My Niche Site Progress - An (un)Update

What is so hard about internet marketing, really?  I mean think about it, building a blog takes the push a few buttons; graphics, content, backlinking, it can all be done for you, at relative bargain prices (or you can slog through it yourself).

Sure finding a niche to monetize can be time consuming, but is it really "difficult?"

Being a doctor, that's a hard job. One bad day and someone literally loses a life.  Cops, firefighters, they put their lives on the line for us all the time.  Physicists, molecular biologists, that's some hard shit there.

But internet marketing.  Come on.  This stuff is a walk in the park.

Then why the hell am I having such a hard time with it?

Let me give you an (un)update on what's been going on with my attempt to build passive income with a monetized niche site.

Previous posts covered why I chose to monetize my niche site with Amazon, how I built the site and filled it with content.  Next comes the backlinking. 

I had a sorta, kinda, maybe kind of plan.  It consisted of:
  • blog commenting
  • writing some articles (I won't call this article marketing)
  • some forum profiles
  • social bookmarking
  • a little pinging action
All standard stuff really.  And I was really into it too.  For a while.  I found some relevant blogs to comment on, left my keyword in the name form and got my comments to stick about 60% of the time.  But then what about do-follow vs no-follow?  Oh, and you got to have some .edu or .gov in you arsenal too.  Get good link juice there!  I wrote a few articles, left my keyword rich anchor text link in the resource box,submitted them to Ezine Articles, and boom, more links.  Found some high PR forums to create profiles on, left my keyword rich anchor text link in the profile.  It doesn't matter that the page with my link has a PR of n/a (not even a freakin' 0), I get the good stuff passed down from that main domain.  And the couple other things from my bullet list (see above).


I've been at this diligently for a good six weeks.  I get some organic traffic to my site via long-tail keywords (keywords that I am not choosing to actively rank for but are relative to my main keyword.  For me, these long-tails are product names+some term after it.  So, if you were ranking for mountain bike, a long-tail keyword could be "Specialized bike seat") but it only amounts to an average of 4 visitors a day.  For the month of February I have so far 35 clicks on Amazon but no sales.

But for the life of me I can't even crack the top 1000 in Google search results for my main keyword.  And, I think, here's why

I left a comment on a post related to my niche on (I found the site by reverse engineering my competition.  Note to self, write about this at a later date).  A couple days later my comment was accepted and all is good.  A few days later I am checking the amount of backlinks pointing to my site with Yahoo Site Explorer and all of a sudden I have 4000 backlinks! 

All from!

That's a lot of links and it happened in a very short amount of time.  The damn site uses a recent comments widget, so my keyword rich anchor text backlink ended up on every single page on this site (and this stupid site about celebrity gossip, makeup, and other bullshit has thousands and thousands of pages).  So Google sees a brand new site instantly receive thousands of backlinks all from the same site.

Well, I'm fucked.

I posted comments with a different name, dusting off the old AOL email address, on the sites newest posts to push myself off the recent comments widget and have since then seen a steady decrease in my backlinks.  But I have a feeling I landed in the dreaded Google sandbox. 

Oh, and this happened not once, but twice more.  I didn't get the same amount of backlinks, but it couldn't have been good.

So, I thought I would just slog on through this but lately, that small tiny voice in the back of my head, that small tiny voice of self doubt has grown into a full on choir.  We're talking church bells and all (and I'm Jewish!)

I haven't seen any improvement in my site's ranking.  And because I haven't seen any improvement in my site's ranking I have been working on it less and less (kinda the opposite thing to do, huh?). 

If I'm stuck in a sandbox or whatever, why try and get out?

Eric over at My 4 Hour Workweek just wrote about impatience being a killer to the new entrepreneur.  And I do have a mighty bad case of it.  He suggests that it is okay to walk away from whatever it is your doing, whether it be an hour or a few days, as long as you return to what it is your working on.  The break can lead to fresh perspective and leave you feeling recharged.

Well, I walked away, and for a minute there I thought I might not return. 

But, return I am.  Doing. 

I wrote about goals in my very first post and I think what I need to do is talk about smaller goals with deadlines in the very near future.  So that is what I am going to do here.  I am totally switching up how I backlink and want to give myself until end of April to at least crack the top 100 for my main keyword.  If I am not in the top 100 by end of April I am going to move on.  I will basically start over.

At least I have a plan. That wasn't so hard now, was it?

Backlinks The Completely Unscientific Way - Part 1 Squidoo and You (Updated)

I did a google image search for SEO and this picture came up!
 Thank you
I've been meaning to have a fully articulated, fleshed-out, detailed down to the finest grain of sand, SEO post up and ready for consumption this week.

But I haven't gotten around to it (damn you life!).  Actually, I've been doing a lot of reading up on various backlinking techniques and I realized I don't really have a fully articulated, fleshed-out, detailed down to the finest grain of sand SEO plan, so I have been rethinking what I am doing and will have that for you next week.

But I know all of you out there have been waiting with bated breath how I will go about driving organic traffic to my amazon niche site.

So sorry to keep you waiting.

In the meantime,  I came across this nifty little way to get some high PR backlinks (I originally thought that these backlinks were do-follow, but Alex Whalley was nice enough to let me know that they are in fact not.) 

We all know what do-follow means right, search engine spiders crawling through the fiber optics finds your backlink and follows it to your site, bringing with it all that lovely PR juice.  I am still a little confused by it and am still trying to figure out no-follow vs do-follow. 

For now do-follow = good.

