Category Archives: SEO
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.
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.
I’m a long term follower of the Adsense Flippers. They’ve helped me in so many ways since I started out on my internet marketing journey, and now they’ve come up with yet another way to help by introducing their brand new ‘Intellitheme’ for your own niche sites.
What is Intellitheme?
Intellitheme is a premium wordpress theme designed to optimize your niche sites for maximum profitability and usability whilst giving users the opportunity to monitor and split test different layouts in order to see which works best. The theme is the brainchild of Justin and Joe from Adsense flippers and was developed with the help of their intern, John DeVries. If anybody knows how to optimize adsense sites it is these guys, with their experience creating and selling (or “flipping”) hundreds of these kind of websites.
Features of Intellitheme
- Five preset layouts ready to activate.
- Slider controls which dictate how often each preset appears (you can have two or three alternating, hence the split-testing).
- Ready made advert areas. Simply create your ads in adsense and copy and paste, they’ll appear on the site and start tracking.
- Controls over colors, fonts and tags as well as header image uploads.
- Easy analytics. Just copy your analytics identification code, paste it in the designated area and you’re good to go.
- Statistics including page views, clicks and CTR and the option to monitor these over a set period and compare one theme vs. another.
How Does Intellitheme Shape Up?
To test out intellitheme, I installed it on one of my existing niche sites and then created a completely new site to utilize the theme. The new site obviously hasn’t ranked yet, so I haven’t been able to check out the stats, but that’s why I’ve used an existing site too.
In the short time the theme has been installed on the site, I have already seen an increase in my click through rate, which is exactly what it is designed for. Something I’ve really struggled with along my journey is CTR, and some users have been reporting that theirs has increased to up to 6% – if that happens with the sites I have created my earnings will increase by around 500% and so far it is looking good! If it can up your click through rate like this then IntelliTheme can pay for itself in virtually no time.
To get to your ideal CTR and maximize the potential of your site you may have to tweak, but that is exactly what they’ve made easy to do.
It isn’t rocket science what the theme does, but it is clever, and does things that I haven’t really seen implemented well elsewhere online. I can see how the placement of the ads has a huge impact on click through, and they have clearly spent a long time testing exactly what works for them.
Your site might not look unbelievably beautiful, but the themes are nice enough. I could find nicer themes elsewhere if we’re just talking about aesthetics, but to be honest the purpose of my niche sites isn’t to look stunning, it is to be easy to use and make money, and I can’t imagine another theme doing this better.
What is Intellitheme NOT?
The theme isn’t going to change the way I do everything online. I’m sure Justin and Joe wouldn’t mind me saying that it probably isn’t the best for bigger authority sites and I do create those too, but for smaller niche sites, IntelliTheme will be my weapon of choice from now on.
In terms of the future for the theme. I would love to see them expand with a few more presets and perhaps another more “authority” style theme, which this one does not profess to being.
I would recommend the theme to anybody looking to build and monetize small niche sites and can have a huge impact on your earnings, which is the most important thing at the end of the day.
Value for Money
As I’ve already said, the theme can impact your earnings and pay for itself in almost no time depending on how many sites you’re running and how much money you’re already making. In most circumstances it is a win/win situation, and the $47 investment is well worth it.
Buy IntelliTheme Here! (Affiliate Link)
There’s been much talk regarding content in the internet marketing and blogging communities of late. Google’s Panda, Penguin and EMD updates have affected the way we build our websites, and has put a lot of the emphasis on larger, authority based sites.
If you look at the blogs of some of your industry competitors, you might see thousands of pages of content. A daunting prospect for anyone starting out or looking to expand a site, so how much content does your blog really need to be competitive, rank well on Google and make you some money?
