Saturday, 19 December 2009

Early Christmas Present

Position No.1 achieved..
It's just in UK google, but I am pretty pleased with acheiving a No.1 search result for my chosen keyword this week (which I'm afraid I will still not be revealing anytime soon...). I am still getting position 3 in, but as my target 'audience' is UK users (to match my eBay affiliates which are aimed at UK users), I would rather have a better result in the UK.
I don't suppose that I will retain this position long-term although the older the domain becomes, the better chance I will have - just to stress a point though - the site I am referring to has NO PageRank.
  • Question: Can you achieve position 1 without PageRank?
  • Answer: Yes!
There are reports that Google has started to make some major search engine changes recently, making some fundemental changes in the way that search results are compiled. Whether this success is as a result of these changes (and therefore more likely to be a long term effect) or just a coincidence will become clearer in time.

Friday, 18 December 2009

New Flooring ideas

I have been struggling for a while with how to replace my bathroom floor. I Have already taken up the old vinyl bathroom flooring long ago and the wooden flooring that remains has some problems. Although the floor has been nicely sanded, stained and varnished, the boards have gaps which ordinarily would not be too much of a problem.
Underneath the bathroom, however is the kitchen and I have lowered the kitchen ceiling in places and inserted ceiling lights which are very visible through the bathroom floor.
I am left with the conclusion that if I don't want the kitchen lights shining through the bathroom floor, I have to think about Fitting laminate flooring or replacing the original boards with some oak floorboards.
I really like the idea of having the real wood floor, but am equally attracted by the practical advantages of laminate flooring. Let's not gloss over the fact that laminate can be had for less than £5 per square metre, as opposed to from around four times as much to more than ten times as much for solid oak flooring.
I am also quite taken with the range of finishes avaiable from the range of laminates on the market, but it will be a while before I get round to the bathroom floor, so I will have plenty of time to consider my final choice.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

As the end of the year approaches

It's time to take a long hard look at the years activities. I have had some small successes with my SEO project and can report earnings of £14.38 for contextual ads and £4.51 for eBay ads giving a grand total of £18.89 in the first six months, which I am confident will cover any costs (£25) by the time it has been up for 12 months. Interestingly, this project has helped me form some ideas about the relationship between PageRank and Search Engine Results Position. I have achieved great results in terms of SERP for my keyword (which is not that difficult when the keyword is part of the URL), but I have no PR whatsoever - which leads to the question: If you are looking to be ranked #1 for your keyword, as most people are aiming for, how does PR help??
My only conclusion is that if you have found a niche keyword, you can optimise without any PR, but if your keyword is heavily competed for, you may need PR to acheive SERP??
I have tried heavily competed keywords before and got nowhere, in contrast the results for my niche keyword were impressive and more or less instant. This is one in the eye for those that bang on about needing on-page AND off-page optimisation, when you can actually get to #2 of page #1 with virtually no off-page optimisation at all...
I am first to own up that a potential profit of £10 per annum is not terribly exciting, but there are a few riders that I would add to that:
  1. The rate of earnings is likley to rise from the initial faltering start
  2. I plan to move this to a hosting plan that will be virtually free
  3. I plan to repeat the experiment for other related keywords giving me similar income (hopefully) a number of times over.
I hope to show that this niche well-worked could be worth a few hundred pounds a year at least...

One remaining gripe is that the site is not yet listed by 'Bing', and I have tried submitting it again as I think Bing is going to be a big deal and seems to be seriously targeting Google. I will continue to keep tabs on progress with this particular issue...

