The following is an email from reader Simon Ward of Live Online Chat. It should serve as a stark reminder that you should never depend on Google as your main source of traffic and income.
I am not sure if you will get time to read this email or even reply, but it is worth a try! Negative start to an email, I know, but it has been a very hard couple of months and bad timing, baby due in September. Anyway, this is what happened to me..
LiveOnlineChat.net is my main website, only problem, I was relying on Adsense and Google rankings for it to generate around €6,000 a month, that was a good income for us, very good income. I would work very hard building links, adding new features, improving the usability of the site for its members, etc, sometimes I would stay up for 3 days without sleep working on creating a chat site that is safe for everyone to use and moderated 24/7.
Live Online Chat has over 10,700 Facebook likes and 2,000 shares, it also has over 60,000 active members and a database of over 94,000 members.
Things were great, I met my fiance actually in my own chat rooms on the site and went to USA to meet her. We now live back in Spain and are having a baby in September. I have been to Australia, Jamaica, USA, Scotland, England, Spain, Czech Republic and Poland, all paid for by the website. I always knew that it had a chance it wouldn´t last. If someone was to upload a porn photo and I got caught by Google, I would lose the Adsense etc, but never thought that the following would ever happen..
On April 24th 2012, I was checking Adsense and noticed it was less than a third of what it should be. I went onto the site and realized that it was very quiet, only 10 people in the chat rooms. I ran a rank checker and my normal keywords, “chat live”, “free chat rooms”, “online chat” etc, nowhere to be seen. I had been killed off by Googles Penguin and Panda updates. My site had gone from almost 10,000 unique daily visitors to 2,200 overnight!
I have worked very hard on fixing the issues and even sent an email to Google through webmaster tools, but their reply was “No spam found”, so very confusing, I had not broken anything or been penalized! So I just went ahead and fixed redirects, added more content, added canonical link ref, took down sidewide links on other sites I own and added SEO plugins to Social Engine to stop repeated content and meta tags. I have now got around 3,200 uniques a day, it’s nowhere near how it was, but would still pull in €80 – €110 a day on Adsense, which was OK.
Anyway, June 10th, 5 days after my birthday, Google ban my Adsense account from liveonlinechat.net, reason being, I was displaying ads in a deceptive way, I did have an image ad just below an Ad unit, nothing more than that, so I got rid of the image and changed all the ad colors to make the ads stand out so as not to look part of the site, this is what Google wanted. I resubmitted it for approval but got an email back, Your site is no longer able to participate in the Google Adsense program. Still no reason why, so I asked in Google forums and they tell me chat sites are no longer allowed to use Adsense. So I lost our main source of revenue.