Niche Site Duel 005: My Backlinking Boo Boo

Backlinks, or links to your website from another, are the key to moving up the ranks of search engines.

What’s important to realize though is that it’s the quality of those backlinks that really matter, not the quantity. By quality, I mean backlinks from other websites that primarily have a high Google PageRank (PR).

To be honest with you, SEO is not my forte. After spending the last week or so reading some tremendously helpful threads on the Warrior Forum, specifically the 40 Day Challenge – Top 5 in Google Within 40 Days thread by Joseph Archibald (warning: it’s 19 thread pages long and literally sucked 6 hours of my time this past week reading the entire thing two times over – yes, it’s that good), I feel like I now know how I can intelligently increase my ranking in Google.

Unfortunately, I read this thread a couple of weeks too late. I had already done some things to my niche site that you should never do:

I was scouring the Digital Point Forums and ran across a thread that was titled: [WTS] Professional and Quality Manual Directory Submissions Service Fast – Slow – GUARANTEED. Basically, this is a person who is selling (WTS = want to sell) a service that will submit your website url to hundreds of website directories, manually, with the option of doing it all at once, or submitting them slowly (aka. dripping) at maybe 50 a day. Because I had manually submitted to directories before without a hitch, I thought it might be smart to take advantage of this offer so that I could spend more time writing articles for article directories.

Not smart. A backlinking boo-boo, if you will. Looking back, I don’t know why I went through with it, because I didn’t do it on other successful niche sites that I’ve gotten to rank on the first page. Maybe it was because I wanted things to happen fast…but you can’t speed up stuff like SEO, or else you’re going to get penalized.

What I later found out is that submitting to directories such as these is totally meaningless. There are only 2 directories that matter for SEO purposes – the Yahoo Directory, and DMOZ (these are the two directories that you see in the SEO competition module of Market Samurai).

Unfortunately for most of us, we’re not going to end up on these directories. The Yahoo Directory costs $299 just to apply, and if your site does not get accepted you don’t get your money back. And DMOZ, well, it’s virtually impossible to get on anymore. I’m guessing the manual approval process they use is backed up at least 5 years worth of applications. If, however, you can get a link back from a site that is listed in either one of those directories, some of that powerful link juice will spill through to your website and you will rank higher. Ok, I’m getting a bit of subject here. Back to my stupidity…

So like I said, mass submitting to directories doesn’t help at all.

The real question is, does it hurt you?

By submitting to hundreds of directories in a short period of time, you’re not only building a large number low quality backlinks to your site (which can lessen the impact of high-quality backlinks coming to your site), but you’re basically announcing to Google that something is going on.

Now, there is some debate as to whether getting a massive load of links in a short period of time will hurt your site. I don’t think it hurts you directly because just think of all of the viral articles that get massive backlinks on a daily basis, from places like Digg and other social networks and bookmarking sites. Those articles actually pop up to the top of Google relative to their keyword, so obviously a load of links doesn’t hurt them. Plus, if this were the case, I could easily blow away my competition in this niche site challenge by buying a mass load of links and pointing them to their sites instead of mine. There would be so much arbitrage going on, it just wouldn’t be right.

What I do think can happen is that Google will pay closer attention to your site, and if it looks like you’re just trying to cheat the system, you’re going to get penalized.

I don’t know for sure, but I have this gut feeling that my niche site may be temporarily “sandboxed”. The sandbox effect is just a theory, but many website owners (especially owners of new sites who try to speed things up), experience this phenomenon where no matter what SEO tactics and strategies you use, their site doesn’t really go anywhere. Maybe I’m just a little impatient and my site is fine and well on it’s way to where it should be, but my site has been slow to move lately despite natural SEO tactics.

Plus, it doesn’t help that my competitors are ranking much much higher than I am at the moment. Yes, we’re in different niches, and honestly I shouldn’t even worry about the numbers and rankings at this point, but I can’t help it. Tyrone and his niche site are sitting at #15, and Mark from is sitting at #10. (Kudos to both of them!)

Nothing really matters until one of us hits maybe the top 5 spots in Google, which is where the traffic and money really are. I will get there, especially because I’m super stoked about my content strategy, which after publishing last week helped me figure out a very profitable monetization plan…but more on that later.

Luckily, getting sandboxed is kind of like getting a warning or a “time-out”. What would be the “end-all” would be if my site were de-indexed, which I could tell by typing “” (with no spaces) in Google and seeing absolutely no results. When your site is de-indexed, it’s pretty much gone for good. You’ll have to have done some nasty stuff to make that happen though, and trust me, I’m not even going to try.

(Note: your site has to be indexed first before it can be de-indexed. If you just started a site and you don’t see it there just yet, don’t worry, Google just hasn’t picked it up yet!)

I’ve read and been told that if I continue to do what I’m doing (which I’ll get into more detail in the next post), I should climb out of the sandbox and be placed much higher in the rankings. As to when this will happen, I’m not sure, but I know it will.

The lesson here: don’t be tempted to pay for services like the one I used. You get what you pay for, and you can climb the ranks of Google without having to take any shortcuts.

