How Google Spoiled my Fun with the Panda Update

OK, since I kind of promised, when I wrote my last post nearly a year ago, to write a new one a little bit sooner – which I didn’t, I am going to start by saying that I’m not going to make any other promises again. The affiliate life is like a roller coaster ride, even worse, a roller coaster ride but in the dark, as you’ll never know which turn will be coming up next.

One month you’re celebrating and thinking of buying that new Audi, the next one you’ll be set back to where you were before. And usually this goes along with the amount of time and money you are willing to invest into your sites. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still far better off being on this crazy ride than working as a corporate slave from nine to five –  besides making better money, I can honestly say that freedom is what makes being an affiliate so great.

Another factor that always comes around to mess things up when things seem to go well is good old G. Most of you know that I have been hit pretty hard by the Google Panda update last year, and that I am still struggling and stuck with lower rankings for my main site www.pokerforfree.org today. I hate to say it, but Google is doing a lousy job!  The SERPs are filled with thin affiliate sites, where mine has grown to a very decent resource with great content, including:

  • a comprehensive World Series of Poker guide,
  • an ongoing European Poker Tour guide, which includes my best page of the site, the yearly EPT Grand Finals coverage,
  • a completely new Poker Rules section, with well written in-depth guides,
  • and much much more… in fact, still adding as we speak.

For anyone who doesn’t understand the impact of the Panda update, the following graph reveils everything.

This actually means that it takes much more, to recover from the Panda update, than just locating and rewriting a bunch of bad pages. The examples I outlined above are just a small portion from what has been ‘fixed’. I literary spent thousands of dollars to improve the quality of my site, with the result I am aiming for still lacking. One thing I have to admit though,  frankly most of the content on my site sucked, so it should have been penalized in the first place. But it’s time to reward good sites, with great content, not just sites with a shit load of links!

To continue on the subject, other things I did in my best effort trying to recover from the Panda update, was moving the Italian version of Poker For Free to it’s own domain www.giochipokergratis.co, and as well the German version to www.kostenlospokeronline.de. The reason to move these sections was that I suspected them to have a negative impact of the total quality of my site. Unfortunately it didn’t make a difference, or not yet at least.

Furthermore I also bought myself a licence for a free poker game, which I am hosting on one of my own servers. It’s pretty cool actually, since I was able to create custom tables and card decks, and it would be even cooler if there were any active players, but with a limited amount of traffic the only thing I can do is keep dreaming.

Of course, all the trouble came during the aftermath of dealing with the douche bags from Stickyeyes, but that chapter is closed and I’m not going to touch it again. (Alright, for the sake of it, one more time: Stay away from dealing with Stickyeyes. They do more harm than good, or if your budget is sky-high, they will certainly abuse it by taking much more than needed! In fact, I’ll do the same for half the price if you want me to!)

Finally I have been examining my site inside out, and tried to fix any flaws that could possibly have a negative impact on SEO. For example, I fixed a bug that redirected non existing pages to my File Not Found page, without generating a proper 404 header. Instead, I am no longer redirecting pages, but parsing the content and a 404 header right on the spot. So no more Soft 404’s in Google’s Webmaster Tools soon!

Hereby I am concluding this post with a short message for anyone who would like to add a free poker game to their site. I’ve developed an API for my free poker game, to use it throughout my own network, and could offer this to the public. If you’re seriously interested and think you have the audience for it, please get in touch with me. I can definitely use some players!

Thanks for reading, and ’till the next, when I’ve finally recovered from Google Panda. (I know… just wishful thinking.)