Category Archives: Blogging
I’m sure I’m not the only website owner who has a love/hate relationship with backlinks. Sometimes they’re your best friend, you may have a solid link profile and know that google holds your site in high esteem, or you may have a relatively new site or one that it is hard to get links to, and thus be struggling with your rankings. Backlinks are a huge part of SEO and the marketing of your website and thus are not to be ignored, here I’m going to look at how many backlinks you really need for your site.
Backlinks Are Not Your Number One Priority
Where a lot of people seem to trip up is thinking that SEO is the main aspect of internet marketing. It isn’t. You can have a thousand brilliant backlinks but if there’s nothing worth seeing on your site and nothing to hook viewers in then you just wont succeed, not to mention the fact that you won’t get the links in the first place! The point of links being a key factor in SEO is that you usually only get the high quality ones by posting great content, the BBC don’t link to rubbish sites, NASA wont link to you if you aren’t a real authority in your field, and nobody will want to link to you if your site is poor. The flip side of that is that if you make a great quality site you are much more likely to get links from people who find it.
Links are needed, especially in certain niches, but CONTENT should always be your priority. Your content is the linchpin holding your site (and possibly business) together.
Ranking Without Links
Because Google knows that links can be manipulated, and aren’t always the most accurate representation of a website’s quality, it isn’t the only ranking factor, and you can get your site to the top of google in certain niches without a single backlink. People like the adsense flippers make a living out of this method. Choose the right keywords and as they put it the “low-hanging fruit” and you can rank without links, taking a big job off your hands. You can bet that the sites that rank in this way have good quality content on them and follow all of the other key areas of SEO to get to the top of the SERPs.
Ranking With Links
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to get to the top with no linking, and though it should ideally take care of itself (eventually), sometimes your link profile needs a helping hand. It isn’t as simple as putting a good site online and waiting for it to rank, and links pointing to it can be extremely powerful. A good way to gauge is to look at the QUALITY links pointing to the top ranking sites (especially if they are niche sites built in the same way as yours rather than a wikipedia, eHow or Squidoo article). Unfortunately there is no yardstick by which to measure, and you have to play it by ear, but my main advice to you would be to focus on quality in links. One link from a Nasa or a BBC could be worth thousands of links on directories, social profiles or other average to poor sources. Keep your links relevant and from authority sources and you can get your site to the top of the rankings without slaving away on tons of links. Find good quality guest posting opportunities and get your site featured in the best places and watch it soar to the top. Quality trumps quantity in this game, especially after the penguin, panda and EMD updates.
When I first learned about making money online, I thought that blogging was the main way people turned their hours spent online into cash. It is true that people have made good money blogging, look at Darren Rowse over at Problogger or Pat Flynn’s blog (though he does make a lot of his money from other sources). Knowing what I do now, I would not recommend blogging as one of the easier ways to make money online, and in fact it is probably among the most difficult. So why is it so hard to make a living blogging?
Blog Vs Authority Site
Before we go much further I’m just going to set the paramaters for what I’m talking about. A blog and an authority site are not the exact same thing. The two can intertwine but in my opinion, a blog is a fast-evolving site with a lot of articles about current news in a certain area, for example a football blog will talk a lot about the current issues in football. An authority site focuses on more evergreen content and information that covers a long period of time, sticking with the football analogy, a football authority site would focus more on the techniques or information that will not become outdated after the next set of fixtures.
Why so Difficult?
So what is so tough about blogging, let’s break it down.
- If you’re writing about things that change a lot, or relying on current events, you can’t count on search engine traffic. A subject like “how to make pancakes” will always be the same, and will always be searched for, but “music to look forward to in 2013″ will eventually die down, and won’t bring you visitors from google.
- It requires a lot of commitment and passion, you need to be on it with your blog and write new content all the time to keep people engaged. An authority site can have content that stays the same for years and is still relevant, but on a blog, although you will probably have some authority content, you need to be current.
