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Test and Learn

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When it comes to various types of website development, my philosophy has always been to test as much as possibly, learn from these tests, and move forward with successful tests or kill failing tests. I’ve been pretty open about my testing here on my blog, and I hope the lessons I’ve been learning and sharing have been helpful.

One test I’ve been running is with Epik on one domain name – BumperProtectors.com. I announced this test a couple of months ago, and I’ve been watching as traffic has slowly grown from almost nothing to over 300 visits/month. In total, 53% of its traffic in the last 30 days was from search, 34% from direct navigation, and the rest was from referrals such as my blog and other various sites. I think the site generated a couple (maybe a few) dollars a week, although I haven’t really checked much nor do I know if that is pre or post revenue share.

Yesterday, I learned that there were some de-indexing issues with sites on the Epik network, and sure enough, BumperProtectors.com looks to me like it was de-indexed from Google. Even if you type BumperProtectors.com into Google, I get no results.  Consequently, search traffic from the last couple of days has been 0.

I understand that Rob Monster from Epik will be addressing the issue today, and Andrew said the announcement will be that my site will be upgraded to an ecommerce store for free.

I am not entirely sure I am going to accept this offer. Should I do so and then submit a reconsideration request to Google, I am taking a big chance that they like the new site enough to re-index it. If they don’t approve and/or they approve a second time but later disapprove for whatever reason, I could have a nice domain name de-indexed twice, which certainly wouldn’t bode well for this exact match product domain name’s future. It’s one thing if I am working with Bumper-Protectors.mobi or some crap like that, but in NYC, selling bumper protectors is a big business.

I look forward to hearing what Rob has to say, but I haven’t decided whether to keep the domain name at Epik.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (23)

    Mark

    I would bet that if you redesigned it on your own, without an automated service, added original content and promoted it on your own (which you are great at), the big G would relist it.

    Just a thought

    October 29th, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Elliot

    @ Mark

    I agree, but there is only so much time in a day… I have to pick the names to which I should devote time and $$$. This would be low on the priority list, unfortunately.

    October 29th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Rich

    Hi Elliott,

    This is one of the reasons I have avoided networks such as Epik. I am never quite sure what the effects will be on my domain. Google is becoming very aggressive in their objectives to maintain their top rankings for qualified sites (not necessarily the best) as measured by their internal metrics (forget about the old backlinking game that is still widely promoted but no longer relevant).

    From what I have observed, even a relatively static blog will earn you reasonable ranking. In your shoes, I would write some basic articles or even link to other good articles and sites using WordPress and just leave it alone since you have no time to work on the domain at this time.

    October 29th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Rob Sequin

    I don’t think you made a bad decision by going with Epik and you may not be making a bad decision staying with them.

    Like you said, test and learn.

    October 29th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    jp

    @Elliot

    So question, lets say you pull out from Epik from fear of further de-indexing etc…

    You said you don’t have time or desire to put any specific effort into self developing this one…

    So what would be your move then to avoid suffereing the same de-indexing fate? If you just switch it to parking then doesn’t domain parking generally come along with the same fate of de-indexing (I realize that many parked domains are indexed, however by parking a domain you aren’t really banking on being indexed as a top goal).

    You could go to another similar service like WhyPark which is great but same risk essentially as it’s kinda like the same thing only different.

    I guess just sell it and move on right?

    October 29th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    jp

    Just another thought about the value of being indexed by Google anyway. What is is worth really to a buyer?

    1) It can change at any time with no guarantee

    2) If the buyer plans to change the website at the domain then the current ranking doesn’t mean Jack anyway. I guess all it does is show the possibility that this domain can rank well, although any domain can rank well (well at least for a little while) if handled properly.

    Depending on G rankings for biz rev seems like a bad plan anyway. I had MinkCoats.com which is a real e-commerce store actually selling products not through any sort of service or anything ranked top 5 on G for a long time now, I havn’t checked in a while, so I just checked after reading this article and now it is number 9 while G has ranked MinkCoats.net at spot #4, and MinkCoats.net is a PARKED PAGE via Fabulous. Playing the serp game can be like pissing in the wind and the wind changes direction alot. This is for the search term “Mink Coats”. The good news is there are a lot of product specific searches that will land you on many of the sub-pages of my site I guess, but wasn’t really the point of the domain.

