How Many Websites Do I Need for IM?
You need lots of sites and a few niches. Is that true?
There is simply so much contradictory information about how many websites/blogs/online properties etc you need to really make it in Internet Marketing. The reality is that you really do only need 1. In fact all you need is one successful page to make a full time living. Peeps like James are testament to this, well, until he lost his top earner that is.
And this is what we are going to be talking about today. But not before you sign up to the new Zen Duck Newsletter. I actually want to talk a little about list building but want to wait until I have been using it a while longer, so stay tuned for that one at some future date. But, and not for this site, so far so good and I can see real promise in building lists (smacks side of head) using one of the list building services out there.
The reality is that here we concentrate on SEO tips and thus getting traffic from the big search engine. That’s Google in case you don’t know who I am talking about! In niche domination II on the old blog I went in to some detail on the importance of satellite sites for tough terms and I want to expand a little on this. But first let’s take a look at just what the realities are in the, let’s face it, murky world of getting organic search traffic.
Here is what Leo on his Internet Marketing site has to say on the matter. His emphasis, not mine:
If you are new, you should almost always work within one market using one website….
Focusing in on one market with one website will allow you to leverage the resources you have in the most equitable way possible….
While I agree on the first point the second I do not, but more on that later. It is always good for everyone to have a few different points of view before they decide on a long term strategy. But bear in mind Leo is focusing in on the noob, and getting comfortable with one site before trying to build others is certainly good advice for those just beginning this rather rocky road we call IM. Wanda and Paula are successful and often talk about success after focusing in one one site almost exclusively.
Let’s see what can effect our sites and rankings. Once we have already obtained them that is:
The game of SEO, in all its many facets boils down to competition at the end of the day, it is nothing more.
No competition means you are number 1 for everything that you want to rank for. And that is basically the bottom line. We backlink to rank using link building strategies, we add more content to rank and we carry on doing this to keep our rankings. We build satellite sites to support our main sites and we do whatever we feel we can to rank as highly as possible in the search engines.
Every day there are new peeps taking a mostly unsuccessful stab at making a living from the Internet, and apart from a few of us they fail miserably. But they are still a thorn in our side and you can bet that there is someone in your niche who is better than you and if you don’t watch out they will take your spot(s).
The beauty, and frustration, of obtaining organic search engine rankings is that no-one (no-one) actually knows exactly what the criteria is for getting, and more importantly, keeping, top positions for your terms. We can look at on-site factors, get our SEO as good as we think it can be, although no-one knows what that is either, and get better backlink profiles than the next guy.
And we can still fail miserably and not rank well.
Sometimes it is simply in the lap of the Gods and we have to simply try what we can to rank higher.
Changes to algorithms that actually sort out the placement of sites in the Google search engine change continually. Nobody knows what will be next so anything that we do to get high rankings is an educated guess at best.
With new updates occurring as we speak you can bet that there will be plenty of surprises in store for many. Have you considered your bounce rate, how many pages peeps read once they get to your site, do they hit the back button and search again after visiting your site or are they happy with what they find? All factors that are going to mean a lot this year, you can bet on it. And that is just the beginning, SEO is evolving fast, and we need to try to keep up. It has gone beyond what it used to be and is developing all the time.
This is why we hear so much talk about quality and making your content the best it can possibly be, when the reality is that this is NOT a factor as far as rankings are concerned, as written quality content is entirely subjective, there is much more at play now. Until:
If you throw up a crappy site and it gets inspected by a Google employee with the ability to downgrade your position then there is not a lot you can do about it, in the short term.
THIS is the main reason why quality should be a consideration. Something I go in to on the how to build a successful website article. But the word is so open to debate that it is impossible to explain what quality is. A 150 word article with a link to a place that sells the cheapest white socks is the best quality article there is if someone typed in a query wanting an answer to that question. But if they types in something about the history of the white sock then it is bad quality for that person.
The quality of a site, for me, relies solely on whether or not the page a searcher lands on actually answers their search query. Then the above and increasingly important algo factors take care of themselves. You get a low bounce rate, the searcher stops his/her search as their query has been answered, and hopefully you make some money too.