Friday, 30 October 2009

Progress with SEO project

I have been adding more content and getting some good feedback in terms of visitors (Google Analytics) and impressions (Google Adsense). What is really encouraging is that I am getting good bounce rate. Bounce rate indicates when your visitor has seen your content, realised it is not what they want and bounced out again - this is indicated on Google Analytics as a bounce rate of 100%. It is not an uncommon indicator, demonstrating that although you got the click to your site, they didn't hang around - your marketing may be working but your content doesn't live up to it.
The bounce rate for my new project is more like 25%, Google analytics also tells me that on average they hang around for 3 or 4 minutes and read 3 or 4 pages. What this tells me is that I am getting visitors and they are staying to read my content, which spurs me on to provide even more comprehensive content with the intention of trying to get the visitor to bookmark and revisit my site at a later date.
I have strategically placed some 'about' information that tells my visitors that more content is planned for the future. I have been sending out the odd link request and had a bit of a 'snotty' answer from one potential link site recently. He offered a critique of the site and pointed out where the site did not fulfill what he thought would be fundamental requirements. My initial reaction was fairly negative, after all I was just after a link and my site was in developmental stages, however I thanked him kindly for his advice and set about addressing all the issues he had raised. To be honest, his comments did not tell me anything that I did not know, but it was really helpful to know that someone else had looked over my work and could see the gaps. I am now confident that the site is better-informed and more complete. Objective criticism is a lot more useful than someone telling you that you have a 'nice site'.
My SERP continues to remain very high for my one main keyword - I am starting to look at supplementary keywords now that the main one is almost always in position 2 or 3 on page 1. I did however discover that 'Bing' did not seem to know who I was, even when I searched for my domain itself - rather neatly, the results from the failed search gave me the option of submitting the domain to Bing - I will have to check in a few weeks to see if Bing is reporting me in results - looks like I had better check all my other domains in case Bing needs to be enlightened...
Finally, I am very happy to report earnings from Adsense on the site that equate to 6 months hosting fees, and a growing revenue from eBay partnership which I am increasingly confident will yield a net profit at the end of the year.
My plan remains for next year to be up and running with an 'unlimited' hosting package and repeat this experiment at least two or three times over. I cannot yet reveal my domain or keywords that I am working on as I have yet to purchase the domains I will need. I firmly believe that with several sites all working similar niches I can produce a small revenue which, once established will just passively earn for me for the future.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Earnings update

Update on earnings from contextual ads and auction affiliates is a grand total of £9.37
This is not looking like it will break any records, but the truth is that I have not really given much time to this project for the last few months but revenue is building slowly. I would be very happy if I get a yield of about £10 per month as this would certainly become significant if I replicated the model to give me five or six similar sites which would each attract traffic from their own keywords.
I have a significant amount of work to do before the site can be considered as a finished project, and my to-do list is substantial but not too onerous.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Actual Cash Return

Spent £25.00, earned: £7.50 in 3 months....
A fair return considering I have not really spent as much time on this as I would have liked, although it has to be said that $50 of free advertising probably helped. I need to up my game and get more content included on the site if I want to see a real return - that combined with cheaper hosting will be my next goals. I am also considering a site re-design possibly with a Wordpress template, but I am concerned about what impact this will have on the good SEO results I have seen so far. As far as I can tell, the way WP lays things out does not seem as SEO-friendly as a basic HTML site built with Dream-weaver which is what I am using at the moment. I may well borrow some design ideas that I have adapted from WP templates though as some of the designs I have seen are very impressive. I have found a source of free icons that could be used to supplement web designs, and will post about those at a later date. Having consistent, well-designed icons throughout a website sets your site apart from those with an obvious 'home-made' feel (my sites tend to suffer from the home-made look...)

Friday, 10 July 2009

Getting some clicks

Revenue has started...
Yesterday, I had my best adsense day so far for my new project which gives me the encouragement to believe that this project might actually prove profitable in the long run. I have also heard how I might be able to host any number of sites for one very reasonable hosting price and that would enable me to repeat this project as many times as I like for minimal costs.
If I go down this route, I will certainly post about it here (and all my other sites) to make sure as many people as possible hear about this stunning deal... It looks to me like you can get a re-seller type hosting package for the cost of what would be considered a standard hosting price (at least it's the same as what I pay for a single site).
Watch this space....

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

In the meantime...

