Category Archives: Featured

Google’s EMD Update and Staying White Hat

white_hat

So another mass panic in the world of SEO, Niche Sites and making a living online was sparked by Google’s EMD update almost a week ago. Matt Cutts announced via his Twitter account that a small algorithm change would target low quality exact match sites, and in some cases (I’m sure) the update has done what it set out to. As with the recent Penguin update, the initial results were drastic, and people saw their sites, whether low quality and spammy or high quality and well constructed, fall drastically down the rankings. As the dust began to settle, people in the IM and niche site communities started blogging about the update and some of the effects they saw on their sites.

Some people out there saw some pretty nasty results, and those earning thousands of dollars every month in the niche site market saw their businesses hit. Badly. Some of the best blog posts on the subject are over on Niche Pursuits and Adsense Flippers. I’ve followed these guys for a long time, and I know for a fact that their sites are not low quality. In fact, these blog posts point out some brilliant examples of poorer sites seeing good results while their more well constructed sites saw bad results. This can be extremely frustrating for those of us who have worked hard on our sites for a long time, only to see them gone from the SERPS in one fell swoop. In fact, frustration is probably the main feeling post-EMD.

It can be tempting when you see these kind of mixed results to do one of two things; the first is to give up, throw in the towel and move on to something else. If that’s for you, then no problem, maybe you’ve made some cash in the online space and think it’s time to pivot. Alternatively, you can, as the Adsense Flippers say, roll with the punches. The truth is, google isn’t some all-seeing power that cynically gets rid of sites for no reason, it does have a long term vision, and it doesn’t make any secret of what the long term vision is. Their terms of service are clear, and their criteria for ranking, though slightly secretive, is pretty widely accepted. Changes such as the EMD update can know you for six sometimes, but whether with the sites that have been hit, or with new ones, you should persevere and move on with white hat methods.

As mentioned above, one feeling people experience in the aftermath of an update like this one is temptation. I’ve seen a few examples now of sites that really aren’t well built or particularly “google friendly” (or so we thought) that are actually performing pretty well. This can lead us into spammy techniques as we think “well what’s the point in staying white hat when the black hat guys have all the success”, but the truth is that the black hat success is never going to last. Google has to evolve, and we cant blame them for making updates such as this, and though they’re not always everybody’s best friend (don’t get me started on adsense accounts and the like) they do have a vision that they are happy for us all to be a part of, stay white hat, build sites for the long term that are full of quality content and backed up with high quality back links, and over time you will see the amazing results you’re hoping for. There is no quick fix, and attempts to game the system are always eventually knocked on the head (not that having exact match domains were ‘gaming’, just saying).

Good luck to you if you find yourself needing to rebuild and restructure your online business in light of the new updates. Drop me a comment and let me know how you’ve been affected and what your future plans are.

How to Get Blog Followers the Natural Way

followers

So you’ve started your blog, the content is there and you’re ready for people to read it. There are loads of ways to drive traffic to your website, some people try and get traffic from Facebook or Twitter, some try to get it from Google, some from Mailing Lists and all sorts of other means. What we bloggers are all looking for at the end of the day is the same thing; followers.

How am I defining Followers?

Lots of blogging platforms out there have a ‘follow’ system, which is fine, it’s a good way to keep a track of who is interested in what you’re doing online, but I’m not just talking about the little number that will come up on your feed, I’m talking about people that come back to your blog again and again. THAT is a follower, and that is what you should aim for. You can of course utilise methods to keep people tied in to your blog, and being on social networks or having a mailing list are ways that you can make it easier for people to follow you, but these numbers only matter if people are actually engaging.

So How to Get Blog Followers?

There isn’t an exact formula, I’m afraid, and there are loads of ways to get people to your blog, but there are certain tried and tested methods that will help you to get readers to keep coming back to your site. I’ve listed some below.

