Saturday, 22 October 2011

New Experiment

Well, my hubpages traffic is still holding up at higher than pre-Panda, but it looks like some hubbers have sunk to well below where they were before the sub-domain switch.

The whole hubpages thing throws a spanner into a lot of accepted wisdom. One myth was that sub-domains needed to be themed on a topic, and if they consisted of a hodge-podge of different topics Google would punish you. Well, that seems wrong.

Another myth was that what helped you rank on hubpages was the internal links the site distributed through the related hubs feature on every hubpage, plus the category pages. This is why they justify keeping 40% of revenue. Yet despite everyone getting this benefit, it is only helping some.

I think I know why I've retained my traffic - but I need to replicate the model before I can declare success (and if I can do so, I've cracked Panda!). So - I have set up a sub-domain on tumblr, where I shall be posting a hodge-podge of topics and seeing whether I can get the posts to rank, using the same techniques I am using on hubpages.

Why tumblr? Well, they are a web 2.0 (albeit organised a bit differently from hubpages). I thought about setting up a sub-domain on one of my own hosted sites, but felt it would be better to set one up on tumblr as I could then use it for backlinks to my main sites (as it has a different ip address) and test the web 2.0 thing in one go. Finally, tumblr is pretty relaxed about monetisation - they allow you to add your adsense to your sub-domain and keep the lot (i.e. you get 100%), as well as use affiliate links (though they don't like affiliate links on every post).

I wasn't able to get silver rose as the url of my subdomain, so I chose something else. I think url matters - either it must describe what your website is about if you are doing a specific niche, or it needs to be something normal and faintly attractive if you are going for a myriad of topics. I think the click-through rate from the SERPs diminishes if you have a weird or inappropriate name in your url, simply because searchers react badly.

Anyhow - I have set up the tumblr and have put in a privacy policy page and written my first post. It was easy to add both google analytics and adsense to the sub-domain - just click on "customise appearance" and then "edit html" and drop the code in the appropriate places.

I shall continue to write a selection of info posts, mixed in with product posts monetised with amazon. Will report back in a month as to how it has fared.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Hubpages and Panda

About four weeks ago, hubpages announced that they were experimenting with sub-domains, where they were switching individual hubbers to their own sub-domain on hubpages, with rel=author built into their hubs to identify them as a brand.

You could switch there and then, or wait for the mandatory switch on August 10th. I switched immediately.

The results? Good. My traffic climbed to pre-panda levels, and my sub-domain survived the July 23rd Panda update (Panda 2.3) and it looks like it's survived the Panda 2.4 update which has just rolled out.

However, some other hubbers report a drastic fall in traffic to their sub-domain due to panda 2.4.

So what can you do to make sure your sub-domain and it's hubs stays ranked?

1. Add some text to your profile page (which is now your own personal home page). Just leaving it as a series of links to your hubs is not a good idea.

2. Remove the comment capsules on your hubs - you'll just get spammed, and the comments usually detract from the hub as most people post inane rubbish like "good post" which Google identifies as typical of spammers (even if those commenting are innocent hubbers!).

3. Include some quality long non-commercial hubs in your account. Google doesn't want to see content farms. Having a few decent quality non commercial hubs can help. My 1400 word hub on Sarkozy's wives and my 2700 word science hub Genealogy and DNA testing make me no profit, but Google loves them, sends a lot of traffic to them, and I'm convinced that they have helped lift the quality score of my entire sub-domain (because people spend a long time on them, and they are most definitely not content farm material).

There is some evidence that if a sufficient amount of articles on your domain or sub-domain are considered bad quality, you get a site-wide penalty (or sub-domain wide penalty) while the reverse is also true - a sufficient amount of hubs of good quality can uplift your entire sub-domain.