Before I go, let me remind you that I’m not an expert at niche sites, so go easy on me. Again, I want to keep things honest with you so that you can learn from my mistakes and we can all learn what works and what doesn’t together.

If you’re itching for backlinking strategies (and don’t have 6 hours to read the 40 Day Challenge thread I mentioned earlier), check out Tyrone’s latest post where he shares some of his. They are similar to what I will be talking about on Wednesday.

Thanks for your support! Cheers!

Other Posts in The Niche Site Duel Series

  • Dan

    I can feel the pain Pat, I think sandboxing is a very real thing and my sites have spent a lot of time there from making similar mistakes :( Some of them were Development errors in Drupal which is why I always recommend WordPress unless you absolutely need more horsepower.

    • Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

      I don’t mean to go off on a tangent here, but how did the Drupal errors contribute to being sandboxed?

      • Dan

        Since in a Drupal site you are more likely to be building functionality from scratch across a much more complex database, its really easy to botch things up and publish a bunch of duplicate content. Keep in mind I’m not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed :)

        • Takis

          Why this work in drupal site and not work in wordpress site, or in joomla site?

    • Pat

      Hey Dan – yea, I guess it’s a fairly common thing I hear. Just gotta keep chuggin!

  • Onibalusi Bamidele

    This is really great Pat and your strategies is really great,

    Don’t let anybody tell you directory submission isn’t effective – it isn’t about what they say but what they get. I have personally used directory submission to get my websites to rank for some medium competitive keywords in Google in less than one month and I have never been listed in Yahoo directory or DMOZ.

    What do you think?

    • Joseph Archibald

      Actually Onibalusi, I’ve NEVER used DMOZ or Yahoo Directory either, and nor will I ever use them. There is simply no need, is there…

    • Wes

      Hi Pat, I completely agree with Onibalusi. Yahoo! and DMOZ are the “safest” ones admit you submit too, but there are some others that help too.

    • Pat

      Sure, there are probably some decent directories to submit to obviously (i think someone below commented with a few good ones), but the ones I was doing were really low quality directories which can’t do any good. Most websites aren’t listed with Yahoo or DMOZ anyways, at least niche sites. Keep up the good work though, there is no one set way to do things to make things work.

      • Wes

        Yep, I think the key takeaway from you post is to stay away from those MASS submission services and seek out a few quality directories on your own…if desired. Thanks for sharing your experience, Pat!

  • Joseph Archibald

    Hehe, I agree with Dan here – the pain is unpleasant to bare, and I think that most of the folks reading your blog have either been in the “sandbox” or will be there some day in the future if they are intent on internet marketing/SEO’ing.

    However, why not look at things this way…

    Very often, as you noted in your post Pat, your web page/s come out of the “sandbox” and will be ranked that bit better than previously they were, right? I think that most of us who have already succumbed to “sandboxing” will agree.

    In which case, where is the harm?

    You hit the “sandbox” early on by getting way too many links in your case Pat (in my most recent cases with a number of my own sites, it was for a different reason entirely, and that kinda shocked me a bit). Fine; its got that out the way. What’s next?

    BANG! Potentially you are gonna be flying up the ranks in a short space of time, simply because you are now going a bit slower with your links and you are aiming for nice quality links too. Nice quality here meaning from the likes of ezinearticles, ArticleBlast directory, Squidoo, Blogger blogs, maybe some blog commenting, perhaps even guest posting on really high quality blogs in your own niche… the list goes on and on.

    So, in other words, all you’ve really done here is taken a different road to reaching the same ultimate goal. It may take a tad longer doing it this way but the end result will be the same!

    Congrats on your way to achievement Pat!


    • Pat

      Thanks for the words of encouragement Joseph, and for your 40 day experiment, coming over to my blog to leave comments, and all of your transparency and willingness to help. Like I said on your blog, you are indeed just like Gary V. with regards to your passion for the subject of SEO, and how you go out of your way to help others. I’m sure I’ll climb up eventually, I just have to keep using these correct techniques.


      • Peugeot 106 107

        I don’t agree with it, thanks to whoever thought of it and for having the initiave to come up with it

  • Tyler Wells, CPA

    There does seem to be an element of mystery to the whole process. You find people making all sort of SEO arguments and you can find people who have been very successful but not really able to explain their success. If using the index is a waste of time, then why do it? Really, I think it is better to try something that doesn’t work then try nothing at all. Unless that something is obnoxious spamming in which case you should be placed in Google Hell!

    • Pat

      Thanks Tyler – it is sort of a mystery, and a lot of SEO is all about theory, backup up with a lot of trial and error. I’m glad to run these experiments for you guys and report on what’s going on. Indeed, obnoxious spamming, however, is never good – so you won’t find me going down that road!

  • TrafficColeman

    Hey Pat,

    Us as marketers are always trying new things to test our marketing skills, and some time we do things out the box because we want to see can we get faster results with less work.

    So this article just proves that its best to stick with what’s working and ride that wave until you come to shore.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

    • Pat

      Well said Coleman – thanks dude!

  • Ian Paul Marshall

    Doesn’t Glenn from Viperchill use and recommend directory submissions? I’ve used them on two niche sites recently and one page is on page 2 of google after just a couple of weeks.

