Buying Domains: The Way Forward

As an Internet Marketer, it is important to me to make sure that I keep increasing the right kind of traffic to my commercial websites so that I continue to make sales from which I make my living online. Times change fast online and what were easy ways to make money a couple of years ago are now not viable. But one thing that has always remained a constant is investing in domains. This is why it will continue to be the way forward for anyone who is serious about earning money online.

Free Blogs and their Problems

There are more free blog platforms than ever these days, but that doesn’t make them the right way to build a long term business. They are fine when you are just starting out on a low budget, but their stability is questionable. You can put ads on blogger blogs, but they are harder to rank in the search engines and this is where you need to get your traffic from. You can use WordPress free blogs, but you can’t place ads (unless you abuse the system and do it anyway and hope that you don’t get found by the WordPress social police like the blog I highlighted in my last post WordPress Do Not Allow Ads on Their Free Blogs.

Other free blog platforms may be around today but drop out of existence tomorrow, as in the case of today.com which took a lot of people’s content then disappeared. A free blog platform may allow you to place links in your posts to begin with, but then go ahead and make them all nofollow as happened with wetpaint.com and others. The bottom line is that if you are going to put a lot of work into writing a load of original, well thought out and researched content you might as well put it onto a domain that you own and you call the shots on.

Self Hosted Domains

There are many benefits to hosting websites on your own domains. Aside from the cost of maintaining hosting, which can be had for as little a $5 a month, building your own website(s) is the most solid long term plan you can have. You get to choose what you write about and as long as it is not going to break any laws, you can publish it and no one is going to come along and call you out and get your blog flagged and even deleted as has happened to me on more than one occasion. Not that those blogs were bad, they just focused on weight loss which for some blog platforms is a disliked niche and seen as spammy. I’m sure the 60 million obese American citizens would beg to differ when there is a resource built to help them reduce their weight and get their lives back.

But on my own domains, I can write about weight loss and help people to help themselves and no one is going to tell me I can’t.

Blog or Static?

Now for the big question, do you create blogs or static sites on your domains? There are pros and cons to doing either, but here is my own reasoning and why the vast majority of my websites are actually NOT blogs, but static html sites.

Benefits of Static Sites:

  • Have no database to maintain and therefore do not present such a temptation to hackers to get in and cause mayhem.
  • Use far less server resources and are therefore faster to load and won’t eat up your hosting resources
  • All content is created on your PC and uploaded to the server, so there is always a backup copy of all your files if your server crashes and you have to recreate your site(s)

Benefits of Blogs:

  • Are easy to post articles to and publish
  • Have built-in blog service pinging for immediate recognition across the web
  • Can use widgets for social interaction
  • Posts can easily be commented on by visitors
  • Make it easy to join social groups

For my own peace of mind, going with static sites means less chance I’ll lose my sites because of hackers. The few blogs I still maintain regularly get attacked and I have had one blog have its database wiped by some nice person. That alone was enough for me to backwards engineer that blog to a static site and start doing the same with many smaller blogs. After all, why were many of them even blogs in the first place?

Many of the blogs I created a few years ago, were never meant to be social animals, but to exist as platforms to sell affiliate products and make money. Blogs are not really all that good for that, because of their setup and the difficulty with navigation. Plus for me, there is really no need to have any social interaction on a site that promotes a group of affiliate products from say, Amazon or CJ. All they need to do is present a decent review of the product and get the visitor to click through to buy it if they want it.

Blogs are for writing your thoughts, putting your points of view out there for others to comment on and discuss and for generally being social. Static sites are better for selling stuff. That’s my viewpoint and it may not be the viewpoint of others. Some may disagree and that’s fine, we all have our own preferences and ways of working.

It leads me to the way that search engines and Google in particular are talking about rating the worth of websites. They give the impression that they are going all out to use social recognition metrics as a way of gauging the value of a website.

How can this be if such a large proportion of websites are not blogs or have no database that can interact with the social buttons and widgets that they intend to use to gather these metrics? Does this mean that all static websites will be viewed as of less value than blogs simply because they do not have the mechanics to socially interact?

That is something I have already posted about here. I still maintain that Google cannot use social metrics to gauge the value or worth of a website if so many websites don’t have the gubbins to display social interactive buttons or widgets. So make your own mind up on how that will pan out.

Terry Didcott

What is the Optimum Frequency of Posting in a Blog?

What is the optimum frequency of posting in a blog? Well, now that’s a question that I bet plenty of bloggers are contemplating when trying to attract readers and get themselves ranked by Google and the other search engines for their main keyword search terms. If my last post Who Needs a List?, is anything to go by, then it would seem not very often!

It depends what you want from your blog at the end of the day.

