vegetable-gardening-made-simple.com
Image 5547568-bwidow2016008_dc11_lr-0.jpg

Exclusive Preview: BLACK WIDOW #8

BLACK WIDOW #8

(W) Chris Samnee, Mark Waid (A/CA) Chris Samnee

DARK ROOM FIELD TRIP!

• Students of the DARK ROOM – the successor of the Red Room – are making their way into the world.

• One young assassin has her sights set on a VERY high-profile target.

• There’s no shortage of men prepared to stop her, and BLACK WIDOW will have to fight them all to save her.

Rated T+

SEP161048 In Shops: Nov 30, 2016 SRP: $3.99

Read More

How Bloggers Can Fix a Manual Penalty Caused by Compensated Content & Reviews

This past weekend Google sent out a round of manual penalty notices citing “unnatural outbound links” – later confirmed to be targeting sites publishing compensated content and reviews where the blogger is linking out to the brand or site that compensated them. If your site received the notice, you’ll find some advice for fixing your… Read More

The post How Bloggers Can Fix a Manual Penalty Caused by Compensated Content & Reviews appeared first on Sugarrae.

Read More

13 Advanced Link Building Strategies You (Probably) Haven’t Used

Copyblogger has long been one of the most authoritative blogs on copywriting and content marketing. While they used to reveal their most popular blog posts in their sidebar (sorted by most comments) it seems that is no longer the case. But what if it was? What if you could analyse any blog and see which of their articles have the most comments, in order.

If you could rank them by how many backlinks those articles have, you’re left with foolproof solution for finding content ideas that attract links and comments. Fortunately, with the technology available today this is totally achievable in minutes and doesn’t require you to fork out for a virtual assistant to do all of the grunt work. In today’s post, I’ll show you exactly how it’s done, and a whole lot more.

While a lot of the ‘whitehat’ link building web is focused on “writing great content” that sole focus could mean you miss out on some great opportunities to improve your standing in Google.

Jon Cooper has one of the best link building minds on the planet, and here’s what he tweeted just a few days ago:

While you can shout “Just write quality content” all day long, those of us who rank in Google are more often than not actively trying to do so. You can still focus on writing great content and add smart link building to your mix.

A Unique Formula for Finding Popular, Linked-to Content You Can Replicate in Any Niche

When it comes to analysing content to see what people are interested in reading about, we already have the likes of BuzzSumo to analyse how popular something was socially, but social shares don’t always correspond to links. What does correspond to links? Getting people talking.

If something is worth commenting on in 2016, it’s far more likely to attract a link. And if you want to attract links to your articles, then write something worth commenting on. Just like you can learn from articles which received thousands of Pins on Pinterest or Likes on Facebook, you can also learn from the success of others in attracting comments and apply that to your own endeavours.

I’m going to dive right into this first tactic and use Copyblogger.com as my example site to work with.

What I first need to do is find a list of the blog posts on Copyblogger. You could wait around for a virtual assistant to collect all of the links manually but thankfully we have tools like Screaming Frog (free for analysing up to 500 URL’s) which can automate the process for us.

If I just open up Screaming Frog as-is and run Copyblogger through the tool, I start seeing results like the following.

The problem is that most of these results are useless unless I’m analysing their on-site SEO.

They aren’t actual posts from Copyblogger and if you’re using the free version of Screaming Frog, you’ll use up your 500 URL limit very quickly.

Fortunately Screaming Frog does have an Exclude setting, allowing you to pull back only the types of results you’re looking for. Here are some of the terms I have blocked to get a better picture of Copyblogger articles.

In other words, if these words are present in a URL, then Screaming Frog will not list them.

To find this box simply go to Configuration > Exclude and then add the terms you wish to exclude. Think “dot star [word] dot star” if you’re looking to write a list of terms quickly.

Another option to help remove irrelevant results is to go to Configuration > Spider and uncheck most of the options, as shown below.

Now if I run the tool again, I should get some ‘cleaner’ results.

As you can see, I’m finding the actual blog posts that I was looking for with little ‘fluff’.

Once you have your list, use the Save option so you have your list of URL’s.

“This is just a list of pages from Copyblogger. How does that help?”

As you probably guessed, there’s a bit more to this tactic than simply finding all posts on the Copyblogger blog.

The next tool I want to use in my arsenal is URLProfiler which you can find here (not an affiliate link, there are none on this blog). While this is a paid tool you have the ability to scan up to 50,000 URL’s with their 14-day free trial as many times as you want.