  • GOOD, UNIQUE CONTENT – You’ve heard it before I’m sure, but good content on your blog is so important, I love Corbett Barr’s analogy on this subject where he says that trying to start driving traffic without good, unique content is like trying to start a fire with wet wood. It doesn’t matter how much you promote your site and how many people see it if there is nothing there for people to engage with. The foundations of online success are built entirely on content, make sure yours is not substandard and you’ll be off on the right footing.
  • Make Your Blog a Thing of Beauty – Unfortunately, presentation is important, not as important of content, but still key to your success, especially when it comes to followers. People maybe shouldn’t be so shallow, but its natural to have less trust in a site that is relatively ugly, as opposed to one that looks modern and classy, you have to project the right image of your blog if you want people to take it seriously and put it on their favourites list or follow you on twitter. Looking beautiful can be an advantage over your competitors.
  • Post Often and Regularly – This doesn’t mean just post things for the sake of it, if you’ve picked your niche correctly you shouldn’t have to force it anyway, have a list of your next 10-15 blog posts at any time and work through them on a (rough) schedule. Followers will expect regular content, not just one post every few weeks or even months.
  • Become an Authority – There’s a reason a lot of blogs are also called “authority sites”. Ask yourself, are you an authority in your niche? What can you do to become THE resource people go to when they want information on the subject. You have to give people a reason to want to follow you, not just beg them to do so, if you can show people that you know more than them, and aren’t afraid to share it, you will be rewarded with an abundance of followers.
  • Be Everywhere – I mention the brilliant Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income a lot on the blog, and you’ve probably heard his name elsewhere too. He’s an amazing talent and huge influence to many people trying to make blogging their living. Check out his amazing thoughts on tapping into resources where you can gain followers and traffic over at his site.
  • Make it Easy to Follow – There are ways you can make it simpler for people to follow your blogging. My top tips are to have an RSS Feed for anybody using an RSS Reader. Head over to Mail Chimp and get yourself an account, you can start building a mailing list and easily integrate it to WordPress or other blogging platforms, and though I dont rely on them for a lot of traffic (yet), make sure you’re on as many social networks as time allows, and are regularly contributing VALUABLE content via your profile on these.

 

The truth is that content is the linchpin of all of the above, and without a load of quality articles on your site, traffic may be hard to come by, and followers even more so. Write from the heart and do the best you can and you’re taking the right steps.

How to Sell Ad Space on Your Blog or Website – A Guide

advertising

Whether you got into the blogging or website creation game in order to make money or not, you probably wouldn’t say no to cashing in on the visitors your site is receiving. The online advertising market is growing all the time as companies switch from more traditional mediums to the world of tablets, laptops and smartphones we currently live in. The online ad space marketplace is worth billions of dollars every single year, and you dont have to be a huge site like Mashable to grab your share of the revenue. I’ve seen loads of smaller sites cash in on their presence, through advertising networks or private ad sales on their webspace. Here’s my guide on how you can do the same.

Firstly, a few provisos. If your site is only getting a few visitors a week, then the chances are that your efforts would be best focused elsewhere, building backlinks, gaining social clout and improving your site before trying to cash in. If you started your blog or site purely for profits then the chances are you’re destined for failure, create your site out of passion and love for your niche and you’re set for success.

There are loads of ways you can monetize your website, and the term ‘selling ad space’ is rather loose. I’m going to talk about a few ways in which you can sell your space, and some top tips I’ve picked up doing the same.

Private Advertising

This can be one of the most profitable ways to make money out of your site. Private ads are those sold directly by you to the advertiser, with no middle man. They’re harder to come by at times, and you have to do a lot of the legwork yourself, but nobody will be dipping their hand in taking a chunk of your profits. There are a few ways of trying to gain clients to pay you for a slice of your site. The easiest one is to create an advert yourself and put it on your site. A sitewide banner making it clear that ad space on your site is available will make it clear to your readers, some of whom might be in a position to advertise a service or product on your site. The banner should lead to a page that outlines your advertising rates, policy and any more information you think a potential advertiser might be interested in. You can also try cold calling and cold emailing people with your site and rates, but this can be a difficult and often fruitless endeavour.

