Monthly Archives: September 2009

Building Backlinks To Your Websites – An Introduction

If you are trying to build income producing websites – you need to build back links to get your website to the top of the search engine listings. Once you are at the top of the listings you will get search enginevistiors (assuming you chose the right keywords in the first place) and now you have potential customers.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is simply a link from one site to another – click here is an example. In most software from WordPress to Microsoft Word – you highlight the words you want to link to and then click the “link” button which look like a chain. In WordPress you will get  various options but the only thing that really matters is the “target”. If you need the html code – and you will a some point I can assure you – its fairly simple to – here is the html -for the “cick here” code above

<a href="http://google.com">click here</a>

In this example the anchor text is “click here” and target is gooogle.com.

Why Do Backlinks  Matter?

Search engines seem to count a backlink as a vote for your site. Someone thought enough of your site to  link to it .  This is where the mythology that if you write good content you will do well with the search engines comes from. As with all good myths – it has a kernel of truth – and in this case links are important and you need to get some. However before you start getting keen – take a moment and learn what type of backlinks do you want.

What’s a Good Backlink?

There are two key things which makes some links worth more than others: the anchor text and the website it comes from.  First anchor text  are the words that are highlighted in the link “click here” in the above example. What I am saying is that the website we are going to (google.com) is about the topic “click here” – helpful ? Not really. If I wanted to give a better backlink I might do something like this:

<a href="http://google.com">Internet search engine</a>

that’s more descriptiive of what a link is about – in these case Google is a search engine – so this is a good link.

Now taking another example: I have another blog. That’s not a very useful link – even for the reader it doesn’t tell you what that blog is about – if  instead I told you I wrote a blog about Passive Income Online that would be a better link.  Now I’ve associated “passive income online” with my blog – and as that’s the term I want to rank in the search engines for that is all good.

This link is in fact a very good link to have – its inside a post on the page: its not a comment link or a blogroll link in the sidebar – it counts much more because its a contextural link – a link within the context of the page, post or content of a website.

So a good link is contextural with the anchor text of one of your keywords. Now in fact the link about is even better than that because this blog, the site giving the link, is in a similar niche to the one that I linked to – so I now have a contextural, correctly anchored link from a related websites.

That’s worth more than if I’d linked to this website from a dog agility website or a Las Vegas hotel website.

Where to Find Backlinks

Now this is where it gets difficult, especially when you are just starting out. Once you have quite a number of your own websites then you can sometimes link from to another. That’s not possible when you are just starting out- but fortunately there are places you can publish your content for free in return for backlinks.

There are numberous article directories: but the most important one is EzineArticles – check out my guide to how to write good articles for EzineArticles

You  can also join revenue sharing websites such as HubPages and Infobarrel, which can both allow you to earn and income and get backlinks.

That’s a just a couple to get you started – there are an awful lot of places to place your own backlinks once you start looking.

Residual Income Without A Website

No its not a blue sky dream, you really can really can make residual income online without a website.  There are two main ways that people make an income online without a website:

  1. They are paid to write at sites which pay them either with a share of revenue or with an upfront payment.
  2. They sell their skills and services directly.

Contributing to Other People’s Websites

There are quite a number of sites online which regularly advertise for people to contribute to their site in return for payment. Most of these are only open to American residents and the most famous are probably eHow.com, about.com and examiner.com. To get hired you will need a specialist area of knowledge and reasonable writing skills.  These sites aren’t really offering you  a business opportunity – instead its an online job.

Another option is to sign up for revenue sharing sites. The oldest and best known of these is Squidoo but I personally prefer HubPages and the newer site InfoBarrel .  Squidoo is perfect if you don’t have your own accounts with Adsense, eBay and Amazon yet. Both HubPages and InfoBarrel require you to have your own accounants and then you get a percentage of page impressions with your ID’s displayed and whatever you make is directly credited to your affiliate accounts.

Both Squidoo and HubPages have active forums which can be very helpful if you are just starting off – but just cdouble-check any advice you get – not everyone knows really what they are talking about there. These sites are what are known as Web 2.0 sites and are not just a place to earn income directly – you can also use them to develop backlinks to your other sites and therefore improve their rankings in the search results.

Selling Your Services Direct

If you have a marketable skill: writing, programming, virtual assistant, web designer, for example  than there are number of sites set up specifically to create a market place for those wanting to sell their time and skills. The best known and reputable are elance.com and odesk.com. These sites offer a form of escrow which minimizes the risk or either the buyer or the seller being ripped off by the other party. The big downside of course is taht unless you have a rare skill – you are competing against a lot of people who live in countries with lower costs of  living than North America or the UK – you may not be happy with the rates on offer.

