Monday, October 1, 2007

The Challenge Begins Again

So today is the first day of my new challenge. I've spent the last 31 posts going into the process of the Thirty Day Challenge with the help of Ed and Dan. I started two niches and put them through the 30DC process and ended up making only one sale. I've all but given up on one of the niches and am still working on the other one with the home of building upon it over time.

But today it's all about the new niche and starting to put it through the 30DC process. This is likely to happen a bit faster than the previous niches, as I am much more familiar with the process in general - and I only have one niche to work on. I'll be keeping this niche to myself, at least until I actually make a sale (touch wood). So in the interest of simplicity when it comes to explaining what I'm doing, I'll simply be referring to my niche as "stamp collecting". I know, it's not very inventive, and doesn't have much to do with a real niche, but it works for the purposes I'll be describing later on.

As I mentioned, I will be going through a large portion of the challenge process in a faster time than the first time around. In fact, in one day alone I've already reached Day 10 of the challenge. To know what I've already done to that point feel free to read over my original 30DC blog posts. The information I have discovered for my new niche are as follows:

Initial Searches
"Stamp Collecting" has 2873 searches per day in the free Wordtracker tool
The drop off from "Stamp Collecting" to "Rare Stamp Collecting" is 2873 - 719.

Competition Analysis
Through the Thirty Day Challenge Toolbar, the first site to come up for the broad match of "Stamp Collecting" was ranked at #8 in Google. That equates to good optimization prospects for my site(s). There were only 3 sponsored links that showed up in Google through the 30DC toolbar also. Also, plenty of sites charge for "Stamp Collecting" materials, so definitely potential for sales.

Through the Google search bar, it was the #6 site to be the first to use "Stamp Collecting" as a broad match - and that was actually a subpage of another site. Only 2 sponsored links showed up and again, plenty of sites that charge for "Stamp Collecting". Clearly a mature market and great potential.

Affiliate Prospects
There are a number of affiliate options for various "Stamp Collecting" sites. Sponsored links also have general affiliate websites but none that are "Stamp" specific. Actually, I already went into Clickbank and found a product with great stats that I'll be using. I know that's going a little against the teachings of Ed but I thought it wouldn't hurt to have a look once the other stats started to shape up. Mind you, the above section is more about seeing if people are offering affiliate schemes, which equates to a niche that people pay money for, rather than seeing if there is an affiliate product for me to promote.

Google Trends
No news articles. Search trend has steadily grown since the beginning of 2004. It peaked in August 2007 and has declined slightly since but not significantly. Doesn't seem to have any major trends other than the search volume rising slightly during the US summer period. Understandable. Having just missed the US summer that will mean I won't get the traffic of a couple of months ago but it's not enough of a decline to keep me away from the niche. Search volume is still quite high throughout the year. By next summer I could have developed a great site and catch the extra traffic with it (fingers crossed).

Checking Umbrella Phrase

Apart from "Stamp Collecting" I had thought of targeting other phrases relating to my main keywords. After checking out other phrases under my keywords of "Stamp Collecting" I found that there weren't enough searches to warrant the extra work. In GTrends, "Stamp Collecting" has 1724 searches a day against a competition volume of 193,000 websites. The Thirty Day Challenge process taught us to stick to searches over 100 a day and competition of less than 30,000 pages. It is my understanding that the criteria was only for use at the beginning, and that as we became more confident with our handling of the lessons we could tackle larger niches. Well that's what I'm doing and if you look at the above stats I've got a pretty good chance if I do the work.

As I mentioned, the original criteria was 100 searches per day against no more than 30,000 sites. Here I have 193,000 competing sites which is a little over 6 times the amount I'm supposed to have. In comparison, my niche is getting 1724 searches per day which is 17 times the amount necessary. With those two put together my ration is actually much better than if I was sticking with just 100 searches a day and 30,000 competing pages. Obviously I will have my work cut out for me, but I'll also be tapping into a much larger traffic stream so the chance for success is greater.