Using a Middle Man

This is similar to Private advertising in that people will see your niche and decide on whether to advertise, except this time you’re going through a middle man. The benefits of this are that your ads will be sold on a marketplace, which can skip the difficult process of finding people to buy your ads. There is of course a price to pay to do this, but it’s worth it considering the money that can be made out of selling advertising space. My personal favourites, BuySellAds.com are awesome at matching up publishers (that’s you) and advertisers (that’s the people who want to put their money in your account). BuySellAds take 25% – by no means extortionate, and in return they showcase your site to hundreds of potential advertisers. Seems fair to me.

Using a Network/Program

This is the most common, and the easiest way of setting up some form of advertising on your site. I guess you’re technically not ‘selling’ it yourself, but it is making you money by being on your site. The most popular of all of these type of programs is Google’s very own Adsense, which works on a ‘Per Click’ basis. Advertisers effectively set a price they are willing to pay for clicks on an advert. They’re placed on your site based on relevance, and when somebody clicks on it, most of it goes in your pocket. There are other programs that do similar things, such as media.net and Adbrite. If you want to go the in-text road and have ads appear as keywords in your content, you can use infolinks or Chitika.

 

Notable mention goes to affiliate schemes, but I didn’t want to talk about them in the context of ‘selling ads’, as you’re effectively selling products as an affiliate. That said, they’re another brilliant way to monetize your site.

Unless your traffic is pretty sizeable, dont expect to be able to quit your job on your earnings, but it isn’t impossible by any means in the right niche and with the right community you can definitely turn blogging into a profitable exercise. It goes without saying that some niches will pay you more to advertise even with the same or less traffic than others. A site about mortgages can demand more money than a humour site for instance.

In summary, if you build a great site and get a good amount of traffic coming to your site on a day to day basis, you can definitely find ways to sell ad space, and there are agencies and companies out there that will help you to turn your site into cash.

The Best Free Blog Hosts

dotcom

When people set out to start a new blog, a free blog host can look very appealing. Times are tough at the moment, and if your blog is just for fun or not for profit at all, a free host might be your only choice. Personally, I host my sites with 1 and 1 web hosting, and install the wordpress platform from my hosting account there, but for many, a click and go option is far more appealing.

A note before I talk about all the types of free blog host that are available is that it is often not best practice when it comes to SEO (search engine optimisation), of course that’s not to say that you definitely wont have any success getting traffic through google or other search engines, but the best way to achieve this is usually through your own site on your own domain with a paid for host. One of the great things about a lot of free blog hosts, however, is that they will allow you to put the blog on your own domain, so even if you aren’t paying to host the site, it might be worth shelling out some cash to make sure you have your own domain (myblog.com for example) and not a subdomain allocated by a free host (myblog.tumblr.com or myblog.wordpress.com).

Right, time for the list:

  1. Tumblr. Tumblr is a really cool blogging platform which integrates a lot of the social elements of something like twitter. People can find your posts on tumblr through ‘reblogging’ (much like a retweet) or through searching their hash tag system, again, much like twitter.
  2. Blogger. The google owned blogger is often said to be good for SEO as google want to reward people for using their platform. Whether you believe that or not, blogger is another free host that integrates well with other google products such as adsense and analytics, and is good for beginners.
  3. WordPress. My absolute favourite. There are two different ways to get yourself a wordpress blog, but to simply use it as a sort of ‘click and go’ system, you can just sign up via their website. It has great themes and plugins that allow you to customise your blog and really make it your own, and of course you can always upgrade to the second way of getting a wordpress blog, which is to download their system and upload it on your web hosting to let it run just on your domain, much like here on Dollars Per Day.

 

In my opinion, the above three are the real big players in this field. Others such as livejournal and Weebly have at times threatened to take them on, but not to a great deal of avail. In my opinion, stick to the above for your free blog hosting needs and you wont go too far wrong.

Improve Your Blog in Easy Steps

steps

Any blogger worth his or her salt is constantly looking for ways to make improvements. Sometimes they’re obvious and easy, sometimes they’re ambitious and difficult, sometimes they’re staring you right in the face and you cant necessarily see them. We’ve put together a guide to improve your blog in easy steps. Some of the things listed are pretty obvious, and some of them might simply be things you’ve missed, some of them might be little gems we’ve picked up along the way to relative blogging success. The only thing they have in common is that they’re easy steps to take, and things that can spice up and improve your site with ease.