Whilst waiting for my new site to gain some PageRank, I have been idly checking my 'old' sites to see if there has been any improvement in PR - sadly not, by best site has only a PR of 2! I am hoping for something a bit better for my new site, but I have not really established many back-links yet.
For those who don't know.... Search Engine Rank Position can be achieved entirely using 'on page optimisation', PageRank requires quality back-links which are a lot harder to get...
Check your PR here if you are so inclined...

Check Page Rank of any web site pages instantly:

This free page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

Monday, 22 June 2009

Traffic is building well...

Traffic is coming from somewhere..
I am happy to report that traffic is arriving at my new site, but I accidentally removed my Google Analytics tracking code so I will have to wait to see where it is coming from. It's easy to do - I had inserted the code into my template so that all the pages will have it, then because I was updating the site from two different computers, I had accidentally made a change to an old template (without the code) and then applied it across the site removing the tracking code from each page in one swoop. A reminder to me to make sure I download the entire site before making any changes (not too much of a task as I am just running on 9 pages at the moment).
I have not had many adsense clicks as yet, but have earned my first bit of commission from the eBay partnership. Sadly though I was turned down for fixed ads for violation of rules - the only thing I can think of which may have offended them was the duplication of information from other sites. I have some technical specs for items on there which have been copied from elsewhere, so I am guessing that it might be those that has denied me the chance to use this site for fixed ads - either that or they didn't like the affiliate ads that I have on there at the moment.
Now I have the tracking code back in the site, I will be able to find out where my traffic is coming from, but I will need more traffic if I am going to successfully monetise this thing...

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

New Project developments

Brief Update
I have yet to work out a strategy to bring in a lot of traffic, but so far I have been pleased with the steady trickle of traffic I have been getting to the new site. I even switched off my free 'Bidvertiser' PPC campaign to see if I was getting 'organic' traffic and I am pleased to report that Google is sending me visitors and my SERP seems stable at No.6 on page one.
This has spurred me on to try and get a more 'finished' look to the site and add some more specific content that should attract very specific search results.
To add to my traffic, I have had Adsense clicks in the last two days running which is encouraging, however the payouts were small so I am hoping to be able to generate a lot more clicks to boost overall Adsense revenue.
I am suspending the PPC campaign for a while until I have tidied up the site and given it a bit more well-deserved attention... at least I have something to show for the effort although I will need considerably more to break even.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Success with new project

First results...
For what it's worth (and it's not worth anything just yet...) I have managed to get ranked for my keyword at No.7 on the first page SERP, and No.6 for a UK search. I am pleased with this result after what is relatively little effort, I have two hopes for the future when it comes to the SERP results:
1) That I can improve the position to the top three
2) That I have correctly identified a keyword that will be useful in terms or traffic and ultimately monetisation.
I will do some more investigation into related keywords to see how well I rank for those too. I usually simply type keywords into google, but there is a tool which will do this search for you called 'SERPsFINDER' - it's a free app that simply searches Google, Yahoo and LiveSearch - it returns SERP for your chosen keyword on your chosen domain - it may deliver different results from your own searching and in this case, it returned a result of postion 17 in for my primary keyword. Doing this type of testing also gives you the chance to run an eye over the sites that rank above your own, giving you a opportunity to get some ideas that you may be able to incorporate into your own site.

I noted that with the hosting package that I bought, I was offered £50 free PPC advertising with bidvertiser which I took in order to generate some initial traffic. The keyword is relatively rare (between 260,000 and 2.3m results in google depending on how the search is phrased), and I am not a huge fan of bidvertiser (except when it is free...) so I am not expecting much traffic from this quarter, but at this stage I am looking for traffic from anywhere... If I were to be actually paying for a PPC campaign, then I would need to have my site a bit nearer to completion stage currently it is really just getting towards the end of the initial build stage.
I have printed out my pages so I can run a critical eye over them - currently five pages are live, there is one that needs editing - this will be like a FAQ or glossary page - these can be very useful for picking up keyword-linked traffic. I find having the pages printed in front of me allows me to see where I can improve the way the site links together, and helps to prevent duplication of content.
These initial results may not be long-term as I have seen freak SERP results from time time with new pages - hopefully I will be back in a few weeks time with a higher search position to crow about and some more content to help keep that position. So far, these results have come purely from on-site optimisation, I have yet to think out an off-page strategy, and quite honestly I am wondering if I can get away without it at the moment.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Getting Established