4. Backlink your hubs. I can't stress this enough. Your hubs are just not going to rank without some support. Yes backlinking is a pain, but if you've invested time and energy writing hubs, then it's easier to get a return by investing a little extra time backlinking, then starting all over again on some other platform.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

How to Rank In Bing

I was doing an update of my hubpage on the subject, but had so much material that I turned it into an ebook.

It's called Search Engine Optimization For Bing and is available from Smashwords for $1.99

Click on the book cover below to go to Smashwords:

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Update on Hubpages Ad Program

It's been about four months since the Hubpages Ad program was launched. HP had been planning this for a long time, and their launch co-incided with the Panda 1 algo update, but they went ahead anyway.

So how has the ad program faired? Well to start with, I was impressed. But over time I have been less so.

Here's how the CPM (cost per thousand impressions)worked out for my hubs:

Mar 2011 CPM $7.10
Apr 2011 CPM $6.47
May 2011 CPM $5.52
Jun 2011 CPM $5.31

As you can see it has dropped by about 25% since launch. Add in the various Panda updates which have reduced traffic, and you are faced with a program that delivers falling CPM and falling traffic. Not good.

My feeling is that at launch they had signed up a lot of good quality advertisers who were attracted by the traffic Hubpages was getting. But after Panda, with traffic dwindling, the advertisers were not getting their expected return and the price they were willing to pay dropped.

At the end of this month I shall be switching off the Hubpages program and restoring Adsense for the next four months to find out if Adsense can deliver a better return.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Day 30 - Conclusion of article marketing challenge

On the 18th of March, I threw up a new blogspot, Tassimo Coffee Machines, and then sent an article through the Article Ranks system to backlink it.

I only sent one article through the system, because I didn't want multiple articles published on the same blogs. When I retrieved the urls of the published artiocles, I bookmarked them thoroughly to ensure that they stayed indexed.

Here's the stats so far:

As you can see from the graphic, Article Ranks has published my article 53 times so far. They drip feed the articles out at 2-3 a day, and as I set the article to "unlimited" they will continue publishing the article till they run out of blogs in that category (typically it takes them 60 days to run out - so they'll be publishing for another month or so).

How has this affected my rankings in the SERPs (click the graphic below to enlarge)?

According to Ranktracker, I'm still not in the top 100 for my main keywords, but the long tails are looking good - have reached #15 for Bosch tassimo T65.

What about traffic (click the image below to enlarge)?

Despite the fact that the blogspot consists of only four pages (plus privacy policy), so there is not much scope for long-tails, I am getting steady traffic from G and Ask (none yet from Bing or Yahoo).

All in all, am pretty happy with the results of this challenge. The only real work was writing my original article with an extremely high level of spin (see this page for information on how to spin). The rest of it was on autopilot - Article Ranks drip fed the articles out. When I got my Google alert that the article had been published, I bookmarked it with imautomator (again, I just filled a short blurb for each article, and they bookmarked each at the rate of one a day for 15 days) Imautomator is a free service.

I haven't had any sales yet, but I have had people clicking through to my Amazon account.

The whole cost was time plus $2 for the Article Ranks article (you can either have a PAYG account at $2 per article submitted, or purchase a monthly unlimited account for $39.99 per month).

I think this conclusively proves that Panda did not affect article marketing. Instead I believe Panda was a way to score on-page factors. If you set up your main site right, then the article backlinks sent in will help not hurt.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Day 19 Update - Article Marketing Challenge

Just to re-cap what's been done so far:

March 18th: Set up a brand new blogspot blog on Tassimo Coffee Machines. see Day 1 for how I selected the keywords.

I then added content to the site and on March 20th wrote and spun an article which I submitted to Article Ranks. See Days 2-6 for how I went about the spinning process.

I set the article to be submitted unlimited times, which simply means that Article Ranks submits a version of it at the rate of 3 a day till they run out of blogs in that category to submit it to.

Because Article Ranks keeps their network secret, I also set up Google alerts for the article titles, to locate those articles that had been indexed. I've also been googling the titles, and found further articles on tag pages - the tag got indexed not the article, but this enabled me to retrieve the article url and bookmark it to get it indexed in it's own right.

