One-Year Setback? Colossal Mistake! Super Affiliate Progress Update June 2018
What Was I Thinking?
There's a reason I haven't posted a SAG update in a few months. It's not because I haven't been working on my site. In fact, I've been working on it harder than ever... which is a lot considering how much I've always worked on it... never taking a day off, not even on Christmas.
But, when you gamble with Google... it doesn't matter how much time and effort you put in.
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Well... when I first joined Wealthy Affiliate I became absolutely obsessed with online marketing. I listened to every podcast, read every blog, joined every course, and bought every tool that landed in my inbox.
To make a long story short, among other things... I became fascinated with domain metrics, backlinks, and so on... So, I started hunting for domains and built my site on a "high-metric" domain with some powerful backlinks.
Did It Work?
In a word... No.
I can't speak for anyone else. Building a site on a high-value domain may be a strategy that has worked for some, but in my experience it did not give me an advantage.
Of course, I'll never know for sure if it helped... but I still had many high-quality posts that ranked on page 3 or 4 while newer sites with less content, no domain authority and no backlinks outranked me.
A big take-away from this experience is that Google puts a lot of value on relevancy. Not even a link from a site with a 91 DA (Domain Authority) and a 91 TF (Majestic Trust Flow) moved the needle....
Again, this isn't a post about whether you should build backlinks, how important they are, or the best strategies to do it... there are endless discussions about that.
I'm just sharing my personal experience, and explaining why I feel this strategy has ultimately been a big setback.
Sticking To Wealthy Affiliate's Training
I can't stress enough how important it is to follow Kyle's advice here. I went off in 30 directions... always moving the needle foward, and always producing (what I consider to be quality) content... but far slower and with way more friction than is necessary.
In the same amount of time (even less for some)... I've also seen so many who have simply followed what is taught here at WA, focused on their content, and have driven past me as though I was parked.
And it's not due to a lack of effort. I get up every morning (even on weekends) at 4 to 4:30am to work on my site (or some strategy to drive traffic to my site) as well as work late into the evenings until I can't keep my eyes open.
But... I was trying to take what I considered the best parts of a dozen different strategies and piece them together into... well, I'm not sure what I was to put them together into.
I was just trying to do everything I could to make this thing work.
Despite my wasted time, effort and money... I started to gain traction. Towards the end of 2017 I started to clue in to the reasons my wheels were spinning (update 2019: there were many more reasons my wheels were spinning that took me another year to figure out).
I was burning out, which forced me to reevalute everything I was doing.
I had learned my lesson and started to focus only on what Kyle teaches...
But, one thing that kept nagging me, was that domain I had built my site on.
It was orignally from an entirely different niche and I had to "spin" the name to suit my purposes. It was a stretch (or at least I thought so), and I was putting all of this time and effort into a website that I wished was something different.
I wanted something that was not only relevant, but had branding potential in the future.
And thats when I rolled the dice.
Gambling With Google
I had read dozens of articles about moving a website to a new domain while maintaining search engine rankings... and I convinced myself, if I was to do it, it had to be now. As I said, my site was finally gaining momentum, and I figured the risk/reward gamble of making a change would only get harder as time went on. At some point the risk of moving my site would be too big.
It seemed (from what I was reading) that most people who moved their site to a new domain saw a brief dip in traffic, but regained it within a few weeks.
I knew it was still a risk, but for the long-term benefit of building the site I wanted to build, I decided... it was worth it.
This was mid-April of 2018
A New Domain
It's one thing to decide on a new domain, it's another to decide what that domain should be. I didn't want to make the same mistake again and be back here changing it again.
After considerable thought, I finally chose a new domain, bought it and set-up a basic site that could get indexed before I made the move. I worked out my logo, set up my social media pages and about a week later I was ready to make the move.
I couldn't sleep the night before. To be clear... a domain name is not as important as I'm making it out to be. I was being a little obsessive, but since I was risking a decent amount of traffic, I wanted to be sure I eliminated all chances of doubt.
But I did have doubts... I second guessed the new domian I purchased, so I spent another week and went through the entire process (described above) again.
This time I was happy with the new name (although a couple weeks of valuable time had been wasted).
I should also mention, I keep a couple websites for testing purposes. Before I even started this process I moved one of those test sites to a new domain to make sure I knew what I was doing, that I was prepared for the unexpected, and had all of the redirects, plugin licences, etc. in order.
I also made sure I understood the entire process of submitting a change of address to Google and Bing so I could notify them of the move (and hopefully preserve that precious search engine juice).
Good News - Bad News
The good news...
I built my first site in 2015... and for the first time I had a website with a domain that did not in some way annoy me, making me wish somewhere in the back of my mind I had chosen something different.
(update 2019... after a year I wasn't entirely happy with this one either and if I could go back... well, I can't go back, lol)
The bad news is that within 2 or 3 days of moving my site, I lost 80% of my traffic.
I expected a "dip"... but not 80%. It was a hard pill to swallow. Did I just kill an entire years worth of work with a handful of clicks?
No worries though... within a few weeks I should be back where I left off, right?
The reason I haven't posted a SAG update, is because I wanted to wait until my traffic returned and I could tell this story as a success!
To make sure of that success, I just focused on keyword research and content. I researched and wrote so much that I still have several posts ready to go in draft (and MS Word), and I've been dripping them out every couple days while continuing to research more.
So Where Am I Now?
Almost two months has gone by, and I'm still waiting to be right back where I was...
My traffic has improved... a little. Over the last couple days it's reached about 60% of what it was before the move, but that doesn't tell the entire story.
The bigger issue is that I had specific pages that ranked and performed well. Those pages have been pretty much wiped off the map.
One was getting close to a thousand visit per week.... and in the last 7 days it's only had 37 views (probably bots).
So I figured it was time to post a SAG update anyway, even though I can't report success.
Was It A Colossal Mistake?
I still believe this was the right "long-term" decision... but I'm also resigned to the fact that my turn in Vegas will at the soonest, be achieved in 2019, not 2018.
(Update 2020... I did qualify for the WA Vegas Conference in 2019 which was held in Febuary 2020)
I've been down this road before... I had to start over from scratch before (an entirely different story) and I did. I watched the seemingly endless months of hard work and no results drag on... until finally, things started to take off again.
This time is far less dramatic than that. It's certainly a setback... but this was just a site move, so everything is still intact and will eventually creep back up the rankings...
It's just not happening as I had hoped.
Sorry... not your conventional Super Affiliate Update, but hopefully there's something valuable to be learned here :-) I know I've learned a lot from the experience.
Thanks for reading.
(Update 2019... at the time I changed my domain (April 2018) my traffic was averaging about 200 visits per day. By the end of 2018 I was averaging in the ballpark of 600 visits per day and on January 2nd of 2019 almost reached 1000. By the end of that month (January 2019) I was hitting highs of over 1500 visits per day).