I have a few websites - 2 of which make the most (relative) money for me. In 2011 I was earning up to £400 a month from these sites, and I've done an awful lot of work on them since, adding lots of original content. They are information websites, and the money comes mainly from AdSense.
Now I'm lucky to make £150 a month - which was not the idea as I was made redundant and wanted to try and build my own business.
Last year I paid out £600 for consultancy advice - I thought I was paying for SEO, but it ended up as SEM. As I get 26% direct traffic this has helped, but I don't think I got the best advice.
My earnings started dropping in Jan 2012, but I was advised as my page rank remained the same it was nothing to do with black and white animals, however with a further drop towards the end of last month I believe I have been caught up with Penguin, but I have received no warnings from Google.
The only thing I have done wrong is that in late 2011/early 2012 I wrote about 20 articles, and used Submit Your Article to syndicate these for me. Could this have upset Google?
I keep looking at my links in Webmaster Tools, and wondering if I should use the disavow tool for the links from the Article sites. What I really need is an expert to look at these for me, but with my extremely low income from the sites I haven't the money to spend. I do believe that there is mileage in the sites and am continuing to put the work in.
Sorry for the long post, but my main question is, could I have got caught by the Penguins, and was the submission of the articles the reason for my sites dropping? And should I remove the links to the article sites?
Thanks for any assistance or advice!