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Is Google's FRED Update Killing Affiliate Monetized Niche Content Sites?

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By EelKat Wendy C Allen

Is Google's FRED Update Killing Affiliate Monetized Niche Content Sites?

I answered a question on 

The Warrior's Forum

today. The answer was short and quick, and then an hour later I thought of more info to add. Normally I would have gone back to the forum to add the extra info to my post, but due to recent attacks by the bigotted gay-hating forum troll Tom Addams a cyberbully over there, who is also the creator of Flamboyant Nipples, a web site that supports the KKK's anti-gay hate crimes in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, (who in addition to the info linked to there, also has been bitching endlessly all over the forum, how much he can't stand long, detailed, helpful forum posts as he'd rather have a quick answer then "have to read 10 or 20 pages by a tin foil hat wearing bugger" or so he put it) I have decided not to update my post with the additional info and instead will just post it here.

The question was this:

[QUOTE=karmadog;11078419]Lets say that you have plans to do content marketing for the following niches within the health niche: Insomnia Back Pain Neck Pain Headaches Eczema Acne ------------------------ Would it be best to have all of those contained within one big site, have them separated into different sites? Like a site all about Insomnia, a site all about Back pain, a site all about neck pain etc... Also, would either route be harder or easier than the other to rank in search engines?[/QUOTE]

And my (now updated and much longer) answer is this...

Is Google's FRED Update Killing Affiliate Monetized Niche Content Sites?

Had you asked this question in December, I would have told you multiple small niches all the way, but the recent changes in Google have small niche sites being tossed left and right. Some are seeing traffic cut out completely, some are seeing big boosts. I'm a member of a private forum for seo niche site builders, and been talking to them... the whole kit and kaboodle of them (about 2,000 web masters) are seeing the same thing I am. No one really knows what to think or where this will head. We've been trying to compare notes, but it's like Google is making big changes every week so we can't tell one week to the next what to expect. Been going on since January.

I've done both ways. I have more then 200 sites as a result as well. Lots of little 10 to 20 page sites on small topics. I also have 32 blogs each with several hundred pages and then 1 big website that has 6,000 pages in it's database, though all but 700 of them are password access to members only. (That would be the eye blinding pink and purple site in my signature - to be a member you had to be part of the original group of fanfic .net members who were following me back in my fanfic .net days. I don't take new members so most of the site is not search engine indexed, has no crawl and no follow tags, and isn't accessible to the general public).

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In terms of ranking, my experience has taught me that, it is more important for a website to have a lot of pages and be adding new pages daily. My blogs always outranked my websites and it was because of daily updates, not keywords or seo stuff.

I know most people preach "single topic" websites, BUT, those same people end up back here asking why their niche content site isn't making any money. I look at their site. They have 10 pages. Maybe add 1 new page a month. Google favours ACTIVITY, meaning new content on a daily basis. It's why sites like CopyBlogger and ProBlogger now have 10 writers EACH posting an article every day, on TEN DIFFERENT topics, instead of just the 1 narrow niche topic by the primary site owner.

Google started moving in that direction in 2012 when they squashed content farms, but the past 3 months they seem to be really pushing in that direction hard, and tiny 1 topic sites are being crushed out of existence, while larger more boarder multi topic sites with huge page counts are soaring to the top fast. 

If you pay attention to the really big content sites like ProBlogger and CopyBlogger, they are moving away from single topic niches. Expanding outward to add similar/related niches, which is due largely to recent changes Google has made. If you look at when they started to push these changes a lot, it was only in the past 2 month, meaning they noticed the change in Google as well and have quick changed gears to swim with the tide, rather then get crashed on the rocks.

If I compare them to my own sites, I can see why they are doing it. My very tight focused tiny one micro niche topic sites, are not doing so good in recent Google updates, whereas the blogs continue to rank higher, and for some, as of yet unknown reason my big site is getting traffic from all over the place... possibly has something to do with the new FBI sign in my yard and the influx of summer tourists starting to show up... but that would only account for 2,000 to 5,000 extra page views, not 75,000 extra page views.

Picking apart my sites in analytics (Google, Bing, Brainstormer, etc) and comparing stats of the past few weeks against the past few months, I have started testing out a theory... that single niche sites may be a thing of the past. That Google is no longer favouring narrow tiny honed in focused keyword driven sites, but instead now favours more general broader topic sites, with new pages added daily. To test this theory, for the past 3 weeks, I've uploaded a new page to my site every day... every page NOT on topic to my niche and in every topic possible.... to see what happened.