Web 2.0 Properties
So I'm up to Day 10 of the challenge process, just like that. Day 10 is to have a look through Google after doing an exact phrase match search for my niche, and to check for results in the "Web 2.0" categories. This means sites such as Squidoo and StumbleUpon returning results in my niche. What that can mean is that someone is already optimizing their stuff for the keywords I have chosen. That could mean extra hard competition, but it doesn't necessarily mean that I should steer clear of it. If I found I wasn't getting as large amount of traffic as I expected then it could be attributed to this part of the process. Still, according to the market research I've done I should still be able to get a fair whack of the traffic if I work hard enough. After doing the exact match phrase for my keyword in Google I found that the first Web 2.0 property to appear was an Ezine article, at #17, and not for my exact phrase match anyway ("Rare Stamp Collecting" instead of just "Stamp Collecting"). So all indicators look good.

So now is the time for setting up my Bloglines account to receive "Stamp Collecting" news and blogs. From here I'll start gathering information to place in my blogs, Squidoo lenses, etc.

That also means the hard grind of writing frequently about a new niche phrase, which I've had trouble with in the past. Still, after getting through the previous two niches I worked on relatively well I think I'll be okay. It's good that "Stamp Collecting" also happens to be a subject that interests me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Ultimate Doodling Tool

(I'm working on a better title, sorry)

Well before I get into blogging about my new niche I came across this sweet little application this morning and thought that rest of the world needs to know about it.

Of course, the rest of the world doesn't actually read my blog so not sure why I'm bothering really...but for the 5 people who may visit today (if past stats are anything to go by), here is a great application that you should blog about yourselves and get the snowball effect happening on.

It's called Sketchcast and it's all about sketching, funnily enough. What it does is video record your sketches, with or without voice over, and then you can embed them in your blogs. The sketches can be used as simple additions to your blogs, or tutorials for certain ideas you have. They may even be used as product development.

I sent the link over to Ed to see what he thinks and made the suggestion about product development for the thirty day challengers somewhere down the track. Not sure if or how that would work - that's for smarter internet marketers than me to deal with. But I think this is really going to be big. It's just so damn easy to put a video sketch together and embed it that I just want to play around with it some more.

It's the creation of Richard Ziade and here is his introduction video presentation sketch that explains a little more about it:

And as an example of what it's capable of:

Well, that's what it's capable of in an art sense but it has plenty of other applications as well. And now for my very first sketch:

I'm really keen to use this more and make it a part of my blogging. To get the full use out of it I'd probably want to invest in a graphics pen, tablet and headset - but for now I just have a mouse and cheap microphone to use and it still works pretty well. I'm looking forward to testing it out some more. Check it out yourselves at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Future Of Free Internet Marketing

So here we are on what is officially the end of the Thirty Day Challenge - Day 30. Today there was no real lesson, per se, but Ed did a video explaining a little of what the future holds for those who stuck it out and made it to the end - or should I say the beginning - or is that the end of the beginning? I'm not really sure but anyway, Ed went into a little of what would be happening in the coming weeks, months.

But isn't the challenge over? Isn't that the whole point, it runs for 30 days and then that's it for another year? Well, in past years, yes, that would have been the case, but Ed and Dan have decided to carry on with this project because they could see the potential to be had in having so many thousands of people stick around and listen to what they have to say. Not only that, but these people got to put into practice what Ed and Dan taught and saw the results for ourselves - so we know this stuff works and therefore we know these guys know what they're talking about, you know?

Ed explained that they would be keeping the Thirty Day Challenge site up as it was, with the forums and training all accessible to whoever wanted to register. They would be getting some volunteers in to help moderate the forums, and keep them going as "action forums", as Ed put it. That just means that the posts that are put up there are quality, they have content and they are about taking action. There's no griping or trying to sell stuff, like in other marketing forums. The stuff in the 30DC forum is the good oil, and it's the sort of resource that can be tapped into forever, because as new techniques and tools come the way of the 30DC'ers out there, they'll post about it in the 30DC forum. It's developed into a real community, with everyone having that one common connection.

