Niche Site Duel – Update #8: Where the !*?# is My Site in Google?

It’s been a long time since I’ve done an official niche site duel update (although I track my progress monthly in my income reports), and there’s a good reason for that: My site has acted much like a ship that has sunk to the bottom of the ocean – it’s still there, but it’s not going anywhere.

Foolishly or not (it’s debatable), I’ve still continued to work on the site periodically.  What was once a promising niche site has now become a rehab project.  I expected the ups and downs early in the site’s life due to your standard Google dance, or whatever you want to call it, however I never expected that 9  months later I would still be trying to get the site in motion.

Anyway, let’s do some analysis…

A Look at the Past

Before I begin to try and analyze what’s wrong with my site, I first want to take a look at where the site has been in its 9 months of existence.  There was a time (albeit a very short time) where the site showed a lot of promise.  As you may recall, after a few months of the site’s existence, I switched my targeted keyword from “P90X review” (9,900 exact searches per month) to “P90X reviews” (60,500 exact searches per month).

For awhile, I ranked near the bottom of page 1 for “P90X review” and saw 15-20 visits per day (traffic image reposted below).

When I switched the domain to P90XReviews.me and targeted the new keyword, I was expecting a big change.  Eventually, I saw the change come into effect – Here’s a snapshot I posted back in January:

For a few days, I ranked within the top 5-6 spots on Google.  The traffic was outstanding, and I saw that the earning potential of the site could be $1,000+ per month.  Of course, as the image above shows, the site’s ranking fell off the charts, and I’ve once again been left in the dust.  Although the site continues to receive a little traffic each day from various long-tail keywords and some Bing/Yahoo searches, the results are insignificant.

Where It’s at Today

It almost goes without saying – I’m not ranking well for any of my target keywords.  Let’s see what Market Samurai shows…

As you can see, however, it’s not like I’m deindexed or anything.  Just ranking very poorly.  Because all we care about is ranking on page 1 of Google, here’s how my site compares to the page 1 sites for my prime keyword target “P90X reviews”:

[Click to enlarge]

I’ll analyze this in more detail below.

Why Has My Site Fallen Off the Face of the Earth?

Obviously, I don’t know why exactly I’ve had issues with ranking, and if I was really motivated, I’m sure I could pay someone to do a more professional analysis.  To me, this niche site was supposed to be a learning experience (which it has been), so I’m fine with slowly figuring things out on my own instead of paying someone to do it for me.

1) The .ME domain

This could be one potential aspect of this niche site that’s working against me.  The jury is still out on the effectiveness of exact match domains for domains that are not .com/.net/.org.  Based on random anecdotal evidence that I’ve read, it seems to make sense that a .ME domain isn’t going to have the same impact as a .com domain, however I still believe I get some “credit” for having an exact match domain.  There’s no way I would’ve ever ranked in the top 5 for a few days, when I did (6 months ago) if the domain name didn’t carry some weight.

2) The backlinking process

Backlinks probably play the most significant part in SEO, so it would make sense for this to be part of the reason my site is nowhere to be found.  Overall, my backlinking has been completely “white hat” with a mix of article marketing, Web 2.0 links, forum profiles, and blog comments.  I’ve done my best to follow Pat Flynn’s “backlink strategy that works” by tracking it with my own tool, the Ultimate Backlink Tracker.

Market Samurai (in the image above) shows 255 backlinks to the domain, and 78 to the actual home page, however I know there are many backlinks that aren’t showing up there.  It would be difficult to argue that I created too many backlinks or created them too quickly, because I built them naturally.  I did outsource some of the backlinking (creating forum profiles), but it wasn’t a large portion of the overall backlink profile.

3) The quantity and/or uniqueness of content

This one is easy to answer.  The content is 100% unique (and all written by me – nothing outsourced here), and the quantity should be sufficient.  Market Samurai shows that Google has indexed 50 pages for the site.  Definitely not a “thin” site.

4) The competition

Given the fact that I’m targeting a keyword that receives over 60,000 exact searches per month, competition figures to be significant.  This is probably one of the more valid reasons why I’m not ranking on page 1, however it does not explain why I’m not on any of the first 10 pages for my primary keyword.  Even just looking at page 1, there are a couple sites I think I could feasibly outrank.

What Do You Think?

What’s the deal here?  In the first few months, I assumed my ranking disappeared as a result of the dreaded Google “sandbox,” however that is supposed to be a temporary filter.  It’s been over 6 months now, and I’ve continued to build some content and backlinks, but the site is still buried deep within Google’s search results.

If my site was somehow “slapped” (who comes up with these internet slang terms anyway?), I don’t think I’d still be receiving traffic from random long-tail keywords and still be very clearly indexed.  Also, there’d really be no legitimate reason for Google to something like that.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think…

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Niche Site Duel – Update #8: Where the !*?# is My Site in Google?

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