I use URLProfiler when I want to extract something from a page and have it linked to a specific URL. In this case, I’ll be extracting the comment counts from each blog post on Copyblogger.

(Note: Screaming Frog does have a similar feature to what I’m about to discuss but I could never get it to work. Also, URLProfiler allows backlink count analysis which you’ll find useful in a moment).

Once you open URL Profiler you want to either copy and paste in your URL’s from Screaming Frog or right click and select ‘Import from Screaming Frog SEO Spider.’ Usually I do the latter. That should look something like this.

There are only 32 links because I don’t want to scrape their entire website. I have data about Copyblogger already.

What we want to do next is head on over to the website in question, Copyblogger.com, and select the data you want to copy. This is slightly easier to do in Chrome than it is Firefox, but both are suitable. I don’t think Safari, IE or Opera will work.

What I want to copy from Copyblogger, are their comment counts.

Articles that receive a lot of comments are usually great to model in terms of content to write for your own website, and typically receive more links from articles that wouldn’t invoke readers to leave a comment. There’s a lot to learn from articles that get people to actually write feedback on a specific site, rather than social media, and especially so in 2016.

So I head on over to the Copyblogger website and click on an individual blog post. From there I right click on the data I want to copy and click Inspect (I’m using Google Chrome) like so.

Then I need to right click on the element again in the Console window and click Copy XPath, as shown below.

If you’re familiar with Regex and so on then you can use those skills, but XPath has been the simplest one for me to get and it has worked 95% of the time.

Then we want to head back to URL Profiler and follow the steps in the image below.

Now click Apply and let URLProfiler do its thing. Depending on how many URL’s you import the job could take anywhere from a few minutes (less than 500 URL’s) to a few hours (50,000 URL’s).

I then get back an Excel file and with a little cleaning (i.e. removing irrelevant columns from Screaming Frog) I get some very interesting data.

I pulled back 392 articles with at least 10 comments, 221 with at least 50 comments and 81 with at least 100 comments.

Once you’ve done this process once you can be getting new data on any website in a matter of minutes.

Please note: For most websites and web hosts this kind of scraping is likely against their Terms of Service. I don’t accept any responsibility for what may happen if you take this too far (hence this post is titled ‘Advanced’). Please be responsible if implementing this kind of tactic by running the tools during low-traffic hours of the day, not pulling more pages than you need and so on.

Now I know the most commented articles ever written on Copyblogger I can analyse them to work out why they received so many comments. You can also take this further and use URLProfilers option of accessing the Moz or Majestic API (both free) to get backlink data on every single post.

In other words you can see the most commented on and linked to articles on any blog on the planet. For me this has been an absolute goldmine of information for new industries I want to enter and far better than just checking social shares with the likes of BuzzSumo.

I use this process for so many things that I actually rent a server from Amazon so I can run these tools at max speed. When you’re collecting data on over 400,000 URL’s (which was one of my recent crawls) then you can get the data back in a few hours rather than a few days.

If you get creative you’ll find there’s a lot more valuable information you can use this tool-combination on than just analysing link and comment counts.

Thanks to Joshua for his help with the tools needed for this.

Find Private Networks and Link Opportunities (Without Analysing Backlinks)

It’s a well-known tactic in the SEO world to check the backlinks of your competitors so that you can find any possible link opportunities that you can duplicate yourself.

What isn’t so common is to find out where your competitors are being mentioned without links, which may still pose some opportunities.

One such tactic I like to employ is to search for a phone number or email address associated with my competitor.

I’ve actually use the first option to find companies who are relying on other’s to rank sites that they then rent out to that specific business. Then you can delve into that site and see how they’re building links which help them rank.

For example, here’s a website which is ranking for a search term which receives more than 10,000 exact searches per month.

The website is featuring a real brand with a logo, Twitter account and Facebook page which has nothing to do with the domain name of the site I see ranking.

If I search for their phone number instead of just looking at backlink analysis tools then I find another part of their network, here:

This is a totally different site they’re using which also appears to rank well for their chosen keywords.

Another result leads me to a Twitter account with their phone number, and once again I find another website this webmaster is operating.

The keyword tools I use did not find this mini network they’re operating in order to dominate a sector of the pet niche in a certain state of the US.

However, when searching for a phone number (or other key details like the first line of an address, or their email address) you can generally uncover a lot more with your analysis.

