If you read my blog last month then you’ll see that I wanted to pivot my business away from relying on Google. I also had a rough guide on how I wanted my traffic sources to look like for most of my sites in 6-12 months time:
33% from Search (90% Google, 10% other – so only 30% of my total traffic is from google,including navigational brand queries)
25% Direct Type-ins
7% other (including email, forums, word of mouth)
How Am I Going to Get Away from Google?
The facts are that I don’t want to rely on Google anymore. Even if you’re an expert in white hat SEO and get the best links possible from PR and newspapers, I still wouldn’t want to rely on Google. It’s far too risky.
With that said, I want to explain how I’m going to try and get away from this pure play SEO mindset and do proper Internet marketing.
Make a Website where Visitors Come Back for More Content
First of all, I think it starts with the actual quality of your website and the value that you provide. You simply can’t expect a small 100-page affiliate site to rank for big keywords long term using white hat SEO anymore. White hat SEO is all about building a brand, getting the right “signals” and organic growth. In other words, you need to plan a website where users come back for more information. If your site is set up to receive traffic from Google, convert it into paid leads and for never come back, then your long-term plan is already flawed.
In order to get users to come back to your site, I think you need some sort of value such as excellent content, useful tools, daily deals, interviews, surveys, competitions, information, guides, research, directories and/or a service. You also need consistency with all of this stuff – good things take time and commitment to build out properly, and information needs updating every now and then.
What Marketing Methods Am I Going to Use?
Over last the couple of weeks I’ve realized that SEO is only a tiny fraction of the online marketing channels available. The problem is that quite frankly my websites have sucked in the past. This has made traffic diversification such as social media harder because for the most part the content genuinely hasn’t been good enough to be shared.
On the other hand, if you publish great, industry-leading content or thought provoking/humorous stuff then other people will be happy to share and follow your stuff. The same is true of hiring expensive, high quality writers instead of generic copywriters at the starting salary level.
With that being said, I plan to use the following channels to diversify my traffic:
- Direct Type-in Traffic – Hardly anyone ever mentions this as a traffic source but it’s the most important one in my opinion. Building a brand with great content means having repeat visitors who follow your brand and come back for more. Personally, I want the mentality that direct, type-in traffic should be my biggest traffic source.
- Referral Traffic from other Blogs, Forums and News Sites – There’s nothing wrong with guest posting if it’s done for the right reasons, i.e. driving traffic to your website and adding credibility to your brand. I also think having content linked to from forums, whether it’s natural links or people clicking your signature, is great. I also get a lot of people visiting AffiliateFYI.com through my signature on the major affiliate forums – imagine if you did this with forums in your own niches…
- Content Syndication and Social Bookmarking – If you write a great piece of content, why not get it syndicated across the web? Post your articles on leading social bookmarking and blogs in your industry. Make this a force of habit too! The Inbound.org website is a great example of this. I’ve also realized that if you publish something great, you should really be reaching out to journalists and other bloggers using more personal contact methods.
- Video Marketing – I’m fairly new to this game, but I’m going to be investing reasonable sums of money of the next few months in videos for some of my sites. They provide a great alternative traffic source, add value to articles, plus if you syndicate them in the right places then you can get increased traffic and exposure for your brand.
- Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Having more followers means more people reading and discovering your content once it’s published, as well as more referral traffic. Furthermore, authoritative followers who re-tweet your content can create huge amounts of traffic. I’ve already seen this happen with some of my previous AffiliateFYI.com articles.
- PR and Infographics - Again, if done for the right reasons I think these can be great traffic generation and branding strategies. Conduct surveys using your user base or summarize information from elsewhere and produce killer PR stories with infographics on your site. Get the message out there that you’re an authority site and a leader in the community. A good investment in PR will also lead to increased communication with bloggers, reporters and journalists, which will bring additional opportunities further down the line.
- Email Marketing – Regardless of how you incentivize people to sign up to your email, your aim should be to turn your email list into a steady stream of traffic to your website. Find a way of providing enough value to users to keep visiting your site (e.g. premium content, competitions, freebies, weekly deals).