So Ed talked about where we go from here. He said that over the coming weeks and months he would be making the occasional blog post along with Dan, that would slowly but surely go into the ongoing process of Internet Marketing. As Ed put it, this last 30 days was all about testing. From here, we move away from using third party platforms and products to make our money, and get into creating our own products on our own domains, and reap all the rewards. But that will come over time, in dribs and drabs as Ed and Dan can find the time in between their regular day jobs working on the Immediate Edge and other marketing ventures. Some of the subjects touched on for the future was List Building, Product Development, Domain Registration and Pay Per Click Advertising. Now, obviously these subjects don't fall under the "free" ethos of the thirty day challenge, which is simply why they weren't included in it. But beyond the free testing phase it's now time to start investing a little bit of money into your niches in the hope that it will get you more money coming back. Basically, if all the 30 days of testing showed you that you have a niche that pays, then it's time to move ahead with it, but to do that you'll have to spend a little too.

List building, for anyone who doesn't know, is when you get people to sign up to your newsletter. This can be done any number of ways but usually involves offering the potential signer something for free in exchange for their name and email address. Obviously, the bigger your client base the more chance you have of making money, and if you can target your client base when you feel like it, by sending out an email, rather than waiting for them to stumble on your page at random, then the more chance you'll have of making a sale. So capturing email addresses in vitally important when it comes to making real money.

Product development is pretty self-explanatory. This is where we create something to take over from selling the affiliate product we had been trying to sell in the past, through Clickbank or Amazon or somewhere else. To create our own product means that we are no longer getting just a commission of the sale, but the whole sale price. From there you can actually put your product on sites like Clickbank and have other people sell it for you, thereby generating even more revenue.

Domain registration is where you move from using third party platforms such as Blogger, Squidoo, Tumblr, whatever, to registering your own domain name that will have something to do with your niche - and buying some space on the web that you can call your own and therefore decorate the way you want. The reasons why we haven't done this already are explained previously - but to recap it's all about Google seeing your site as ugly and not ranking you very high. If you are using a third party platform for your content then you already have a leg-up, as these sites are already viewed favorably in Google. When you go out on your own, however, it's a cold cold world, and Google will generally sandbox you for a period of time while they figure out what to do with you. But now that we have tested and worked on backlinks and social bookmarking we know that we can work our own sites - as long as have a product/niche that people want to spend money on.

Pay Per Click advertising is just that, advertising that you pay for as people click on it. It's usually handled by Google Adwords, and by paying a certain amount of cents per each time someone clicks on your ad, you can generate a monster load of traffic. What it all depends on is how competitive your keywords, which is reflected by how much you need to spend to get to the top of the search results.

And I'm sure there will be more to come as well...

What Ed is mapping out will eventually look something like this:

A map of the whole internet marketing network for one niche

It's a confusing looking beast, I know. Some of it I understand, but most of it is a complete mystery to me. But I'll continue to document my way through it and hopefully it will all be explained in time.

Well, there were times when I wondered whether or not I'll get through the whole challenge. It was a HUGE amount of information and work to accomplish. Even though I'm a stay-at-home Dad doing this I still found it difficult to keep up every single day - I don't know how people who have 9 to 5 jobs coped! My hat is off to everyone who got through the challenge. I truly believe that Ed Dale and Dan Raine hold the future of Internet Marketing in their hands, and the 30DC was a sampler of that knowledge. The testing phase that Ed himself goes through with each new niche. That's a high recommendation in my book.

As with any sort of training, the first time round is the hardest, as it's all new information to process. The second time around the process is a little easier as you're being reminded. By the third or fourth times you've got the process down and can get through the majority of the training in next to no time. The market research phase of the thirty day challenge went on for days, and rightly so - there was a lot to explain. Now that we have the understanding, we need only touch on the notes as we go through to remember what we had to do the first time around. Next time I probably won't need notes at all. So as of today I'm moving on to my next niche and starting the thirty day challenge process again. I've put a call out for some more team mates and have had a few replies and even joined a couple of social bookmarking groups on Facebook to help with the networking. I'll be keeping the niche to myself at least for the time being, but suffice to say that this time around I'll be challenging myself by tackling a niche with more competition that what we've been told to go for in the thirty day challenge. The reason for this is that I believe the first time around it was very important to start small, but with each crack at the process we become more comfortable with it, and I believe the things taught to us by Ed and Dan can be used on any size niche, whether it be to make $10 a month or $10,000 a month. Ok, so I'm not going after the health market or anything, not even the wedding market - it's only my second go with the process and I ain't that comfortable with it yet. I'll explain more in my next blog, when I start detailing MY experience of going through the process, rather than mostly going through what Ed has told me.

