Hey guys. I’m a few days away from launching on a 2 month trip to the Tibetan and Middle Eastern parts of China and thought I’d get a post out before going. I’ve been chugging away, doing my thing. I thought I would bring this experiment I started a few months ago to a conclusion. Let’s take a look at that one adsense project I’ve been nurturing the past 4 months.
As you can see, 4 months of hard work flushed down the toilet. Not all channel were added, so the account was making a bit more than the ~100 bucks a day that was listed there. It does suck because I was probably looking good to get that account up to 130-150 bucks a day by the end of this month — that’s a nice 35-50k a year. Until that deindex. As you see, the sites are earning 1/10 of what they were earning only because of Bing and Yahoo. Google graciously gave all my sites under this adsense account the Spammer VIP treatment. It took the adsense mini site model for a good ride. But, as I’ve found, that ride leads to a dead end. I wasn’t going to post any more income reports, but I figured I’d show the final result of that experiment.
If you’ve been following this site, I’ve been a huge proponent of the adsense mini model, practically since I’ve started this blog. That model is no longer valid. If you want to read my 4000 word post about why this is the case, feel free. But for those who are impatient or who want to get back to producing MFA sites, I’ll just say this: don’t bother with putting adsense on a lot of sites, you’ll lose your sites and maybe your account. Simple. For those who want to read on, you’ve been warned.
The future is changing folks and it’s time to adapt and evolve. It’s pretty clear from Google’s actions that the Adsense/Google search team is on the rampage to clean up the SERP’s. Any site that remotely looks like an MFA site is likely to get tossed out of the index and the owner’s adsense account banned.
The problem is not that the mini sites with adsense can’t make money anymore, the problem is that it’s too easy to make money if you know what you are doing. If you know how to optimize your pages, get targeted backlinks, etc your little mini site can often crush more general authority sites for single keyword rankings.
I want to be clear here: I don’t think there’s anything “wrong” with putting out shit to make money. If there’s a way to game game Google to make money, well that’s what Internet Marketers do. Good or bad, that’s the system in place. I can say my sites did offer decent content — all hand written and pretty informative content. My stuff was certainly better than a lot of the shit out there, that’s for sure. However, when I look at the cost versus benefit ratio at the moment, the cost part is outweighing the benefit part. Because of this, I say just go with the flow and produce a limited amount of high quality, helpful sites that rake in the traffic. You are far less likely to run into problems over the long run. I’m not saying don’t work the adsense mini site model. I know for most of you, this is/was the model you have been pursing. I’m basically saying I personally don’t believe it’s worth pursuing — but, hey, if you think you can make the gold using them, it’s no skin off my teeth.
Fact: the made-for-adsense model has become too popular. Grizzly has blogged extensively about this model for years, Court’s set up an entire school around this model, I’ve been talking about it for about a year, and there are a number of so called gurus who sell popular “mini site” ebooks floating around on the web. When something becomes too popular, it no longer becomes effective. And this adsense mini site model is now coming under some heavy fire from Google — so heavy that I’m throwing in the towel with mini sites.
Keep in mind I am not saying the mini site with Adsense model is not effective for making money — It’s just not stable at all. There is a big difference. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to rely on a steady income when I’ve got a couple dogs, a couple mortgages, cars, and a couple wives (just joking 😉 ) to pay for. If your income has a big fucking chance of going BOOM at any second, that’s not the sort of passive income I want. Though, if you are say a black hatter, that’s you’re entire model. I prefer stability.
Having a few thousand internet marketers monopolize a portion of the search with zillions of MFA sites doesn’t seem to be the direction Google wants to go with its search. Google has no qualms about treating your sites like vermin if they class them as MFA.
Now I’ve been contemplating this post for about a week now. It’s kind of an irony that some of the other MMO bloggers are on the same page as I am in regards to this. In Grizzy’s latest post about Making Money with Adsense, he reveals why MFA sites are pretty much finished as a stable model. The #1 ranking blog (a blogger blog too) for the term Make Money Online was recently deleted by the blogger.com spam team – ostensibly because the blog was “spam”, which is not, but really because the blog talked about how to optimize made for adsense style sites. And then there’s me – I’ve had my last 4 months of work knocked out in an instant by Google – hundreds of sites completely deindexed last week. They were nice enough to leave my adsense account intact, nice of them, especially since I’m sure the account is flagged with a “let’s inspect all news sites added each month”. No thanks, I’ll pass.
Some of the other bloggers have gotten some sort of warning from Google, but I got the hammer and nothing else. A deindex is a severe blow – worse than getting your adsense account banned. Your traffic pretty much dies to all sites.
I want to build a business that’s not in imminent danger of being wiped out overnight. Churning out a zillion little sites with the intention of making it with adsense is NOT a stable model.