    • Pat

      He did say that in his interview, but he didn’t specify which ones or the best practiced for using them. I’ll ask him the next time we chat. Thanks Ian!

  • Profit Addiction


    As I’m sure you know, patience is the key here. I have a site that was on page 4 and I decided (stupidly) to do a link blast to it directly to try to jump my rank. Bad idea, I got dropped to page 8-10 for a week or so, but a few weeks after that, I was back page 4+. Now, I’m sitting at #2 result!

    Just keep building links ‘naturally’ and you will be fine.

    • Pat

      Yep – it’s hard to stay patient but that’s exactly what you have to do. I’ve built my successful blogs and businesses overtime, not overnight – I have to remember that. Well done on the rankings now for you!

  • Hector Cuevas

    Ooohh c’mon man.. mass links services don’t help SEO?? That really sucks! I guess you really can’t speed up stuff like this. Patience is key..

    Thanks for sharing your Boo Boo :0)

    • Pat

      Yep, like Profit Addition mentioned above, you do have to be patient. A watched pot never boils, as my dad used to say.

  • Marios

    Hey Pat, I guess we all get tempted to use services like 1000 directory submission for $20, its the same as get rich quick, it doesn’t work. it all takes time, and the best SEO is all about networking, and producing great content, NOT directory submission. Great Post,


    • Pat

      Yep, good analogy. Get rick quick doesn’t really exist, and neither does short-cut SEO.

  • Cheap Yearly Web Hosting l Tim

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for sharing (and admitting) – I’ve come across the same mistakes with using Fiverr (Fiverr is an overall wonderful site where everything costs only 5 bucks) for $5 back link and article directory services. I’m just glad I’m not the only one making these mistakes.

    Side Note: I “Site Explored” your niche site and am impressed that you already have 512 back links – That’s totally awesome!

    Warm Regards,


    • Pat

      Hey Tim – did you get the same results from Basically…no results at all?

  • Lauren Dugan

    Hi Pat,

    I’ve bookmarked the 40 Day thread you mentioned – looks ultra useful for my own niche experiment. Thanks!

    I am really enjoying your niche series. You’re so open about the whole process that it makes it seem possible that someone relatively new to the game – myself – could find success.

    Thanks for sharing this stumble, as it will stick with me when I’m doing my backlinking. I’m happy to hear that you learned from the mistake, and I have no doubt that your site will jump to the front page search results very soon :)


    • Pat

      Thanks Lauren. That thread is really hard to stop reading, so be careful! It’s quite long.

      I’m pretty sure things will work out in the end, it will just take time. Cheers!

  • Bryan @ Free At Home Jobs

    Good stuff here. I’m also a member of at the Warrior Forum. I’ve seen that thread, but I never really jumped in it because of the length. I’ll have to make some time to check it out, as I have also just started a couple niche sites. Sometimes it can feel like an eternity to get them indexed and recognized by search engines, but eventually with time, they find there way up there.

    • Pat

      Thanks Bryan – I definitely recommend checking it out, there’s some impressive results that I would love to replicate. Good luck with your sites, and thanks for the comment, as always! Cheers!

  • Devesh


    Great Post.
    I don’t think using directories to build links is good idea. I used this before but never got good results.
    Now, I’m using web 2.0 sites (mainly squidoo and hubpages), Article Directories to build backlinks to one of my niche site.

    And thanks for sharing that “40 Day Challenge….” on warriorforum. Will going to read the whole thread.

    Thanks for sharing this great Post. Keep up the awesome work.

    • Pat

      Hey Devesh,

      Web 2.0 sites is part of a strategy that I’m using as well, along with article marketing too. Let me know what you think of the thread after you’re finished. Cheers!

  • Jeremy

    I’ve found article marketing to be much more helpful with a new niche site than trying to build phony backlinks. Think about it this way: If you have adsense on your niche site, then google knows how many daily visitors your site is getting. If your site is getting 5 visitors per day, and is only 10 days old, how realistic is it for your site to get 500 backlinks? I mean, you haven’t even had that many total visitors! It’s obvious you’re up to something.

    Article marketing, on the other hand, can bring real visitors who clickthrough if you write decent articles. I have a 5-page niche site I built last summer on a legal/financial topic. My only promotion was to submit 5 articles to Nothing has been done since (no new promotion or content).

    During the past year, the site has made over $500 in adsense, and about another $150 in affiliate commissions. While I can’t track affiliate commissions by referrer, according to Google Analytics, 99% of my adsense revenue has come from people who clicked through an ezinearticles article to my site.

    A good ezinearticles article can really jumpstart a niche site’s earnings.

    Don’t sit there crying like a child in the google sandbox–write some articles and make a few dollars while you’re waiting for SEO to kick in.

    • Pat

      Jeremy, you’re right – now only does article marketing help for SEO purposes and look more natural (because it is), you can get visitors to click through to your site from the articles as well. I’ve already had some traffic come in from the articles that I’ve written myself.

      Sounds like you know what you’re doing, so I really appreciate your input and following along in our challenge. You won’t see me crying my eyes out in the sandbox, I’ve already done some things to help get back on track.