- You probably don’t have a product. The best websites for profits have something to sell, either their own or on somebody else’s behalf. You’ll probably find it tough to shoe-horn a product into certain topics and blog subjects so you may be relying heavily on advertising, meaning you need a huge amount of traffic in order to make any sizeable sum of money.
The best blogs are not “blogs for blogs’ sake”. They’re there to help you promote a product or a service and to make money in a more intelligent way. Putting content online and expecting it to make you a living by magic is not likely, and though you can make good money out of a blog if you do it right, most people do it completely wrong. Your blog should be an offshoot of something bigger, that is going to convert into better cash for you, whether that’s through something you sell yourself, an affiliate program or some other means. Adsense and other ad networks are great, but expect to spend years building up enough traffic on your blog for them to make you rich.
Be clever about your blogging if you want to see results.
As any experienced Internet Marketer will tell you, making a living online is an art that is constantly changing and evolving. When I got into the game, micro niche sites were popular, and having an “exact match domain” for the keyword you were targeting could help to propel you to the top spots in Google even with a small site. This is becoming more and more difficult to do, and though you do find these kind of sites in the top spots of Google, it might not be the wisest business model, so are micro niche sites dying?
What is a Micro Niche Site?
So that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet, I’m going to lay down my definition. Micro Niche Sites are 1-5 page sites that target an extremely specific keyword. These kind of sites will target a keyword such as “red shoes for men”, buy a domain that matches the topic and build out a small site with that keyword heavily targeted. A niche site or authority site is more likely to be about shoes, or men’s fashion, and to target the keyword with an article instead of a whole site.
The EMD Update
Google has released a series of updates that target smaller sites, lower quality sites and sites with fewer pages, which have served to kill off a LOT of smaller sites. Not all of them, but a lot. It was called the EMD update because the exact match domains were a lot less powerful after it, and having “redshoesformen.org” for example would probably not be enough to get you to page one. Of course, there are some sites that only ever need one page, as the search query can be answered with one page, such as “what is the time?”. Google will never completely ignore one page sites but that doesn’t mean it isn’t more beneficial to have multiple pages.
Why I Err On The Side of Authority Sites
An Authority site is pretty much what it says on the tin, a big resource of authoritative information on a website. A lot of internet marketers who would once upon a time have focused on smaller sites are now focusing on these larger authority sites. They are still within a niche, they just cover a broader range of subjects. So what are the benefits?
- More likely to be linked to. People see a big authority site with loads of great info, they’re more likely to link to it than a one page site.
- Google holds it in higher esteem. Google loves content, new content, lots of content and content that interlinks. A 100 page site about Pianos will often hold more weight than a 10 page site about pianos.
- More profit. It makes sense that if you cover a big range of topics you can achieve higher traffic and make more money out of your website.
- Mailing Lists and Social Networks. Have you ever signed up to the mailing list of a one page site? No? Me neither. If I see a huge site with loads of new articles added regularly, though, I will sign up so that I don’t miss out or follow on social networks. The holy grail of niche sites is not to have to rely on search engine traffic, and this allows you to build an audience outside of the big G.
- You can establish yourself as an expert. It stands to reason that people will trust the opinion of somebody providing 100 great articles than just one. Become the one person in your niche providing huge amounts of great info and you will be the expert, which will increase not only reputation but affiliate sales (due to a more trusted opinion), more back links and recommendations. Set out to be the best.
- It’s cheaper. If you set up 1,000 sites with three pages on each you are going to have to shell out a fortune. One site with 3,000 pages is still only one site and will cost you a LOT less. If you don’t have a lot of capital to invest then this should definitely play a part in your decision.
I’m not going to go so far as to say that micro niche sites aren’t worth making, as I have some that are ranking and making money, but my focus is now definitely on authority sites with dozens and even hundreds of pages of quality, relevant content. In the modern age of Google, it just makes a lot more sense.
