February 2012 Progress Report

| March 2, 2012 | 19 Comments

Hi Everyone,

February 2012 marked a turning point for me as I finally experienced some success from the results of my hard work in December and January.

I’m going to be putting out these income reports every month like every good Internet Marketer does. What I’ve learned is that it really does hold you accountable towards your goals when everyone can see how you’re doing. Further, for the things that I’m weak on, it offers a way to gain insight and feedback into how I can improve myself or the things that I’m doing.

So, apologies in advance if these posts are a bit formulaic.

Key Activities in February 2012

Last month brought on a completely new focus – no new niche sites created. The purpose was to do the following:

  • Track rankings and analyze sites for strengths and weaknesses.
  • Push sites to first page or top 3 if possible.
  • Build up high ranking sites by adding more content.
  • Hire and work with my VA.

Statcounter

I added Statcounter, a free web analytics program much like Google Analytics, to all my sites. The purpose was to primarily track Exit Links on each site, so I could determine which ads in particular worked better than others. Given the recent posts like Spencer’s from NichePursuits regarding click bombing, it serves a double purpose to track these types of things as well. They have a free WordPress plugin that hooks into their site, so this made it easy to setup. Though I did have to configure each plugin individually on all my sites, I was able to cut down the deployment time significantly by using ManageWP to install them all in one go in about a minute. Cool!

Rankings

I mentioned awhile ago that I was able to achieve rank #1 finally for two of my sites. I’m pleased to say that I have more rank 1’s in my portfolio now, and traffic is really picking up on each of them. I’ve not broken 100 unique visits per day on any site, but it’s enough to know that if I keep building up sites based on additional keywords, I can definitely break past that barrier.

I attribute the rankings due to my sites getting older now (approaching 2 months in age) and getting some domain authority there. Plus, I have excellent content from a great writer that I found on TextBroker.

Recently I’ve added LinkAuthority to my backlinking strategy, and I believe that it’s the icing on the cake in terms of how it works with my other tools that I use — those being Unique Article Wizard and Authority Link Network. I did a writeup on LinkAuthority here.

Winners and Losers

Watching the rankings and tracking them every day for all of my sites was both stressful, tedious, and mind-numbing. I actually don’t recommend tracking them on a daily basis but doing so weekly. Honestly it drove me nuts, but it did serve a purpose. I was looking specifically for the behavior that a site will exhibit when it’s first introduced “into the wild”, and the progress as it matures.

I found that a lot of my sites (20+) are all first or second page, but the rest are all either in limbo or in the hundreds. I’m not really pleased with that but as I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m willing to appreciate success at any level no matter how big or small the achievement.

I added more articles using long-tail keywords to high-ranking sites and the idea is to pick up additional traffic that will help keep the visitor on the site for a longer period of time. I’m doing this for quite a few sites now and it takes time to get all the content and backlinking done. So, patience was key in this area but the fruits of my labor are paying off.

I Acquired A Few Sites

I did something out of the element of what I’ve learned in building niche sites and decided to purchase a few. The purpose of course was to take something with potential and multiply the income. But also, it was to see what makes a site “tick” with my own eyes, and what other people have done to make them successful.

One site in particular I chose because of how unique it is, and I snatched it up right away so that I could dissect it.  It is ranked #1 for its primary keyword.  It has 3600 exact match local searches, but a low CPC, so it’s a small earner. But at least it earns something. So why did I buy it?

It has zero backlinks.

None.

Zip.

Nada.

Zilch.

At first I thought that there was some magical trickery behind it, but in reality it’s ranked completely on the strength of its content. Also, the site is only about 4 months old now, so I suspect some domain age comes into play. Still, it’s an impressive feat done by the original owner, who helped me see things in a different light. I was completely blown away.

This was a great SEO experiment for me, but I didn’t stop there. In February, I managed to double the income by re-writing certain pieces of the content. Don’t get excited though, as it’s not a big earner. But what if this site was earning $1000 per month?

Definitely some food for thought here.

I Hired A Virtual Assistant

I hired my first VA through oDesk (writeup on the experience is here). My VA is awesome and he’s doing all my backlinking for me with the exception of LinkAuthority. I’m hoping to expand by introducing him to my site building, keyword research, and upkeep processes so that I can leverage his services in a much better way.