  • Encourage comments. Comments can create a real sense of community around a blog, but people sometimes need a little push. By encouraging people to comment, whether in a widget in a sidebar or in every post, you can start to build a group of engaged readers.
  • Post often. Not every post will be a ‘money post’, but regular content, even if it’s just sharing a simple list of things you’ve found and love online, can have benefits both for your audience and for SEO
  • Be personable. Even a simple profile picture or a little ‘about me’ section can give your blog a face and develop trust with your readers.
  • Link out. There should be no big taboo about sharing a little link love. Linking out of your site can show people other resources, and if they remember that you’re the one that pointed them in that direction, they’ll be thankful for it.
  • Evaluate your ads. You might have too many ads, or your chosen network might be showing irrelevant ads too often. Regularly check how the ads on your site are looking and if you think they compromise the experience of somebody visiting your site, cut back and make changes.
  • Check your Grammar and Spelling. This can be as simple as running a spell checker before publishing, but failure to do so can make you look really unprofessional, not an image you’ll want to project…
  • Make sure you have lots of engaging images. Not too many, of course, but people get overwhelmed by tons of writing and no images to break it down, have some attractive pictures to please the eye.
  • Make it scannable. Is your site ‘scannable’, by which I mean can the information somebody wants to gain be easily found just from a quick scan? Of course, you want to engage people further, but suggesting that the info is hard to come by will just make people look elsewhere.
  • Make sure your navigation is easy. The same as the above point, really, make sure your info is ‘filed’ correctly on your site and that articles can be easily found.

 

Any more easy steps to share with the community here at Dollars Per Day? Include them below in our comments section, we dont bite.

Article Marketing Tips

Print

Article Marketing in the digital age, is a form of promotion for websites or other businesses that involves writing an article on somebody else’s website about your own project. The articles can be about the author or the business involved, but more commonly are about an area of expertise or field of work. The purpose of article marketing is threefold; to drive traffic via clicks, to create backlinks for your website in order to gain a high page rank, and to build your authority in your chosen niche. The most common forms of article marketing are writing guest posts, or submitting articles to article directories such as Squidoo or Hubpages. It isn’t always simple, though, so I’ve created some article marketing tips to help you through the minefield.

Post in Relevant Places

Nobody wants to hear about your new gaming company website, or anything to do with gaming for that matter, on a furniture website for instance. Consider the relevance of the sites where you are posting your articles, this will aid both the traffic coming to your site (it will be more targeted from sites in your niche) and also the SEO value of the link, as it will be coming from a site that is in your field.

Offer Some Expertise

It’s all very well writing a post on a site about how much you love your business, or how you started your business, or how your business runs, but the chances are that nobody really cares. If you can offer some knowledge or expertise then it is more likely that people will pay attention, and that your article will even get published.

Dont Buy Backlinks

I know it can be tempting to sling some cash at a webmaster simply to throw a link in an article, but it is against Google’s terms of service, and if you get found out, they will make you suffer!

Have a Call to Action

That’s what you’re writing the post for after all. An author bio or section at the end explaining who you are and what you’re trying to achieve will send people in the direction of your site. This is far more effective than simply shoving a link in the text somewhere random.

Present Yourself Professionally

If you write like a joker, you will not gain respect or traffic. If you’re writing an article simply for the backlink then the quality will probably suffer, and you’ll waffle. Make sure you assume that people are going to actually read the article, otherwise there’s no chance of you grabbing their attention.

High Page Rank – Does it Matter?

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Unless you’re completely new to the website creation game, you’ll probably be aware of Page Rank. Page Rank (or PR) is a value between 0 and 10 that is applied to every page on the internet by google. As with most things Google, its origins are not known for sure, but most agree that this value is almost entirely based on backlinks, and the pages on the rest of the internet that point to yours. For example, if a site with a Page Rank of 6 links to yours, you’re likely to gain a lot of that ‘link juice’ and see your PR shoot up. Likewise, if all of your links come from PR0 or 1 sites, you’ll struggle to get any sort of ranking in this system.