Just another way that one persons opinion can totally effect your whole IM future.
Age is becoming much more of a factor as far as rankings are concerned. I am in no doubt about this. I am now leaning towards the opinion that it is much more important than a backlink profile or any other factor. The older your content the better it will do on a successful site and the easier it is to rank if you go down the backlinking approach. Throw a handful of Build My Rank posts at a post on an old site and watch it fly past your competition,.
This is why Lando’s Automatic Authority has done so well. The bottom line is that age of the domain itself is important enough to warrant spending some cash, and if you can get aged content too then you are far ahead of the competition. Which leads to trust.
A trusted site in the (bot) eyes of Google is going to be able to rank for any number of terms without ANY real on page SEO and without the words even being present. I see it in my niches every day. Of course, there are shortcuts to out ranking these trusted sites which we shall discuss later.
But if you can get a trusted site then you are going to earn a lot of money. Age is key, as is number, and more importantly quantity, of external links pointing to your site.
But, and I have been saying this for a long time, links totally under your control are so important too. Which we shall now look at.
How To Beat All Of This
If we want to try to negate all of the above we are in for a rocky ride. But there are few simple things to do to try to ensure we are on the right side of most of it.
SEO is still a key factor for ranking, it is how we get to the top. But as we have seen it takes on many aspects. SEO is simply doing ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING WE CAN to get good rankings. So we need a checklist.
Internal linking has become even more crucial to the success of a Website. You should link to your old content and your old content should link to your new content. You should direct your visitor to deep pages on your site if they are of interest.
There are a lot more factors to on site structure that will effect your rankings and it warrants a post in its own right, which will be up next. But internal linking is a crucial factor in going some way to keeping your position.
Beating The Age Factor
You can’t, it can’t be gamed. Unless you buy an old site that it. But what you do is get your SEO in order the best you can so that you can at least optimize what you have. The rest is just going to be a waiting game. But there is one way to beat sites that have age, but not for the main terms. We shall come to that later.
As we just saw, if you have a crappy looking site with thin content and it gets a manual inspection then it could be goodbye work from home Dude and HELLO 9 to 5 HELLHOLE!
Especially true for those running adsense on their sites (not my favorite business model at all).
If your content does not deliver what the searcher comes to your site looking for then it is crap content. That’s the bottom line on it really. If the search engines are going to be placing more emphasis on a cohesive site that is based around one niche only, award merit for sites that are the final destination for a search query and maybe even downgrade just backlink weight as the main factor then you need to be sure that you are on the right side of this. Some of my sites were not and they are now history, 3 year old sites that earned good money each and every day. We live and learn folks.
Choose your terms carefully for your post titles and your copy.
I pull my hair out when I see in the serps “Cheap White Socks For Sale” and am confronted with a Web page that simply says that yes, you can buy white socks for sale and white socks are very nice and they are cheap and ……….
Stick adsense on it and it is just a matter of time before you can say goodbye to those blue link earnings.
Make sure your copy delivers what it promises.
So, let’s actually get down to what our approach should be when it comes to the question of how many sites and niches we need to actually get and keep good rankings if our approach is traffic via search engines.
But first, look, I am NOT saying this is the best way to get traffic, I am not saying it is the only way to get traffic, I am saying it is the way I get traffic. Niche depending you can get all the traffic you need from being a player in your niche and being a leading light on the top forum and a myriad of other ways.
It may surprise you to know that this is simply not what I am about, I am not that social at all outside of this blog, my niches do not suit an approach other than search traffic, or I simply am not inclined to do what needs to be done to chase non-search traffic. I am good at what I do and am happy at that. So, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
How Many Sites Should You Have
I think that, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, Leo has hit it on the head for total noobs to this game. Build one site and build a damn good one. It is a good starting point. And I would even be tempted to have a full on blog in a general and very social category. A blog in the traditional sense, just as this site is. It is actually how I began, and although I followed a lot of bad advice in trying to chase social traffic to earn the reality is that a few years later, and totally neglected, sites that were full on blogs where I would go comment on others blogs and get blogrolls etc now earn a little every day. A good stomping ground for beginners, but not the way to make money in the best way for nearly everyone.
