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Google Panda – How To Survive

by PotPieGirl on October 9, 2011 · 186 comments

Jennifer Ledbetter

Beware – Straight Talk That Might Not Be Popular

Oh, this Google Panda thing is nuts, isn’t it? Sites dropping like flies, the SEO community in a whirl-wind of guessing….and tons of marketers crying, “Why me? My content is GOOD!! It’s not fair!”. The latest list of “losers” with the most recent release of Panda includes some big name sites…and Google-owned sites? Well, surprise, they are doing well. So how do we survive this craziness?

Panda Update 2.5

This latest and confirmed Panda run in the Google SERPs brought forth an interesting list of losers. We’re talking “big” and popular sites like ConsumerAffairs.com, savings.com, KillerStartups.com…Entrepreneur.com… Technorati.com. Just nuts. Oddly, HubPages.com made the “winners” list this go-round – supposedly with their use of subdomains.

What’s really nuts is that a site that was severely nailed by the first Panda release, then recovered…was hit AGAIN by this most recent Panda run. Let’s make it even MORE interesting. After that site publicly reported that they were hit again, Matt Cutts with Google made a Tweet stating that we should “expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates”… and then that site that was hit twice somehow reported a full recovery from Panda…again.

Out of 90 or so client sites…and hundreds of my own sites…there are 2 sites that seem to have been hit by either a manual review or by Panda. The time line for these 2 sites could point in either direction as to the “why”, but both sites have been handed a heavy pair of cement shoes and have sunk drastically in the rankings.

Here are some details about these sites: (in case it helps anyone)

  • Both sites are affiliate sites.
  • Both sites have unique content that is good, in my opinion. One site I am clueless about the topic and after reading, I learned things about it, so to me, it is “useful” content. The other site talks about many types of similar household products and I found the articles very good, very well-written, and if I was in the market, I would appreciate the info on those pages since it put it all in one place (as opposed to searching all over the internet for bits and pieces).
  • One site had ONE AdSense block below the fold…the other site didn’t have AdSense at all.
  • Both sites had Google Analytics installed.
  • Both sites WERE ranking #5 or better for their targeted terms.
  • Neither site has video on their home page.
  • Both sites have a PR of 2 or better.
  • Neither site has any “social signals” on it (ie, Google +1, Facebook “like”, Tweet This, etc)
  • Both sites are getting fresh content on a regular basis.
  • Both sites danced oddly in their rankings right before the confirmation of Panda…and then after the confirmation, the cement shoes were in place.
  • Both sites get the same gentle “off page” work done as the other 90 or so client sites I have…which is the same as all my OWN sites and my teams sites (which have NOT seen changes in rankings).
  • Both had a nice raise in their rankings to Page 1/ Above the fold in the Google SERPs…and stuck there for quite some time.
  • Both sites are in very heavy affiliate query spaces. This means that if you search for their keywords on Google, you come across a TON of affiliate sites in the results.
  • One site no longer even ranks well for it’s domain name phrase…the other DOES still rank well, but the root domain is NOT the page that is ranking… Now an internal page with a video is the page that ranks.
  • When I do a “birds-eye” view of the stats of the currently ranking Top 10 Sites…I see no obvious reason why these 2 sites should not still be ranking as they were before all this madness started.

  • OK, that’s an over-view of these 2 affiliate sites that have been hit by either Panda or a manual review…or both (?). The sad thing is – when I look at each and every url that is NOW ranking on Page 1 of Google for these search terms… well, it’s sad.

    For one of the sites, the Top 10 in a Google search now look something like this:

    #1 – Product owner site (this makes sense)

    #2 – ANOTHER product owner site on a different domain (not exactly the same as #1, but it takes 2 seconds to know it’s the same).

    #3 – An Affiliate Review page with TWO pop-ups when you try to leave (note: Google Analytics does NOT appear to be installed on this site). This site also has video..and a “resources” page for link exchange (I felt it important to mention this because I am seeing this kick my butt in the rankings more often these days).

    #4 – Yet ANOTHER copy of the product owner site on another domain name.

    #5 – Another affiliate review page with video and “only” one exit pop up when you try to leave.

    #6 – Amazon page for a related book (this makes sense based on my feeling on keyword intent)

    #7 – Another affiliate review page (this one is a keywordBonus.net type site)

    #8 – A Forum thread from 2005

    #9 – Another Affiliate review page with THREE hyphens in the domain name (note: the only way OFF this page is via an affiliate link to the product)

    #10 – Another forum thread, but this one is from 2006.

    Now, please…someone tell me – How are these BETTER results for search consumers?

    How in the world can we affiliates survive this Panda madness when THIS is the “quality” Google is showing me it is going for?? When I am searching for a specific product, HOW is it a better experience for me to go to a forum thread from 5 or 6 YEARS ago as opposed to going to a site with fresh and NEW content?

    As I’ve been researching for this post, I feel as if all I’ve been doing is shaking my head in that way my grandmother used to do to me when I did something “disappointing”.

    I am disappointed. Yes, I know it takes time for a new algo or algo signal to really start working…but man, this is frustrating.

    Before I get into how to survive Panda, let me show you one more thing that really frustrated me.

    Think You Can Fix What Caused Your Panda Penalty? Think Again

    Over at Aaron Walls SEObook SEO Blog, he shows the following image capture of a Twitter conversation between a site owner who had cleaned up his site and Matt Cutts from Google (in this post about Panda here)

    Pay close attention – please.

    Do you see that final answer from Matt Cutts? Because Will’s site USED to have offending content on it, it was denied for reinclusion??

    In fact, ALL of the content from the site was deleted. All of it. 1400 posts – deleted.

    Denied because of what the domain USED to have.

    Do you hear that?

    The content was deleted 30 days BEFORE Will submitted a reinclusion request…and it was still denied because the site USED to have that content on it.

    Nothing is ever “deleted” with Google. Ever.

    Ok, now that you have all this in your thoughts – let’s talk survival.

    And another warning – I may not say what you want to hear. This is not a “fix” for Panda as in “more links” or “less links” or “better content” or “add a video” or anything like that.

    This is me, a fellow affiliate marketer, offering straight talk to you.

    How Affiliates Can Survive Panda – and other Google Madness

    Alrighty – here we go….

    Panda Survival Rule #1 – Be Honest With Yourself

    We are affiliate marketers. We make websites and web pages with one main intention – to make commissions.

    Ask yourself this – “Would I make this site if I knew I wasn’t going to make a dime from it?”

    Now, ask yourself this – “Would I make this site if I KNEW Google would never send me even one visitor?”

    You don’t need to say your answers out loud, just be honest with yourself, ok?

    I will be the first person to hold up my hand and say, “I make web pages for affiliate commissions. It’s what I do. I put very few things online without the intention of making money from it somehow.”

    There is absolutely no shame in it – it’s our business model. I just want you to have it straight in YOUR head as we move forward, ok?

    Panda Survival Rule #2 – Put Google In It’s Place

    Who owns Google? Do we own Google? Does the government own Google?

    Google owns Google.

    It’s their sandbox… it’s their toys. We have NO rights at all when it comes to Google including our web pages in their index or when it comes to where we rank or if we rank at all.

    Feeding the PandaIt’s theirs.

    Let me ask you this…. When someone comes to your blog and leaves a obviously spam comment just for the link, what do you do?

    Me? I delete it. I also have serious spam catching software in action AND I close my comments after x amount of days all to protect my site from it.

    It’s MY site… *I* decide. Just like YOU decide on your sites, right?

    Why is Google any different?

    They make the rules for their site – and even if we think we are playing by those rules today, the rules WILL change tomorrow….

    And what you did yesterday can STILL kick your site’s butt.

    Once we have a clear head about WHAT we are doing and that we have no “right” for Google to participate in what we are doing by ranking us well or sending us traffic, it makes it easier to survive.

    Google is ONE potential source of traffic. Yes, they have the potential to send you a LOT of free traffic, but do not rely on that. Keep Google in it’s proper place in your business plan.

    Panda Survival Rule #3 – It’s Not “If” – it’s “When”

    For all general purposes, Google does not “like” affiliates. I read somewhere that Google considers affiliate sites “an unnecessary step in the sales funnel”. (note: if I can find where I read that, I’ll link to it. Edit: found it – it is here.)

    The odds are good – especially these days – that it’s not a matter of IF Google will nail your site and no longer love it…. it’s WHEN.

    Sad thing is, this doesn’t seem to apply to only affiliate sites these days… no site is exempt.

    Frustrating? YES, absolutely. Fact of life these days? YES, absolutely.

    Panda Survival Rule #4 – Stop Relying on Google

    If you are making money with your site and Google accounts for the majority, if not all, of your traffic – you are setting yourself up for failure.

    ESPECIALLY if you have any Google products on your site (ie, AdSense, Google Analytics, etc).

    Let’s be honest.. if you paid to have YOUR ads on a site, wouldn’t you want the right to decide if the site was “good enough” to show your ads (by your standards)?

    Why do we feel that Google does NOT have the right to decide if they want THEIR ads on OUR sites?

    Plus, every Google-owned product that you add to your site is one more way Google can know a lot about your site… and penalize you for it if they want – ie, THEIR standards.

    If you have a site – or sites – that are making you money via free traffic from Google – protect yourself.

    For goodness sake, BUILD A LIST. Take control of the traffic to your site. As it stands, if Google dumps you, you’re all alone if you have no other way to gather traffic to the pages of your site.

    Get videos and articles out there. Get 2.0 properties created that take up other spaces in the Top 10 of the Google SERPs for your keywords.

    Heck, I have a site that was de-indexed over a year ago (why? really have no clue…lol), but that site STILL makes me money from Yahoo, Bing AND from all the effort I put in to have OTHER web pages rank and flow traffic to that site.

    Don’t leave your earnings in the hands of Google’s whims.

    Here’s a really crazy idea… make ANOTHER site… or TWO more sites. You already know how to rank there… you already know what keywords convert and HOW to convert the traffic those keywords bring…so why not have OTHER sites in that query space?

    If one gets dropped from Google, you’re still ok. If they all stick on Page One – you’re GOLDEN.

    Protect and grow your efforts that make you money – and step one of that is to NEVER put all your golden eggs in ONE basket (ie, in Google’s basket).

    Panda Survival Rule #5 – Get Under The Radar

    When you’re researching your next affiliate site, take a GOOD long look at who else is working in that query space. I don’t mean use a tool, I mean GO LOOK.

    Are there tons of affiliate sites already there? Look at the domain names – do you see a ton of keyword.com, keywordbonus.com, keywordreview.com, keywordreviews.com, etc etc etc. You know what I mean.

    Then ask yourself, “Do I REALLY want to work in a query space that is saturated with other affiliates?”

    While this is my opinion, I think heavily saturated affiliate query spaces are prime for the pickings when it comes to where Google strikes next.

    Now, you might have a huge staff, deep pockets, and endless resources (money, time, etc) – I don’t. I have no desire to throw myself in the deep end against a) others who DO have all those resources, and b) where I am putting a big ol’ bullseye on my site.

    I am just one little woman working from her home in a little town in Georgia. Every minute I spend working has to count. Now, for testing purposes, I will throw myself in the deep end of very high-competition and high-affiliate query spaces – that’s how I learn.

    But for my revenue streams… I’m in the shallow end and staying under the radar.

    That’s how I EARN.

    Staying under the radar is one of the main things David and I teach with Perfect Storm Blueprint (yes, it’s new and it’s really good). We show you how to get into very low-competition query spaces that have very few affiliates (if any at all) – and stay under the radar with your affiliate campaigns.

    That action plan is at PerfectStormBlueprint.com if you’re interested.

    Above all, pick your battles and try and stay under the radar.

    What If My Site Was Already Hit By Panda?

    If you think your site has already been hit by Panda or by some sort of manual review/penalty, you’re probably feeling VERY frustrated – especially if that site was making you money.

    So – what do you DO about it?

    crying over my breakup with GoogleWell, first step for me, based on my mentality from my own survival tips above is – first, feel like a girl whose boyfriend just dumped her out of the blue (c’mon – that’s what it feels like when Google breaks up with you, isn’t it? lol).

    I’ll play some sad songs, wonder “why me?”, eat a pan of brownies…and then move on.

    Next, I’ll ask myself this – “Did that site make me money?”

    If the answer is Yes, it did make me money, I will pack that content up and put it on a brand new domain.

    I’m not gonna stress about it – just move it and do what I once did for the now “un-loved” domain.

    Will it work? No one knows FOR SURE if it will “work” or not, but if it does not work, I’m out what, $10 a year for that new domain name?

    However, if it DOES work, I’m back in business…until the next “when”. I will also follow my own advice and make sure the new site is not dependent on Google for traffic.

    Why Not Just Try and Fix The Site That Got Booted?

    I used to be of the mindset that if I could just take some time and figure out WHY Google broke up with me, that I could fix myself…be better…be lovable again.