- Create a Service or Product – I’m strongly looking into doing this for one of my trading website, i.e. a premium service that I can offer. I guess the overall advantage of creating a product is that it puts you in a better position to do PPC and Facebook marketing, other people will naturally review and link to your product, plus it provides a diversified revenue source.
- Partner with Other Leaders in your Industry – There’s nothing wrong with a bit of cross promotion with others in your industry. SEOmoz and Distilled.net do it all the time, as do Facebook and Bing etc. I’m working with a University for one of my sites, which provides a service that actually adds value and credibility to one of my own student sites.
In conclusion, these are just a handful of ways that I/you can plan to diversify my traffic and stop depending on any one-traffic source. They also all indirectly lend themselves to an organic, white hat SEO strategy that plays into my hands, plus when you create an industry leading site then the opportunities (including reporters, journalists and advertisers) come knocking on your door rather then the other way around.
I’m also keeping an open mind when it comes to consulting plus I genuinely enjoy writing/blogging on certain issues relating to internet marketing (such as new gTLDs), which I guess also helps with the marketing aspect of things and builds my confidence going forward.
April was an OK month. I achieved quite a lot business wise although I did spend an awful lot of money on new domains, projects, designs and coding.
It’s actually getting quite hard remembering everything that I’ve done this month, but here’s a good overview:
- Designed and installed new theme on Graduates.co.uk with more content, sections and an eBook on the way.
- Added a new theme to Teens.co.uk plus hired some more writers
- Bought and started a couple of new mini-sites which I’ll outline below
- Overhauling my trading website, improving coding of certain pages and hiring 4-5 writers with preparations to get it into Google News
- Bought a new domain, TradeProfits.com, which I think is a good investment for a trading site that I might want to develop in the future
- Started a new project with a partner which I don’t want to mention yet as it’s still not ready!
- Undertaken more research and strategies to generate traffic away from Google
Two New Websites Bought and Launched
It’s not often I gloat about new websites purchased or started although in this case I was really proud of some of the purchases I made last month.
First of all, I bought a six year old, PR5 NHS smoking website, SmokeFreeEngland.co.uk, that receives 6,000 visitors per month for under $2,000. It was originally a dropped domain (re-launched under the government open license just a couple of months later) and it has around 1,000 root domain links from government, health, news, university and smoking sites.
To be honest I have little plans to develop the site as yet. I bought it for value really and see a number of ways to make my money back including flipping to smoking affiliates, developing an e-cigarette affiliate site on it or selling advertising on numerous PR4 inner pages.
A week later I also stumbled across the domain StudentFinanceCalculator.co.uk in a big domain sales thread for just $200. This term gets 15k exacts in the UK and I actually already have my own student finance calculator tool coded one of my other sites. I’ve basically re-installed this tool on this EMD mini-site in the hope that it will rank easily for its term and soak up natural backlinks. I’ll also use the additional traffic and PR from this site in order to collect additional emails and create further opportunities for advertising on my student network.
May Affiliate Goals
I’m providing an overhaul of strategy for my main trading website, which revolves around hiring 5-6 writers to try to get the site into Google news and become a real authority in its industry. I basically want to take the site to the next level. This also includes getting videos made and expanding the social media campaign.
On my graduates site I’m going to be launching a new eBook as well doing some expensive PR for it. I’m hoping to get it into the newspapers and get some traction going with it. My aim is to turn it into the best graduate careers advice and postgrad study-funding portal.
In general I really want to pivot my business away from Google – this means finding alternative traffic sources and revenues. In 6-12 months time I’d like my traffic to be something more like this:
33% from Search (90% Google, 10% other – so only 30% of my total traffic is from google, including navigational brand queries)
25% Direct Type-ins
7% other (including email, forums, word of mouth)
I have a lot of ideas on how to do this. I also think it’s important to outline that guest posts are an excellent way of generating traffic. If you can add 5 guest posts per month which bring an extra five visitors per day then that’s an increase in 750 visitors per month! In other words, regardless of whether you consider guest posts white hat or against Google’s guidelines, they are a completely natural form of marketing which I can’t see Google penalising (at least high quality guest posts on high editorial sites where one of the main intents is to generate more referral traffic).