They don’t earn a lot, at least by the standards I now set myself, but enough to buy some basic groceries if it comes to that.
Having a social blog is probably the best way to familiarize yourself with this game without the pressure of SEO, keywords and the like. Some basic stuff such as simply writing post titles that you think people will search for is enough really. As you learn then you can progress to other sites and this is where I feel many will not agree.
Never Rely On One Site
Make sites in a variety of styles. Uber clean, uber spammy. Middle ground.
For many of you you will now be strictly under the much touted and NEW CREDO of build quality sites. This is a total perversion of the realities as many present it. As we just discussed 150 words answering a question someone poses in a search engine is not spammy or crap if that is what they are looking for.
Hell, a post title and a sentence and a link is not spammy if someone searched for “What is the Hubpage that Dave wrote about the Zen Duck to test if it is still worth using”.
If I then wrote that as a post title here on this blog and then the copy was just:
Here you go Dude:
Then that is about the best quality content you can offer. (Let’s see what that link does because so far Hubpages are stinking it up at the moment!)
You see, quality is all subjective.
The problem is, that unless you are very lucky, short content like that is not what gets you ranked. What gets you ranked is a certain amount of copy under your post titles. And the reality is that to some degree the more you offer the better. But quality is just a part of it.
On-page factors as discussed earlier are important too. I try to give real life examples on this blog and the old one about on page factors. Internal linking is one of them. But linking externally from your copy is important too. If it is helpful to your readers then you should link externally to sources and keep them dofollow.
It sounds odd but you do actually leach some of their authority by doing this. You are saying that you are one of them, you have written about a topic and you linked to others that have written about a topic. It is how the search engines want backlinks to actually be used, no gaming, just honest linking to more information about relevant topics. A PR5 domain name I bought for a great price thanks to Lando’s Automatic Authority just got a PR6 after the latest update, it has 6 pages of content and links out to authority sites in its niche, nuff said. Imagine the power of the links it sends to my sites. An inner page that had minimal linking done to it and is relatively new is a PR4 straight out the gate, it links to authority sites, mine included. Nuff said.
Other On Site Factors
There are a million on site tips to optimize but this is not the time or place, next article for that side of things. But take note of how this post is laid out for obvious examples.
How To Minimize Your Potential Losses
This brings me back to the meat of this article really. I simply do not agree that you should rely on one Website.
If You want your traffic from search engines.
And that is the important focal point. If you do not rely on search then there is absolutely no reason to have more than one Website:
Once you find a profitable niche.
And that is the caveat. Beginners, and Ducklings such as myself need to explore niches to find profitable ones. And for many that means relying on SEO factors to get traffic and that means breaking the squeaky clean rules many love to quote, only high quality links etc etc.
There is simply no doubt in my mind that you would be crazy to rely solely on one site IF you rely on search. We have seen just a few of the factors that can send you crying to your Mommy if some tweak or random act of unkindness occurs and your Website tanks in the serps. And trust me on this, it will at some point, so get ready. Who knows what algo change is around the corner.
I have talked about this in the past but it really is very important. ONCE you find a successful niche then you should do all in your power to protect it. The Niche domination post I linked to earlier goes in to detail about building satellite sites and I strongly recommend that you do this.
I strongly recommend that you build up a series of sites that focus in on aspects of your broad main site and you work on them the same as you do on your main site for a while. The sooner you do this the better. Get reseller hosting linked to on the tools page and do this asap. Or even better just get a few cheap hosting accounts if budgets are tight. The reality is that if you cannot afford $20 or so dollars a month for 4 hosting accounts then you need to seriously re-think about if this is a business you are in or you just want some pocket money.
- This is for a number of reasons. You build up smaller niche sites to provide yourself with quality backlinks that you control.
- You get to earn more money as you can mine the keywords form your main site and make copy around those terms so you can improve the listings you have in the serps by making an uber focused site.
- You cut the risk if you lose your main site.