If you haven't tried the Thirty Day Challenge then I fully recommend you give it a go. It's completely free and has a mountain of information that WORKS! You really have nothing to lose except some time. If you follow their steps as they teach it you will make money. If I can do it as an Internet Marketing neophyte then believe me, anyone can. Hell, even kids took the challenge and they made money. If you're at all curious about Internet Marketing as a way of quitting your day job then I say try it out and see for yourself. Don't listen to nay-sayers who are jealous or spiteful that this information is getting put out on the net for free when they're trying to charge you an arm and a leg for it - do it, and thank me later.

So where do we go from here? The sky is the limit.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Backlinks To The Future!

We are now on Day 29 of the Thirty Day Challenge and it's all about backlinks. If you hadn't gotten it from previous posts then here's the scoop. Backlinks are one of the most important aspects to having a good page ranking in Google. Using Ed Dale's earlier analogy that Google is the bouncer and your niche is the niteclub, well backlinks (from reputable sources) are link having someone well known to the club/bouncer put in a good word for your ugly self. If I manage to get a backlink on a site that Google regards as an authority in my niche, it's like someone cool walking me up to the door of the club and saying "this guy is okay, treat him well". Obviously, the more of these cool people you have coming to the door with you, the more likely you are not only going to get in, but also you're going to get a good table near the front of the stage (equals high page ranking).

Now some people think that the more backlinks you have the better off you are, but that's not necessarily so. Quality always wins out over quantity. The best backlinks to have come from authority sites in your niche. If you're selling sausage making tips then you want to get backlinks from sites that at the very least revolve around the processing of meat. Having a backlink to your sausage making tips come from a computer game website is probably not going to do much for you in terms of gaining Google's trust and confidence. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows about sausage making and says you're okay - huge plus. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows everything there is to know about car parts, Google is not going to care so much. Don't get me wrong, almost any backlink is a help - but if you're going to take the time to submit your site for backlinks then you might as well go to relevant niche sites to do it. To see how to go about doing that you can read my previous blog post.

Now, once you've done the hard yards with authority sites in your niche you can try hitting directories for a bit more of a boost in the rankings. Directories are basically sites that will list your site in a particular category relevant to your niche. Google will take notice of these places, but only in a cursory way. Directory submission is something you should not bother doing manually, as the time it takes will not be rewarding enough. Thankfully, there is directory submission software out there that takes away alot of the time-consuming aspect. One such tool can be found at - where you can also download an article submitter to place your content on other platforms such as Ezinearticles. I'm a bit skeptical about article submitters because of the duplicate content rule on Google. Basically, Google will penalize anything it sees as duplicate content, and relegate it to the "sandbox" - also known as the Supplemental Index. Basically, lost in the ether.

A great place to go to find directories to submit your sites to is It has a list of over 800 directories that you can submit to, along with their page ranking (the higher the PR the more "authority"), so you can just focus on the directories that are going to mean more to Google.

One of the good and bad things about directory submissions is that they usually take quite a while to show up. Usually around 3 to 6 months for a free submission, but some work a little quicker. I say this is good because what it means is that you can submit to multiple directories at once without fear of Google thinking you are spam and sandboxing you. If you were to do the same thing with social bookmarking sites then Google would consider you a spammer and drop you like a hot potato.

