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1. Affiliate Site 1
I had an affiliate site that I managed to get to 4k uniques in its first 6 weeks. This was off the back of two keywords. Around week 12 I seemed to get penalized for them. My site doesn't rank anywhere for those keywords. It still ranks for others and all pages are indexed. I had about 100 links. The majority with those keywords.
2. Affiliate Site
I stuck up an affiliate site in mid August, built around 70 links and had it ranking top 3 for two keywords. Around 1k uniques for a month. Just this week I got pulled for those keywords.
3. Client Site
I have a client site that I was being quite slow in building links. I built maybe 20 or 30 for a particular keyword but that page no longer ranks for that keyword. It used to be 11
Now, I do not use black hat methods, especially for clients. For affiliate sites, the linking may be aggressive.
My question being, the sites all rank for other keywords. This looks as if its a penalty against a particular keyword. Is the only way around this a re inclusion request from Google ? or for affiliate sites, to start again i.e. those sites will never come back for those keywords ?
Your comment is subjective and context dependent. If Google didn't reward sites that link built in an aggressive manner, then perhaps it would be easier to spend more time in relationship marketing and attract genuine links from partners in your industry. I am not saying I don't do this already. But for the sites I listed (especially the affiliate sites), I am happy to take a few more risks, as all sites in the top spots are doing so already.
My question was not on "should I be building links in this manner", I want to know does a keyword specific penalty stick around for the life time of a site or if I build links with variations of the keyword, can the site come back.
Thanks for your comment though ...
But I don't think it's burned. If you only have 30 inbounds screwing up the rankings, then I would suspect it's not really a penalty but simply Google placing the site where it belongs based on the backlink profile. So in my opinion it can be done by altering the backlink profile so it doesn't resemble what Googles algo has determined is a site that does not fit the profile of a top ten site. Which is where my comment to rethink comes in. I like to think in terms of backlink profiles and what that says about the site. YES, a site can rank with crap links. But it's also not unusual to see them fail after a year or more. YES it's possible to combat those sites with different kinds of links, too.
BTW, I've been seeing Google's SERPs begin to resemble Yahoo's a little more, which isn't a good thing.
Even in aggressive niches it's still feasible to build ranks into the top five. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing I opted for focusing inbounds on on-page factors over off page anchors. Then located inbound links outside of what current top rankers were attaining. I'm not talking about building relationships or gadgets either.
My comment about rethinking what you consider black hat relates to your statement that the client site lost rankings despite building links in a slow manner. So the issue may be to rethink the links you've obtained and the manner in which they were obtained. That's fairly obvious since the strategy is not working, right?
Thanks for that post, there is lots of great information in there and I get what you meant now.
I did wonder if it was a penalty or just Google deciding the links to the site had were crap. One of the sites ranked top 3 for a keyword that brought in around 2.5k uniques per month. It was happily sitting there for 2 months but now doesn't appear anywhere for that keyword. This is why I thought it may be getting penalized.
I am going to focus on different anchor text for now and see how it fairs over the next 3 weeks. If it doesn't move ill prob just leave it and move on.
I agree with your tactic of getting links from related sites and not concentrating on anchor text so much but this can be really difficult in some markets. There are markets where link bait, writing great content etc etc doesn't get me any links because everyone is a competitor and lateral markets are just not interested in the site.