(Before I begin, this forum is tremendous! What a treasure trove of great information.)
I am the absolute amateur of amateurs.
I have NO IDEA what's going on.
I got a $12 Godaddy domain + 1 year of hosting and used their Websight Tonight design platform.
I threw together a few sites from doing this. They look decent, but they're simple.
So far I've made $120 bucks in a month. One of my little sites is a top ranked Google search item (ranked top ten for two top search terms relating to the site).
It's just a one-page informational site. It's not something I can see myself building a following on. It's something people hit and run. But Google was right in placing it that high, the information is highly pertinent to the search terms.
But I know it's only a matter of time before Google somehow messes with it and it ends up 500 pages buried in the searches!
My observations of the "SEO" world:
-- I was partly inspired by reading about a young girl who started 'tiny buddha' dot com. This simple little site of inspirational quotes gets a million views a day! It's such a simple idea. Now she's set and doing well for herself.
-- Adsense and Blogger mess up constantly. I can't even get ads to work right or show up. It's totally worthless. There's nothing wrong on my end with my computer or browser. All I get are errors and IF the ads show up, sometimes they create weird colors and bars the destroy the look of the blog. Ridiculous! It literally puts this giant, green BAR across the whole blog! I can't find even the COLOR of the bar in any of the color options anywhere on the blog or the ads!
-- I usually just use three ads on my pages, top, mid, bottom, and almost always the 700x60 ones or whatever they are. They're surrounded by content. The way it should be.
-- Cluttered sites with tons of little crap on the right and left sides are bad and distracting (particularly with the little social media and twitter and googleplus buttons all over). Clean and simple is better, in my view. Too many blogs overwhelm the reader with just tons and tons of crap! Even mainstream news/gossip sites go way overboard. I don't get it. Does that work? Does that result in ad clicks? But others get it right, like uk's daily mail. They stuff a lot of content on their page but it looks good, clean, accessible.
-- I have no idea what CSS is, SSL, Flash -- no idea how to do any of that or where to begin. I know it's all related to why certain sites look beautiful and have lots of nice little touches, and my sites look so basic (but still serviceable and clean). I'm not sure if it's necessary or worth it to know any of it or not.
-- I think the MOST important thing is to a have a highly interactive, clean, easy to use comment system for blogs or articles. I don't have that. But it's huge. Also a reward system for comments, etc. Huffpo does it well.
-- I can't even fathom these people who offhandedly remark how they make 5k a month, or 10k a month, like it's nothing.
-- To just make a few hundred a month consistently ought to be considered damn near a miracle.
-- It's another matter if you INVEST a lot of money into a site. Remember, I spent $12! I know some of these guys are spending thousands.
-- Adsense can be a real headache at first. I still don't know why ads say "new" and other ones say "active". There are a lot of confusing, non-intuitive little quirks to the platform.
-- I have no idea what Meta Tags even are or what they mean. I've read about them and I still can't tell if you're supposed to put "keywords" in there or actual, full paragraphs from my site. I've just tried to fill them in with stuff from my own site instead of jamming them up with tons of keywords. I seemed to do SOMETHING right with my main site that's getting the traffic -- very high Google ranking, right off the bat! I've decided to just LEAVE IT ALONE SO I DON'T SCREW ANYTHING UP.
-- I still don't get how/when Google crawls and categorizes sites. I see a lot of old descriptions on sites I put up that get crawled. It's like Google doesn't update anything. This huge billion dollar company and it's showing site information from a week ago that's been changed. It seems really random, slow and stupid. You'd think with the computing power as it is, web site updates across the world would update almost in real-time on search engines. Is there some big backlog of sludge keeping that from happening? Are these spiders and crawlers just slow as f*** or something?
What I'm saying is, you upload a site, you'd expect within minutes it's on Google and has some kind of placement.
I guess if it were that easy, people would constantly upload their sites and test placement and change keywords, etc to move up in rankings.
It's all really esoteric how it all happens.
-- Affiliate marketing sounds retarded. Sounds like another maze of esoteric crap I'll have to wade through and figure out. It would be nice if there were a few sites you could go to and click, "Ok, sign me up for affiliate marketing," but there aren't -- because you click on those and it goes to another site, then another, then another. I don't even know WTF affiliate marketing is!
-- Ad placement seems to be key. I think making the ads blend in with the font/color of the links on your site is best. I like text ads best.
-- The ads Adsense shows on your site is also key. Some of the ads are just beyond stupid, stuff like ads for knee replacements (?). The functions they have for weeding out ads you don't want are marginal at best. I personally would only allow the "Free Television Online" ads only to show up if I could.
Right now I'm using my Godaddy coupon credits on Facebook and Bing. I've learned I really hate Facebook even more. At least Bing has a live chat person available during the day, that was nice. They seem to be trying, actually. Facebook is just worthless. It is one of the most awful platforms on the web right now.
Now I gotta find out what this crap is about "Panda". That sounds like a lot of fun for everyone.
Thanks for reading.
[edited by: littlecubpanda at 8:08 pm (utc) on May 7, 2013]