Building My Money Earning Sites – Niche Website Update Part 3



money earning sitesIt’s been only 3 months now since I really started to crank things into high gear and focus on developing my new niche website.  For anyone who wants some background, you can read about my development in Part 1 and Part 2.  My goal is to figure out what works and create a portfolio of money earning sites that will contribute to my passive income initiative.

If you’ve been following along (and I appreciate the interest), here is an update on how things are going:

 

Why I Want to Build Money Earning Sites:

If you’re why I’m working on building this niche site (and possibly others), then perhaps this estimated earnings projection might help clear things up:

  • CPC: $14.22
  • Global Searches: 2400
  • Potential Revenue: +$1,000 !!!

Yes, that’s right.  There’s a lot of potential to make passive income from these types of sites.

But it takes a lot more than just putting content on a site.  First your niche site has to get in Google’s top ten listing on the first search engine results page (referred to as SERP for short).  Being on the first page of Google means a higher chance that people will actually find your site, visit, and click on your Google Adsense ads (or whatever ad program you have going on).  That’s how they become money earning sites.

 

My Niche Website Rank:

So how am I doing?  Well … not very good.  In fact, I think Google hates me.

At last check I’m at Number 300.  That puts me somewhere around page 30 of the Google results.  What a loser ….

It looks like I’m NOT quite the Casanova of SEO I thought I was becoming.

Not to fear.  This is probably some type of penalty from Google for something stupid I did.  Spencer from Niche Pursuits had the same problem with his latest niche site.  But he was able to figure out the problem and get his site to rank again.  So I will follow his lead and try to do the same to get my site back in the good graces of the Big G.

Despite all that, I am on the first page of Bing and Yahoo.  While not a ton of people use these search engines, it is good to know that I will be getting traffic from these sources.

In other metrics, my Google Pagerank remains at 1 and will stay that way of course until the next update which is probably in May.  My SEOmoz MozRANK is 3.91 and my Alexa score continues to drop every day, but that is most likely because of how much I visit my own site (which still counts).

 

Traffic:

So far traffic has been very slow.  As of right now I’m averaging about 10 visitors per day.

To recap, my plan was to bring in as much natural organic traffic to the site by way of the search engines.  Unfortunately, until my rank above improves, I’ll have to rely on one of my internal pages to fetch traffic.

Only 1 out of the 10 or so keywords I’ve written about continues to get any traffic.  While that may be the case, I still believe many of my blog articles have a shot at cracking the Top 10.  But just like my homepage, it’s going to take raising the rank of those individual pages if I am to be successful.  So I will need to make sure I am doing the following:

  • Building backlinks to the individual pages as well as the homepage
  • Going back and improving the on-page SEO for some of the lower ranking words.

I have got myself into a routine of going back and republishing my older posts while dramatically improving the content.  For example, I’ve taken a few posts that used to be 300 words and made them into 800 to 1,000 words.  I’d love to see each of my posts up at the 800 words and beyond mark.  To have that much content would make a very valuable resource to anyone who was searching for information on that particular topic.

In addition to refurbishing old content, I am still trying to produce at least one good quality post every 1-2 weeks.  The new posts will be specifically targeting lower competition keywords that I’m easily finding using Long Tail Pro keyword software.  After about 20 good posts, I’ll probably cease creating anymore new content and focus all my efforts on simply backlinking and improving the site rank.

 

Backlink Strategy:

This is the area where I’m really in the trenches trying to earn my stripes.  For as long as I’ve been running My Money Design, I’ve never really known much about backlinking.  And as I’m finding out, it is really quite a game.

One thing I have learned: Even though Google updates your Pagerank every three months or so, your numbers are still constantly changing (hence why your SERP rank changes).  This is because Google has its own way of indexing, penalizing, and rewarding sites in real-time.  So while you might get frustrated only having a PR0 or PR1 for three months, it doesn’t necessarily matter.  Your efforts are still getting attention from Google and affecting the outcome of your site all the time.

In other words, don’t get hung up on your ranks.  They will change.  Do whatever it is you believe will improve your site.

In terms of my backlinking strategy, so far my biggest source is coming from:

  • Personal Finance blog carnivals
  • Internal linking within the site

Here’s a few other tactics I plan to use:

  • Guest posting.  I do plan to utilize good-ole fashioned guest posting.  So far I’ve done at least two posts that have links back to my niche website, and I’m writing a lot more content with plans to release more!
  • News Sites and Directories: My niche website is already on Technorati.  I’m waiting for approval from a couple others.  I also plan on submitting to a few high quality directories that are still in the good graces of Google to get even more backlinks.  The site Directory Maximizer has some good resources you can use.
  • Press Releases: I’m not hanging my hat on these ones.  But in terms of diversifying links, they are another easy one to get and can be dofollow.

