pattern that's manipulative. I rather do it slow and safe to cash in for years and years vs fast and aggressive and cash out in a year.
If you have adsense account, let my story be a tale of warning. If you got banned, you can use similar strategy to salvage you existing domains. Depending on how you built your website or network, this strategy may not work for everyone.