I have never used affiliate banners before. Not once since 1997, has an affiliate banner appeared on my site. And in comparing sites that were hit hard by FRED vs sites like mine that got a sudden mega boost, the only difference I could see was the boosted sites had few to none affilate links and down ranked sites had 10 or more affiliate links per page.

Affiliate links showed up here on my site for the first time in 20 years, first week of April to test of the theory that FRED was targeting ONLY content sites that used affiliate links.

So adding affiliate to my site the past 3 weeks was a big change. Never had Amazon affiliates here before (signed up for Amazon affiliated April 4, 2017, so affiliate links have been on my site for less then 30 days at this point.) My site was previously only monetized with Google AdSense and direct link sales of my own products (books, art, etc. Links going to Amazon, Zazzle, CafePress, and Etsy.)

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I'm tracking traffic on the pages with affiliate links vs traffic on the pages without affiliate links, and it appears, affiliate links are effecting traffic.

Btw, in case you didn't know what they looked like. THIS IS AN AMAZON AFFILIATE LINK --->>>

I put 100 affiliate links on one single page to see what would happen - that page is indexed, but only get 2 or 3 visited a day from Google, while another page published the same week and with ZERO links on it at all (not even Google AdSense) it getting a few hundred visits a day.

I think this very much confirms that FRED is looking specifically at affiliate links and putting lower rank of more links and higher rank of fewer links, with 100% link-less pages getting #1 page 1 placement.

That says a lot.

Is Google's FRED Update Killing Affiliate Monetized Niche Content Sites?

The change looked like this:

December my site had 3,000 page views, which is normal for that particular site. I don't promote it, no point in promoting it, it's not a popular topic. 3,000 views a month is VERY high traffic for that particular niche topic (Pink Humor Yaoi).

January it got 44,000 page views

March is got 77,000 page views.

I can't explain it. I don't know what happened. I'd not made any changes, not done any promotion. 

To go from averaging 3k views a month for 3 years in a row to BOOM 44k.... it has me baffled.

It's why I started reposting here on the Warrior's Forum after about a year of not being here. I'd hoped to find others seeing this change so I could compare what they did with what I did, but so far, there doesn't seem to be others with this same thing happening.

Like I said... the niche content sites are all over the map right now. 

Near as I can tell with what's going on with my own sites, it looks like Google's changing how they index niche content sites. I can't be sure, but it looks like Google is now favouring niche topics of a broader scale. And if that's true, then you'd be better off with one "general health" topic site, and have each of you mini topics (Insomnia, Back Pain, Neck Pain, Headaches, Eczema, Acne) as categories within that site.

But like I said, it's shifting around the past few weeks, Google's definitely doing something, but exactly what the end result of that something will be, we don't know yet.

For now, I'm continuing to expand my site into broader topics, moving a lot of my smaller sites over into it and shutting down the smaller sites, consolidating everything into one much bigger site with lots of categories instead of just one tiny niche topic... Why? Because I've been building sites since 1997, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that when Google starts making big changes, you want to be front and center to change with them.

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If it was me, I think, I'd start a couple of small narrow focus sites, AND start one more general focused site. Watch them all for a few months, see what happened, and then, decide based on the results, to either cut the big site down into multiple small sites or consolidate the small sites into the one big site. Doing it that way would let you see side by side which way works best for your topics.

Based on what I'm seeing the past few months though, looks like smaller tiny niches are on their way out and bigger sites with more pages added daily will be the thing to focus on. Which is why I'm shutting down my smaller sites and moving their pages into my bigger site. Too soon to tell right now, but that looks like the direction Google is headed so I'm preparing for it now.

I think too, possible more important is for you to ask how difficult it will be for you to manage lots of small sites, verse one big site. Lots of small sites can be a hassle. That's something to consider as well.

In the end, all you can really do is go with what you feel is best. Good luck whatever you choose.

This article was originally written on: April 26, 2017

This page last updated on: April 26, 2017

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Have Information?
Please Call FBI Agent Andy Drewer @ (207) 774-9322  

More info on what happened can be found HERE.