As part of running an e-commerce business, one of the most important aspects is Search Engine Optimisation. With Google constantly pushing out new code changes, it’s important to keep ahead of the curve. Part of keeping ahead of the curve means testing out new concepts, design changes and just general ideas. One of the first tests I did was for a social joke site called The Dead Baby Joke. It’s now defunct if you are looking for it by the way – I had to shut it down for a number of reasons.
The idea came about 2 years ago at party, after a series of drinks and bad jokes. I was introduced to the most horrible jokes in the world – dead baby jokes. If you haven’t heard of them, just look them up yourself. It’s pretty bad…
Anyway, the thought was – why not make a site based on the concept of voting for the worst / best dead baby jokes? It should be simple enough in cost, and it’d allow me to test some social media concepts.
Creating the Dead Baby Joke site (DBJ) was simple enough – I hit up Guru.com looking for firstly a designer for the logo. That was easy and quite fun actually – for a minimal amount, we got the above logo.
Next in line was the actual website. I wanted a website where you could vote on the actual jokes and have people submit it, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an off-the-shelf blog. I ended up with a modified WordPress blog, with a number of design changes and plug-in’s which worked quite well to start.
Next step was launching the site and getting some backlinks. That was pretty easy – there are a ton of directory sites out there for jokes and once a few were submitted we started ranking quite fast for the longtail keywords. In fact, we were no.2 within a few months with minimal cost.
Unfortunately, we grew too fast and really didn’t have a good set-up on the backend. In about 5 months, we got hacked. A bunch of malicious code was added to the site where malware was dropped onto visitors. To fix it, I wiped the site and relaunched it – within a few weeks, we were hacked again.
The hacking saw our rankings drop off the chart with Google and we never did recover our rankings. From generating a few dollars a day on Adsense, we stopped even ranking for the most basic keywords – we started receiving less than a 100 visitors a month.
Eventually, I just let it die rather than fight the uphill battle to rank again. Our base code was bad obviously and this was after all an experiment.
Firstly, we learnt a lot about basic website links / linking information. I played around with some spammy link building tactics and noticed what worked, didn’t work when it was going well. Directories back then worked well; general forum work not so much.
Secondly, make sure you have good code. Backing up the data was good, but having code that wasn’t too easy to hack would have been better. That’s the problem with WordPress – it’s so popular, hackers all work hard to figure out what the most common holes are. And then hit you with it – so you need to keep the entire site up to date.
Thirdly; if you do get hit with bad rankings, its viable to creep up (we did get a few rankings back before we got hacked a 2nd time) but it requires a lot of work. You are better off making sure you never get hacked in the first place.
Lastly; with a small budget you can definitely create sites that are cool and fun and generate some revenue. It’ll take a lot more work to generate an actual business though from this.