Panda - Depressed and Demoralized

36 replies
  • SEO
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About 2-3 years ago I decided to sit down at this website and learn everything I could in an effort to take my site federal-prison.org to the top of the rankings. I also taught myself SE Nuke and spent countless hours writing and submitting articles and blog posts. With the help of everyone here, after just a few months I had gone from basically unranked to Top 5 in dozens and dozens of excellent high traffic keywords. For major keywords like Federal Prison and Federal Prison Camp, only Wikipedia and BOP.gov outranked me.

With the high rankings came traffic and for the last 2 and a half years or so I have been able to count on a certain level of sales month in and month out and I have come to rely on this money to pay my bills. This month I noticed sales were way down and so I decided to Google some of my keywords. I was shocked. I went from 3 to 30 something for Federal Prison. I went from 6 to not even the top 100 for Federal Prison Camp. I went from number 1 to 19 for surviving prison. And on and on. My traffic has plummeted. My sales have dried up. I'm in trouble.

I understand that Google changes their algorithm. There's no point in getting worked up about that. But I need to plot a path to a comeback in order to regain my rankings and sales. One thing I have going for me is that I have a huge amount of content from the book itself. So it is really simple for me to put together articles on various subjects. I just don't know what to do with them anymore.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I'm open to hiring someone, but am wary of this as I just dropped big money in the past few months attempting to get to the number 1 spot for some of these terms and it didn't seem to help - indeed, with Panda (or is it Penguin?) all the links they put up on pages with unrelated content probably hurt me.

Any advice is much appreciated. I actually just spent 5 months revising the book and am about to release the 3rd edition. However, if I don't do something soon, no one is going to know about it, let alone buy it.

Final question, it's too late to go back and try to remove bad links to my site. Am I better off buying a new domain and starting from scratch? And one more, if Google is going to penalize sites for incoming links, doesn't that open the door to destroying your competitors and their being nothing they can do about it?

Thank you!
#demoralized #depressed #panda
  • Profile picture of the author ok180
    Banned
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author tylerherman
      **** happens. Just make sure you learn something from this.

      The links can be diluted but if you've spent as much time as it sounds like, you might have trouble compensating for all the garbage you've created over the years that is tied to that site.

      You may look into creating a new site for the updated book, maybe even give it a new name and promote it there. I wouldn't give up on your old site yet but that is up to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ernie Lo
    Jonathon I understand your pain, Ive been there too with Panda. Ive been in a depressed slump for the last year or 2, lost and scared to try again in fear of the big G and all my hard work being punished.

    However I finally deciced to jump back on the horse a few days ago and the old feelings are coming back. Its amazing how less depressed you feel when you are busy and have a goal to work on.

    What I have done is create a new site, on new hosting, on a new analytics account and basically left my old site as is and have rewrote all the articles for my new site. Its a lot easier to rewrite something when its already written up for you. It doesnt take a long to do and no further research is required.

    I plan on adding 2 new articles to my new site per day and being a little more careful seo wise.

    I'm varying my titles and anchor text now and writing everything myself instead of outsourcing. (I still think outsourcing is fine if you monitor it all) but I'm not taking any chances this time.

    Instead of just having my keyphrase as my article title, I'm now writing real titles and keeping on page seo to a minimum.

    Anyway I hope you do what I suggest and make a new site and rewrite those articles, and not go the other route of being a depressed and wasting moths or years doing nothing. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author crystalq
    ok180 I highly recommend you use GumTree or Craigslist or who ever is the top market place for your keywords.
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  • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
    Okay so it's Penguin that is causing this despair...

    Thanks for the various bits of advice here. Having stock in a warehouse would compound the problem even more. I feel for you!

    I just looked at my analytics. Comparing the month of May 2011 to May 2012, organic traffic from Google is down 91%! Yahoo and the others are down 50%! AOL is down 98%.

    I have it in me to reset and work to get back in the game, but I'm not sure where to start anymore. Original quality articles and press releases?

    I guess the first question is do I get a new domain name and new hosting and new analytics and rewrite the website and then try to genuinely start over? If I did that, I could still keep the current site and then just link the Purchase Now button to my new site correct?

    One thing I still don't get, if they are going to penalize 'bad' links, that means that any website can be targeted for a campaign of horrid link building by their competitors. Seems like I am missing something.

    Thanks for any comments. It really is a tough one to swallow, especially when I see some of the sites that now rank highly for my target keywords - sites that look like they took about an hour to throw together.

