Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beating Panda with Affiliate Sales, not Adsense

When the Google Panda algorithm changes went into effect in the middle of October, I was already knee-deep in a site redesign for my pets niche site, one that would both improve the aesthetics and usability of the site and move the earnings focus from Adsense clicks to affiliate sales.

I took my inspiration, by the way, from my Wealthy Affiliate University training and the underlying theory that I could better monetize my traffic on the site with sales rather than ad clicks. 

The end result? When Panda slapped my site and took away about 50% of my traffic overnight, my earnings only went down by 20% (comparing this November, first full post-Panda month, to September, the last month before the changes).

Looking at it from another angle, with only 20% more traffic than November of last year, income from the site this November was up more than 35%.

The "traffic" designation in the graph refers to site visits; page views are at least twice that.  Thus September saw over 20,000 site visits and more than 40,000 page views.

Here is the precise breakdown of earnings and traffic by month, using the months before, during and after Panda as well as last November for a more accurate comparison. My site redesign happened Nov. 1, two weeks after the sweeping algorithm changes.

September 2011
20,670 site visits; total earnings: $516.35
Adsense $450.85

Amazon $5.55
Clickbank $59.95

October 2011
15,060 site visits; total earnings: $439.87
Panda strikes on the 15th, cutting traffic in half
Adsense $368.71

Amazon $31.24 (mostly due to a random large purchase)
Clickbank $39.92

November 2011
10,800 site visits; total earnings: $416.70
New site redesign launches on the 1st; traffic still low post-Panda
Adsense $175.76

Amazon $40.88 (virtually all from the two main books I promote)
Clickbank $200.06

compare this to
Nov. 2010
9,030 site visits; total earnings: $300.76
Adsense $258.80

Amazon $1.90
Clickbank  $40.06

The main differences on my site now are that the ads are less prominent than before (though I still have three units per page) and I have more focus on my two main affiliate products --an ebook from Clickbank and a hardcover book via Amazon -- with photos and in-text links.

If you haven't checked out Wealthy Affiliate, definitely do. It's the only online training community I've found enough value in to stay for the long haul and recommend to family, friends and my blog readers.

They're the reason I've been able to stay ahead of the curve through the recent internet upheaval. I gain inspiration and motivation from the other members and valuable tips and insights through the training material, blog posts and forum threads. 

Now, while I certainly am not happy that my traffic is still down so much, and have begun the process of increasing traffic and making the site more pleasing to Google, I'm relieved that my income did not drop off the cliff with the traffic.

What are your recent experiences with online writing and marketing?


Felicia said...

Sounds like you're onto something, Maria. Like you my traffic is down, but fortunately, my earnings aren't.

I'm spending most of my time diversifying and working on other non-Google avenues. With Pandas roaming around the Internet, we all have to be on our toes.

Maria said...

Felicia, what have you done to keep earnings stable even with less traffic?

Yes, non-Google-dependent avenues of revenue are a crucial part of diversification. I have ideas and even a plan, as well as some off-line residual income in the form of real estate rental properties, but definitely a long way to go to be where I'd like.

I'll be following your progress in this journey, as always!

Angie said...

It's always a work in progress, Maria. Keep moving forward. AdSense is something I only incorporated into my online earning portfolio a few months' back, so it isn't something I rely heavily on at this point. Affiliate marketing has always been my main focus.

My traffic everywhere has been stable recently. I personally think it should be on the increase however. My goal the next few months is to get back to the basics for reigning in more repeat traffic. I've been pretty lazy the last few months. And it shows.

Rahul said...

Looks like you lost long tail traffic from you website which was lesser from advertiser point of view. Hence your earning is not 50%. So, be happy you not lost major keywords.

I saw upward trends in last three months. this due to i have created lot of sites.

Maria said...

Angie, it does seem that good affiliate products, relevant to readers' searches, are often the best way to monetize the site; with a little Adsense in the mix for maximizing income.

Rahul, it's definitely not just the loss of long tail keyword traffic (which I'm not sure happened; I think I lost page rank traffic for specific pages); changing my site's layout and content increased direct affiliate sales by a large margin. You can see this in the more detailed data below the graph.

Tiffany said...

That's good that your earnings didn't drop that much. I definitely think you have test monetization and ad placement on your sites to see what works the best. Some of my sites actually do better with Adsense than affiliate links and for some the opposite is true. It is all part of testing what works best for each site. Good luck with your site!

Ganhe dinheiro Internet said...

This Panda thing is very confusing to me. I just know that for me adsense got better after google changes.
However I had a decrease in my sales as a result of SERP fluctuations.

Anne Shaw said...

Its quite complicated whatever you have shown through the graph and whatever you are trying to say. Just try to be more clear and specific.

Louida said...

My traffic dropped with my work from home website as well my Hubpage articles because of Google Panda which pretty much killed my earnings!!!! But now I started doing some clean up with my site and articles and started noticing a jump in my traffic and earnings. I hope Google does not do this again! Thanks for this article!

drushtin said...

Dear Maria,
I'm a housewife from India. And I'm new comer in this field. Please send me more tips to get more traffic on my blog.


Carla Easley said...

So glad that your earnings have not decreased my much. It's also good that you've changed your site's content and began noticing more traffic again.

Paul Bright said...

I'm a freelance writer online and I've been doing it for a number of years. The first company I started with was Associated Content. They were bought up by Yahoo! When Yahoo! converted it to Yahoo!Voices, my residual income went down about 25%. Not long after that, PANDA killed another 65%. Many of my articles earning residuals had been around since 2007. However, it forced me to work harder on my own personal blogs, articles, and advertising on those blogs. So it was a blessing in disguise.

Steve said...

The black and white bear will be crawling the internet still for some time. There are many different outlet for marketing that did seem to be OK, but have been bit by the bear. New guides and guidelines will be appearing over the next few months once we see what the Big G really wants.

Lisa Mills said...

It seems to me that a lot of sites in the work at home niche got Panda slapped. I know my site did. Frankly, I've grown tired of trying to anticipate what Google will do next. I'll just continue to provide work-at-home opportunities to my readers and let the chips fall where they may.

Workathomemom said...

I have a blog that I started to track my progress (skin problems). I never even tried to promote it but I am getting some traffic. I added adsense to try it out and have made 1.67. haha I think if I really worked on it and tried affiliate sale I could make money off it.