If that’s not enough, here are a few more backlink sources I’ve come to learn I should also give some attention to:

  • Blog Comments: I was originally NOT going to use blog comments because they are almost always nofollow.  But according to Niche Pursuits, that doesn’t matter.  Your link profile should be diverse and appear natural.  So even nofollow blog comments are still good for you and can help round this out.
  • Social Media / Bookmarking: I usually never mess around with this stuff because it is nofollow and I’m just simply not wild about social media.  But like it or not, social media is popular as well as natural, so again it will help diversify the links.
  • Article / Web 2.0 Sites: These were the things used by Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income in his niche site duel.  While they worked for him, I’ve been told more than once by a few people that this “crap” (as they said) doesn’t work anymore.  However, similar to the rationale above, it can be useful for the sole purpose of diversifying links and appearing natural.

Just to keep track, here’s a few things I tried and believe may have actually HURT my site:

  • Music sites.  A lot of you know that I record music.  As a result, one piece of advice I came across from a great site called Backlinko was to submit your work to a music site and then link back to your niche.  They generally have a very high PR and will allow you to add your site on your profile, thus passing link juice on to your site.  Sounds easy, right?  I really thought I had struck gold when I read about this trick!  But I fear the opposite may have occurred.  About a week after I setup my new music site accounts, I noticed my niche website drop in rank by a substantial (+200 spots) position.  I don’t think Google found my new link to be very natural!  So I removed it.
  • My Money Design.  Right around the same time as I had the problem with the music site, I also published my last niche site update.  I linked to my niche website from MMD.  Although minor, it was probably not a smart move.  Google would know something is up if two sites under the same IP and hosting account were to link to each other.  Just to be safe, I removed that link too.
  • Carnival Appreciation Page.  Lastly, another thing I started and then quickly removed on my niche site was a blog carnival appreciation post.  Similar to what I do here on MMD, I started a post that I updated each week with a link back to the carnival that had included my work.  Over two or three weeks, this page started to grow to approximately 20 or so external links.  To Google, I was probably starting to look like a link farm.  It may be a coincidence, but that might have also triggered the great Google slap down I experienced.  Needless to say, that page was also dropped.

 

Monetization:

Talk, talk, talk.  We could talk and talk for hours, but there’s really only one thing that matters: The money, right?

If my niche site doesn’t make any money, then what is the point?

So with that said, here is the revenue thus far:

$7.39

Pitiful … I know.

We’re a long ways away from this being a money earning site.

But keep things in perspective.  Given everything I mentioned above, this site cannot and will not make any money until it can be found naturally through the search engines.  Therefore, I’ll need to stick to my plans above and continually seek out advice on how to make improvements.

For now my two primary monetization sources will come from Google Adsense and Flex Offers.  Google Adsense is obvious for the reasons pointed out above and because the payout is immediate.  If I ever get to a point where I have high click-through conversion or better traffic numbers, I may switch to a different service.  Flex Offers was a natural affiliate program to take up because of the links to natural financial products like Betterment, Ally, and a few others.

 

Going Forward:

As I said earlier: If nothing else, I want to use my niche website like a “game”.  And the name of the game is “figure out how to rank well in Google”.  I may have picked a hard one to start out with, but the good news is that if I can figure it out, then things should get a lot easier from here.  I’m hopeful that I can accomplish this and at the very minimum apply some of this SEO knowledge to future projects or MMD.

And if the whole thing is a bust, I can always try to sell the site on Flippa!  So there’s options.

Readers – How are your money earning sites going?  Is anyone having luck with their niche sites?  Has anyone else ran into my Google penalty problem?

 

Related Posts:

  1. Where’s Da Money? – Rethinking My Online Income System
  2. Overestimating the Ideal Keyword Density and How I May Have Sabotaged My Own Blog
  3. Blogging Tips from All the Dumb Mistakes I Made My First Year

Image courtesy of [insert name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    MMD, i have been getting discourged by my niche site project as well. I thought I had decent knowledge of SEO but I guess wrong. My SERP on all my sites are slowly dropping. Earnings?? 41 cents… Embarrasing..

    I need to find a way to improve. Im not sure what Im doing wrong. I wish Google would just tell me lol.
    RoadtoOnePercent recently posted..I made my first adsense money!!My Profile

    • MMD says

      I’m not sure if we both don’t know what we’re doing, OR if we’re both just working with old, outdated information. With all the Google updates and changes, what worked a year ago probably isn’t going to cut it anymore. Hopefully my site consistently improves and I can shed some light on what to do.

  2. says

    I have 1 niche site that I started around the same time as MPB and only recently has it started to do any good. For ages it sat in the depths of Google never seeing the light of day with an average of 5-6 page views a day.