So what does it matter?

Most SEO types are in agreement that PR has very little (or absolutely nothing) to do with where your site and pages show up in google. High Page Rank is not necessarily enough to get you to the top of google, and you’ll need a heck of a lot more going on within your site to rank for keywords. So why is PR held in such esteem? Why do people use it as a representation of their site and how successful it is? People use it as a representation because that’s exactly what it is. PR is a reflection of the success your site is having with its SEO and general clout on the internet. There are tons of things that come into play where your success on Google is concerned, but they are not easy to pin down. Page Rank gives us a simple figure to deal with, and a generalisation of the profile of a site.

Do I need High Page Rank?

There’s no simple answer to this, but I’ll do my best. In short, the answer is no. High Page Rank will not automatically guarantee you success, and a site with PR2 can outrank a site with PR5 on Google, it all depends on their on page SEO and how they are optimised for certain keywords. However, if I’m going to write new content for my site, or create a new niche or authority site, the main value I look at on my opposition sites is Page Rank. If a site is ranking top of google and has PR5, I know that I’m in for a hell of a ride getting it to number one over this site, as somebody has built up a good link profile and solid site to attain this rank. If, on the other hand, top of google is a PR0 or unrelated site, I know I can beat it with relative ease. It’s just a value for webmasters to use, like a currency, to evaluate how well a site is doing.

My Business is Failing – Why? What Can I Do?

business_failing

I’d like to start this article by saying that currently, I’m pretty happy with my businesses and all of my entrepreneurial endeavours. However, trust me when I say I am an authority on businesses failing! A tag I am surprisingly proud of; I’ve learned from every failure and they’ve made me what I am. I’ll fail again, and probably a few more times en route to where I want to be.

I’m not saying that there is an exact formula to business, or business failure, but there definitely are patterns, and by looking into those patterns and seeing which apply to you, and the alterations you can make, you can save your business.

A Declining or Non-Existent Market For Your Product
It is true that in the modern day and age there are a lot of declining markets. There are many emerging ones too, but you need to be more thorough than ever in your research of what sells and how you can make money. You’re (probably) not going to get rich selling CDs in an age where digital copies of music are becoming ever more popular, for example.

A Lack of a Plan
I’m not like most in that I dont believe that you need to plan EVERYTHING in business. Not every move needs to be pre planned, but you do need a plan, and clear goals to stick to, if you’re going to get anywhere in business. It’s not too late if you’re already in business, you can make a yearly or quarterly plan and try to put things back on track.

Poor Cash Flow
Cash flow is key to a business. You can’t count on people at all, and you need a cushion for when you dont get paid as expected. A business overdraft or savings are helpful.

Unhappy or Poorly Organised Staff
If you dont have staff or partners then this is obviously irrelevant, but your staff in business are absolutely key and keeping them happy and productive is vital in order to thrive. Reward them, be fair to them, and cut them some slack…you’ll see the results.

You Cant Be Competitive
This works in every type of business, if somebody else is doing it better or cheaper, or heaven forbid both, you may well be doomed. If a business is already shipping on mass, you’re not going to be able to compete. Dont start a supermarket next to an established chain, you’re not going to win.

Poor Organisation
This has killed so many businesses over the years. Balance sheets, spreadsheets, profit and loss margins, time management…the list of activities that keep you, your staff and your business organised is almost endless, and though it is almost never why we go into business, it sure can be why we fail.

 

As said previously, there are a lot of reasons for businesses to fail, but if you fear that any of the above are getting to yours then make sure you remedy the problems. If you simply cant remedy the problem, pivot, turn 180 degrees and start something new. Failure is an important part of your life, learn from it and move on.

Online Income Without Investment – A Guide

SONY DSC

The majority of readers here at Dollars Per Day are in search of some form of online income. These days, there are loads of ways to make money online, as long as you have some skills to offer and are willing to work hard at it. I also understand that times may be hard for a lot of people out there, and we dont all have money to burn or even invest, as much as we would like to. For that reason, I’m writing about the best ways to make online income without investment. Of course when I say ‘without investment’, there are some expenses you cant avoid, such as an internet connection, and some form of laptop or computer! I’m going to assume, however, if you’re reading this, that you already have those…

So lets get going with a list of ways to make online income without spending any money to get you started.