Should You Own Your Own Websites

Even if you decide that freelancing is the way you want to develop your online business – you will need your own website to be taken seriously. Even a free wordpress.com or blogspot.com hosted website would be better than nothing at all – but if you are establishing an online reputation you really need to own your own domain and website.

If you are contemplating developing your own residual income producing websites then its entirely possible to develop these of free sites which allow monetization – blogspot.com is the most popular but there are many others as well. There are advantages to buying and hosting your own websites – and although its not expensive to own a domain (less than $10 / year for most ) and hosting (from about $8 /month) the costs mount up as you buy more and more domains.

Adsense and Legitimate Online Businesses

Adsense is one of the most popular ways that webmastes turn their websites become residual income builders. Its often seen as the beginners way to make money online – but it has its pitfalls. This is my take on earning income from Adsense

Pros to Residual Income with Adsense

  • its much easier to get someone to click an ad rather than actually buy or sign up for something from your site. The standard rates for clicks versus visitors for Adsense is usually quoted at around 5% -for affiliate sales it can be 1% or significantly less.
  • because you are being paid per a click rather than per a sale – Adsene income tends to be more consistent than affiate sale income;
  • Adsense has a huge inventory of ads – there are Adwords buyers for almost every conceivable niche;
  • Its very easy to track your Adsense performance thanks to th recent integration with Google Analytics

Cons to Residual Income with Adsense

  • its a lot harder to be accepted into the Adsense program as a publisher than it used to be. Its certainly not automatic, and is particularly difficult if you live  outside of US, Canada, western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  Don’t just casually make an application make sure that you have a website or at least some HubPages to prove that you have something to offer;
  • although its easy to earn a little money with Adsense – to earn a lot you really need to write your entire webiste around your Adsense niche – adding Adsense to a general website all over the place will do you little good;
  • if you get “smart priced” by Google i.e. they consider that you are providing low-value visitors to their advertisers – your entire network is affected – and its up to figure out which site is causing the problem;
  • Adsense has a complex list of Terms of Conditions which you need to abide by – ignorance is no excuse – the common mistakes people make include  adding Adsense to otherwise empty pages, adding Adsense next to pictures or too close to headings, forgetting to add a privacy page,  changing the Adsense code;
  • Adsense pays on a click so if someone, helpful or malicious, comes to your site and starts clicking you may well have your account suspended – and its very difficult to get an Adsense account back.

Essentially with Adsense you won’t make any money until you have organic (search) traffic finding your site. Visitors from Twitter or StumbleUpon may like your blog but they aren’t going to click on your ads. Traffic that you pay for is against Adsense TOS – don’t do it! So until you have your website ranking in the search engine results there really isn’t much point to adding Adsense!

Residual Income Blogs: Ten Must-Have Plugins

WordPress’s strength is that there are so many plugins available. Plugins are pieces of code which extend the functionality of WordPress. Sometimes plugins are overtaken – I used to use an automatic WordPress updated – but this functionality is now build it with the standard WordPress.

If you are new to installing plugins  you may read that you need to download the plugin, unzip it  and use a ftp program to upload to your website and then activate it. This information is out of date with current WordPress all you need to do is go to the “Add New” tab under Plugins and type in the name of the plugin you want- you will then get the option to install it by:

  • clicking once install
  • activating the plugin
  • usually you will need to change some settings you will find these either under the  Settings tab which will now have a new menu for your new plugin. Sometimes the plugin will give you the link directly to set things up.

Useful For All Blogs

Askimet. The spam killer program. Now there is spam and spam and getting your comments flagged as “spam” by a vindictive webmaster will see a legit blogger sent off to Askimet as well. If your comments aren’t showing up you should contact Askimet via their website and ask for re-inclusion. I run it on high traffic websites though because the level of spam is out of control especially if you are a “do follow” blog.

All-In-One-SEO Pack. This is probably the single most important plug-in that everyone who cares about getting organic search traffic to their blog should run. I’ll talk about the details of how to configure All-In-One another day – but suffice to say – you need it – install it now!

Google XML Sitemaps. I have never been a huge fan of installing site maps but they slightly increase the speed with which Google will crawl your entire website and get you indexed faster. You only have to set this up once and then forget about it.

Similar Related Posts.  You will notice that there are a list of “possibly related” posts at the bottom of the post – they are automatically generated by this plugin. This is useful for getting your readers to stay on the site and read more and there is a SEO benefit to the increased internal linking between blogs. This is extremely simple to use and doesn’t require you to move files as some other posts do. You will also need to install this library plugin.

