A year ago this past Sunday my worst nightmares were realized. (No, not really, my family still has their health and I still have my dignity, but otherwise, yeah.)
I'm surprised no one has written about this. I had hoped to sooner, but I haven't had the time to do the topic justice. This is my feeble attempt.
I started 2011 by telling my family that I had read that Google had announced that they were working on weeding out 'content farms'. I told them that when Google announces they have a great new technology to add to their search algorithm, rarely does it end in website owners being happy, no matter how legitimate their websites are.
Sure enough, on Feb. 26th, 2011 at 6:30 pm CST the traffic on my 10 year old site started into nosedive. Within a week, I had given notice to all of my 10 employees that they were about to lose their jobs. The only ones left were me and my wife.
Within 3 months, my wife took a job working for someone else. After months of hoping that we had seen the bottom, one early October day I decided to find a regular job myself.
I'm now working full-time for the guy who hosts my website. I do love my job, and I'm learning new technologies at a rate I thought I was too old to learn at (I'm now 45 years old.)
My life has settled down from the roller coaster ride that I've been on since AdSense was introduced in 2004. I've been featured as a Google success story numerous times, been to the 'plex a half-dozen times as an honored guest, but that wasn't enough to maintain the ride of a lifetime.
After nearly 4 months, on Feb. 1st, my benefits kicked in at my new job. I now have legitimate health insurance for the first time in 9 years. I also get 3 weeks of vacation per year and a funds-matched 401k. I sure sleep better at night, now.
My two oldest kids are working to help pay for their college education. Not really a bad thing. Google has paid for a lot of toys, a house and some great vacations over the years. The party's over now.
Now that Panda has settled down, my website hobby isn't doing too poorly. I only have time to respond to customer service emails on the weekends, but hey, I'm certainly not giving the worst customer service of the sites that I know.
So how have you overcome Panda? Forget about redesigns and quality content. None of us really knows if that has anything to do with the bashful bear. Outside of SEO, what have you don't to cope with the raccoon-like carnivore in the past year?