EMD Update – Are Mini Sites Still A Viable Strategy?

After the EMD update everyone started acting like the sky was falling.

I must admit, i took a hit with a few of my sites and i took another hit with the penguin update that happened a couple of days after.

But all in all, i survived the updates well and didnt lose to much traffic.

That being said, when you look at the IM forums you see pretty much mass hysteria. It’s the usual story, they think SEO is over and that the game has changed.

Newsflash! The writing has been on the wall a long time and this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this happened.

So here is my thoughts on the EMD update, the current state of search and what i am going to be doing going forward.

Andy’s Thoughts

I can still rank web 2.0′s uber quick. 3 weeks ago i created a Blogspot blog. I then spammed around 50 article submits to a variety of blog networks (Takes me a couple hours). It currently just hit page 1 for a 10k a month internet marketing related product name and it is sending me sales every few days and traffic each and every day. The site is basically a sales letter with a Youtube video and a bunch of affiliate links.

If i can do this with a days effort in one of the most competitive niche’s in the world. Imagine what you could do elsewhere. Obviously, i have streamlined my process and am a “power user”, but the point still stands, in 2012 its still incredibly easy to spam your way on to the first page.

Will this site rank forever? Probably not, it just shows you that spamming still works and its still possible to make money with one page sites.

I have also been looking through a bunch of keywords in the Webhosting niche (Very competitive) and i see a bunch of people also doing the exact same thing as me but with other sites like Tumblr, WordPress.com etc

Anyway,

Sites that seem to be immune to the EMD update seem to have the following qualities:

  • Aren’t gunning for a phrase to much. They have low on-page BS. IE they don’t have highly optimized copy, h1, title tags, image alt tags etc. A softer approach is now the best SEO practice.
  • Contain Youtube videos (Call me suspicious).
  • Contain lots of pictures.
  • Cloaked affiliate links.
  • Outlinks to niche related authority sites.
  • Intelligent internal linking structure and links within body text of articles (Wikipedia style).
  • Good social signals.
  • Facebook page, Twitter presence, G+ presence, G+ authorship, Youtube channel/Youtube links.
  • Sites that have good user metrics (High time on site, brand typins, high pageviews, low bounce back to search %).

And most important, sites that weren’t hit had toned down anchor text profiles. Lets say your site is SillyWidgets.com. Sites with lots of exact anchors to “Silly Widgets” and partial match anchors like “Best Silly Widgets” will be effected most. Whereas sites that predominantly get anchor text that say “Sillywidgets.com” or other less optimized anchor text seem to have survived better.

Obviously the algorithm isn’t as simple as this. I can find cases which will both support and contradict what i have said. The only answer i have for you is that the algorithm is obviously very complicated and they use many many factors when evaluating a site.  So sites with good user metrics and strong links might be able to get away with being a bit more “spammy” in the anchor text department, whereas sites which have tons of crap links and none of the positive signals above (Strong brand metrics) will have much less leeway.

One thing is for sure, sites that people need, sites with direct typins and tons of brand related traffic are doing just as good as ever. These are the kind of sites people go “WTF” at if they don’t see them ranking, these sites are still ranking and will continue ranking for the foreseeable future. Google wants these sites to show up high and it ruins the user experience if they do not.

What Am I Doing?

I am killing it now spamming web 2.0′s. I am ranking them for competitive phrases in a matter of weeks.

I use tiered link building practices. I do something like this.

Tier 3: Mass social bookmarks, mass wiki’s, mass comments, mass profiles.

Tier 2: Blog networks, SENuke, AMR, Web 2.0′s, Some Wikis/profiles/press releases.

Tier 1: Individual web 2.0 (Example Blogspot site) made to rank for an individual phrase.

Tier 0: My authority site.

Then i will link these Web 2.0 sites to my authority site in that niche. This will flow all the laundered juice down and provide my main money site a very powerful link without sending spammy/un-trusted links to my main site.

Essentially i am hedging my bets with Google. In the niche i attack i build one site that has a very clean link profile (Links from high authority guest posts, my boosted web 2.0′s and a selection of highly trusted links). These for the most part are all very authoritative links and don’t go after anchor text heavily. I then build out the authority site, creating tons of content, targeting longtail phrases and use other methods of traffic generation also.

The money site will be at the bottom of the pile, it will not be overly SEO’d, it will be 100% designed for users, awesome content, awesome user metrics, real social metrics, real daily typins and brand searches, real Facebook and Twitter followers etc. Eventually this site will attract a lot of traffic from the engines because it is essentially the type of site Google will always want to rank. This however is a long game and doesn’t happen overnight. Your site needs to become aged, trusted and build up authority. However, the rewards for doing so are now HUGE.

If you hedge your bets like this and “do everything”, Google cant do shit to you, no matter which way the algorithm goes.

In the mean time i build up other properties that rank overnight and bring in a steady stream of income. Whatever way the Google algorithms go i should be ok. But eventually you will get to a point where you have a critical mass of users and have a badass “real” authority site that makes hundreds of dollars a day.. and the funny thing is, when you get to this point, you will be relying on Google less and less for your paycheck each month. Something i think everyone in today’s climate is striving to do.

This should be the end goal for everyone, i have to admit i am not there yet. I am on my way in 2 niche’s right now building authority sites that are supported by my “churn and burn” SEO. As time progresses i am going to be focusing more and more on these larger sites and less and less on the churn and burn stuff. I think this is the pathway to building a long lasting, sustainable, real business.

So are niche sites and one page wonder sites dead? Hell no! It’s still the fastest way to rank in Google, it’s just they are trying to make it a much less viable long term business model. The writing has been on the wall for a while and it should be no surprise that Google has gone down this road. I have to give tip my hat at Google, they are really coming after us marketers hard this year, i just think they have wiped out a ton of the middling players. I see tonnes of authority sites killing it right now and they are backed up by tonnes and tonnes of crappy links. It seems the bar is being raised constantly. I hate to say it but “adapt or die” cliche seems fairly appropriate right now. The strongest and smartest will survive and the profits are there for the taking.

Just my 2 cents.

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