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How do you promote your sites? I mean, there's the old AM saying of, "If you can make $1/day from one site, you can make $1,000/day", which goes by the theory that if you can make a website that makes a little bit of money, you can replicate the process to have many websites making a little bit of money, which then adds up. However, I find that even if I'm able to whip out a site in 2-4 hours, whether a small content-based site or a large datafeed site, it takes me much longer to promote it, involving the tedious process of exchanging links.
So for the pros out there, how do you promote your small sites so fast?
I personally find it difficult to make quality content for more than say 20 or so topics... after a while you just run out of personal knowledge/experience and rely more on copying generic content... which also works but is noticably worse.
As for promotion... I have always relied on a combination of Domain name, SEO and links from other sites... and I do SEO only for sites that I hope to make more than a few dollars a day on, otherwise it doesn't seem worth it... why spend 100 hours and have to wait 2 years to get paid?
I also use software to help me create a few filler pages on small sites to help grab extra search engine results... I don't have any top rankings for super competitive keywords, but I do have several hundred (maybe more) obscure but targeted keywords that deliver several hundred visitors daily.
I would only make a site about a topic I am interested in so this would probably limit me to 20 sites max, each with several hundred pages.
Although this is just my opinion.
On the profitability scale, my smaller sites, some of them, earn the same as my cornerstone. Big sister is definately doing the job for her smaller siblings, driving 25% or more of the total monthly traffic to all other network sites, month after month, season after season.
Creating that kind of in-house neighborhood, along with seo has made for a very nice full-time income. The most important reason for that development has been traffic stability. Big sister is always there, as the engines flip and flop and keep the ebiz community on edge. It gives the smaller, newer sites a base traffic level that is stable and guaranteed, as a percentage of total traffic.
Long term, the main reason I have done this is not for short term profits, but for long term stability. All industries on the web have high and low periods. Some are daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, even year to year. By using diversity in our network, I can spread my eggs into more baskets, both in traffic, and income providers. One site is hot today, another tomorrow. One is hot in spring, another in winter. One is fabulous in a recession, another only in an economic upturn.
Traffic wise, over history of the web, hot topics are changed like Mustang Ranch women's underwear. The topic diversity ensures that you can maintain through the bull traffic, and the bear traffic for any given category. I will give you an exmaple of this.
Today, the topic of Michael Jackson is hot. Let's say you want to capitalize on that and design a site for the court updates, so you can serve high paying legal ads through Adsense, and increase your income. Launch it today, how long before the engines begin to drive a nice flow of traffic to your site? 2 days? 2 weeks? 2 months? With a wide ranging network of your own, you can promote the new site in house, and instantly drive that nice flow, the same day of launch. The search engine traffic, when it comes, is frosting on the cake. That means you are gaining Adsense revenues from day one for a newly launched site. If you couldnt' promote the site through your own network, the topic might have run cold, before you jumped on the gravy train.
I love instant gratification. Maybe that is flaw. But, it is a profitable flaw.
Just because there are already one million sites on the web with any given topic, is that reason for you not to launch another site with the same topic? No.
How many restaurants are there in NYC? How many are mediocre? How many new ones open each year? Is there a market for a new really awesome restaurant in NYC? You bet. There could be 10,000 restaurants there. If you have a great idea, go for it, even if every chef with a private veggie garden has already done it. It could just be your secret ingredient of the dash of cumin in the salads, that will create waiting lines wrapping around the building. Add your own flair, and jump on in with your own twist on a delicacy.
It is important to have a wide range of topics, but also a wide range of revenue stream providers. For that reason we have about 100 or so different sources of income on the web. It is really not good to have just one source, or even two or three. If they go down, or slide hard, or decide you no longer are a suitable partner, you will likely implode into a black hole financially. While I love the single business that pays me $350 a month, it scares me to death. That is alot of eggs in one basket for a small MAP(mom and pop)ebiz. But, with revenue diversity, if he pulls out, all the stars in my galaxy don't get sucked in.