I was able to get $100 free from Flippa as credit on oDesk via their Deals page.  If you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, you’re throwing free money away. Seriously.

Income Breakdown

AdSense remains my primary income vehicle for now. Here’s how I did:

AdSense Earnings: $192.62

AdSense Earnings - February 2012

I joked with Rob from GoodAdsense last month about my 4-digit earnings in January (that’s 2 digits to the right of the decimal point guys). He told me that he was looking forward to a 5-digit income month for February.

Well, I did it! LOL!

You can see that I started off pretty sadly, but then as the rankings picked up, so did my earnings.

Honestly, I don’t really know where I’m supposed to be in terms of how much I should be making given the amount of work I’ve put in so far.

But I’m happy.

This motivates me to continue.

It IS possible.

Affiliate Earnings: $0

I had a couple people pick up Unique Article Wizard and LinkAuthority via my affiliate links. But, I don’t actually earn anything from UAW until April or so. With LinkAuthority, people have inserted their own blogs so I get an increased daily submission quota, which is very useful.

Things I Have Learned

Boy, where do I begin? I don’t want to get too personal, but firstly:

I am so, so, thankful!

To everyone, my immediate and extended family especially.  Without their support I have nothing.

To all my peers and colleagues for their helpful advice, insight, and motivation.

To you guys that actually come here to read things. There’s not many of you, but you do come, so I hope you enjoy the things that I have to offer.

To my wife and daughter, for making the sacrifices necessary to make this happen.

Does Traffic Equal Income? Not necessarily.

I have a couple sites at rank #1, and a few more in the top 5. They don’t make a dime. At all. I’m scratching my head on those ones, but it might be the niche and poor choice of keyword as some niches just don’t convert well with AdSense.

Case in point, I have a site at #3 and it’s by far my top earner. Last month it reached close to earning $60, and I’m sure that I could push it further with some more hard work.

My point is, don’t assume that if you reach top spot that you will magically start earning money. You still need to understand your visitor and give them what they want, otherwise you won’t convert on your ads. This is something that I need to work on.

Thoughts on Backlinking and Rankings

Like I mentioned above, I’ve got a site ranking well with no backlinks. Further, I’m relatively light on the offsite SEO on my niche sites and they’re still ranking well. Currently, there is a lot of talk about de-indexation of sites, Google bringing down the hammer in various ways (translation: people are losing their rankings) but I have not experienced any of this. I must be doing something right. I try not to think too much about it, because honestly, no matter how bad your keyword is you can probably rank it given enough time.  It could be a month, two months, 6 months, 2 years, but you get the idea.

I’d really like to do some SEO experiments in March, because I like to experiment with trying different things. SEO is constantly evolving and I really want to be ahead of the curve, and not behind it.

Goals for March 2012

In looking at my goals for this year, I realize that I’ve got a long way to go to reach my mid-summer target. Essentially, I will need to be doubling my income every month. I think that this will be extremely challenging, but I’m going to do it, God help me.

So, for March:

  • I will break the $400/month barrier in AdSense alone.
  • I will create 5-10 new sites to replace losing sites.
  • I will expand current winners again with new long-tail keywords.
  • I will start at least 1 case study.
  • I will stop checking rankings daily.
  • I will stop checking AdSense earnings daily (really I need to stop, lol).

Onwards and upwards, yeah!

Andre

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Category: Progress Reports

Comments (19)

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  1. TRENDS says:

    Congrats on your good month Andre… 5 digits and all. It definitely helps folks like me see you prodding along, learning new things and sharing it with the community.

    Once things click it can definitely get you going and fuels further progression.

    Re rankings… I’ve noticed doing proper keyword research and on page seo can get you to a decent spot. Then mixing in the right combination of links, slowly but surely gets you to the top.

    Also don’t stress sites that you get to the top but get no clicks, I definitely have one of those that has me scratching my head as well.

    Anyway… Keep up the good work and look forward to your progression in March.

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Trends! Sometimes I feel that I’m just ramming my head against the wall repeatedly, but it looks like that strategy works to some degree.

      If I can’t pull up those low earners I may try a different monetization method or sacrificing them to Flippa to raise more capital for new projects. It’s only been a month so we’ll see.

  2. Jason says:

    Great stuff Andre. Definitely stop checking rankings every day, but still check out Adsense everyday. You need to be aware if something doesn’t look right. You’re one that inspires me as I’ve slacked off on creating sites and backlinks until a week ago.

