A couple of weeks back there was some hot debate about how “Google hates affiliates“.
In this blog post I showed how I had a site for 12 years and didn't change a thing and had very steady rankings. Then I added an affiliate link and within days my rankings dropped.
I then removed the link and it bounced back.
However… in a more nefarious twist, days later the rankings disappeared again.
I thought that there may have been a chance that the site now had a black mark against it's name and would never rank well again.
There was plenty of debate, with some great theories and some flawed theories (in my opinion).
For example Allan thoughtfully pondered:
You've probably already thought of this, but one avenue to explore is what your competitors are doing. By a hugely unlikely coincidence, could one of your site's main competitors have made a change that caused their site to outrank yours in the search engines?
However, the keyword drop was reported to be significant and across all the main high volume keywords.
There was also some not so promising news from Mike:
Jay – I've had the exact problem and never regained my first page ranking even after removing the affiliate link.
We discussed a lot of options around ensuring that we always no-follow the link and make sure that it's masked.
However, there was also some positive corroborating advice from both Bernard:
Maybe the reason is that you have “updated” the site some weeks ago (on March) and you haven't updated more on the following days and the “algorithm” is waiting for updates on this site.. and because you don't continue updating, the algorithm is paying more attention to your site.. I believe GG pay special attention on refreshness..
And also from Jacob:
Also… Over the years, I've noticed that when I make changes to my sites that cause a drop in rankings, whether they're links changes or other kinds of broad site structural changes, my rankings drop temporarily and then rebound. But after like 4-6 weeks or so. A long time. It's like Google puts my site on probation “until the dust settles” on site changes.
Not sure if that applies here, as 1 simple affiliate link change wouldn't seem like much of a shakeup, but maybe it was in a pivotal location on the homepage or something.
Which is very interesting now that I've left if for a few weeks…
The rankings have returned!
So it seems like there is something with when you shake things up on the home page then it might give some time to see the dust settle.
Check it out:
So it seems like Google isn't such a monster after all. :)
Which is nice to consider that if you do restore the page, or work on your site to come into line with their expectations, you have a good shot at restoring your rankings.
Let me know your thoughts below.
On another note, I've been working on restoring an old site that had a penalty applied to it. I've been doing a lot of work on cleaning things up and it looks to me like I'm making some good progress. I'll show you more about that soon.