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.
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!
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.
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.
AdSense remains my primary income vehicle for now. Here's how I did:
AdSense Earnings: $192.62
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!