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My Worst Day in Amazon Affiliate Marketing & 5 Things I Learned

My Worst Day in Amazon Affiliate Marketing & 5 Things I Learned


I’m gonna tell you about my worst day an
Amazon affiliate marketing my name is Doug Cunnington I’m the founder of niche
site project I talk about Amazon affiliate marketing project management
and some productivity topics as well most of the time I tell you about good
stories I give you some case studies about what you can do to make a great
site earn somebody online something like that I also like to tell stories where
things didn’t go right you usually can learn a lot from things that didn’t go
right so I’m gonna tell you about one of the major mistakes that I made and this
was a few years ago I’m gonna tell you five things that I learned out of this
experience so like I said this is a terrible experience that I had it was my
worst day in Amazon affiliate marketing so let me tell you let me set the scene
what was going on before I tell you the five things that I learned this was back
in 2014 so I was you know fairly new to the internet marketing game I’d been
working on niche sites for about a year I was working on five sites at one time
and I still had a corporate job I was working as a project manager for a
software company in the consulting division and I was actually pretty busy
with that job as well I just made manager and I was pretty much managing a
team of 10 to 15 project managers plus managing a couple projects on my own so
I was busy with my day job and I was trying to run five sites at a time this
was a time when I was still using grey hat tactics and if you’re new to
internet marketing or SEO grey hat denotes tactics that Google doesn’t like
they’re against the Terms of Service basically you’re breaking the rules that
Google has set up for their search engine algorithm so usually this means
you’re using like web 2.0 links these are like blogs that you just set up to
get links from and then the other big thing is private blog networks these are
sort of like fake blogs that you just set up to get links it’s all about links
and I was doing all these sort of uncool tactics that Google didn’t like the
alternative is white hat tactics and and these are like guest posts and outreach
and networking within your niche Google is okay with that stuff and that’s what
I do now more on that later but basically I had these five sites running
was working a full-time job and I was trying to get these sites to rank I
actually worked on these five sites for several months I was gonna say like
April of 2014 up until about September now if we fast-forward to September I
remember my friend Rob Atkinson who’s been on this channel before I’ve
interviewed him a few times so have a look at some of those videos if you want
to check those out he’s quite successful now but I remember he pinged me on skype
and let me know that he received an email from Google like the webmaster
tools or search console team and he got a manual penalty all his sites were
impacted and his income went from a few thousand a month to zero in one day so
it was a bad deal I felt really bad for him he actually was just about to move
to Thailand he had recently quit his job and then this came out of nowhere
spoiler alert Rob came out okay he was able to get his income up to about
$4,000 a month and about four or five months or so and then grow it from there
like I said he’s doing quite well and I’ll put a couple of links for you know
more recent interviews so you could just sort of hear about a success and see
some of the coaching that we went through to help get his you know
portfolio together back to the story I got an email later on that day or it may
have been the next day same kind of penalty it was around I think thin
content and potentially some unnatural link building but it impacted all the
sites the revenue was super low in general so it wasn’t a huge financial
impact directly but I had been working on the sites for a long time and it was
all my effort for about five months and it was gone overnight
so these sites had grey hat backlinks it was web 2.0 links and PB ends as I
mentioned the private blog networks and essentially there was nothing I could do
they were slowly improving in rankings but at that point when we got the
penalty in September 2014 we had a major issue so here are the five things that I
learned out of that terrible experience number one don’t put all of you or
website into webmaster tools or what’s called a search console if you put all
your sites into the same account if one of them has an issue most of the time
Google will go through your account because all the sites are right there
together and they will penalize each of them if there’s anything weird going on
so don’t put all your accounts in one area or if something happens to one you
may have major issues and it will cascade and impact all of your sites
number two I don’t like to be at that level of risk where everything can
basically fall apart overnight so that’s one of the reasons I shifted over from
grey hat tactics to white hat tactics the thing is a lot of other people did
the same thing at the same time Spencer Hawes and niche pursuits he actually I
think one of his most popular blog posts ever was about how he he says Google you
win and I’m not going to do any grey hat tactics anymore something to that effect
and it was featured in several different places and reference so you know it was
a huge amount of traffic on Spencer site because he got several sites penalized
was a huge financial impact for him I didn’t have a huge financial impact but
it hurt me just the same I invested probably ten thousand dollars on those
sites over the course of the five months and hundreds of hours which is even more
important than the money that I invested so I didn’t want to have that level of
risk anymore and number three closely related if you
break the rules your risk is going to be higher so we all knew that we were
violating the webmaster guidelines and Google provided for us and we were
trying to get around the rules so we knew backlinks would help we were
trying to build backlinks in a unethical manner and essentially it ended up
biting us now thing is it’s just a higher risk level so we were trying to
do some things that seemed like maybe they were easier and it made the risk
higher so again I don’t like risk I don’t want to break the rules I kind of
would prefer just taking a longer term approach in being patient and number
four I’m patient I’m in it for the long haul like I said at the time I had a
full-time job I had other income you know coming in
and I didn’t need to rush there was no reason to you know try and take on these
unethical tactics where you know if I’m trying to rank in Google and I’m gonna
break the rules and I’m trying to get around the rules there’s no reason to do
that it just takes a little bit longer maybe a little bit more effort to do
whitehat backlinks some people say there’s no additional effort to do
whitehat it’s just a different set of skills versus gray hat so for me I just
realized I’m not in a rush I’m in it for the long haul so I need to play to my
own strengths which happened to be building systems and using templates and
setting things up building teams so those are my strengths and I really need
to go you know forward with those vs. you’re not being patient trying to use
grey hat tactics number five and this is a big one this is probably something you
can apply and I can apply to my life in general not just internet marketing if
it’s cheap or if it’s easy it’s probably not going to work it’s probably not
effective if someone’s claiming it’s faster and it’s cheaper and it’s easy I
mean if that was the case everyone would do it and in the case of SEO and
internet marketing if everyone does it becomes less effective or it’s just
plain not gonna work and I see this sort of stuff all the time where a person
with a strong marketing background is able to you know convince people that
they need a certain piece of software or a certain service or a tool or something
like that when in reality it’s just not needed the person is just trying to make
a buck so the point is if it sounds too good to be
true it probably is so like I mentioned we all thought we were building private
blog networks and doing web 2.0 links and other sort of cheap easier tactics
we thought we were taking a shortcut but it turns out the risk was higher and for
a lot of us we decided you know what it’s not worthwhile now the other part
is there’s a whole other set of link building tactics I probably get this
question asked you know three four times a week should I buy links from Fiverr or
I know this person who will sell me links on their site for $25 and I got 10
links or something like that it’s not gonna work like there’s no way that’s
gonna work because if it was that easy if someone can just go to Fiverr
buy the links and outsource it everyone would do it and it would be so easy to
just build a site but it’s not really that easy everything takes a little time
takes a little effort so those are my five tips let me know if you were
impacted and then September 2014 sort of penalty period let me know in the
comments let me know if you if you came back or what your deal was and then
question of the day do you like gray hat tactics or white
hat tactics let us know in the comments below and let us know why I think we’ll
have some pretty good conversation on that so thanks for watching and get them
Doug Pennington from niche site project and if you like the video check out some
of the others I have really cool tear downs on it was an affiliate site so if
you haven’t seen an amazon affiliate site before there’s a like a whole
playlist where I show you the sites what I like what I don’t like and just tear
them down so there’s a ton of content around what real sites look like that
are actually profitable so thanks for watching we’ll see you next time you