NoFollow For Posts. This plugin adds a tick box to the standard link button with the text editor for posts and pages in WordPres.

Essential for Adsense Websites – Recommended For Most Other Sites

Easy Privacy Policy. Its been compulsory to have a privacy policy if you run Adsense for months – but I still routinly see sites which fail this most basic requirement. This plugin will automatically generate the page for you. Even if you don’t have Adsense running on a site having a Privacy Policy is good practice.

Useful If You have Active Readers/Commentators

Contact Form 7 My simple contact form is created by using this plugin. There are more sophisticated form generators available as plug-ins but I found this one the easiest to use.

Subscribe to Posts. If you end up with lively debate in your comments then its really, really useful  for commentators to be able to click the “notify me of follow up comments by email” box. This is the plugin that does it for you!

SexyBookmarks I am not a huge fan of social bookmarking – but that is not to say that some of my readers aren’t so if they want to share what I write why not? Anyways these little icons at the bottom of the post are just so darn sexy Icouldn’t resist!

Useful If You Redesign a Site or Buy a Site with Existing Backlinks

Simple 301 Redirects. This is a simplistic approach to what can be quite a technical problem – I found it easy to use – but if you need something more sophisticated than page A is now located here – then you will need to look further.

Residual Income Websites Need Keywords

There are three key elements to building a successful residual income producing website:

Most beginners focus heavily on the second step – building the website – but that really its the least important part of the process. The most important part is finding a profitable niche and finding the right keywords that your potential customers and visitors are using to search for.

In general its not so much a keyword you are looking for – its more a key phrase – the longer the keyword phrase generally the less traffic there is, but also generally the traffic there is is more likely to buy: for example if you had a shoe website who do you think is most likely to buy a pair from you:

  • someone who searches for “shoes” or
  • someone who searches for “girls size 1 pink shoes”

the second person sounds like she needs a pair of pink shoes, and she needs them now! So you may only get a few visitors – but you might make more money because the traffic that you do have is buying traffic.

Think of  it this way: how often do you go to a bookshop – and just browse – you may buy – but basically the bookstore is a destination with probably free coffee and comfortable seats – and you go to be entertained. You buy eventually – but not today. The trouble with a visitor to your website deciding “not today” is that they may get distracted and end up at a different website – its harder to remember which website you were on compared to remembering which book shop offers good free coffee!

Compare that to your local convenience store – you don’t go there just to hang out and see what’ interesting do you? No but when you go there its almost certain that you will leave having purchased something – and do you notice how many times you go to the store for milk but come out with several other items as well? If you want to make a residual income from your website – you want to be a corner convenience store – not a  bookshop 🙂

So don’t decide to build a website about planning a road trip around Australia – just because you are – instead you first need to find out two things

  • whether anyone actually searches for “planning a road trip around Australia”
  • and how much competition there is

There are lots of fancy tools and ebooks who promise to tell you the answer to these two questions – but Google themselves provide a free tool: the Google Adwords Tool which although there a few tricks to how to use it properly, which I will talk about later and which definitely has its limitations – will get you started on your way to building residual income websites.

So click on the link – type in your keyword you are thinking about and do the following:

  • change the search type to “exact” – look for terms which have at least 1000 searches a month for that exact term;
  • add the Adsense CPC column in if you are considering Adsense on your website – eve if you are not a CPC of 5cents means  that no wants to spend money advertising on that particular terms which may mean you need another keyword
  • now check out the competition for that term – do you think you can beat those websites? If you can then you may have found your first niche!

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Residual Income Websites Need Traffic

So how do you make residual income from websites? In essence you need to have visitors on your website – and not just any visitor – you need to have visitors who are motivated to buy what you are selling?

I’m Selling Something?

Well you better be if you are planning on making money online!  Don’t laugh, or feel stupid – it was a point that missed me as well at the start of my online career. You will often see the mantra – follow your passion and the money will come. Well maybe, in my experience my passions don’t make me money, yours may, but even if the topic you are writing about is of huge interest to you – its best to find out in advance whether or not it will actually make you money – don’t you think?