    But since reading that Twitter conversation above, along with hearing other things, I realize the chance of Google ever loving THAT domain again is probably very slim. Even if I delete everything on the site and start totally fresh, that domain has a history attached to it that Google won’t forget – and probably won’t forgive.

    Believe it or not, that simple change in my mentality from “fix it” to “let it go” has been a BIG help for me. I have spent way too much time on trying to figure out what went wrong… when I could’ve spent that time moving forward. And the stress that comes from trying to figure out why and how to fix it is more than I care to have at any job.

    My boss told me (and that boss is me…lol) to just let it go. We can’t win ‘em all.

    I have a feeling that my thoughts on this are not going to be popular and that’s ok with me. I totally get the feeling of working so hard on a site and then POOF, it’s gone – letting it go feels like giving up – feels like failure.

    But if you’ve worked so hard on that site and the content, why NOT just move it all to a new domain and give it a chance? Letting the old site sit there useless is not a solution to getting your revenue stream back. Spending hours and hours of your valuable and limited time is not a solution either.

    If someday Google falls back in love with your old site, Awesome! If they never do, so what? You’ve moved on from that.

    Letting them win by giving up or sitting stagnant is not what I’m going to do. That’s failure to me. Moving forward as stress-free as possible IS what I’m doing – and that feels like success.

    Should I 301 My Old Site To My New Site?

    This is a good question and one that is sure to open up a lot of debate.

    In short, 301-ing your old site/urls to your new ones can potentially pass power to your new site based on all the back links and power your old site has.

    It also keeps all the articles and other pages you created for your old site from having broken links and making sure that traffic gets to your new site.

    However, does a penalty from the old domain pass to the new domain?

    This is I do not know for sure so I am not going to say, “Yes, do it” or “No, do not do it”.

    You have to weigh the pros and cons in your unique situation.

    Personally, I’ll try it without 301-ing it at first. If the new domain ranks great, then I won’t risk it. If it doesn’t rank great, I’ll try a 301 from the old site to that new site.

    To me, my old site is not gone offline, it’s just not ranking in Google. If all those other pages I have on the internet are still pushing traffic to that old site, that’s fine with me. I only consider a 301 from old to new if I think I need the power from the old domain and I am willing to risk a penalty being passed.

    Again, that is MY opinion on that. Please form your own and test things for yourself.

    Summing Up Panda Survival

    This post was directed specifically at my fellow one-man and one-woman affiliate marketers.

    Our time is valuable because it’s limited.. and usually our resources are limited too. Surviving Google Panda and everyday Google craziness comes down to our mentality of what we are doing online as a business model and being sure we are clear in our own thoughts as to what Google “owes” us – and what they do NOT owe us.

    The odds are not in our favor when it comes to long-term free traffic from Google so we have to plan accordingly and NOT rely on Google for that revenue stream.

    Staying under the radar in low-competition markets and low affiliate query spaces is really important, in my opinion – as is trying to make sites that ARE important steps in the sales funnel.

    But even high-quality, totally unique, majorly useful sites are not exempt from any of this.

    It’s not “If” – it’s “WHEN” – and that simple change in mentality can save us all a lot of stress as we move forward with our affiliate marketing campaigns.

    Comments, questions, rants? Blast away in the comments area.


    Charley October 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I love your survival tips. This is certainly the best way to survive in a post-panda world. The best source of traffic is a source that you can control.

    Talking about the two sites affected by panda, Google has said that they are going to ( and already are) making over 500 changes to their algorithm this year. So not every penalty is related to or caused by panda. It could be another algorithm change.

    Very few people have reported recovery from panda. Though Google said they are not making any manual exceptions, I still feel that they handpicked some sites to punish.

    Can you believe that I removed two websites from Google webmaster tools and both of them went up one spot in google some hours later?
    This whole thing is CRAZY!

    PotPieGirl October 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Hey Charley =)

    It IS crazy, isn’t it? Google has made hundreds of changes to their algo every year – some/most are subtle…but then there are the “Big Bangs” that make things really fun.

    I haven’t heard of a true Panda Recovery either. Now, there is the DaniWeb story…but I am left to wonder if that site was a “false-positive” that had some manual help in its recovery. We’ll never know tho.

    Thanks for your comments!


    Vi with Easy Home Remedies October 10, 2011 at 12:44 am

    Whoa – this really messes with how i always looked at SEO and Google but I have to admit that it makes sense! hmmm….

    David October 10, 2011 at 1:07 am

    And this is the very reason why I am moving out of the affiliate marketing realm and more into the adsense type sites. Google does hate affiliate marketers and it won’t get better in my opinion. They will continue to make it more difficult and eventually they will win.

    I agree don’t rely solely on google for traffic but lets face it, they are the 800 pound gorilla in the room and if your an affilate marketer you do need them. The problem is they don’t need, nor want you. Adsense sites make more sense going forward in my opinion because your not trying to sell anything, which google seems to hate as previously stated. Thats where i’m headed anyways

    Charles October 10, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Hi PotPieGirl,
    Just droppin’ by to say that I am grateful for all your help towards accessibility in your previous posts and other services. Accessibility, one person at a time . . .

    Does your new book offer alternative traffic sources to Google or is it focused on working in lower competition markets that will be eventually exploited anyway?

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Hey Charles – thank you!

    Perfect Storm Blueprint is mainly about working under the radar in low to no competition markets. Will those markets eventually be exploited anyway? Perhaps…and that is common with internet marketing, isn’t it? However, I can say this from experience – first in has a powerful edge over the followers =)

    Thanks for your comments!


    Joseph Archibald October 10, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Always love your ability to formulate your own opinions about things Jennifer, and not merely jump on the bandwagon so to speak!

    You have to wonder, with the continued drive by Google to enhance their upper echelon rankings with semi- to pure- rubbishy sites, folks will happily move on over to the likes of Bing and Yahoo search engines to fulfil their search queries instead.

    To be honest, up until recently I really did not like the idea of the list building philosophy on any of my sites – even my main blog. And that’s in-part because of a course I did a few years back where a couple of the “biggest” and most successful list builders who were offering the course, used super-spammy methods to “exploit” those who opted in. No names named for obvious reasons. But it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    But fact is, when you think about it, by adding nothing to your site in terms of advertising – Goog AdSense, Clickbank products, CJ products and whatever else there is to add, it may be providing you a certain “leverage” with Google and rankings in times to come. How else then to monetize in a more “pure” way than simply to add some form of incentivised optin to create a list of subscribers with no advertising at all (other than that, if you choose to call this advertising)?

    Mind you, Goog may well catch up on us here too, if they have not already done so (pop-over and popups may also be something of a no-no), but hey, if you can build up a decent sized list and its responsive to your info, who could care about the PMT that Google struggles with on a regular basis…

    Facts of the matter are – many of the searches I make in Google are not for Wiki – they are for products that I am interested in buying. And if I find a website other than Amazon and the content is good and the layout of the site is “pretty” then I will be very happy indeed to purchase via that site, regardless I’m being re-directed to Amazon or eBay. Thus for Goog to be dumping many of those sites down the rankings, is doing a disservice to me, and no doubt to very many other regular searchers who use Google for this purpose.

    Okay, there’s work to be done, I best get on…

    Thanks a ton for sharing Jennifer!


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Hiya Joseph =)

    Thanks! I’ve never been a fan of the “bandwagon” – plus, I got to the point (as I said in my email) that if one more person says, “Just write good, unique, and high-quality content” I will probably scream. We’ve all watched as this “good, unique, and high-quality content” gets tossed down the drain by Google so I’ve become tired of this being the advice we are given and certainly didn’t want to be one that offers only that advice.

    To me, it is an obvious thing – if you want people to read and recommend your content, you write good stuff that THEY find useful. That’s not for Google – that’s for PEOPLE.

    I have to agree with you regarding it being a disservice to dump these sites as you spoke of. I am an online marketer – I am MORE than aware when I am on an affiliate page – but if they help me, I have no problem buying through them.

    Thank you reading and for your great comments!


    PS – Sorry for the delay in your comment showing. Ironically, your comment (along with some others) got caught by my many spam filters. PotPieGirl’s Panda at work….lol!

    John October 10, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Hey Jen,

    That is some post.

    I’ve been caught up in my own Google dance for 6 months now. A site that was #1 and making money disappeared from the rankings overnight. I set up a new domain and that got ranked on the first page with the same content …. and then the same thing happened.

    To cut a long story short, I am on my 6th domain for this content (page 1 at the moment)

    It’s a pain in the backside, but I’m still making money from it.

    I’ve tried it with redirecting the dropped sites, and not redirecting. It doesn’t seem to make any difference to rankings either way.

    And I share your opinion on the search results. They ARE crazy!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Interesting, John – how long does each new site seem to last? Glad to hear you’re fighting the good fight and still making money, tho!

    Thanks for sharing!


    Miguel October 10, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Why put up with this crap, Just build something that is the same as google and get everyone to flood that site with the same things, and police the junk as it grows, or When Microsoft buys Yahoo let’s all go to Yahoo and build it up to the same size as google. Just thinking out loud.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Go ahead and think out loud… I do it all the time! lol!

    You’re right tho – there will always be one site that we want traffic from… that doesn’t want us.


    Bryan October 10, 2011 at 1:56 am

    So, in other words, we should just give up on the idea of SEO with affiliate marketing? SEO for affiliate sites will become extinct in the very near future? Is that how you would sum it up?

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:07 am

    No, not at all, Bryan…thank you for asking that. Giving up is not the answer nor is it the prognosis. This is more about the whole “eggs in one basket” concept and being clear in our own minds as to where Google fits into our business model.


    Bryan October 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Ok, when I read the following: The odds are not in our favor when it comes to long-term free traffic from Google so we have to plan accordingly and NOT rely on Google for that revenue stream… I figured that you meant to say that Google will eventually no longer rank ANY affiliate sites (authority or one-page sites) on page 1 or anywhere close to page 1. I guess what you are trying to say is that SEO’ing your affiliate sites to get traffic should be one of multiple ways of getting traffic, right?

    I was looking at Brigitte’s post below, and it makes me think about the endless argument about building authority sites vs. small affiliate sites. It seems like building authority sites for SEO might be too risky, right? It seems to me that it might be smarter to build small affiliate sites than authority sites, so that way your risk is spread out among many different sites as opposed to just a few handful of authority sites. What do you think?

    Brigitte Smith October 10, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Hey Jennifer,

    GREAT post, with some very insightful and helpful information.

    I’m not very clear on the 301 redirect thing. In fact, I’m not really clear on what a 301 error is altogether.

    I have a site that plummeted inexplicably well over a year ago (probably 18 months or so) – before any of these major updates by Google. It has hundreds of pages, with at least 95% of it being completely unique, and I never used really blackhat techniques – this was an important site. It was ranking on page 1 for some very competitive keywords and now ranks nowhere for any good keywords (despite my continuing to build links and post content for all this time).

    So your suggestion to move it to a new domain is GREAT. So basically I would download it and upload it to the new domain. But what do I do with the current site?

    I have a few thousand people on my autoresponder newsletter list (built up over 6 or 7 years) – and many of the links in the newsletter go to that site. So the site is well known to my few hundred readers who actually read the newsletter. And also, the site is an important feeder site to another of my sites that does still rank well for a number of other reasonably important keywords.

    Sorry to be so longwinded, but in these circumstances (or generally for that matter) I’m not clear on whether I should delete the original site once I have moved it to a new domain? Or use the 301 redirects that you mention (when I figure out what they are)? Or leave the original site as is (which would mean there would be 2 sites with pretty much identical content – at least until I publish further new content on the new site).

    I would really appreciate your comments if you have time.


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:10 am

    Hiya Brigitte =)

    If it was ME… I would leave the old site “as is” and start building out a new site to see if you can regain some rankings.

    Again, that is what *I* would do based on the info you shared in your comment.

    Thanks for reading!


    Mary Chicoine October 10, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Jennifer – I think your ideas are great and obviously you have thought them through. Thanks for making it available. Regards,

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:10 am

    You’re most welcome, Mary – thanks for reading!


    Jonathon October 10, 2011 at 2:17 am

    Hi Jen
    Just read your email alert to this post and totally agree with your statement:

    “If one more person says, “Just make a valuable site with useful, high-quality,
    and unique content” I might SCREAM!”

    As a relative newcomer to affiliate marketing I can’t hold to be an expert on google or SEO but with the wide disparity of opinions expressed by so called SEO experts I don’t think anyone fully understands google’s algorithms least of all google themselves.

    Although I use keyword tools occasionally I actually devote more time to searching as a consumer. Here I take various popular long tails and check out the top 20 sites ranking for that term. What I have found in my research makes a mockery of the “google favors sites with quality unique content” notion. Whilst some humans at google might subscribe to that philosophy their algorithms definitely do not. The number of ranking sites that have either one page of poor content or no content at all (just google ads) tends to prove my point.

