How Long Does It ACTUALLY Take To Rank In The Google SERPs?

So you’ve started a new blog or website.  You’ve now got a good dozen posts or so up.  You’re also not seeing any Google SERP traffic.  I bet you’re wondering:  what does it take to rank in Google and/or how long do I have to wait before I start ranking in the top positions for my keywords?

There isn’t a magical formula – or solid answer – to these questions.  How to rank a blog or website in Google includes a lot of different factors.  From experience though there are some of those factors that play a more important role than others, and this is what I’m going to cover in this post.

Ranking Factors

Google has consistently stated that they are using more than 250 different factors in their ranking algorithm but the most important factors that are also related to how long it takes to rank in Google are the following:

Age Of Domain – A website that’s old and trusted is more likely to rank higher in Google.  Anyone working online for at least a few years has probably noticed their older domains tend to consistently rank higher than newly registered domain names.  This doesn’t mean that a brand new website can’t rank, but it simply means that it will take more time.  This is one factor you can’t necessarily just work hard at improving.  It’s a matter of time and patience.  Don’t let it discourage you though – time will pass faster than you think.

Clean Domain – This is another factor that can work in favor or against your efforts to rank in the SERPs.  A clean domain is a website that has not been penalized from Google either by a manual or algorithmic penalty.  There are a couple ways to tell if your domain is clean:

    • Login to Google webmaster tools, click on a website to go to the dashboard and select ‘Manual Actions’ from the Search Traffic menu.  If you see the message ‘No Manual Webspam Actions Found’ then this means that the website does not have any manual penalties.  That’s GOOD!
    • Besides manual you should also check for algorithmic penalties.  The best way to do this is to login to Google Analytics and go to the traffic sources report.  Select Google as the traffic source and set the date range from the beginning of the year.  Watch for any drastic changes in traffic and compare the dates these happen with the Google Algorithm Change History.  If you see a connection between the dates you lost traffic and the date Google rolled out changes then you know that your website was penalized and depending on the type of change you can start working on your recovery.

If your domain is not clean then it’s a waste of time to try and rank for any terms in Google because the imposed penalty will not let you. The best way to continue is to first clean your domain or maybe consider starting from the beginning on a new domain.

Competition for the keywords you want to rank in Google – There is strong competition especially for the most popular keywords so you should be selective of the keywords you want to rank for.

If you try to go after popular keywords believing that this way you will get more traffic, chances are you are not going to achieve much unless you have a very strong and trusted website.

What you should do instead is to target low competition keywords until you get high rankings for those and then try to go after popular keywords. High rankings for low competition keywords will get you traffic, links from other websites and slowly this will make your website stronger and able to rank for more important terms.

Author Trust (Google Authorship) – This is a new factor that gets more and more attention the last couple of months. Google does not officially accept that author rank is important now but this is something they definitely see coming.

Mark Traphagen shares some very good info about the present and future of Google authorship in his google authorship update article together with some nice authorship tips (found towards the bottom of the page).

Type of content (news item, article, image etc.) – Another factor that affects the time needed to rank in Google is the type of content. Breaking news stories will rank faster than stories which are not considered news. For example a story about possible war episodes in the Middle East is likely to appear in the top positions faster than your story about food allergies.

Likewise a new picture of the new born British prince will get to the top faster than the image you are uploading to accompany your new post.

Selection of title (SEO optimized title) – Having an SEO optimized title is more important than you think.  What I want to clarify here is that an SEO title will help you rank faster than a non-optimized title.

If you are a normal blogger or webmaster i.e. you have a relatively new website, with a not so strong author profile and only a few incoming links to your website, then even if you write the best content but choose the wrong title you won’t rank for anything, at least in the short term.

I have seen this many times before and what I try to explain to my clients is the importance of page titles especially for not so strong websites.

Take for example the post you are reading:

The title I have chosen ‘How long does it take to rank in Google’ is an SEO optimized title i.e. there are people looking for this term in Google and it does contain keywords. I made this choice because I know from experience that I have more chances for getting a good ranking for this term (in the next couple of weeks) rather than for a non-optimized title i.e. ‘Don’t expect to see your website in the first page of Google anytime soon’.

If you have a really strong website and profile then it’s possible to rank for non-optimized titles pretty fast as well but if this is not the case, you can be more selective with your titles and get better results in less time.

Content Length – Content length does count as a ranking factor.  A number of recent studies that prove that lengthy articles are more likely to rank higher than shorter articles. In terms of time needed to rank, an in-depth article about a topic has more chances of ranking higher than a shorter article about the same topic.

Number of posts / Quantity of content on website – This is also related with the age of the domain and author trust as explained above. A post published on a website that already has a number of quality published posts will probably rank faster than an article published on a web site with only a few published posts.

Original Content – This goes without saying but sometimes it is important to clarify the basics. Don’t expect to rank non-original content on Google or other search engines. This is true for both the post and the website to publish it. If the website has non original content as well then even if you publish original content, it will not rank.

SEO is importantOn Page and Off page SEO play a very important role not only for ranking a new post or website but also on how long it will take to rank. A carefully designed SEO Campaign will also speed up the time needed for new pages or posts to rank in Google.

Number of external references (links) – A new post/page that receives a number of natural links because it is important, useful and valuable will also climb the SERPS faster.

How often you publish new content – The frequency you publish content affects the time needed to rank a new page in Google. If you have a steady schedule (i.e. 2-3 times per week) then most probably your content will get indexed almost immediately but in the cases that you don’t publish new content that often, it may take a day before search engines find out about it. Note that indexing does not mean ranking, but it’s the first step in the process.

What Can You Do To Achieve Better Rankings In Google?

Besides what I already explained above, in order to achieve better rankings in Google you can follow these tips:

Be patient – Patience is perhaps one the most important characteristics you need to have if you want to succeed online. Search engines are governed by complex ranking algorithms, they have BIG data to manage, competition is huge and it generally takes time to convince them that you deserve one of the top positions in their rankings.

Hire a reliable SEO agency – The Internet is very important for all businesses and sometimes when you can’t get the results you want, maybe it’s better to leave it to the pros.  Outsourcing to a trusted SEO firm is perhaps the best thing to do and it’s does not cost as much as you think.

Keep updating with good quality original content – Don’t give up but keep trying. If you have not done anything that may get you into trouble (like buying links for example) then perseverance together with good quality work will get you results.  Check out my articles on quality content and the important of blog comments for more.

Work on your social media presence – While waiting for Google to find and recognize your good work, you can turn to social media for more exposure and visibility. Read and follow my complete guide to social proof.

Forget about Google for a while – Don’t be obsessed about Google because this will make you make mistakes. Instead of checking your ranking statistics many times per day what you can do is forget about Google for a while and concentrate on other ways to increase your traffic. This will not only help you be less dependent on Google but it will also diversify your traffic and income sources which is necessary if you want to build a solid online presence.

Conclusion

It takes time to get good rankings on Google. If you are starting a website now then you may have to wait for 3-4 months until you see your first visits from Google. After 6-7 months and provided that you are working on the right direction you can start getting more serious traffic from Google and the other search engines.

What you can do if things don’t look good in the first months, is not to give up but to keep trying using white hat techniques and sooner or later you will get the portion of Google traffic you deserve.

Ciao!

Quick Tip Tuesday: Get Your Ideas Down And Out!

A working habit that I have developed over time is writing down an idea or thought when it comes across my mind.  The key word here is ‘when‘.

I’m not sure why exactly why I started doing this, but it’s a habit that has helped me remember and organize my ideas a lot better than if I had just kept everything floating around my head.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have a lot of ideas at times of the day that are not very convenient.  Maybe I’m out running errands, hanging with friends or family, or having those late night ideas right before falling asleep in bed.  Regardless of the situation, I’m sure a lot of you have ideas pop into your heads at inconvenient times.

Here is a quick tip solution for you:

All you need to do is keep either a notepad and pen close by, or just open a word doc on your computer.  Each time you have a great idea (or just an idea!) take a moment and write it down.  Another great tool is your smart phone.  Most of them have a notes app.  Use it.

And honestly, it’s not about what you use to remember your ideas, it’s about actually using something to remember your ideas.  Take the time to write things down.  It usually doesn’t take me more than a minute to make a note, and if you’re anything like I am, you’re going to forget a lot of potentially great ideas by not getting them down and out of your head.

That’s all!  Ciao

A Changing Of The Guard: The Old Economy Vs. The New Economy

The more I talk to people off-line about internet marketing, working from home or just generally being an entrepreneur, the more I run into the problem of how people – including this guy – were raised and conditioned to view concepts like work and careers.  Because of this, those discussions often end up in a lot of existential talk about ‘what work means in today’s world’ or ‘how careers are a thing of the past and are being replaced by project-based work’.

