Authority Site Project – Month 13

by Will Blears

Authority Site Project – Month 13

by Will Blears

by Will Blears

authority site project month 13

Welcome back to the thirteenth month of the authority site project.

If this is the first time you are reading my authority site project then check out the first post which explains the strategy and the long-term goals, you can read it right here.

There have been some huge changes in March which have massively affected the site’s performance, I am talking about Amazon commission changes and also Google updates. In this update, I am going to discuss how these changes have negatively affected the site and what I am going to do about it, but first, let’s have a look at performance for March 2017.

March 2017 Amazon Associates Commissions

In March, the decline in revenue continued as I hit $1,669.92 compared to February’s $3,472.07 a 51% MOM reduction.

PPC Costs

OK, so I must confess – I made a huge mistake in March when managing my PPC activity, which I hate to admit, especially considering I am an expert when it comes to PPC advertising. What happened? Well, I re-activated approximately 50 inactive campaigns which I forgot were still using a bid strategy which I was testing months ago. That bid strategy combined with an old shared budget on an account level meant over three days (when I wasn’t even watching the account) I spent just under £700 with no increase in conversions, I burnt through £700 with zero return, extremely painful. However, it just goes to show that even an experienced PPC advertiser can make rookie mistakes when they take their eye off the ball.

Due to this stupid error, I managed to actually make a loss in March, how embarrassing >_<

PPCCostsMarch2017

Last month I mentioned that PPC activity was down month on month and this is true, except for those three days of silliness, the average daily traffic from PPC activity was less than 400 clicks compared to February where I was hitting 1,000 clicks per day. I’ve continued to reduce PPC activity, and I’ve paused the activity in April whilst the developer and I work on the website as we’ve had a few database outages and a few downtimes this month due to all the heavy lifting and the database just exploding with too much data, ha. Hopefully, in May we can re-launch activity though, with a completely overhauled site (although it might get into June before we can launch).

SEO Activity

As I write this, I am actually becoming a little depressed lol – March was such a shit month for this project.

So, on top of the Amazon commission changes which have reduced my revenue for this project by 30-40% month on month based on the commissions, as this site had a lot of electronics, kitchen appliance, tools and sports sales. The Google update also screwed me big time.

Amazon Authority Site Organic Traffic March 2017

As you can see from the above screenshot taken from Google Search Console for the month of March 2017 – the decline in organic traffic hit began just after the 12th March and continued all throughout March and has continued in April. This aligns with the Google update everyone has been discussing that took place at the beginning of March. Although, no one knows for sure what that update targeted I don’t believe my site was targeted for link building activities.

With regards to this specific site, I think the issue lies with a number of pages which have zero content or zero content above the fold. The website’s current design means that above the fold there is simply a title and a comparison table and on those pages which do have content this is below the fold. I honestly think that’s what Google has penalized my site for, which in my opinion is completely understandable.

The new site design is going to hopefully remove these issues, I just wish I had the design implemented months ago, unfortunately, business isn’t always as simple as it might seem. Therefore, I will have to bite the bullet and be patient, I am building more links to the site but very few are from PBNs, most are guest posts, press releases, social signals and web 2.0 links.

Once the new site design is live I can also focus on adding even more unique content to the site and above the fold as well as within the tables themselves.

April Action Plan

In April, my focus has been getting the backend of the website completed, as I mentioned in March’s update this included 634 pages which needed amendments, this has all been done now. I am just waiting for the developer to finish coding all of the unique page templates (I think there are about 10) and then we can begin putting the new site live.

Apart from this, I am not doing anything on the website, I might get a few backlinks built to the home page. However, I’d prefer to wait until the new site design is live and then see how Google takes the change.

That’s all for this month guys, I hope you enjoyed it – please leave any questions you might have below!

Entrepreneur and Online Advertising Expert. I have 11 years experience in Online Advertising and currently I am the founder of a boutique Paid advertising agency and Affiliate Marketeer.

10 Comments

  1. Above the fold content is not the reason why you got hit. I have maximum content above the fold with just one responsive AdSense unit and I got hit as well. Even Google’s PageSpeed tool has certified that I have the above-the-fold content properly prioritized. Anyway, I have recovered fully from it. I did just one thing – 301 redirected my website to a new domain.

    • So you don’t think lack of above the fold content has anything to do with the latest update? I just got hit badly for a client home page with very limited content above the fold. Don’t think that’s work fixing?

    • I have only above the fold content and all my sites were hit as well so I think that has little to do with the updates last month and the months prior to that. There seems to be something larger going on that no one has a clue about.

    • Can you explain this more–you changed your domain name? Why do you think this worked?
      I got hit two times too, I have above the fold, long content, no ads. Have not tried getting rid of comparison charts but mine are below the fold.

  2. Tough shit going on lately, first Google, then Amazon, then Google again. Now they are planning to launch an ad-blocker, which should also block their own ads if they don’t want to end up in numerous lawsuits again. Which would drive up the ad prices as there’s still the same amount of advertisers but lesser people to show it too. Good luck when that happens!

  3. That sucks Will, it’s super demoralising when all your hard work goes out the window for a while. I’ve read quite a few people who’s been hit is using Web 2.0 for links. Do you think this could be a factor?

  4. Hey Will,

    Great update and inspiring as well. A few questions though

    1) You said you have 634 pages, which is a huge number by any measure. Are all these pages “best” type of articles or include informative articles as well? I am assuming there must be some informative articles as well, so what ratio would you say is between “best” to informational articles.

    2) As it is already 13 months in and with such a huge number of articles, how would you rate the organic performance of the website? I personally feel that you should be getting atleast 10x organic traffic than you are already getting.

    3) Though, you already clarified that you might not be doing much link-building as of now, I would still like to ask should you not focus more on link building? Case in point be that of ThankYourSkin.com which seems quite successful organically because Tung has been focusing on link building from start.

    It also crossed my mind that maybe low number of backlinks for such a huge site could be a reason for Organic performance going down instead of up.

    Since, I don’t know the website, I can only make assumptions. But would appreciate your response, as it can help me on my own projects.

    Thanks,
    Qaiser

  5. Hello Will,
    I have been a follower of your authority site project since the beginning and I hope for you to fully recover from these updates.
    I am in a very similar issue because my site got hit by Google 9th March Update and I think because I had tags, categories, author page and data archives indexed. Even though I have de-indexed them now, my site still hasn’t recovered yet.

    I was wondering, Did you have a lot these thin pages with zero content or zero content above the fold? What about tags and archives?

    Thank You!

  6. Hey Will,

    First, thanks for sharing the highs and the lows. I have been following you since the first post, even commenting on that one too. Hahaha. In any case, I’m sure all your readers have faced the bad months too, and it’s quite helpful to hear how you handle them too.

    You are still incredibly impressive getting 4300 clicks and 127k impressions. This is so far beyond anything I have created. Would you mind telling us approximately how many pages and words of content you have to get this?

    Thanks again for sharing this journey with us.

    -Leo

  7. I found that onpage seo was an issue for some of my pages. I followed an seo guide on one of my pages and it took it from page 5 to page 1 (where it was before the march update). It wasn’t the keyword phrases that were the problem it was the words that made up the phrase – if you know what I mean.

    I have also implemented it on a few other pages and their rank has improved too. These are pages without backlinks.

    I have found pages with backlinks stayed on page 1 regardless of the onpage seo element!

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