    As for google considering affiliates an unnecessary link in the sales funnel this notion should be dealt with by merchants since as far as I can tell most merchants depend on affiliates to produce sales revenue.

    Keep up the good work Jen. Your posts are always well worth taking time out to read.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Thank you Jonathon! That was a great comment and so very true! I know many readers simply want me (or someone else) to say, “Just fix x, y, and z on your site and you’ll be healed!” – but we can’t do that because no one KNOWS for SURE exactly what is going on. Worse yet, just when we think we’re getting a clue – BAM, Google releases Panda again and it’s all whacky again.

    Thank you for taking time out to read and comment!


    hagar October 10, 2011 at 2:17 am

    I think I worried more about my offline folks getting trashed inadvertently by “Stupid Google Tricks” – and I haven’t actually heard of anyone having a problem with it, as long as it’s tied (somehow) to a business that has claimed its Google Places. (By “tied somehow”, I mean like on the contact page, or footer links). A couple of folks that had never claimed their Google Places (not all SEO advice is equal) DID have a problem with their pages. Feeder pages that don’t have the link, take the risks the rest do – but those linked directly to an offline, even when all else appeared to be equal, seem to be ignored a lot better.
    Naturally, I don’t have the inputs you do, but has anyone else encountered this, that you know of?
    Couple of folks I do work for are going to run a li’l project about it, but its going to take a couple of months to produce any results.
    BTW, after some discussion, my SEO folks I work for decided the same as you – move the content to a new domain, and refresh BOTH of them with similar content for six months – use the info you gained from the first site, to help tweak the second.
    We’re also learning rules for Yahoo and Bing, they really do use different standards (and in many ways, are much more forgiving).
    Good for you, hitting this head-on… the self-flagellating “it’s our own fault” isn’t really backed by logic, in many cases. Anyone who has dealt with the capricious tactics of AdWords (cancel 300 of your accounts, then send you a card for a hundred bucks for AdWords campaigns?) can testify to that.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Hi Hagar =)

    I haven’t had any issues with local offline clients/sites through any of this so don’t have much to share at this (tired) moment.

    And please, don’t get me started on AdWords. That situation is proof-positive that Google forgets NOTHING. If it was ok back when you ran the campaign….but not ok now, you’re out – even if that campaign has been “deleted” for months – or years. ::nodding my head like my grandmother again::::

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


    Derek Blandford October 10, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    As always, this is a great write up. I really enjoy reading your blog.

    I just wanted to take a minute and share my own experiences. Like many people, I have been hit recently by many of these Google updates, whether they are specifically Panda or something else.

    In fact, I was just days away from quitting my day job to do this full time when one of my biggest money sites got hit. Several of my sites have “disappeared” from Google. Some have bounced back. Others have been gone for months.

    When I say “disappeared”, it doesn’t mean they’ve been banned from the search engines. Instead, it means I find my site listed at the very back of Google. If you search for my keywords and then go to the very last page of the search results, then I typically find my affected sites sitting within the last few results pages. Sometimes it affects ALL keywords. Other times it’s only certain keywords and pages that get affected.

    I believe this is an algorithmic action and not a manual action as I have sent in reconsideration requests for several sites and Google always writes back saying no manual actions have been taken against any of my sites.

    The problem with algorithmic actions is they can affect ANY site at any time. Your site can be great with great content, etc., etc., but one little thing might match a pattern Google is looking for that they think relates to “spam” sites, especially since they are always tweaking things. Since there’s no real person looking at the site, you can essentially be the product of “bad luck” because the algorithm isn’t going to be perfect by any means.

    It’s going to miss bad sites and mistakenly hit good sites on occasion. This is probably why many of these really good sites also get hit on occasion and why “spammy” sites sometimes seem to filter through and remain highly ranked. I’m sure if Google had real eyes seeing every site, then many of these good sites wouldn’t be hit, but unfortunately that just isn’t possible.

    From my own experience I don’t think it has anything to do with freshness of content. There are plenty of sites with only one page of content that has never been updated for years that still rank extremely high. Not to mention that many of my sites that are doing the best are ones I haven’t messed with in a long time….no new content, no new backlinking, etc.

    I also don’t think it has anything to do with having or not having videos, social media buttons, etc. Sure, these things may help your ranking and are good to include, but I highly doubt Google is saying, “Oh this site doesn’t have a You Tube video on it so we’re going to knock it to the back of the search engine rankings.”

    My own experience tells me Google is starting to take a much closer look at backlink profiles. Obviously I don’t know this for sure and it’s just opinion, but it makes the most sense so far with my own sites that I’ve seen affected. However, I also know there are plenty of sites with very diverse backlinking strategies that are affected, so that’s clearly not the only issue but it definitely seems more important nowadays than it has in the past.

    And in particular, profile links from forums and such because these are very easy to spam with software (think Xrumer and many others). I’ve never used this type of software but I have built a lot of profile links manually. Why? Because they worked great to push my sites up the rankings.

    And when you find something that works, you keep doing more of it, right? The only problem is, down the road, Google changes the rules which means what worked in the past may not work in the future and your site could get nailed for those “past actions” as you’ve mentioned in your post.

    So even if you aren’t spamming with a bunch of automated software, Google’s algorithm could still interpret your site as doing so because it matches the general “profile” of many spammer sites. Luckily, I also have a lot of articles which helps continue to drive traffic even if my rankings drop. As you said, it’s never good to rely solely on Google. Yahoo and Bing continue to rank my sites extremely high.

    The sites of mine that seem to get hit the most are the ones that have the highest percentage of backlinks from profiles and/or the lowest diversity in terms of types of links/keywords. This is the case with many of my inner pages.

    My main domain seems to rank better and not be as affected as much, I’m guessing because it has a wider variety of links and keywords pointing to it. However, there ARE exceptions so I know that’s not the whole story.

    I think the most frustrating thing about all of this is that nobody really knows exactly what Google is looking for and targeting. People can guess, but it’s just that…a guess. I also think Google is still working out kinks and trying to find the best solution so things seem to be in a constant state of flux….coming, going, disappearing, reappearing, moving up, moving down, etc.

    I know for my sites, I have yet to put my finger on exactly what causes some sites to be knocked to the back of Google while others seem to stay put with no problems even though they use the same wordpress theme, same plugins, same set up with content, same essential backlinking plan, etc.

    I think there will be a lot of shifting around the rest of this year. I’m sure Google hasn’t found the “perfect solution” yet either. Some of my sites are dancing all over the place, not just day to day but even hour by hour. #2 one minute, #8 an hour later, page 2 the next day, then back to # 4, then back to #8, then back to #2 etc.etc.

    It’s obvious Google hasn’t found the perfect solution because as you mentioned many of the sites that now rank high are crap compared to what was there before. Like you, I think some of the sites that have replaced mine are in no way as good of content, as appealing visually, etc. etc. and I still see sites that aren’t even readable ranking high.

    I still think being diverse as possible in everything you do is the best way to spread out your risk. Diverse backlink types, diverse keywords, diverse sites, diverse SEO strategies, etc. etc. That way if Google changes the rules, not all your sites get pounded at once.

    It’s a difficult game Google has to play and unfortunately they control all the rules and have every right to do so…after all it’s THEIR search engine. This is why I’ve never really understood when affiliates get MAD at Google. Yes, it sucks to lose rankings for no apparent reason and when you feel like you’ve done everything right, but it’s GOOGLE’s search engine. It’s GOOGLE’s business. They can do whatever they want and we must accept that as part of the SEO game.


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Derek – that was an amazing comment! It was like reading a blog post within my blog post….lol!

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and observations.

    Above all, you’re right –

    “It’s a difficult game Google has to play and unfortunately they control all the rules and have every right to do so…after all it’s THEIR search engine. This is why I’ve never really understood when affiliates get MAD at Google. Yes, it sucks to lose rankings for no apparent reason and when you feel like you’ve done everything right, but it’s GOOGLE’s search engine. It’s GOOGLE’s business. They can do whatever they want and we must accept that as part of the SEO game.”

    Well said!

    Thank you!


    James Hussey October 10, 2011 at 2:29 am

    You were one of the best analysts (IMHO) of the “why” behind Panda, to begin with. Your advice here seems entirely sound, but I’d not shy away from highly competitive terms (not just longtails). That’s about my only disagreement, but I’d say your advice here, Jennifer – as you put it in your original take on Panda (i.e. to stay away from spammy niches), is something everyone needs to hear loud and clear.

    So let me ask you, besides SEO traffic, what other traffic sources are you fond of? What works best for you, if you don’t mind me asking? (I’m in the middle of experimenting myself with Facebook ads – or about to anyway.)

    BTW, I think that would be an interesting product from you: the most effective traffic alternatives you’ve personally used (alternative to Google/SEO).

    I’d buy in a heartbeat.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Hey James! Thanks!

    Perhaps I should’ve phrased that differently about “competitive query spaces”. I really meant to try and avoid query spaces that were already heavily saturated with affiliate pages. The 2 case study sites I talked about in this post were NOT in “spammy” niches of any sort – but the query spaces are very saturated with affiliates. Oddly, I do have some clients that, to me, are right on the line of “spammy” niches in the general sense…and their sites are doing great. Go figure…lol!

    As for alternative traffic sources… Nothing fancy. For me, it’s still Google in a way, but not straight to my site. I love to saturate the query space with web pages (NOT from my site) that funnel TO my site. My theory – if ranking on the first page with ONE site/web page makes money, make more web pages and cover that first page of the SERPs the best you can. Not only does that amp up your site…but it also helps protect you when things go badly with your site. You still have plenty of first page exposure to bring the traffic in.

    Above all, the best “alternative” traffic source is PEOPLE. Yes, real live human beings. A money-making site should always be building a list – period. Know what that list is? People =)

    Also, when your site is truly made for people, they tend to share it and talk about it…and link to it as a resource for others – which, from my understanding – is the true concept behind Google using links to determine relevance and ranking.

    The hardest thing for affiliates is this – we are making sites that offer good information about a topic , people read it, click thru to buy – and then move on. If I’m researching what GPS unit to buy my son for Christmas, I do my searches on Google, make my choice…and move on. I don’t go back to those sites regularly – I don’t link to it either. Know what I mean?

    Perhaps that is an answer to the Panda problem – we should somehow figure out how to make affiliate sites that people DO want to come back to? Yes, I’m thinking out loud here, but maybe that’s a thought process we should add in.

    On the other hand, if Entrepreneur.com gets nailed by Google – what hope do we have? I LOVE that site and that magazine….

    And the guessing continues….lol!


    James Hussey October 10, 2011 at 2:31 am

    One other question: have you seen any correlation in a drop in rankings and linking activity? I’m curious if they’ve dialed in their spam filters yet (my competition doesn’t show that! They’re all forum spamming…).

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:54 am

    No, I have not. As I said, I monitor many, many websites/pages. I have a very diverse style to working these too – and I do not like forum spamming/profile links nor do I like those blog commenting software doo-dads that are out there either.

    The main problem I have with back linking being a “signal” is that it is too darn easy to do TO a competitor. If that’s all it takes to put cement shoes on a well-ranking web page, well, wouldn’t we all just get out there and do it TO someone?

    We can’t control who links to us or HOW we are linked to – and I feel strongly that Google knows this. If they (Google) do start to weigh that heavily and the SEO community figures it out as a definite way to remove competition – well, trust me, all hell will break loose!

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 10, 2011 at 2:44 am

    I think that Google basically tries to determine “quality” by the activity of others. That is why backlinks were so important for a while until we all went out and created relatively meaningless backlinks (kind of like I’m doing now 8=) or even spammy/black hat links.

    Now, with analysis tools showing visitor activity on a site, things like bounce rate and time on site, etc. will be weighted more. At least until we figure out a way to game that.

    Until the SE’s can actually read an article or post and determine whether it is really good (if that is even possible) then they’ll have to look at how others treat it to determine its value.

    So good, unique articles should show better user response which should push things up in the SE’s. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case yet, but in a perfect world …

    Your tips about not having your eggs all in one basket and just letting it go and moving are are good, but I’m not sure how just putting the same stuff up on a new domain will be sustainable. Won’t the same things that triggered the collapse of the first catch up to the new one?

    I think the main thing we need to keep in mind is not to rely on any one source for traffic and to build our lists to control our traffic more.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Hiya Bill =)

    You asked:

    “Your tips about not having your eggs all in one basket and just letting it go and moving are are good, but I’m not sure how just putting the same stuff up on a new domain will be sustainable. Won’t the same things that triggered the collapse of the first catch up to the new one?”

    There’s only one way to know if it will be sustainable or not….and for $10 a year, I’m willing to find out ;)

    Yes, the things that caused the first site to “break” might happen to the new domain – and they might not. This is when we each have to weigh our own pros and cons and decide the right more for ourselves.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 3:02 am

    And Bill – I’m gonna follow my reply to you up with yet another reply.

    Now what I’m about to say probably won’t go over well – BUT…

    I really don’t think all this has as much to do with the actual content of a page as is let on to us.