  1. A blog hosted on wordpress or blogspot. Now, I love using my own domain, and branding a website or blog, but I did start off (like many people) on free blogging platforms such as Blogspot or WordPress. It’s pretty easy to set up a blog, and though the earning potential isn’t quite as high, just like the options for expansion, it is possible to get a load of traffic and make money on free blogs.
  2. Get some videos on Youtube! Youtube opened up to partners a few years back, which allows members of the public to make money by getting hits to their videos. They can be reviews, funny videos, serious videos…the list goes on. There are loads of examples of people building big businesses by enthralling the public with their videos, why not try and be the next?
  3. Sell your services. The internet can be a brilliant marketplace to sell your services. Whether you’re good at writing, SEO, making music or graphic design…the list of services that people are looking for is almost endless. You can sell on Fiverr if you’re looking for selling on mass rather than getting big paydays, or look at some more specialist sites such as peopleperhour or eLance.
  4. Sell your art. Zazzle, and websites of a similar ilk, allow people to sell their artwork on loads of different platforms from t shirts to mugs to canvasses, whether you’re good at drawing, design or photography, if you can create something commercially viable, people will buy it, and you can make extra pennies.
  5. Sell something for stock. Stock photography, video and audio are often sourced online. If you have skills in any of these areas then selling your creations can be a brilliant way of bringing in some cash, or even a full time wage. Build up a portfolio of your music, video or photos and sell them on a marketplace such as Shutterstock or 123rf. Stock industries are valuable, and there’s good money to be made if you’re talented.

WordPress and Adsense – A Dream Combination?

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If you’re a regular reader of Dollars Per Day, you’ll know full well that I’m an avid user and advocate of the WordPress content management system. In fact, the vast majority of bloggers and site owners I know feel the same about it, and use WordPress for all of their sites. It’s versatile, intelligent and easy to get to grips with. Combine that with the desire to make money from a website (most webmasters and site owners certainly wouldn’t say no to this) and the fact that Adsense truly is the market leader when it comes to monetising sites, the task of integrating the two together is one that is often come across by bloggers.

I can remember when I started out in the website game, how difficult it was to know what I was doing in the world of advertising. How do I sell ads? Which are the best agencies to use, etc. etc… It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out that Google’s Adsense platform is a great way to go if you’re a new site owner. I had dabbled a few years ago and had an account, so I decided to start integrating with my site, of course, it was handled on the WordPress platform.

The way their system works is that you simply copy and paste the code that they give you (simple HTML) wherever you would like it to be, and hey presto…but it wasn’t that easy. I’m no web designer, and I found it really restrictive when it came to inserting the code exactly where I wanted it. For example, if I wanted to put an ad in a sidebar, I found it difficult to find an ad the right size, this could’ve been fixed by aligning it in the centre, but this wasn’t easy for a beginner to do. Likewise, if I wanted to include ads inside posts, I had no way of controlling where they appeared, and I certainly had no way of controlling multiple ads at the same time. If you want to get creative and experiment with where you put your ads, doing it manually makes it really difficult.

Because of the above reasons, I have to say that WordPress and Adsense are not a match made in heaven by their very nature. The two have no affiliation with each other, and for this reason are not designed for one another. However, WordPress is extremely adaptable, and there are ways around almost every problem.

Of course, the answer was going to be a plugin, so I found one…

I’m not going to turn this into a plugin review, and there are a few ad management tools and plugins that allow you to do exactly the same, but the one I choose is Ad Injection. I wont bore you with details as I’ve written an Ad Injection Review for that. What I will say is that it allows a huge amount of flexibility within your site.

In conclusion, WordPress and Adsense aren’t the best together without a little assistance, but that’s the beauty of the WordPress platform, you can turn it into whatever you need, and an Adsense based site is possible. The two are a dream combination, but only because they are both the best tools out there. Make the two work in tandem and add some traffic, then you definitely have a recipe for success.

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