IMHO it is narrow minded, short sighted thinking to narrow your potential field of income on the web. If you are basing website topic delevolpment on your own education and experience, then you need to balance time between building new sites, maintaining established sites, and continued education. Learning and experiencing new things weekly, will be vital to your long term success, and steadily increasing income levels.
Try not to over intellectualize the web. It is much more basic than most would leave you to believe. Try searching within your heart and soul for content, not just in the books.
Can you build and maintain a hundred websites, successfully, and still have time to buy ten dozen roses, pluck their petals and toss them on the grass in Stanley park, then snuggle within them with the love of your life (or love of the day) on a sunny, salt air filled, romantic Saturday afternoon?
You might even create a webpage about that moment, complete with images of that inspiring day. (and complete with credit to me for the idea)Then, display ads for romantic products, day trips, or weekend getaways. Did you have to learn anything new to launch that topic? No. Life is not just all about your history, it is about today, and tomorrow.
Most importantly, the cost of the ten dozen roses, will be a drop in the bucket, due to your wide ranging topic and income development, enabling you to make those kind of memories now, and frequently, which later you will come to rely on so heavily, late in your golden years. I know it is hard to see that now. You just have to trust me on it.
Okay, so you have one large high-traffic site that acts as a "hub" site. It seems to run without worries of the search engines (welcoming the traffic, but not relying on it) and have most of its traffic from bookmarks, type-ins, etc. Great, solid plan, as you don't have to worry about new SE algo's and whatnot, and you get instant gratification for all your websites.
So there's an example of a great way to drive traffic to your hundreds of sites without having to promote each one individually. More of a long-term strategy, as you said, not only because of the time it takes to make the sub-sites, but also because making one large site with that amount of natural traffic will take some time and branding.
Does anyone else have other ways in which they promote their sites? Remember, we want to devote 80% of our time to making new websites, not promoting old ones. Are there any other ways? How do the other pros do it?
Let's say I decide to do a site on romantic day trips, and include the day in the rose petals at Stanley Park. I place a link on select pages, relevant pages, today for "Unusual Romantic Day Trips". Curious, my visitors seeing that new link, click it.
Given my visitors are over 80% women, age 35-50, I am pretty certain they will click it, if I put it in a prominate place on pages, on the pages they visit the most. Since they use my subnavi heavily, I will likely place it to the right of it,near the scroll bar, the most perferred place on my page. If I use that way of thinking, I can place links on the 6 pages that comprise over 50% of my traffic. So, that is how I choose the pages, in each wave of link addition. Traffic begins to roll to the new site today.
I did it today, because I was 90% certain that Google was coming tomorrow. I know, because it is on my calendar. I also know I'm going to be indexed again the next day, so I add some more links for it that day, and again the second day more links, for the third day crawl. I do this because my calendar says Google is likely to crawl my site three days in row, beginning on Tuesday, this week. Google is scheduled to return to my site on the next Saturday, so I add 6 more links, Friday night.
Yes, Google may not come, but since I am right 90% of the time, I use those days I have marked on the calendar, a month in advance, pretty religiously. Note, that the days I mention above, are not necessarily the days Google crawls my site, this week, or any week. It is merely an example. Documenting each day you are crawled, you can establish patterns that are valid, a large percentage of the time. Still, sometimes Google throws you a curve ball.... and
That schedule for Site A, is not the same for Site B, C, or D.... each has their own schedule. Document these things, and add your links accordingly. If anyone tells you that google indexed the web, on this day, they are incorrect. They did not index the entire web on that day, or the entire web, any three consequetive days. I know, because I document it, on the calendar. I have alot of websites, and know exactly what day each was indexed, and they are not all the same.
I have one site that was indexed last on April 7. Two were last indexed on April 19, another was indexed, completely different numerous days... Google indexes some sites monthly, other bi-weekly, weekly, some every few days, some every day.... several variations. They are indexing the web everyday, although not always you.