Well, the first thing to be considered is your niche and audience. If you’re writing a blog or building out an ‘authority site’ about say a special type of plumbing equipment, you might really struggle to write a lot of new and exciting content. The pillar articles on your site may be really good quality and stand the test of time, but you simply may not be able to build out to thousands of pages. On the other hand, you may have a sports blog in an area where there are hundreds of newsworthy stories happening every day, as well as match reports and player profiles you can write. It is very possible that you could make a full time job out of writing this type of content, and constantly uploading it to your blog, but it would take a lot of upkeep and could be redundant pretty soon (nobody is looking for year old match reports).
So where can you find the ‘content sweet spot’? The magic amount of posts, or regularity of posts to keep your blog ticking along nicely and competing. As recent Google updates have suggested, the future of sites is probably in larger, more authority based sites. People have been making a lot of money out of Four and Five page websites in recent years by putting them on an exact match domain and working on the content and link profiles, but these kind of sites are seemingly being weeded out by the search engines.
In some cases, such as a non-competitive niche, small sites could still win the day, but in general, Google and the other search engines are looking for more. The chances are they are more likely to rank a post on a large site, rich in good quality information than a small site, obviously built to game its way to the top of the SERPs.
I know, I know, I still haven’t answered the question. Well, in my experience, I have always aimed for three posts a week. My search engine traffic off the back of this is okay. It means that there is a regularity that I’m sure is taken into account (Google love new content), and my site doesn’t sit there for months on end without being changed or updated. However, the niches I’m in are very competitive, and I believe I still have a long way to go in my blogs to get to the level of authority needed. If you’re making a site about Football, there are a lot of competitors, and if you’re not posting regularly, the search engines will probably trust another site over yours. A niche such as mine will take a long time, even at three posts a day, to become one of the main authority sites on the subject. Prepare to work hard.
Content or Posts?
I’ve focused a lot on the written aspect of a blog in all of the above, but that isn’t your only option, and I’ve seen bloggers have immense success with huge databases of video, photos and infographics, which can drive traffic from other sources such as Flickr and Youtube rather than just Google.
Based on the amazing Pat Flynn’s “Be Everywhere” advice, I recommend a good variation of all of the different types of content you can possibly create.
A Parting Note
It can be really tough to feel like you’re doing enough when you’re putting out say three posts a week and it isn’t hitting the dizzy heights you’re hoping for, but remember that when you start out in blogging, or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, it takes a long time to build up the content you need. For some subjects, 3 months might see you ranking, but for others you may have to work hard for years. Don’t be disheartened and keep working hard, as you learn and you implement more and more techniques, you’ll get there in time.
I run a lot of websites, which gives me a great chance to experiment with building backlinks of all different types. I’ve written posts on links pointing back to my sites before, and reviewed what they’ve done for my search engine positions, page rank and site authority. Today, I’m looking at links attained from free blog platforms and web 2.0 platforms.
How You Can Build These Links
One of the great things about this type of backlinks is that they’re relatively easy to build. There’s no need to deal with other webmasters (not that this is a chore, it can just be time consuming), no need to get your articles reviewed and accepted, you just create your accounts and start publishing. Awesome. I’ve taken a list straight from Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog about the sites he uses to create these kind of backlinks.
You can see how many are just in that list, and there are many more you can dig out if you so wish, more than enough to get started. These are free blogging platforms, you can sign up, most of them will give you a subdomain (yourblog.webs.com for example) and you can start posting and including links back to your money sites.
Don’t Just Post Links
As I always stress, nobody knows exactly how Google works, but they like good quality content and they like your links to come from relevant places. You can kill two birds with one stone here, so to speak, by creating (or outsourcing) some good quality articles (I’d recommend 300 words plus) and posting them on the web 2.0 sites and blog sites. You can bulk out the content by adding videos (not necessarily ones you’ve created), relevant photos or showing a little link love to other sites, and I’ve even experimented with sharing content from article directories (doesn’t have to be written by you as a lot of these directories are happy for you to post elsewhere, I’d never do it on my main site but for these purposes…) The point is, you shouldn’t just make a new blog like this and post on it “this is my blog, this is good, please visit it” and expect a quality backlink, it needs a bit of love and attention in spite of not being your money site.