    Hi Pat, I saw your comments on Joseph’s blog which was actually on a guest post of mine. I tried some article submissions services (not the one you talked about) and they don’t work. I tried UAZ against blog blueprint as well ( ) and for me only blog blueprint worked. That in addition to quality guest posts is very effective in my opinion and you can rank in the firsts positions in a matter of weeks.

    • Pat

      Hey Oscar – whoa! What a small world. I didn’t really that was the same Oscar. Sorry for bombarding your guest post with questions for Joseph that weren’t totally relevant.

      And thanks for the link for UAW. I don’t think UAW is good for building links directly to your site, but rather to help juice up your anchor articles and web 2.0 sites that point back to your money site. I’ll talk more about this in the next post.

      Thanks, and keep up the good work!

      • Joseph Archibald

        I think UAW IS good for building links directly to your money site or primary site, if you prefer, but not from early on when the site is new and/or has very few backlinks already in place.

        Once you’ve got a really good foundation of links in place that have been installed with some patience and TLC, then you can start to hit your site that much harder, with the likes of Unique Article Wizard, if that is to your liking.

        There is more than one way to skin a cat, although I’ve no idea why anyone would wish to skin a cat :-)

      • Oscar

        Actually I think that blog blueprint is FAR better than unique article wizard, especially with new sites. I’ve been able to rank websites very easily thanks to it,

  • Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

    Hey Pat,

    I’ll echo what others have said (and what you already know) regarding “sandboxing.” When it happens, you feel horrible, but when you get out of it, you often emerge stronger than before. All this means to me is that you need to be patient with the process, and eventually you’ll come out in a good position.

    I don’t necessarily think directory submissions are all that terrible (ignoring Yahoo and DMOZ), provided you can monitor and control where your links are being submitted. On the other hand, you can manage a successful backlinking process WITHOUT using directory submissions at all. I think if you take this road (which it sounds like you’re leaning toward), you’ll be fine.

    Keep up the good work – can’t wait to see when you hit page 1!

    – Eric

    • Pat

      Thanks Eric, I appreciate the insight. I’ve been reading up, and it looks like there are some quality directories out there, but you can’t just blast them all at once – but yes, it’s not totally necessary like you said. I’ll get there!

  • Richard @ Lifestyle Design Unleashed

    Hi Pat,

    While Yahoo and DMOZ can be very useful for SEO purposes, as someone who has been doing SEO for the last 10 years I disagree that these are the “only directories” worth considering.

    There are also a range of other high quality directories – JoeAnt and as two perfect examples – which are high quality and offer a good authority link to your site. Having said these they can’t be mass submitted to and each of these sites has their own foibles.

    I have gotten great results from the Planet Ocean “Unfair Advantage” book and have been a subscriber for years. If you’re not too confident in SEO then this is, IMHO, a great place to start with lots of great tips (including tried and tested advice on directory submissions).

    As for getting hundreds of links very quickly – yes I think you need to be careful. Generally a handful of higher quality links will be better than loads of low-quality links. Just a few of these authority links can rapidly push you up the Google rankings. I have a new site myself that jumped up 5 pages in 24 hours thanks to one single high-trust link I managed to get to it.

    Best of luck with the challenge – I’m rooting (sp?) for you!!!


    • Pat

      Thanks for the informative comment, Richard. I actually just read this article, and found it to be very good as far as the best practices with utilizing directories:

      Sort of along the same lines as what you were saying.

      Thanks for all the support!

  • Devin Elder

    Pat, thanks as always for your transparency, it definitely makes you a stand out in this niche.

    As important as high PR dofollow links are, I’m surprised more people don’t buy high PR domains and start their own little link machine.

    Good luck with the new site!

    • Pat

      Thanks Devin, I appreciate that. This is why I don’t mind sharing my mistakes here, the community is very supportive and understands I’m here to help people learn WITH me, not me teaching like I know everything.

      As far as the technique you mentioned, I’ve heard of that before, and it seems like it would work very well. Now it’s just a matter of finding domains that have a high PR (and maybe even a DMOX or Yahoo listing?), and working with the transfer.

      Thanks again!

  • Mark | Wealthy Affiliate Revolution


    As mentioned before, Glen (ViperChill) seems to have had great success with directory submissions. Perhaps the key is finding the right service. That and having them submitted slowly over time which you also eluded to.

    Again, thanks for sharing. Good stuff!


  • Mitch S.

    I remember listening to one of your podcasts (the one with Glen) and he mentioned that he had done something similar. He had gone to the Digital Point forum and purchased some sort of directory submission service and claimed that it helped him.

    Is this something that has changed recently or was Glen just wrong on that?

    • Mitch S.

      Whoops, neglected to read the post right ahead of mine regarding Glen. Curious to find out why he had success with that method whereas you did not.

    • Pat

      It’s ok Mitch – maybe it was because this was almost the FIRST thing I did when my site went live…and maybe Glen uses it after he’s on an established site with powerful existing links. Not sure, but I’ll ask. Thanks!

  • Victor

    10024 subscribers!