I’ve been experimenting with digital products recently. As many of you will already know I am always keen to find new ways to monetize my blogs and niche sites and there is certainly a strong argument for digital products being the most effective way to do so. I remember listening to an interview on Yaro Starak’s podcast with a guy who made $300,000 on a website about model trains, because he had made a guide and sold it on his site, which was getting huge amounts of organic traffic. This is a business model that certainly can work extremely well and you might not need a high percentage of your viewers to buy something for it to make you a nice chunk of money. So what are my tips for selling a digital product?
Make it QUALITY and UNIQUE
This is oh so important but unfortunately some people completely bypass this crucial step. When you’re creating your product you need to make sure it isn’t slapdash and that it offers real value, the same set of morals you should have when it comes to building any blogs or niche websites too. If your product isn’t good enough then you’re not going to succeed, it is as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what you make, a video course, an eBook, a set of instructional audio clips, anything, just so long as it helps and does what you’ve advertised.
Find your pricing point
This is a tough one, people are becoming more accepting of digital products in the 21st century, which has been aided by the introduction of the tablet and the kindle. In fact a lot of the books and other forms of media consumed are consumed digitally, which is great for the independent publisher or content producer, but it can also mean that finding how much people are willing to pay is tough. It depends a lot on how specialist the knowledge you are imparting is, and what the competition is selling its products for. I have bought digital products for $100 and for $1, and been happy with both. You need to pay close attention to what others are doing and decide just how valuable your product is.
Sell to an existing audience
You don’t have to do this, but it definitely will make your path a lot easier. What I mean by selling a digital product to an already existing audience is that you should create a product to market to traffic you already have coming to a website or other online presence rather than simply creating a product and then trying to build an audience. If you already run a site about dogs, make your dog training guide and stick it online, don’t make the product first and then try to market it, the road will be a lot longer.
Let other people sell it for you
Affiliate schemes are an amazing way for you to sell your products. People like Clickbank will let you sell your digital product on their marketplace, which means that not only will you get eyeballs looking at your product on there, people will be able to sell it on their own websites for a percentage. You’ll cut into your profit margin but you will be getting sales you never would have otherwise.
You’ve probably heard the saying “content is king”. It’s no joke, content really is the most important part of internet marketing, it is the linchpin holding together everything else you are trying to achieve. Sales, SEO, blogging, niche sites, it all boils down to content, and the task of creating good quality content on a regular basis falls to us, the website owners, bloggers, writers and entrepreneurs.
So what do I class as quality content?
- Blog posts that offer value. I don’t care if that value is offered in 100 words or 1500, and think it is a shame that a lot of people drag out blog posts just for SEO purposes. Sometimes 100 words is all that is needed to provide the information or inspiration that people need. Don’t write for the sake of it, write because you have something to say. Whether a blog post or article is worthwhile depends 100% on the audience. If they get something out of it then it has been worth it.
- Videos. Video offers us an amazing way to connect in the 21st century. I don’t take advantage of video as much as I could but I am very much aware of it’s importance. Videos can come in many formats including interviews, documentaries, tutorials and even funny promotional videos. Again, if it is enjoyed and valuable information is transferred then it constitutes quality.
- Podcasts. Ah, the power of a podcast! I love podcasts and subscribe to loads in the internet marketing space. Having a regular opportunity to present a show and address your audience directly allows you to provide them with tons of information and your personality can shine through.
- Photographs. This works better for some niches than others, but photos can add another dimension to your website.
The area that a lot of people struggle with is regularly putting content out. It is the whole point of a blog and what your audience (not to mention the search engines) are expecting. So why should you focus on creating content above all other areas?
Well, the truth is that your content is probably your product, or at least one of your products. Without it you have nothing to sell. It is easy to get bogged down in doing SEO or social networking and trying to drive traffic, but without the content to boot you’re just a shopkeeper advertising an empty shop. Regular content is 100% necessary for your success.
Don’t fear, though, you can definitely put out three or four posts a week by combining the methods above. My advice is to combine two main methods of creating content, for instance text and a podcast or videos and text.