When site A is the cornerstone, and it has longevity, and relevancy, to thousands of topics, you have a good foundation, and almost any site you add can be relevant to some of your pages, on the cornerstone.
Yes, linking to the newer sites most likely does affect the cornerstone ranking, a bit, on some keyword sets. But, the overall benefits of increased revenue, far out weight the little traffic loss from Google for adding one new small site.
Having said that, the best time to do this is in this spring through early summer at latest. We make our major changes then, then sit back the next 6 months and do little changes only, nothing massive. Seeds begin planting Dec 18, and go right through Father's Day. Then, that it is. All major work must be completed by then.
To make this kind of upgrade in your network later, can be a total disaster. That is why the bulk of our major changes are done before tax day. (april 15)I don't like to leave it too late. Been there, done that, and the pain was mind boggling (2001). From now until Father's Day, we tweek the upgrade, and fix the things that were half baked, while adding smaller amounts of new content, every day watching the results of the latest crawls, and tweeking for those mistakes we made, correcting previous mistakes.
You will not see me add any new sites to my network in the summer, or fall.
Does it all work? Yes. Traffic is now in seasonal decline. It began declining in March across the U.S.
My unique traffic has declined since December 18. (does that date seem familiar..scroll up)to my cornerstone, yet my network revenue has steadily increased.
Then the engines came...one by one. We began to slide in late June, just a bit. Thinking, hmmm must be the dog days of summer, we didn't panic. July, traffic crashed, hard. It was painfully obvious looking at the serps that we had made a huge mistake.
You see...summer, you expect to be slow in ecommerce. Why, it is in brick n mortar. Most people do not spend money, while teeing off at the 11th hole, or hanging ten off the San Diego coast. It is a marketing no brainer ... summer is slow.
It makes it very hard to sort through all the logs, and come to conclusions, when you see the downward turn. This is a recession year. Ok maybe things are slower than usual for that reason. That kind of thinking. Troubleshooting problems becomes very complicated when muliple elements, some unknown, are combined at the exact same time.
Peak season for ecommerce begins in late August, in the U.S., when the northern states begin to get cool. They begin to come back to the web, gradually through November. By December 15, they are hitting the malls, and web traffic is declining. Of course there is late Nov, turkey weekend, and traffic is simply not there, they are in the malls for the kick off of holiday shopping season, and those great sales. Sure, there is some online shopping, but it is weak. That four day block is the exception.
In early August, back to school shopping begins. It ends the bleak dog days of summer, but it is not a huge cash cow on the web. Last year was the best web back to school in history.
So, you launch a mass of new changes in June. July, the writing is on the wall. You need emergency salvage, and you need to be reindexed before August 1. If you find ALL the problems with the changes you made and correct them in a few days, you might make that deadline. But, the odds of finding all the problems, that quick, are very slim. You roll into peak season with your base traffic in disaster, and finish off in Q4 to dismal numbers.
2001, it would have been nice to make only one huge mistake. It was a combination of mistakes, none of which were predicted. By the time we had located the problems, and corrected them, it was early Sept. We were breathing again.
Then... you know what happened. For two straight weeks, we had virtually no traffic at all,which had nothing to do with the serps. We missed back to school, lost all ranking, in all engines, except MSN, and it took us a full year to recover. At the end of that year, back on top of our game, we sold that business.
I have never worked so hard in my life.
Then next year. I did renovations in the summer again. Call me stupid, but I figure I knew where I had gone wrong, and wouldn't make those mistakes again. That would have been nice. It wasn't.
Summer 2002 renovations didn't cripple us, we pulled it out of the fire in November, but it was touch and go.
Bottom line. You do it as soon as holiday shopping stops, December 18. Having said that, the engines have a habit of working on that very same schedule. So, you work, watch, wait...hold your breath, breath, work... You are looking for changes in the overall restructure of any one engine, maybe all, and how your renovated pages are affected. One little slip in the new design, can be very detrimental.
MSN did this last year I believe on December 18. The year before, as I recall, Google slammed the web hard on December 20th.
