October 3, 2012, 5:00 am

September Blog Evo Report

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Blog Evolution Report
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It is with a huge smile in my face that I am writing these sentences as the month of September was an awesome month for our business. It’s not really on the income side (mind you, we are still $4,000 ahead when compared to last year to date). But it’s more in terms of diversification and how our other projects are doing so far this year. I must admit, it’s also because we just came back from FinCon12 (both the conference and the Broncos’ game were awesome!). Now let’s see in details of what happened in September…

 

Traffic Improvement

 

This may be the only place where I can feel some frustration. While the month of September went incredibly well in terms of traffic (all my sites are growing!), the last 2 days were quite frustrating. What happened on the 29th and 30th of September? Another Google update!

 

I’m rarely affected by these updates but this time one of my sites was hit. This update was made to diminish the impact of exact domain match (EMD) on search results. In other words, if you have a EMD on some keywords, your domain importance has been diminished and therefore, your ranking for that keyword in Google should drop accordingly. The goal behind this update was to “derank” bogus sites that have a nice domain name but low quality content.

 

Unfortunately, one of my sites (with very high quality content on it!) has been hit by this update. The impact was quite impressive as I usually get traffic from 400 to 440 keywords on a weekend day and I got traffic from only 118 keywords instead on last Saturday. The traffic is currently down by 40-50% after this update. Needless to say that is it incredibly frustrating!

 

What’s even more frustrating is that it’s the third time that we will have work on the traffic for this site. We first worked on the content and SEO in order to double its original traffic. Then, we got hit by the first round of the Panda update a while ago. Then, we worked on other aspect and survived a Google update and brought back the traffic to what it used to be prior to the Panda update. Now that we are surfing on this nice wave, we get hit again and will have to start from square one… again! Here’s the quote I took over a comment on Search Engine Land that translates my feelings right now:

 

quotes EMD

 

Well… maybe I should bring my kids to work as well… hahaha! If your traffic has taken a good hit, I suggest you read Adsense Flipper’s theory on the topic. What I don’t understand for my site is that I wasn’t hit on any of my niche sites, I was hit on one of my blogs which provides high quality content on a weekly basis… it’s very annoying!

 

Evan from My Journey to Millions recently commented here that investing in websites is risky as Google decides everything. This is a great example of where he is wrong.

 

Wait… Mike… you just lost 50% of your traffic on one single update and you are telling us that it’s not a risk???

 

Well, it’s not a risk if you diversify and own several web properties. Out of my 10 major sites, only one has been hit. This means that overall; I’ll be losing roughly 6% of my total traffic compared to last month. 6% is a bitch but it’s not the end of the world. I will lose a few hundred bucks (up to a $1,000… more on this later on this post) but it won’t shut down my goal to do this full time one day. This situation is another great example showing how diversification is the key for success. If this was my only site, I would be ballistic right now. Instead, I’m just a little bit frustrated.

 

I’ve currently no intention of asking for reconsideration as of right now. Since most Google updates comes with a corrected update a few weeks later to make sure they did the right thing, I’ll just wait for a month or so and see how it goes. I’m convinced that Google will see that I have high quality content since my number of pages viewed on this site along with the time spent on the site is superior to the average (to my sites average anyways!). In the meantime, I have nothing else to do but to continue focusing on my newsletter in order to build more internal traffic and ignore Google!

 

Affiliate Program Strategies – Newsletter Projects

 

Once again, I’ve used my newsletter power to make money in September. We recently launched our new Dividend Growth eBook via our investing newsletter. I’ll have to do an extended post on that but I just wanted to share with you that I have 141 sales in the first week and sales are still coming in at a good pace. I’ve had a well defined strategy and the newsletter was at the center of my game plan.

 

What I like so much about my newsletter is that I can easily know how many people opened the email, if they clicked on a link or not and if they converted into a sale. This is huge marketing data that your site cannot really give you. It also enables direct feedback from readers/potential customers.

 

The book is exclusively available on Kindle for the moment and I know it’s hurting my sales. However we wanted to benefit from a good ranking in Amazon in order to have this “machine” selling our book to non-readers. My guess is there are a lot more people on Amazon looking for dividend investing content that there is among my newsletter subscribers J.