    Why in the world does YouTube rank so well? Because it has “unique, useful, and high-quality content”? Where is there content that Google can “read” on a YouTube web page?

    I really think there is more going on than what meets the eye…maybe someday I’ll expand on my thoughts about it, but not yet.


    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 10, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I agree that the content probably doesn’t count very much at all. But good content should help drive up the indicators that Google is looking at as long as they pick the right ones. I don’t think they’ve got that all figured out yet, but they need to keep the searchers happy since they are the commodity that Google deals in. I used to think they were the customer (how naive of me 8=) but now I understand that they are the product, just like viewers are the product that television producers sell to their advertisers.

    I wonder how much the personalized search affects things as well. I know that when I go to sites I’ll often have Google Ads related to things I’ve searched for recently in a completely different niche. For example, I still see lots of ads for shopping cart software when I did some research on that about a month ago. But they are on sites where I’m looking for information on getting parts for my ATV.

    I know that Google is applying the same type of personalization juggling with search results.

    As you say, there is more than meets the eye and I doubt we’ll ever know for sure what it is.

    Dusan @ Chicago SEO October 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    If I’d have paid 1.6 American dollars for youtube (actually, any kind of dollars) like Google did (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15196982/ns/business-us_business/t/google-buys-youtube-billion/), I’d be ranking it #1 all the time.

    That said, Google is in the business of making money off ads. I think its definition of quality sites are sites it makes a lot of money from. So, if you make it to the top and have high click through rates without saying “Click on the ads on this page”, yours is a high quality site.

    Now that the cynic in my spoke, relying on many sources of traffic is always a great business model. Removing unknowns (through lists or anything else) = great business model.

    Great post, Jennifer. Great attitude too.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks y’all!

    Google does do that personalization with their ads. Say for example that you search for dog food…and then you’re off searching for insurance info. Those insurance sites will show you ads for dog food.

    Google’s ad platform is one of the most powerful in the world. Google collects info about searchers/searches and then can offer that info to advertises so they can hone in on exactly the people they want their ads shown to. VERY powerful.

    So, based on that, if our sites do not “pre-qualify” a searcher for a QUALITY click on an ad that leads to an action for the advertiser, well, why would Google want that site as a top result? Just thinking out loud…


    Joey October 10, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I didn’t even realize Google had rolled out another update. That’s probably why my traffic shot up for no reason. :-) Thanks for the informative post. You’re very thorough.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Good for you, Joey!!! More traffic is fun – nice work!


    Allan James October 10, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Jennifer, that’s one of the most well researched, well thought out and useful posts I’ve read in a long time!

    One of my sites, five years old, 500 plus posts, regularly updated, all useful and original content, multi-page views per visit, decent time on site, hundreds of natural back links, suddenly dropped right off the Google radar 4 months ago and is showing no signs of returning. I’ve even have a SEO company working on it for 3 months and it’s still languishing.

    I’m taking immediate action generally along the lines you’ve suggested – a new site, and all Google products removed off another of my well established sites, the StartBusinessMentor Affiliate Training Center.

    Having reflected on your post, and from reading about what’s happened to other legit and quality affiliate sites belonging to very experienced associates, several things are clear:

    1) Google, as you say, is not in the business of making us wealthy
    2) Relying solely, or even primarily, on Google is a huge mistake.
    3) Provided Google (through Analytics etc) with data that is/could be used to judge us is a fools game.
    4) Waiting to long in the hope that lost ranking will return (mine was PR3, high on Page 1) is probably wishful thinking – especially for affiliate sites.

    I’m already taking action on your post, removing Analytics at StartBusinessMentor.com, and making preparations to move my ‘dead’ niche authority site to a new domain, and I’ll use a new IP for it as well.

    Thanks for getting me thinking, and for prompting me into action!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Thanks, Allan! I’ve been pondering, researching, and collecting my thoughts for this post for awhile. Sometimes it just takes me a while to put it all together. Above all, I try to only post when I have something to say…not just to repeat what others are saying… and not just to hear myself talk…lol!

    I would really love to know how this works out for you!


    Allan James October 10, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Oh, to follow on from my post above – my new niche site will be better structured and have better on-page SEO than the last one. Even a Southern New Zealand country boy like me can, and did, learn a few things along the way :-)

    I’ll put that learning to good use on the new site.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 3:44 am

    Sometimes a fresh start is the best thing that can happen, ya know? We DO learn a lot as we move along in this business – now you have more knowledge about what you want from your site…and how to get it.

    Good for you!


    Ed October 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Good info, thanks. Google is not finished with Panda.
    Read this: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4369313.htm

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    You’re right, Ed – Google is far from finished with Panda.

    Panda is a separate computer program that is run about every 4-6 weeks or so. It does not run all the time (it is too expensive/resource-intensive for them to run 24/7)


    Jason October 10, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Well this sucks..

    Ive been pumping gobs of money into building up an Amazon review site, all pages Amazon product reviews.

    Why do I have the feeling the rug is about to get pulled out from underneath me?

    I knew google didn’t like affiliates but didn’t know they were looking to create genocide against us.

    I guess it makes sense though.

    We aren’t the customer.

    We don’t help the customer get information on the left side of the screen and ads on the right.

    It’s more like ads on the left and the right because of us.

    Oh well.. I do very well with email marketing. I was looking to diversify with SEO and build something monumental like I’ve been working on.

    It’s in the musical instruments niche.

    Maybe it won’t take a hit.

    I guess I’ll just keep climbing ranks with individual pages.

    I think a manual review of my site will sandbox the heck outta me though after reading your post. It’s just hundreds of pages of product reviews, all unique but I guess that doesnt matter.

    Well I just deleted my site from google webmaster tools.

    Now I feel like gaming them, going out with guns blazing.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Hey Jason =)

    My point of my post here is not to predict “Doom and Gloom” for us affiliate marketers. I really just wanted to put a touch of reality out there so we all keep our heads straight about what we’re doing.

    One site that reaches #1 and makes a ton of money can very possibly be gone the next minute. No one knows, but keeping that thought in our minds as we work KEEPS us working, moving forward, developing more traffic sources, etc.

    In short, Google has commitment issues – don’t count on them to love you forever….lol!

    Just keep moving forward with your business. Remember, this is BUSINESS – it’s not personal.


    Jason October 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I hear ya Jennifer.

    I’m actually finding that everything is more unstable and unpredictable than ever, not just with Google.

    So I’m trying to diversify with 4 different things… kind of like 4 legs of a table.

    If I lose one leg, then the table can still stand (and I don’t have to go back to work for others lol).

    Eddie October 10, 2011 at 4:14 am

    A few months ago I bought an expired domain with an exact search of around 1300/mnth and got sandboxes right away. Just kept on going buiding backlinks and 2 weeks later had a page 1 number 6 ranking. 2 days ago it was back on page 6 or 7 and today back on page 1 number 9.
    I also have a multy product site with many non related products and that site and all the keywords are still on the same position.
    Looks to me like google is hitting the saturated market with (to) many affiliate sites.
    But for sure I am not going to use any of their “free” products like google webmasters, google analytics etc anymore.
    Starts to look like “bigh brother is watching you”.
    Just like Jeniffer say. Keep on flying under the radar.
    Jeniffer great post as always and keep thinking up load.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Thanks, Eddie.

    I do believe that consistency is key. If Google is showing you signs of uncertainty (ie, bouncing you all over in the SERPs) keep doing what you’ve been doing so hopefully they come to trust you (hope that makes sense).

    As far as using Google products (analytics, etc) – that is a decision we each need to make for ourselves on a case-by-case basis.

    For example, if I have a site that I just might want to sell down the road, it is to my benefit to have G Analytics installed. Those reports are important as part of the sales process.


    fatlossforwomen October 10, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Hey Jennifer, thanks for the post and not trying to coat it with sugar. My site, (thanks for the link), has been riding the Panda roll too. When it first went up, I was committed to making it about high quality, helpful info. I was on page 1 for awhile. Then I made the mistake of providing a few links for a small price. (I thought, “Hey, a quality site that I believed in would be okay…WRONG!”) Within 2 days my site fell to the back of the bus.

    I still updated it with content, wrote articles, and did a little backlinking. Very little movement occurred.

    Then I read about the latest Panda Update happening last week. I just happened to check my site and low and behold…BACK ON PAGE 1! (I had written one article for streetarticles.com that was accepted during that previous check from the week before and this one this week after the update that that put me back on page 1.

    I thought “whatever…at least it’s back.”

    Guess what??? Just checked tonight…Gone again. CRAZY!

    I don’t mind moving the content, but that requires technical knowledge I don’t have. I am willing to learn though. Do you have a resource or can you point me to one that teaches about how to move content like that?

    Thanks Jennifer and a BIG THANKS for all you do.


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Hey Jolene =)

    I’m gonna see what I can do for tutorials about moving content and 301-ing. I’m not exactly an expert at it myself, but I’ll see what I can do to help everyone out.


    fatlossforwomen October 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks Jennifer

    Jason from Start Producing Wealth October 10, 2011 at 4:39 am

    Thanks a lot for this, Jennifer. I joined WA shortly after you did and was always inspired by how active and upbeat your posts were. Of course, I lost interest in marketing for a while, but I recently decided to get back into it and I actually googled your name first to see if you were still active.

    Looks like it. :-)

    I subscribed to your list, grabbed the DAM way, and have been reading a lot of your posts. So much great content here, and I love the way you present it.

    I’m working on a new site now, and I’ve been trying to use many of the tactics you advocate to stay in Google’s good graces. But, I’ll have to make sure and get back into list building as well, just to avoid falling into the “I need Google” trap.

    Thanks again for the post, and best of luck re-creating / forwarding your cemented sites!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Hey Jason =)

    Yep, I’m still around – almost 5 years later with no plans of going anywhere. I love this stuff! Thanks for thinking of me as you made your way back into IM – and welcome back!


    Cindy October 10, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Hey Jennifer,

    I NEVER even thought about creating a new site for my ‘punished’ domains.

    Thanks for the great advice!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    You’re welcome, Cindy! All hope is NOT lost if things go wrong between your site and Google.

    More than one site is not a bad idea when things are going right, either =)



    Elena October 10, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Thank you so much Jennifer for this post!

    I got a lot of tears, thoughts and finally some hope.
    To stop being ‘a victim’ (as I never considered myself in offline life), punished for unknown crime takes time. For sure it will take a lot of cakes besides other actions :)

    Thanks again for helping your fellows marketers with this Panda analysis!!!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Elena – you are FAR from a victim. Maybe a casualty, but not a victim.

    Brownies work tho…chocolate heals all!

    Thanks for commenting!


    Joseph Tohill October 10, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Hi Jennifer, thanks again for the great post.

    As a relatively new IMer, I’ve just had my first experience with taking a severe hit in the rankings after making a number of sales. My site (which was a review site for a tablet computer) had been slowly rising in the search engines for a few weeks, and then it was on page 1 and I was making a number of sales. Then overnight it dropped to number 95. Although the site is still indexed, it no longer ranks well for ANY of my keywords. Frustrating, to say the least.

    But your comment about not relying on Google for 100% of your traffic is exactly correct, from my experiences. That site I was talking about still makes me sales because an article I wrote on StreetArticles sends traffic to that site – I’m still making roughly 1 sale every couple of days. Although the sales are of the tablet’s carrying cases (which are way cheaper than the tablet itself of course), it’s still money in the bank.

    From now on, when I build new websites, I will definitely make sure that I am diversifying my traffic sources with Web 2.0 properties and StreetArticles – which is the only article directory that is generating consistent traffic for me.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Hiya Joseph =)

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about StreetArticles. I know the owners take great care of that site to make sure if survives all this madness. Good for you for making sure your money making site has alternative sources of traffic!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


    Leon October 10, 2011 at 6:06 am

    Jennifer, thanks very much for this thought-provoking post, even though it was a pretty demoralising for a mature-aged newbie like myself.

    I am still working on my first site, in a prety saturated health niche, which has been up since March this year.

    At this stage of my fledgling affiliate marketing career, there is no point in building a list, so I’m pretty much at the mercy of Mr. Google.

    Is it just a coincidence that my posts have slipped off the radar since I linked up to Google Analytics a couple of months ago and then also added one of those tower graphic ads which dominates the sidebar of my site?

    If I understand your comments correctly, it might help to reduce some of the obvious on-site SEO, like too many obvious keywords, calls to action and hyperlinks etc.

    I like the idea of buying a new domain and transferring my current content over, although 301 re-directs sound out of my technical reach at this stage.

    Anyway, I’d like to leave off by thanking you for all the valuable free lessons for beginners you supply, before you begin marketing the paid stuff.

    Cheers, Leon from sunny South Australia

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Hiya Leon from sunny South Australia!

    (Isn’t cool how we can talk to people all over the world??)

    Reducing obvious on-page optimization could help – if anything, a manual reviewer won’t take one look and go “ugh – another one!”.