If you can get your test pages launched before then, you can see how the design ranked before they make some annual mess of the web, then how it ranks after those major changes. Then redesign. Finish, with plenty of time to get index, evaluation, modify.... and leave enough time to do that several times, before August 1. Otherwise you jeopardize Q4.
Every merchant knows that Q4 is the profit quarter. With cold weather driving traffic to the web in Q4, it is as important for ebiz as it is for brick and mortar, in the U.S and Canada. Before that most are in the red. You never jeopardise it.
[edited by: janethuggard at 6:15 pm (utc) on April 25, 2005]
I'm admittedly a noob when it comes to online marketing and the likes. I'm almost out of HS, been playing with html since summer after jr high. been turning an increasing profit since January.
I think I earned about $20 in Janurary. I'm nearly up to $400 so far this month.
The point I'm getting to is that I'm choosing to blame this site for a good part of that increase. Thanks everybody.
It seems like every week of two this site has a new post with an incredible amount of insight. I think I'm going to start making an archive of links on beging web design. Partialy for me to come back to, but partialy for others like me.
I already have a url in mind... not a keyword, but somethink I consider memorable. pm me if you want more deetails.
What do you folks think about that?
Here is another way a very successful guy does it (let's not name him) --
Build a very strong sales site (medium to large) that has got good stay-on-site times and return value. Then drive traffic through multiple satellite sites each focussing on a different aspect.
One of these satellites might offer reviews, another may compare prices, third may collect the press releases related to the topic and so on.
That (the risk of an interlinking penalty) would be my only concern. Other than that, I'm in full agreement with everything else Janet said.
Not if the links are one way. ie from the hub site to the satellites. This means each satellite site has a one way inbound link from an authority. What a great position to be in!
If one of the satellite sites gets penalized, the hub site could get penalized for linking to the penalized satellite.
If the hub site ever gets penalized, the links to all the satellites could be greatly devalued.
If some or all of the sites are on the same C class, the links may be devalued.
Another question I have about the "hub" sites: When we say the word "hub", I always think of a site made specifically to distribute traffic to other sites. But you'd obviously have to make it appear to be more than that, as I have yet to see that many sites that simply list the sites on their network and still get more traffic than those sites. So how do you do it? Do you just make it like you'd make any other good site, and then put links to your smaller sites on it? Do you somehow find a way to just list all your sites and still make it a popular site?
I'm not trying to prove you wrong :oP
I just wonder if penalties are transfered. If so, maybe there is no sandbox. Maybe sites are dropping in the SERPs due to transfered penalties from linked sites.
ie from the hub site to the satellites. This means each satellite site has a one way inbound link from an authority.
it means each satellite has a one way inbound link from an expert document, not an authority - if the main site is in fact a "hub". Meaning that the satellites should actually be the authority sites (while they might only be small niche specific authorities).
So how do you do it?
Try to avoid blatent self promotion. While you're building your hub site you might even want to avoid promotion at all - this way you are more likely to garner more links and mention on other sites including commercial ones.
That site has been very successful and I'm making an enormous amount of money from adsense ads. However I am worried that if I tried to set up another site about another country, the authorities there wouldn't allow me to use their photos. Since tourism sites rely heavily on photographs of the destination, without them I wouldn't have much of a site, and I wouldn't be able to travel all the way there to take my own either. With the current site I did manage to make a few deals with professional photographers, exchanging free use of their photographs for advertisements for their services, but it's taken years to get the right amount of traffic to produce adequate referals to their sites for that to work.
Another issue is that it costs money to set them up, for the domain and hosting fees and so on. If the site doesn't end up being successful it will have been a waste of money.
I have a good plan in mind for setting up the sites, but those are the only problems I face. Regarding the interlinking thing, I would set up one main site with summaries of the satellite sites, and links from the satellites back to the main one. For example if you wanted to make several sites about city breaks around the world, the main one could be 'city breaks network'. You could also use that main site to list information about advertising oportunities across your network and things like that, so it won't purely be interlinking.