Sunday, March 06, 2011

Blog Comments and SEO

Michael Martinez has some interesting things to say about blog comments and SEO on his SEO Theory blog, so I thought I'd express some thoughts here too. I haven't really updated this blog in a long time, but I thought now would be a good time to start, and that blog comments for SEO would be a good topic to write about.

First of all, leaving blog comments for SEO purposes is an OLD technique. In fact, it's pretty much played out. The only way to get direct SEO benefit from leaving blog comments is to leave them in massive volume. That requires software and robots and all kinds of nastiness that you're better off not messing with. And if you own a blog and have to approve the comments there, then you've seen literally hundreds if not thousands of blog comments that were put there solely for SEO purposes.

Here's a question for you: What is SEO if not a marketing technique?

Here's another question for you: Is pissing off dozens, maybe even hundreds or thousands of bloggers an effective marketing technique?

I daresay that it isn't.

If you want to participate in a discussion on a blog, then by all means, leave a comment. But don't do it because of any kind of SEO value that you're hoping to get. Comments that read, "This post gave me a lot to think about." aren't going to fool anyone. And the links you get from those kinds of comments are practically worthless anyway.

If you want to approach blog comments as part of your marketing strategy, then leave thoughtful comments that add to a discussion. Don't bother linking to your site or blog. Or if you do link, just use your name instead of using some lame anchor text like "Texas holdem online." If you write thoughtful and useful comments, people will search for your name and find your site without your having to leave a link.

You do have a page on your site that ranks in Google for your name, don't you?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Poker SEO Blog

I'm not updating much here lately any more, but if you enjoy the stuff you're reading here, I'd encourage you to visit my new site about poker seo, especially the poker SEO blog there. I'm updating that blog daily Monday through Friday. I'll probably resume posting here on a weekly basis starting next week sometime.

Monday, May 19, 2008


"Domaining" means buying and selling domains for profit. It's only tangentially related to affiliate marketing in some instances, but in other instances it's extremely pertinent. For example, if I buy a great domain name , I have a couple of options. I can try to sell the domain for a profit over what I paid for it, or I can develop it into a money-earning site via affiliate links or other paid advertising. A third option is to develop the domain into a moneymaker and then sell the domain and the moneymaking website. The third option makes the most sense to me.

I think that the traditional use of the phrase "domaining" usually only brings to mind that first option though. Buy a good domain for less than you can sell it for, and then sell it and make a profit from it. And that's not a bad business model. For example, let's say I register a domain name for the registration fee of $8.95 at Godaddy. And then let's say in 6 months, I turn it around and sell that domain for $500. I've made a $491 profit. That's a huge return on my money in that case. You can't get those kinds of returns in the stock market unless you're really tolerant of risk. And lucky.

But what about the other option? Suppose I launch a 2 or 3 page website, and I get 30 visitors a month to the site. (A combination of 15 type-in visitors and 15 visitors from search engines.) And let's say I'm working in a high dollar industry where I can earn $1 for every visitor to my site. That makes me $30 a month, or $360 a year...for the rest of my life probably. I'm 38, so assuming I last another 30 years, that's $10,800. That's not much over 30 years.

But it's a lot more than $491.

But let's say I work a little harder. Let's say that I write 1000 pages of content for the site, and I still make $1 per visitor. I like to assume that if I have a 1000 page website, I'll get at least 1000 visitors a day. Now that domain name I bought is earning me $30,000 a month for the rest of my life. That's a little over ten million dollars over the course of my life. That's a significant amount of money, even if it takes me a year to get that much content launched on my site.

Most websites though don't make $1 per visitor. A more realistic number might be 10 cents per visitor. (Higher in a competitive industry, but anyone ought to be able to make 10 cents per visitor to their website, I think.) That's still a million dollars over the next 30 years.

How many domains do you need to make that happen? How hard is it to launch and develop those domains with content?

My ideas about domains and domaining come from several places, but the person who got me most interested in domain was Andy Hagans in some of his posts at Tropical SEO. The man makes money the way I want to make money; without working hard at it. He also gave me the idea of taking these high quality domains and turning them into high quality money-earning websites that are worth far more than the domain would be worth by itself.

A couple of other items worth reading regarding domaining:
Speaking of domains, I just picked up a domain about slot machines. I plan to spend some time developing that one into a real powerhouse of a site loaded with useful content. I've already launched a great page there listing 51 slot machine websites, and more content is on the way.