    I'm still open to paying for good SEO advice and help, but I would be more interested in a pay for performance type deal as I have been burned too many times.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ernie Lo
      Originally Posted by JonathanR View Post


      I guess the first question is do I get a new domain name and new hosting and new analytics and rewrite the website and then try to genuinely start over? If I did that, I could still keep the current site and then just link the Purchase Now button to my new site correct?
      I'd keep your existing site online and leave it if its still getting traffic and making money. But I wouldnt link your buy now buttons or anything else to the new site you make, just in case. Don't leave any footprints.

      One thing I still don't get, if they are going to penalize 'bad' links, that means that any website can be targeted for a campaign of horrid link building by their competitors. Seems like I am missing something.
      Who knows what Google is thinking or doing. There's a lot we are all missing and are unsure of.
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  • Profile picture of the author BulletheadX
    I was reading on here in the last couple of days that it isn't necessary to scrap the site/content; one can change the internal structure/urls so that the existing "bad links" point to nothing. There was even discussion about what to do about links pointing to the main page. I don't know much about this myself, but it seemed logical. You might search for it; look in the "Penguin recovery" threads.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by BulletheadX View Post

      I was reading on here in the last couple of days that it isn't necessary to scrap the site/content; one can change the internal structure/urls so that the existing "bad links" point to nothing. There was even discussion about what to do about links pointing to the main page. I don't know much about this myself, but it seemed logical. You might search for it; look in the "Penguin recovery" threads.
      This sounds intriguing, but almost too good to be true. Does anyone have more details?
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  • Profile picture of the author trafficmasters
    ignore offsite for now

    is your content unique? did you scrape it? does it read well?

    I would check every piece of content on-site and make sure keyword density is no more than 2%. Start adding new content on a regular basis making sure its related to your subject. Wait till google recaches your site and check rankings.

    for off-site - only get backlinks from sources that are related to your subject and make sure you diversify your anchors

    social bookmark each new piece of content
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by trafficmasters View Post

      ignore offsite for now

      is your content unique? did you scrape it? does it read well?

      I would check every piece of content on-site and make sure keyword density is no more than 2%. Start adding new content on a regular basis making sure its related to your subject. Wait till google recaches your site and check rankings.

      for off-site - only get backlinks from sources that are related to your subject and make sure you diversify your anchors

      social bookmark each new piece of content
      Thanks. Content is unique, but it never changes. I sell a book. I guess I could create a blog type of thing and write about related topics on the site.

      Keyword density isn't more than 2%.

      So I guess that means that what I can do is write unique articles (post them where?) and add content to the site and wait?
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  • Profile picture of the author Suzanne Morrison
    How about tackling it from a few different angles...

    1 - Try to recover your rankings
    2 - Look at alternative sources for traffic
    3 - create an additional site so you are not relying on the one site
    4 - sell your book on another platform such as Amazon Kindle

    Cheers
    Suzanne
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by Suzanne Morrison View Post

      How about tackling it from a few different angles...

      1 - Try to recover your rankings
      2 - Look at alternative sources for traffic
      3 - create an additional site so you are not relying on the one site
      4 - sell your book on another platform such as Amazon Kindle

      Cheers
      Suzanne
      Thanks for this. If I create an additional site, a lot of the content will be similar to the current site. Will that be a problem? Also, can the site have the same owner or will that make Google unhappy?

      For some keywords where 2 weeks ago I ranked Top 3, now I can't be found. For others. I have dropped to the third page. What I am confused about is whether this means that my domain is a lost cause or whether it means that there is a chance to recover.

      Kindle is a no-go. They take 70% of the sale price! iBooks maybe as they take 30%.
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  • Profile picture of the author rankwarrior
    I've been in the exact same boat as you. I've only just got all my rankings back, took me around 3 weeks, but DAMN IT WAS WORTH IT.

    Don't throw any more money into backlinks for your site. Don't bother deleting links, or trying to communicate with Google. It's a no win situation.

    I don't want to 'self promote' but if you want answers, i've wrote EVERYTHING I did in a PDF, link below.
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    • Profile picture of the author mrehan
      If your site lost rankings due to penguin or panda , you will not know whatever fixes you applied to it worked or not till penguin and/or panda refresh again.
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  • Profile picture of the author cheapstuff
    Penguin depresses and demoralizes me... from wanting to read through these forums. All these spammers saying they actually lived off of bad SEO for so long. It reminds me of the mortgage industry.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by cheapstuff View Post

      Penguin depresses and demoralizes me... from wanting to read through these forums. All these spammers saying they actually lived off of bad SEO for so long. It reminds me of the mortgage industry.
      I wrote many high quality unique articles that continue to get traffic today. I also used SE Nuke to bookmark and post to blogs etc. I did this because as it appeared to me - this was the definition of SEO. And I was right for the time. I shot up the rankings within months and stayed there for 3 years without adding any new content at all. Now Google decides to change the rules, my site stops ranking, my income dries up, I default on my student loans.