AROUND(Number) is a Google Search Operator Which Improves Upon Regular Link-Finding Queries

One query I haven’t seen any other SEO blog touch upon is the AROUND(?) search operator. It has been useful in a number of situations for me in recent months when trying to find specific strings of text in search results.

It has been so useful that I’m surprised I haven’t read about it in the marketing world before — I found it when looking through some programming discussions on Reddit.

What this query allows you to do is essentially find words that are within a certain proximity to each other.

For example, you already know that if you search for niche “submit article” you’ll find sites in a particular niche which accept guest posts. This is a common search query shared on blogs about finding posting opportunities along with “write an article”, “submit your post” and so on.

However, if we search for something like niche “submit” AROUND(4) “article” we can see pages for a specific niche or from a specific website which reveal a sentence where submit and article are not together, but still in close proximity.

Not more than four words apart, in this example.

So what I’ve done here is try to find websites which say submit and guest post within four words of each other and also have the world gold in their URL.

Searching for “submit tip” or “submit guest post” would not have revealed this result.

Look how much more natural that search query is. It’s something you clearly wouldn’t find from a typical “submit article” search and opens up a lot of other link opportunities that SEO’s aren’t finding with commonly shared queries.

For example a sentence could have been “If you would like to submit your article” which a simple “submit article” search prior would not have found.

If you change the number after AROUND (the one in brackets) you increase the allowed space you can have between two words.

Let me give another example of how this query is useful. I recently noticed that some WordPress websites publicly show how much traffic their pages are receiving. This seems to be some kind of option in WordPress – I’m not sure where – but the WordPress forums are full of people wishing to turn it off.

Here’s one such website which reveal their daily pageviews for each article.

My first idea was to simply scrape their website (using the tools in the first tactic) and see which were the most popular articles they’ve ever written. That being said, I no longer run any viral pages on Facebook so I wouldn’t really have anything to do with the information.

I instead decided to check was which other websites reveal this information publicly.

Thanks to the AROUND search operator, I can do exactly that.

(I went to page two for this screenshot since the first page is just people asking how to remove it from their sites)

As we can see, even the USA government are in on the action to help out us marketers.

Now to be totally honest I didn’t find anything too interesting from sites that publicly share their pageviews. I was actually hoping to make a tool out of it but not many big sites share their stats. I found some interesting article ideas on a few sites, but nothing that was really worth the hour or so of trawling through the results.

Just think of all the standard search queries that you can now expand upon and find more natural results. Things like:

niche “top tools”
niche “recommended websites”
Niche “submit a post”
Niche “favourite links”

No longer do you need the words to be ‘touching’. You can specify how far apart they can be and broaden your link building horizons.

I’m hoping this query gives you some ideas of custom things you can search for you may not have been able to find previously. As I said, I use it far more than I ever expected it would and now that it’s in your arsenal, I hope you find places it can come into play.

Reverse-Analyse The Links of Successful Flippa Listings

When I used to write articles for SEOmoz (now Moz) back in the day, I wrote an article about four ways of building links that are currently working well for me. While the article was written in 2010, one of the tactics I shared there is still relevant today: Finding sites on Flippa with a lot of search traffic and analysing their backlink sources.

The reason you want to do this is because it’s interesting to see how some websites are ranking quickly, receiving a lot of traffic from search and are able to sustain that traffic. It’s essentially an open diary of what is working in SEO if you focus on the right listings.

For example, here’s a listing that’s live on the website right now.

I have blurred out the name but they’re completely open about these stats (I don’t have to be logged-in to see them) so while I’m not sharing anything others can’t find, I’ll at least protect the URL.

As you can see, their traffic has grown fairly rapidly.

This is only interesting to me if most of it is coming from search, which in this case, it is.

While the numbers aren’t huge, search still makes up most than half of the traffic to the site, and at least 33% of that is coming from the United States (meaning there are more lucrative opportunities for monetising that traffic).

If someone has built a site worth a few thousand dollars in less than a year which relies on search traffic, I’m always curious to know how they got there.

If we analyse their backlinks, it’s an interesting, albeit familiar story:

As you can guess the links they’ve built are pretty awful and almost entirely consist of comment spam.

However, their anchor text is very diverse so I think this is what has helped them stay under the radar and still benefit from these types of links.

Of course, as I often say, it depends what niche you’re in as well. Trying to do this for ‘Gold IRA’ is just incredibly unlikely to work, but an image-based site can certainly benefit from automated and fast link building.

