Leaving Work Behind

Why You Should Care Less About Backlinking

Written by Tom Ewer on August 10, 2011. 13 Comments

Why You Should Care Less About BacklinkingEveryone has their pet peeves. I probably have more than most. One of my biggest pet peeves has to be the phrase, “I could care less”.  I have just spent the last five minutes trying to type out a detailed explanation as to why the phrase simply does not make sense, and how it has no possible defence, but am now giving up out of exasperation. It is just frustrating me too much.

I felt I needed to include the above just to make absolutely sure you grasped the intended message of this article, which is: backlinking is the supposed holy grail of search engine optimization, and you are thinking about it far too much (in my humble opinion).

If you are at all familiar with this blog then you will know that I am not in the business of creating “set and forget” sites that offer little or no real value to the end user. I am all about creating value, and I have a staunch aversion to compromise on that front. So, please understand that my advice comes from the perspective of someone who is looking to create value. What I have to say may not apply to those who are looking for something a little more relaxed in terms of quality content. And I have no problem with that at all – far be it from me to judge. However, it would be remiss of me to mislead you.

Now, are the rest of you sitting comfortably? Good.

Why Should I Care Less About Backlinking?

Backlinking is extremely important when it comes to search engine optimization. You should be working hard to get plenty of high quality backlinks to your blog. Ideally you will be doing this by persuing a white hat SEO strategy, but that is not always the best way to go.

Backlinking is not however the be all and end all. It certainly shouldn’t form the genesis of your blog creation. And you’re probably about to call me absolutely mad, but you don’t even need to have a backlinking strategy to create a successful online business.

Wait…What?

Question: if you have a blog, with twenty original articles already published, but with no backlinks, what do you have?

Answer: a blog.

Question: if you have a website domain, with no content on it, with eight thousand backlinks, what do you have?

Answer: nothing.

Backlinking is completely pointless without content. A website can survive without backlinks – it cannot survive without content.

Now there may be some amongst you who are thinking that you can get away with producing low quality content. That backlinking is king, and that as long as you can get visitors onto your site, you can convert them, even with poor quality content.

And you may be right – but you won’t be forever (or for long, most likely).

Google’s aim is to show quality content to its end users. If it fails on that front, it is no longer of use to anyone. We are all familiar with how powerful Google is. How countless people who are far more intelligent than you and I are constantly working on Google’s algorithms. If you are not providing quality content, you will eventually get found out – regardless of how many backlinks you have.

Love Your End User

If I could give just one piece of advice regarding authority sites, it would be this:

Love your end user. Put yourself in their shoes. Do they get value from what you produce? If not, you need to go back to the drawing board.

We are all guilty of producing crap at times. It happens – we are human. However, in a perfect world, your aim should always be to produce fantastic content for your audience. As Corbett Barr so eloquently put it: write epic shit.

Quality Content > Backlinking

Producing valuable content for your end user trumps your most effective backlinking strategy in the long run, hands down. And when you are in the business of producing authority sites, you should always be thinking long term.

I am not saying you shouldn’t be actively pursuing a backlinking campaign – you absolutely should be. However, you should be putting even more effort into your content creation. You should be pouring sweat and tears into creating a truly valuable resource for people to find; you shouldn’t be worrying as much about how they are going to find it.

I am not saying, “If you build it, they will come”. I am saying, “If you build quality and let them know it is there, they will come, and hang around”. If you produce poor content and let even more people know it is there, they will come – and then they will leave. What is the point in producing a #1 ranking authority website on Google if no one wants to hang around?

There are many out there amongst you whose workload balance is struck well in favour of backlinking. I know this because I have been (and in weak moments, still am) one of those people. I hope you seek to redress that balance, as I am sure it will have wonderful long term benefits.

Photo courtesy of Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

Perspective And Personality: Who You Should Be Following In The Blogosphere

Written by Tom Ewer on August 8, 2011. 10 Comments

I have a list of just four names for you. Four top bloggers that I think you should be following.

“Hang on”, you may be thinking, “what about the top 50?” But I’m not here to blitz you with content. I want you to be thinking more about quality than quantity. There is far too much information out there – take it from me. You have little to gain by hoovering up Joe Bloggs’ opinion on SEO tactics.

I know your time is just as valuable as mine, and as such, I want you to spend it reading only the best advice, from the best people.

The four bloggers below all have varying perspectives on blogging and life in general, but all share a common history in the sense that they got to where they are the hard way (i.e. the only true way). Moreover, they all have very distinctive and unique personalities, which to me is vital. No one should be reading bland old information from bland old writers.

So, without further ado…

The Big Four

Pat Flynn

Pat FlynnWho else but Pat from Smart Passive Income? If you are at all familiar with my blog then you will know that I am a big fan of Pat’s. He was the guy that got me fully into internet marketing a few short months ago. I had flirted with the idea of making money online for many years, but it was his blog, and specifically his niche site duel, that galvanised me into action.

