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Niche Site Case Study: Link Building and De-Indexing


It’s been another busy month working on my Amazon Affiliate sites and my PBN. It has ended with a bit of drama with one of my niche sites being de-indexed by Google – more details below, as well as my first commission.

This is my third update in my case study about building three Amazon affiliate sites. You can also read my last update about building up contents and links.


I am still slowly building up my PBN although I have currently stopped looking for more domains to buy because:

  1. I don’t have the time to keep building the sites.
  2. I don’t have the time to maintain a zillion PBN sites.
  3. I feel I have enough at the moment and I actually need to get one of my niche sites earning money before working on this any further.

I did buy a PBN package from Jon Haver and I am slowly receiving those five sites, so I am up to 27 sites once I have all of these.

Link building

I have been building about one link a week to my three Amazon affiliate sites using my PBN. I was close to exhausting my PBN, so I started doing some link swapping. I am being very conservative with using my PBN for my link building and have rarely linked to more than one of my money sites per PBN. I have freed up some of these sites now I have lost one of my niche sites to de-indexing, but want to give it a bit of time before I use them to link to my other niche sites. I have also been writing a comment or two a week per site.

De-indexing of site 2

Last week, site 2 in this case study was de-indexed. I was quite surprised when I saw in webmaster tools that it had been marked as pure spam. I still don’t really understand why I got this penalty – I had written all the content myself and it was definitely not scraped. A thin content or unnatural links penalty I could have understood, but pure spam?

A few days later, I read this article by NoHat Digital. They lost 40% of their PBN and there are lots of people in the comments with similar experiences. It seems google is currently attacking PBNs and niche sites – NoHat Digital even lost 6 money sites they had built in the last two months on expired domains some of which did not have any PBN links yet. The pattern they have seen is that expired domains bought in the last couple of months, especially at auction, were targeted.

I did not buy my domain at auction. However, it was an expired domain that I purchased accidentally. Reading the comments, a lot of people thought that Google had targeted cheap hosting with whole IPs de-indexed. For some reason that I don’t remember, I had this site up on cheap hosting. I know better than that, so I am a bit annoyed with myself! Given I hadn’t done much link building and none of my PBN has been affected, it is all I can think of.

I submitted it for reconsideration with Google explaining that I had accidentally purchased an expired domain and hoping that the penalty was based on the previous site. They replied that it was still pure spam and did not remove the penalty. It is hard for me to remove problems which don’t exist so I am just going to forget about this site.

I am nervous at the moment that more sites will be affected. Fingers crossed this is it!

Site 1: 5,000 monthly searches, KC: 34

I have not done much at all to this site in the last month apart from small tweaks as I learn about better ways to do things.

At the moment I am ranking for:

  • 235 queries with 4,634 impressions (just in web search)
  • Main keyword average position is 41.
  • Secondary keywords: 2, 20, 38

I am confused by the number 2 ranking. According to webmaster tools, I have well over 1000 impressions for this keyword but only one click through. Whenever I check my ranking for this keyword in LongTail Pro, I am ranking in the 40s for it. I feel the number 2 ranking is an error.

Page Views: 463

Site 3: Main keyword (for now) 4,400 searches, KC: 26

I have added more articles and it now has about 15 with 5 main pages, some reviews and then articles that target longtail keywords. It is looking good and I am very happy with this site and feel it has the most potential.

I have also built two quizzes. One I have been trying to publicise via social media – it got some hits from Reddit. I have also been trying Facebook advertising.

I have started a Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest account for this site as well and I am building them up.  The one thing that seems to be coming out of Google’s latest attack on PBN and niche sites is just how important quality is.

At the moment I am ranking for:

  • 86 queries with 641 impressions (these are just for web searches)
  • Main keyword average position is 58.
  • Some of my secondary keywords are also ranking at 68 and 130.
  • Some of the longtail keywords I have targeted in articles are ranking at 21, 34, 44, 57 and 140.

Page Views: 655

The best news is that I have sold my first item – so I have made $12.48 in the last month!

Next Steps?

I will continue link building and adding content. I also want to improve the social media accounts for Site 3. I am not sure if I will have much time to do these things in the next month though.

Next week, I start the NoHat Digital private training course. Initially, I was just going to do the internship (which is free), but then the course structure changed a bit away from the things I really want to be doing. The paid version is $2000, so a big chunk of change. However, I do feel like I have the potential to earn good money from niche sites and paying this money not only means a course that is more aligned with what I want to learn, but the opportunity to build three new niche sites with their guidance that I will own (in the internship, they own what you produce).

It is going to be a full on month. I am not paying $2000 to not try and learn everything I can from it. I am excited to get stuck into it and learn about other types of niche sites as well.

Read my next update and more posts on my case studies and niche sites here.

Any questions or advice?

About the Author

Sharon is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She started blogging in 2005, but became serious about it when she left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded by becoming a SEO and affiliate marketing expert and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle. She has a degree in web development, a graduate diploma of education (secondary teaching) and consumes everything SEO. She loves putting her teaching diploma to good use by teaching other bloggers how to have the same success that she has had.

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