Hold Yourself Accountable
If you’re struggling with regularity of content, create a schedule of say three or four posts a week, share it, pin it up, and be accountable for it. You can stray from it a bit here and there but in general your goal should be laid out in front of you to avoid straying and making excuses to put off the all important task of content creation.
Just Ship It
So many of us fall foul of trying to be perfect. Perfectionism is a curse and a lot of the time you’ll get away with not worrying about perfection. I’m not contradicting myself, and I do stand by my comments about quality content, but you are allowed imperfections, nobody is going to judge you for a slightly shaky video or a tiny bit of bad grammar. Yes it is best avoided but it is better to put something out and try to improve as time goes on than to constantly stay in the shadows out of fear of not being amazing. Just ship it!
A few months ago now, I was listening to Spencer Haws’ amazing podcast where he interviewed the awesome Hayden Miyamoto over the course of two shows (roughly an hour long each). I have listened to these two shows over and over again, and though things have changed in the world of search engines and niche sites since the podcast was released, I am still fascinated by the techniques discussed, and have been experimenting with them.
The subject they were talking about was expired or deleted domains. Domains that have either become redundant due to having served their purpose (mittromneyforpresident2012.com for example) or the owners have simply lost interest or deleted the site for another reason. What are the benefits of picking up a domain with history?
- Domain Age. It can make your site look older than it is, and it is thought that a domain with a 10 year history will outrank a similar site with a one year history, longevity is important to Google.
- Backlinks. The site may well already have backlinks pointing to it which increases its authority in Google’s eyes, especially if these are from reliable and valued sources.
- PR. This mainly stems from the existing links, but some of these sites are available for purchase with a very high page rank already. I’ve picked up PR3 and 4 websites with relative ease before, which is really beneficial for your future plans with the domain.
Very well, so what is the best thing to do when you pick up one of these domains, and how is it helpful to your niche site pursuits? Well, personally I think either an authority site, a ‘link farm’ or both can be great uses of these valuable domains. Here are my tips for both.
- Authority sites. Ok, if you plan to build your new domain out as a new authority site then you MUST make sure it is relevant to the subject suggested in the name of the domain or the content that was previously on it. Building an authority site on the domain welovepets.com all about politics is going to mean it is harder to rank in Google and that your links are of less value or relevance. The main benefit of having an authority site on one of these domains is that it will probably be a lot more highly respected than if you just built it on a brand new domain, it will rank higher and perform better (and quicker).
- “Link Farms”. There is some debate in the webmaster community of whether this is a more “black hat” technique. Building links to your money sites from these aged domains is a pretty common technique we are starting to see used more and more. In effect you are passing on the high authority of the site you have acquired to your own sites. The problem is that if your sites are on the same “shared” hosting account, google might figure out what you’re doing and penalise your site, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. The only real way around it is separate hosting accounts and even C Class IP addresses but this can prove very expensive. Link farms are certainly a more risky use of expired or deleted domains.
Where to Find Them
There are actually quite a few methods of finding expired domains, so I’m going to put them into a separate tutorial to be released soon, for more information in the mean time just search for Hayden Miyamoto and Spencer Haws to find the interview, or subscribe to Spencer’s “Niche Pursuits Podcast” on iTunes.
To kick off this article I’d like to let you all know that I am not a millionaire, far from it, but I do make money online and am basing this article on a huge amount of research I have done.
We all want to make a good living, right? And for a lot of people, a real benchmark in earnings is to reach the millions. Your target might be a million a year or a million over 20 years, but can you create that income for yourself online, and how? Are there people doing so already?
Blogging for Millions
Blogging is a legitimate way to make money. I have talked about it a lot here on Dollars Per Day as I try and make a full time living online. A blog is a platform to sell products, advertising space or promote other money making projects you are involved in, but can it make you millions?