      And the circle of life continues.

      Maybe I will be able to get my head around what to do to rank post-Penguin, but more and more I see the act of building an online income that relies on the whims of a single company as very unstable/borderline foolish.

      And no one here has yet been able to answer a simple question: If Google penalizes 'bad' links, what stops me from taking down my competitors with a bad link campaign?

      Finally, a mini-rant, they say they did this to create a better user experience. Many of the sites that now appear for my keywords are really just completely useless - inaccurate content that was quickly thrown together and outdated information from 'trustworthy' sources like major newspapers. So at least when it comes to my keywords, I don't see any improvement in the user experience at all.
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      • Profile picture of the author honestbiz
        Originally Posted by JonathanR View Post

        I wrote many high quality unique articles that continue to get traffic today. I also used SE Nuke to bookmark and post to blogs etc. I did this because as it appeared to me - this was the definition of SEO. And I was right for the time. I shot up the rankings within months and stayed there for 3 years without adding any new content at all. Now Google decides to change the rules, my site stops ranking, my income dries up, I default on my student loans.

        And the circle of life continues.

        Maybe I will be able to get my head around what to do to rank post-Penguin, but more and more I see the act of building an online income that relies on the whims of a single company as very unstable/borderline foolish.

        And no one here has yet been able to answer a simple question: If Google penalizes 'bad' links, what stops me from taking down my competitors with a bad link campaign?

        Finally, a mini-rant, they say they did this to create a better user experience. Many of the sites that now appear for my keywords are really just completely useless - inaccurate content that was quickly thrown together and outdated information from 'trustworthy' sources like major newspapers. So at least when it comes to my keywords, I don't see any improvement in the user experience at all.
        I'm also in despair but I'm mentally preparing myself.

        I've been trying to tell people that there is something bigger and darker going on here, with Google, and it's only going to get worse. There are going to be more iterations of Penguin and other black-white animal updates further down the road, I foresee.

        If you look at the economy right now, (like JP Morgan fiasco which threatens to become bigger), and how swift Google has been implementing all these despotic changes, the one thing I am certain is that it has got NOTHING to do with improving the internet or user experience, but you have to connect the dots....
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        • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
          I'm not sure what it has to do with to be honest. I just know that the in a way SEO prior to Penguin was too good to be true, but that Penguin is delivering horrible results while burying many decent sites. (Again, should a very short thread on a website about UFO's rank number 2 for the term Federal Prison??? Is that the new user experience that Google hopes to deliver with this Penguin?)

          I'm looking at alternatives. I do some PPC, but have never had great luck. I am thinking of Kindle and iBooks and Nook, but am scared that the epub files will become available free of charge and no one will want to buy my book. Still quite discouraged about the whole thing, but looking for a way out...
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  • Profile picture of the author uoftenwinny
    Unique and quality content are good for ranking.
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  • Profile picture of the author yellowtaxi
    I lost rankings to five of my top performers sites by which my majority of income was coming from, it took me two weeks to settle down and plan what to do next. I am now working on my new sites and thinking to start an offline business.
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  • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
    JohnathanR,

    There's methods. Simple ones. Youre just temporarily down. Most people in here answering with on site BS and content tweeks etc. are dreaming. This is the punishment for off site link building. It sux. And I bet google replaced your killer site with a bunch of crummy pags that have bunk for content. I bet that site of yours converts like a MOFO too man. Good copy.

    You need a new domain and to move your content around and do some stuff with your old site. You also need to connect with folks with networks of sites with PR who can help you.

    SEO got a bit more expensive - not all that much harder or complicated. More steps to outsource with a bit more attention to the details. Most folks were pretty sloppy - points finger at self - over the last 1-2 years with their offsite activities. Youve got to now tier your link building and do very clean [ white hat ] tier 1 links - and do all the effective and powerful stuff that actually makes you rank - behind and thru your tier 1 stuff.

    You have a good site and if its a money maker - you need to connect with people with similar issues who have found the ways to recover their businesses. I too learned the hard way that fretting like a hen over "a" site and trying to salvage it post panda and penguin is folly. Its business . fresh start time [ but - if ya know whats up - you get to use that old site to drive a new one to the top ] ...