The reality is that we none of us know what can happen in the serps. Listings chop and change on a regular basis and we may become the recipient of a very hard slap. So, build up your satellite sites as backup for your terms on your main site and then if the worst comes to the worst a few months work should see a number of those sites taking over the positions that you lost.
And this is one way to beat the age factor we discussed earlier.
Your smaller niche sites that you have now built that attack your best terms on your man site will be much easier to rank if the whole site is dedicated to a good number of buying terms for the products.
By ranking a number of longtails you can earn more than you would from ranking number 1 for a popular term.
You do not always have to chase the top and hardest terms to make a lot of money. The earnings from longtails are not to be ignored.
Don’t get obsessed over 1 or 2 terms, think broad and longtail and you will take over from the sites with more age and more backlinks very easily.
But I want to take it a step further than this.
As well as satellite sites for backlink support and earning in their own right you should also build at least one if not two main sites taking the best from your main earning site and creating new content around what works.
This is going to be a main site in its own right and it is going to, over time, be a contender and competition to your main site.
It does not mean you have to do it all immediately, I would build the satellites first. But once they have their content on them then you should consider leaving them be for some time and build out a main niche site in exactly the same niche as the one you already earn in.
I mentioned briefly the different options we have for the content on our sites and I want to elaborate. What did I say? Ah yes:
Uber clean, uber spammy. Middle ground.
Look, there has been a lot of talk lately about people cleaning up their act and no longer polluting the Web with low quality articles that they post all over the place for low quality backlinks in return. Yolanda wrote a good post on just that topic. This is a tricky situation.
I am all for quality content on my sites, it is just that I disagree with a lot of people that seem to ASSUME they know what it is. This is not directed at Yolanda, I think she makes some fine points in her article and is doing the right thing for her.
But I disagree with all these “so called” Gurus that are now jumping on the bandwagon assuming that they KNOW what quality content is.
For me this is a site that answers questions searchers have posed in whatever form. It may be a link you provide, affiliate or non affiliate. It may be that you have written an in depth review for an item you own. Or it may be a personal blog post like this where you try to cover a topic a little bit comprehensively. And I can tell you that I love writing copy like this, yet I never do it!
It don’t pay the bills!
FOR ME PERSONALLY
The majority of my content is what I PERSONALLY feel is middle ground. It would not win awards for an exemplary use grammatical usage but it delivers what it promises to do.
I am the well paid sandwich board man that sends visitors to the store of my choice without getting the tired legs. Some say that it thus means my content is just in the way. Well, tough. If the top results are not the best price place for white socks then why can’t I build a site to tell people where to get them? And hey, of the best place is numero uno then why can’t I compete with them to be number 1 or 1? They still get their money, right?
I write copy for products concentrating on both the primary term for the product and in many cases as many buying keywords as I can possibly think of. And often this is limited to well under 50 terms.
But I have stats as my sites grow so these terms actually grow daily and never end. And for me that is the basis of my whole business model. Certainly not for everyone but if nothing else I am honest about how I go about my business.
Hanging in forums and the like is simply not my style outside of this blog and a few minutes to chat on Facebook. But if I need traffic then as a last resort I will pay for it.
Sure, I write 2000 word reviews of products with no affiliate links and then write more copy with affiliate links going in to more detail about an individual topic.
But you know what?
My best earning sites contain nothing but 200-300 word articles for the most part with buying terms for products in the post titles. And I have plenty on stand-by to take the place of most of these sites should they get a wrap on the knuckles.
But why should they?
They deliver exactly what people are looking for.
Look. If I write an article about “Best Price White Socks” then I bloody well tell the visitor where they can buy them at the best price. This is the honest truth about it and I feel comfortable doing it. If you don’t then that it up to you.
For me this is spun content that makes little sense on sites that are misleading. Or, even with good content, sites that run adsense and fail to deliver on what they promise. The difference between me using an affiliate link to send someone to a product and you using a site running adsense to do the same is that you have absolutely no idea where you are sending people so you are not delivering on your promise. And yes, I have done this, it is the best way to earn well with adsense.
If you fill up a site with buying keyword post titles and run adsense and get a manual inspection then good luck to you. Switch out to an affiliate program asap, there is more money in it anyway, you may just have to tweak your copy a little.
