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?