    October 29th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Louise

    Whatever is going down is NOT that big a deal! A big-name company; a hit on showcase domains; gossip-worthy, but NO BIG THING! All Epik has to do is enable its blog feature – the stores are already WP-powered – and the onus go back to the clients to post some original content for each set of keywords in the domain – how hard can it be to compose 2 paragraphs? Then the banned sites will be re-indexed and the lower-ranking sites will ascend in Google. Don’t copy and paste an article, tho. Google hates duplicate content! Doing THAT could get you into MORE trouble!

    Check out DNJournal’s coverage of the cocktail party at TRAFFIC Vancouver, and an amazing cheese board – Yummmmm! 😛 I’ll post an article on entertaining and a link on Cheese-Board.com after the blog gets enabled! Rob said he’s going to do it; no problem “It’s easy” he said, like on EmergencyFood.com !

    Hear what Matt Cutts, head of anti-SPAM at Google has to say in this video with slides! Matt Cutts has something to say!

    Enjoy! :)

    October 29th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Skyrocket Design

    I’m in the same boat with few domain names. I will wait before making a decision to stay or not.
    So far this been only a nightmare, I wish i never used Epik but again I guess I have to wait and see what will happen.

    October 30th, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Offshore Hosting

    Elliot,

    What you’ve got there is a thin content affiliate site. Google delists them all the time.

    These kinds of sites provide no value to the end user and just pollute search results. I don’t blame them for delisting you, search visitors report crappy search results to google all the time.

    It appears that the epik app is giving you a chance to build out your thin content site into something more, but you didn’t do it.

    ie. your top nav links to content pages(Q&A, Coupons, Articles) and they are all empty

    So you get out of it what you put into it … nothing.

    Regards,
    Richard.

    October 30th, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Elliot

    @ Offshore

    I put $249 into it :)

    but valid points.

    October 30th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    LindaM

    My advice to Elliot – dump that network, obviously the Big G has taken offence to something they have done or hosted, probably a third party. Also instead of traditional parking, which google hates – why not try using a wordpress holding page. Quick to put up, easy to customise and not instantly hated by google.
    Ive never had a site deindexed before but I have had one banned from the adwords system. I requested reconsideration – going through each of their requirements one by one (ie Gambling? no. Adult? no. Drugs? no. Good code? Yes, validates at w3c etc etc)
    They got back to me I think in around 36 hours – saying sorry for the delay and re-allowing my site. The big G giveth and the big G taketh away, love it :)

    October 30th, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Rich

    lol. :-) As we all now have learned, money cannot buy happiness or index space on Google.

    Seriously though, with a name such as BumperProtectors, you can get a simple site up quickly with some basic articles. You can redirect the domain to a blogger or WordPress.com site or just create a simple page with some articles on one of the registrar sites.

    The problem with using self-hosted WordPress is that you do have to keep the core files updated since new security holes are constantly being found and patched. Updating is pretty easy nowadays, but it does require your attention.

    October 30th, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Skyrocket Design

    $249 is a decent money. I want to request a refund but I read that you can only get them in “Epik Bucks”, I wonder what a person could do with such money? I want my real green dollars but well I think it’s spilled milk now.

    October 30th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    John M

    LindaM: I had wordpress running on few domains until I decided to join the Epik product program :(
    I was making decent money until the big mistake.. an expensive mistake that cost $289 per domain domain + the worst thing a webmaster could expect a total ban from G index.
    Honestly they should at least refund people for their monies, what’s the upgrade to an ecommerce website could do if you are no where to be found? all the hard work is wiped. Thanks Epik and Rob.. I see now hows the internet is evolving.

    October 30th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    LindaM

    Sorry if this sounds like an ignorant question (I never heard of them before now) – why would anyone use this ‘service’ anyway? To clarify – your actually paying them to park your page, albeit with a slightly more rich site than a standard park. right?
    If you want to pay -$249 buys a good amount of unique content, a bit of web design time if you cant do it all yourself – should have a pretty solid *real* site after that.
    Its yours, forever, independent of any other site and sinks or swims on its own merits. Big or small I would always go this route rather than using some parking attendant take the keys. I hope everyone who got burned gets their stats back soon.

