Welcome to the September edition of our niche website income report and update.
Blogging and learning how to steadily earn affiliate income is not only a fun hobby, but it has also become an incredible way for me to supplement our household income. In addition to my investing habits, that extra income has contributed significantly to our financial freedom plan that will one day become a stream of passive income and tool we use to retire early.
Like I’m sure it was for most of you, September was a whirlwind of activity with the kids going back to school and my wife going back to work (she’s a teacher). School, of course, also means that sports starts back up, and so most of our weekends have been consumed by soccer and catching back up with everything else that we couldn’t get around to throughout the week.
Nonetheless, I was able to spend a little bit of quality time with my websites and discovered something very interesting. But first … let’s take a look at how much revenue my niche site collection did.
Niche Website Income Report – September 2015
Here is my income and expense report for the month:
Here’s a closer look at my income sources for the month:
- Amazon = $42
- Clickbank = $314
- Google Adsense = $254
- Web Hosting = $65
- Personal Capital = $0
- Private Advertising = $140
Expenses: None to report this month!
Working on NS2:
Just as we talked about last month, I still believe that the biggest bang for my buck will be working on niche site 2 (NS2). NS2 is one of my broadest and most highly visited sites, and so it’s no surprise that it also generates the most amount of income.
My belief is that if I could get the size of the site and its traffic to grow by 2x or 3x times, then my revenue could also grow by that much too.
Last month, I identified two activities I was going to work on that were going to help me accomplish this:
- Posting links in social media
- Writing more content
In particular with writing new content, I developed what I felt was a pretty cool strategy. Here it is.
The “Write More Content at Lunch” Challenge:
In the beginning of the month, I was all set to get back with the writing service iWriter and order up a few more batches of content. Over the summer, iWriter became one of my new favorite ways to get quick and well-written articles at a rate of about $10 each.
While I have absolutely no problem outsourcing writing assignments, this time around there was a small issue: My previously purchased articles had failed to bring in the traffic I hoped for, and therefore didn’t make any money.
Well darn … If the new articles aren’t paying off, then there isn’t exactly a very strong business case to go out and pay for new ones.
That’s when I got a bright idea …
I’ve always fancied myself to be a pretty decent writer. Heck, there were times I even thought about putting myself out there and taking on paid freelance writing assignments for other websites. Plus, I have a lot of great knowledge of the way SEO content and structure should go. And so I thought: Why not just effectively “pay myself” to write them?
That’s when I came up with the “write during lunchtime” challenge. The way it goes is like this: When I’m not eating lunch with my new colleagues or busy doing something work related, what I’ll do is: Just start writing! The writing can be about anything as long as its related to NS2. Then, later on, I’ll combine it with a strong keyword and publish it on my site.
How did that work out for me? Wonderfully!
I was able to crank out about 5-6 really good new pieces of content. They were each between 800 and 1000 words, and definitely higher quality than what I would have paid for on iWriter. That just saved my NS2 budget $50-$60!
That was great news! But then I realized something …
Uncovering Bad Links to NS2:
Promoting NS2 with social media and adding a ton of new content is all fine and good. But my efforts were stopped dead in their tracks when I discovered something disheartening.
About half-way through the month, I checked my Google Analytics account and discovered something horrible:
Niche Site 2 is getting roughly HALF the pageviews that it was this time last year.
Oh, no!! HALF? Something big has got to be wrong; bigger than just the number of posts and content quality.
And unfortunately, something as simple as sending out a few tweets and adding some new articles isn’t going to be the kind of remedy it needs.
It was time to go deep and see if we can figure out what’s going on here.
On a whim, I decided to check my Google Search Console account. That’s when I noticed some weird stuff that may be the issue.
I noticed an extraordinary number of links (over 1,000 in some cases) pointing to the two main pages of my niche website. When I looked to see where the links were coming from, I noticed they were mostly coming from only a small handful of low quality, spammy websites.
That’s a problem. Google penalizes sites for having too many low quality backlinks pointing at it. Why? Because that’s how people used to “game” the Google search engines and get their crap content to rank quickly.
However, in the past few years, Google has wised up to this sort of trickery and started penalizing sites that they think are trying to game the ranks. In extreme cases, they will even de-index your entire site.
This, of course, is bad news all around because it means that these pages are not getting a shot at attracting the kind of traffic they deserve. And without traffic, there’s virtually no chance of making any money.
Negative SEO and Google Disavow:
So where did these spammy links come from? Did I build them?
NO! Absolutely not!
To be honest, it beats me who or how they got there. But I have a really, really good guess WHY they are there, and this is where you may want to pay attention.
Unfortunately, sometimes when your site is ranking really well for high volume keywords, other people who also want to rank well for that particular keyword will build spammy links to your site in an effort to try to sabotage it.
This is called “negative SEO”. It’s malicious, but it happens. You see – NS2 ranked #1 for its primary keyword for almost a year. I’m sure that someone else who wanted that #1 spot probably decided to take the deviant path and launch a negative SEO campaign against my site.