After all, if you really are interested in making passive income online, understanding the way today’s economic realities are is going to be one of the first things you will need to tackle in order to take command of your financial well-being.

So, today I’m going to break down and compare the usual life-plan of someone who grew up and worked in the traditional ‘old economy’ of the Industrial Age, and then I’m going to present the life-plan that many people already involved in the revolutionary ‘new economy’ of the Information Age are following or have followed.

The ‘Old Economy’ Vs. The ‘New Economy’

To start, I’ll preface this post by explaining something I haven’t really talked about much on the IMMethods blog.

It’s my opinion, that the Industrial Age is clearly over.  The way we worked, the way we were marketed to, the way we communicated and our cultural norms from that era have rapidly died off since the late 80s-early 90s.  25 years back a groundwork was being built in the form of internet and rapid advances in tech.  This eventually resulted in the Information Age we live in today – a time where communication, connection, content and the ability to absorb information rapidly has become easily available on a global scale.

This subject is far too complex and filled with subtlety to fully explain in one post, but just consider the reality that we are living in a revolutionary time.  A time when the economic/social/cultural ways of yesterday are being radically changed today.  We no longer live in a jobs or career based economy.  We now live in an economy where work is ‘project-based’ and income sources are diversified on a  personalized level, by the individual, over their lifetime.

These periods of drastic change in the way we live and do business don’t happen often (maybe once every 150 years) so when they do happen, it’s important to recognize and adapt in order to survive financially.

When I say the ‘old economy’, I’m talking about a period of time post WWII up until roughly 2008 when a major breakdown occurred (a breakdown that I don’t personally believe will ever see a recovery like in past economic downturns).

When I talk about the ‘new economy’, I’m describing the emerging economy that’s heavily influenced by technology and the internet.  This economy revolves around and ‘trades in’ things like content, communication, connections and personalized business.

Onward to the comparison..

A Life Plan For The ‘Old Economy’

From about 1950 until the 2008 economic meltdown, the basic path most people followed for financial security and growth involved three, fairly basic, long-term steps/goals.  This sequence wasn’t for everyone – after all, there have always been entrepreneurs and risk-takers around (especially the early adopters of the ‘new economy’ starting around the mid-90s) – but I think it best describes the general life-plan for a majority of Americans working in the industrial age.  A life-plan many of us were indoctrinated into pursing, even to this day, through the public school system and general cultural influence from family, friends or mentors.

  • Get A Degree!  This was step one on the list for a young adult fresh out of high school.  The expectation and the smart thing to do (at the time) was to get into college, preferably a highly ranked one, and work on getting ideally a 4-year bachelors degree in a chosen field.  The idea was that having a piece of paper that could prove you’d spent the last half decade or so studying, let’s say Accounting, would almost guarantee you a certain job and range of income level.  It was a sure bet!  Right?
  • Climb The Ladder! (Or Steady As She Goes)  Once you had this secure entry-level position and nice salary, your step two goal in life consisted of dedicating yourself to ‘the company’ and ‘working your way up’.  Goals consisted of promotions to a higher position, raises in salary and maybe even stock options or increased benefits.  This was a long period of your life and the ultimate goal was…
  • Retire With Benefits!  This was the good part, this was the life..  You’d done everything right.  You got good grades in college and earned your degree.  You’d dedicated your working career to one company and it paid off.  You had a house, a car, a spouse and maybe some kids.  Now you’re 65 and you can now draw from the Social Security system.  You’ve got full benefits from all that hard work and your savings account should last you till death (with maybe some left over for your kids).

That simple life-plan was a solid, realistic and, let’s be honest, ideal path for most people during of the latter half of the 20th century.  I mean, this was The American Dream!  And there was nothing wrong with it – until things started falling apart.

A Life Plan For The ‘New Economy’

Since roughly the late 1980s the first signs of a problem with the ‘old economy’ started to show.  Year after year college tuition was becoming more inflated, massive layoffs from large and established companies were getting all to common (think Detroit/car manufacturers), and it was the starting point where we saw the cost of living began to get way out-of-whack in comparison to median incomes (see this article from Slate for more on that issue).

Throughout this period there emerged a ‘New Economy’.  Like all revolutions, it was slow and underground at first, but by the time Google, Yahoo, Facebook and other massive internet successes became a part of our mass media and pop-culture, the ‘changing of the guard’ was clear as day.  With the inevitable crash of 2008 – and the mounting evidence, as each year passes, that there is no recovery in sight – the final nails are being pounded into the coffin of the ‘old economy’.

The ‘new economy’ life-plan is markedly different and harder to break down into concrete steps.  Personally, that’s what I love about it.  There is so much room for creative solutions, alternative paths and do-it-yourself style work.  It’s an entrepreneurs dream world, and don’t fool yourself, we are all creative and entrepreneurial people.  With that in mind, I’ll give you what I see as the future outlook for what we might call ‘work’ in this new global Information Age.

  • Forget Homework, I’m Getting Online!  This is huge.  The kids and the young adults of the millennial generation are already aware of something that the older generations (generally speaking, of course) aren’t ready to accept:  The public school system is broken, and I’m not even talking about the bureaucracy or the funding issues.  Our schools are broken in teaching kids how to learn.  The focus is not on learning (or even getting kids interested in learning), the focus is based on test scores and socializing kids to follow the old path described above.  I mean, think about a k-12 child and how their day goes – wake up early, go to your class with other students, be quite and listen to and obey your teacher, then go home and do your homework, 5 days a week.  Sounds a lot like the work week of the ‘old economy’ to me.  For young adults (18-24), they’ve become more and more fully aware that as college tuition sky-rockets year over year, their degrees are becoming more and more worthless in comparison.  They’re asking questions like, “Why should I spend four years and $35,000 for a degree when I’ll end up under-employed, under-payed and stuck in the hole with debt for 20 plus years?”  And there are various cases and debates to be made about why public schools are failing, or why going to college doesn’t seem worth your time or money, but one thing is clear -  In the ‘new economy’ the learning needs of children and young adults are being filled by a superior source.  I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’m talking about the unrivaled (and possibly underrated) power that the information super-highway that is the internet.  Sure you could get your chuckles, and possibly even fry your brain, watching cute-kitten videos all day, but the ability to become an expert in any field/niche is right at everyone’s fingertips.  This is the basis for the next part…
  • Over-Educated And Uninterested!  I think a major source of conflict between the emerging generations and the previous, is the fact that, yes indeed, our kids are way smarter than we were at their age!  It’s true.  They have utilized the power of endless information and it’s resulted in a lot of really knowledgeable young people.  The ‘old economy’ advocates get frustrated at this.  Not because their kids are so smart, but because their kids are smart enough to know something they don’t know – the life-plan of their parents and grandparents doesn’t work anymore.  This is the present day 18-30 yr/old group.  The group that, in record numbers, still live in their parents’ basements ‘messing around on the computer’.  I wouldn’t worry too much though.  This generation is a big part of the revolution in personal finance, business, technology and social media.  What we are seeing is that they are smart enough to know the old ways won’t work for them, but haven’t quite figured out an exact plan for making a living in the ‘new economy’.  Give it time.  Once things settle and new sources of income are discovered and pursued by the masses, we’re going to see this conflict go away…and hopefully more 20-somethings move out of the basement room, haha!
  • Working On ‘Projects’ = Multiple-Sources Of Income!  This is where we are heading.  Everyday, millions of people get online and educate themselves on personal finance/internet marketing/passive income through sites like the IMMethods blog.  Ever since the major down-turn in 2008, and subsequent lack of a ‘recovery’, people have been scrambling to figure things out.  And that search leads them to self-education about how making money today is no longer about careers – it’s about project-based work and building your own personal sources of income.  Most of this opportunity exists online and as a benefit requires very little start-up cost.  Anyone can, and everyone should, build a website or blog for themselves.  It’s a no-brainer!  The millennials have figured this out and it’s working for them.  The amount of 18-30 yr/olds utilizing the world of online business and social media far out-weighs the older generations adoption of this powerful money-making and communication medium.  The future of economic success (and I’m not even talking about becoming a millionaire, although that’s certainly a possibility for anyone) for the average American involves the following -
  1. Recognizing your expertise and/or using the vast resources of free information available to become an expert.  Ideally in multiple areas/niches.  (See “How To Make Money Online With Your Area Of Expertise”)
  2. Taking your expertise and genuinely helping others via content creation, helpful products, useful services and social media.
  3. Building communities, joining groups and creating connections within your chosen niche or in any place that you find common interest with other people (think about how you make connections off-line, it’s the same concept).
  4. Establishing a personal brand within your area of expertise.
  5. And finally, by using the endless varieties of ways to make money online, you can sell your personality, your products, and your knowledge to help other people (NOTE:  never try and lie, cheat or generally act shady when you sell something to other people.  It’s a misconception that marketing online somehow makes it easier to scam people and get away with it than off-line marketing.  Give quality and helpful answers, and you’re reputation will grow as will your income sources.)