The Realities Though
Ah, the realities. Now, this is where we really get to the heart of it all.
There really is no that much to say about it all really.
The bottom line is that the search engines put a massive amount of weight on age, inbound links, internal linking and content. Not “quality” content, whatever your personal view on that is, but content. In the form of text on page, video, pdfs, on page factors such as H2’s (very important, I know I keep saying but so many still don’t put this in to practice), italics, point forms etc etc really are significant.
All things being equal a page that competes with a page without that setup will rank higher.
But the realities go further than this.
Post titles carry the most significance after domain name for ranking.
And that is the bottom line. It is why what many believe what I do could be classed as somewhat spammy.
I don’t see it that way.
I write buying keyword post titles to rank for those terms.
Because I then need fewer backlinks to rank than if I did not use those terms. I would also need more authority in terms of age and quality backlinks from relevant sites.
But I am not stupid. And this is why I say to build more than one site in your main niche.
Attack the buying keywords like there was no tomorrow. Fill up your site with plenty of them as post titles. Put others in H2’s and then go about backlinking every page on your site for those terms. But make sure that your content is “quality” in so far as the searcher is concerned. You don’t want them to feel let down and go search again, it shows that your site is not right and should not be ranking where it is.
But then go out and build another site where you take a different approach.
OK. A quick rundown of what I mean.
Lots of buying keyword post titles that many see as slightly spammy. Why? They answer the searchers query.
Minimal buying terms in the post titles of a lot of the content. Just use direct product names. Then now and them mix in posts with buying terms but to a much lesser degree.
No longtail buying terms for your post titles. Straight-forward product titles with the main focus on your reader in mind. So a product with a review or a comparison, whatever. But titles and copy that are the absolute best that you can muster.
By building 3 sites with 3 slightly different approaches you are going a long way to easing any misfortune that may occur when any of the factors we talked about a the beginning of this post kick in.
Actually, do that. Come back in a year and tell me what site is doing best. I could tell you now but that would spoil all the fun.
But if you take only one thing away from this article it is that I want you to succeed and I want you to make the most of your efforts. And for that reason alone
I do not recommend you rely on one site that you earn from.
Sure, you earn the most from one site, I am not disputing that. But have others in reserve for if anything happens. This is simply looking out for yourself. Look, it could be as simple as this.
Someone hacks your site and deletes all your content and the hosting company cannot recover it.
At the same time your computer goes kaput and your backup files cannot be gathered.
Sure, you could restore a site from a cache online, but it may never recover or take an age to recover. Or a myriad of other things can conspire against you.
Build a few sites, on a few hosting accounts and cover yourself a little. I hope that explains my reasons and that it makes sense to you, well, duh, of course it does.
How Many Sites Should I Have To Stay Ranking Then
I just bloody said! Jeez. At least 3 just in case plus others that are sub-niches of your main niche site. Jeez.
How Many Niches Should You Focus On
That was easy wasn’t it?
Seriously, if you find a niche that does well and earns then there is no reason to move on to another.
Personally I run in a number of niches, all that combines to earn our living for us. This is for my sanity more than anything else. I do a lot of backlinking support site work, and on site work to some degree. Just staying in the same niche can be hard as it is boring.
But until you are earning a very good full time wage I would simply say to suck it up and get on with it. You are luckier than almost anyone else who needs money to live in that you can work form home as and when once you find a good niche and begin to work hard and thus give up the day job. So build up in one niche until you are a contender then give yourself a reward by discovering a few other niches that you can focus on to build up your future assets.
I know this new site has been slightly different to what readers of the old site have become used to. Some of the posts here will be about life just as much as Internet Marketing and SEO Tips. I want a looser scope to what I do here and that is what will happen. We are all people and we all have things going on outside of tippety tapping away at keyboards trying to rank for white socks so I do hope that you will stick around for that side of things as and when I feel like blathering away.
Anyway, that all felt Old Skool and a bit Gangsta so I hope you got something out of it.
Stay tuned for the anatomy of a successful site coming up next.