Friday, May 09, 2008

How To Write 1000 Pages of Content

In my last post (Does Google penalize affiliate websites?) I mentioned content rich versus content poor websites. Having a website that's rich in useful content is going to be a long term, smart strategy for getting traffic to your affiliate website via search engine optimization. (If I wrote the post well at all, then I made that point, among other things.) I don't think a website is "real" until it reaches 100 pages anyway.

Here are some reasons why having lots of content is an effective content and traffic strategy:
  • Sites with multiple pages of real content are more useful to a single visitor.
  • Sites with multiple pages cover multiple subjects and are more useful to a wider range of visitors.
  • Sites that are useful to lots of people are the kinds of websites search engines must rank in order to stay in business.
  • Internal links matter toward your SEO. So the more pages you write, the more links you have pointing at your other pages. (A 1000 page website which links to your homepage from every page has created 1000 links. There is no better link building strategy than writing content for your site.)
  • Multiple pages of content give you the opportunity to present different kinds of advertising and see which types of content make you the most money.
Webmasters who want to know how to write 1000 pages of content are concerned about two things:
  1. How do I come up with 1000 topics about this subject to write about?
  2. How do I actually get those 1000 pages written?
How to come up with 1000 topics on any given subject
1000 football pages

I like to boil the subject of any website I write down to a single word if I can. For example, I launched a website about football last year. Then I take that single word or phrase and add modifiers to it in order to create subtopics. One example of three no-brainer subtopics related to football is how the teams are set up:
That leaves 996 pages of content needed. Two more big subcategories I can think of really quickly are professional football and college football. (And if I wanted to, I could also use high school football as a subcategory.) But that still leaves me with 994 pages of content needed.

That's easy though, because I can subcategorize the category of professional football into 32 teams and give each team its own page. That only leaves me needing 962 more pages of content. (So I have a page about the Dallas Cowboys, a page about the Washington Redskins, a page about the Miami Dolphins, and so on.)

But I can also create a page of content about every college football team in the country. I haven't even started that list yet, but there are 119 college football teams I could write about too. (And finding a list of college football teams was as easy as doing a Google search for "how many college football teams in the USA".)

But that still leaves 843 pages of content needed. It seems like I haven't even scratched the surface.

But each of those subtopics have subtopics of their own. For example, I like to promote posters. So I've also created 32 pages (one for each NFL football team) for the posters that are available for each team. So I've got a hub page for NFL posters, and then pages for Baltimore Ravens posters, Chicago Bears posters, and Detroit Lions posters. Now we're down to 811 pages of content needed.

Another no-brainer subtopic for NFL teams is individual football players. We haven't gotten around to adding that content either, but each NFL team has 53 players on its roster. 53 X 32 teams = 1696 players. Bingo. Now we've got enough content ideas to build a 1000 page site (1885 pages actually). And we never once had to use a keyword research tool to come up with ideas for the pages. Those are all just topics and subtopics.

And a site about football could be expanded beyond that even. We could also write profiles of famous retired football players (likeTroy Aikman or Tony Dorsett). We could write about fantasy football. In fact, a lot of those subtopics might even generate 1000 page content sites all their own.

Finding affiliate programs to promote on a website about a particular sport is simplicity itself too. I already pointed out posters as one possibly applicable revenue stream. Here are some more ideas, off the top of my head:
  • Google Adsense
  • Ticket broker affiliate programs
  • Travel affiliate programs (Hotel rooms during the Superbowl are insanely priced - I'll take 5% of that action any day.)
  • Sports memorabilia affiliate programs
But what if you don't want to write about a sport? What if you want to launch a real moneymaker of a site? Suppose you want to focus on products?

1000 pages about satellite tv

Heck, that's even easier. Take the satellite tv dish niche as an example. How do you get 1000 pages of content out of that?

As far as I'm concerned, that one is even easier. Two words.

Go local.

Build pages that focus around the names of locations + "cable tv" or "satellite tv". There are 50 states in the USA. That leaves you with 950 pages to come up with.

Luckily each state has at least 19 cities in it you could write about. (There are actually a lot more than that.) Now you've got your 1000 pages.

But you can't write quality unique content about satellite dishes in 1000 different locations? Actually, I think you probably can with a little bit of effort. First of all, you provide directory listings with the names and addresses of the local cable companies in the area. Then you provide a price and feature comparison that you've researched for each location. Sometimes the cable company might be providing a better deal than the satellite dish people, but at least you're driving traffic. And if you use a combination of Google Adsense and affiliate advertising, you'll still make money. Finally, provide some insight into what kind of local television programming is available in a particular area. The top 20 or so cities in each state surely offer programming aimed directly at the viewers in their area.

What are you interested in?

