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.