Over the past decade I have been running numerous SEO Tests and SEO Experiments on numerous different websites and try to monitor them on a weekly basis to pick up any changes in the search engine algorithms.
These SEO Tests have ranged from the basics, like adding made up words to title tags, made up words in Alt attributes, offpage CSS text, option value drop boxes, text areas, etc. through to more advanced things like cloaking and link manipulation.
Most of the tests I carry out are on sites which are only really set up for testing purposes, but occassionaly I use established sites too, as long as the tests don’t go too far over the webmaster guidelines.
It was whilst using one site for a bit of black hat testing that I picked up my first google penalty, what some people called at the time “the minus 30 penalty” Basically, everything the site was ranking high for at the time (thousands of semi-competitive keywords) suddenly ranked no higher than 30th position for the same keywords.
It taught me my first real lesson in SEO, don’t get complacent, don’t rely to much on one site, and most importantly, don’t use black hat techniques on sites you are not prepared to lose.
After picking up the penalty, I spent a lot of time completely cleaning the site up, removing lots of duplicate content, lots of dubius keyword stuffing, lots of doorway pages, quite a bit of semi-hidden text, any mischevious re-directs and lots of external links.
A month later there was no sign of the penalty being removed so I deleted 95% of the site, completely cleaned everything up, added some quality content and waited.
Approx 3 years later I was chatting to a friend on messenger when he asked if I was running some new SEO tests. Only the usual ones I said to which he replied that he had noticed my old site had re-appeared for some of the test phrases it was initially targeting. I quickly went and checked, and there it was, my old site back in the top position where it hadn’t been for all those years.
I added some new content to it, and it was soon clear that although the penalty had obviously been lifted it no longer had the amazing power it used to have (another friend always refered to it as the scudd missile).
I no longer use the site for trying to rank competitive phrases, but instead use it for my SEO Tests, but not black hat this time, although it doesn’t earn me anything, I would hate for it to dissapear in to obscurity again.
With all of this in mind, I will soon be re-setting all my SEO Tests and sharing some of my findings, if anyone else would like to share the results of SEO Tests please add a comment to this post and I will acknowledge the source and link back to your website.