If you have an interesting topic to write about and believe it will attract lots of interested people to come and read about it, then it would be sensible to post fairly often, say once a week or more if you have the time and enough material to do that with. This scenario is for the blogger who merely wants to achieve some fame online and is not bothered about how to make money from blogging as a growing, regular readership is more important.

If you are writing a journal of your personal life for friends and family to keep up to date with what you’re doing in your life, then you probably want to post every day or every other day, as this is what a diary is all about. Again, you won’t be interested in knowing how to make money from blogging, because the sum total of your readership is going to be pretty low, with your little sister and grandma looking in on you to catch your latest gossip.

Ok that’s cruel. Maybe you don’t have a little sister…

On the flip side, you are blogging because you are interested in knowing how to make money from blogging. Well, first before I give any recommendation on what is the optimum frequency of posting in a blog that you wish to monetise, first let me let you in on a secret.

The readers you are going to attract to your blog are not going to make you any money.

How is that? Well, the overwhelming majority of people who read blogs are bloggers themselves. Bloggers are generally well aware what ads look like and they soon become trained in the fine art of filtering those ads out of their peripheral vision and focus only on the written text in a blog.

In other words, bloggers almost never click on ads. It doesn’t matter whether they’re Adsense or similar PPC ads, or if they’re affiliate banners promoting this or that latest eBook or software package or online service. They don’t see them and even if you shove one right in their face at the start or even in the middle of your article, they still won’t click on it.

Why don’t bloggers click on ads that are in their face?

Bloggers do not click on ads because they themselves probably have the very same ads running on their own blogs. That means they have the same affiliate accounts as you do and if they were going to buy an eBook or whatever from Clickbank, they’re going to do it using their own affiliate id, because they’ll get paid the commission. Why would anyone want to give a big chunk of commission dollars to someone else when they can have it for themselves?

As for Adsense ads, most bloggers who monetise their blogs tend to have Adsense running on them. Because they’re terrified of accidentally clicking on one of their own Adsense ads (which could cause them to lose their accounts for violating Google’s TOS), they are trained in the fine art of avoiding clicking on ANY Adsense ads because it’s ingrained and etched into their foreheads: “DO NOT CLICK ADENSE ADS.”

That’s why you won’t make any money from your blog’s readers. Want to know what’s worse?

If you do run Adsense on your blogs and the vast majority of your visitors are other bloggers, who don’t click ads, then it’ll send your CPC rate through the floor. And if your blog is not properly optimised for your keywords, you will get smart priced and only end up making a couple of cents per click that you do get. Even worse than that is Google may end up serving PSA (Public Service Ads) on your blog and then you’re only going to get one cent a click. How long do you think it’ll take you to break the magic $100 cheque in the post barrier at that rate? Pretty dismal, right?

So now you know why so many bloggers give up with Adsense “because it doesn’t work.”

Well, here’s the good news. Adsense does work and if you know what you’re doing, Adsense works very well. You can actually make a decent living from it. You just need to change your perspective and ditch everything that the blogging A-Listers have taught you. Which is that you need a huge readership to your blog so that you’ll make a pot of money. It’s a lie. A great big lie. A damn lie, in fact. And one that thousands of bloggers are falling for. But not just once. They’re falling for it time and time again.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

Here’s how to turn your fortunes around if you’ve been getting hundreds of bloggers turning up at your blog every day from Stumbleupon, Digg or Twitter etc and not making any money. You need to ditch that traffic and start working on the real source of monetisation, the search engines.

Google are your main target as they control most of the traffic, but you can still do ok from Yahoo and MSN etc. You just need to choose the keywords that you want people to find your log with. Make sure people actually search on them and that there are advertisers who will pay for clicks or affiliate products that you can promote. Then start from the beginning all over again by working on your blog to get it into the top of the search engine results (SERPs).

That’ll take some work and I have already written plenty of primers on how to do that over at my other money oriented blog How to Make Money Online with SEO. Check that out and see if it doesn’t point you in absolutely the right direction on how to make money online the right way.

So back to the original question that sparked off this long overdue post. “What is the optimum frequency of posting in a blog?”

If you want to make money from your blog, then the frequency of posting matters not one jot. Ok, that doesn’t mean you can slap up a couple of posts and some ads and forget about it. A blog is still a blog and that means the search engines are going to expect to see some updating being done every once in a while. But you can leave it for a month at a time and still create enough movement in the content to keep the search engines happy and your blog in their index.

If you don’t care about making money, then the frequency of posting is up to you. The more you post, the more your readers will keep coming back. As long as you don’t mind putting in all that effort for no return apart from the fame angle, that’s perfectly fine.

If you want to make money, you don’t actually need readers. Only organic search traffic who will see your ads and click out. Give them too much to read and they’ll read it and not click out! So make your content relevant, just don’t make it too interesting!

