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Niche Site Ranking Woes

After steadily marching up the ranks on Google Search for the keywords "adjustable dumbbells," our niche site, has fallen off of Google page rank completely as best I can tell.  I went through 42 pages of Google search to try to find it and couldn't.  I've positioned the site as an affiliate marketing site, with reviews of dumbbell sets and then affiliate links to for contextually-related items (dumbbell sets, P90X, home fitness, etc.).  

Was this a good niche?  Probably not.  Here's why.  Remember that I selected this niche (as well as another) prior to fully understanding keyword analysis and, more importantly, prior to purchasing Market Samurai.  Now that I have Market Samurai (free trial), what have I discovered about this niche?  First, as you see in the screenshot below (click to enlarge), "adjustable dumbbells" is widely searched.  Note the SEOT value below, which tells me that a #1 ranked site on Google for the keywords "adjustable dumbbells" would receive 684 daily clicks.  That is huge and is good.  If I were monetizing the site with Google AdSense, Market Samurai calculates that a #1 ranked site would receive $123.25 in advertising value alone each day (AWV or "Adwords Value").  Since I'm not using AdSense, my goal instead is to turn those pageviews into purchases of exact or related items at Amazon through an affiliate link.  

Click to Enlarge.

What's the problem then?  Well, note the SEOC value, which is 431,000, which is Market Samurai's way of returning the total number of webpages that mention the keyword term "adjustable dumbbells" in Google's index.  Market Samurai recommends that you only target keywords that have an SEOC value of 50,000 or less, to limit your competition.  Clearly, I've not got this right with my niche as the competition for these keywords is high.

Click to Enlarge.

So, let's take a closer look at the competition.  Market Samurai pulls up the highest ranked Google sites with the keywords "adjustable dumbbells" and that is reflected in the chart above.  Note that most of them are corporate websites for dumbbell manufacturers, but one (dumbellsok) is not.  This is the one I've targeted and Google samurai lists it having 78 total backlinks.  That should be beatable, despite my earlier failure to do proper keyword analysis with Market Samurai.

But first, I have to rank and need to do something about my sudden page rank disappearance.  What have I done?  Well, for one, I've added new content to the site and will continue to do so.  In addition, I've reinserted Google Analytics code into the web site and started another Google Analytics account-- yes, my experiment in a Google-free life has ended.  I sent a note through Google Webmaster Tools for the Google robots to crawl my site.  Google should rank the site without having their Analytics code on the site, but I can't account at this point for the sudden disappearance, so I've placed their code back into the site.  

When looking at the competing site I'm targeting (dumbbellsok) that has a front-page rank on Google, I've discovered with Market Samurai that it has 78 backlinks from various places on the net, none of which have anything to do with the actual keywords that the site is targeting.  

For example, take a list at the following excerpt from Alexa for the site that shows a few of the 78 backlinks.  

See how none of them have anything to do with dumbbells?  In fact, if you drill down on one, you see that there is supposedly a backlink from a Lemur Conservation Foundation's contact page, yet going to that page shows no obvious link to the site, nor is it all contextually related.

Drilling down on another site, you see a site full of broken links and buried in the lower left corner, a hard-coded backlink to the site.  Can you see it?

The whole thing stinks, and this is exactly the sort of thing that Google's algorithm is supposed to sniff out and then punish.  In this case (and in nearly every other site I've seen ranked with the keywords "adjustable dumbbells") you see that the algorithm isn't working properly and garbage sites are still being ranked very highly.

If anyone in the SEO community has any observations or can account for this, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.  In the meantime, I'll continue to monitor Google Search and see if I can get the site ranked and once again headed toward the front page.  

Also, I can't sing enough praise for Market Samurai.  I held out on purchasing it for far too long and now that I have, I wouldn't even consider attempting to start a niche site (or, to be honest, to try to rank ANY site, niche or not) without using it.  

Update:  Check out my previous post, on how I boned up keyword selection trying to only use the Google Keywords Tool. 

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    [...]Live the New Economy. - Blog - Niche Site Ranking Woes[...]
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    Live the New Economy. - Blog - Niche Site Ranking Woes
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    Niche Site Ranking Woes - LTNE: - Live the New Economy.
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