Pat is one of the nicest guys you will ever likely get to know (virtually). You simply cannot fake the honesty and commitment he has to helping others. He truly is one of the good guys, and still manages to keep in touch with his readers despite receiving an enormous amount of correspondence.

Glen Allsopp

Glen Allsopp is living the dream. Going back a few years he was working in a clothes store. Now he has a six figure income and is one of the most highly-respected internet marketers out there. And he is the first one to admit that he did this through sheer hard work, patience and determination.

In fact, I think that he underplays it at times. From what I have read, he started out with a very clear goal in mind (to make a living from internet marketing), and simply did not stop trying until he got there, regardless of the failures and setbacks that confronted him. Glen’s story is one we can all learn a lot from.

Head over to Glen’s blog, ViperChill, and check out his posts. He does not produce content that often, but when he does, it is of the best possible quality. When Glen has something to say, we should all be wise to sit up and take note.

Derek Halpern

Derek HalpernI am a big fan of Derek’s. He is exactly the kind of no-bullshit, cut to the chase guy that I love to learn from. Just check out his video critiques of Pat Flynn’s and Corbett Barr’s blogs to get an idea of his approach. At no point was he patronising or condescending, but he stated exactly what Patt and Corbett needed to do to improve their blogs, without needing to sugar coat it.

Derek has a great blog over at Social Triggers, in which he explores the psychological side of internet marketing. As you may tell from visiting his blog, I have taken a lot of inspiration from his teachings in the design of my own.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus SheridanMarcus may not be as well known as the three previous bloggers, but he rightfully takes his place on this list. I have only been reading his blog for a couple of months or so, but that has been time enough.

Marcus comes across as one of the most down-to-earth, charismatic and well-meaning guys you could hope to meet. When you combine that with someone who clearly knows what he is talking about, you have a great mix.

What is truly unique about Marcus is his business, which is offline. Yes – he doesn’t make money by talking about making money! He in fact part-owns a fibreglass pool installation company (apologies Marcus if I haven’t described that correctly!) and uses inbound marketing to generate more leads than he will ever need to achieve his goals.

His blog, The Sales Lion, provides an enormous amount of value – you could easily spend a day reading through his archives.

That’s All You Need!

I honestly believe that you could stick to the teachings on the above four blogs (and mine of course!) and become truly successful online. I know that the bulk of my learning has come from those four bloggers.

Now it’s time to thrown it open to you – who do you think should have made it onto the list that didn’t?

If You Believe You Can Succeed, You’re Already Half Way There

Written by Tom Ewer on August 5, 2011. 5 Comments

If You Believe You Can Succeed, You're Already Half Way ThereThere is a key understanding that is required in order to achieve success, and that is to believe that you can.

That may sound like an obvious statement, but I find so often that people do not truly feel they are capable of hitting their targets.

You might see another achieve success and feel that you are not able to do the same. Well, the simple fact is, you can achieve success. However, in order to do so, you first need to know that you can.

If you truly understand that success is obtainable, it will become so. It is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

So many people give up because they feel that they will never achieve what they want. There is no reason to think that way. Do you really think that all the successful people out there are either luckier, or more intelligent than you? Rubbish. They just stuck at it and had the right attitude.

Those who succeed often do because they simply know that it is possible, whilst those who do not, lack that important realisation.

I want you to consider the following: if you truly feel that you are capable of success, then there will only ever be one reason that you give up on your goals, and that is because the work necessary is not worth the reward. Otherwise, you simply recognise that you have to go through a process.

So, if you ever feel like you have had enough of internet marketing and want to give up, ask yourself why. Do you simply not want to do the work, or have you lost confidence in your ability to succeed?

If the former, then you can make a relatively objective decision as to whether or not you want to continue.

If the latter, you need to address your mindset, because anyone can succeed. Someone has been in your situation before, or one very similar, and has got to where they want to be. If you apply yourself in the right fashion and understand the process, you will succeed.

Edit: I have been very helpfully informed by Wil that another post I have written, How To Combat A Loss Of Enthusiasm, is an ideal follow up to this. So if you’re now pumped up for success, click here to find out about how you can continue to walk down the right path!

Photo courtesy of Alter1fo

How To Engage With Your Audience

Written by Tom Ewer on August 3, 2011. 9 Comments

Engaging With Your AudienceIf you are an active blogger then you have doubtless come across the problem of finding topics to write about.

This is more of an issue to some than others – for instance, the likes of Derek Halpern and Glen Allsopp publish only when they are inspired by a topic that strikes them as particularly relevant to their audience. This is a particularly powerful method for a couple of reasons: it promotes scarcity, and it allows the writer to put great time and effort into their posts.

On the flipside, you have the likes of Pat Flynn and Marcus Sheridan – those who post multiple times a week. They have tasked themselves with crafting a regular and consistent production line of quality content.

I am not here to pick a side and tell you which method I think is surperior. The four names mentioned above are all people I respect greatly, and they are amongst the very few bloggers whose every article I read without fail.