Finally, I’m planning to add a new Ultimate Guide to Disavowing Links article to my SEO site Searchable.co.uk later today, which will provide a series of shortcuts and advice for formatting the disavow file really quickly after exporting links from other tools. Hopefully it will get some good link bait and PR – I’ll link to it here when it’s ready.
FYI: Just wanted to say thanks to Pat from SmartPassiveIncome.com and Affaholic.com for linking to one of the interviews I did with James here: http://www.affiliatefyi.com/interview-with-james-from-mum-network-ltd. Interviews are honestly a great way to build natural links to your site (both by being interviewed and interviewing others).
Hey everyone! I got back from Israel early this morning at 5am and I’m a little tired but here goes…
March was a bit of a disappointing month to be honest. I hired a writer from Elance to get started on Teens.co.uk, which I was hoping to 30-50 pages to last month, who then disappeared and never responded.
My social media manager for one of my bigger sites is doing OK, however even though we’re building followers and fans I’m not actually seeing any traffic generation from it. Social media is really starting to look like a traffic retention and loyalty strategy rather then traffic generation in my opinion. I’ve seen my clients use Facebook to great effect, however that’s only because they post free stuff and offers which gets 1,000s of FB likes (the other stuff they promote gets virtually zero engagement).
New eBook and Tools
I released my first professional eBook this month and did some PRs for it too. We got around 150 opt-ins in March, which I’m happy with. I also got an article published on SearchEngineJournal.com, which you can read here, plus I had some very useful tools coded to one of my student sites, which is getting some great links from Universities, student unions and forums.
I also picked up a big SEO client with a turnover of $x,xxx,xxx last month so I’m looking forward to working with them since it’s nice to add a big client to my portfolio. I’ve also been considering offering additional services such as PR, content writing and SEO audits on my consultancy website Searchable.co.uk. I’m not actively looking for long-term clients but if I could earned a few hundred bucks doing some remote work, consultancy and SEO audits here and there then I’d be happy with that.
The main reason the month was a disappointment is because I’m becoming disillusioned with one of the industries I work in (binary options). The industry is completely filled with spam (more then payday loans) and even if we do get traffic to our site, the market is so unregulated at the moment that either operators 1) skim our traffic, 2) don’t pay us, or 3) at the very least charge us ridiculous fees for making withdrawals. I also keep getting invoices with “invalid” CPAs or CPLs missing, which are removed from our income with no reason given.
Honestly the binary options industry is pure scum and I’d avoid it like the plague if I could. Even 24Option, one of the largest brokers, took two months to send us our payment after I chased them up every day for over a month. All of the brokers are just new Israeli companies using the cheap Tech Financial white label and basically have a model of making money quickly and cheaply before they disappear. Not to mention 90% of the brokers are based and operated in Cyprus, so I’m guessing that’s going to affect our business with the bank depositors situation.
I also did some research about my business accounts and learned the difference between capital costs, expenses, capital allowances, entrepreneurs relief AIAs and how all of that affects my tax liabilities. Overall, I just learned a ton of stuff I’d never even heard of before, which will have a weighting on my business decisions going forward.
April – New Plans: One New Project/Partnership
The good news about April is that I’m starting a new project with a friend, which I’m very excited about. It’s not going to be reliant on Google for its traffic and revenues but I just want to get the site installed and running before I give more information about it here.
Next, I’m also planning to get a new theme, layout and content for my graduates and careers website. I’m adding guides on post-graduate study, MBAs, PHDs and conversion courses, which should turn it into a really useful resource for graduates. I already added 20-30 pages last month which worked out quite well.