If all this time and trouble and waiting is too much for you then you can also pay to have your site listed on various directories. This will generally guarantee you a quick listing. If you have plenty of money then you might as well hit the big wig directories - Yahoo and DMOZ. Yahoo submission run at around $300 a year. I'm not sure the price of DMOZ but it's not that much. Of course, in keeping with the principles of the thirty day challenge we do not want to spend any money just yet, so I'll pass on the paid submissions and stick to the free ones.

Another place to acquire backlinks for free is by answering questions relevant to your niche in Yahoo Answers. What is Yahoo Answers? Well, it quite simply a place where people post questions and other people answer them. The asker then picks the answer that suits them as the best. You can build up points for having your answer picked as the best.

When you first go to Yahoo Answers you should click on the 'Advanced' link and make sure the "open questions" is checked. This will then give you the questions that you can still post answers to (once a best answer is picked the question becomes closed for anymore answers). You then do a search for your keyword phrase and see what comes up. If you find something you can answer try and put your keyword in the answer somewhere (but not in a spammy, sales way). You are given a 'source' box that you can then enter the address of your site. If you can be bothered you can also search through the 'resolved questions' and add comments instead of answers. The advantage of Yahoo answers is that it is niche specific, which Google likes. It's worthwhile spending an hour or so every few days going through trying to answer questions and add your backlink. The most important thing here, though, is to make sure your answers are contributive. Don't just post some crap, through your URL in and expect it to be okay. Yahoo Answers is moderated and if you spam you're likely to have your answer deleted and your account suspended.

Ed's Podcast for Day 29 of the challenge talked about the various niches that he's had a look at from other thirty day challengers, and the mistakes some of them had made when trying to get ranked. I really wish I could have gotten my site looked at - but hopefully I'll network someone who knows enough of their stuff to be able to tell me if I'm doing something wrong with my site. For some reason I just can't get it off Page 4 of search results, no matter how many relevant backlinks I work up. My Squidoo lens is holding up okay, but with my next niche I'll definitely be trying a new platform other than Blogger. I thought it would be favored by Google seeing as Google own it, but maybe because it's so big Google don't consider it such a knowledge base after all.

Ed's advice when starting to add content to your platform is making sure you put your keywords in the heading of your blog, to write a decent description in the heading of your blog for Google to pick up. Don't throw too many articles up at once at the beginning. Just make one post and wait for Google to index it before you make any more. Do a little social bookmarking on that one post, but not on the first day and no more than 5 sites every other day. Make sure that whatever platform you use there isn't already a bunch of people trying the same niche on that platform. If so, use another platform. There are hundreds of viable platforms to choose from, so go out there and knock 'em dead.

There is only one more day of the Thirty Day Challenge left for me to blog about - I'll then be carrying on with my new niche idea and documenting my attempts at getting better results with that then I've had with my current two niches.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Link Analysis & Blogs/Forums

I got a bit ahead of myself with the Day 27 lesson. I shouldn't have actually gone into checking out the competitors backlinks through That was actually part of today's lesson, so here we go.

Link Analysis

The first part of the lesson for today is Link Analysis. This is where you use search engines to reveal the link network of your competitors. You start by doing a search for your keyword phrase in Google, making sure you have the Firefox SEO tool activated. This will show a number of things, but the one we're interested in today is the Yahoo page links. This result can be accessed by clicking on the '?' next to the 'Y! Links' link - it can also be automatically turned on for each search by clicking on 'Tools' at the top of your browser, then going to 'SEO For Firefox', then 'Options'. You can then select which results you want to see automatically, and which you want to see On-Demand. By default, all results are set to 'On-Demand'. If you're using Microsoft's Internet Explorer then you should stop using it right now and switch to Firefox. IE is dead, Firefox is the future - of that you can be certain.

The Yahoo links number is the number of links that Yahoo can find that link to the page in question. Obviously we don't know how many of these links are relevant at this stage. The manual way of looking at these links is to go to Type in "link:[URL of #1 ranking competitor]", and Yahoo will return all known sites that link to that page. You can do the same with Google but they generally return much fewer results for some reason. Once you have your list you check them out to find which are relevant. Most of the time you can tell just from the blurb that goes with the URL, but sometimes you will have to check out the site as well. There are software tools that allow you to check for relevant sites for more quickly, but as these cost money they are outside the scope of the thirty day challenge. Unfortunately, Rob didn't even name them so I couldn't go to my P2P network to see if I could find them there and give them a try.