    We all know what over-optimized, over-salesy affiliate sites look like so perhaps NOT looking like that would be a good thing.

    301′s are not difficult. Let me see if I can find a good and simple tutorial for it to share.



    Duy Nguyen October 10, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Yeah Jennifer, this is insanity!

    What I see about this Panda update is totally a mess. Google is messing their index trying to figure out how “quality, original and useful content” is. In my opinion, it’s a really tough mission. As even we, usual Internet users, can’t determine the usefulness of a piece of content! To some, this article might be very helpful (as they are new to the field), but to others, it’s just like a piece of craft (as they are very knowledgeable). And who is behind Google? God? No, they are just real people like us. How could they suppose their “product” knows what quality content is when even they don’t know how!

    And I honestly disagree on Google saying “affiliate marketing is an unnecessary step in the sale funnel.” Perhaps they’re not affiliates themselves that they don’t know customers want more than just arriving at somewhere and buy stuff immediately. They want to be informed before buying, that’s when affiliates come up to help.

    Of course I agree that the Web now is full of spammers (or it’s been like that since its early days?) But it’s the nature of the game. There is nothing perfect. We will never have the Web full of quality, useful and original content. It’s like a fairy tale! It just means we must try our best to not become one. But I doubt that when it seems like Google don’t know how to distinguish between a spammer and a real Internet marketer lol!

    Today, I launch my very first affiliate site (as you can see if you click on my name). And I’m in quite a tough niche – the gaming niche. I don’t know if someday Google comes and slap me but I know no matter what, I will try my best! And thanks for your very helpful survival guide Jennifer, you’re always ahead of the trend :)

    I will come back to this post for more feedback from people. Good luck!


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks, Duy!

    There have people gaming Google for as long as there’s been a Google. Let’s face it, they control a HUGE majority of the search market so they are THE target for those that want free traffic from online consumers.

    I envy them not for the job they have cleaning things up by tweaking an algorithm – what a mess that would be (and IS). They (Google) are doing what they feel they need to do to protect and/or improve their search engine…and we have to do what we need to do.

    It’s business.

    As for your new site – go get ‘em! Just remember to diversify your traffic sources =)


    Noline October 10, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Great perspective, thank you Jennifer.

    I tend to flock a dead horse because I don’t want to let go of one of my “babies.” This however is a business and I agree moving on is often the more time and cost effective decision…

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks, Noline!

    “Flock a dead horse” – well said. And as you said, we don’t want to believe it’s “dead” – or dying, do we? That’s where we have to remember what is business and what is personal. Moving forward to protect your income streams is good business. Eating brownies will help with the personal stuff ;)


    Eric October 10, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Hello, Jennifer.

    There is a great deal of speculation about what exactly google is up to. I can’t answer the question of what that might be with any more authority than anyone else can, but I can share my experiences.

    I’ve been hit both ways. I have one PR3 site that languished on page two for its main keywords, and further back than that for others. No matter what I did, it would not move up. Then I did a social promotion that included a lot of social bookmarking and ended up getting the site a bunch of facebook likes and +1s. Very shortly thereafter it moved up to position number 1 for a few keywords, and higher up than it had been for all keywords, and it has stuck there ever since.

    I have another PR4 site that has a bunch of original articles that I think are genuinely useful. The primary revenue-generating mechanism of that site is twofold: collecting subscribers for my list, and selling an ebook. It languished between page 6 and page 12 for most of its keywords after being hit by Panda the first time, then disappeared altogether for a while. Now most of the keyphrases are back on pages 1 – 4 and seem to be climbing again.

    I have three affiliate sites that focus on physical products. Two focus on single products, but have a number of related articles — all original and ones I tried to make legitimately beneficial to my visitors. One is for what’s now a discontinued product, and it still ranks well (though obviously I don’t make money from it now)! Another that was for a single product that’s pretty new ranked well for a number of keywords and was climbing for all of them. Now it has disappeared altogether. Finally, I have a multiproduct/single niche site that also was ranking reasonably well for several keywords and climbing, and now all of its pages have dropped out of google completely, except for one that is very general and promotes no product.

    And I have one blog that I do just because it’s on a topic that interests me. I have spent the least effort backlinking that site or any of its internal pages, yet it ranks well for several fairly high-volume keywords. Each update has actually moved it up in the rankings.

    I don’t use blackhat techniques, unless you consider article marketing blackhat (some do, apparently).

    The commonalities seem to be: sites that explicitly and primarily promote products get hit the hardest, whether they serve as a good resource on a topic or not. And indicators of “social approval”, such as +1s, Diggs, facebook likes, and retweets seem to be important supplements for traditional backlinking. They’ve helped my rankings (at least I think so), and they have brought back sites that had disappeared (at least I suspect that’s why they came back).

    In any case, solving the puzzle is part of the fun, isn’t it?

    Thanks for your many good analyses.


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Wow, Eric – great comment, thank you!

    Funny how the site you make just because it a topic that interests you hangs in there fine with minimal effort.

    From a business perspective, what are some things you do differently on that “it interests me” site vs your affiliate sites? There’s a fine balance in there somewhere, perhaps?


    Gary October 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Great post Jennifer, full of realism and good advice in my opinion. I think a lot of marketers view Google as some kind of public service rather than a private company. As you say the key to survival now, as it always has been really, is to remember G is just one source of traffic and not to rely on it or be too surprised if traffic from G goes down the pan.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks, Gary!

    And you’re right – the view on Google needs a touch of “let’s get real”. Just like we detest and delete spam comments on our blogs, Google does the same to the content it does not want.

    It’s their business.


    John October 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

    What does all this mean for a newbie trying to get started?

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Hiya John =) Good question!

    For all those just getting started… don’t give up just because it looks scary in here. Remember also, that if it was sooooo easy, EVERYONE and their cat would be doing it.

    Be prepared to work, keep your perspective on “this is business”, diversify as much as possible, keep moving forward…and never give up.


    P. Bruce Jones October 10, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Once again you have demonstarted your outstanding acumen. you are an Amazing person!
    Two Comments
    1> In all my businesses, reliance on one product or one customer has been an absolutely shure fired way to a hiding!
    2> How does the ordinary person searching Google (only) know that they are actually receiving “the goods”?

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hiya =)

    How does an “ordinary person searching Google (only) know that they are actually receiving “the goods”?”

    Not quite sure I understand the question – sorry, still on first cup of coffee…lol!

    How do they know they are, or are not, on the actual product page as opposed to an affiliate page?

    Let me know..


    Stephen Byrne October 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    Excellent post as always, interesting and I agree that google may hate Affiliate sites, but just the rubbish ones I should hope as to me it does not make sense, for example. If I own a local business and I need costumers, I pay somebody to do the marketing and bring me customers.

    Is it not the same online. If I am say Buy Costumes.com or a smaller growing costume site, I have affiliates to work and help with the business once they provide potential costumers with valuable content and information about the costume site they represent. This is the nature of business, the Affiliate is part of it, and to me, it would not make sense why a company like Google would hate this element of business if it actually helps online businesses grow.

    If Google would like to get rid of bad affiliate sites, and there are thousands, to me a sensible Idea would be for companies like Amazon, Buy Costumes.com etc. to hire Affiliates with out pay but with commissions as usual, but to be on a register, and if an Affiliate is producing bad or false content then Google can contact the company the affiliate represents and ask them to remove the affiliate and so on, might bring a bit of control and quality to it, just my two cents.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Hey Stephen!

    Sadly, I see plenty of “rubbish” thriving while the “good ones” are getting nailed. The two sites I talked about in my post above are both what I personally consider helpful review sites – and for the record, these are not my sites.

    If I were searching for reviews on these topics/products, I would like the info I found there.

    My “litmus test” for “good content” is this – Did I learn something I didn’t know?

    I use that same litmus test when I am WRITING content, too. When writing and researching, and I am sharing something I didn’t know beforehand? Thing is, that is different for everyone – what I don’t know, it’s possible you have known for years. But, it’s just how I do it.

    Affiliates ARE important – for the merchants. Nowadays, more and more merchants are offering customer generated reviews on their sites, which means Google doesn’t really need us much anymore.

    Google won’t monitor content that way. I wish I could find the article that talked about a woman who bought glasses (or perhaps contacts) from an affiliate site that ranked #1 for the phrase she searched for. She had a HECK of a time getting customer service/refund and the affiliate merchant guy was RUDE…downright MEAN.

    She blamed Google for ranking such an untrustworthy company at #1. I need to find that article. If anyone knows of it, please share.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


    Alex October 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Thank you Jennifer, for putting your head and heart into this post. Lots of good advice for affiliate marketers here.

    Sure Google has every right to run its business how it sees fit, but they need to retain the goodwill of their customers and their suppliers. If they become too arrogant, customers and suppliers might head for the exits.

    Affiliate marketers are suppliers to Google (of advertising space and also of information) – quite significant suppliers I would guess. Already we hear faint whisperings about not using Google Analytics, and not using Google Adsense because Google can use the information it collects through these tools against us.

    If we all started to think that way, and act that way, what would that do to Google’s business? It surely wouldn’t be good.

    They will have thought these things through, and they must realize how affiliate marketers would affect their business if we ALL started to place our business elsewhere. (So why do they keep pushing us in that direction?)

    The thing I would worry about if I were Google is that they actually seem to be losing the ability to provide relevant and quality search engine results. You provided a good example in your post, but we’ve all seen it for ourselves.

    They are thrashing around, desperately trying to recapture that ability, with all their algorithm changes, but they don’t seem to be succeeding. Their original competitive advantage was that they used backlinks, better than anyone else, to work out which were the best sites, and present those at the top of the search result pages.

    As a way for Google to assess a website’s value, backlinks can’t be working so well any more. Lots of backlinks, even quality backlinks (however you care to define that) can be had by anyone willing to build them. Correlation with site quality must be extremely low.

    I can see why Google would want to get this sorted out fast, because if people decide there is too much junk in Google’s SERPs, they might vote with their feet and use another search engine.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Google stopped using backlinks to evaluate websites? Then we could stop building pointless links, and have that much more time to spend creating quality websites, to everybody’s benefit.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks, Alex! I try to put a lot of “heart” into my posts because I really do care. I once was brand-spanking new at all this without a clue..and without a dime to put towards it. I KNOW how painful it can be to have all your work go up in smoke when Google gets in a mood. I want people to be proactive about protecting their work – and their earnings.

    Your comment is very insightful – thank you. There is so much more to all this that what is happening with affiliate sites.


    PS – If Google stops using backlinks (which they see as “votes”) as a strong ranking signal, then what ever turns out to be the strong ranking signal instead will get gamed as well.

    hugh October 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    A thought provoking and very interesting post with some excellent comments!

    However it seems to me that this is running away from the problem because perhaps its easier and less time consuming (mentally) than doing an analysis on why your site might have been “punished” in the first place!

    How often has a page from your site been returned in the top ten results for a search query? Did it receive any clicks? Why not? If it was clicked on, how long did the searcher spend on the page? What action did the searcher take when viewing the page?

    In other words why would Goggle want to present your site to a searcher for that term in the first place? It knows your site history and if the metrics are dubious then your site may be downgraded.

    How do you know what metrics Google is seeing without using Google analytic s?

    I understand where your coming from but, like any fugitive, once you start running, where do you stop?

    I say, stand and fight your corner!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Hiya Hugh =)

    Very good points – and something I used to do with a vengeance. If something breaks, I want to know WHY – not just from a learning standpoint, but to help me NOT do it again.

    Thing is, when we are one-man and one-woman shows working from home with limited resources, that is a lot of time spent that could’ve been spent on something else. As shown in that Twitter conversation above, it seems pretty obvious to me that we really can’t “win” in a single battle against Google. Sure, we can try and figure it out and we can keep working the ‘dinged” site to hope for the best – but hope doesn’t pay the bills.

    Pick your battles, be proactive about protecting your traffic sources, and keep moving forward (at least running is movement…lol!)

    Thanks for the great comments!


    bj October 10, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Lots of meat to chew on here, Jen! I think you’ve done everyone a service in pointing out that sometimes nothing we do will help. I tend to be stubborn and there’s a lot of good in that, but there is such a thing as being too stubborn!

    As to there being a lot of junk in Google’s serps– I’ve already started using other search engines to see how well they do, though I will still use google. In the last six months I’ve been using google less. I think that says it all, don’t you? Whatever it is they think they’re doing isn’t giving ME the best results for what I’m looking for. And since one of my income streams is freelance writing I do a LOT of different sorts of queries, not just IM or niche marketing queries.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hiya BJ =)

    Yep, lots to chew on here, that’s for sure! I’m also quite stubborn (don’t tell my husband that I admitted that…lol!). I think it’s a good quality – until it gets in the way of progress.

    I do not find other search engines “better” so I haven’t made a switch. I happen to love Google – I am FASCINATED by them. To me, they will most likely be the most impactful business of my lifetime.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Steve Scott October 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm


    Panda certainly continues to be a pain. I have had some sites hurt by it, others not so much. Just like you, the rhyme or reason of why sites are or aren’t hit does not make sense to me.