Those five-steps to building multiple streams of income (often passive income) may seem vague, but this post isn’t the about specifics of making money online (there is plenty of that on the IMMethods blog if you’re interested).  This post is about recognizing the clear differences between how people use to make money and how people will need to change in order to make money today.

A Last Word..

My hope in writing this article is that the folks who lost a job or career, the young adults looking for answers about what they’re ‘suppose to do’, or the people who are simply confused and lost in the wilderness of this ‘new economy’ can find some answers and clarity by the time they’re done reading it.  I wish the best to all of you, and if I’m able to help you achieve your financial dreams, then I’ve achieved my goals with the IMMethods blog.

Do me a favor though and share this article with others who might find it helpful.  Also, feel free to make comments to expand on this subject.  I know there is a lot more to be said about it.

For now, CIAO!

The Three Main Types Of Traffic And Why They Matter

I’ve recently been mentoring a friend of mine who’s just getting into the internet marketing world.  He will give me a call or stop by my place a couple times a week with a whole list of questions and topics.  We usually grab a couple drinks, sit down and he’ll start throwing topics at me – ‘picking my brain’ as he calls it.

So, at one of these sessions over the weekend my friend started asking about traffic generating methods and what exactly I do to get traffic to my sites.  Before I could even give him a straight answer I realized I had to start by explaining the various types of traffic that exist.  That quickly had him wondering all of the differences between those traffic sources and if one was better than another.

So, this discussion prompted enough interesting thoughts in my head that I figured I would write a post about what, I see as, the main traffic sources for any website or blog.  And not just that, but also how they impact your web properties in different ways.

Why Traffic Type Matters

Like my friend, some of you might start with the misconception that ‘traffic is simply traffic’, and I think the reason is because, as new internet marketers and website owner’s, one of our first main obstacles is just getting traffic period.  But at some point after getting your traffic you’re going to realize that where your traffic comes from is just as important as receiving it in the first place, if not more.

Here’s a breakdown of traffic types (note: these are my personal definitions):

Google/Organic Traffic

Organic traffic comes straight from the search engine results pages (SERPs).  Search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! Search are the main sources, but understand that Google Search is far and beyond the others in terms of traffic volume.  So, when we talk ‘organic traffic’, we’re really talking Google traffic.

Ideally you want to be on page one of Google in order to attract significant click-throughs to your website.  Getting to page one on the SERPs is a whole different article (or book really!), but a few basic strategies involve:

  • Getting backlinks.  Google puts a lot of weight towards how many and what type of sites are linking back to your site.  Think of it as an (unequal) voting system.  Each link is worth a ‘vote’ to the Google algorithm.  Some links carry more voting power than other links.  This is where things like PageRank (PR) and related websites come into play.  Ideally, you want your votes coming from a site that’s related to your niche and that also carries a high PR ranking.  Example – if your site is in the gaming niche, then getting links from IGN.com or Gamespot.com would be the ultimate prize in helping you move up the SERPs.
  • On-site SEO.  Basic on-site SEO involves making sure things like urls, keywords, tags, site-structure, and keeping bounce rate down are taken care on the website itself.  This is probably the most basic and oldest strategy you can use for helping your rankings.  In fact, it’s such an old and common technique that it’s become less important over time as Google has shifted it’s algorithms.  Nonetheless, it’s just something you should learn and always practice, because once you know a bit about on-site SEO it sort of becomes second nature when putting up new content.  This has become even easier in today’s day and age.  Especially on WordPress where you can install a plugin like SEO by Yoast and set it up once then leave it.
  • Having great/relevant content.  Of course none of that other stuff matters if you’re not packing your site with valuable content.  At the end of the day all you need to do is ask yourself “what is Google’s goal with it’s search engine?” – the answer:  The goal of Google Search is to provide it’s users with the best search results possible.  The only way it can do this is to ensure that the sites it ranks on page one have relevant, valuable and (to a somewhat lesser extent) unique content.  This is why you hear ‘Content Is King’ all over the blogosphere.  It’s true.  And going back to the ‘getting backlinks’ section, a key strategy for getting natural backlinks is to have excellent information on your site.  As long as you’re providing value to the ‘consumer’ you’ll have a much better chance at ranking in the SERPs.

So, what’s so great about organic traffic?  Historically and up to right now, SERP traffic is the most targeted, highest converting and lowest bounce rate traffic there is.  If you’re running an online business this is really important to you.  Google traffic is normally very targeted due to the nature of searching.  When a person types in a long-tail keyword like “how to lose weight while maintaining muscle tone for women“, that’s a very specific subject.  If your site has information on that subject, then you’re going to have a customer arrive looking for exactly the answers you can give them.

Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is traffic that comes from links you have on other websites.  Those links point back to a page on your site.  Referral links can be either paid or free but the whole idea is that the traffic is coming directly from other websites and not a search engine (NOTE:  Social Traffic can technically be put under the Referral Traffic category but I’m keeping it separate.  More on that later..)

Let’s look at some common ways that a blog or website may get Referral Traffic:

  •  Natural backlinks.  A natural backlink comes along normally when you write some really steller content and another blogger or site owner recognizes that steller content.  They might just decide it’s so good that their own readers would benefit from checking it out.  In that case they’ll probably write about it and link back to your article.  These are the types of referral links you should be going for as a content creator.  They’re natural, Google loves them, and most of the time they’ll be directing traffic to your blog from a site within your niche.  Best way to get these types of links is creating extra-ordinary content on a regular basis.  No one is going to backlink to a generic article that can be found in two second with a Google search.
  • Paid backlinks.  Paying for backlinks or straight up advertisements is another classic way to receive referral traffic.  The only downside is that is costs money!  One thing to remember if you’re going to pay for traffic, is that you have a lot of options and you would be better off taking the time and doing the research to find other sites worth paying for traffic.  This isn’t a strategy I personally use very often but knock yourself out if you want traffic quickly from a targeted source.
  • Other forms include:  blog roles or ‘blogs I like/read’.  Sometimes you see these on blogs in the sidebar.  Just simple suggesting from a related blog about other blogs that the audience may find helpful or interesting.  There are also things like forum links.  If you happen to be active in a forum related to your site you may have the option of putting your website in the signature link.  For some forums you may be able to suggest and place a link directly into a post.  I will warn you though – forum rules can be very strict these days and getting traffic from forums can be a long process of becoming a trusted and valuable member of the community before seeing any real results.  Lastly, there are blog comments.  If you’re going to post comments on a blog (with a link back to your website) I recommend, just like with forums, actually adding some value in your comments.  Most bloggers are not going to approve a comment that screams spam.  Something to remember with all of these methods really.

The important thing to note about Referral Traffic - the quality depends on the source.  This is a traffic type that will be different for every blog or website.  If you focus on getting as many links out there as possible you might find that your traffic isn’t the most targetted or best converting.  On the other hand, if you take time and care in getting those links in the right place at the right time you can get a lot of quality traffic.  Referral links are best when they’re natural.  Focus on being extra-ordinary and you will attract a natural interest and spreading of your ideas.

Social Traffic

Here it is, the new frontier in traffic sources.  Well.. it’s not all that new I suppose, but it’s certainly the latest ‘big boy’ to come along.  Social traffic comes from any sort of community or connection based website.  Think Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Digg, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and on and on.

Instead of giving you a breakdown like the other two sources in this post, I recommend checking out The Complete Blogger’s Guide To Social Proof.  This post will tell you everything you need to know about Social traffic and how to get it.

Still, how valuable is Social traffic?  The answer is up for debate but I’ll give you my opinion – Social traffic has traditionally not been great when it comes to conversions (a factoid that also depends on the social network, Pinterest being a horrible source for conversions and Twitter being much better).  However, as social networks are becoming less about just adding random friends and more about building targeted communities and connections around your brand, we’re seeing a shift in value.  The more targeted your social connections become the better conversions you’ll get.  Another key part of this is the power sharing.  Social traffic should be less about conversions to begin with and more about ‘spreading the word’.  The power of shares, likes, etc. are where the real value lies.  This is traffic source that should not be neglected going forward.  It’s paramount to building a personal brand and ensuring long term stability for your online business.