Without Traffic Your Website is Nothing

Here’s my story: my passion is travel – I have a website with lots of photos and lots of content from a long road trip around Australia. Its seemed to me that people might want to buy  guidebooks on my iste, or at least click on the Adsense ads which talked tours and activities in the various towns I talked about visiting. No one ever did though. Why? The only people who ever visited were my friends – they were interested in hearing about my trip, they liked the photos – but they had no intention of planning a road trip in Australia. Who should I have been attracting to the site? Maybe the people who were planning a road trip in Australia? How would I find  those people -the ones who were really interested in the topic of my website.  There is basically four ways to attract visitors to your site:

  • paid advertising
  • traffic exchanges
  • social media
  • organic i.e. search engine traffic

Paid Advertising is Not a Good Place to Start

The biggest paid advertising program is Google Adwords – its the other side of the story from Adsense – Adwords are the people who pay for the advertisements on my income producing websites. Now you can make money with Adwords, and you can lose money as well. Much like foregin exchange  trading – you need deep pockets to learn the game – its not a good place to start !

Traffic Exchanges are a Waste of Time and/or Money

Don’t ever buy traffic. Think about it – someone is being paid a fraction of a cent to click onto your website – do you really think you are going to become your reader or even click on your ads. Its also against the terms for many programs including Adsense anyways. The mutual – you click mine and I will click yours sites which are very popular in certain blogging circles are just as bad – again people aren’t engaged – they don’t want to visit your site – they are just visiting to build up credits in the network so they will advertised more prominently and therefore more people will come and visit …

Social Media is Over-Hyped

I pretty much consider social media a waste of time. Yes I mean Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and all the rest are not the secret to my making residual income while I sleep – don’t bother buying the e-book either. This is highly controversial, many people love social media and find the connect with lots of friends through it. That may be so – but it will not bring traffic to your website  who is going to make you money. In fact it probably won’t bring you much traffic at all.  Recently a friend of mine Steve who has  a cool video blog at bloggerlens.com posted this video where he described a one-to-one comparison of his statistics of being featured by a famous Social Media “guru” and a no-name Internet Marketer who has an ugly free blog – his post about social media hype is well worth a read and this video contains all the statistics. ..

Organic Traffic

If you are developing residual income traffic this is the traffic you want -these are the people who went to a search engine, probably Google, and  typed in “how to plan a road trip around Australia” – if you site comes up #1 then about 40% of then will probably click through to your site. Once you have them on your site you have a better than average chance that they will  click your ads, sign up for your list or buy your featured products. Why? Because these people are looking for a solution to a problem – and you may be able to provide it for them.

You still may not make a  sale – but at least you have someone in the shop  so to speak – that’s a good start! The art of getting organic traffic to your site is the art of making sure that you site is #1 in the search listings when  a relevant search phrase is typed which matches your site’s keywords. That’s what SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is all about.

Learning how to choose your website’s topic so that you will not only get organic traffic – but you can realistically push your site into one of the top three positions in Google – that’s thesingle most important skill you need to building your legitmate online business. It doesnt’ matter if you want to make 100 mini-sites or a 1 huge 1,000 page site, whether you want to develop e-commerce stores or online forums – whatever tyhpe of site you want to make money from – you need to traffic to make that  dream of an online income a reality.
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Do You Want a Blog or Website – Is There a Difference?

A long, long time ago there were static websites – websites which didn’t change very often – and when they needed updating you had to go to the computer wizz to do it for you. Often making a chage to the actual look and layout meant changing many hundreds of pages. It was hard to keep track of and keep things up to date – say for example a change phone number on every page.

Then came along blogging – the idea that you could update your own online web log (ie blog) without needing to be an expert or even know what html or css code was. You could write your online personal diary – it caught on – and blogging was born!

So the idea  evolved that blogs were entirely different from websites – that a blog had to be updated frequently and a successful blog had lots of comments and interaction with visitors.

Well that is what a blog was originally – but blogs have become a whole lot more sophisticated – and all because WordPress is a very, very successful piece of software. WordPress is free – its developed by enthusiasts and given away for free WordPress does something very important – it separates the look of a page from the content. WordPress is a platform that developers and designers can use to develop an infinite number of different looks and functionality of WordPress sites. Called themes – there are specialised WordPress themes which will turn your website into a real estate listing site, an e-book selling site, or a newspaper – if you can imagine a style of website its probably been done in WordPress already.

Lets take the current front page of this website as an example:

wordpress-1

Now  using this particular theme – I can vary the look without changing themes – so I could have something like this for example with a couple of clicks of a button or two:

wordpress-2

Its the theme which gives this particular site a static front page  – as opposed to the standard look of the most recent posts running down the page.  The popular “magazine style themes mean that breaking news sites can have rapidly updating stories showing near the top of the page, other designs give the front page a completely static look.

You can run a website on a blogging platform such as WordPress and you can use WordPress to develop a static website.  The choice is yours – and the casual visitor to your site won’t even know that you are running WordPress. Either way you can use your website to make residual income – but that’s the next post!