Just as a bit of fun and an experiment I’ve been playing with one of my old sites to get it back in Google for a certain keyword. It is one of my first websites which I developed about 20 years ago. The domain is https://wildlifenews.co.uk.
I set it up as a hobby site and blog site. I spend 16 years writing about various wildlife and environmental issues. It never really made much in Adsense but brought in a good income in affiliate sales. At its peak, it was making £2,000 a week in affiliate commissions. It still brings in Amazon income each month but not as much as it once did.
About 4 years ago my time started to be taken up with raising money for a Christian performing arts and media centre. As such, I did not have time to spend on Wildlife News and basically just deleted the content and relaunched it as nothing more than an Amazon affiliate site. The topic was selling wildlife and outdoor-related items. It just joined my network of made for affiliate sites.
Falling visitors number for 4 years because of no updates to the site
As you would expect visitor traffic quickly dropped away and the keywords ‘wildlife news’ which I ranked for at number 1 in Google quickly fell out of search results. I would search through dozens of pages in Google to find my site to no avail. But it didn’t surprise me after all the site was now just an affiliate site.
The first thing to say was there was no manual penalty from Google. Manual penalties are very rare. Google is just very good at finding affiliate sites and ranking accordingly. Even a 20-year-old domain is not immune to it. That said, the site is still pulling in a couple of hundred pounds a month in Amazon commission despite me not doing anything to it for a good 4 years. OK, I did do some automatic importing of Amazon products maybe twice a year just to keep new stock appearing in the Woocommerce store.
Three weeks ago I pondered about whether I could get the number 1 position again for ‘wildlife news’. This blog is about the first 3 weeks of this experiment.
The task ahead to recover web position
There was a number of constraints I placed on the experiment. The site is only making £200 a month in commissions now. That’s not enough to pay me to start writing and blogging again. Whatever I did had to be automated.
Automated content is not automatically discounted or penalised by Google. There are lots of news and blog collation sites out there. Both the Huffington Post and especially BuzzFeed started out as nothing more than RSS feeds and links out to other sites. They only started to produce their own content after becoming financially profitable.
Apart from automatic content creation, the other thing was I had to target UK web visitors. My Amazon store is for the UK and so I need my visitors to come from the UK. When I used to manually blog and write about wildlife I covered international stories. The result was only about 6% of my web visitors came from the UK. This needed to change.
Fortunately, I have a good foundation. For the last 4 years, that percentage for the UK web visitor has hit 87% – mainly because the items I am selling is only available in the UK. I need to keep that visitor ratio to 80%+ for both shop sales and also advertising sales.
Doing content collation the right way
One of the things I’m not going to do is start scraping other peoples web sites then putting them through a word spinner. There’s no need as there a lot of ways to legally collate information and news. I also want to avoid auto spinning content as it never comes out well.
Free content can be found in many places. I am targeting British wildlife. Most not for profits, government organisations and other news sources will release press releases. Many of them provide their press releases through RSS feeds. These can be used to populate content on a web site.
You can help satisfy Google and their duplicate content situation by correctly sourcing your content both at the end of the content with a View Source link. This can even help benefit your SEO as you are linking out to a reliable resource such as a charity or government department.
The next thing you need to please Google with is telling them you are not stealing content from another site. You do this by using the canonical tag in your header. Most auto poster software will allow you to use your source URL as the canonical tag. It tells Google that the original source of your content is from XYZ and XYZ should be credited as the original owner. What it does not do is tell Google to ignore your version. You can still appear in the search results but will be below the original source.
Results of running content collation for 3 weeks
The initial results are looking promising. After three weeks of auto importing press release feeds I did a search on Google in incognito mode of Chrome. For ‘wildlife news’ my site is in the second half of page 2. So it’s on the way up. Before this experiment started I didn’t appear in the first 50 pages of results.
I think one of the things it says is that even burn and churn affiliate sites can be recovered fairly quickly.
There’s still a lot of work to do but the early signs are encouraging. Currently, I’m taking feeds from about 15 UK press release sources. There are lots more to include in the future. I need to change the theme to be more magazine-like and I want to take feeds from places like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.
Google myths dispelled
There are a number of things that can be taken away from this. There are some misconceptions about Google that can also be ignored.
- Affiliate sites are shortlived and can not recover in Google. Clearly this is not true. Provided you have not received a manual penalty then it is possible to recover.
- Google SEO campaigns take months to be effective. Again not true. This experiment has only lasted 3 weeks ( well a little less than 3 weeks) and already the main keyword is moving up the SERPs.
- You have to word spin auto imported content before Google will notice it. Wrong. In fact, correctly referencing the source material can benefit you as a site. Google is looking for authority and if you link out to your source you increase your own site’s reputation.
Content collation and running a news portal with RSS feeds can help boost your web site. If you run a network of affiliate sites then automation is essential. But you need to remember to keep your RSS feeds on target for your web site subject. You also need to remember to do it the right way with the required attribution. This is not just for Google but to also keep you legal from copyright infringement. Press releases are the way forward as they have been produced to be replicated by outside organisations.