    Fortunately I have been a long time list builder, so the worst thing that happens is slowing down of my list building. It is hard to divorce yourself from Google (specifically since they also own Youtube, I had my account deleted there and as far As I could tell the only thing wrong was that I had the words “make money with…” in the titles of one of the videos. It was actually a reasonable video, but I admit the title sounded spammy.)

    But even though complete separation from Google is impossible everyone should strive to do what they can to at least build some distance. Anytime you rely solely on ONE source of income it is begging for trouble.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Well said, Scott… Thank you!


    Jhoe@Houses For Rent In Columbia SC October 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Jennifer, thanks for your thoughts and tips. I did have one of my main websites that was based on the dieting niche get blasted by this Panda update. It’s gone from Google’s first page to nowhere to be found on Google. But, I still get some traffic from Bing and other social bookmarking sites.

    You are absolutely right… Google’s team controls their own search engine and we can’t do anything about it. I HATE it, but WE have to move on.

    You use the term “Under the radar” when you talk about the Perfect Storm Blueprint. I’ve studied this course already (and, for those of you that haven’t, it’s a GREAT COURSE), why do you think that marketing affiliate products in local search markets will keep our new websites “under the radar”? Just curious.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Hey girl!

    I think it’s untapped and wayyyyyy less saturated. I have other reasons too, but rather not say them here ;)

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!


    Rocktivity October 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News and Wall Street Journal and Google-owned You Tube came out on top? I smell a vast right-wing conspiracy! ;)

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    lol, Rocktivity! It sure makes you wonder, doesn’t it?



    Carl October 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Hey PPG!

    You’ve done it again! A fantastic post. Here’s my take on this after the Big G tanked one of my big sites that has good original content, lots and lots of posts, and was riding high on page 1 for about 6 keywords until Panda.

    What we all know is that Google smacked tons of great sites. At the same time, if you do some searching around, you can see that Google rewarded some really really bad sites. You know this, we all know this, but why?

    First, after having worked in large corporate environments for 20 years, there is a commonality of events when things start to go sour at a company. My guess is that Google is having some organizational problems.

    A company implodes when a series of bad decisions get made. There must have been a culture change that is likely coming from the upper echelons. Here’s what probably happened.

    Google changed from being a company run by engineers and technical gurus to a company run by accountants and lawyers. This is never good because these people never truly understand the vision and therefore make decisions that are out of sync with the company’s mission. This carries over to the end product, which has begun to deteriorate.

    Next, Google promotes sites that make them money. If your site has no potential to make money for Google, then you get tanked. One thing I notice is that bad sites are loaded with adsense. When a searcher arrives on a bad site, they are more likely to click an ad because they did not find what they were looking for. This is a dangerous business strategy for Google because it can lead to losing customers who then go to another engine for search.

    Finally, I’d say G is at a crossroads. If they do not correct this Panda nonsense, customers will go elsewhere. People are even saying on the IM boards that they are switching to other engines because they are sick of bad results and other stupid functions like google instant. Remember Myspace? Recently G tried to become Facebook with circles, +1, profiles, whatever else. It’s not working. Nothing’s working like it used to. Without a drastic leadership change, it will only get worse.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Very interesting insight, Carl. With your experience in the corporate world, you may be on to something. Definitely worth thinking about!



    Zara October 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Hi Jen,

    Thanks for the post. I am beginning to doubt and wonder if it is really possible to earn a living online. You are right to say that Google own their stuff and have the right to do what they want. It makes small IMer like me very worried about trying to make alittle spare cash online by providing people with good information.


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Oh, Zara…don’t give up! There are plenty of real people out there making money from their online efforts. Just keep moving forward…


    Jonathon October 10, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Totally agree with this suggestion made by Alex. “Wouldn’t it be nice if Google stopped using backlinks to evaluate websites? Then we could stop building pointless links, and have that much more time to spend creating quality websites, to everybody’s benefit.”

    There are so many backlinking schemes being promoted that Google can hardly be unaware of them and the fact that they are hardly genuine backlinks in any sense of the word. All these schemes designed to beat the system to get sites ranked that may or may not deserve to be on page one simply distorts the market and certainly isn’t in the best interests of Google’s customers – the consumer.

    Of course at the end of the day Google will do whatever makes the most money for Google and use their PR (Matt Cutts) propagandists to kid the public different.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I hear ya Jonathon – but thing is, if it’s not links, it’s something else. Then, that something else will be gamed. It’s an endless battle that has been going on for years.


    Onefineham October 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Jennifer-

    Haven’t stopped in since the new site layout: LOVE IT!

    Google will always be trying to improve their business model, and much as you say, it is their business and we should roll with it.

    It can be hard to leave a site that we’ve sunk a lot of effort into, but in accounting we call that a “sunk cost” – meaning that it’s time already spent and can’t recover. Future decisions can’t be made dwelling on sunk costs – they have to be made based on future opportunities and future costs. Your solution appears to hit the nail on the head to me. The twitter conversation about the deleted site content is devastating evidence of Google (for lack of a better term) holding grudges against past-transgressing domains.

    Thanks so much for sharing as always.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Hey – good to see you again!

    Thanks! It was time for a change here at PotPieGirl.com =)

    “Sunk cost” – perfect. Can’t dwell on it – exactly!

    Thank you for phrasing it another way – it helps more people!


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Whew! Caught up on the comments!

    THANK YOU ALL for leaving such great feedback! I adore all y’all – no whining, no carrying on – just good solid sharing of thoughts and information. THANK YOU!

    By the way, some of the comments above got locked in my spam filter over-night. I’ve released them so you should now see your comments above.

    PotPieGirl’s Panda got a little over-active ;)


    Mark October 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Jen,

    Just when I think I’m getting the hang of things big G moves the goal posts. The one thing that consistantly earns me a few bucks every month are my Squidoo lenses and I’ve never really promoted them. I have a copy of your One Week Marketing Plan that turned me on to Squidoo and though I mainly use 2.0 sites as “firewalls” for my main sites they continue to earn money in their own right.

    Best wishes – Mark

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Hiya Mark =)

    Yep, them rules are a-changin’ constantly, that’s for sure. But we roll with it, right?

    Good for you with your Squidoo lenses – and great to hear you learned they are both “firewalls” AND earners! :::insert big smile here:::

    Thanks for stopping by!


    KC October 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Jennifer, thank you so much for the valuable advice. You are such an inspiration to affiliate marketers. Just wanted to let you know that your posts at WA and your One Week Marketing is what have kept me going. Thank you once again!

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Thanks, KC!!!!

    Elena October 10, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Excellent post and equally excellent replies. I nearly passed it over due to being so busy but glad I didn’t! I like the lightbulb moment about migrating content to another site. I know you can’t say for sure, but how long would you “give” content to reappear after Panda before thinking, “Right, it’s not coming back, I’ll make a new site”


    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks, Elena =)

    How long, huh? Tough question to give a “one size fits all” type answer, but this is kinda how it works for me.

    I see the problem (ranking sunk)

    I watch it for a few days to a week or so. If still nothing has improved, I get “that feeling” in my gut (the one that requires brownies to heal).

    I will attempt to correct any obvious (to me) issues the site might have in hope that the next release of Panda in a few weeks will release the penalty/signal/flag on my site.

    At this point I weigh the pros/cons of starting a new domain or waiting (impatiently) for the next Panda go-round. If the site is a big earner for me, I’ll probably go ahead and start the new site. If I can afford to wait, I wait.

    Again, that’s just me.

    Hope that helps!


    Tamara October 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Hi Potpiegirl, I am not sure if this was already mentioned in the comments area, but I was told to never add Google Analytics to your sites…because Google is NOT your friend:).

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Hey Tamara =)

    I’ve heard that too, but I’m not of the mindset to NEVER use it. Again, it’s a matter of weighing the pros/cons in each of your situations.

    For example, as I mentioned above in a comment somewhere…. if I have a site that I plan to sell in the near future, having that report from Google Analytics is very important in the sales process – so in that case, I use GA.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting!


    Elena October 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Do you think Google are already analysing the data whether we install analytics or not? Is the installation just for our info?

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    By installing the analytics code on our sites that gives Google and us more info about our sites.

    Meg October 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    I’m still a newbie but I’ve read a lot of your stuff, including your free courses, and heard the stories of what it was like for you in the beginning (remember the one about the blank page – “I’m making a website” :) ?). Reading the posts on your blog tells me how far you’ve come, and even though I don’t understand everything you – or the commenters – say, I try to get through it anyway because I think it’s valuable; it’s a good learning experience.

    Panda, now… Yes, I’m concerned, because SEO is hard enough when you’re just starting. To have Google throw a wrench in the works doesn’t help. And reading what the experts are saying, which is giving me the impression *they* don’t know much more than I do, is scary.

    I do have a couple of thoughts. One is, I think IMers in general have given Google too much power and they (we?) need to take that back. As someone with very little money to spend I’ve wanted to work on free sources of traffic, and SEO seemed the best choice for that. But now I’m starting to look at other ways. They may not all work with my campaigns – of which there is so far only one – but maybe I need to rethink what I want to promote, find stuff I’m more comfortable writing about.

    The other thing is, from all the places I’ve been visiting lately – affiliate and other IM forums, different kinds of individual blogs – the one common theme I’ve found whenever a noob asks about how to succeed in this business is *persistence*. It’s been written over and over. I agree with that but I would like to add that the other thing that’s needed is *action.* Right now I’m trying to balance reading and studying with doing and it’s easier for me to “read” than “do.” But I’m working on it…

    Thank you, and thanks to all your commenters, for the insights.

    PotPieGirl October 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Hiya Meg =)

    How about “persistent action” ? That’s what it took for me to get there =)

    The world has given Google all it’s power – we (marketers) follow it because that’s where the people are. Google will continue to throw wrenches at us – we have to learn to roll with it.

    Hang in there – you’re doing great!


    Keith S October 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    I just wonder about what this domain memory that google has now. What does it mean for domains that are returned to the pool so to speak. If someone drops ownership of the domain and then someone else comes along and see’s the domain is available and snags it as a new owner, does all that bad karma get passed along?

    Also, what about hosting accounts? I have hosting accounts that allow add on domains and these have been a dream. As I add sites to them, new sites get spydered faster and indexed faster with less work. Will the tainted domains pass along that taint to other domains that share the same hosting? It appears that google can look passed the domain to the server and say ok this is really all the same doesn’t it?

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Those are all really great questions, Keith…thank you!

    I don’t have any exact answers for you tho – guess we’ll have to do some research =)



    Shell October 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm


    Hmmm, having just spent six months working on (& ranking page 1) my first few sites, I’d not considered the ‘what if there was no more Google’ idea (including Adwords) to be honest – quite a scary thought, especially as for some reason I don’t rank as well in Bing and Yahoo.

    Do you have any recommendations for alternative traffice sources or a decent course on Bing/Yahoo to get ranked, to ‘not have all our eggs in one basket?’ I need a back up basket, I just don’t know what it would be! :)

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hiya Shell =)

    To me, Page 1 of a Google search is like an opportunity to put 10 billboards on the busiest intersections of targeted traffic. Don’t think – rank only my page/site…think “where else can I talk about/link to my site AND have it rank on Page 1?”


    Rach72 October 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Hey Jennifer – a great post as usual.

    I particularly love the way that you put the responsibility firmly back onto the business owner – yes sometimes it sucks to be affected by so many people, whether it is Google or the product owner that you are affiliated with. But this a part of the risk that you take as an affiliate and as with all risks you have to know how to mitigate it.

    There was the same conversation going on when Squidoo started slamming lenses left and right and 90% of affiliate were jumping up and down threatening the demise of the site. But the other 10% packed up and quietly made other plans and were wiser thanks to people like you who lost a lot, but had the good grace to admit publicly that the less you own, the less control you have so deal with it.

    Diversification is the key – and independence. If you can build a list do so, but it doesn’t matter how many ‘radars’ you fly under, the chances are that sooner or later you will get picked up.

    Does this mean the end of affiliate marketing. No.

    It just means that when you asked yourself those two little questions about why you were building the sites maybe your answers will resemble those of the product owners – hopefully more of a yes to both – not because it is the ‘right’ answer, but because there is every chance that the majority of affiliates will create a better quality site, because let’s be honest here, most affiliate sites stick out a mile and are crap.

    Ok, enough talking while thinking …. back to it :)


    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Hiya Rach =)

    I feel it IS our responsibility. It’s our business, right? ;)

    Thanks for reading!


    tom harrison October 10, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    About a month ago I started looking at IM for my next great adventure. About a week later I joined WA and almost instantly I came across PPG. Fortunately I entered this with a realistic mindset.
    It’s exciting! Things are still swirling! Even a bit faster with Panda Pandamonium. I appreciate the realities that you convey. I just downed a protein shake, thank you. Now to chase it with a piece of chocolate…


    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Hey Tom =)

    Chocolate works :)


    Steve October 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    As usual some great information, I love to follow you as you never follow the crowd and are not frightened to say it as it is.