If you go the mini site model, it takes a shit load of sites before you can really pull in the cash. And this is exactly what Google doesn’t want – a shit load of MFA sites clogging up the index. To make money with this model, you need to make a lot of sites and by doing so, you end up putting yourself in danger of losing it all at any second. Sorry, that type of model doesn’t fly for me. I can make a killing with these types of sites – I have it down to pretty much a science now when it comes to making these sites make money. But, I’d rather spend my time to build something that offers some real value.
And that’s why the MFA model is dead – there is no inherent value to these sites. If you’ve got 5 or 6 posts of hastily rewritten ezine article content (and the sad fact is that 95% of all content churned out by internet marketers tends to be a rewrite of someone’s rewrite of someone’s brother’s hired writer’s rewrite who rewrote some PLR content, which just rewrote some articles from About.com), a big honking ad bar under the title, a plain (or ugly) theme, and a bar bones sidebar, you’ve got a MFA site.
You can argue till you’re blue in the face that the quality of your content is so good that your site is not a MFA site. I’ll tell you right now, the person inspecting your sites does not give a fuck about how informative your 4 page site is or the style of your writing. If your site even has a hint that it’s MFA site, your entire account and all sites on that adsense account are at risk. The sad thing is that you might have 80 sites that are pretty good, stellar even (though I’m hard pressed to believe you actually have time to create 80 fantastic sites — no one has that kind of time) but if the few sites the inspector looks at happen to fall in the “my 20 shitty sites I forgot about a couple years ago” category, ALL your sites might get the boot. The adsense/search review team don’t usually check out more than a few sites on your account — they certainly won’t look at say 100 sites, especially if they all look exactly the same…
There is a pretty big debate about what constitutes a MFA site. There are a lot of people making a living out there teaching other people to make a living with adsense. Make a site, slap on adsense, repeat with the next site. Maybe a year or three later, you’ve got yourself a bit of an income.
I don’t support this model anymore because I know it’s not sustainable. Sure, you might get away with it for a while but you are eventually going to lose your sites. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think telling people this model is a house of sand is going to make me popular, both with people who have a vested interested in promoting this model and people who are hoping “make it’ with this model, but that’s the reality.
Now, I should address this question here before I get it in the comments: “how many sites is too much?” My answer is, how many real, legit sites can you actually create? I’m not talking those 5-6, page set-and-forget sites, but living sites that are updated semi regularly and don’t feature McArticles that you churn out in 10 minutes (or some poor Joe in Abustakeshumastan churns out for 5 bucks). My bet is that you’d be hard press to maintain 50-75 sites like this. Some might be able to do it, some might not. In my case, Adsense only belongs on large sites with high value now — the so called authority site, if you want to call it that. If you want me to throw a ballpark figure out there, let’s say for the average person 20 sites or less on an adsense account (i’m not counting hundreds of hubs, IB’s or whatever other shared web 2.0 you put on, those seem to be fine). Most people not trying to milk the adsense mini site model don’t have more than 20 sites anyways, so by virtue of just having a shit load of domains with adsense, you risk become flagged as one of those MFA spammers.
So, aim for value with your sites now. Wow, I might be suggesting something very un-IM here: actually try and deliver some value. Value guys, does not come from rewriting ezines, it comes from delivering something new — if not in information then the way it’s delivered. If you want to write about midget thongs, well hey, maybe check out a few circus books about midget thongs and try and become a legitamate expert about that topic — you might find you can actually write your own articles. And mini sites, as far as I’m concerned, don’t offer any sort of value to the searcher — they (usually) create another barrier between the user and what they often want (legit info, products, etc).
People who defend this model will go to great lengths telling you how their mini sites are not made for adsense. I call bullshit. If you have 20+ sites and you’ve created them fairly quickly, they are MFA, no matter what you say. Any sort of adsense site that’s churned out in a sort of factory style is not a legit site. I don’t care if that’s 100 sites a month or 10 sites a month.
I’m not Google guys and I can’t read the mind of the google employee who may decide whether to crush your sites or not. However, YOU KNOW when you’ve created a made for adsense site. To have a site stick around with adsense, you need to create some real value. Churning out a few bullshit articles that you have no idea what the fuck you are writing about or paying 3-5 bucks an article to someone else who has no fucking idea about the topic either is NOT the way to go about this business.
This is why the so called authority broad authority sites like About.com and niche authority sites get such blanket trust ranking from Google – the content is informative, reader friendly, and importantly, not written to fucking score those clicks!
I’ve made a few posts about this on my forum, but I don’t think a lot of people really understand. You tell people you’ve been deindexed and they immediately go back to their thin sites and add another one or two posts of rewritten, bullshit information on the same MFA theme and feel nice and secure.
That’s not the way to do it folks. My opinion is that instead of spending a shitload of time building of a shitload of crap, spend a shitload of time building a handful of quality sites.
