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Penguins, Drip Feeding & Viruses

Google Penguin Update

Usually when Google has an update like Panda I sit back and wait a few weeks and see what happens with my websites before I hit the “Panic” button. That’s what I did after the Farmer update and the Panda update. What I found didn’t bother me too much. Sites went up and down but adjusted to their previous positions, more importantly there was no change in earnings so I was a happy camper.

After Penguin hit, I again sat back and waited to see what would happen in the great wash up of websites. This time I got a bit of a surprise. Seems the little Penguin didn’t like a couple of my sites. Penguin seems to have had the most impact on internet marketers than any other update by Google that I can remember. It seems a lot of things that we were doing in the link building world have been slapped down and spat on by the big G. Thankfully, I’m way too lazy to be hit by over doing it on the link building but I was hit.

Penguin Smack Down

The first site that was Penguin smacked was one of my little experiment sites that I’ve had running for about 4 years now. It consistently made money with adsense every month without any unique content or link building. The only form of link building that it had was that it automatically submitted using rss feeds in a mash up to several rss sites. The content was all gathered and submitted  from the free Unique Article Wizard wordpress plugin.

Many blog networks have been affected by the Penguin update leading the majority of the well known networks to close the door. Who knows if more will follow. However, UAW was a network that I had thought was, at the time of writing, not badly affected.

Result:

My site is now de-indexed and I’ve completely deleted the site from the server.

Verdict:

The site deserved to be hit with a Penguin it had no content of any user value and little value otherwise.

Aside:  

I have a similar site that does have automatic content and unique content and it’s doing fine.  It does not use the UAW plugin however for gathering the content and it has a reasonable amount of unique content.

Drip Feeding Blogs

The next site that got hit by a Penguin completely surprised me.

I’d started this site up earlier in the year as a little experiment on running a drip fed blog. The concept is that the site is in a popular niche and comes pre-loaded with uniqueified posts for each day of the year. The posts can include video also to be media friendly. I bought the blog to see if drip feeding your posts over a period of time was a worthwhile pursuit or not.

When I installed the site I went through every single post on the site and manually re-wrote articles, did keyword research to “seo” each post, added images to each post and then got my fantastic writer to create over 100 additional unique articles on particular keywords. In addition, I also created about 50 “review” style videos and uploaded them.

All in all, this little experiment site took about a months work to create but I justified that the time was well spent because I would have great content for the next 18 months.

I added a plugin that was basically an “answer” style plugin to get some additional content as well dripping into the blog.

Result:

Site is now de-indexed. Because of the time and money invested in this blog I’m going to try and revive it.

Verdict:

This is a complete head scratcher because the site truly was the opposite of the previous site in that the content was all uniquely created by either myself rewriting or my fantastic writer.  It did not have any aggressive seo or link building.    In order to give it a bit of a revival post Penguin I’m going to add some content curation and some natural link building and see how that goes as well as deactivate the “answer” plugin.

Adapting

Internet marketing is constantly changing and internet marketers just need to adapt and roll with the changes.    One of the major changes that is constantly looked at is SEO.

The problem with building a site for a search engine is that when the search engine changes often it is harder for the webmaster to adapt and change. In my Penguin smack down  situation I have two totally opposite sites both with the same result.  Like all things this is one of the reasons why building a site and only using SEO to generate traffic is a mistake.    An all round traffic system has the benefit of  providing different means of traffic even when your site has been seo slapped.      This means that a webmaster might experience a dip in rankings and earnings but it shouldn’t be enough to wipe them out when balanced with other traffic methods.

Recommended Resources

Traffic Grab is a complete “traffic” product that shows you numerous ways of getting traffic to your websites without relying solely on SEO.   The product does not show you step by step how to do it (as most of that stuff is available on You Tube anyway) but shows you the strategies and mind map for a complete traffic plan.

Viruses

The last couple of weeks I’ve been hit with a virus from all directions. The first one that got me was a nasty attack of the flu which comes and goes, comes and goes. So far, it’s put me out of action for two weeks. While I was laying in bed feeling sorry for myself checking my email on my iphone I noticed an email from a customer of mine. The subject line didn’t fill me with joy. Turns out the customer had got a message on Chrome that my site had a virus.

This was a bit of a head scratcher for me because:

  • my web host has a number of firewalls and security systems in place; and
  • I have a number of security plugins installed

Anyway, it was an email worth getting out of bed for and checking for myself. Opening up Chrome I didn’t find any problem at all. Checked with Firefox and Safari and still no problems. Thinking that this was a one off mistake I toddled back to bed (there was some rum with honey and lemon involved as well). The next day, I received an email from Google Webmaster Tools with the same message. When I tried the browsers again I now got the same message that the visitor previously had. I’d been hacked 🙁 The last thing you want to deal with when you are sick is a hacked site but it was enough incentive to get me out of bed.

Checking the usual places .htaccess, theme files, blogheader.php I found the hack in less than 30 minutes and fixed it in 5 minutes.

What worried me though was that none of my security plugins had picked this up. Admittedly, I had changed a few in the last month or so to test something different but still they should have picked up the problem before the big G did.

Because of the fact that the security plugins didn’t do their job and I was feeling very sick as by this stage I decided to bring in the big boys and get Sucuri to give the site a once over as well. Poor Sucuri had their work cut out for them penetrating my web host’s firewall. Giving them temporary access turned out to be a 3 day headache – due to time zone problems and changing ip addresses constantly. Sucuri did a marvelous job of checking the site (particularly with the time zone challenge) and provided an up to date report and a clean bill of health.

Verdict:

My point here is this, plugins are not what they used to be. Many have security holes in them. Sadly, from recent experience, even super expensive premium plugins can have security holes in them that allow hackers to access your site. To feel more confident about your website security I’d highly recommend signing up with Sucuri. They have excellent customer service, do a fantastic job and constantly monitor your site for malware.

Recommended Resources:

Sucuri awesome WordPress security and monitoring for your site.

About Leanne

My name is Leanne King and I'm an Australian internet marketer and WordPress fanatic. I share my knowledge of WordPress here on my blog, through my products, private coaching and in private forums. In my spare time I like to develop products for WordPress users that are easy to use.Find me on Google+

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