Fortunately for webmasters, Google is not completely unreasonable, and they have a way for you to defend yourself. Its called the “Disavow” tool. If you have poor links pointing to your site that you’d rather not have, then you can use the Disavow tool to let Google know to disregard them when they consider them as factors for ranking your content.
Moz has a pretty awesome article on how exactly the Disavow tool works, so I won’t try to explain it all here – you can the article if you’re really interested. Basically what you do is create a list of all the bad links and upload it to your Google Search Console account. Google will then not count these links as part of your link profile.
Just to be clear, Disavow doesn’t get rid of the links. The links are still there. All you’re effectively doing is saying “Google, please don’t associate my website with these crappy links”. If the Google gods favor you, then your content will no longer be punished by these spammy links. That should improve your ranks with time, and ultimately lead to more traffic and revenue potential.
Keeping an Eye on NS2:
I just filed my disavow list a little under two weeks ago, and so we’ll have to give it some time and see if it really helps to improve my niche website content’s standing in the Google search ranks.
Until then, I’m going to continue to do some keyword research and generate new content for the site. Niche Pursuits just did a really interesting case study round up on long tail keywords that has me all motivated to dig deep and find solid keywords I can try to use to compete.
Readers – How many of you have had to use the Google Disavow tool? Did you think that it helped improve your content’s rankings?
Featured image courtesy of DonkeyHotey | Flickr
[email protected] says
That’s a great use of time taking lunch to work on writing. I always thought lunch breaks were too long anyway. Why not take advantage?
I totally agree. If I could add up all the time I’ve spent during lunch over the years working on these websites, and how much its paid off, I’m sure that would be one hell of an amazing case study.
Thanks for the tip on the disavow tool. I’d seen it in the menu but couldn’t imagine a scenario where I’d want to disavow any links. Hadn’t considered a negative seo attack.
I remember when disavow first came out, I thought “why do we need this”? I guess I was too fresh at blogging to know that people will actually go out of their way to try to bring down your website.
That’s sad that people would resort to those kinds of tactics. It’s hard enough together this stuff going as is.
I’ve noticed that my blog will often have Referral sources from places like Buttons For SEO and places like that. I see it more on my Jetpack plugin’s Site Stats than Google Analytics (mainly because I use the former more than the latter, as the latter makes my eyes glaze over). I wonder if someone is doing that to me? Then again, I don’t think my site is popular enough or ranking enough for someone to try to launch an attack against it. Then again, maybe that’s why it’s not getting a lot of traffic. Then again–oh, I’ve gone cross-eyed.
Your suggestion about writing during lunch came two days too late. My bank has made it against the rules to use your cellphone, even in the lunchroom during your unpaid break. But they want us to be “genuinely” happy to see our customers. Do you see why I’m the Angry Retail banker (and why I’m trying to get this blog to work)?
ARB–Angry Retail Banker
Is your boss at work Hitler? Honestly! Who doesn’t trust their employees enough to do something as harmless as browse their Internet on their own phone on their own (break) time? You’ve got to find a different place to work ARB!
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
Phew, that’s a lot of work. I’m glad you’re making some headway in figuring out/honing the ways to increase your income and decrease the bad… press, I guess? I don’t really have ideas/time for niche sites, but it definitely sounds like they’re the way to go.
Thanks Abigail. Hopefully using disavow will lift whatever negative effects are keeping my articles from ranking better. I’m certain that if the one article that has over 7,000 spam links pointed at it was to rise up in the ranks, you’d be seeing some very handsome income reports!
Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com says
I am glad you spotted those bad links. I found several months ago I have over 50,000 from a single russian site linking to MoneyAhoy.com ! Needless to say, I am sure this was killing my site. I am really glad there are a lot of guides out there on how to use disavow through google. It is not really intuitive at all!
+50k links? Isn’t that bizarre? Where do those links come from? Who does this?
I totally agree on Google Disavow. It is not very user friendly at all; which is kind of weird for Google because they try to pride themselves on making everything as easy as possible. Perhaps because of all the negative consequences they made it difficult on purpose.
EL @ Moneywatch101 says
Yes that’s what happens when you become famous, people spam you. I think the side income looks really good if you ask me, keep it up. Thanks for the disavow tool, I will look into it.
Its unfortunate, but you’re absolutely right. Everyone wants that top spot in Google, and if getting there means buying some cheapo spam link package from Fiverr to try to sink your ship, they will do it in a heartbeat!
Vanessa at Cash Cow Couple says
Congrats on the effective detective work, MMD!
Admittedly, Jacob is the SEO guru in our house, so he has probably heard of disavow. I, however, have not and my mind is completely blown by this negative, sabotaging SEO you speak of. Sometimes humanity is disheartening.
Let us know how your rankings rebound in a few weeks!
Thanks Vanessa. I will, and hopefully I have good news to report.
Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says
MMD, I am glad that you found the cause of this earlier. I just wonder what would happen if you did it a bit late. It would have affected your site and your income so much. Good luck on you October. I hope that the issue is now completely solved so that you’d have a good income report for October.
Me too! Hopefully I see some improvement in rankings, traffic, and most importantly earnings!