Squidoo and Hubpages
These two are slightly different in that they’re somewhere between web 2.0s and article directories, and are revenue sharing (meaning any cash they make from your articles (hubs or lenses) they’ll share with you. This means there’s an added incentive to publish more content and make a success of your web 2.0 properties in order to make your backlinks valuable.
The Benefits of These Kind of Links
I’ve already said that these kind of links have a lot of merits. Firstly, you control them. Nobody is going to take the site down (unless the blogging platform becomes redundant, which isn’t likely). Secondly, utilising a platform like tumblr or blogger means that there is an element of latching on to their success. I’ve seen a lot of Tumblr blogs with high page rank and good backlinks themselves just because the platform is social and well regarded by Google. It’s great to drip this into your blog. Also, you can have your links on the ‘home page’. Guest blogging is fine, but you usually have to make do with a link from an internal page, if you own the site giving you the link you can put it on the home page.
Two Tiered Backlinks
What a lot of people utilizing this method (including the amazing Pat Flynn) is building links to the web 2.0s and blogs and passing on that link juice to their main site. The more risky among us may even outsource that link building to a service like Fiverr, in the hope that the blogs hosted on Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger etc. reinforce those links and take away any ‘black hat’ penalties before passing it on to your main site. You might be entering dodgy ground here, but I’ve seen it used to great effect.
How are you building your links? Do you utilize these blogging methods? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear your success stories.
If you’re a blogger, site owner, or have dabbled in any sort of SEO, you’ll probably know of the term ‘dofollow’. It is the opposite of ‘nofollow’, which means that links between websites are not fully credited, and some of the benefits do not get passed on. Dofollow links, in SEO terms, are your best bet for getting high value backlinks to your website.
By default, most websites are nofollow, and will attribute the nofollow tag automatically to any links on the comments section of their site. This means that any sites that are dofollow have most likely been specifically created that way by their owner, and in spite of the tens of thousands of new blogs created every week, only a relative handful are useful to you in terms of leaving comments in order to build backlinks.
Before I get to my methods, I’m sure you’ll forgive me for saying a few words about blog commenting as a method of building links. Many of the…shall we say more spam orientated webmasters out there use blog commenting purely for the purpose of getting a link to their low quality site. They’ll trawl the internet for these dofollow blogs and say anything, be it a copied and pasted ‘this is a nice blog, well done’ or something along those lines. If you’re going to comment on a blog post, make sure you actually read the content, and try to add something to the conversation, that’s what comments are for after all. If a site owner is kind enough to give you a link back to your site in return for your opinion, be sure to actually give them an opinion.
So How Do I Find Dofollow Blogs?
There are a few articles online about the same subject as this, and I don’t like to rehash information, but my methods are far more simple than the majority out there. Ready?
- I find lists on the internet. I know, I hear you, “This is hardly original…” and it isn’t, but its simple and effective. Search for something like ‘list of dofollow blogs 2012′. I recommend trying to find relevant blogs, so if you run a sports blog, try ‘list of dofollow sports blogs’. The reason I put the year in which I’m searching is just so that the blogs I find are still alive, and haven’t been drastically changed or deleted by their owner.
- I use dofollowchecker.com - this is a site made by the brilliant guys over at SmugGecko. It finds dofollow blogs, lists them by the type (commentLuv, keywordLuv, disqus…) and even allows you to filter by latest. The user reviews of the blogs also give you an indication of which actually work, and the Page Rank value gives you an idea of the authority of the site. Simple.
My techniques aren’t original, and I’m basically leeching off the resources that already exist, but what’s wrong with that? If somebody has gone to the effort to compile lists or build tools then why not use them? It saves time and it allows you to go with the tried and tested.
As previously mentioned, spammers are rife, and the last thing you want to do is add to all the spam these sites inevitably already receive. Add value, give a thoughtful opinion and be rewarded with high authority backlinks.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.