    Feel free to PM me and I can add you to a skype chat group or two.

    Might want to join up over at Traffic Planet too...
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    Rank Ascend Network - High PR Links / Guaranteed Rankings Increase
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  • Profile picture of the author MaroshIS
    Hey Jonathan, very cool site, great niche!

    I know it may sound a bit odd but for the time being before your new domain reaches top 3 spots, you can try PPC ? Maybe the cost per click for your main keywords is not expensive at all for your main keywords ? PPC is a sure shot while SEO is moving target and always will.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    Honestly, I don't think people are looking for your website when they search for 'federal prison.' I'm sure they're looking for information on that subject, rather than a sales page for a book.

    You were able to 'fake the funk' by adding links (fake link authority). Google has now discovered your ruse and punished you. There will be no escaping that fate for that domain. The bad links will continue on.

    At least with a new domain you might have a fighting chance.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by mosthost View Post

      Honestly, I don't think people are looking for your website when they search for 'federal prison.' I'm sure they're looking for information on that subject, rather than a sales page for a book.

      You were able to 'fake the funk' by adding links (fake link authority). Google has now discovered your ruse and punished you. There will be no escaping that fate for that domain. The bad links will continue on.

      At least with a new domain you might have a fighting chance.
      You're probably right in the first point, however for many other more relevant keywords like Surviving Prison, I have disappeared. I've dropped off the radar for some keywords and down a few pages for others. (Federal Prison I went from 3 to 13 - do you really think I need a new domain??? It still isn't clear if you are penalized for spammy links or if they just don't get taken into account. If you are penalized, then SEO is set to become the wild west with everyone attacking their competitors.)

      And just to make my point about how poor the Google results are after this Penguin, look at the website that appears in the NUMBER 2 spot for Federal Prison:
      Natchez,MS (Adams) **FEDERAL Prison Uprising** Ongoing>>

      Are you kidding me? If it was wikipedia and the New York Times I could stomach this, but some obscure thread on a website about UFO's and conspiracy theories??? Well done Google.
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      • Profile picture of the author 4morereferrals
        One of the sure signs you know you've got a Penalty - uber crap outranks ya. Googles web spam team trolls would prefer that than to allow anyone's real content near page one if they built even one un natural link - LOL.

        Results Index Improvements ... reeeedikkk. Cutts bloooooooooo'z




        Originally Posted by JonathanR View Post

        You're probably right in the first point, however for many other more relevant keywords like Surviving Prison, I have disappeared. I've dropped off the radar for some keywords and down a few pages for others. (Federal Prison I went from 3 to 13 - do you really think I need a new domain??? It still isn't clear if you are penalized for spammy links or if they just don't get taken into account. If you are penalized, then SEO is set to become the wild west with everyone attacking their competitors.)

        And just to make my point about how poor the Google results are after this Penguin, look at the website that appears in the NUMBER 2 spot for Federal Prison:
        Natchez,MS (Adams) **FEDERAL Prison Uprising** Ongoing>>

        Are you kidding me? If it was wikipedia and the New York Times I could stomach this, but some obscure thread on a website about UFO's and conspiracy theories??? Well done Google.
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  • Profile picture of the author Drew Trainor
    Right now I'm focusing on various forms of paid traffic and considering the kindle route. If you can figure out the PPC thing and start to get consistent results with it then you're basically home free because you won't have to rely on that crazy zoo keeper named google.
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  • Profile picture of the author footfoot
    Your site is a 2 or 3 page sales pitch. No offense but there's not much there that any search engine would find compelling.
    You should reinvent yourself as a niche authority on federal prison life and then advertise your book unobtrusively instead of the other way around.
    Become THE go to site for your niche. Don't see one right now.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by footfoot View Post

      Your site is a 2 or 3 page sales pitch. No offense but there's not much there that any search engine would find compelling.
      You should reinvent yourself as a niche authority on federal prison life and then advertise your book unobtrusively instead of the other way around.
      Become THE go to site for your niche. Don't see one right now.
      Thanks for this and no offense taken. I used to have a blog on the site that I updated regularly with prison news, but I didn't see any real benefit and so took it down awhile ago. Maybe I should have left it up?

      The trick would be to make it an authority site without giving away so much info that you don't need to read the book.
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  • Profile picture of the author ThatAblaze
    First off, to answer that question of yours: Yes, people can and do send bad links to competitors now. It's called negative SEO. Big G seems to be ignoring the whole issue.

