I got into day trading in 2000 and put everything into Dot Com shares. I took $30,000 and turned it into over $200,000. I thought I was a genius. I bought $1000 courses, watched them, applied the principles and learned to trade options. It was insane what I was doing and I never should have done it, but it was the golden age of day trading and I supported my family for 2 full years (and bought lots of fun toys too!) trading. I had no idea at the time it was the glory days of the stock market.
I really got into SEO in 2010. The same thing. I started doing just about every blackhat (i.e., non-kosher) technique I could find. I was hiring every blackhat service out there. I even had my own Xrummer server at one point (really bad stuff, total spam). What can I say? It worked. It made me a lot of money. While I knew it would end one day, I felt like it would go forever. But it didn’t. In early 2012, I went from making over $15,000 a month to making about $3000 a month. It could have been worse, for sure, but it was a huge hit for me and I learned my lesson. I just stopped doing SEO.
Then I decided to get back in it. You can read my posts on the niche site building I’m doing now. I don’t think much has changed except for my attitude and expectations. If you want to rank you need to build links. You might as well build them with whatever method is working now (in short, lots of different types of links from many sources, links from relevant sites and social signals). Google doesn’t care if you’re doing everything right. When they make an algorithm change they go after any site that has violated the current update of the day. There were many, many sites that have been around for many years and never did anything blackhat, but were punished by Google. Google is not your friend. At this point, I would say Google hates you. If you’re doing anything that’s not kittens and lollipops, Google won’t approve.
So, what’s the solution? It’s actually easier than you think, or at least easier than I thought. Build, blackhat, get destroyed and start again. That’s right. Google will eventually punish your site unless you’re CNN or the BBC or some other massive authority site like Wikipedia. If you’re a little guy (like me!) trying to rank #1 for any search term with any reasonable amount of traffic, Google doesn’t want you. They despise you and will do anything they can to remove you. But it’s a big world with a lot of Internet searches. Google has to put something there. Create the best quality content, create some quality links and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. If you’re site is crushed by Google, just rebuild it (and they will come. I had to say that!)