    WOOHOO!!!!!! :D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D

  • Paul

    Hi Pat,
    Just sharing my 2cents. I’ve actually been using UAW for the past several months on some of my niche sites. Can’t say the results have been spectacular, but I have been steadily moving up in the rankings. From a position of #15 to currently #8 in a pretty competitive niche, where the average competing site has a PR of 4. It’s taken me about 3 months and I’ve just been slowly chugging along. There are probably better ways to rank your site, but I’m a believer that hundreds of low quality links can help too.

  • Stephen B. | InventionAddict

    I came across this on the Google WebmasterTools site. If you have a new site you that you want indexed you need to tell Google about it.

    They also have a SEO guide ebook.

    You may also want to check out the video on snippets (can’t find it right now)

  • James Eustice

    Hey Pat – Nice write up. I wouldn’t worry about getting a sandboxed by Google too much. It’s happened to me too. I’m pretty sure it’s like a test. Just keep adding quality content and you will come out fine. I just had a site go from #25 to #253 for a couple weeks and then it jumped back to #14. It’s a marathon, but I’m as impatient as the next man. At this point your analytics are more important than your ranking. If you’re getting traffic at all is a good thing. Thanks for the awesome content.

  • Jackie

    Just a note on DMOZ — it does seem much harder now to get a site approved than it used to be, however it’s not impossible. I’m actually an editor for one of the categories (nothing personal finance or entrepreneur-related though) and so I know that some sites at least are getting through. If anyone has time, you might consider applying as an editor.

  • Erik

    the Google sandbox… a lot has been said about that one and I still am not sure about whether it exists or not, but either way I do agree that back linking should be done slow and steady. Looking forward to read more about your back linking campaign.

  • Michael

    Hi Pat

    I don’t know much about SEO, ‘sandboxing’ or the like but I know a thing or two about marketing and what you’re doing here with these posts is an excellent example.

    Thanks for sharing


  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    Well, I think it’s best to just relax, take it easy, do it the way you did with your other successful sites. Google Sandbox happens but you’ll eventually come out of there, just continue doing what you think is right.

  • will

    HI, I am still new to blogging and SEO. I thought is saw someone recommend to submit my new articles to social bookmarking sites.
    I have been submitting my new posts to these 5 sites:

    yahoo buzz.

    Should I be doing this??? Or is it just a waste of time? Or potentially a way to get sandboxed???

    Thanks for the help guys!

  • Franck

    Hello Pat, Don’t worry. Add quality link and be patient.

    I would personally buy traffic in between, both in Google & Facebook. Try it, especially Facebook. Don’t optimise anything. Activate and pay the bill.

    As a person you’ve been touched by the mistake, your wallet has not. Pay a reasonable price with PPC advertising. Consider this as your redemption 😀

    It would serve your purpose of getting the blog known, and you could set-up an opt
    -in box, and try to convert a few emails to start with.

    • Pat

      Hey Franck – thanks for the comment. That is not a bad idea, but when Tyrone and I setup this challenge our only rule was that we were NOT allowed to buy traffic via PPC, since we are going for organic rankings. Maybe after the challenge is over (whenever that may be) it would be a good idea and a good experiment to share. Of course, I’ll have to optimize the niche site for maximum conversions for an email list and/or products by then.


  • Gavin

    does anyone know if reciprocal have a negative effect? I heard someone talking recently, and they suggested that if you link to one site, and that site links back to you, google plays this down/doesn’t credit it, because it’s a basic link swap…

    And if that’s the case, do those backlinks then dilute other, more healthy backlinks?

    Thanks, Gavin

    • Joseph Archibald

      Hi Gavin, this is the conception among SEO’ers and internet marketers – that Google no longer considers reciprocal linking as being of value when determining a value of a website where their ranking system is concerned.

      However and personally speaking, although I’ve not gone down the road of seeking out reciprocal links to my own sites, there is a number of things that I’ve heard over the years – that Google does not like this, Google does not like that, and its taken as being factual. When I’ve gone against this grain (often by mistake) I’ve found that this so called fact is not true at all.

      Long winded answer to say that I personally feel that if you want to try out reciprocal linking then you may be surprised by some potentially good results that come from doing so. Again, I can’t vouch for it, but this is a technique that I will be trying out myself in the coming months and will not be suprised to see some positive results come from it.

      However, its very wise indeed to pick and choose who you reciprocal link with. Ideally a blog or site in or closely related to your own niche, and one that offers value to its visitors. By value I don’t necessarily mean a high Google PR. I do mean that the webmaster puts effort into the creation of the site and the addition of valuable content too.


      • Gavin

        Hey thanks Joseph, that helps.

        My site does well in google, although I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never targeted specific keywords. I write a snowboarding blog… if you search for “snowboarding blog” in google, I think I’m near the top, or maybe the top site…

        It’s only recently that I’ve been thinking about how to generate some passive income from what started out a passion. Hence reading this site etc.