    It sounds like your site is salvageable. The structure just needs to be changed. Make the site an authority, give people some free advice, and THEN say "for more info buy my book." I might suggest changing the theme of your site, and also installing an SEO plugin. Change the meta description, then give it a week. If things haven't gotten better, change some more and give it another week.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by ThatAblaze View Post

      First off, to answer that question of yours: Yes, people can and do send bad links to competitors now. It's called negative SEO. Big G seems to be ignoring the whole issue.

      It sounds like your site is salvageable. The structure just needs to be changed. Make the site an authority, give people some free advice, and THEN say "for more info buy my book." I might suggest changing the theme of your site, and also installing an SEO plugin. Change the meta description, then give it a week. If things haven't gotten better, change some more and give it another week.
      Just seems unbelievable that Google lets people kill off their competitors with bad links.

      I could put together a lot of good and free info. The trick is just to not give away so much that people feel there is no need to buy the book. That's my concern.

      Do you think I should go with a new domain even though I'm still on the second page for many of my keywords that used to be Top 3?

      Can you elaborate on 'install an SEO plugin'?

      Thanks much!
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      • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
        Another quick question:

        If I could choose between either of the two domains below, which one should I choose - and is there really going to be a big difference as far as my ability to rank highly?

        FederalPrison.com - Was used by someone else with a book to sell for many years (going back to late 90's). Not currently in use. Would be very expensive to acquire.

        FederalPrisonLife.com - I just bought this. It has no history whatsoever.

        Thanks for any advice! I thought I had done the hard work and now just needed to update the book every year or two! Who knows, maybe by creating an authority site and making the site about something other than BUY MY BOOK, in the long run I might do better with traffic and sales.

        But first I need to figure out if I stop using the current domain....
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      • Profile picture of the author ThatAblaze
        Originally Posted by JonathanR View Post

        Just seems unbelievable that Google lets people kill off their competitors with bad links.

        I could put together a lot of good and free info. The trick is just to not give away so much that people feel there is no need to buy the book. That's my concern.

        Do you think I should go with a new domain even though I'm still on the second page for many of my keywords that used to be Top 3?

        Can you elaborate on 'install an SEO plugin'?

        Thanks much!
        You said you had a blog before with prision news, but deleted it. Now-a-days a blog like that goes a long way towards avoiding a penalty. I wouldn't go for either of your two domains, after all your old domain isn't banned, just penalized. 90% chance this is an algorithmic penalty. You need to restructure your site, once you do the penalty will probably dissolve and you'll be back in business. It sounds like you might also make the internet slightly better too.

        Prison news is great. Get the old content back, write some new news. When I said an SEO plugin that was for wordpress, and I get the impression you're not using that. That's fine.

        If you ever wanted to change the structure of your site now is the perfect time.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    Jonathan,

    Don't be too drastic and ditch the old domain. You can try a different domain in addition. It might be worth it to just put up an authority style blog on the new domain and then advertise the book.
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    • Profile picture of the author JonathanR
      Originally Posted by mosthost View Post

      Jonathan,

      Don't be too drastic and ditch the old domain. You can try a different domain in addition. It might be worth it to just put up an authority style blog on the new domain and then advertise the book.
      Thanks for this. Any idea on which of the domains I listed are superior for an authority site? (I imagine the former, but is it really so superior that it's worth spending a large sum of money on?)

      Thanks!
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      • Profile picture of the author honestbiz
        Ok, my 2 cents worth in light of Penguin is to not buy the former domain. Since you mentioned that your former site was not heavy on content, maybe you would like to create something with more pages, like a satellite site, and link back to your old site from the new satellite site.

        Also, it may even be possible to not self host any domain and just use a Blogspot, since that is basically what Google is trying to force people to do now. A lot of sites that got hit in the Penguin update were self hosted sites and domains, many with great, quality content...
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  • Profile picture of the author TolyZ
    Best practice is to find private blog network with minimal to no footprint and post your articles on it with LSI keywords. That's what we've been doing since day 1 for all of our customers. Works like a charm.
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  • Profile picture of the author clenard77
    Work on your offsite content and focus on providing value, along with links back to your site. Try not to use too many keywords in your anchor text. Your site will recover, but not if you continue to build low quality links with excessive keywords in your anchor text.

    As long as your site has quality content, things will pick back up as long as you don't fall back into low quality links. You'll most likely start seeing changes over the next few months anyways.
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