Build a Private Database of Proven Promoters

I first heard about this tactic from Brian Dean on a podcast with Eric Siu a few months ago. The idea is simply to create your own private database of real people who have already shared your content or content that is very similar to what you write about or plan to write about.

You can then use that database to let people know when you publish new content that they may be interested in.

For instance, here are two women who have tweeted content I’ve wrote in the past few days.

If we click on Heidi’s profile (thanks for the tweet, Heidi!) we can see she has a very impressive number of followers and a genuine blog in the internet marketing space.

In other words, she’s the perfect type of person to strike up a relationship with if I want more shares (and potential links) on future content.

Please note that I will not be contacting Heidi or Kellie and request that others don’t either. They just recently tweeted my articles and therefore ended up in this example.

Heidi, like many website owners, does not seem to publicly display her email address. Instead she has a contact form if you wish to get in touch with her. If this is the case with someone you wish to add to your ‘list’ then simply send a friendly thank you email to establish some sort of connection. You’ll also receive that persons email address when they reply to your email.

Kellie on the other hand does show her email address prominently, so while I should still send her a thank you email, I could also add her to a ‘list’ very quickly.

I typically just make a simple spreadsheet in Excel which looks like the following.

I don’t write down any full names as I’ll generally never use them.

You may be curious why I use ‘Company’ as the column heading for the tweet where they wrote about me. This is just a preference based on the email messaging platform I use. When I import the email addresses later, it will ask me what variable I wish to assign tweets to, and I choose Company.

I personally use Reply for my email outreach but there are literally dozens out there so do your research first. I honestly just used the first option that looked good enough for what I needed, but it can get quite pricey.

Once I’ve imported the list, I’ll set-up a campaign to send a message like the following.

Note that I’m using the Company variable for where the link to the tweet they wrote about me will go.

While this is quite a slow process (it can take a minute per email and many people don’t share them publicly) I actually think that adds to its charm. There are less people who are willing to take the time to do it and therefore you’re going to get a better response on your emails.

I haven’t really utilised this much for ViperChill – though I may in future – but have for other sites.

Of course, if the site that you’re trying to promote is new (like mine have been), then you can’t say things like “You previously tweeted an article of mine.”

In that case you need to find similar articles to the one you are looking to promote, and then find the people who shared them on Twitter via their search engine.

You certainly aren’t guaranteed any links with this method, but if you could get an extra 100 Twitter shares on your next article from real people with real followers, you greatly increase your chance of finding the ‘linkerati’ who actually have the power to link to your content.

I did this for my article on ’16 Companies Dominating Google’ a few months back. Someone recommended an influencer who might like the article – they had no idea who I was nor had they ever read ViperChill to my knowledge – and I sent them a quick tweet about the post.

Then this happened.

I’ve never had more than 40 likes on a single tweet so it just goes to show what the right people can do for your promotion efforts.

Sharing good content is often good for the person sharing it, as it shows them as being an authority in their particular field.

Reverse-Analyse Scholarship Link Builders

When I talked about scholarship link building in my state of link building report, I received more hate emails and publicly negativity than I ever have. So much so that one Reddit sub-Reddit went crazy about what a terrible person I was and how I was giving away advice to people who don’t deserve it.

Normally negative feedback really gets me down, but in this case, I totally accepted it.

If you don’t see any moral issue with students taking the time to fill out forms in the hopes of winning a scholarship – when there’s likely 99.9% zero chance you’re even giving away a scholarship – then we couldn’t be any more different.

The example I shared in my last post was a brand new coupons website suddenly deciding to give away a scholarship in the first month of their opening and just got “lucky enough” to pick up dozens of .edu backlinks.

I can not be convinced they weren’t doing it just for links, and more than likely have no scholarship to offer.

I won’t be covering the tactic again, but I will state what there is to learn from the people who do this: What other types of links they build.

People who use scholarship links often:

Use donation links
Guest post
Participate in PIN’s
Buy links on websites
‘Sponsor’ software in return for a link

If you want to know what works in the world of SEO, you should be following the people taking the time out to create these scholarship pages and then contacting the universities for a link.

While I don’t agree with their methods, they’re on the pulse of what works.

Here’s the example I shared in the past, and some of the other links that they’ve picked up.

In one minute I’ve found an absolute goldmine of SEO knowledge by just checking one website. I can also replicate every single one of these links if I wished to do so.

I’ve found one site I can donate to (it’s cheap) and two directories which accept links from anyone, as long as you get in touch with them. If I ever went the scholarship link building route (I wouldn’t), there’s two additional places I can get links from as well.