Last Word

I know a lot of other traffic sources exist beyond these major categories.  I’ll work on covering them in the future, but I like the idea of a Back To Basics type of post.  Sometimes it’s the simple things we forget about.

If you’ve got a source of traffic you want to share, let me know in the comments.

Until next time… CIAO!

My Monthly Income Report – September 2013

Number two of a series of reports that I post each and every month summarizing my progress.  I start these reports with a summary of major events that happened within the month and how it made a difference on my earnings.  I also break down the sources of my income so that I can keep track of how each one is doing.  Last, I’ll conclude the report with some important things that I learned and what I might have planned for the future.  I’d love to respond to any questions or comments that you may have.  Thanks!

Major Events This Month

  • Set-up my mailing list and opt-in forms for email subscription here on the IMMethods blog and had my first sign up the same day!  (Thanks for being the first of many Manuel!)
  • Ran into a ‘crisis’ situation the first week of September with one of high-traffic niche sites.  It involved getting a slap from Google and seeing a major traffic drop (and loss of income).  I’ll be putting together a post that explains exactly what happened and how to avoid this type of situation.
  • Redesigned this blog and I like it much better now.
  • Started exercising again!

Income Sources

  • Private Advertisting:  $200.00
    • Last Month:  $200.00
    • Difference:  None
  • Google Adsense:  $267.33
    • Last Month:  $389.45
    • Difference:  – $122.12
  • Affiliate Sales:  $3104.80
    • Last Month:  $3382.77
    • Difference:  – $277.97
  • Total Income:  $3,572.13
    • Last Month:  $3,972.22
    • Difference:  – $400.09

Okay, so my income dropped $400.09 this month compared to last.  I’m not too unhappy about that.  I’ll explain why in ‘things I’ve learned’ section.

My private ad revenue remained the same.  Like I mentioned last month, I only run private ads on one of my websites, and that site has remained very stable in terms of traffic.  I have only two advertisers on it who have bought each month for the past 4-5 months.

Google Adsense dipped a little bit.  In my experience Adsense revenue is always an up-down affair from month to month.  Nothing I’m very worried about.  And just like with my private ad sales, I’ve not been active trying to grow this income source for quite some time.  So, what I make is currently a ‘leave and forget’ type affair with Adsense…for the moment at least.

Last month I mentioned how my affiliate income increased from the monetization of a niche site that started receiving a lot of traffic over the summer.  In August I made almost $1k in affiliate sales from this site.  This month saw a dramatic dip in traffic and sales on said site.  As a result I only made about $300 in September with this one.  On the positive side, a good deal of that loss was made up from affiliate sales on this blog (mostly from Bluehost) and (to my surprise) one of my very old YouTube videos, promoting a health niche product, started seeing good sales.  So, while my affiliate sales did drop this month due to a major hit on one source, I’m not too worried because I’m seeing good growth elsewhere.  A lesson on diversification maybe?

Things I’ve Learned This Month

  1. Provide value to people today and worry about money later.  The niche site I’ve been mentioning in this month’s post.  The one responsible for the dip in affiliate income.  Well, it’s not a good website.  The quality of the content is generic, the design and flow of the blog is horrible and it was created (by me) with just making money in mind, as opposed to providing value to others.  The way I market and run my online businesses today is so far from how I ran my businesses when I created that website.  My philosophy on giving value and worrying about money later is the opposite of my mindset when I threw the thing together.  I’ll expand on this in a future post and go into detail about what happened and why.  The lesson is, don’t go around the net just slapping whatever crap together you can as quickly as you can with the hopes of making money.  Sure, I made some good money from the website in August, and I still made a solid chunk of cash this month.  But, I know for a fact that had I put the focus on value and not just making a buck, I would have made a lot more this month and the next month and on and on.
  2. ‘COMMUNITY’ is the Key.  I’ve spent a lot of time learning about community building this month.  I’ve been reading a lot of Seth Godin and the like recently.  I really believe that communities, connections and (as Seth puts it) tribes are the future, of not just marketing and business, but of life in the information age.  Things have changed enormously since this digital/internet/social media revolution began.  The Industrial Age is over folks.  We don’t live in a world of ‘job security’ or steady wage careers.  Those days ended in glorious flames back in 2008, and for good in my opinion.  There is no ‘recovery’ coming for the old ways.  The new frontier we live in consists of ever changing ‘project-based’ careers, work from home or for yourself business and MOST importantly connections with other human beings.  Community building is about ‘ME’ and ‘YOU’ and our personal brands.  (I’ll be writing a lot more on this stuff in the future).
  3. Working from home is difficult.  It’s been a really strange experience going from working two part-time jobs for years – and being in that routine of ‘clocking-in, clocking-out’ – to now where I have a complete say in what I do and when I do it.  Some days it’s really easy to not work at all, and other days I’ll spend 12-14 straight on my businesses.  I’ve got the T.V. right in front or a walk away and things like YouTube, Facebook and internet memes are only a click away.  I’ve been experimenting with finding a balance because having days where I don’t work makes me feel lazy and unfulfilled, and on the flip side working from the moment I wake until I can’t keep my eyes open can be stressful (think: ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’.  SCARY!).  But at this point I’m finding that keeping a schedule with must-do daily tasks while simultaneously imposing a work limit on myself allows me have some fun time and also get things done ‘in the office’.  So, that’s where I’m at and it makes me feel much more accomplished day-to-day.

Future Plans

I’ve got a lot of post ideas and plans in the pipeline for this blog.  No major changes are in the works now that I’ve settled on the current design and set-up of IMMethods.  There’s a new blog idea I’ll be pursuing very soon and I’ll likely post something here about it when I’ve got it all worked out.  So, look forward to that!  As mentioned, I’m getting really into some more ‘philisophical-type’ marketing ideas that deal with the future of marketing and what ‘work’ is going to look like in the information age.  Expect to see some more about this.

But specifically:

  • Build my new blog and reveal what it’s all about.
  • Create that post explaining why that niche blog failed and how you can avoid the same mistakes.
  • I want to reach 50 subscribers this month.  I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this because it’s really up to you guys whether or not to subscribe.  So, I’ll take the opportunity and ask you to.  But, only if you find value from the blog, which I hope you do :)
  • Build a Facebook page for the IMMethods blog.  I’ve been putting this off and it’s certainly something to focus on this month.

That’s it for this month’s income report.  As always, I value hearing comments, suggestions or, well, just hearing from you guys!  Feel free to comment.  Ciao!

Let’s Talk ‘Blog Flow’

I don’t remember where I heard the term ‘blog flow’ or if it’s just something I started calling the concept I’m about to talk about.

What The Heck Is Blog Flow?

Okay, so blog flow is a term I use to describe the design of your website or blog and how that design affects what your visitors do on your site.

If you think of your blog homepage as your storefront (which it essentially is!), then imagine a first time visitor arriving.  Where do you want that visitor to go first?  What do you want them to see?  Are there ‘featured’ products or services in your store that you want them checking out?  Would you like them to find and meet you the business owner?  How can you best help them help themselves?

This is what blog flow is all about.  It’s the idea of setting up your website in a user-friendly, helpful, and controlled way.  You’re setting up ‘pipelines’ for visitors to seamlessly ‘flow’ through your content.  And what this ultimately does is keeps people on your site!

Why It Matters

Having a visitor flow that is structured and customized for your site matters.  It matters more than you realize.

A huge benefit is bounce rate.  By structuring your blog so that readers are encouraged to click on more posts, pages or internal links, you’re automatically reducing your bounce rate.  And if you’ve done any research on Google/SEO, you know by now that bounce rate has a big impact on where the search engines decide to rank you.  It could mean the difference between page 1 on Google or dusty old page 10.

What about building a community and creating social proof?  Keeping new visitors on your blog for longer periods of time and having them visit multiple pages and posts will undoubtedly increase the likelihood of shares, likes, tweets, comments and whatever else.  Not to mention higher numbers of email sign-ups and RSS feed subscriptions per visitor.

Blog Flow gives you a level of control.  Think of it this way:  We, as site owners and content creators, want some sort of control over how our original content and works are presented and discovered by other people.  Right?  You spent so much time on your pillar post about “how to create a blog and make money with it”, so why in the world would you want that post to just get buried into the archives?  When you take the initiative to set up a pathway for readers, you take the initiative to show off your best content.