If you're one of those blessed souls who wants to create a website about a subject just because you're interested in it, you can still come up with 1000 pages. Suppose you're a huge fan of the tv show Lost. Can you come up with 1000 pages of content about that show? I can.
  • A page about every character ever featured on the show.
  • A page about every actor who ever appeared on the show.
  • A page about every writer who ever wrote for the show.
  • A page about every episode of the show.
  • A page about every novel based on the show.
  • A page about the video game based on the tv show.
  • Reviews of other sites about Lost.
  • Pages about the special features and commentaries on the DVD.
Like Conan the Barbarian? Use the same thing - write a page about everything related to it. Harry Potter? Go for it. Buffy? It's been done, but maybe you can do it better.


Writing 1000 pages of content for a website about movies would be so easy that it would be almost painful. Just review every movie you've ever seen. Write profiles of directors and screenwriters you like. Build a directory of movie theaters organized by location. Visit them and write unique reviews. Ask your readers to submit their reviews of movie theaters they've visited.

You can monetize your movie site with Amazon links, eBay links, Netflix links, Blockbuster links, and AllPosters links.

How to find the time to write 1000 pages of content

Finding the time to write 1000 pages of content is the easiest part of the whole exercise. All you need is one of two things:
  • A year
  • Help
If you're willing to work on a site for a year, then you only need to write 4 pages of content 5 days a week for 50 weeks in order to have 1000 pages of content on your site. If you plan on having about 500 words per page, that's an achievable goal.

The other option is to get help writing your site content. You can do that by paying a writer. College students work cheap, and they produce better writing than the folks at Elance. Or you can get people to help write your content free by launching a forum. Every page of content on a forum counts too.

Whether or not your site needs 1000 pages of content is for you to decide. None of my sites have 1000 pages yet. But I think that 1000 pages is a worthwhile goal. I know it's a profitable goal, although it's more profitable in some niches than in others.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Does Google Penalize Affiliate Websites?

The title of this post is "Does Google penalize affiliate websites?", but the title should probably be something more like "Does Google penalize affiliate websites just for being affiliate websites?" I've seen webmasters go to great length to disguise or cloak their affiliate links so that Google won't penalize them for having affiliate links on their site. I think this is a silly waste of time.

I've seen editors at the Wikipedia who have displayed amazing amounts of derision about a site simply because "it's an affiliate site!" (Even though the site in question wasn't even really an affiliate site. I knew the owner, and he made his money via straight media sells. No affiliate revenue period. And the owner of this particular website was a known expert in the field, and the site had 100's of pages of high quality content.)

Do Affiliate Sites Suck Just Because They're Affiliate Sites?

Somewhere along the way, some people got the idea that all affiliate sites suck, are useless, or lame. This is probably because a ton of short-term thinking, opportunistic, and lazy webmasters have launched countless useless web pages whose sole purpose were to draw search engine traffic for the sole purpose of getting advertising revenue or affiliate commissions. But lumping all affiliate websites in with that category is silly.

Gambling Affiliate Sites and Google Penalties

I have some familiarity with the online gambling industry. It's a profitable and competitive niche. And nowhere else will you see a more motley assortment of lame, useless, and content-poor websites. The online gambling affiliate niche is so aggressive and competitive that it's hard to find a good source of information in a search engine on a specific subject, because some of the most competitive gambling webmasters have link bombed their way to the top. If they put 5% of their link bombing efforts into content creation, many of them would have a decent site.

The reason I bring up the online gambling industry is because there is a huge difference between a high quality gambling information portal and a useless content-poor website. That difference is not defined by whether or not the website has affiliate links. It's not even defined by how many affiliate links the site has.

For example, Poker News has affiliate links for online poker websites. But that site has thousands of pages of high quality, useful content about poker. But there is no Google penalty in effect for this site. Try a Google search for the phrase "poker rules" for example. Or "poker strategy". Both are extraordinarily competitive search phrases, and the Poker News website ranks just fine for those phrases.

Compare the content on that site with 10 randomly chosen sites from the search results for a phrase like "online casino", one of the most heavily link-bombed phrases on the Internet. Some of them might have respectable content. But many, if not most of them will consist of pages full of nothing more than affiliate advertisements. After reviewing some of those sites, someone might think that if Google isn't penalizing affiliate websites, then perhaps they should.

But if Google did that, sites like Poker News, which carries affiliate links, would get dinged in the results too. Google would no longer be providing what might be the best results for probably several thousand search engine phrases. That's counter to Google's interests.

Google Does NOT penalize websites just because they're affiliate sites.