Finally, I’ve got a pending bid on a UK government owned website which ends tonight. It’s got nothing to do with any of the industries I work in, but it’s got some great backlinks and traffic, and I’m sure I could make an ROI just by selling a few links on it. My other plan was to build it out and monetize it using AdSense or affiliate marketing, and then flip it for 3-4x as much. I also came close to buying another website for low $xx,xxx last month but the buyer backed out in the end.
Anyway that’s all.
I’ve been meaning to write one of these type of posts for some while now. I’ve been waiting over 30 minutes on live chat for BlueHost.com to fix an issue for one of my sites, so what better a time to write an article?
FYI: For those who don’t know, I started my first affiliate website Mosesbet.com, a poker tournament website, back in autumn 2009 during my final year at University. I graduated 8 months later in 2010 and since them I’ve been working full-time on my own.
I’m going to do this list in chronological order since otherwise it would be a bit confusing.
- Making My First Mid $xxx per Month Website. The first and second websites I created back at Uni were complete failures. Seriously, I must’ve spent close to one hundred hours working on Mosesbet.com, writing tons of content and doing SEO but to no avail. I’m pretty sure any sane person would’ve given up by now. After 4-5 months, I decided to buy my first exact-match bonus .org domain from someone on a forum for $200. I added a few more pages and links, and got it ranking no.1 for its term and within a few week it was bringing in maybe 4-5 RMPs per month. Unfortunately, on revenue share this was only equating to around $50-$80 per month. By October 2010 (around 6 months later) however, I decided to switch from a revenue share model to CPA and voila, the site was instantly making $400 – $500 per month! This was the first serious money I’d been making since I started affiliating and it felt incredible. Furthermore, it was completely passive income in every sense of the word. A light bulb had gone off in my head after this success because I’d suddenly realized how to make money online and choose the right keywords and affiliate strategy.
- Outsourcing Content for the First Time. 6 months later, by April 2011, I’d learned the formula for creating profitable websites and re-investing the money. I was making around $3,500 per month revenue but I was still writing all of the content for my websites myself. During this month, I was making a new casino website and decided to outsource the content for the first time. This was a completely new experience to me because I had managed to make a completely new website just by spending a couple hundred dollars on casino reviews and guides. It felt awesome being able to just re-invest some money and build sites without having to write all of the content myself. By this time I was practically making a new site every month (my aim at the beginning of the year was to build one site per month capable of earning $200-$300 per month each).
- Buying My First Website and Premium Domain: BuyGold.co.uk. A month later, I bought my first premium domain and website outside of gambling (BuyGold.co.uk) which you can read about here. I was extremely happy with this purchase because a) it was the first premium domain I’d owned that I was proud of, b) I thought it was a fantastic investment and b) I felt I got an extremely good deal. I bought the PR3 website for £7k (around $11.5k) but at the time I thought I could easily generate affiliate earnings of $3k per month if I could get it high up the first page. I also thought buying at that price was a great investment since I could almost definitely flip it for more. Anyway, it turned out that I bought it at the perfect time! Gold prices shot up the following few months. Within 2 months of purchasing the site it was making $300 per month, and in the following month it made a whopping $1,860! Within 6 months of purchasing the site, it had made $4,500 (a 40% ROI!).
- Selling my First Big Fixed Prepaid Ad Deal. 3 months later in July 2011, I managed to sell a HUGE 3-month, prepaid ad deal across a dozen of my gambling sites for $7,500. This was a ridiculous amount to me, especially when it bumped up my total earnings for that month beyond $10,000. I literally took all of this money and ploughed it straight back into new sites, domains and projects. It massively speeded up my growth and 3 months later I resold the exact same ad deal for $7,500, and then another for $5,000 3 months later! I honestly think I just got lucky at this point because there’s no way the buyer even made half of that money back. This just shows how important luck can be in growing a business.