 

On another note, just to prove the power of the newsletter managed through Aweber, I’ve included a simple affiliate link in one of my newsletter follow-ups that is being sent 30 days after you subscribe to my investing newsletter. In September, I made 6 conversions at $30 each. Therefore, with a simple link only sent to new subscribers, I’m able to generate an additional $180 per month. Technically, if the law of averages applies (and it always applies, trust me), I should make a recurring $150 – $210 per month from this private affiliate. This will happen until A) my site shuts down or B) the affiliate decides to stop his program. But the deal we designed together is perfect:

 

a)      The reader gets a special rebate because he is a subscriber to my newsletter

b)      The company is making a profit because it gains a new client

c)       I make money because I generate additional sales for the company

circle of money

How would this three way win circle ends? Chances are that it won’t as long as the three parties are making money ;-) I would call it the circle of money! Hahaha!

 

Niche Site Central $539.23

 

I’ve decided to publish my Niche Sites income now to give a little bit more transparency. It will also help me to know how much these sites are contributing to in my company. The $539.23 is broken down into two sources of revenues:

 

$71.64 from eBooks (not the dividend investing one)

$467.59 from Adsense (yeah baby!)

 

While they are generating some decent income at this time, I severely lack in something… and it’s called traffic! My conversion rates are pretty good overall, but I just don’t have enough visits to make them fly. This is why I’ve been doing some heavy research lately on how to create a sustainable link building strategy. There are some great things on the web but now that there is a Penguin, a Panda and an EMD (this sounds like a sickness if you ask me!) patrolling the web, nothing is harder than doing good old SEO. Still, I’m taking a look at SPI link building strategy and will probably give it a shot. I have the resources to try it and will only do it with 2 specific sites ;-).

 

eBook Development

 

I’m done! Well… for now! Since this new eBook adventure seems to be a success, I might rethink The Rat Race or work on other projects. One thing is for sure; there is nothing better than having your own products for sale!

 

I really like where this is going. This year, I’ve set a goal of selling 300 copies by December 31st and since we are already working on a relaunch in early December (with a PDF and paperback copy), I’m pretty sure we will hit the 300 for Xmas. Anyway, I’m almost halfway after the first week!

 

Current Project I’m Working On

 

I’m back to do something very simple; optimizing my top 10 pages for each site. This means that I go into my Analytics and look at the top ten most viewed pages for the past six months.

 

#1 I look at why they rank so well in Google and try to improve SEO (either keywords within the page or link building around them).

 

#2 I also look at potential affiliate products I can add to the page.

 

#3 I also try to figure where I can send these readers so they can generate more revenue (either to my newsletter, to a niche site or to another high converting page on my site).

 

This is a simple method but it has always allowed me to make more money with what I already have. Since Google seems to want to play with the rules all the times, this exercise is a good way to keep everything up to date.

 

The other thing I’m currently working on for October is to optimize my book marketing strategy. This implies mentioning my books in several places:

 

-          In my free Dividend Investing eBook

-          In my newsletter follow-up messages

-          Across my entire network

-          On my mini-sites

-          In the navigation bar of my main investing sites

-          Provide other free eBooks with mentions

The last thing I’ll do in October is to start Pat’s link building strategy. Everything is setup on my side so I can truly apply what he is teaching us on his site. Now it’s only a matter of seeing if this will work!

 

Adsense Income $4,151.99 (+20.34%!!!)

 

OMG! It’s been 4 months in a row that I beat my all-time record! But this one, is far from all the others! Over four grand in Adsense income!?! Soooo cooooool!

 

But this will also be the last record month in a row as their stupid EMD update will cost me roughly $1,000 in Adsense income (that’s what my little fingers tells me anyway!). I’ll be back to a “poo” $100/day for a while after touching a $140/day+ average! The problem with the visitors I’ll be losing due to this update is that they were clicking on my Adsense blocks. Go figure why but the CTR on this site is at least 2 times better than on any of my sites… this is maybe why I got hit so much as well! Arg!

 

Anyways, I’ll have to revisit my Adsense strategy once again to generate more diversification in order to make sure that my highest source of income keeps racking up more records! This should be done via more traffic towards my niche sites and the extension of my new authority site.

Finally, I can tell that I like my new writing style on TFB (over 1,000 words per article) but it’s very time consuming. On the other hand, it truly gives me the desire to write even more and go more in-depth for each topic. I really feel that I’m delivering premium content right now and this is what I like the most about blogging. After all, this whole business is about having fun, isn’t it?

 

Tell me, what have you done recently on your sites to make them better?

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Comments

I was wondering about the last week in September as well regarding traffic. Hmmm…. maybe it’s just a hiccup and things come back as they’ve shown after.

Have you found you are working longer hours now?

Good stuff on Adsense income!