I didn't write this post to bash the legions of gambling webmasters publishing low-content sites. I wrote it to point out that Google doesn't penalize sites just because they're affiliate sites. Nor should they.

A side note about linking to gambling sites.

(This is a side note, but I'll often see SEO gurus advise people to not link to sites in the gambling industry because you'll probably get penalized for linking to a bad neighborhood. Being a site about gambling doesn't automatically make a website a bad neighborhood to link to. The advice people should be giving in that situation would involve using discernment to see whether or not the gambling site in question was a quality resource that would be useful for your readers. It might make perfect sense for a site about football to link to an online sportsbook, for example, even if the focus of the football site isn't on wagering. It would make sense for such a site to link to a website reviewing online sportsbooks too. But only if the sportsbook or the sportsbook review sites are quality resources that the webmaster thinks would be useful to their readers.)

SEO Misconceptions and Myths

Being penalized by Google just for being an affiliate site is only one popular SEO misconception I'm tired of hearing about though. Nonsense like "reciprocal links don't work" or "linking is the single most important ranking factor" wears me out too. Reciprocal links work fine if you use your brain before linking to the other site. Linking might be the most important factor in ranking for some phrases, but that's not true for every phrase. Or probably even most phrases.

Why Your Affiliate Site Doesn't Rank Well in Google

If you run an affiliate website, and you think you might have been penalized for Google for having affiliate links on your site, then you are probably being penalized for one of these other reasons instead:
  1. Linking to crappy websites.
  2. Linking to a bunch of crappy websites which are useless to your visitor.
  3. Having no real content on your site. Thinly disguised content masquerading as a "product review" is the worst offender in this case, and my 13 year old son is smart enough to spot this kind of nonsensical content.
  4. Poor internal linking.
  5. Poor on-page optimization.
  6. Any other kind of obvious "link scheme".
Not all of the above are actual "penalties". Some of them are just reasons for your site to rank poorly. Sites that are concerned exclusively with driving traffic to affiliate links don't deserve to rank as well as websites which concern themselves with providing their users with quality information. In the long run, the high quality informational sites will make more money anyway.

How To NOT Be Penalized By Google

What to do?

It's pretty simple. Focus on building a good quality website with good quality content first and foremost. Focus on helping people solve problems. Give them the information they're searching for. Refer them to other quality resources online, and get other quality resources to refer peopel to you.

Once you've done those things, the affiliate revenue is a no-brainer. You'll have repeat visitors and a sustainable revenue stream that will last you a lot longer than a lot of other affiliate webmasters.

And it's more fun to build a useful resource too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Manifest Linking Destiny

I've been too busy to post anything brilliant here lately, but I've got time today to point out an article that's well worth reading, studying, and thinking about from Eric Ward: Manifest Linking Destiny. Now that's brilliant thinking, and I enjoyed his approach in sharing the way he thinks there. Nothing too explicit, but if you think about it for a minute or two, it'll be one of the best SEO posts you'll read this year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Affiliate Success Formula

Some people aren't going to like this affiliate success formula. That's because it requires work, and it's not a get-rich-quick scheme. But this is the simplest formula for affiliate website success that I know of.

Content + Links = Affiliate Success

First, find a big niche. Lots of get rich quick guys tell you that you should tackle a small niche that you can dominate. That's nonsense. You can be an average player in a huge niche pretty easily still. (Big niches include stuff like dating, travel, credit cards, mortgages, etc.)

Then buy a domain name and build a website. Fill it with hundreds of pages of brilliant, useful, keyword-rich content. Update the site often. Add content constantly. Some of your pages will rank as long as you do basic search engine optimization stuff like:
  • making sure your keyword phrases are in your pages' title tags
  • using your keyword phrases in your pages' body copy
  • emphasizing your keyword phrases by repeating them in the copy, header
  • emphasizing your keyword phrases with bold text, italics, quotation marks
  • using your keyword phrase in the URL string of each page
The big SEO secret is that there are no secrets. Just make it clear to the search engine what your page is about.

Then get links from appropriate websites. This will keep the search engines visiting your website. As a general rule, the more links you have pointing at your website, the more important it is. And important sites rank higher.

Don't do stupid stuff like exchanging links with 1500 websites, none of which have useful information. Or spam blogs. You don't need thousands of links to compete; you need some good links.

Then add advertisements for appropriate affiliate programs.

It really is that easy, but it takes work. Most people launch lame content and get lame links and wonder why they fail. Write good content, or hire a good writer. Then get good links. Don't worry if you don't have hundreds and hundreds of links right away.

Do the work and make money. Don't be lazy. Don't take shortcuts.