    Carl said pretty much all I wanted to say, think he has hit the nail on head there.

    I’ve been researching a new niche recently and for 1 keyword the first page results were:
    Top 5 all the same domain, Amazon, Youtube, 2 spammy affiliate sites and then 1 blogger blog with no content at all and just the KW in the Title and H1.

    Now if that’s Googles idea of providing the best results for its customers then they really are heading for a massive fall, people will desert them in droves if they spend anymore time returning such nonsense.

    Just feels like we are running around trying to work out what it is that Google wants and to be honest I don’t believe they know theirselves.

    Jennifer, your right all we have is diversity.

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Hey Steve =)

    Thanks! It didn’t take me long online to realize one thing I did NOT want to be… I refuse to be yet another echo of the “same ol, same ol”. There’s enough noise as it is.

    Thanks for reading!


    Yahia @ Marketing Online 101 October 10, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    You are right Jennifer. Trying to figure out what went wrong with each website that got penalized is extremely stressful. Thanks for the advice … I’ll move on. (Why didn’t I think about it myself :0)

    My problem is not my sites. It’s my client sites and how stressful it is to deal with people expecting permanent SEO results!

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Hiya Yahia =)

    Working with clients adds an entirely new stress level to the equation, no doubt about it!


    Dianne October 10, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks Jennifer and all comment posters above. This topic resolves my recent “tearing my hair out” issue of “I thought I understood SEO – FINALLY”…sheesh. So now I can leave a little hair in and just keep going. lol

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Dianne =)

    Understanding SEO is important. Good, solid SEO practices are still extremely relevant.



    Rach72 October 11, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Found this post from the Official Google Webmaster Blog with 23 questions that webmasters should ask themselves before assessing whether their site is high quality or not……

    Kinda takes using SEO for affiliate marketing to a whole new level :)


    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Good share, Rach. Thanks!

    Bryan October 11, 2011 at 2:16 am

    After reading about many authority sites losing their rankings overnight in the comments makes me think that it might be smarter to build a portfolio of small sites. Seems to me that the ongoing argument of authority sites versus small sites seems to be tilting in favor of small sites. Many people believe that high authority sites with lots of great content would not be negatively impacted by the algorithm–but as I am seeing here, that’s not always the case.

    Should you be putting all your eggs in one basket (a few authority sites) or should you diversify and build a larger number of smaller sites? It just seems like if you rely on authority sites and just a couple lose their rankings overnight, your income can drop substantially. What do you think?

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I hear ya, Bryan – I’ve always been a bit nervous about the whole “build one really great and really big authority site” concept. I’d rather build many mini sites, see which take well, and build them out as opposed to spending all my time on one thing.


    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 11, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Just a thought percolating through my brain… since Google’s true customers are the advertisers, perhaps the focus in the search engine may be geared towards the keywords that advertisers are buying more than what searchers are searching.

    I’m not sure if that would even have an impact on things. Just thinking out loud here.

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Good thought, Bill. If advertisers (ie, Google’s bottom line) aren’t happy with the clicks they get from the content network, perhaps that is where Google is trying to improve the organic listings?

    Attila October 11, 2011 at 4:55 am

    “If you are making money with your site and Google accounts for the majority, if not all, of your traffic – you are setting yourself up for failure.”This is so true.I lost most of my traffic on Jun14th.Thanks to yahoo and bing,my site regained 30%.

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hiya Attila =)

    So sorry to hear about your traffic loss! Thank goodness you have other SE’s sending you visitors!


    Sharyn Mathieson October 11, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    This question I have for you has nothing to do with the post but I did not know where else to ask. I would like to know where I can go to get help with some of the stuff in OWM that I don’t understand, is there anything you can put me onto.


    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hiya Sharyn =)

    My Help Desk is http://AskPotPieGirl.com



    custom logo design October 11, 2011 at 10:46 am

    After read discussion between Matt Cutts and willspencer i feel that this policy is strictly monitored by google and we should try to implement on google’s policy other wise we have to face unpleasant circumstances. One thing more i want to discuss and ask about articles submission, that if i have two articles per day for articles submission what should i do, to submit in two articles directories or to submit in more directories after spin it?, which strategy will be better to get good SERP position.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Good question! All depends on what your main goal is with those 2 articles. If for back links only…get as many out as possible on as many unique domains as possible.

    If you’re wanting the articles to rank and bring traffic (ie, click thrus to your site), then put each unique one on a site that tends to rank well.


    Nic October 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Hey, good article. I’ve only just started researching the Panda updates and being a newbie my PRs are low anyway. But thanks for the info – it was helpful!

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Thanks for reading, Nic!

    cybergirl October 11, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I like this post and it answers many of the questions I has about the panda update and the new SEO strategies to keep a website in the rankings.

    I also was wondering how do we get traffic to our sites without google? What methods would you recommend to help us still get sales conversions on our affiliate sites besides, article marketing and building a list ?

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Hiya Cybergirl =)

    I answered that above (I know, lots to read through here…lol)

    To me, Page 1 of a Google search is like an opportunity to put 10 billboards on the busiest intersections of targeted traffic. Don’t think – rank only my page/site…think “where else can I talk about/link to my site AND have it rank on Page 1?”

    Tonsil Stones Guy October 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    First off, great post and great comments. Here’s my two cents:
    I have a couple of niche sites in the phone search and relationship sector that Google regularly bounces around. I’ve been #5 for many months in one niche, only to get demoted into the 700s, only to be bounced back to #1 about 2 months later, only to go back to #776 after another two months of nice sales, only to be back at #5 for the last 3 days.
    During the time frame mentioned, nothing on this particular site has changed. Not one single thing, except the roller coaster ride in the SERPs. For me, this proves that Google’s algorithm is hopelessly broken and that there’s no relying on it. Whatever kind of site you have, be ready to be at the top today and gone tomorrow. And possibly back at the top a few months later, even though you do nothing at all to earn the promotion.
    Sometimes I wonder if Google’s so-called algorithm is really just a sham – or worse yet, a scam designed to screen sites to find those that best boost G’s advertising revenues. The “dance” we all see may just be a very sophisticated form of multivariate testing designed to identify the page configuration that generates the most money for Google.
    If AdWords advertisers can split test their ads courtesy of Google, I don’t think it’s a stretch to wonder if the so-called SERPs are just one big testing platform where all of our sites are the data points in Google’s real algorithm.

    Elena October 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    That’s an interesting but scary post. Some of my sites dance about with no rhyme or reason and fathoming out the reason seems impossible. Maybe you’re thinking along the right lines?

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Considering Google teaks their algo 500 or so times a year, that accounts for a lot of changes – both big and small.

    Rico Thalbach October 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you, Jennifer, for this wake-up call. The “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” mantra cannot be repeated often enough and in endless variations.
    It is also an exercise for us “little guys” in strategies and tactics for not letting companies/ institutions get “too big to fail”.
    What if all or even most of big G’s servers were hacked into oblivion or blown to smithereens?
    Cloud, anyone?

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I think the world would be lost without Google at this point…lol! When a product name becomes a verb that is understood ’round the globe, well, that says a lot to me!

    Eric Pinola October 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I guess I am too new to know any better, but does any of this really matter? If it’s the same for everybody, it’s fair for everybody. (I’m good with that) I have always taught my sales teams to win on the field you are playing. As Jim Rohn used to say, “don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

    Thank you for these updates and all of the resources and information!

    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Eric. You are right that we need to win on the field we’re playing, but the problem is that Google continual changes the field and doesn’t let you know that the end zone you’re diving into is now out of bounds (and possibly a cliff as well).

    And it doesn’t seem to be the same for everybody either but that is likely because no one really knows what the rules are.

    But in the end, we need to play the hand we’re dealt as best we can.

    Eric October 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Hello Bill,

    Thank you for your comment.

    That makes a lot of sense. We are Google’s product, lets throw them a change or two, and move our focus over to Bing or Yahoo…..? How does Bing and Yahoo fit into all of this? Are there strategies designed with them in mind, like there is for Google? I am really new to online marketing and wondered if the other search engines just follow Google?

    Make it a great day!


    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Unfortunately, we as site owners are neither the product (that is searchers) nor the client (advertisers). We’re more like the grease that keeps the big G running. Focusing our efforts on Bing or Yahoo will only work if the searchers start moving there. Google is still the king of search. I don’t know the exact figures, but I’m thinking it is at least 75% of searches and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear it was over 90%.

    Yahoo and Bing will not be following Google since they probably don’t know a whole lot more about how Google does things than we do. They will likely be focused on their own algorithms.

    We could all set up our sites to block Google’s spiders and not let them index our sites. I doubt that Google would be hurt by that or even notice. It would only serve to cut off one source of traffic, no matter how erratic and unpredictable it becomes.

    If the search results continue to be as poor as they have lately Google will find themselves in trouble though. If people can’t find what they’re looking for without wading through dozens of crappy, meaningless or unreadable sites people will start looking for other ways to search.

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    It matters if it’s stressing you out, that’s for sure. People spend a lot of time on their sites and to have them disappear for seeming like no reason, it’s really rough – especially when their earnings go down with their rankings.

    Love that quote – “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better”!



    Trevor October 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    PPG, I like the getting “Dumped by Google” analogy, because it really does feel like that. We put so much time and effort into our sites it’s tough not to take it personally when your site is rejected. I think moving on is great advice. Turns out “Nothing gets you over the last one like the next” is just as true in the online world.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Thanks, Trevor!

    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Given the bouncing around that people are describing (and I’d like to have a bounce to page 1 at some point, even if it’s just for a day 8=) I suspect that the metrics that G is looking at have less and less to do with on page or even off page optimization. I suspect it has more to do with end user behaviour.

    They are likely looking at things like how often a searcher clicks through your link and whether they come back for another (and how quickly). The data from Analytics and AdSense probably plays into it as well. Maybe the backlinks and SEO is what brings things back up (or down as the case may be).

    All I know is that if I was Google I’d be very interested in how well searchers like the results I give them since I would need them to be coming back.

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Exactly, Bill!

    Patti October 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Great post yet again Jennifer! As we’ve found out with other income streams, it is always better not to put all your eggs in one basket. What are others doing to attract more traffic from Bing, Yahoo, etc? It all scare me, but I’d rather be proactive…

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Don’t let it scare you – that’s a waste of energy. Let is motivate you to diversify and create as many traffic sources to your site(s) as possible =)

    Rebecca October 11, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Google doesn’t like affiliates – I agree. I wonder if they also dislike affiliates running on their own affiliate network? Quite ironic isn’t it!?!

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Sure is, Rebecca!

    Deane October 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Hi Jennifer, I am the co-owner of one of the sites you are referring to. I want to thank you for all the time you gave my husband over this issue and for sharing your thoughts in this very thorough post.
    I have two thoughts I value your opinion on.
    First, is it possible to have too high a proportion of do follow to no follow backlinks? My backlink profile on Majestic showed 80% or more of my sites’ links to be do follow. This seems like it could be viewed as very unnatural by Google and be penalized.
    Secondly, Richard Stokes says that a Panda update will not just affect your site directly, but indirectly. It can dramatically drop the value of each of your backlinks, creating a domino effect. So if one depends on article directories, blog networks, and other low-quality links, an update can have a disasterous overall effect. This makes a lot of sense to me. But the frustrating thing is that I’ve studied the backlink profiles of some of the crappy affiliate sites now outranking me and they have crappy backlink profiles to match.
    P.S. The girl on the bed with the kleenex box looks just like me. :)

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Hiya Deane =)

    I wouldn’t think the no follow/do follow ratio is all that important. You can’t help how people link to you, ya know?

    As for Panda dropping value of backlinks? That confuses me…sorry. Are you saying that Mr Stokes said that sites that link TO a Panda victim site will have those links devalued? Usually backlinks are devalued when it happens to the site the backlinks are on…. Maybe I just need more coffee…lol

    And yes, I have gone deep into looking at other back link profiles and I see a common thread, but I need to gather more info. I’m torn between “do this, it works” – and “don’t do this”. Hard to say “don’t” when it’s working….but for how long? Guess it’s time for me to do some testing.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    The Relentless1 October 12, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Welcome to the real world pot-pie girl. When you have the money and the muscle to throw your weight around like Google does, it doesn’t have to be fair to us, or make sense!
    Do you really think for one second, any of you online or offline for that matter, that Google cares about any of us?
    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I got a news flash for you people, there is no Santa Claus, or Google Panda, just a bunch of stuffed shirts with bulging bank accounts running this here internet, and we are all at their mercy!
    I haven’t been online that terribly long, but it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see who runs the show around here, and it sure isn’t any of us internet marketers, especially the affiliates!
    It’s GOOGLE, GOOGLE, GOOGLE! But you know what, I don’t really give a rats butt about Google, or Yahoo, or anyone else that tries to rule by terrorizing the poor smucks that are trying to make ends meet!
    I have faith, I believe in God, but hey gang, The other guys don’t! I’m sorry to leave a comment like this, especially my very first one! Imagine that, I’ve been working online for exactly one year!
    I’ve taught myself everything up until now, I’m 56 years old, and I really love working online!
    So, that’s exactly what I am going to do, and Google can kiss me where the sun don’t shine for all I care!
    I wish all of you the very best! I am really a sincere, caring man! I really care about there people, I hate injustice! I have always been one to take the side of the little guy, that’s just who I am I guess?
    God Bless!
    The Relentless1
    aka. David

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 1:44 am

    At the end of the day, it’s all business….

