I received a rather interesting jump in hits and rankings for a dead website that I’d practically forgotten about, and I thought I would write about it. If you have any websites out there that have been sitting there practically “dead” with no traffic or work done it – you might want to reconsider letting them expire after reading this.
I don’t want to mention the specific websites however we’ll call them Website A and Website B.
Website A: Launched this about 18 months ago. It was in a rather uncompetitive niche, and it was a roaring success overnight bringing in lots of traffic, ranking for its primary keywords in the #1 spot, and making good money.
Website B: After the success of Website A, I launched Website B 3 months later. It was an exact replica of Website A, except minus all the “fluff” content. If a page on Website A had 600 words, the same page on Website B had 50 words. Those 50 words were still the “meat” of the site however, and they were still providing a service for the visitor. There was just no-frills and no-BS to it.
The launching of Website B was obvious – I’m greedy! It wasn’t enough that I ranked #1 – I wanted to rank #2 as well. Hell, I’ll take ALL the rankings on Page 1 of Google if I can.
Unfortunately, something like this can be hit or miss. It started off a “hit”, but as so often happens in the internet world, it quickly became a “miss”, losing all rankings.
Here were the daily stats for the site in the 3 month period since the site launched – click for big:
Honestly – it didn’t surprise me. The content on there, despite being of use to the visitor, would hit any Google algorithms duplicate content checker 100%. The structure and SEO were the same as Website A. Hell, it was even registered by the same person at GoDaddy, and even shared the same IP!
So it was a fail. It happens. We stopped updating it, and after checking it periodically for awhile, we pretty much forgot about it altogether.
While checking stats today, we noticed that we had actually made some money from the site. $0 for the last 10 months, and suddenly we’d made $30. A quick look at the stats and we realized that we’d made about $100 over the last 3 days.
What the hell?
Immediately I hopped into Analytics to check it out, and what do I see?
Again – click for big:
In the months prior to this, the site averaged 1-4 visitors per day. Then it suddenly jumped from 37 to 104 to 116 to 122 and to yesterdays high of 145.
Why exactly did it do this? It wasn’t like something happened in the world that caused people to search for some obscure term. It just started banging it home for its primary keywords again.
The reason was relatively simple:
A Test Post.
See, I’m lazy at times. If I’m testing something out on a page and want to share it with one of my employees, what I do is create a post in WordPress, schedule it a year in advance and then hit “publish”. Any administrator logged in can see the post, but no-one else can as it won’t be displayed to the public for a year.
When building the site, I did just that. And as I’m incompetent as well as lazy, I often forget to delete those test posts. That was the case here. The last time content was added to the site was 8 months ago. Then on June 25th my shoddy test post went up, and the search engines took notice, and suddenly started ranking the site high again(even higher than Wikipedia) because hey – it’s alive! No backlinks or anything have been added to the site(or removed) – the only thing that changed was that test post.
To use the “Google Sandbox” as an analogy – Website B showed up to this awesome party, hosted by Mr. Google. Everyone loved Website B initially, and were all over him.
Unfortunately a month after Website B showed up, Mr. Google realized that Website B really didn’t have much to him. He was just a floating six-pack abs with no body to him. Meanwhile there were people like Website A at the party who not only had the six-pack abs, but he had huge biceps, really nice teeth, and beautiful flowing locks of hair.
Mr. Google decided Website B wasn’t needed at the party – he didn’t really bring anything special to the table. So Mr. Google dragged Website B outside, and threw him into his sandbox, then went back into the party.
Soon, everyone forgot about Website B. He stayed out in the sandbox – maybe it was full of quicksand? Or maybe he just really liked building castles? Anyway Website B stopped making noise – he was practically dead to Mr Google and the people at the party. Then, months later, Website B was all “Oh hay I’m still alive” and yelled at Mr Google.
Mr Google came out, saw Website B was still alive and kicking, and decided to give him another chance. He invited him back into the party.
What will happen next for Website B? It’s tough to say. Lets hope he’s smart enough to not double-dip the chips, at the very least.
What can we learn from this(Other than the fact that I SUCK at analogies)? Well first of all – if you had asked me a week ago “Hey if I published a one-word post on this site, would it suddenly bounce back in the search engines?” I would say “No”. So the first thing we learn is that we’re not always right – we can always learn new things. You should know that, and that’s really one of the key rules you should never forget.
Hopefully we all learn that sometimes you CAN breathe life into a website with the simplest of things. In this case, it was just a one-word post that changed this site. How will it affect it in the future? I’m not sure – but we’re going to be slowly working on the site to hopefully keep it this way. How many of you though, are sitting there with websites that you’ve declared dead? Websites that you’ve completely given up on? Why don’t you write one decent article for those sites, and just see if it is able to breathe new life into the sites? As you can see in this situation – the answer may surprise you.
Plus, it’s always a bonus to be rewarded for your own incompetence