Getting to grips with Google
Today I have been adding my new site to my free Google Webmaster Tools account and added a tracking code to the template so that Google Analytics can track it for me. These two free services from Google are invaluable - Analytics tells me where all the traffic comes from and how it got to my site, Webmaster Tools tells me if my pages are indexed, who is linking to my site as well as a brief analysis of search terms that reached my site. Having got my first pages up I have a better idea of how the site will be arranged and how I can develop the site for the future. I am also busy tidying up the template and have added a favicon just to add to the overall impression. Using the Google tools really requires the new site to be on it's own domain so buying a domain seems increasingly like it is a no-brainer. My sincere hope is that I can make it pay for itself at least... For the record I am paying £25 ($40) for a years hosting and a free domain included. I think this small investment will spur me on to make the most of the site so that the monetisation gets a chance to kick in... If it works, it is the type of thing I could do again based on very similar niches...

Friday, 22 May 2009

New project update

Progress Report:
I have begun by creating three pages on a common template to give a degree of continuity which hopefully creates a more professional appearance... I have gone through some basic steps such as adding keywords and title tags to the pages and have implemented some monetisation.
As would be expected, I have added an Adsense side-bar to each page, but have yet to insert any adverts within the text areas which I intend to do eventually. I have also signed up as an eBay partner and have added some eBay banners to the base of each page (the pages are only short) - I have been pleased with the way that the you can configure the eBay banners with chosen search terms - this has enabled me to show eBay items which are linked to my content perfectly. I plan to use these on some other sites (must remeber to ask admin if I have to get each site approved..).
I am reconsidering the domain issue as I am not sure how easy is it going to be to generate organic traffic without the added bonus of a domain which mentions my chosen keyword.
On site SEO stages that I have completed:
Using keyword tags, tagging pictures, title tags, content, using anchor text to link between pages (not yet created a navigation bar...), used keywords in the URLs.
On site SEO yet to be completed:
Buy a suitable doman and cheap basic hosting, cram more information and relevant content into the existing three pages.
Off page SEO completed:
Used anchor text from other sites to link to my home page.
Off site SEO yet to be completed:
Look for other places to leave links and anchor text, maybe blogs and forums would be a good place to start - but really should get a domain first rather than be left with links pointing to an unused site...
Other tasks:
Create a nice nav bar to fit with the theme, could be fairly large as there will not be many pages. Plan out extra pages - advice on changing a CPU, information on fans and heatsinks/thermal paste etc...
As you can see from the time delays I am not exactly full-time at this, and the fact that I am hosting this on one of my own sites is probably the reason for my lack of urgency - ie. it's not costing me anything - I would be sure to be on the case if I was paying for hosting...!
I will do some comparisons and maybe go ahead and buy myself a domain in the next few weeks (I have a stash of PayPal money at the moment...). As ever I have a list of pressing issues with very little time in which I can get them completed - I must set myself some targets..

Thursday, 7 May 2009

New Project - creating the pages..

Ground-work done, let's get busy
At this stage we have the building blocks and we need to put them all together as a page or a small site. At this stage I am thinking about a logo, colours, fonts and CSS along with navigation and how the information will be arranged on the site.
We can only discuss general terms here because some will code their own sites, the slightly less able ones (such as myself) will opt for a package like Dreamweaver... Either way layout is fairly important if you are not going to create a 'google-whore' type of layout. My style is what I like to think as organic, even if I am trying to push the site purely for Adsense. If you were looking for a quick-fix adsense-oriented site I believe such things are available 'off the shelf' - try eBay...