11 comments

I like grey hat but like you just said it is risky and white hat is the best way. However I was thinking the other day. If you did buy an expired or auction domain and built it up like a real niche site say 10 good articles, even linking back to amazon, long tail keywords, bringing in a steady flow of traffic as long as google does not find you are connected I can't see how they can penalise you. Having said that there is always a risk. How did your friend come back from his penalty BTW?

I like the idea of not keeping all your sites on one webmaster tools account. Thanks. I received an email from Google Adsense saying Id done something wrong but It didn't say what? I'm still earning revenue from Adsense so I'm not sure what that was about?  Thanks for the tips Doug. PS My organic traffic from my 4-month-old​ site is starting to spike so thanks for all your help.

Doug's channel in a nutshell: "Good ethical marketing" If you're in it for the long run looking to build a sustainable long term business then this channel is for you. That's what I aim for and that's why it is for me. Also keep in mind that clean White Hat sites sell better and for a lot more money than Gray Hat sites 😉

I had a webpage performing very well and increasing in the google rankings everyday. The web page was only 4 months old. But it literally dropped in rankings overnight. The content is genuine and it's high quality content. I have no spammy back links. All my other pages seem to be fine. It's just the one keyword that dropped but it's the most important one. I am still getting traffic to the webpage through other similar keywords. How would I try and repair the issue?

I went through this too back in the day when Google did a massive update. I was making about 20k per month with my main site and poof down to about 1.5k over night. The only reason I had anything coming in was because I had build up some loyal/regular users and it was an ecommerce type site. The timing couldn't have been worse for me too…live and learn I guess.

i like learning about grey hat tactics but i only personally practiced white hat, i don't really have the guts to do grey/black hat and like you i prefer long term income.

Dude, you just talk. IMO you just makeup stories. I watched a few videos of yours, and you NEVER show actual footage of a website of yours or something to prove what you say. You just talk without proving anything. Just another scammer.

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