- Small(ish) site - was about 200 pages, now about 100 pages (since I've deleted much of it)
- Informational and it gives users free stuff to download (all original stuff - printables, etc.)
- Some thin content that can't help but be thin (like a downloadable image for instance, with only instructions on how to download it).
- Some duplicate content that can't help but be duplicate (like a famous old poem or something like that).
- Some articles that I believe fits the footprint of content farm articles. Only had a couple dozen of these, and they were all original, written by me, quality articles, but they had that same how-to type format, and/or some of them targeted similar phrases (10 great widgets for teenage boys, The best widgets for preteen girls, etc.)
- A handful of duplicate content articles that was from using articles from article directories years ago.
- Backlink profile - nothing great, nothing really horrible. I'd call it "meh, so-so".
- Bounce rate of about 50%. Many come to specifically download something, do so, and leave. Average page views is 2 (usually going from category to specific download).
- Monetised through both adsense and affiliate links. I've removed all the affiliate links (since they really weren't doing well anyway), and reduced the adsense presence a little.
- No blackhat seo.
- Was one of the very first sites to focus on this niche 7 years ago.
- No UGC at all.
- Static site, no database, no autogen'd metas or anything like that.
I've been hit:
- across the board
- impossible to really gauge the impact since the site is seasonal, and this isn't the season for it.
What I believe might be causes for the smackdown:
- the couple dozen articles on the site smelled like a content farm - even though there were very few articles, they had that same type of content - how-tos, lists, etc. All written by me, all unique, all quality, but the format might be a farm type trigger. (What I've done about them: I've deleted them all and 410'd them).
- a handful of articles from years ago that I'd used legally and legitimately from article directories, that are all over the web. (What I've done about them: I've deleted them all and 410'd them).
- a couple dozen pages with dupe content that can't help but be dupe content, such as the words to an old famous poem. (What I've done about them: Some I've deleted, and some I've kept).
- Dupe content within my site: Some pages have the same "how to download this thing" instructions on each of the downloadable thing pages. (What I've done about them: Not much. Not sure how to reword that in so many different ways. I suppose I could link to one page of instructions, but that seems less than user-friendly).
- Too many affiliate links? Maybe, not sure, but since they weren't really doing much for my bottom line anyway, it seemed like a good time to dump them. So I did. That dumped quite a few pages since that was a whole section of the site.
- Thin content: Some pages just can't help but be thin. Here's a thing. Download it. Nothing much else to say about it. I've dumped a few thin pages, but some I just can't/won't dump because they are important to the site and to the user.
- Number of ads and ad placement: I've already mentioned that I got rid of all affiliate links and ads. I've also reduced the adsense presence somewhat. I've never felt the site was overwhelmed by ads, but that doesn't mean others feel the same way. So I've pared it down so that there's basically one above the fold and one at the bottom. If that's too much, then that's just crazy.
- I've seen some people say that misspellings might be an issue. I checked for that, and found only 5 minor misspellings across the site (unless false positives are in play, such as using names that aren't in a dictionary but are legit, or appreviations such as tsp for teaspoon).
I have other sites in similar niches that approach everything in exactly the same way as this site, yet they weren't hit. The differences include:
- the other sites didn't have an article section, so no "farm footprints", and old articles from article directories.
- the other sites had less affiliate links, but do have some
- the other sites also have thin pages that are just naturally thin (here's a thing, download it).
- the other sites have about the same number of ads and ad placement
- the other sites do have the same type of dupe content within the site, such as "how to download this thing".
So, if I had to compare them, I'd say the small article section on the smacked site was the biggest difference. I don't personally think a total of about 30 or so articles would constitute a "farm", but the footprint might be the same, and the fact that some of them were from old article directories might be the kicker.