I got my site redesigned, redid my about page, started a mailchimp newsletter, added a top 7 post to my sidebar and guest posted on free money finance today. If you see.other.things I should be doing feel free to drop a pointer or two.

by: The Financial Blogger | October 3rd, 2012 (11:26 am)

Hey Sam,

it’s not a hiccup, it’s really another update (check in this post, I have 2 good reads about the update). I hope that my traffic will come back after a potential correction since my site is definitely high quality and should not be losing 75% of its search engine traffic overnight just because they pulled out some switches!

I’m working more on my sites for the past few weeks and I make sure to work on “added value” tasks. no emails during that time, only creation and optimization! I’m meeting with Google in 2 weeks for adsens optimization, I’m curious to see what they will tell me!

@Lance,
wow! you did a lot of stuff!
if you want more newsletter subscriber, work on a freebie (either a free email course or a free ebook :-) ).

by: Financial Samurai | October 4th, 2012 (1:41 am)

Very cool you are meeting with Google. Do you have some local ad rep who you just contact?

Btw, is it fair to say Google doesn’t like niche sites and will seek to banish all of them given their thin content vs bigger sites?

Sam

Hey Sam,

No, I’ve received an email from Google. They are doing a “adsense in your city tour”. I meet them near the airport ;-). I’m curious to see what they will tell me!

I don’t think they dislike niche site, they are just after poor content. The problem is that they hit high quality content on the way. My only site that was hit was one of my major blog. My niche site are all okay…. go figure!

Great update. Congrats on your money machine. I can’t wait to talk with you about it tomorrow!

Interesting, I would have thought Google might try to help out sites that are getting high Adsense conversions since that’s more revenue for them! (as long as it’s not the spammy type of ads that were everywhere 2 years ago)

Do you find that using freebies like an ebook as an incentive to sign up for the newsletter leads to higher unsubscription rates later? (people just putting in their email to get the bonus and then leaving the list)

Unfortunately, I think that I was converting too much with Adsense on this site! my CTR was over 3.5% and I was making about 1$ per click… that’s too bad :-(

You will obviously get more “free loaders” that will just unsubscribe right after they download your ebook but overall, it’s a fantastic way to grow your newsletter. Read this:
http://www.thefinancialblogger.com/how-to-grow-a-newsletter/

you’ll see the difference in “net” subscription when I started to give my ebook for free conditional to a newsletter subscription :-)

Speaking of CTR Mike, what do you think is a good CTR rate for affiliate links?

In this case, CTR means an action by the reader, not just a click.

Thx

wow, I don’t know Sam, that’s a pretty good question. Do you mean, once a reader click, what are his % of conversion?

I think that if you can convert 4-5%, that’s pretty awesome. To be honest, I’ve rarely look at my CTR for affiliate links! did you?

That makes sense, if even a few people stick around and read your emails you’re building an audience. I’ll have to come up with an ebook for the blog I’m working on :)

It isn’t the investing in sites that I found risky it is the insane values people were thought their site was worth when there was an uncontrollable 3rd party that could CRUSH the site over night

The best thing you could do then is to give it for free :-)

I’ve been able to make a lot of money from my newsletter. And unlike search engine, nobody can takes that traffic away from you :-)

by: The Financial Blogger | October 8th, 2012 (5:03 pm)

@Evan,

The Fed could crush your Real Estate investment in a heartbeat by cranking the interest rate by 3%. It happened in Canada in the 80′s.

I think that if you work hard enough on a site, you don’t need Google to exist. I’m actually going to prove this since one of my site got deranked for almost all its keywords. But I’m confident I’m still going to make money out of this site… with or without Google helping me :-)

“The Fed could crush your Real Estate investment in a heartbeat by cranking the interest rate by 3%. It happened in Canada in the 80â?²s.”

That is one example in 30 years vs 18 times google changed things this year. Again, it isn’t the building of this stream of income that I find risky (actually I would love to emulate what you have built) it was the valuation some people gave for sites.

Mike, I asked for a CTR (actual action and sign up) and finally got a full month’s worth of data. Pretty interesting stuff!

Evan, it’s all about free markets. Everything is rational in the end when it comes to buying and selling sites. Google is fickle indeed, but they’ve done more good than harm, and have shown to reinclude and reconsider.

by: The Financial Blogger | October 11th, 2012 (9:20 am)

@Evan,

still, the point is that if you want to buy a site that is making money, why the seller would give it away for 1 year worth of income as the owner could probably stop completely working on his site for 2 years and make more money than selling it today… I understand your point, but no offer is interesting under 2 years worth of income for a seller’s point of view. It’s like selling your 10K car for 5K… unless you are in the deep, you won’t do it :-)

[...] I mentioned in my previous Blog Evo Report, one of my most profitable sites has been hit by another Google Chimpanzee update. This resulted in [...]