For this case study, I've only submitted one article into the Article Ranks system. Why just one? Because if I submit more, they'll just get submitted to the same blogs within the "Food and Drink - Coffee" category.

You get diminishing returns after the first three links from a given site - and my article already has three links in it, one to the home page, and two to individual blog posts. So, my strategy has been to spin the article to a very high degree to improve the chances that each version on each blog gets indexed by G, rather than to submit umpteen new articles to the same blogs.

So what have I been doing since I wrote and spun my article? Well, every time I find one of the article ranks articles, I submit it to imautomator to get it bookmarked (I set it to be bookmarked to 15 sites over the course of 15 days). Imautomator is free, BTW. I also randomly bookmark the articles to a collection of do-follow bookmarking sites that I've found over the years, to provide some weak link juice to them.

As you can see everything is set on drip feed - the articles are drip-fed out by Articleranks. The bookmarks to the article ranks articles are drip-fed by imautomator. When I do the manual bookmarks everyday, I am careful not to bookmark a given url too many times in a given day. Slow and steady gets the best results.

Anyway, here's some stats of what's been achieved so far:

First of all, here's the article ranks stats.

As you can see, they've published my article 36 times so far (and will continue publishing till they run out of blogs). Despite my spinning to over 200%, I still got rejected three times - in these post Panda times, if you want your article to be published on good sites, you really need to spin to over 300%.

Here's where I am in the SERPs according to Ranktracker (click to enlarge).

I'm not ranking in the top 100 for the main keywords, but the individual blog posts are doing well for their keywords (the best being the Tassimo T65 which is at #25).

Here's the stats from Google analytics (click to enlarge):

Not bad for a blog that is less than a month old. The traffic appears to be targetted because I have got some clicks on my Amazon account, see below:

No orders yet, but three clicks, which means I am getting traffic that is possibly interested in buying.

What next? Well, I shall continue to retrieve urls and bookmark them to make them stick in G's index till 18th April (one month into this challenge).

At that point I shall try to build more links, but will probably use another blog network, as I want the links to be from fresh and different blogs.

The cost so far of this exercize is time plus $2 for the article into article ranks. (And one of the reasons I like Article Ranks is that they have a pay-as-you-go option - if you don't have that many sites to backlink, and want variety, the PAYG option works out cheaper than signing up for $39.99 a month.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Days 2 - 6 - 30 Day Article Marketing Challenge

Here's what's been accomplished so far (click Day 1 for the first write-up).

1. Have increased the content on the site, reviewing two coffee machines so far

2. Submitted the first couple of posts from the Tassimo coffee Machine site to Social Monkee, which is a free social bookmarking site that allows you to submit one url a day to 25 different social sites in their system (with three versions of the blurb so that there is more chance of the bookmarks being indexed). [Edit: I removed the link to Social Monkee, as I don't think it is helping with ranking - see my note at the very bottom of this post].

Also submitted the posts to imautomator another free social bookmarking site which allows you to submit 10 urls a day, each of which is submitted to 15 bookmarking sites.

BTW, the site is indexed - that indexing tool described in Day 1 works.

3. Wrote a spun article distributed through Article ranks.

Here are my top tips for how to write a spun article:

I always write the main article in notepad and then paste it into the form in Article Ranks. Then I press "Save as Draft" and the articleranks manually spinning page pops up.

They allow you to spin everything, titles, links, phrases.

Start with as many titles as you can think of. Most people go for standard titles as though they are addressing a real reader. However, the aim of this exercise is merely to get the page indexed, not read, and the best way to accomplish this is to go for really unusual titles. It doesn't matter if no-one in their right minds would search for that particular phrase - as long as it is unusual, G will index it, on the off-chance that someone, somewhere might be looking for it. Whereas if you go for a standard title, G will decide that as it already has 800 other pages in it's index with the same title, they don't need one more, especially from a weak blog, and your article will go into the supplementals. So exercise the grey stuff between your ears and be creative with your titles.