For my new project I used Google images to search for a generic picture related to my niche, I then set about customising the image for my own purposes, filtering to give a colour-wash effect, then emblazoning some text over the top - this will be the eye-catching image at the top of my page, my colour scheme will be related to this image. I will use a text header and ensure that I have included title and description tags before deciding where my text is going to be, where I am going to have my navigation and where I am going to place my Adsense, or other advertising.
This is largely a question of personal preference combined with received wisdom regarding adsense positioning. Many folks prefer to place adsense right in the middle of paragraphs rather than have a glaringly obvious adsense side-banner. There are no rights or wrongs, but you may find that you get better results from one position compared with another. I am fond of the small block of 4 or 5 text-links that Google offer, but you will need to get a further click on the results of the first click before you earn anything from them. They look like they might be supplementary site navigation, so could easily be clicked almost unintentionally.
For this site, I will probably use one tall side banner and two horizontal banners in the spaces between paragraphs - this tends to be my default layout - Google resricts pages to displaying three adsense blocks, so choose them carefully.
For supplementary revenue generation I think I will look into adding links to eBay (I tried one of these services before, but they were useless) as the subject of my niche is tied closely to buying on eBay.
That's more or less where I am to date, I have a logo and a rough layout plan and have a Dreamweaver page started. I am looking for my content and need to edit and arrange it into a sensible collection of information - after that I will be placing some links in order to have the page(s) indexed by Google - I will post an update when I have reached the next stage, and we will look at some of the simple onsite and offsite SEO that every webmaster at every level should be incorporating into their sites.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The next step - content

Creating content
Right from the start, I am making the assumption that your site/page will be content driven - we need an idea of the type of information that we will be supplying on our niche website. Have a 'brainstorm' with yourself listing out all the topics that are covered under your niche heading and google for them to see what information is available. It is vital that the content eventually going into your site is unique otherwise you could be penalised by Google and the idea of monetising through Adsense will be a waste if time.
At this stage you could also consider whether there are other monetisation options open to you such as links to eBay or any of the other monetisation ideas that are documented elsewhere.
Do your research and thoroughly read through the information you have gathered until you feel confident that you have understood and can reproduce the content in your own style. Work out how you will arrange you content on the page or over several pages, you will then start to form ideas about navigation and how your site will flow. This is relatively easy for a small site, so think in terms of no more than about six pages or so initially.
At this stage I will probably be writing content into a document so that I can eventually copy and paste (my own work) into the site. The content should cover all the keywords that you want to be indexed for, you can work towards keyword density targets and the like, but I prefer my content to be naturally keyword laden - use common sense and try to use some keyword variation.
Keyword variation can be best illustrated by example. If your site is geared towards 'beer mats', you might want to occasionally refer to 'coasters' or some other related word - this has a two-fold effect, it prevents over-use of your keyword and it also helps to widen your SERP for an alternative search potentially bringing in more visitors.
Construction of your content into paragraphs, using headings and creating a logical flow of information is your aim here. This will give you the opportunity to insert Adsense banners between your paragraphs, but more on that next time....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

First steps to create a niche

The Creative Process:
I am not known for my creative ability, so this is an area where a little imagination can make a half-decent idea out of some of my half-baked ones. That said, I occasionally have a light-bulb moment...
The best niches must be related to a subject that will create sufficient traffic, the last one I tried was the Credit Crunch which I worked out would certainly figure in internet searches, and of the few I have tried, this one has been moderately successful. The other key element to monetising a niche is to discover whether the Adsense Ads are going to generate a satisfactory pay-per-click return. There are ways to do this, but you can always start by creating a page and seeing what adverts appear - obviously you can't click on them, but if you can generate some traffic and get clicks 'organically' then you can quickly assess the results. The PPC revenue will depend on the competition for the keywords in your content.
Once you have settled on your niche, it would be a good idea to see what domains are available for that niche, ideally for the niche keyword itself, ideally on a dot com. The best domains are of course already in use, so some creativity is needed for this process. If you use GoDaddy for domain searching, they will offer plenty of alternatives that are available if your desired keyword is already taken. Of course you don't NEED your keyword in the domain, but the power of both domain and page URL in getting SERP should not be underestimated... My strategy has been to find a domain that I may use, but before I take the plunge I am going to try a page or two on an existing unrelated domain so that I can assess whether there will be any interest in my niche.
I should add that as well as being 'popular' your niche should ideally be something you know a bit about and are interested in, you don't want to be stuck with a niche that does not interest you at all. If your niche starts to take off, you will want to add more content and pages, so having an interest and an extended source of information is essential. In my opinion it is quite acceptable to gather information from different internet sources as long as you don't copy them out verbatim without attributing ownership or asking permission. I would say that if you accumulate information from a number of sources and reproduce that information in your own unique way, then your content is unique both in terms of Google's requirements and morally. There is however a fine line between lazy 'research' and plagiarism - more about this in the next installment...