    My feeling is that good things lie ahead as our domains age to 6 months, then 1 year… High traffic/Low CPC can still contribute to the bottom line. My site that pimps my Android apps and PDF only averages $0.07 CPC, but has earned over $110 since July 1st. Not much, but there’s my hosting for a year. Though I may be removing adsense from that site as each $0.07 click takes a potential customer away.

    Keep it up and March will be better.

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Jason! You’re right about AdSense stats, but I still check it way too many times a day that it eats my productivity. I’m too excited about it, that’s why.

      It’s good that you have your own products to market. I don’t have anything of the sort and when looking at some of the Clickbank products or otherwise, most of it is absolute crap.

      • Jason says:

        I hear you on Clickbank. I went that site a couple years ago when I first got the bug (only took a year to take some action) and was immediately put off by all the garbage that’s being sold.

        I usually describe my product site as a cook book (though it’s not cooking at all). The PDF is basically a recipe book. The android apps have the same recipes as well as some video tutorials. I think it’s pretty good value.

        I’m kicking around the idea of setting up the videos on the website and trying to turn it into a membership site for $5/month (first month or 14 days free with PDF purchase).

  3. Congrats! Awesome to see you hit $20 a day and made almost $200 on Adsense in Feb.

    I’m playing a catch-up game this month. I still see a lot of potential on Adsense, but I may target $100 a site – more Authority Style ones as there are more potential, but hard-work too.

    I’m just focusing on execution.

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Ken. I’m working on bringing up the late-bloomers in my portfolio up the ranks but I actually think that it’ll be more difficult this month due to the recent Panda updates.

      $50/month for a site is actually not that hard, in retrospect. The downside is that you need a lot of sites for one of them to hit that mark, or a lot of pages on one authority site for them to cumulatively reach that target. I wouldn’t say either approach is more difficult than the other.

      Either way, there is some hard work ahead.

  4. Joe says:

    Good stuff! My Feb was much the same as Jan and still miles behind 2011.

    I’m doing much more backlinking now so hopefully it will pay off in a few months.

    Good luck for March!

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Joe. I think that I might be biting off more than I can chew with March’s goals, but if I’m going to meet my yearly goals I really have to be aggressive.

  5. Wesley Banks says:

    Congrats on a great February Andre!

    20 sites all within the top couple pages is pretty dang awesome. I’m sure you’re due for some huge success, keep it up.

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Wes, it means a lot.

      It’s great from a SEO perspective to have that many sites up top. As I mentioned though I have a few sites that are being stubborn and not converting. I’ve tried to figure it out but can’t seem to crack that nut as of yet. I think that I just have to let them stew for awhile and see what happens.

  6. Matt says:

    Hey Andre great work!

    I’m curious, what do you use to track rankings?

    • Andre says:

      Thanks Matt.

      I’m using the free Rank Tracker for Firefox from SEOBook. It works well because it gives the worst ranking out of all the rank trackers that I’ve used, so I find that it inspires me to work harder at ranking.

      Sadly it’s a bit tedious and I’m looking for something more robust. If I were to buy something, it’d probably be Advanced Web Ranking. I’m using a Macbook Pro so there’s limited choice. I’ve looked at CuteRank (garbage) and SEO Powersuite (love it, but too expensive) as well.

  7. Jason says:

    Nice new look. This isn’t NicheWebsiteTheme, is it?

    • Andre says:

      Haha, no. It’s WP Clear. I decided to show some love to this blog and treat it more seriously, so I upgraded the theme.

      I’ve got an epic post coming up about how to buy a high pagerank domain, it should be coming out tomorrow so watch out for it!

  8. James says:

    Congrats Andre. Looks like you are making some great progress with your Adsense earnings. Keep it up and you’ll be rich in no time :).

  9. Marc says:

    Hi Andre I have a theory. If you can find non competitive keywords with decent exact match searches and can secure an EMD and provide good fresh unique content back linking isn’t necessary. I’m experiencing this on 2 of my sites. I’m not into Adsense right now but affiliate earnings.

    Marc

    • Andre Garde says:

      Hi Marc,

      I’ve done similar for some testing domains. Linking is something definitely scalable (up or down), but the key is finding non-competitive keywords. I find myself in niches where this is some amount of competition.

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