And no-follow = still good, in the sense that the all mighty and powerful google likes to see a mix of no-follow and do-follow backlinks because that appears more natural, and more natural means not spammy, and not spammy means we climb those google rankings! 

When I know more you will know more, unless you already no more and can share the love in the comments.

Head for the Squid

Squidoo is a Web 2.0 property where the user can build, what the squidoo people like to call, lenses (it's really just a blog post with a catchy name).  It's pretty cool because you have the ability to post videos and images and all sorts of other neat things and monetize it, and the best part of all, no savvy interweb skills required.  Alex Whalley over at his awesome site just posted a great tutorial on how to effectively use Squidoo and other Web 2.0 properties.  It's a great read and I will be incorporating it into my broader backlink strategy.

But there are other ways to use Squidoo to get backlinks without having to create a lens.

Some lenses have lists of websites/blogs that can be added to by the reader (*Note you will have to sign up to Squidoo to do this).  I guess the reason why people do this is to gain lens popularity.  All you need to do is find these lenses that have an "Add To This List" button.

How might I do that, you ask.  Well here's a bit of google-friendly search query to get you on your way: "Add To This List" your keyword

Lemme explain: tells google we only want our search to yield domains with in the URL.  "Add To This List" tells google to find only domains with the "Add To This List" feature.  Your keyword is, well, your keyword that you are ranking for so that your link is placed on a relevant site (which, I am learning is important to the mighty eyeless google).  

As I'm typing this I just realized that this is also a nifty way to take a peek at your competition as well!

Tip # C

Head on over to SEO Quake and download and install their toolbar.  Activate the thing, and when you do your search you will have a whole bit of other info pertaining to that particular domain that comes in mighty handy.  Most importantly it will tell you the page rank (PR) of the domain.  Now you have instant info on what high PR sites to leave your link on.

Go find those high PR, relevant lenses. Find the "Add To This List" button. First you will be asked for the URL, then once you add that, you can leave any kind of anchor text that you want to rank for. Hit the proper add button, enter in some captcha and you're done.  Easy.  *Note, be careful because some of these lists are asking for Amazon links, and there is no point in leaving a link to an Amazon product on a competitor's site!  You will know it is asking for an Amazon link when you go and type in your URL and it says to you, "Hey, this isn't a link to an Amazon product!" (not in those words of course)

Now, I am not sure that if you have a thousand of these types of links if google will pass along all that delicious link juice, so I am using this sparingly until I learn otherwise.  Especially because I do want to have lenses of my own. For my niche site, I have 5 backlinks with this method and I would like to build a lens a week as well starting this weekend and until I reach my goal of ranking #1 for my keyword (I can see myself having at least 100 backlinks coming from Squidoo alone).

So if any really smart and experienced internet marketers out there could shed some light on whether having tons and tons of links coming from one place (like Squidoo) will be beneficial or not, please share it here!

There you have it.  I hope you find this beneficial.  All thoughts, questions, and random musings is encouraged in the comments section.

My First Ever Income Report! - January 2011

Is there anything in there for me?
One of the things that inspired me to get into this business was reading Pat Flynn's monthly income reports on his awesome blog, Smart Passive Income.  Instead of falling for all the hype that exists in internet marketing (earn untold thousands per day with 4 minutes of work), Pat's income reports showed that money can be made and you can even make a living off of it.  I knew that if I were ever to try my hand at internet marketing, I too, will want to report back on what I was earning, so that I can inspire and instruct other people as well.

And The Numbers Are...0!

Well, I can't even say I earned zero dollars.  Since I just started it would've taken a shear stroke of keyword research genius to earn money in my first couple weeks.  I would've had to picked such a low competition, buyers keyword, that all it would take to get on the first page of google in a matter of weeks would be to slap a site together, and then the money comes pouring in.  

I'm smart (I like to think) but not that smart.

Right now its all about startup costs.  At least with online businesses, startup costs are nothing compared with brick-and-mortar businesses, and since I am gainfully employed, it didn't hurt too much.  My startup costs consisted of:

  • .net domain registration w/GoDaddy for 3 years (it was recommended to me to register this for 3 years for SEO purposes, I honestly cannot quantify the value for you): $40.51
  • Hosting with Hostgator's Baby Plan: $95.40 ($7.95/month, with a full year paid upfront)
  • my review theme for my review site: $39
  • Physical Affiliate Guide: $17 (I purchased the ebook first, before the full video course was available, and was lucky enough to receive the video course for free when it was released.  It sells on the Warrior Forum for $97)
  • Header design by Logo Nerds: $10
  • Hired writer to help me with my product reviews: $49
Total Expenses...$250.91

Total Income...$0

Net Income...$-250.91

So there you have it, one month in and I am $250 in the hole!  Not terrible, really.  In fact, it feels good to put it all down.  It makes it seem more real and makes me feel more accountable (which is one of the purposes of this blog).  

Like I said in an earlier post, I promised my wife I would not spend any more money on my online business, so as long as I am a man of my word, this should be the only expenses I incur until the year is up and I have to renew my hosting.  Once I start making money, I plan to reinvest some of it back into my business, but I have to start making money first.

As a side note, I am choosing not to place a monetary value on my time.  I don't think I am ever going to do that (even if and when I start making money) because I am choosing to use my spare time the way I want to use it, and to me, that is priceless.

My site is live and I have begun my SEO process, which I will detail in my next post.  It is a hodge-podge of stuff that I have been reading about over the past few months and I will be hungry for feedback. 

So, there you have it, my first income report!  What do you think?