So once a month or so posts are good enough. After all, if nobody is actually reading your stuff, why go to all the bother of writing it so often? You’ll be surprised at how soon you’ll run out of pertinent things to write about. Especially if you’re targeting a niche that simply doesn’t have a lot of information about it and primarily exists to sell merchandise to consumers – which is what makes money in the end.

You don’t get something for nothing… unless you have cracked the Adsense code and can sit back and watch the blood sweat and toil of your labours start to bear fruit which then continues dropping into your lap with very little further work from you. That includes infrequent posting to your blog!

Terry Didcott

Write On The Money

Its high time I followed my last post Who Unleashed that Blogger?, with something else as time is beginning to pass with greater spans between entries in my flagship blog here. So I shall write on! The money part of the title is just a play on words, as we shall see…

The subject that will soon be on the tips of all bloggers typing fingers is Google Page Rank. Yep, its that time again!

I’ve already noticed the green bar that mark my sites are a changing on some of them. So far, it seems nothing has lost any PR and quite a few have gained a notch. Most notably are some of the expired domains I bought a few months ago with page rank that lost it all in previous page rank shake-ups. A few of them have been recognised by Google and given a PR1 – ok it won’t set the worlkd alight, but its a start as it means Google acknowledge their existence and maybe some of their in-links are starting to show up again. Time may well restore their original page rank.

As it’s early days, its probably not worth speculating on all my many sites just yet, as I’m sure the meter will bounce around a bit for a few days before settling on their final ranks for the next few months until the next change.

Which brings me to the subject of in-links or back links as they are more commonly known in Internet Marketing and SEO circles. It’s pretty clear that in order to make a mark on the search engines’ indexes you need a lot of good quality, one way inbound links to your site. As much as we all know that, the getting of those links is a lot of laborious work that unfortunately has to be done if we want to stand a chance at competing for that first page, never mind the first place on it.

Two problems have evolved from my own program of online business expansion.

The first is my ever growing menagerie of websites, self hosted blogs, free blogs, squidoo lenses, hub pages and the rest. They all need to be tended in order for them to grow, but the more I acquire and develop, the tougher it becomes to keep up with them all. My tally of domains has now exceeded 50. My subdomain sites are now 14. My free blogs tally exceeds 60. My squidoo lens tally exceeds 40. I’ve only just started on hub pages, but have 5 of them already. They all need content and with around 170 individual sites ourt there now, its a real problem getting them all updated with fresh content, never mind writing additional articles to submit to article directories and of course let’s not forget my income generating freelance writing work that takes a big chunk of my day!

Admittedly, a lot of the free blogs and squidoo lenses are there to augment and drive traffic to the main websites, as well as provide additional links and promotional material that will help the main sites to grow. So they don’t need to be updated quite as often as the main sites do. My problem is that now the main sites have grown in such numbers that they themselves are becoming difficult to keep up to date with fresh content and ever more links.

I know that there are software tools that can generate links for a site and they are tempting to use to boost up the sites’ in-link tallies, but those links are very low quality and are only any use simply because of their sheer quantity. How much use they will be in the long run is anybody’s guess. As I’m working for the long term and not short term gain, I’m content to take it at a more natural pace, obtainingthe necessary links I need raise the authority of a smaller selection of my main sites, so that they, in turn, can be used to bring up other sites as I acquire them.

So now the task doesn’t seem quite so daunting as it first did. The sheer number of free blogs (which, incidentally will continue to grow) do not need a great deal of inbound links in order to be useful, as they will probably never need to attain high page rank for themselves as they are not necessarily there to make money for themselves. Also, they are what they are – free blogs. I don’t own them and cannot therefore ultimately control their ultimate fate. They belong to the blog host as does their content, so it make much more sense to me to be working towards getting good page rank and SERPs authority for my own hosted sites as they fall under the category of cyber real estate that I can sell at a later date should I wish to.

Someone made the analogy that I think fits nicely here.

Your own hosted websites and blogs with domains that you own are like a house that you own. You can improve it and then sell it for a profit and buy a better one if and when you choose. Free hosted blogs are like an apartment that you rent. if you want to move to someplace else, you just up and go. If you make any improvements, the owner of the property benefits in the long run, not you.

So while renting has its advantages, like you don’t have to invest money in the property, you also don’t get any of the benefits of its rise in value over time. While you have to invest in your own home on the other hand, you get back the value of any improvements plus it gains in value over time, which you also benefit from.

Just the same as buying your own domains as opposed to renting a free blog. The free blog has its advantages, but you can’t sell it later after you’ve put a lot of work into it to make it great, wheras the same work put into a domain/website that you own will benefit you in the long term with a hefty profit shoudld you decide to sell it.

Food for thought!

Terry Didcott