Going With The ‘Flow’

1. Give Users A ‘Suggested’ Archive

Almost every blog has some sort of blog archive.  It could be your monthly archives, or your recent posts roll, and even your categories or tags are basically just specific archive lists.  But why leave automated and basic archiving systems like categories, recents and time-frames as your main tool for users to navigate through your content?

I, for one, have never enjoyed the process of clicking on something like  ‘posts from august’ in order to try and find something else to read on a blog.  In fact, the only time I ever waste time sifting through those types of archives is when the blog is REALLY REALLY GOOD.  Otherwise, I’ll head back to Google or some other blog to find something useful to read.  It’s just an archaic and labor-intensive way for readers to find content.

What I recommend instead is setting up a thoughtful and customized area that visitors can easily one-click and get to.  The best example I can give you is my ‘Best Of IMMethods’ page.  At any one time, while visiting any one page on the IMMethods blog, there is menu tab that points directly to that ‘best of’ page.  I created that page specifically to help my visitors find the most useful content on this site.  Looking at it you can see that I have it split into main categories with short descriptions and then a list of relevant posts underneath.

I suggest studying that page and making something similar.  It’ll give you the chance to quickly help your visitors find your best content.

2. Emphasize Your Story

Creating a personal brand is a big thing I talk about here on the blog.  A huge part to that is having a picture of yourself, creating a really good ‘About Page‘ and making a prominent author area above the fold in the sidebar.

Most bloggers have those things.  How good your about page, author box or pictures are is a discussion for another time.  In relation to blog flow I want you to ask yourself a few things:  Is ‘my story’ easy for users to find?  Is there a link to the about page in my author box?  Is my author box very visible to users?  Once a reader is on my about section are they encouraged and excited to continue exploring my blog?

This is a new age of marketing.  An age where personal brand is everything.  Connections and community building is what drives business in the information age.  If you’re not making a significant effort to be transparent, honest and open by sharing who you are, what you do and your story to other people, you’re not going to go very far as a blogger (or business owner).

So, consider how best you can flow a new visitor to your about page so that you can make that connection with them.

3. Internal Links

This is pretty basic but I come across plenty of blogs that don’t seem to take advantage of internal linking.  For those that don’t know, internal links are links to your own pages and posts that you place in another page/post you’re writing.  A simple example would be this article.  Up to this point in the post, I’ve already linked to five of my own pages and posts.

The strategy is simple.  Whenever you’re writing and a topic is mentioned that could be expanded upon – if you have content that fits the bill, then make a link to that content where it’s relevant.

This is more sporadic and less ‘planned’ way of creating blog flow.  Nonetheless, it’s going to achieve the same goals of making your content readily available for readers, lowering your bounce rate and just generally making your site more active.

4. Getting Started..

One of my greatest additions to the IMMethods blog was the ‘Getting Started‘ section.

While the ‘best of’ page may be better suited for return visitors, the ‘getting started’ section is my solution to keeping new visitors around.

What the page does is give the new user a ‘safe’ place to go if they feel overwhelmed (and if you’re new to internet marketing or blogging, then you know it can be MORE THAN overwhelming at first), it also provides some specific recommendations of what to do, what to read, or where to go next.

Overall it’s a useful page for new visitors to get some instant and concise answers.  But it’s also a great way for me to keep them on my blog at the same time.  If I had nothing but tons of unorganized and (to a new marketer) confusing/overwhelming content on the blog, they might just leave and look for something simpler to start with.  By having that ‘getting started’ section, I’m providing them the answers they’re looking for.

5. Some Other Considerations

So, the goal is keeping people on your site and having an influence over where they might go or what content they should consume first.

A couple other things I do to achieve this include, but are not limited to:

  • My ‘Popular Posts & Pages’ section in the sidebar.  With this area I basically created a mini-version of the ‘best of’ page.  It’s has links to articles and pages I consider very useful.
  • The ‘Tools Of The Trade‘ page.  Although this page is full of outbound links, it’s still important to my own blog flow because it gives my readers a central resource for products and services related to online business that I recommend and find useful.  In other words, I’m providing another page with potential value to my readers.  They may click on a link to somewhere else, but I bet they won’t forget what brought them there.  And as a side note – I also make money from that resources page, but you can read the affiliate disclaimer on there for more.
  • Sidebar design and order is something I’ve spent a lot of time, on this site and others, experimenting with.  I’ve found an order that works for me on this blog and having things like the RSS and social media links above the fold is the best place.  I’ve also discovered that a big bold picture plus author box above the fold is paramount to getting new visitors interested in you and your site.  I’ve got a link in that author box that points right to my about page.  Also, my email subscription box is about half-way down on the sidebar.  I discovered that was a good place simply because a reader is more likely to subscribe to email after deciding if you have valuable content.  So, having the opt-in box lined up in relation to the post body just makes sense.
  • I won’t get into this too much because it really deserves it’s own post (maybe soon..hmm), but I’ll just mention that your theme, your color scheme and all of the different aesthetic related stuff does have, at the very least, a measurable impact on keeping visitors around and getting them interested in your blog.  Again, just a mention and something you can look into more when you get a chance.

What You Can Do Right Now..

Take in all the things I’ve just listed and head over to your blog or website.  Look around and pretend you’re a first time visitor.  Then ask what makes sense and what doesn’t.  Ask – “Why is this there and why is that over there, and would it work better for my users if I put it here?”

Without reading this article I’m sure a lot of the design of the IMMethods blog wouldn’t be something you even payed much attention to.  But now that I’ve explained why certain elements are where they are, you have a great opportunity to take those concepts to your own web property.

Just about every link and design element can have a potential impact on how visitors ‘flow’ through your site, or if they even ‘flow’ your site to begin with.

So, get over to your web property and start working on ‘flow’.  Right now!  Then, come back and leave a comment explaining something you changed and maybe why you changed it.  Feel free to leave a link back to your blog so we can see your ‘flow’.

Hope to hear from you soon.  Ciao!

All You Need To Do Today

Finding success is all about taking action.

(see – The 1 ‘Rule’ You Need To Know If You Want To Make Money Online – for more in-depth)

Read and research all you want to but nothing is going to happen until you do something.

I’ve been super busy focusing on writing my new eBook this past week.  That’s why today, I’m cutting this post short.  Instead of reading my posts, I want you to do something instead – right this second.  Do something on your blog, for you business or in your life that will get you moving in a forward direction and help you reach your goals.

All I ask is you leave a comment of what you’re about to do (sort of like a pledge).  Let’s all get something done today.

Okay?

I’ll start:  I’m pledging to finish the 2nd Chapter of my eBook today.

Wish me luck!  Ciao!

Blogging & Perseverance: 5 Thoughts To Keep You On Track

This blog is about many things – internet marketing, passive income, blogging, personal development, writing, etc. just to name a few – but a category I really do enjoy sharing my thoughts on from time to time involves stuff like motivation, inspiration, or the topic of this post: perseverance.

Why Is Perseverance Important?

I’ve been struck with a stomach flu over the past few days and the result is me laying on a futon in the smallest room in the house!  It’s not all bad news, one of the upsides is that I’ve had a lot of time for reading (both in and out of the smallest room!)

One of the books I picked up was a dusty old copy (I think it originally belonged to my Dad..) of Richard Carlson’s book of essays, Don’t Worry, Make Money.  Judging by it’s listing on Amazon, it looks like it’s out of print (Richard is far better known for his excellent Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff) but I’ve enjoyed reading it.

One essay in particular struck a chord with me.  It’s simply titled, Persevere, and it’s full of no nonsense advice about staying on your chosen path for the long haul.  The essay is aimed at people starting a ‘brick and mortar’ business, but it’s equally as useful for someone undertaking online marketing, blogging, or any other creative endeavor.

This got me thinking about how important perseverance has been for me the past few years and will be for you guys who also want to find success online – whether it’s a blog, some make money method, or anything else.

So, here are 5 thoughts, from my own personal experiences I’ve had, that will hopefully help you stay on track and persevere online:

1. Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone

When I was thinking about some of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced, in my personal and business life, I kept coming back to one thing:  breaking out of my comfort zone.

A few years ago, I was confused, I was angry and I was pretty much lost with my life.  I had failed at college multiple times, I couldn’t seem to find any ‘real job’ or make any sort of serious money for myself, and as a result I was forced to move back into my parent’s home in the basement spare bedroom.  Worst of all I could never really answer the question, “what do you want to do with your life?”

Breaking free from my comfort zone, finding my passion in online marketing, blogging and writing, and breaking the easy but addictive habit of doing nothing all day are all a part of my slow and steady success.  A major factor was realizing and then admitting my flaws.  After that it was all about working to fix them and focusing on my strengths.