        What is strange, is my page rank. It used to be 4, and I was hoping I might be able to get it to 5… I didn’t check it for a long time, and it had dropped to 3. I’ve tried a bunch of stuff recently, but can’t seem to get it back to 4…

        Thanks again, Gavin

        • Joseph Archibald

          Hi Gavin, have no concern about your Google PR where your search engine results page ranking is concerned. You may have a Goog PR0 and ranking at the top of a SERP page full of PR3’s and 4’s. Time and time again I have seen this happen, and I’m no stranger to doing it myself.

          I like the sound of this, and I quote you…
          “It’s only recently that I’ve been thinking about how to generate some passive income from what started out a passion”.

          Geez, you could be sitting on a goldmine – a website already ranking nicely in Google for a prime keyword phrase and its your passion. What a wonderful combination to have!

          Now is the time to get going on monetizing that site Gavin, if you have not already. The season for snowboarding will soon be upon us and its never too early to get ready to capitalize big!

          Best wishes!

      • Gavin

        Thanks again Joseph.

        I replied at this level to avoid further indentation :)

        Yeah, I’ve only just started to think about the monetization side. Recently I’ve added Facebook and Twitter to increase networking. I post in 3 snowboard forums: US/Canada, UK and Australia – try to spread out the seasonal aspect :)Tried to make subscription more prominent and added a “how to subscribe” page. Added a second navigator pane to move “Top articles” above the fold (that one is working already). Guest posted on two blogs, and sorted out a guest post on my blog with a big player – and they will tweet the link to their followers…

        So I need some products.

        As it happens, I was raving about some instructional material that I’d found and reviewed. Only later did I find that there’s an affiliate program with click bank. Result. But so far the results are slow to come. Don’t mind admitting that I’ve only sold 4 :) I’m hoping the recent changes will ramp that up a little.

        I’m looking for other good affiliate programs.

        And I have 2 or 3 eBooks in mind.

        I haven’t added email subscription yet. I’m undecided between using MailChimp and Feedburner. I don’t know much about it, but I see the decision as:

        – feedburner gives me rss and email subscribers under the same roof, same stats, nice and easy.
        – mailchimp is more flexible, I can set up different campaigns etc.

        I’m writing an iPhone app for skateboarding/snowboarding too… but that could be a while coming.

        Cheers, Gavin

        • Joseph Archibald

          Seems you still got further indentation Gavin 😉

          To avoid Pat’s post turning into another Warrior Forum 40 Day Challenge (now at 20 pages long), I’ll just say that it would certainly appear that what you are doing now is a superb way to go about ramping up any online campaign!

          The fact you have 4 sales is a great foundation to build upon for making many more as the season draws ever closer. Looking good, Gavin, looking good!

  • James Tayo

    SEO is more of an art than it is science, Pat. and the fact that your niche is more competitive than Tyrone’s or Mark’s may also contibute to the fact that your site will take more time to rank. don’t worry about the slow start, I believe when your momentum picks up, it will be unstoppable.

  • Wade McMaster

    It’s easy to be tempted! Fast and easy results seemingly at the touch of a button, I’ve had the temptation a few times myself. But as they say, you make mistakes from them, and I guess this competition is a learning experience, not just for you but us, thanks for sharing Pat!

  • Azad @ Internet Geeks

    Quality, Quality, Quality, Quality, Quality link are important and also they had to relevant else you are wasting your time.

    Smart Blog Comment is good backlink strategy. You should try it.


  • Ian


    I wouldn’t fret too much on all those directory submissions. The majority of directories those type of “offers” submit you to are very low quality. They have few backlinks to the site and are HUGE in terms of dynamic generated pages.

    Why does that matter? Well because your site will probably end up (when it gets accepted or approved if ever) on then 8th or 9th page of your category which rarely if ever gets crawled by Google and therefore doesn’t get cached.

    NO Crawl, No Index… No Cached date = Link might as well not exist.

    You should be good.. The bigger worry is running a link campaign and suddenly getting 1000 links indexed and cached inside of a week or so then dropping off to nothing.

    From my experience if you start out with TONS of links and keep that pace you’re OK, but if you do it all at once then fall off to nothing you’re flagged and usually “filtered” I don’t believe the sand box exists any more.

    One other point… Consider Best of the Web, they’re a great directory which I strongly suggest all niche sites which you believe are going to reach the several hundred a month mark are worth submitting to.

    TIP: Ensure the category page you’re submitting your site to is recently cached. Other wise, that link ain’t gonna count right out of the gates.



  • Moon Hussain

    A lot can be learned from mistakes, Pat. I’m keeping a close eye on your niche site competition 😉

  • Samuel

    Honestly I think the value of the content you put on your niche site will help your SEO rankings. If the content on the niche site is good, people will bookmark it, re-tweet it, facebook it, etc. Google will not ignore that. Good content gets syndicated naturally by the people who come across it. Kind of like this blog 😉

    As for directory submissions. I think its an outdated SEO tactic because most of those directories are no-follow directories. I would take a look at submitting your link into wiki-pedia sites and niche wiki sites but doing it in a way that doesn’t look spammy. My .02 cents :)

    • Franck

      Hi Samuel

      No-Follow links do have an impact (i have not say major impact) on rankings. Really…

  • Websidual

    yeah I agree with your post, that really was a boo-boo. It’s important to make everything as organic as you can. That is something that i’m really going to work on besides creating awesome content.

