I recently launched a new website that provides information about an upcoming event (widgetcollectorsevent.com). I've had the domain since 2004 but only within the past month put content on it (it was parked before). Currently this website has 12 pages of content and I plan to continue to grow it. When searching for "widget collectors event", it showed up on page 3 on Google with only 1 backlink (from BOTW). Two days ago I made two changes:
1) I added Adsense for Content to all pages (1 ad block per page - I'm not trying to make this an MFA sense, just trying to monetize the traffic).
2) I started emailing schools, libraries, and people who have homepages dedicated to widgets and asked them if they could add a link to the site.
Many people replied to the email and said the site was great and added links to the site. In total, I would say I received no more than 20 links (at the absolute max - really I think the number is closer to 10 but I can't tell for sure). Since the site is about a widget collectors event, all of the links that I received have the anchor text "Widget Collectors Event".
This morning I woke up and found that the main page is now no longer found in Google (on page 1-99) for "Widget Collectors Event". However, when I added omitted results, the site re-appears on page 3 like it did before. Also, when searching for "Widget Collectors Event Chicago" (for example), the /chicago/ page does appear in the index on page 2 (which is the same as a few days ago). So, it looks like just / is missing from the main Google index.
This is a clean website with all original content and no ecommerce/affiliate links/sales (other than adsense for content). It's just designed to provide information about this event in various cities.
My guess is that Google saw a bunch (10-20) links come in to the site with the same or almost identical anchor text and penalized the main page of the site. If this is true, how am I supposed to build links to the site? The external links all came from "clean" websites such as public libraries, schools, and on-topic personal homepages that were dedicated to "widget collectors".
Any suggestions on what might have hit the site and how best to build links for a new domain?