It’s time again for everybody’s favourite case study! I’m 6 days late in posting this SEO case study update, but here’s an update on my SEO rankings for the 9th month.
I started these SEO case study reports back in mid-November of 2010, and now provide monthly updates on how my various SEO campaigns are faring.
If you want to skip all the details and get straight to the results, scroll down to the last image, as it gives a fantastic overall summary of last month’s results.
SEO Firm Keywords Plummeted
In my last update, this section was titled “SEO Firm Keywords are Taking Off”. Now it’s titled “SEO Firm Keywords Plummeted”.
Ironically, the same day I posted how the RankPay keywords were doing awesome, they dropped out of the top 1,000 and haven’t resurfaced since for one of the keywords. The other keyword popped back up at around #280 during the past week, but dropped out of the top 1,000 again today.
Again, these 2 keywords are very competitive, and it’s only been 4 months so far, so it’s still too early to tell if RankPay is a good service. It will be interesting to see how next month fares.
The Farmer/Panda Update
Have you heard of Google’s Farmer/Panda update?
If you haven’t, basically what happened is that on February 24th, 2011 Google implemented a major change to its search engine, affecting roughly 12% of search results and halving many low quality website’s traffic numbers.
Google “google’s panda farmer update” to read a ton of different articles on it. It has caused quite the stir in the SEO world.
In a nutshell, websites which backlinks are comprised up mostly of article directory and very low-quality websites saw huge decreases in rank. Naturally, websites with more higher-authority and natural-looking backlinks increased a little bit due to the drop in the penalized websites.
It appears that my affiliate site was affected by this update. Check out the screenshot below:
The threshold for the above difference comparison was set for the last 30 days, around the time when Panda was introduced.
As you can see, my rankings increased in Bing/Yahoo, but dropped significantly in Google. For one of the keywords, it dropped out of the top 1,000!
In contrast, my movie site, which is a very high quality and established website, actually saw a good increase in the past month. More on that later (or skip to the last image in this post to see the results).
Even though the backlink source for both sites were the same, my movie site didn’t see a drop, but rather an increase. I believe this is because the update had a greater effect on lowering the value of low-quality article-type sites and thus plowing a bunch of sites out of my way, than the value I was getting out of those backlinks. That’s my theory anyway.
Even though this update hurt my affiliate site (supposedly), I’m still happy with it. It encourages and promotes quality websites with quality backlinks, which is better for the Internet.
Finally Fired my SEO Guy
I had been tiptoeing around it for months now, but I finally “fired” my SEO freelancer a couple of days ago. I just wasn’t seeing good results from him, despite hiring him for 8 months.
It wasn’t a complete waste though. I did see results and improvement, just not to my satisfaction.
Also, since the majority of the backlinks from him were the exact type of sites that Google’s Panda update (see above) were targeting, it made sense to stop.
To replace him, I am hiring a new SEO freelancer. I have put a much stricter limit on the new guy, only giving him 1-2 months before I decide whether or not the results are worth it. The new guy will not be giving me the same type of backlinks as the old guy… at least not article-based backlinks. We’ll see how this goes.
Month 9 Update
Here then, is an update on how the last month has fared for me in terms of paid SEO.
Just a reminder that I am currently tracking 13 keywords across 2 search engines, so I won’t be able to focus on every single keyword, and will therefore focus only on the ones that show the most change (good or bad).
While I saw some improvement on my 2 movie keywords, the biggest news were the drops on my affiliate keywords due (most likely) to the Panda update:
It’s kind of interesting. You see a drop around 2-3 weeks after the update, which is somewhat odd in and of itself. And then you see a slow, gradual incline…
This appears to be consistent with all my hit keywords. Interesting.
In month 6, my affiliate site brought in 5 leads from SEO efforts, each worth approximately $60, making a total of roughly $300. In month 7, it brought in only 1 lead. In month 8, it brought in only 2.
Since I was almost a week late in writing this post, my numbers are a bit skewed. Since my last post, my affiliate site brought in 6 leads, bringing in around $350. However, that in the past 30 days, it brought in 5, the same as month 6, so around $300.
This means that I actually made a TINY profit again from SEO last month. I do not count the movie site portion of the SEO costs in this calculation because I cannot directly correlate its results to income.
Again, you can see why I haven’t given up with outsourcing SEO yet. I am not ranked very high for my keywords, yet I am still breaking even.
Here is a very nice overview comparison chart of both my sites from both 1 month ago and 6 months ago, as compared with today.
Previously, I compared with 3 months but replaced that with 6 months now that I have been using RankTracker (still absolutely love it and recommend it) for that long.
Stay tuned for my next SEO Case Study update post to see how my rankings improve (hopefully)!