    October 30th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Louise

    $200.00 is what the logo alone costs.

    October 30th, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Skyrocket Design

    not their logos. it was a mistake and i’m waiting for whats epik is going to do. Elliot: Are you requesting an upgrade?

    October 30th, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Shane

    @Louise You have become a shill for Epik. Rob can handle the answers by himself.

    October 31st, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Elliot

    @ Louise

    You think their logos are worth $200? Really?? Come on…

    I didn’t pay $200 for Bahamas.co, DogWalker.com, CatSitter.com, Oenophiles.com, Torah.com, and a bunch of others that look MUCH better than the one on BumperProtectors.com.

    Are you working for Rob and/or Epik?

    October 31st, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Louise

    Epik logos are my taste! That’s no fabrication. Look, I created a mosaic of Epik logos on the homepage of my site: http://www.bedding-stores.net . They’re cute!

    Though I voted for a different logo on Bahamas.co – it wasn’t my first choice! – the entire site is nice, @ Elliot!

    My graphic artist is oversees. She did the logo for Bedding-Stores.net and the one on my blog linked to, above. Not too shabby! She has a painterly, decorative Eastern Europe style.

    @ Shane, @ Elliot, how come none of you saying anything about the great link I posted to Google head of anti-SPAM unit Matt Cutts discussing SEO for WP? Here it is again: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-for-bloggers

    Enjoy! :)

    October 31st, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    BFitz

    What’s known about Epik today that was not known before he won developer of the year? Fair weather fans! I lost my best site but I look forward to the challenge of re-building. Everyday for weeks I have woke up and told myself to get content up, but didn’t. All developers face the unknown of Google. Where are all the posts about investing a lot more than $250 in time and content only to get nowhere with G. This is a speed bump on an endless highway if you have a good domain and the will to monetize it.

    October 31st, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Nadia

    @ Louise, That’s fine if you like their logos, but they’re not really worth $200. Ask any designer if they think that qualifies as real logo design, and they’ll say no.

    You can save yourself a lot of money by doing things like that yourself, if you have some Photoshop experience. All you’d need is a stock image of whatever product you’re showcasing that’s isolated (on a white background), and some cool fonts. Vary the colors a bit, add some drop shadow, and you’re done.

    Of course, for a higher quality logo, it’s best to outsource to a skilled designer. But like Elliot said, a lot of good quality designs (a lot more unique than Epik’s) can be found for lower prices.

    As far as the Bumper Protectors site, it sounds like Epik is doing the best they can to address the issue, but I’d be worried that a redesigned site that’s still on their nameservers would be a lateral move, and might be targeted again.

    The safest thing to do to get the site reindexed (and retain the resale value) would be to develop something independently. You could easily have your developer configure something using the WP Associate-o-Matic plugin that would give you a decent looking product portal, with fulfillment by Amazon.

    I’m not affiliated (and have never used the plugin) but it’s something I’m thinking of for a few of my sites. This is their Winter Sports demo:
    http://www.associate-o-matic.com/demo/sportinggoods/shop.php

    I can see how you wouldn’t want to invest too much time into this site, so do whatever you need to do to put some minimal content up, get the site reindexed, and flip to a company who can use the name.

    October 31st, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Rich

    Nadia, I didn’t know about WP Associate-o-Matic. I wouldn’t personally use it since I doubt it will get any kind of SERP, but it is nice to know about in case someone needs something quick.

    If anyone has a good designer for logos, I can use a reference.

    Google’s algorithms have become very sophisticated. Visitor time on site (linger time) as well as bounce rate and other metrics are now being used so old backlink strategies simply will not work anymore. Content has to be there to keep a visitor’s interest (as Eilliot’s Blog). Google wants interesting content in its top pages. It use to use the number of backlinks as a measure now it is far more sophisticated, using data that it is collecting from a variety of sources to measure the value of a site. I posted recently on this at:

    links.com/2010/10/best-google-seo-page-rank-serp-checklist/

    It is the best and most current checklist that I have found. For a good domain like bumberprotectors, I would use a simple CMS with some simple and relevant content that might be updated now and then.

    Bottom line is that if Google thinks your content is going to turn off its audience, you are going to be out. Google is looking for the best content for its advertisers.

    October 31st, 2010 at 5:42 pm

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