It’s been only 3 months now since I really started to crank things into high gear and focus on developing my niche website: iravs401central.com. 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:
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).
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.
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 iravs401kcentral.com 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.
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:
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.
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?
- Where’s Da Money? – Rethinking My Online Income System
- Overestimating the Ideal Keyword Density and How I May Have Sabotaged My Own Blog
- Blogging Tips from All the Dumb Mistakes I Made My First Year
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