I am releasing this post as I also want to show the bad side of blackhat internet marketing. In my opinion, there are too many blogs and forum posters out there who only report on the good side leading to people to developing a warped set of expectations for their sites. I have previously published posts on how I have taken hits from the Penguin 4 rollout as well as a number of small unnamed rollouts between Penguin 4 and Fred.
In this post, I will be going over the life and death of one of my domains. To date, it is the only serious attempt at a PBN based site I have attempted but I do have some similar sites planned with one currently being built. I have mentioned this particular site a few times now on the forums and Reddit as it was my only domain to be hit by the Fred rollout in March 2017.
The site is close to the micro niche site model consisting of one main money page that I intended to rank in Google and that page is supported by a number of filler pages. These filler pages contain niche relevant content in an attempt to help theme the website around the money site page and help Google class it is relevant and rank.
On To The Analytics
I have decided to publish screenshots of the site’s analytics sorted by daily, weekly and monthly traffic as I feel releasing all three give a better picture of the site’s growth.
The Domains Daily Analytics
The Domains Weekly Analytics
The Domains Monthly Analytics
The money site domain was a totally fresh domain that was built over the span of a day or two with the PBN links to it being published within the first week of its release. These PBN links were the only for of backlinks built to the site during its life as I wanted to keep this domain free from automation.
As you can see from the analytics above, this site also displays the effects of the Google Sandbox. Although the PBN links were enough to rank the target page in position one for its main keyword it did take a number of months for it to reach that position. I have mentioned this multiple times now but I believe this is due to the money site being built on a totally fresh domain and Google forcing it to age before being rewarded with links.
The above screenshot is a closer look at the analytics profile for the side during November 2016. As you can see from the daily and weekly analytics screenshots there is a sudden drop in traffic during this period. This was either due to the money site being hacked or the hosting package for the money site emailing me to say I had to move the site off their hosting as it had started to receive too many daily hits for what I was paying them.
Off the top of my head, I can’t actually remember which one it was as this was just after the Penguin 4 rollout and I had bigger things to worry about than keeping notes on the handful of sites I still had online.
As you can see from the above screenshot though, traffic managed to pick up again after around a week of getting the site back online and then returned to normal.
Keywords And Earnings
I will not be releasing the exact keywords this site targeted as I already have a new project online attempting to rank for them. What I will say is its main keyword received 4400 monthly searches and is a buyers keyword that I imagine would receive an increase in search volume over the Christmas period.
The site was earning money from the Amazon affiliate program and to my knowledge it only allows you to display reports of the past 90 days meaning I am unable to check the total income from the site. I can remember the site averaging around the $100 per 1000 visitors mark during its peak though but these increased click-through ratios could have been due to the Christmas period and people being eager to purchase gifts for their loved ones.
The Fred Rollout
On the 9th March 2017, Google rolled out their Fred update and as you can see from the screenshot below the site’s traffic took a massive hit. Overnight the site went from having most of its money page keywords in the top three of Google to them all being at various positions on page two.
This thread over on Blackhatworld shows that the rollout hit a large number of people and that they were using a wide range of methods to promote and rank their sites. Google have not released any solid information on what the update targeted leaving the community to rely on speculation with a number of theories being presented as the reason for sites being hit by the rollout.
Trying To Fix The Site
There are a number of theories floating around as to what the update actually targets ranging from over using ads to low-value content to a low-quality user experience. To date, I am unaware of anyone who has been able to provide any evidence as to what the update targeted.
Since the rollout of the update, I have tried a number of things to push the site back onto the first page ranging from removing all ads, adding new content to the money site and PBNs, diluting the over-optimized anchor texts to the money site as well as increasing site speed.
To date, nothing has budged the site. When I had multiple domains hit by the Penguin 4 rollout they reacted completely different to this site. They dropped from the first page to page 10+ plus or even out of the top 300 completely. With the Fred update the keywords seem to be stuck at positions 11-13 so I am hoping I will be able to work out a fix.
Leaving The Site To Limp On
Although I would like to correct the problem and have the site return to the top three for its keywords I am reducing its priority to something I do when I am bored rather than actively attempting to correct the issue.
Thankfully, the site was already profitable before it was hit by Fred and the screenshot above shows its earnings for April 2017. Off the top of my head, I would presume the money site and PBN hosting for the site come to around $10 per month with an additional $50 once per year to keep the domains meaning the site is still bringing in enough money for me to keep it as part of my money site network for now.
I hope this has offered an insight into the darker offerings of blackhat SEO to my readers to help hammer home that you have to be willing to take the good and the bad when attempting to game Google. Try not to be like this guy over on Blackhatworld and think Google owe you anything especially when you are going against their guidelines.