    Thanks for reading and commenting!


    Tom October 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    If you were starting over right this minute as an affiliate marketer knowing what you know today, how would you proceed? Any recommendations for a newbie?

    PotPieGirl October 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Hiya Tom =)

    Good question – and an easy one for me to answer. I would do it all over again the same way I did it the first time. Only thing I’d change is that I’d learn how to build lists sooner and DO IT sooner.

    Thanks for asking!


    Adam October 13, 2011 at 12:58 am

    Hi Jennifer,

    All these Google updates is very disconcerting when you are trying to build a business and the very foundations are constantly being rocked by unseen variable in the equation. However, you have clarified a few points for me regarding this latest update and I now understand why my sites are bouncing all over the place. I will look at other business models that are not so reliant on Google traffic in the future. Love your blog theme, you have come a long way over the years.

    Many thanks,
    from a grateful fan

    Alan October 13, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Good article and tips. Sorry if somebody mentioned before, but I am also seeing a lot of websites with link exchanges ranking well on Google.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 5:21 am

    Me too, Alan… me too.

    Thanks for reading!


    Online Learning October 13, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Wow Google panda is becoming a real pain. I think it may be better to optimize the websites I build for Bing and Yahoo and hope that they rank high in Google also. I don’t understand how Google thinks they are giving good search results when five of the top ten sites in there listing is basically same webpage of the same product. It just does not make sense. I really agree with you that it is foolish to put all your eggs in one basket so to speak. You gave me a lot to think about. I also had a couple of sites that fell out of site in Google’s rankings. Well we live and learn.

    Steve S October 15, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Great article and good advice.

    I was hit hard by Panda, lost 28 of 30 sites. All affiliate sites but two, coincidence? I find it ironic that the company that runs the Google Affiliate Network finds affiliate sites uneccesary.

    Letting go is the best advice. I did exactly what you mentioned, put the content on another domain and it did well. Some of my sites still get some traffic from Yahoo and Bing but there’s bunch of domains coming up for renewal I will let go. Forget reconsideration because it wont happen. Just let go and move on.

    I would not link from my old sites to the new. Nor would I use Analytics or Webmasters. Spread your sites around on different hosting companies too.The less Google knows about you and your sites the better.

    I am not paranoid. Being paranoid is when you think someone is out to get you. When they do get you you are no longer paranoid just screwed.

    Anamika October 15, 2011 at 7:57 am

    That’s an awesome Analysis! I have always made it a point to write on things I know or am passionate about than looking much into keywords or highly searched topics. During the first Panda hit my Blogs fared well but my HubPages traffic went to an all time low. But after the sub domain switch to separate the contents of Authors happened my traffic increased to 200% that of Pre Panda. I am happy that HubPages has emerged as a winner.

    Dave Tong October 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Super excellent post and analysis…

    I’ve been hit hard as well with the latest update (documented here http://www.learnnichemarketing.com/wrath-panda-october-panda-update-killed-traffic-serp/) and I’m curious if it’s better to create ‘light’ review sites on Google product platforms like Youtube and Blogger instead hehe – they’ll never slap those, right?

    I totally agree that while this is extremely frustrating, this is their playground and that’s the name of the game. At the end of the day, we’ll either concentrate on making sure each visitor turns into a conversion, whether it’s an opt-in or a customer. The conversion rates now matter a lot more and by doing so, we’ll be less affected by 3rd party influence in terms of traffic and sales.

    It bums me, but it also gave me great motivation to rely on MY OWN BUSINESS TACTICS AND STRATEGIES rather than trying to constantly play the game search engines want me to play.

    Neale October 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Thanks I like the way you rationalize things and put them in black and white, I just got hit on one site and have never had to worry about updates before.. your thoughts are a great help

    Kevin October 17, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    I just now was directed to your post. I have a few sites that are gone, and also a few that are still moving up. I have sent a question at http://AskPotPieGirl.com , concerning your PSB. I am interested in more diversity, and would like a bit of clarification before I purchase anything.

    Thank you for a great post.


    Calvin Chiong October 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Great job! I wish I can reach 10% of you nice working website. Maybe still need 2 years for that. T.T

    Steve S October 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I want to thank you for making the Google Guidelines available. I have only started skimming through it but it is a real eye opener. I think anyone serious about making money online and keeping their sites needs to read it.

    I now realize my success was my downfall and since many of my sites were on first page they underwent a review and the reviewers didn’t like what they found. Also the guy on Webmasters forum who told me they were doorway pages was wrong. They were thin affiliate sites.

    It looks like I will be making some serious changes to the way I build my sites. Still I have a hard time understanding what is wrong building sites that are designed to make money so long as they add value or help a reader find what they are looking for. Isn’t that what Amazon and other big sites do? But I guess if you are Amazon and spend millions on advertising you can put up duplicate content and pages just designed to sell, get ranked number 1 with no SEO or links all without any worries. Who says there’s no paid inclusion on Google?

    Ben October 18, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Jennifer, thanks for your great post. Much appreciated.

    One thing that is clear is that Google is never going to be able to please all of the people all the time. In the same way that we as affiliate marketers hate seeing rubbishy thin sites or large commerce sites in #1, a search results index dominated by affiliates would irk big business.

    After all, why wouldn’t they want 100% of the pie instead of giving some of it to us? Of course this just makes what you said about many of those sites featuring their own customer reviews more true. Google doesn’t really need us for validity in some cases.

    Anyway, it is always going to be an arms race so to speak for some people. I lost a large amount of my income but dropping my bundle now would be a huge mistake. Instead I intend to diversify my income and traffic sources and build some more sites. This is purely working on the theory that Google can’t possibly slap all of my sites and while I’m working on the new ones hopefully the old ones will come back.

    Thanks again

    carlen October 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Hey Jennifer… this post just proves it one time more to me. You’re one of the very best working online and sharing with the rest of us. Thank you!

    A couple of questions…
    1) Are you saying we would be much better served NOT to use Google Analytics on our site?
    If so, what are the other options for monitoring activity?

    2) Showing my ignorance here… what is 301-ing?


    Rachel October 20, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I NEVER use Google anymore. Since Panda, their search results are awful and pull up nothing but scraper sites stealing other people’s content.

    But Panda had NOTHING to do with ‘quality’ and everything to do with getting rid of Google’s direct competitors like Yahoo-owned Associated Content.

    My sites are also being hit and all my content is written by me, is quality content and, in many instances, is the ONLY information available on that subject on the net.

    Google’s being gone after by the US government, the Korean government and several others so, eventually, it will get what it deserves. until then….I use Bing :)

    Kevin October 20, 2011 at 5:22 am

    Hey Rachel,
    I like the way you think! Have any input on how to get ranked on Bing?


    Jo October 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I lost one of my top earning sites back in August when Panda was first rolled out in the UK. It was all hand written content, regularly updated and I think I was a market leader in that subject. But just goes to show that you can not put all your eggs in one basket.
    Luckily since I have got into SEO I have always followed this and have other ways of income. I have been testing other websites since then which I am enjoying. Nothing like something to keep you on your toes right?!

    Glenn October 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

    Hi Pot Pie Girl,

    Thanks for sharing this awsome information, you sure did go into detail – not sure I took it all in yet, so will comeback soon to double check.

    Many thanks,

    Sean October 30, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Its odd how the single biggest content scraper in the world, Google, can be so judgemental about the behaviour of other people on the internet. This is a company that has declared war on newspapers and book publishers – in the case of books, they knowingly ripped off content quickly in the hope that the judicial system couldn’t keep up with them.

    Moving right along…

    I had my adwords account suspended and the rationale given sounds exactly the same as what Matt Cutts said in his tweet. Now, they don’t have to take my money, that’s ok, I accept that.


    To be told that I’ve had my account suspended because of content on a site that has been down for 90 days doesn’t make sense. I told the Google AdWords person I had taken the offending site down MONTHS earlier. I was told in email to “put it back up and populate it with good content”…

    Say what now? Put up a dead site and put content on it that doesn’t need to be on the internet?

    Ok, moving right along…

    I was told that a site that I’d not been advertising in six months was now no longer up. But it was up at the time of the ads. In fact, it has never gone down (bar the odd hosting issue) – the site has all original content and would pass any human review, it has videos, pictures, gives free information, its a great site.

    They reviewed it, admitted they were wrong and I shouldn’t have been black marked for me, but never contacted me back lifting the Adwords Ban.


    A site I was direct linking to was offering free content via video but had an optin form on it. It wasn’t my site. The Google Adwords person’s advice, “Contact the site owner and get them to put valuable content up”. Yeah.

    Strangely enough, they happily took my money for that adwords placement and NEVER ONCE complained. I stopped the ad (the promotion was over) and months later its held against me? How come it was good enough for them to take my money – the site never changed.

    I also pointed out that a major Australian bank was doing EXACTLY the same thing – an AdWords ad to a short bridge page. No comment from Google.

    Ultimately, being an affiliate marketer is not going to be good with AdWords and so the ban was coming no matter what I did and Google made lame ass excuses to enforce it. They don’t want Affiliates using AdWords or ranking sites because counterbalance their grip. That major bank doesn’t look for an ROI on their CPC, but I do. That means I pay as little as I can, the bank is happy to overpay. Same with rankings, Affiliates and SEO’s are constantly reverse engineering the rankings algo which keeps Google on their toes.

    All that said…

    Under Australian Privacy Law, they are required to delete my credit card and all personal history when they no longer have a requirement for my credit card. I then sent them an email and said that since they ended the relationship with me, by their choice, then they had no need for my card or personal details (by their choice, not mine) so I needed them to comply with the regulations and delete my personal information.

    They couldn’t comply – some kind of rubbish technical reason about their databases can’t delete information.

    The fact is, Google are a law unto themselves. They don’t want a counterbalance of any kind because it pulls back their ability to make money. One major problem in that company is this “utopian view” help at senior levels of their “mission” and the behaviour, but in actual truth, they are one of the most ruthless and aggressive companies around.

    Gary Smith October 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    I just discovered this site, and it’s now on my bookmark list to regularly check. Nice post!

    My main product site is dancing around, but generally has risen in the rankings (lots of unique content, no AdSense or AdWords, no affiliate links — just purchase links to my own products).

    However, my six “satellite” sites (one for each keyword version of my products) have disappeared, except for the PDF evaluation files I offer. No home page, content page — nothing else. Can’t find ‘em in the index at all. Each of these sites were #1, 2 or 3 in organic SERPs for their keyword with very little backlinking and no other SEO (onsite or off — I built them before I learned all that!).

    The satellite sites were a little thin, I admit. No affiliate links, except the purchase links went back to my main site, so they probably LOOKED like affiliate links. Just a few pages per site, all original copy, except each of the satellites had essentially the same copy, just edited for the specific version. And I had not touched the sites for years, so they weren’t updated. But, since they were on page one, I was a little afraid to touch them for fear I’d lose the rankings.

    Now that they’ve disappeared, that constraint is gone.

    I’d like to keep the keyword domains they’re on (they’re exactly the name of the product in addition to being a nice long-tail keyword), so I’m rebuilding the sites in Wordpress (as opposed to my first crude attempt to build a CMS), to include a more blog-like structure. And I’ll put some good content with contextual links to purchase on-site, rather than off. And being in a real, live CMS, I can update more often, more easily.

    Hope that all works. Those sites generated a good part of my income from online activities and the loss hurts. If it doesn’t work, I’ll find new domains and let the rebuild sites just sit.

    Thanks, again, for the thoughtful post. I’ll be back!


    seo austin November 4, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Panda, Panda!! I have answered a million questions about Panda……and your guide helps answer every single one of them! If you are reading this and got caught up in Panda and you take these tips to heart……you will survive just fine and do even better! Great, blog and great tips!

    David November 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Very interesting!

    My Adsense has dropped to about $1,650 a month since Panda 2.5!

    I know one SEO company in the UK who were hit by Farmer & Panda who have used 301′s on their old website and are now 1st page in the UK with their new site for search engine optimisation as well as the US version, search engine optimization once again.

    I know they have really cleaned up their inbound links as well, so my guess is 301′s may not pass on the penalty; well I hope so as I intend to change my old website to something new.

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