Next, when spinning the body of your text, again, be as creative as you can.

The standard way of spinning is to simply replace words in a sentence with synonyms. Here's an example:

There are [several|many] different [types|kinds] of [coffee makers|coffee machines] you can [buy|purchase|order].

The problem with the above is that a) the syntax is the same and b) the sentence length is exactly the same.

b) can be a killer - what happens when 100 spun articles are published all of which have exactly 317 words?

You are better off manually spinning so that the structure and length of the sentences are completely different. Here's an example:

version 1: There are many different types of coffee makers you can choose from
version 2: Coffee makers come in a vast variety of types, allowing you to select the one that suits your personal tastes best
version 3: Coffee machines come in so many different sizes, types and costs, it is hard to decide which one to choose.
version 4: When buying a coffee maker it is easy to become bemused at the choice on offer. They come in so many different sizes, not to mention prices and functionality

It will take you about two hours to manually spin an article so that it reads well no matter which version is produced. But it is worth it, as it increases the uniqueness of each spun article, and it will ensure that every single article has a different length. Notice that version 4 actually has two sentences - it's always worth throwing in a few extra sentences - that way, not only will your articles have a different word count each, they will contain a different amount of sentences.

Article ranks allow you to produce ten different versions of each sentence (and you can then go back and edit so that nested words in the sentences vary too).

I would really go to town on the first paragraph in particular and try for ten versions of every sentence there. G excerpts the first few sentences in the SERPs, and if you want your article to be indexed, you need the uniqueness of this part to be high.

You are probably tired just reading this, and asking, is this amount of work really worth it? IMO, yes. You want most of the articles produced to get indexed and stay indexed, and spending two hours now can save you loads of time later.

Once the article goes live, article ranks publish it at a rate of three spun articles a day.

They tell you the number published, but do not disclose the urls to protect their network. I always create google alerts for all the titles in my articles, and then when I get the alert, I check that the article is mine and that the link has been followed by viewing the source code (occasionally you get rogue webmasters who no-follow your links - if this happens, simply report them to article ranks - this happens less frequently in this network than others). I then submit each url to imautomator, to get them bookmarked over a period of 15 days. In my experience this helps them stay indexed.

Cost so far: Time, plus $2 for one article submitted to article ranks.

Short Update 29th March 2011: I had been a little lazy and while I submitted my first two blogposts from the Tassimo site to Social Monkee for bookmarks, I didn't bother with the third. Just as well! Checked my stats, and I am ranking at #35 for "Bosch Tassimo T65" (the third post), but at #195 for "Bosch Tassimo T40" (the second post).

Both the Bosch tassimo posts have links from my article ranks submission: Article ranks allows three links in an article, which can be placed anywhere, and I linked to the home page, the Bosch tassimo T40 post and the Bosch Tassimo T65 post. So the only difference between the two Bosch tassimo posts is the social monkee bookmarks, and the post that has them is not doing well. The post with just article ranks links is fine.

Finally am getting some search traffic from ask and Google UK - and someone clicked through to Amazon on the Bosch Tassimo T65 link! They didn't buy, but at least they are clicking!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Taking part in the Alex Whalley article marketing challenge

Alex Whalley has announced he is taking part in a 30 day article marketing challenge to see whether article marketing can boost a site up the SERPs post the Panda update.

I've decided to try the challenge too, but with two small differences: 1) instead of using UAW, I shall be using Article Ranks for my articles and b) I'm too much of a chicken to point spun articles directly at my domains, so I decided to create a brand new web 2.0 blog on blogspot (I know! How very 2007 of me!) and try to rank that instead. If it works, I'll buy the domain and use the blogspot for backlinks.

I've just set up the blog literally half an hour ago - here it is: Tassimo Coffee Machines.