I think everyone sort of faces an epiphany at some point (or multiple points) in their lives.  Eventually things build up and something inside them switches gears, causing them to become determined, motivated, and unstoppable.  We all have it inside us, we’ve just got to break out and realize it.

2. Prepare To Make Sacrifices

Next time you’re faced with an obstacle or challenge, think about the steps you’re going to begin taking to overcome that challenge.

You very well might need to make sacrifices – a lot of them.

I made sacrifices when I committed to making money online and started my first niche sites.  Building them, and acquiring the knowledge to do so, took a lot of time, as a result I gave up hanging out with friends as much as I usually did, doing activities that did nothing to help my goals, and spending money on useless (albeit fun) things.  Instead, I spent a lot of time reading and researching.  I worked at understanding the people who were already successes in my field and I learned from or emulated them.

Making those sacrifices is difficult.  It’s just as difficult as breaking out of your comfort zone, but it’s also just as important.

And don’t let me freak you out too much, all of these sacrifices and challenges aren’t going to hit you at once.  The process of becoming the person you want to be is slow and steady.  All you need in order to ‘fuel the fire’ is the the hunger for success and change.

3. Find Your Friends

One of my good friends is a guy named Vince.  Vince is much older than I am.  I met him through a music program at the local community college.  We instantly clicked when it came to music and because of that hobby, became good friends.  Through our time hanging out together, I discovered that Vince, amongst other things, has a lot of experience making a living online.  It was during the time I started internet marketing that he gave me a lot of great advice and just generally helped me out whenever I needed it.

During the same time period I started networking a lot, both online as well as offline.  This is how I’ve created about half a dozen great friends who are all ambitious, young, intelligent, and driven people.  Beyond that, they’re great listeners.  To have a group of like-minded individuals helping each other out is priceless for your success.

No one becomes a success doing everything on their own.  It just doesn’t happen.  You have to network, grow, meet new people and connect all around the planet.  Having my dependable group of friends is important to me.  They’ll sit and listen to me rant, we will bounce ideas off each other, and I know I can get some honest opinions when I need them.  We also talk about goals and dreams we have.  Often times just having a place to vent about those sorts of things can make a person become motivated.

4. Don’t Expect Perfection, Learn As You Go

When I made the choice to pursue passive income online, I can honestly say, I barely had a clue what I was doing.  I had never blogged before, I’d never set up a website, or done SEO (I didn’t even know what ‘SEO’ meant!).  It’s not until the past year that I’ve started to really focus on things like website design, improvement in my writing, and making sure I give enormous value to people visiting my web properties.

What I’m saying is – I had to go through this ‘lost in the web’ phase in order to really find myself.  Most people don’t make it this far and a large part of that is due to unrealistic expectations and just plain old giving up.

Don’t focus on how much you don’t know or how far you think you have before reaching your goals.  Just push ahead and be okay with making mistakes.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we become better.  It’s how we find ourselves and eventually achieve our goals.

5. Where’s Your Passion?

Passion is a big factor in why I did not quit early on.  Sure, desperation was certainly another player in the game and it’s also the thing that got me into internet marketing, at a time when I felt like my life was crumbling beneath my feet.  I decided that if making a living online wasn’t it, then it was onto working in a factory or for someone/some company for the rest of my life.

But once I started actually working online and building my businesses it was pure passion that got a hold of me and has sustained me all the way to today.  I discovered how exciting it was to build websites, write articles and blog posts, network with people, and find creative ways to get traffic.  I loved it.  I found my passion in those things.

The lesson is that you need to take a good hard look at what you’re doing online and decide if you actually enjoy it.  Because it you don’t enjoy it you will never be motivated to push forward.  Working online isn’t for everyone.  So, before you begin or continue doing it ask yourself – “where does the passion lie in what I’m doing?”

But That’s Just Me..

I hope sharing some of my personal experiences and thoughts on perseverance isn’t a waste.  I’m sure a lot of the things I went through and obstacles I faced are also challenges that others have come up against.  If this helps only a few out there, then I’m happy.

I’d like to hear some thoughts on this subject from you guys.  Feel free to share your own stories, experiences or strategies for staying motivated and persevering.

Can’t wait to see what you’ve got!  Ciao!

The Complete Guide To Ethical And Effective Link Building

The Current State Of Backlinking

“Natural link building by itself isn’t good enough.  When your competitors are using every trick and tool in the bag to build lots of high quality links to their sites, you’re basically non-existent unless you’re using every trick and tool in the bag too.”

I read this quote over on another blog a while back, and the catch is that it was completely true, particularly for building niche sites.

There are a ton of different ‘tricks and tools’ for us internet marketers to choose from.  Some of them are more whitehat and ethical than others, but on the hole in order to have a fighting chance with the search engine ‘wars’ you can not just build a killer website with amazing writing and unique (or even the best) content – in today’s internet world you have to build quality links to your website, or else it’s going to be pretty much non-existent.

It makes total sense that the quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to a site determine, in large part, it’s rankings in the SERPs.  But, the fact that you often have to almost pay for those links to compete doesn’t make sense.

The unfortunate reality is that that’s just the current state of SEO and where the past has led us to.

In the past year though Google has been making some major chances to address this problem.  One move that happened in the past year, and affected lots of site owners, sent a very clear message to everyone who is optimizing a site for search engine rankings.

What Google Did..

One of the most popular ways to build links over the past 5-10 years has been done using private blog networks – basically, a paid service that guaranteed you high-quality, one-way links to your site by allowing you to publish a short 100-200 word article (with a backlink included) to one of several thousand high-quality blogs owned and operated by the company you were paying.

Private blog networks were easy to use and they worked really, really well.  As a result, they were extremely popular for SEO purposes.

So popular, in fact, that Google shut several private blog networks down by de-indexing all of the blogs in their systems.

This resulted in all of the sites in their networks no longer being found in the search engines, and as a result, all of those backlinks coming in from the sites became worthless.

At this point in time, not all of these networks have been shut down yet, but they ARE on Google’s list.

My Opinion..

This response from Google was only a matter of time.

I know there are plenty of webmasters, online marketers, and bloggers even who are upset because backlinks (they paid for) are gone overnight, as are their rankings and earnings, but frankly I feel that anything that makes ranking in the search engines more about the quality of the content on a site and less about paying for backlinks, the better (for consumers of content and for creators of content) – and that’s what Google is working towards.

I say this even as someone who has paid private blog networks for ranking my niche sites in the past.

In my opinion, there are just too many websites sitting on the top of Google that don’t deserve to be in that spot, and even though this move doesn’t fix the problem entirely, at the very least it’s a move in the right direction.

Getting rid of blog networks is leveling the playing field just a little bit, and if you’re a content focused site owner, you should feel good about that.  Your websites are going to rank higher without having to buy backlinks from blog networks just to have a chance at ranking.

The big question though:  Is content ALONE going to be enough to rank for targeted keywords in the SERPs?

The answer is:  NOT YET.

Intelligent and diverse backlinking still needs to happen and we should all pay a lot of attention to how we build links and the risks and rewards behind those link building strategies.

NOTE: This article is pretty much split into two sections.  The first will give you my personal and detailed backlinking strategy, and the second will have a bunch of other backlinking methods that you can, and should use.

So, I suggest making a cup of coffee, sitting tight and getting ready, because this is a long post!

SECTION 1: My Personal Backlinking Strategy

Below is a diagram of the backlinking strategy I’ve been using for the past couple years on my niche sites (although it can be applied to any blog or website).  For me, IT WORKS.  However, in light of what’s been happening with the changes we just discussed, I’ve crossed out the ‘Blog Network’ portion.  I simply don’t recommend using a private blog network anymore.  It’s too high risk, and it’s a form of backlinking you’re going to pay money for and possibly lose what you paid for.

How It Works..

Now that you have that diagram, you hopefully have a general understanding of what I’m going to show you how to do.  I think the best way will be explaining to you step-by-step the process from start to finish.

Step 1: Write/Create An Original Article Related To Your Niche

Every step of this backlinking strategy starts with writing out a unique article.  You can do this yourself, or feel free to hire a ghostwriter or virtual assistant to do the job for you.

Regardless, it must be unique and original piece of content.  I recommend shooting for 400-700 words length-wise.  Even though it’s not super important, it’s a good rule of thumb to stay in this range.  It will make things easier in the later steps of this process.

Last, you can go ahead and post this article to your blog/website if you wish.  Publishing it on your site will kill two birds with one stone by adding unique content and then continuing to follow the next steps below..