Once you find a site that seems relevant the next thing to do is check whether they have 'no-follow' links on their site. When it comes to backlinks, Google will go to your site and be able to find all the pages that link to it from other sources. However, if a link is No-Follow, Google will not record that as a backlink to your site. Some sites put No-Follow in place to dissuade spammers from spamming their sites. By default, if the Firefox SEO tool is active, then No-Follow links should appear in a red box. Some search engines, such as Yahoo, will still credit you with a backlink if you post on a No-Follow link site, but Google will not. Other things to look out for are sites where links have been removed by moderators, or sites, such as forums, where links are not allowed in signatures (or signatures have been turned off completely).

Blogs and Forums

You can also find other niche relevant content sites for creating backlinks by going to Technorati or Google Blog Search. These sites provide the ability to search for blogs in your niche. You can simply visit them, type in your keyword phrase, and see what turns up. In a lot of cases, you will be able to visit the blogs that appear in the results and post a comment which includes a link back to your site. Try using a unique name when posting in blogs and forums, so you can then set up your Google Alerts for that name to make sure the posts appeared, and to add to your comments if necessary. When commenting on a blog or forum always make sure that your comment is relevant to the blog post, so that it adds to it or it is a well thought out opinion. Simply throwing up a link to your site with a "nice post" comment will generally get your comment removed.

For forums, you can search for your niche in Google simply by typing "[your niche] forum". This will generally give you a list of sites that are relevant to your niche but that also contain forums. You can then visit these forums, make sure they allow signatures to be posted, and then sign up and start making your contributory comments. Who knows, you may even find yourself part of the community after a while. In the case of forums it is much better to simply post comments relating to the topic at hand, rather than trying to turn each of your posts into a "look at my site" post. Include a link to your site in your signature, and if your forum posts are compelling enough people will click through to your site anyway. Plus, a link in a signature is a common thing in forums, so moderators will be less likely to consider it spam. In fact, if you've followed along with the thirty day challenge properly, and written your great content, it won't be spam at all.

Other sites to check out and possibly post comments on are Squidoo and Hubpages. To find your niche on these sites you can type in the following ' "sign my guestbook" "[your niche]"', and this should produce a list of lenses in your niche that allow guestbook comments.

The Rush Is On For BlogRush

Right about this time hundreds of thousands of people are writing about a new application called BlogRush. Why are they doing this? Well, for one it appears to be an incredibly useful tool for getting traffic to your blogs and therefore they, as bloggers, want to tell the world about it. On the other hand they also want you to click on their affiliate link so that they get your referral. Neither reason is bad, of course. I am blogging this for both the reasons above.

How Does BlogRush Work?

BlogRush is the idea of John Reese, and on the outset looks to be a fantastic tool for building traffic to your blog. The way it works is that you sign up for an account over at BlogRush, fill in your blog details and are presented with a piece of code that you insert in your blog. Then when you view your blog you will see a box similar to the one at right, with a list of other blogs in it that relate to your subject matter. Elsewhere, on other blogs that are in the same subject matter as yours, your blog will appear in the list. For each person that visits your blog in a day, BlogRush will place your blog in their little interface once a day. So if 100 people visit your blog, your blog will appear 100 times throughout the day on other people's blogs. Theoretically, this will increase your blogs traffic which in turn will increase the number of times you appear on other BlogRush interfaces, increasing your traffic - and so on and so on.

The real meat in the sandwich happens when you get referrals. As you can see also on the interface there is an "add your blog posts - FREE" button. If a blogger clicks on this button on your blog and signs up then you get the referral, which means that for each person that visits their blog you get an appearance on BlogRush. So if someone with 1000 visits a day signs up through your blog (that already gets 100 visits a day), then you will appear 1100 times a day (100 for your blog = 1000 for your referral's blog). Then if someone visits your referral's blog and signs up to BlogRush, not only does your referral get the referral, but you do too! In fact, you get referrals 10 deep, which can equal a huge amount of increased traffic. You also get a special referral link that you can simply email to other people to become referrals for you. Sounds fantastic, but there are problems associated with it for some people.