Google's keyword tool says that Tassimo coffee machine gets 1000 exact match searches per month, the majority of which are from the UK, and Google insights for search confirm the UK bias (I guess Americans use the term coffee maker rather than coffee machine). Therefore I shall be trying to rank on Google UK (which hasn't yet been hit by Panda, but will be shortly), and monetising with Amazon UK, and John Lewis (who I am an affiliate of through Affiliate Window).

I shall also be targeting brand-related keywords. Here's what I'm going for:

Tassimo coffee machine
Tassimo coffee machines
Braun Tassimo coffee machines
Bosch Tassimo coffee machines
Buy Tassimo T Discs

Looking at what ranks for Tassimo coffee machines on Google UK, the #1 spot is a site owned by Kraft (who make T discs), and are also promoting Bosch tassimo machines. I notice they have also bought adwords for this keyword (in fact there are 11 ads on the search page, which means this term is lucrative). The rest of the organic serps is taken by the big branded UK retailers - amazon uk, argos, comet and so on. So I've got my work cut out.

A bit about Article Ranks

The article backlinking will be done through Article Ranks. This is a service where you can either pay $39.99 a month to submit unlimited articles, or simply purchase an article submission either by submitting sites into the system or by purchasing an article for $2 a time. They allow you to either manually spin the article using their software (extremely easy to use) or you can use spinning software and simply paste your spun code into the submission form.

Articles need to be over 300 words, and they recommend you spin to over 100% to get the best out of the system. They then drip feed the articles out, two per day and if you have set it to unlimited, they simply drip them out till they have run out of sites to submit them to.

I will be purchasing credits at $2 per article for this experiment.

Anyway, to start this journal correctly, here's what's been done so far:

Day 1: Friday March 18th

1. Chose my keywords and set up a blog on blogspot

2. Adjusted the template to "wide" because I shall want to fill the space with a lot of gorgeous pictures of coffee machines.

3. Wrote my first post explaining what a Tassimo machine was, and also put up a privacy policy.

4. Submitted the blog to the backlinks forum indexer tool, which submits the site to about 2533 web appraisal sites like alexa, some of which give you a weak dofollow link and some of which are no follow. It helps with indexing.

5. Cost so far: a bit of time

I will add some more content to the blog tomorrow, and start the article markerting once my content is up. That's it for now.

Click here to read about Days 2-6 of the 30 day article marketing challenge

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Algo changes plus hubpages changes

It's been a while since I updated this blog (too busy with other stuff!). But the new Google Algorithm change combined with the new Hubpages earnings program prompted me to post again, especially as this blog was focused on me making some hubpages.

I didn't make many - about 60 in total, before I moved on to more lucrative matters (making my own websites). And I haven't really touched the hubs for a good ten months, in terms of crating backlinks.

So how did I fare in the algo change? Well, my overall traffic is down 25%. Those hubs that I backlinked, moved a few places, some not at all. Those I made at the end, which I was too lazy to backlink (as had already started other projects) fell off the radar. So I'm obviously going to have to put in a bit of work to get them back ranking.

One thing this algo change proves is that backlinks rule. As long as you get them from places that don't get targetted by G (i.e. not from other content farms), you survive. As far as I can tell, most of those who got hit either had no backlinks, or were linking from one farm to another, and when the farms got cut down, they got cut down too.

The next thing I want to talk about is Hubpages new advertising program. These are display ads and ads from other networks (such as the Microsoft network) that run alongside Adsense. They are trialling it with 500 hubbers and even though I have just 60 hubs in my account, I was invited, to my surprise.

My impression is that it's not bad. Some people are reporting that they are making more from the Hubpages advertising program than they are from adsense - my experience is that the HP program yields about half what Adsense yields - but it's a nice additional income.

It's made me think it's worth backlinking some of the hubs I neglected, such as my poor orphan hub on the difference between 9ct and 18ct gold, which I had just published and forgotten about.