Now before everyone get’s paranoid about their 20 MFA sites, if you’ve got a handful of sites MFA and you are not making some serious coin, then it’s unlikely that your account will be flagged for an inspection. I’ve heard other people talk about 100 or 200 bucks a day bringing a visual. In my case, my account had broken the 100 mark and 2 days later all sites on that account were deindexed.
I’ve talked to 5 other people who make money online and they’ve all lost their money making sites the past year too. In every instance, they had Adsense on the sites taken down! In many of the cases, these people had 50 or more unique articles on their sites and the content was informative, etc. However, all these people had dozens of sites on the same adsense account with similar style layouts (though different themes).
I’ve concluded that if you have a lot of sites with adsense and you start to pull some coin, you are probably going to get your sites removed, no matter if you’ve got a lot of content or not. If Google feels you are creating websites specifically to make money from the search and it looks like you are repeating that same formula over and over, you’ll lose your sites, no matter how much content you shove on a site.
Now since people always want to know the How’s and the Why’s, here are 10 things you can do to get your sites deindexed. Guys, I don’t work for Google and I can’t say any specific one of these can cause problems, but I do know from my own experience and the experience of friends who have been spanked by google that these are some of the elements that may have caused problems with losing sites and accounts.
1. Less than 10 pages of quality, informative, and non BS content.
It’s definetly helpful to have more than 10 pages of content (most “thin” sites don’t have 10 pages, but 1-6 pages). But…..This alone won’t save you, I had 3 page sites removed, I had 6 page sites removed. I’ve talked to more than a few people with site that had 30 unique article sites get deindexed). I’ve talked to a number of people who had 50 page sites deindexed, just because the site had a MFA style layout. If you’ve got an information rich site that’s poor on the presentation of that information (spammy ads blocking the text, ads looking like menu bars, etc), the amount of content you have might not help.
2. Same Theme on All Sites
This is a big one. If you are putting the same theme on all your websites, god helps you. This is a huge sign of a MFA clone factory going on. I can’t tell you for sure that just having the
same theme on 30 websites will get your sites removed from the index, but the people who deindex sites for a living are not stupid people. If you see someone putting the same theme on multiple sites, they certainly are not putting a lot of TLC into that site or they are trying to mass produce sites – a big no no these days with Google.
3. A MFA or SEO Theme (especially a well known ones)
There are a few themes floating around that everyone seems to use for adsense. Do NOT use these themes. Any theme by bloggers in the MMO or SEO niche, don’t use. Don’t use that Grizzly theme that’s been floating around for a couple years, don’t use any of those SEO themes produced by members of the MMO community. Don’t throw on that stupid theme that seems to be on every fucking exact keyword domain out there. These themes usually have big footprint AND it ties your sites to the whole MFA system – something you definitely don’t want to be associated with if you sites are getting inspected. You can bet even quality sites that use these themes are likely to be associated with the MFA crowd on inspection. Use unique themes for EACH site, themes that are optimized for user experience and not clicking! That means those big honking ad bars under the title — think about removing. 2-3 adds per page, remove. Bare bones layout, don’t do it! Google has and WILL remove your sites just because you have a certain theme on.
4. Rip Titles out of the Keyword Tool
Ok, we’ve all done it. But don’t do it now. You want to write keyword optimized posts about keywords and the best way to go about that is to use the exact keyword phrases only, right? Right if you want torank. Wrong if you want to get deindexed. As good as writing titles for SEO is for rankings, it’s also a good sign that your site is MFA.
Let’s see, if I’m writing about “Midget Thongs” and I write five posts with “Child Midget Thong, Childs Midget Thong, Child Midget Thongs, Midget Thong for Child, Chidren’s Midget Thong and Kids” it’s pretty fucking obvious these posts are not written with the reader in mind. Don’t do this shit – it’s a one way ticket to the deindex hell. Use real titles that your English teacher might be proud of. You can still incorporate a few choice keywords into the mix and still write a good title. But don’t make all your titles seem like a copy and paste right from the keyword tool.
5. SEO Writing
Repetitive and clunky inclusion of long tail phrases, bolding of the keywords, always including an awkward keyword in the paragraph and conclusion of the article, etc. This might work wonders for ranking, but it’s annoying for readers and you can bet it’s something you don’t want the google gods reading over when trying to decide whether they should ban your little ass from the SERPS. Write something that’s actually helpful, something that sounds natural, please.
6. Use Same Hosting Account
If you guys have a lot of sites, please oh please don’t put them all on the same hosting. You might think you’re safe but it’s easy for google to deindex all your sites just based on this criteria. I suspect google’s formular for deindexing goes something like this: MFA looking site, lots of them with similar layouts, same hosting account = BAN. Even if you don’t use adsense and something like amazon, you should break up your sites into 20-30 sites per hosting account.