BlogRush Problems?

For one, Internet Marketers like myself don't want people clicking off their page, so sticking an interface that asks people to do just that may not work out to be the best idea. If someone does click on a link in the BlogRush interface the new blog opens in a fresh window, which is supposed to reduce the amount of "click away" that your site will get. IM'ers are worried that this will reduce sales and it's a fair concern indeed. People love to click on links, so giving them something else to click on (other than their affiliate links) that looks nice and possibly has blog titles that are more appealing, might not be such a good idea.

Another concern that I read in Caroline Middlebrook's blog, was that once everyone gets on board the BlogRush train, that referrals will drop off. As she writes:

Most bloggers will optimise their blogs to encourage readers to either read more of their content, or to click an ad, subscribe to the RSS feed, join a newsletter etc. Generally speaking a blogger does not want the user to click out of their blog so I don’t imagine this widget to be prominently displayed on many blogs. You’ll notice that I put it right at the bottom of my sidebar. I may be wrong here as it looks like quite a lot of bloggers are pushing it in order to get the referral links but once every blog in the world is signed up, the referrals will drop off and then it all falls on the shoulders of the readers.


It's a good point, and one that a lot of people who are rushing for a piece of this 'ere BlogRush might have failed to take in to account. Like Caroline, I am a follower of Ed Dale's internet marketing techniques. I've only been on to him since the start of this year when I accidentally came across him on Google, but in a very short space of time I have grown to trust the man and his word. The thirty day challenge is testiment alone to the massive amount this man is willing to give back and when he vouches for a product or service I have no doubts that it is the top of it's game and worth my hard-earned bucks. Anyway, Ed put out a blog post a couple of days ago saying that he would be giving BlogRush a try very soon and will document his results. I know a lot of people will be waiting to see what he has to say on the matter, and I think at this point a large portion of BlogRush traffic is dependant on his opinion.

As it is BlogRush has been so overwhelmed with traffic that they are having troubles keeping up. Originally the stats from using BlogRush were supposed to be up within 24-48 hours, but yesterday a notice was published on the BlogRush site, by John Reese, that said (in part):

The first 60 hours since we launched the BlogRush public beta has been nothing short of EXPLOSIVE. We knew that we were developing an exciting tool that many bloggers could benefit from, but we had no idea how fast the 'word' would spread across the Web.

With this explosive growth has come some challenges, and our entire team is working very hard to solve any potential bug and issue that we've been alerted to. We're improving things at a very rapid pace and we hope to have the entire network completely stabilized very soon.

I would like to ask that you are patient with us during this time and know that we are doing our best to help YOU drive more traffic to your blog and we will soon have things running smoothly.

You can view the rest of this notice if you login to your BlogRush account. If you don't have a BlogRush account you can get one here.

So if the experts end up saying this might not be such a good thing then I will most likely drop BlogRush from my IM sites, depending on their reasons. I do think I'll probably leave it on this site and any other blogs I have that don't produce sales for me, as my initial instinct is that it's a good tool for generating traffic and let's face it, this blog ain't exactly swimming in readers hehe. Time will tell, and you can bet when it does I'll be posting my thoughts about it - and with BlogRush's help I may even get some people to read it :o)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Link This!

After a weekend we are on to Day 27 of the challenge and the podcast for today had Ed getting a little hot under the collar about spammers and critics. Spammers, who have been using the 30DC techniques for their own spammy needs, thereby undermining the process for the rest of us. It breaks down like this: If a bunch of spammy spammers use these techniques as Ed has detailed them, then those places that Ed has suggested we put our content (ala Tumblr) will see that as a representation of all the 30DCers...because as we know, people see the bad things first and judge all else by that first impression. Of course Tumblr didn't want to be known as a spammers paradise, so they did the only thing they could do, shut everyone down. Why should they go through each individual page to see if the content has merit?