Step 2: Get Ready To Spin That Article

Spinning an article gives you the chance to create several versions of that article so that you’re able to submit them to various places without worrying about duplicate content penalties.  It will also save you a lot of time not dealing with writing brand new content from scratch over and over and over again.

I realize that not ever internet marketer or blogger is comfortable with the concept of spinning your articles.  Some people probably think of it as spam and other people might think it’s dangerous to do.  I respect those viewpoints, but let me tell you why I think it’s okay.

  1. As long as the content is unique, quality, and helpful (in the original article you wrote), I’m comfortable knowing that I’m doing what I can to get the message out to as many places as possible (without even using the same text over and over again).
  2. Think about ‘press releases’ for a minute.  Press releases are basically a single copy of an article that gets syndicated thousands of times on thousands of places aroundthe web.  The whole idea is to help spread the word about something.  This is exactly what we’re attempting to do by spinning our article.
  3. Lastly, if I have, let’s be bold and say, a cure for cancer and I post it just on my blog.. Curing cancer is a good thing right?  So, why not spin my article about curing cancer and get it out to as many places on the web as I possibly can?  I’m playing by Googles rule all the while.  It’s okay for a car company to play the same advert on every TV network.  Why is it not okay for you to promote your helpful and original content in as many ways and places as you can?

Anywho, I don’t want to beat this dead horse any more than I just did – now I’ll show you how it’s done.

I use a piece of software called The Best Spinner, which is by far the best spinning software available with the biggest bank of user generated synonyms that make the spinning process much faster.

Although The Best Spinner is awesome, it’s automated ‘one-button’ approach functions are not entirely perfect.  Instead I like to go in and take the time to plug in good synonyms for each word that make sense.  This does take extra time (and trust me, preparing your articles for spinning is what takes up most of my time with this backlinking strategy), but it’s worth it.  You’ll be able to pretty much copy and paste your spun articles in all of the later steps.

So, is spinning your articles a necessity to make this work?  NO!  But, it absolutely speeds the process up a bit.

Step 3: Article Directory Submission

This step is straight-forward.

You will be taking your spun articles and submitting them to a bunch of different article directories.  My favorites include:

Most of those are considered top article directories, as you probably know already.  They all check to make sure that the article you’re submitting is unique before approving it and posting to their sites.  EzineArticles is well known for doing this.  Using step 1 and 2, I’ve never had them deny an article submission however.  EzineArticles is my top choice directory, but it normally will take a while for them to approve your articles.

If you’re looking for immediate approval, you can submit to GoArticles, which helps because you won’t have to wait days to get your backlinks.

Step 4: Build New Blogs And Web 2.0 Properties

Referring back to our diagram from earlier, this part will be about our anchor layer, which means they will contain links that point directly back to your blog, website, or niche site.

All of these blogs and 2.0 sites can be created for free, and the big trick here is that they will be part of larger more powerful high page-rank websites.

Example, if you go over to WordPress.com and start a blog, that new blog is going to be a PR0 website, but it’s still a part of WordPress.com which happens to be a PR9 domain.  This concept applies to all of your articles you just submitted to those article directories as well.

Each new site you start will only use one post, which you get from your article spinning step.  As a side note, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, when you have the time, to go ahead and add as much content to these new blogs/websites as you can.  It will add more authority and increase your backlink’s weight.  Food for thought.

Here are some great websites that allow you to create your free blogs and web 2.0 properties:

Again, all you need to do is put up 1 post (2 or 3 is better) with a link that points directly back to your website (the one you’re building links for).  Keep track of the URLs for these.  We’re going to use them in the next step.

Lastly, make sure you use a variety of keywords for the anchor text on these sites.  It’s unnatural, in Googles eyes, to have just one or two main keywords backlinking to your home site.  So, if you’re target keyword is “Fly Fishing“, for example, then it’s a smart idea to use “Fly Fishing” only about half of the time and then switch it up with things like “Fly Fishing Reels“, “Fly Fishing Techniques“, “Fly Fishing Tips“, etc. for the other half.

Step 5: Indirect Linking To Your Anchor Sites

Now you’ll be creating tons of backlinks that point back at your anchor sites you made from article submissions, your new blogs and web 2.0 properties.

Unique Article Wizard

Unique Article Wizard is a tool that I became familiar with a month after starting my niche sites and it’s proved to work quite well.  Before that, I’ve used Automatic Article Submitter to do mass article submissions, but UAW definitely outperforms AAS in my opinion, simply because I can get a lot more backlinks from it.

Having said that, UAW is not entirely automatic either, but you can get up to 800-1000 backlinks from a single article, with links to prove it, which is pretty sweet.  This is why we use these articles to link to our anchor sites, because having 1000s of backlinks pointing just to your niche site would be overkill and probably look pretty suspicious.

Social Bookmarking

Using the power of social bookmarking is another way to link directly to you anchor sites.  And I’ve got to add that as we move forward in this new phase of Google’s changes, you’re going to see the importance of social proof becoming a big factor in rankings (heck, we’ve already seen it just over the past year if you pay close attention to the various SEO news blogs out there).

There are a few leading backlinking tools to help you out with this.  One of them, Bookmarking Demon, automates the entire process but I’ve not found their software all that helpful.  It’s somewhat hard to handle and pretty expensive at $147.  I bought it myself and after messing around with it, I just decided it wasn’t worth that much money – for me at least.

I’d prefer a free tool from Social Poster, which really isn’t all that automated at all, but it does save you time!  The thing that takes the longest is just getting signed up for all of the different social bookmarking sites.  This is only on the initial run through though.  Once you do it, you won’t have to mess with it again.

When I first started using this backlinking strategy several years back, social bookmarking was the thing I did least.  In this day and age though, social proof is just too important and emerging to ignore.  Unique article wizard really helps with the process.

Step 6: Rinse And Repeat

Go back to Step 1.

Something To Consider

That’s the ‘just’ of my personal backlinking strategy, and yeah there are a lot of parts to it.

The fact is, a lot of the software and tools I’ve mentioned come with a cost, but I don’t want you to think that you need to purchase any of those things in order to succeed.

If you want to compete this entire backlinking strategy from the article submissions all the way to the creation of new blogs and 2.0 sites and social bookmarking without spending a dime, you can.  So please, don’t feel like you need to empty your wallet after reading all of this, I just wanted to share my personal approach that works for me.  I find that the paid tools help save some time and speed the process up a bit.

The tools work, but they’re not a necessity.

Let’s move on now to other backlinking strategies that were not a part of my method but exist and can work just as well..

SECTION 2: More Techniques To Diversify Your Backlinking Strategy

Putting all your chips into one strategy can be dangerous.  As much as I like my own method above (and as well as it works on the whole), I think the option to diversify is always a good option.

There are a lot of things you can do, some more whitehat, some more blackhat and others remain in the gray area.  But most of all, I want you to really think about and consider the kinds of links you’re building and how they reflect on your site when Google makes a judgment about where to rank you on the results pages.

The big G is not perfect, but their goal is to work towards providing their customers (people who use Google Search) with the best contextual results they can when someone uses their service.  They obviously have the ability to change what works and what doesn’t at anytime.  They will always work towards removing websites and links that don’t fit in with their goals.

Let’s look at some different linkbuilding strategies now to help you diversify your link base:

1. Forum Profiles

I put this one first because it’s a strategy that’s been around a long time, is often frowned upon, and based on the latest trends is something to be cautious about.

Basically, you’re going to be adding links that point to your site on profiles of accounts in authoritative forums for your niche.

A lot like with the private blog networks (remember from the top of this post?), this type of link building has worked really really well in the past, but also like the blog networks it does very little to nothing in terms of adding value to the interwebs.  At least when you use article marketing you’re putting up content that could help someone out.

Forum profiles are spammy, ‘hidden’ links in the end.

Glen Allsop wrote an article a while back where he inspected the links that pointed to some top websites in some very profitable niches.  His basic conclusion was that spammy profile links work and that there are many sites that deserve to rank above the websites he profiled, unfortunately the Google algorithm is still very easy to manipulate.

I couldn’t agree more, and that’s precisely why this is a risky strategy to spend your time on.  I would bet money that forum profile linking is going to be the next things Google tackles.

I won’t ever tell you what to do, but I would recommend only using this as a last resort type of link building method.  Remember, Google is on the prowl and you should think about what the links you’re building say about your websites worth in the SERP rankings.

2. Social Media/Social Proofing

Simple and easy:  all websites/blogs should be a part of a social networking spiderweb!  It’s common fact these days that social proof is becoming more and more a part of SEO.

For a niche site, you might not need to be as active as you would need to be with a more community based authority blog, but if you’re building connections with people in your niche, having multiple social network accounts could really help out at some point or another.