Certain niches and blog topics can be very profitable, usually the ones in high value industries and with valid buyers looking for information on a product. Depending on your definition of a ‘blog’ it is very possible to make (over a long period of time) a million from it. For example, if you were reviewing laptops and electronic equipment every day on your blog, and had a huge amount of articles, not only would you be able to make good commissions referring sales (up to $50 per laptop sold for example), you could demand good money for banner ads and other types of on site advertising. An income of $300 (or £200 if you’re in the UK like me) is certainly realistic, even though it would be very hard work. This would bring you to a million in 10 years, which isn’t bad. Double the size of your site and the sales you make and you will half the time to get to a million, it is possible but difficult.
Selling your blogs or websites is another good way to create income quickly. Get to £10,000 a month and you can probably sell your site for 20 times that on a site like Flippa.com. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Other Online Businesses
There are many other online businesses where the potential for income could be larger or easier to reach. Some are listed below.
Membership websites create a great recurring income. 1,000 members of a £29 a month membership site providing courses, information or premium resources could see you make a million in just a few years. Scale the business up and the money is undeniably there for the taking.
Digital products such as courses and eBooks are amazing for making high profit margins. They cost little to produce, and the sales can be through the roof if promoted correctly. A set of £29 eBooks can make you a huge amount of money over the course of a couple of years, just make sure you are providing value and not selling spammy content.
Whether you are producing, importing or drop shipping physical products, there is a huge amount of money to be made. People purchase online every day and the industry grows by billions every year. Another income source where your niche is important. Choose products with a high markup, promote them well and race to a million.
Self Publishing on Kindle
Similar to the digital product niche, many people have taken advantage of the kindle boom to publish their fiction and non-fiction books and make a shed load of money.
Check out John Locke’s book on becoming a millionaire via Kindle self publishing. How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months.
In case you couldn’t already tell, I am a firm believer that this type of income is obtainable from your blog, and am certain that people make millions per year online.
The best way to go about it is probably to experiment with the methods I’ve mentioned among many others, and you’ll probably settle on a profitable combination that works for you. Not a large percentage of internet marketers and webmasters will hit millions, but some of them certainly do.
One of the first things we learn about blogging is how important it is to update regularly. The search engines love new content, as do your readers, and keeping a rhythm of posting is key to keeping people engaged and allow your blog to grow steadily. Not all of us have time to post to our blog every day though, or even the recommended 3 or 4 times a week, especially considering the fact that it is recommended that our posts exceed 400 words nowadays, so how can we make sure our blogs are updated with new content all the time without spending hours at our desks or laptops writing?
- Allow Guest Posts. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Guest posts are one of the best ways out there for sourcing new content. It is mutually beneficial, you get new content and in return give the writer a link back to their website. You need to moderate this and make sure you’re not just publishing any old rubbish on your blog, so building good relationships with writers is important.
- Buy Content. There are lots of organisations out there who will provide great content for a reasonable price. Freelance writers might be hard to come by but once you find one you can pay them to regularly provide content. If you’re making money from your blogs you can think of this as a business expense. You can hire me for writing gigs too at a competitive price.
- Aggregate Other People’s Content. Don’t think of it as cheating. Many people will be glad to see collections of other peoples’ content as long as you provide value. A list of the best blog posts you’ve seen that week or a collection of Youtube videos around a certain theme can be a great way to craft a quick and easy blog post.
- Make Videos. Videos can be another way to make a quick but valuable post. Also, they can drive traffic directly from the sites oyu’re hosting them on such as Vimeo and Youtube, and provide backlinks to your site. Win/Win situation.
- Make a Podcast. Similar deal to videos, and especially good if you don’t like your face being on screen. Podcasts are a good way to establish a following and grow your online businesses as well as increase respect for you in your particular niche. They can also be a nice variation from writing new posts.
- Post Photos. Easier in some niches than in others, but photos open up a new realm of possibilities for your site. Not only can you be found from Google’s image searches and Flickr, they’re also great ‘link bait’, meaning an inspiring or clever photo could well be linked to from loads of social networks and websites, providing you with great exposure.
- Just Do It. It can be easy to just say “oh I’ll post tomorrow” and tomorrow never comes. You need discipline in this game, and putting aside the time to just sit down, focus and bash out some new content is integral to your success.