  • Josh

    Hey Pat,

    I’ve been following you blog for sometime now and wanted to thank you for all your valuable content.

    I think it is amazing that you are so transparent and the fact that you post your earnings monthly is awesome. I know it inspires me.

    I read the thread by Joseph Archibald and ended up buying the ebook because the thread was so good. A lot like how you started selling your green academy ebook. All the information was up and available for free but they will pay for it, if it is organized and printable. Thanks a million.


    • Joseph Archibald

      Appreciate that, thanks so much Josh!

  • Dustin Aaron Sanchez

    Whenever I hear people talk about google, I always think that google sounds like skynet. Now we’re getting sandboxed by google. Thanks for posting all this contest in 1 place. I’m learning and applying. Also thanks for sharing your 6 hour reading time. I’m glad I’m not the only one (passive income by buttox)

  • Dustin Baier

    This topic is super interesting. I ran over to the thread by Joseph Archibald and read it also great stuff! Thanks again, I was already doing some of this stuff but now I know I am on the right track. Just have to keep chugging along.

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  • Danielle

    Pat, in regards to getting backlinks to your articles on directories, you said you were using social marker for bookmarking. Now, does it matter if you don’t have any friends seeing the links? Is the link itself enough?

  • Melvin

    Well Pat, that definitely is a lesson to learn. :)

    But for me and some of my smaller sites, I purchase those services occassionally and I somehow find it helpful to give some initial boost to rankings. I think it depends on the niche, competition and what you’re trying to achieve long term.

    As far as on whether it could harm, definitely it could especially if the directory that you’re submitting to is penalized by Google

  • Shane @ Dropshippingplanet

    If im in a competitive niche and others have a Yahoo link I will purchase one. It does help a lot if your competing with the big guns.

    Regarding the sandbox. Here is how I get out of it. When Google indexes your site they know the exact content, title, description etc. When your in the sandbox change the title tags, the site description that appears in the serps change the name of each page on your site.

    Sometimes I also change the theme but I don’t believe that is necessary. Then change the content if you just have a few posts. Keep adding new content for about a week. Build backlinks. When google crawls your site it will see it as a completely different site to the one it sandboxed and will relist you in the serps within 2 weeks.

  • Shane @ Dropshippingplanet

    Regarding directories other than DMOZ and Yahoo! I tend to only worry about getting niche relevant links.

  • Mike

    Hi Pat,

    You share the exact same vision with me about mass submitting to directories sucks. I did not end up paying for an external service like you did but I literally spent a week submitting links to the directories and 1 month waiting for approval. I have mentioned it in my latest post about 7 misconceptions of SEO/IM though. Check it out :) Have a good day, Pat!

  • Jared

    I like the theory “no fear, wait a year” I keep spreadsheets of all my niche sites and work through a backlinking timeline. Keeping track of all the article directories I’ve submitted to and what pages on my sites their pointing to. I take it slow and mostly outsource my article content creation and then just post the articles my self to various article directories. Also sending backlinks to the backlink pages.

    I use a service to re-write most of my articles. I have an article spinner but I think it just takes too much time. I can write an article myself faster then I can spin one. At least one that’s readable.

    It takes patience, good content on the site, and quality back links. I considered mass distribution (UAW) early on, but decided against it. It has usually taken me at least a year to move a site into #1; depending on how competitive the keyword is obviously. For me, it’s important to have quality content and take it slow and easy. That site will then have the opportunity to earn for me many years, if I go too quickly and get inpatient, it can get de-indexed, sandboxed, whatever. Why risk it.

    I know some people go the opposite route and do tons of auto submissions and tons of sites. They make up for it in quantity. Too much stress that way… I think.

    How much work does it take to get to number 1? As much as it takes and as long as it takes. You just have to be willing to outwork the competition. The fun part is then getting to see what long-tails you can start ranking for and different ways to monetize the size.

  • Josh Roa

    Thanks for this nichy-nichy-beware post Pat. I’ve followed your blog for the last 9 months and you’ve built up your site in an amazing manner. Your a fantastic example to emulate and I just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration.

  • Pijama

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  • BlogTechOnline

    Thank you fro sharing a wonderfull post about backlinking in which I was very confused and pulled by here and there by some marketing gurus,now I have a clear point about backlinking.

  • infoomatic

    Hi Pat, I find your article is interesting. Just wondering if you can share article about Link Wheel to increase PR. I think mass-submitting to low quality directories is painfull.

  • Nicola Cairncross

    Dear Pat, I’ve just been recommended to your site by a friend Steve Watson and I’m reading through your whole challenge and have downloaded your podcast. I just wanted to check the that the info you gave about checking if your site has been indexed by typing in “” is still current – as rather worryingly none of my sites come up with any results when I do that. However, according to my Google Analytics, I’m getting organic traffic from Google….please help! Cheers, Nicola

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  • mike

    i’ve actually had a site deindexed by google in the past and to this day, I have no idea what I did wrong. it was actually ranking very well for it’s keywords and making me a decent amount of money…. and then one day it was completely gone.

    it survived a bit with yahoo and msn traffic.. but it was also a niche tied to the 2008 election, so it eventually stopped making me any money and i let the domain expire.

    but like you mention, i tried everything to get it back into the google index and nothing worked.

