LowFruits Case Study Site, Month 8: Handling Bad Backlinks

Welcome to Month 8 of the LowFruits case study!

If you’re only joining me now, a quick reminder: I started a BBQ blog under a fresh domain name with no prior history last October. 

Since then, I’ve been using LowFruits to find low-competition keywords.

The case study website reflects my typical website building system: 

  • Do good research
  • Publish well-written content
  • Provide a good user experience, so people stay and return to your site regularly

High DA and a strong backlink profile can help, but they’re not essential.

Before I dive into the case study developments, I want to know one thing:

Did You Survive the May Core Update?

I hope the May update to Google’s core algorithm did you some good.

(Or at least didn’t hurt you!) 

How did Google’s May core algorithm update affect you? Let me know in the comments!

It’s been crazy for me and many of the people I know. 

Yoyao of Niche Surfer and Mushifq of The Website Flip (whose newsletters everyone reading this case study should consider subscribing to) also had some of their sites hit. So did Alex of WP Eagle.

Fortunately, the case study site’s doing well, and so are the cash-cow websites in my portfolio. 

I did have one website that was hit.

I bought an aged domain in May and published 75 articles. I had done everything by the book:

  • Do your due diligence before purchasing the aged domain
  • Republish the pages that have links with fresh content
  • Don’t stray from the main site topic

Unfortunately, the site still tanked in the SERPs. The pages stayed indexed, but they’re nowhere to be found in the results.

Will it ever recover? Or will I need to 301-redirect to another domain to “reset” the algorithm? 

It’s too early to tell. 

This goes to show the nature of our game:

You win some, you lose some, and you never know which of your site(s) can get hit—and when. 

Diversify, and don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket.

(Just don’t spread yourself too thin.)

Website Traffic Is Growing!

The case study site had 6,200 page views in May, and there are 2 reasons why.

When I decided to start a BBQ website, conventional wisdom and Google Trends suggested I should expect seasonality:

  1. People are more likely to barbecue food on weekends than on weekdays -> traffic would go up & down during the week
  2. They don’t call the summer “grilling season” for no reason -> the site would get the most visits from May to September

The assumptions have panned out so far. 

In this game, you want a niche with as few surprises and unpredictability as possible.

Here are the total clicks and total impressions the site received from Google in May:

At first, I thought that the site had gotten a lift from the update (cue drumroll).

Then, I checked May’s Bing search traffic in Bing Webmaster Tools and saw an almost identical spike:

The spike wasn’t because of Google. 

People are searching for answers to outdoor cooking questions during the weekends.

I combine Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools for all my websites. If you notice drops or spikes, you can compare data and sanity-check your assumptions.

How I Handle Low-Quality Backlinks

I’m seeing some weirdness in the website’s Ahrefs backlinks profile.

In May, the site got nofollow backlinks from 36 websites with .in domain names. 

These websites have the same layout and content. It looks like they crawl Alexa’s list of top 1M domains on the internet and display it in a Web 1.0 link directory-like format.

Other sites in my portfolio had links like these.

It’s hard to tell if it’s an automated crawler or a competitor trying to mess up your backlink profile.

Whatever it is, my solution is always twofold:

First, I reach out to the contact they provided on the “Remove Link” page and take a screenshot of it as proof. 

Secondly, I go to Google Search Console’s Disavow Links tool and update my site’s disavow file.

These days, Google ignores bad links to your site. I’m not worried; even new websites get bad backlinks within weeks (likely due to spun content written by AI tools).

(For example, I have a three-year-old website in a highly competitive niche where people prefer to play dirty than compete fairly. The site’s disavow file contains 1,479 domains.)

LowFruits Tip of the Month

Did you know you can use LowFruits not only to search for keywords—but to create content outlines?

Say you’ve found a good keyword to compete for, like “how to flip a house with no money.”

Fire up the Keyword Finder and use that keyword as a seed keyword. 

You will get at least a dozen ideas for your subheadings in the “All” tab and “Questions” tab.

When you get many results back—and they all look good—analyze them all.