    I pretty much put it down as a learning experience. However recently (the last month or so) something has changed as I am now receiving 60-70 people a day hitting my site and many of my pages are either page 2 or page 3 where before they were page 50-100+. I added no new back links so I am not sure why the site has started to grow, but I like it as this month it has brought in close to $30 from adsense which is pretty cool :)
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..Forex Currency Trading Basics For Beginners – Part 2 (MetaTrader4)My Profile

    • MMD says

      $30 in Adsense revenue is about what My Money Design makes now. So if I were to get that my niche site alone, that would double my income and be pretty awesome!

      This is just my guess, but I’ve heard that site age has a lot to do with things. People buy URL’s and start sites all the time. But how many of them REALLY keep up on them? It is possible that you crossed some kind of weird Google probation period. My other theory is that maybe the keyword you built the site around suddenly picked up momentum. If you ever go to Google Trends, you can see that some words are more popular than others at certain times of the year.

  3. says

    Like the niche site MMD. I’m working on mine right now as well. I got about 15 pages up on it and I’ve hit the top 10 in Google with it a couple of times.

    Just like you I’m looking to earn an extra $3000 to $5000 a month with my site, and I believe with enough time and effort it can become a reality.

    I look forward to hearing more about your site.

    • MMD says

      Thanks for the encouragement Chris. If you’re already hitting the Top 10, then it sounds like you’re doing something right! I’m still holding out and will continue to work at it. Hopefully the next update will have some more promising news.

    • MMD says

      When you see all those thousands of dollars I make in sweet Adsense income, you’ll change your mind … :)

      Yeah right! In all honesty, I agree that no matter what you’re working on in the blog world, your main flagship site should come first and be your priority. I’ve seen a lot of other blogs go by the wayside when the owners got too pre-occupied with other projects that also seemed to fizzle. I don’t want that to ever happen to My Money Design. Basically I’ve got an internal commitment to always produce my best work here first.

      But on that note, this whole niche site thing has been rather constructive. I’m somewhat treating it like a little lab rat. I try different things on it and see what the outcome is. Whether it works or not, I feel I’m gaining a much more solid understanding and appreciation for what SEO is really all about.

  4. says

    The first niche website I made was on a very specific and not highly searched subject. Therefore I was able to rank number one in Google for my desired search term. However I am only bringing in around $5/month in adsense. This does cover my hosting costs so I am just going to keep this site alive and hope it becomes more searched for. :)

    I recently started working on a second niche site. This one is highly searched but the competition sucks. I hired a writer for the articles. I hope to have it where I want it soon. Then I will reveal it and how it goes! Best of luck to you!
    Alexa recently posted..Types of Newly Divorced MothersMy Profile

    • MMD says

      Good luck with both of those sites – especially the second one if it has more earnings potential. I think I have figured out my problem (now that I’ve done some experimenting), and my rank is starting to improve. Unfortunately, like you, I have a keyword with relatively harder competition so I’m going to really need to push to crack the Top 10.

    • MMD says

      Thanks Pauline. The reason it is frowned upon by Google to link is because people abuse this system. One of the dirty tricks by SEO firms is to setup systems of spam blogs where they just link to one another and build rank from within the network. Google of course knows this, so they look for any traceable back and forth between sites that seem to rank to one another unnaturally. One sure giveaway is if you are hosting more two or more sites under one hosting account (like I am). So to stay on their good side, I will avoid linking to my own site and getting branded a spammer.

  5. says

    I’ve got a site that I work on that I’m trying to develop for passive income as well. It’s in the sports handicapping field, so I can’t take advantage of Adsense. However, what I can’t make off sales from the consulting advice I hope to get from advertising on site. I’ll have to find potential advertisers and put them up myself, but I think it will generate more than Adsense would anyways, just a little more upfront work. I figure once I get a page rank of 3 or better people will be more interested in advertising on my site.

    • MMD says

      That sounds plausible to me! There are certainly other alternatives to Adsense out there, and you probably will make more from affiliate income in the long run. As long as you can build some diverse links, a PR3 should not be too tough to obtain. Good luck!

  6. says

    I really enjoyed this post. Like you, I’ve been trying to understand the nooks and crannies of SEO by my own experimentation. I’ve been doing the same thing by going back and beefing up my old content from before I had any idea what I was doing. While fresh content is good and Google likes new unique content – I’ve found my older posts gain significant ranking by fixing my keyword focus and rewording. It shows Google that the site is getting TLC.

    A friendly note that I remember reading from a former Google search exec (can’t remember his name) – Don’t overdo it by fixing old content too often. Google’s algorithms recognize and appreciate QUALITY unchanged content. Adjusting it too much or incorrectly can hurt you. Basically, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Just don’t reword old articles that don’t need rewording. So I think the moral of the story is, mix it up.