7. Put all sites under the same adsense account
If you’ve read this far, this should be pretty obvious to you by now — I’ve been talking about it for 3000 words. In one word, don’t have lots of sites under the same adsense account. Just…don’t. If you’ve got a lot of sites and you’re a stubborn fucker who still insists the adsense mini site model is the way to go, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You’ll still get banned eventually, but it will take longer.
8. Too Many Ads
More is not always better guys. I’ve found that having a single ad can sometimes make more money than having more ads (this is not a set fact, it can vary depending on theme and niche of course) — and I suspect you get all the higher paying ads if you use a single ad bar instead of like 3. I like to opt for one or two ads these days. I can tell you if the ratio of ads to content is on the low end for content, your site is a MFA. In fact, as much as like the CTR of putting the ad right below the title bar, this “above the fold” approach may actually be too aggressive. It’s certainly one of the signs of a MFA. I’m not saying you can’t put that ad right below the title, but you better be careful that there is more for the user to click on (and see) than just an ad.
9. Ads Pretending to Be Menu Bars
MFA right there. If people are clicking on your ads by accident, you can bet your site’s crossing into MFA country. If people click on an ad by accident or because they think they are clicking on one of your menus and end up at an ad, they won’t likely convert for the advertiser and Google doesn’t like this. Plus, it’s bad user experience. Make a CLEAR distinction — either by adding an “advertiser” note or making some other way to distinguish menus and ad.
10. Use Adsense on Your Sites
Yup, the easiest way to get your sites deindexed is to…drums roll…use Adsense. You cut your chances down remarkably of ever getting sites deindexed just by not using adsense on your sites. All sites that have your adsense ID on easily spotted by google. Indeed, it’s a great way for them them to weed out all that crap — simply target guys who are making a certain amount of money with adsense for a visual review. Deindex, repeat. Maybe google employees get paid by the dozen (deindexed)sites? Who knows. Adsense is great guys — I’m not saying don’t use it — you certainly can make a lot of money. But for sites that are…well…thin, it’s probably not a good idea anymore.
What does this mean and where do we go?
The bottom line is that Google does NOT like people like us, people who use their own keyword tool (which was designed for ADWORDs btw) and knowledge of how their algorithm works to spit out sites that are manufactured only to draw in clicks. They don’t like the whole mini site model, period. I believe in their eyes, your small site won’t ever have the sort of value or trust that a mega authority site will.
So where do we go from here? I’ll just say this: there’s a lot of other ways to make money besides adsense. If you want to use adsense – and yes, you can make a killing with adsense – focus on those high quality, large authority style sites. Based on what I’ve seen the past month, those are really the only type of sites that Google wants adsense on, which is ironic since the smaller, spammy types sites make them more money. Those are certainly the only type of sites I’m throwing my adsense ID on ever again. The era of the small adsense site is coming to an end and if you are hoping to churn out site after site with adsense, you are going to get your sites deindexed eventually. With adsense, the option is to either go big or get banned now. If you’ve got mini sites that show potential, the answer is simple: develop them. And diversify into other income streams. There are a lot of ways to make money besides adsense mini sites guys.
What about me? Well, I’m still making good money through other sites so I’m still alive and kicking hard, but for obvious reasons, I’m not going to talk about those here. I’m going all out and diversifying into affiliate sales from now on.
I’ve always been pretty good about posting my earnings because so many people here talk bullshit about how to make money but can’t back it up. I think if you are going to offer advice or teach anyone about making money online, you need to have some sort of pedigree to back it up – otherwise, you’re just one of those moneyless noobs haunting DSP or Warrior forums. I think I’ve proved my point that I can make money online and I won’t be demonstrating that anymore publicly.
Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve seen a lot of the same people asking the same questions over and over, waiting for me or others to give them the magical information to help them make it rich online. If in a full year you haven’t made some decent money online, there are some pretty good reasons: primarily, you’re not fucking working or you’re waiting for some magical information that will give you an easy ride. You can make it big in this biz, but don’t sit around a table waiting for the scraps that whatever “guru” throws your way. Go out and learn new stuff and work hard and results will come. There are no shortcuts in this biz – the shortcuts that do exist won’t lead you to a stable income. If I have a get rich formula, I’m certainly not going to share it, because after 1000 of you use that formula, it’s not a get rich formula. This is why ANY sort of formula to make money online, by virtue of other people knowing it, becomes less and less effective. If you do the same thing based on a formula that other people know, you can bet your car that thousands of other people are too. That’s why people who “make it” usually keep their mouths shut about how they do so – they don’t want to bring down their entire income. Most of the “real” MMO bloggers stopped publicly talking about what they do and I’m now going to join the club.
Anyways, a long rambling post. Have a good one guys! I’ll be living out a backpack the next couple months, pursing my photography. I hope to have some winners to share when I get back.