Then, select the ones with the highest number of low fruits.

You’ll create an outline that sets you up to attract maximum organic traffic!

Metrics Over Time

Traffic

Time PeriodMay 1, 2022 – April 30, 2022
Monthly Pageviews6,200
Avg. Engagement Time0.46 s
Engaged Sessions / User0.47
Pageviews / Published Post (PPP)65.26

Source: Google Analytics

Take a look at the traffic distribution:

The best thing about building a site with low-competition keywords is that organic traffic is distributed evenly across the pages.

This makes the website stable even as competitors and copycats come in, or Google changes its mind about the search intent and the best results.

Content

Rankings

Date CheckedJune 10, 2022
Avg. Position (Google, USA, Mobile)12.17
Avg. Position (Google, USA, Desktop)9.21
Positions in Top 3 on SERPs29 (+4 Month-over-Month)
Positions in 4-10 on SERPs21 (No Change Month-over-Month)
Positions in 11-100 on SERPs12 (-6 Month-over-Month)

Source: Ubersuggest

Earnings

Time PeriodMay 1, 2022 – May 31, 2022
Total Revenue Since Start of Site$0
Total Revenue YTD (2021)$0
Monthly Revenue$0
Of which $0 from display adsOf which $0 from affiliate commissions
Revenue / Published Post (RPP)$0

Who I Am

Thank you for reading (or scrolling?) this far.

Since 2007, I have been building, buying, investing in, and selling websites. I’ve been in and out of this business, sometimes full-time, other times as a side hustle. Wherever life takes me, I somehow seem to find my way back to this game.

How do you know you can trust me?

I have experienced pandas and penguins. I owned Facebook pages with millions of likes back when Facebook pages brought traffic and earned passive income from niche sites before it was cool (back then, we called ourselves “webmasters”).

More recently, I started a website under a new domain name in August 2020 that reached 150,000 monthly page views and a DR of 26 in Ahrefs in May 2022.

Here’s a screenshot of that hockey-stick growth, with a few bumps along the way and followed by a plateau, that everyone likes to tell you about:

I am a Certified Ezoic Expert, an Ezoic Premium Publisher, and a member of Ezoic’s Premium Accelerator Program.

I am not the most public person on earth, and I prefer privacy to the spotlight. However, if you like what I have to say and want to get in touch with me, you can do so on my website AskDim.com (ask as in “ask me a question”).

Stay Tuned

I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I started this site!

Stay tuned for next month because it’s Month 9, and that’s when I will be revealing the case study site!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

8 Comments

Jessica Gaige June 15, 2022

Very interesting! I’m in month 7 with similar traffic to yours, though on more posts. I’m new to LowFruits but I’ll be following along!

Reply

Thanks for following along, Jessica! You’re doing great, keep it up =)

Dim

Reply

I released 5 star and I’ve been following you for many years, even I always go to your website called https://askdim.com.

Really I appreciate your writing and tips. However, unfortunately, I got a big impact by the last core update.

I would happy if you give me some tips or just visit my site for only 15 minutes if you have enough time; then so…! Stay Safe!

Reply

Hey there, Rahul,

Thanks for being a fan and sorry to hear your sites got hit by the algo update.

RankMath have an excellent write-up on the topic at https://rankmath.com/blog/google-algorithm-update-recovery/

Hope this helps,

Dim

Reply
Hamza Khurshid June 17, 2022

I am going to try this out for sure

Reply

Best of luck, Hamza!

Dim

Reply
ZK Rollups June 19, 2022

We used the advice on LowFruits and Dim’s content to generate 2 or 3 featured snippets for https://zkrollups.io/zk-rollup-projects/ for the keyword zk rollup projects – Going to add more content about zkrollup related content and build out individual companies that use this layer 2 scaling technology. Thank you for these awesome blog posts with great information to digest as well as LowFruits – It’s a great tool with a lot of value and the credit system is phenomenal!

Reply

This comment made my day, ZK!

Thanks for following along—and happy to hear you’re crushing it.

Dim

Reply

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