  • Joefrenne

    Hi I’m wondering if this post is referring to the Unique Article Wizard.

    • Pat

      Hi Joefrenne, no – this is referring to a service that someone on a server was providing. I use UAW in my backlinking strategy now and it works great with no problems, as long as you use it the way I described.

      • Joefrenne

        Hi Pat. Okay thanks. I was wondering because I read that backlinking strategy that works before this post. Also nice job on the blog. It’s real cool that you’re honest about your work.

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  • Brett

    One of my sites got sandboxed for a fortnight when I moved hosting companies. That was kind of scary, but the site came back again.

  • Eugene @ The Dollar Talk

    Hi. What about directories with PR4 or higher ? Does it make sense to submit my niche sites to those directories? Could you share the source of information which states that directories don’t matter? Thanks.

  • Ryan

    “(Note: your site has to be indexed first before it can be de-indexed. If you just started a site and you don’t see it there just yet, don’t worry, Google just hasn’t picked it up yet!)”

    Very important to remember for newbies!

  • Chris

    Loving Niche Site Duel… Taking an hour or two to go through every entry!
    Thanks Pat!

  • Chris

    Loving Niche Site Duel… Taking an hour or two to go through every entry!
    Thanks Pat!

  • symptomes grossesse

    I am already experimenting similar to your niche site duel, I am doing complete manual link building as I dont have money to spend as of now!!! Just a question, have you ever been tried fiverr for backlinks? whats you results on fiverr backlinks services?

    • Fred Jumayao

      I’m curious too. I’ve considered using Fiverr too but wasn’t sure, be nice to hear other folks experience or ideas.

  • Karl

    I’ve been following your blog since Sept this year.
    Pretty good stuff, I have 4 affiliate sites but seems I found a lot of mistake from what I didi Not too late anyway :-). Making it better.

  • Lenia

    Hi Pat,
    I really love your niche site duel. I read it slowly and take some notes to understand better. I like mostly because you are direct and transparent with all the actions you make. You have great and useful content and you provide many sources full of information and tips. I saved the 40 day challenge and I will definitely visit Joseph blog because I am very curious and I want to learn how to rank my sites. For the moment I have tried the manually submission to directories and the manually link building through blogs, forums and social bookmarks. I see no difference and no results but I insist because I know that there many other proper actions I haven’t tried yet.
    Well thanks again for sharing this adventure with us.

  • Ryan

    Hey Pat, Just curious if i am doing something wrong, but my site is indexed in Google but for some reason i am not ranking at all for my keywords and it has been a few weeks now. How long does it normally take to start ranking and climbing the ranks? Also maybe it is the tool that i am using is there a tool that you would suggest to check your rank for a specific keyword “preferably free”?

  • Sergio Felix

    Hey Pat,

    I have never used anything “massive” with my sites. Whether it is submission, building backlinks or virality/buzz building.

    But then again, I’m just a newbie on these topics.

    And I normally avoid this for the same exact reasons you described about the un-natural scenarios that Google loves to find out about and then penalize.

    Great share and indeed, a boo-boo that I’m sure it never happened again. 😉


  • Glenn Bearsky

    Google’s SandBox is very, very real – and quite predictable actually. ANY site under 1 year old is susceptible to it. Google ‘samples’ new sites – which can be deceptive. Typically lasting up to 30 days or so, you may rank well _initially_ for a good set of broad-match keywords you’re aiming for – and then in a single day those keywords will drop out of easy rankings. The pattern that follows seemed to be a TIMED interval of 3, 6, 9 months to 1yr. Just prior to these intervals, you’ll be sampled again, usually for only 3 days, 7 days at most. You’ll think ‘Google has fallen in love’ with your site again. A few days later you may truly crawl out of the SandBox – otherwise be prepared to wait another 3 months for the next real opportunity.

    The real gotcha is that you really can’t control it. In fact your efforts at aggressive linkbuilding may work against you. Or you may find on-page improvements Just-Don’t-Help no matter what you do. And you simply have to wait for the next interval for a chance to rank FOR REAL – and hopefully for the long-haul.

    I’ve seen this time and time again on dozens of new sites. Obviously – just keep building quality content and slow, steady quality backlinks until you crawl out. But if you’re smart – you should be working on the NEXT site, the NEXT income producing site to get it started on that aging process….

  • Mohammadnaeemramzani

    My daily traffic is 500-600, but my google earnings are $0.0 daily.. How can i increase it ??

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  • Ethan Pariseau

    Without having gone through and reading any other articles first I’ll be honest…I have an idea of how I could get SOME back links but that’s just from possibly sliding into a guest posting slot and MAYBE getting a back link from that. I have a LOT to learn. Hopefully what I learn will still be working today, five years later.

  • Sebastian Brukalo

    Wow, Thank you Pat for warning against trying to get to #1 faster than it’s possible. Personally I have never done it but I’ve heard of people doing this all the time. I don’t know what their results were. I believe they were just happy thinking it worked. :) – Sebastian (

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