I personally produce three articles a week and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. So what I am here to do is reveal what I do to keep the topics I write about fresh and engaging.

Communicate With Your Audience

Although this blog is still very much in its infancy, I have already drawn inspiration from my audience in writing about topics that I know will interest you. How do I know this? Because you have told me what you want! In fact, this article was inspired by an email I received from a reader, wanting to know how I was able to continue producing three new articles every week without fail.

So, communicate with your audience and find out what they are interested in. This can be deliberate or inadvertent – you can poll your readers, or you can simply have an ongoing dialogue with them. It will soon become clear what they want from you.

Investigate Your Competition

First up, a caveat – I am absolutely not saying that you should plagiarise your competition’s content. Nor am I suggesting that you should essentially write your own article on exactly the same topic. But there is value in taking a look at what your competition is writing about in order to seek inspiration.

It is important to note that your competition writing about a topic does not necessarily make it compelling to your audience. But it should be a good marker, especially if you are investigating reputable sources.

Follow Trends

There are multiple sources you can tap into to see what might be popular in your particular niche.

What sources can you think of?

Write About What Interests YOU

Ultimately, your blog should be a reflection of your unique style. As such, there should be a healthy dose of content that interests you. This may be directly related to your niche, or it may not. The point is, your audience are there to read your content, and as such should have an attachment to your voice.

It is open-ended as to how far you should take this, but I would refer you again to Pat Flynn and Marcus Sheridan as great exponents of off-topic articles. If you are at all familiar with Pat then you will have read his regular updates on fitness programs he has tried. And Marcus often updates his readers on his personal life and wonderful family.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Yourself!

Finally, try not to get too caught up in producing articles based upon laser-targeted topic research. There should be a natural flow to what your produce. And ultimately, you will need to rely upon your natural subjective feel as to what to produce – that talent will develop in time. Everyone writes dud articles – it is not the end of the world – just push onto the next one!

How about you? What sources of inspiration do you draw from when it comes to writing content for your blog?

Photo courtesy of IAB UK

My First Niche Site: Update #4 – The Power Of The Long Tail

Written by Tom Ewer on August 1, 2011. 12 Comments

This is Part #4 of a series. A list of all the other updates can be found at the bottom of this post.

Please note that Modeling For Kids is no longer an active site. If you’d like to know why I shut down the site and started up a new one, click here.

If you read my last niche site update then you will know that I was beginning to get frustrated by my apparent lack of progress in climbing the Google rankings. In fact, I seemed to be going backwards!

Fortunately, I am now in a position to inform you of some progress. Modest progress, but progress nonetheless!

My Niche Site’s Key Statistics

My First Niche Site: Update #4

As you can see, I am now ranking #9 in Google for my main keyword, “modeling for kids”. In fact, I briefly flirted with 8th position. With a continuation of my backlinking strategy I expect to see the rise continue.

My First Niche Site: Updat #4

The eagle-eyed amongst you may spot that my average visits per day has increased by 6 since update #2. I have been at #9 in Google for just a few days, but the increase in traffic is notable. As would be expected, the specific keyword “modeling for kids” is now getting a fair bit of action (with 18 searches in the last seven days).

What is really interesting though is the fact that I am getting lots of long tail keyword searches bringing traffic to my site. This is something you should absolutely expect from an “authority” site, but it bears considering in detail.

The Power Of The Long Tail

I read a great article this week over at Niche PursuitsHow To Calculate Projected Traffic And Earnings For A Niche Website. Although I have been aware of the power of long tail keywords for some time, Spencer takes it one step further and argues that you should consider the potential revenue from them, along with your main keyword. His logic is absolutely sound, and here are some figures to back it up.

Last 30 Days

Last 14 Days

Last 7 Days

From the above, you can see that despite my increased ranking for my main keyword and increase in traffic overall, the percentage of long tail keyword traffic to short tail keyword traffic has remained fairly stable. This has been achieved without any purposeful effort to target specific long tail keywords.

Traffic Estimation

The realisation that long tail keyword traffic can contribute enormously will likely give you a completely different perspective on your estimation of traffic figures. For instance, the exact keyword “modeling for kids” gets 2,400 searches per month. So the #1 website in Google should attract around 1,000 visitors. Theoretically, with a long tail to short tail percentage ratio of around 70%, I can expect my actual traffic per month to be in the region of 3,330. These estimates are based upon exact searches only and as such are extremely conservative.

My calculations are clearly rough and are yet to be proven by actual results, but it will be interesting to come back to them when the site is ranking #1 for “modeling for kids”.

Monetization

With traffic picking up, I decided to re-implement Adsense a few days ago. I will leave the ad placement as they are now until I am getting considerable traffic, at which point I will start testing different placements to see what gets the best conversion rate. I have made a few pounds in the last week or so, but nothing to write home about!

Onwards And Upwards!

For now, I am perfectly happy to continue what I am doing in terms of content creation and backlinking. As long as I am seeing positive results I will continue along this path. I hope to come back to you shortly with news of further progress!

Read The Whole Series