- Incorporating my Company. I had plenty of chances during late 2011/2012 to incorporate my company. This was such a big deal to me because up until then I was just running my business on a month-by-month basis and seeing how it goes. I knew I wouldn’t incorporate until the time was right – in my head this included stable revenues, good growth and strong projects which I knew would at least get me through the next 12 months. The last thing I wanted to do was incorporate my business, shout it to the world, only to fail and dissolve it 6 months later and get a job. Anyway, by October 2012, I’d managed to sell one of my site for 6 figures and it was the perfect time to incorporate. I had enough projects with momentum and enough money in the bank to bankroll me for at least the next 2 years. It felt like a life goal had been achieved – I mean how many people accomplish this feat and start their own company?
Anyway, that’s my top 5 moments as an affiliate and entrepreneur. If you decide to write your own article then let me know and I’ll add a link to it from this page!
Note: I just thought I’d add that last year I managed to sell the first site I started, Mosesbet.com, for $4,500. In hindsight it showed it wasn’t a complete disaster because even at 100 working hours that equals $45 per hour whilst at Uni!
February was an awesome month for me, probably one of the best months I’ve had since I started my business. For the first time I feel like I’ve come into my own, set myself up for the future, and built credibility in the industry.
Among other things, I’ve learned from my partner how to better structure a business and not leak costs in bank transactions, prepare contracts and work in a professional level with AMs, and I’ve also learned a lot about PR, social media campaigns and how to outsource and run multiple websites.
Outsourcing was a big thing for me last month, and I’ve now got some writers who can write and post content on my websites as well as some community managers to manage my social media accounts. Using Google Alerts has also helped me a lot with content planning and keeping on top of things in various industries.
February LAC Affiliate Conference
The affiliate conference was great and we had a lot of fun. I met up with Nick and James from Inbound.co.uk and in addition to watching a couple of the LAC presentations (David Naylor was great by the way), we did a video debate on the future of mobile advertising as well as soaking up any free drinks we could find. We ended up talking to the owner of TheBookiesOffers.co.uk, who has some solid rankings on his site. It was interesting to note how little poker affiliates from PAL there were (or the lack of a planned meetup like last year), which I guess is indicative of the state of the industry in the last year.
I also managed to secure a big ad deal for one of my sites at the event, which made it definitely worthwhile. Apparently the guy had been trying to reach me by email but it got lost in my junk box, so it if wasn’t for the LAC then I never would have got in contact with him.
Earned a lot of Natural Links!
One of the reasons why February was so cool was because I managed to earn like a dozen natural links across some of my sites. I even wrote an article about it on SEJ, which should get posted early this week if I’m not mistaken.
I know people say there’s no such thing as natural links in gambling, but now I think that if you write strong enough, engaging, unique content or reporting, and build relationships with the right sort of people and contacts online, and find a way to get your content seen by 1000s of people, then you’ll be surprised by the results.
Starting a New Email Campaign and Launching an eBook
This month we’ll be launching a new ebook on our BinaryOption.com site, which I’ll be promoting through as many verticals as possible. It’s the first time I’ve created a proper eBook with professional design in PDF format etc. I’m learning a lot of things from working on this site that I want to translate on my other sites too.
My aim is sort of to create 4-5 sites which all have regular, fresh news content, add value to visitors and have social media managers which can be run on a break-even basis. If I can just get sites to run break-even than that means over time they’ll continue to grow and turn into brands on their own, as well as increasing the size of my email list. If I can outsource the on-page and social media campaigns on a break-even basis than it also gives me more time to focus on PR, SEO and expand the site in general.
March Affiliate Goals
My affiliate goals for March are essentially to keep building up my sites. I’m aiming to put together a whole new jobs section on my Graduates site, which will require a lot of planning and investment. I’m also tempted to get a new design and odds comparison software on my sports and gambling website but that probably won’t be done until April/May.
I had a really good offer for one of my penalised sites last month, which I turned down. Even though it was a really good offer, I’m really tempted to wait until the end of this business tax year in April before I sell any $x,xxx websites or domains so that I have enough time to re-invest that money without paying tax on it.
Finally, I’m going on holiday to Israel on the 20th March until the end of the month so just going to try and get as much work done before I leave and have some fun in the sun.