Friday, 1 May 2009

New Project

The internet is always changing and the strategy for making money online can change on a weekly or even daily basis. I started investigating paid blogging over two years ago, and since that time have seen both a surge and decline in real paid blogging opportunities. The dynamics of the web are largely affected by the activities of Big Daddy Google, but there is more to Google than merely the organisation that dictates PageRank hysteresis.
Google giveth and Google taketh away, whereas paid blogging might result in a PageRank 'slap', a well-made niche site may raise revenue through Google Adsense. I have long monetised an information-based website through adsense, but more recently I have found that even blogs can generate revenue through adsense - particularly if they are geared to a good niche.
So my latest project (which will be documented on this blog) will be to try to create a niche mini-site. I thought up a niche a few weeks ago, the 'dot com' was taken, but the 'dot co dot uk' is available - I had an offer from GoDaddy to get a cheap domain whilst renewing an existing one, but when I tried to buy it, the special offer did not appear... I decided that instead of buying the domain, I would create a page on an existing domain instead - this will allow me to assess the adsense reaction to my keywords (ie. whether the adsense is suitable contextual) and to see whether I can get the page ranked in SERPS (search engine results position).
I am not going to reveal my niche until the end of the project, but I will try to take the process step-by-step so that visitors may see the approach that I have used. The project starts with the very next post on this blog.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Traffic Building

I have been doing a bit of commenting to raise traffic recently and thought I would share my findings.
The first step in traffic building is to make sure there is some good fresh content on your site - ie. don't start a new traffic building campaign if you haven't updated your blog/website for months and if you have no quality content to put in the path of your new traffic.
Commenting is still a good 'organic' way of getting some traffic to your site, it can have the added effect of bringing you some back-links where the blog is 'do-follow' enabled (less and less likely these days). My preferred method is to only comment where entering a website URL as part of your identification is allowed. I use an anchor text keyword as my 'name' ie. if I were promoting this blog (which I clearly don't...!) I would use 'Website Building' or 'Web hints and tips' or whatever... Then enter my URL and in most cases this provides a free anchor text link if nothing else. The more 'niche' your keyword, the better the outcome.
In all cases I would leave an articulate, well-written and relevant comment which will probably guarantee a visit from whoever is validating comments, and possibly others who are following the comments on a long thread.
This is a long-form, but totally organic way of getting some authority to your site - these are the things I would steer clear of:
  • Paying someone to leave comments on my behalf - the quality of comments would be dubious at best especially where the contract may end up in the hands of someone who struggles with the English Language...
  • Leaving the same comment on every site - your comments should be relevant to the content, spam comments are only going to get deleted and then you are wasting your time.
  • Leaving a link in your comment - even if links are allowed, I would consider it rude to blatantly place a link in a comment and would expect to have my comment deleted unless it was totally relevant and went to a third party site. Definitely NO affiliate links, that certainly would not endear you to anyone.
These days it is harder to find 'genuine' commenters as spammers are ten-a-penny, so a well thought-out remark will probably bring you traffic. I will take the opportunity to mention forum posts - as a forum moderator, there is little that is more annoying that spam posters who are no doubt charging their clients per post or link. I delete all the spam posts I find on the forums I moderate so the client may well be paying out for nothing - I would not recommend paying someone to do forum commenting at all - the final outcome should be that you get yourself marked as a bad neighbourhood if the links are left in place - If you don't, consider yourself lucky...