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