The one glaring issue I have and would like to get a answer on is:  If Google is going to throw weight towards things like +1′s, Shares, Likes, and Retweets in their algorithm, is there anything that can detect whether or not they’re genuine?  It’s a serious question that I’m sure a huge company like Google has probably looked into, but I still wonder..

Regardless, social media is a link building method of growing importance.  You SHOULD definitely start learning to use the power of social proof if you haven’t already.

3. Guest Posts

This is a classic form of linking building.  Really ‘old school’ stuff, but it’s still one of the most powerful and ethical forms of link building available.

Some bloggers I know use this method as their only form of linking, and they have great results from it.

The reality is, with a lot of ‘push-button’ back linking available today, this type of method has become less popular.  After all, it does require a good deal of time and effort to craft unique articles and contact blog owners.

Heck, maybe it’s time we start working for our rankings again.

The wonderful part about guest posting is that you can get links from very high authority websites, while simultaneously getting in front of an audience that is hungry for your content.

Guest posting isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth your time and effort if you’re serious about high quality, long-lasting backlinks.

4. Blog Commenting

Okay, so this one is typically associated with spam, I get that, but that’s because most people go down this road using all sorts of tools and abusive tactics to automate the process.

That’s part of the reason that today comments on blogs are a lot less powerful than they used to be, but leaving comments that a both helpful and add value to the original post can be great both for link diversification and also for getting some direct traffic too.

Plus, leaving a genuine comment with a link back to your website url is pretty simple and easy.  Also, don’t get caught up in the ‘nofollow’ vs. ‘dofollow’ debate with commenting links.  In my opinion it doesn’t matter, it’s natural to have both.

5. Build Linkable Relationships

This is a little more difficult to explain than some of the others.  The easiest way to put it might be:  you know when you see that field in the sidebar of some blogs that might say something like “other blogs I read” or anything similar, and in that field you’ll see links to other blogs?

That’s what I’m getting at here.

At one point in time, someone had to have had some sort of discussion or built some sort of working relationship with the author of that blog.  Through that relationship it was decided that a link to that person’s website was worth the effort to put up.

Let’s try a hypothetical:

Say you make a website about French Press coffee.

You’re website ends up becoming huge, with the help of mega-killer unique content, gorgeous pictures, and incredible videos demonstrating French Press coffee techniques and equipment.

So your site dominates all the other French Press coffee sites out there, but it’s relatively new and you’re still working on building some links to your site.

NOTE: as much as humanly possible, this type of scenario is what you should always be aiming for.  Regardless of what kind of link building strategies you pursue.  Dominate is the keyword.

So in order to reach your goal of more links, you do some research and get a list of all of the other coffee blogs around.

Now, not only do you have a list of sites to potentially guest post on, but you also have a list of sites where you can potentially start building a relationship with the owner.

  • Connect with them on Twitter
  • Join their FB page
  • Find them on LinkedIn and/or Google+
  • Leave thoughtful comments on their posts

In time, you will get noticed by them.  When that happens, you can start a dialogue and eventually a working relationship can begin.

An alternative, and much shorter method, would be to just go ahead and contact the owners offering an exchange of services (think guest posts, link sharing, etc.), but this will end up being a “do this and I’ll do that” type scenario.  What you really want is their link backs without a mutual link back from your site (links both ways degrades the worth of a link..).

6. Write Extremely Useful Content

In the end, no matter what, the best way you’ll ever have for getting backlinks is to publish lots and lots of incredible, useful and unique content.

Nothing can beat it.  It’s exactly what Google is asking for and exactly what human users want.

I know it sounds obvious, and it’s something I talk about a lot here on the IMMethods blog, but there are still hundreds of new websites that pop up every day that are based on 3-page mini site templates and the owners probably wonder why they’re not showing up on the first page of Google.

On the flip side of that, there are also 3-page mini sites that are still ranking on the first page of Google, so I can see if there might be some confusion to internet marketers about what the best thing to do is.

Are those mini-sites on the go?  It’s difficult to say for sure, but my money would be bet on ‘yes’.  Think about it this way (the way the guys at Google probably think about it) – why should a more robust and beefy website with better content ever be outranked by one of those mini-sites?

And Finally…

This article has been really really long and hope it’s full of very useful link building strategies for you, whether your an internet marketer, niche website builder, blogger or any combination.

The fact of link building you should always remember, is that it’s a changing game.  I can’t predict the future and I’m not the boss man at Google, so please view this post and the suggestions and opinions as just that – suggestions and opinions.

I expect that most of this content will remain relevant for a good while, and I’ll try and keep it updated (with notes when I do) for the future.

Finally, what are your thoughts on link building?  Do you have strategies I didn’t cover?  What about the current trends and changes going on with Google and SEO?  Where is headed and will we ever reach a point where sites are ranked where they deserve?

Let me know what you think.  May the odds be ever in your favour!  Ciao!

7 Post-Launch Blog Tips You Should Know About

Your new blog is live…so, now what?

You have a completely blank slate of a blog with nothing on it.  All the potential exists!

We can sometimes get so carried away with blog setup that we sort of forget about the post-launch period.  So today I’m going to cover 7 very important tasks for you and your newly launched blog.

These tips are actual flaws that I see a lot on new blogs.  They’re truly things that if you do fix right away will really get your blog going.  They also apply to all blogs and websites in any niche.

1. Know Your Niche

A key part of creating a blog or website is niche research (For more info see my how to create a blog article).  If you didn’t take the time to check out other blogs like yours before your launch, you should definitely get going on that right now.  Knowing your competition will help you craft your content so that it’s original, and you might even meet some competitors that become blogging friends along the way.

2. Make A Logo

Every serious blog should have some sort of logo with a description that includes your blog’s purpose.  Do some keyword research before you come up with something and try and incorporate a popular search term.

If you have a friend who is design-savvy, then ask them to help you come up with a logo.  Otherwise you could go ahead and Google image search your niche for inspiration, and then open up Photoshop and tackle the logo yourself.

Remember, the logo doesn’t have to be perfect (especially at first) but it’s important to at least HAVE a logo.  And that brings me to our next tip..

3. Don’t Fret About Being Perfect

Throw the perfectionism down the drain right now.  Being a perfectionist will really hold you back in blogging.  You have to make mistakes to learn.  It’s no different for blogging.

As a blogger you’ve got to actually put yourself out there, online, and get your hands in the mud.  You’re going to make mistakes.  You might have to learn how to code, try different writing styles, work with design aspects, and generally experiment with what works and what doesn’t work.

If you go in expecting everything you do to be perfect, you’re not going to get much done.  And you won’t learn very much either.

4. Delete The Pre-Made Features

WordPress comes with several initial ‘things’ in place to show you what you can create.  There’s the ‘First Post’ and the ‘Sample Page’, Archives, Meta, and Recent Comments sections.  All of these look and feel pretty pointless as first so go ahead and delete them for now.

You will be able to come back and change them any time.  Instead, focus on filling your blog with content/blog posts.  In the beginning simple is best and these existing pre-made features will only distract people until your blog is more developed and warrants those features.

5. Create A ‘Welcome’ Message

A ‘welcome’ message could be a couple different things.  For brand new blogs, you should always begin with a simple welcome post.  It’s sort of a blogging tradition.  It should let readers know why you started your blog and give them an idea of what to expect it in the future.

Another more permanent welcome that you should work on is the ‘about’ section.  Honestly, a blog without an about page is going to turn most readers away.

Spend a solid day working on it.  Make it as personable as you can.  Believe me when I tell you that this page is really critical to your blog.  It’s one of the main sections that’s going to get you subscribers as well as customers.

6. Do What You Can To Create Some Kind Of Social Proof

When I wrote about how to get social proof for you blog, I mentioned how showing interaction from people on a blog leads to more interaction.

Get a plugin like Digg Digg, or a simple Google+ or Facebook badge.  Maybe even ask a few friends or family members to be your first commenters.  This will make a huge difference going forward.

7. Change Your Theme

WordPress makes it really easy to change your entire look, design, whatever you want to call it.  Just go to appearance – themes – install themes – upload, then find your theme of choice.

You can also search for free themes by criteria, or you can browse premium themes on Google search.

I’ve personally used free and paid themes before.  The THESIS THEME has always been my favorite paid option but it’s really up to you which route you go.

Use These Tips..

..and your blog won’t seem like a total newbie blog.

What do you think?

Do you agree first impressions on a blog are critical?  What’s the first thing you usually do during post-launch?  Did you just start a blog and find this information useful?

Post your thoughts today right below.

Good luck to you all!  Ciao!