Ed then went on to have a go at the critics out there, who say the 30DC is just a bunch of hot air. These people are generally made up of those who either haven't even taken the challenge, or took it and failed because of their own choices for niches.

Anyway, Ed announced that all the forums and training for the 30DC would continue to be kept up on the site so that anyone can take the challenge again and again, as often as they like, whenever they like. He also mentioned that there would be sporadic future lessons that would deal with product development, amongst other things. He talked about the ease of creating audio and video products as long as you were comfortable with talking/creating videos.

He also asked us to have a look at Michelle MacPhearson's blog for some good information, including the 2nd edition of Luke Parker's Free Online Advertising Encyclopedia. A must-grab. You can download a copy here.

The it was over to Rob Somerville to talk about Link Building. Link building is when you create backlinks to your blog or site. What link building does, is tell Google that, because all these other sites have links to your site - and because these other sites know what they're talking about - Google should put you higher in the ranking for your keyword phrase. It's sort of like being vouched for, except you're vouching for yourself really. Over time, with decent content, you'd be able to build links naturally, as sites that have something in common with yours and like your stuff will link to your site anyway. However, that can take a long time and with so much competition out there it may never happen, so we need to help things along a little. The important factors to look for when trying to place your link on another site is: age of the site you're putting your links on and content relevance of the site you're putting your links on. If you're putting links on a new site that Google doesn't even recognise anyway, then it's a waste of time. To put your links on a site that has nothing to do with your niche is also a waste. Link quality is far more important than link quantity, but a combination of both built up over time is the best of all. You should always try to include your keyword phrase in the anchor text of your link. I generally just put the URL in most cases anyway, as it includes the keywords from my blog. Links from .edu and .gov are better still to have, although obviously harder to secure.

You can use yahoo to identify the backlinks of your competitors, and then go after those as well. Using the SEO tool in Firefox, you can see how many Yahoo banklinks a competitor has. Then by clicking on the Yahoo links link, it will take you to a page that lists all the backlinks to that page. So then you can review the backlinked sites, and determine which ones are best for going after.

Another way to find sites of relevance, is to create a Google Alerts account. This you can set up through your GMail account if you have one, and you can get Google to email you everytime they find a site that has your keyword phrase in it - you can then go to that site and see if it's possible to create a backlink to your content on that site.

Ultimately, though, the best link building strategy is to create great content that other people in your niche area will want to link to. Remember, not everyone is out to make money online - some are just there to pass on knowledge and information, and if yours is up to snuff then others will link to it and share it around (and hopefully give you the credit you deserve).

You can basically create backlinks yourself by commenting on blogs and in forums, making sure that you can include a link back to your site. Don't be spammy, though, always write something that adds to or contributes in someway to the rest of the content on the site. If it's a blog, make a comment about the content and try to steer that to your blog. If it's a forum, make posts that contribute to the thread you're posting in, otherwise in most cases your post will just be removed by the moderators. If you contribute then you're more likely to be left alone. The best way to post in forums without seeming spammy, is simply to include your blog address in your signature, so that every time you post a backlink is created and it's not about tricking people or spamming them into visiting your blog.

You can also try reciprocal linking, where you arrange with someone who has a site in your niche, that you will create a link to their site if they create one to yours. In this case always make sure you specify what the link text should say.

You can also submit your site to various directories, such as Yahoo and DMOZ (the big two) but this is usually expensive (Yahoo is US$300 a year).

I set up a Google Alerts account and within a couple of days I got an email that led me to a site that had ripped off my blog content and put it up on their own platform. At first I was pretty angry, because I was sure that Google would penalise me for having duplicate content, but after posting on the 30DC forum about it and reading the replies, I realised that the other guy was most likely to be penalised. I posted comments on all his blog posts, directing people back to the "original source" of the content, my blog - thereby creating a backlink for myself. Within a couple of days his site had vanished.

Things to avoid when trying backlinks: Link farms, irrelevant sites, low-authority sites, porn or gambling sites, duplicate content and links from deep within a site's structure.