    For the time being, I’m devoting all my time into my flagship site until I get a better grasp on what works. That means new, unique content fairly frequently + going back to my ANCIENT posts when I was a noob and fixing those.
    Charles @ CreditMedium.com recently posted..U.S. Bank Card lets you make purchases by waving your PhoneMy Profile

    • MMD says

      That’s a very interesting contribution Charles. I would not have guessed that Google frowns upon changing your older content too often. Thank you for the warning.

      I can completely agree with putting all your efforts into your main site. That is what I’ve been doing with My Money Design for some time. Fortunately I’ve got somewhat of a routine now and can expand out to other projects, but I will always put my main site first.

      I’ve also had some good luck with going back and re-optimizing older posts. But like you said – just don’t do too much too soon.

    • MMD says

      Terrific analogy! I was kind of thinking of it more like a mob boss who operates by their own rules and is constantly “offing” those sites he doesn’t like, but your comparison has a less brutal streak … :)

  7. says

    I had a niche site for about a year, but it got hacked (strange because I wasn’t making much in adsense). I gave up on the site because it would have cost me more to fix then it made in the year I’d been running it. Google can be pretty frustrating. Nobody knows how it works and they can make or break you at a whim. With SDS, I’m just focusing on writing for fun, if I don’t make anything off it, ever I’m fine with that.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..I’m Not Cheap, You’re Broke!My Profile

    • MMD says

      I’m sorry to hear your site was hacked. They probably purposely targeted it to use it as some kind of link farm. That is one thing that bugs me about WordPress – its open source so that makes it easy to hack.

      I think writing for fun is the main idea and a good theme for you to keep up with. I’ve been trying to write less about things that are “the optimal keyword” or for money, and more about things that I would actually want to talk about if you and I were having a conversation.

  8. says

    I realize you wrote this post earlier this week – but I just checked your rankings and you’re actually doing pretty good! One of the rank checkers I use has you at #30. I did a “natural” search with one of my other accounts (that hasn’t previously viewed your site) and found you at #28 – on page 3 of Google.

    I would suggest to just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep producing good natural content and don’t worry so much about un-natural link building. As the site ages and Google sees that you are producing good content regularly – your rankings should improve.

    I like the blog commenting strategy. Sure, they are no-follow links. But, you will attract attention from those blog owners and they might end up linking to you. Plus, other commenters on that blog will see your comments and some will end up clicking over to your site. If your site is viewed by these people as more of a blog than a niche site, you will be more likely to get engagement and possibly links!

    Good luck with it. I think you are definitely on the right track.
    Matthew Allen recently posted..Passive Income Report – February 2013My Profile

    • MMD says

      Thanks Matt! You are correct – I did write my post earlier in the week. The evening before this went live, my site was bouncing between #300 and #30. Ever since then, its stayed somewhat steady between number 20 and 30. In Update 4, I’ll have a post all about what I did specifically to get out of the penalty box. So now I’m at the crossroads where the hardest part lies: Cracking the top 10!

      When I compared Spencer’s niche site against mine in Open Site Explorer, I noticed that I had significantly more links than he does for his site. Yet he is already at Number 1. This leads me to conclude a sad truth: The next time I start a new niche site, I need to do better keyword research and choose something with low, low competition.

    • MMD says

      You’re welcome! Good luck with any improvements you’ll be trying to make. The real test will be to watch your Google Webmaster tools account and see which of your efforts are getting more click throughs. The more No. 1 spots you occupy and people finding you, the better your chances will be for making some income.

  9. says

    I’m just sticking to one blog. I don’t feel like playing SEO games with Google. I’d rather put as much of my effort as possible into writing good informative content.

    Certainly if I get a great idea for a niche site, I’ll run with it. But I don’t see that happening, particularly if my niches are all variations of personal finance. I’d rather keep all that content on my main site.
    My Financial Independence Journey recently posted..Recent Transactions – Lots of StuffMy Profile

    • MMD says

      An argument I can side with. There is nothing wrong with putting all your efforts into one thing rather than spreading them too thin. However, I can say that this whole niche site experience has “forced me” to learn much more about SEO than I ever bargained for. And good content aside, that single skill might do more wonders for my main website than I could have foreseen originally.

    • MMD says

      You’ve definitely got the right idea. In the beginning, you NEED to stay focused and work on gaining traffic. The money will come later, but readers are something that must be grown over time. Good luck and let me know if you have any specific questions.

    • MMD says

      I agree. I have read that “link velocity” is a real thing that can get you flagged for a penalty if you are not careful. I try to build a few links through comments and social media each week, and then one or two dofollow links wherever I can.

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