The site was only started in 2016 so those links that shouldn’t really work are starting to pay off for them.

This site is actually small in comparison to another webmaster who is building thousands of donation, scholarship and paid directory links.

Just look at their traffic stats to see what I mean.

They’re around 4x bigger than the first example but following the exact same method of link building.

Start from one source, like websites listed as offering scholarships, and then work your way backwards through other links they’ve built.

This tactic alone will give you more insights into SEO than the Google Webmaster blog.

A Little-Known Reddit URL for Finding Promotion Opportunities

If you’ve been following my journey on my personal blog at Glen Allsopp.com you’ll have seen that I shared exactly how I planned to write this article. In one update I wrote,

What I tend to do with articles like this is totally ignore what’s out there on the web until I’m finished my own post. Then I’ll search for something like “Advanced link building tactics” (the topic I’m writing about) and see if there are any great ideas I can include. I’ll try to add something the original author hasn’t covered but will always link back where it is necessary.

In other words, I never read articles on the subject I’m writing about until I’ve actually finished my own article. I want it to be original and don’t want to be swayed by the ideas of others.

The following tactic is something I actually found on Reddit just as this post was about to go live, and thought was an excellent tip to add.

Reddit has a little-known feature that allows you to see where a domain was shared anywhere on their website. So you could not only check your own website, but the performance of your competitors as well.

For instance, if I use the following query – http://reddit.com/domain/viperchill.com – I can see these were the most recently shared stories from ViperChill on Reddit:

What you can see in this highlighted box is that someone submitted my article to a sub-Reddit I didn’t even know existed and was actually able to send me thousands of visitors to my site in a 24 hour period.

Now, granted, those visitors did not stay on the site very long (with seems to be a common theme with ‘Redditors’) but I can take some things away from this:

I found a Redditor who reads ViperChill and has a bit of ‘authority’ there
I learned about a new sub-Reddit I could possibly promote to in the future
I received a lesson in writing Reddit titles for different audiences

If your site is new or you have yet to really write any content worth sharing then looking up your own domain will likely pull back few results, if any at all.

However, there’s no reason you can’t run your ‘competitors’ through the same query and get insights on sub-Reddit’s to use, Redditor’s who read content in your niche and content ideas you could cover yourself.

I decided to look up my friend Pat Flynn’s blog, Smart Passive Income, to see the results for his website.

I actually didn’t get the best of results back, so I modified the search URL a little, to this:

https://www.reddit.com/domain/smartpassiveincome.com/top/?sort=top&t=all

This will show me, from highest to lowest, the posts from Pat’s site which received the most upvotes in the history of Reddit. You simply need to click on ‘Top’ then ‘All Time’ if you want to do it manually, or you can just use the query above and swap out the domain name.

With that query I get the following result:

Now I’ve learned that I could potentially angle some of my future content towards the /r/productivity crowd and even though I’m in the internet marketing / make money industry, they could still respond favorably to the content.

Reddit links themselves aren’t really worth anything but if your post does go viral, you have an opportunity to reach the type of people who could link to you.

Rank for Terms the Linkerati Are Searching For

The term Linkerati, coined by Moz.com’s Rand Fishkin, refers to people who have the ability to link. Meaning they have some place on the web that they could actually link from, whether it’s a forum, blog, online store or similar.

If you don’t get the attention of people who can actually send links your way, then you aren’t going to pick up any links.

This gem comes from Ken Lyons, who shared the tip back in 2013 on a creative link building post by PointBlankSEO. Before I add my own ideas to the original concept, here’s what Ken had to say a few years ago,

We optimize and link to the “become an author” pages on each site we run this on so the doc will rank for search operators in specific keyword verticals. This gets us a steady flow of guest posting inquiries. We offer to “swap content” with bloggers that want to guest post on our sites. If you’re unwilling to or can’t swap, we won’t publish your article.

With the number of sites we run, we swap an average of about 100 articles per month. What I love about this tactic is the efficiency: link opportunities come to us versus us having to prospect for them. This really puts us in the driver’s seat and means:

– We can insist on only swapping with sites that meet or exceed specific quality thresholds.

– We have total control over link placement within the article and aren’t restricted to a single author bio link.

– We’ve been able to build ongoing relationships with others who run portfolios of sites and swap with them on a pretty regular basis.

How smart is that?

Rank for terms that link builders are using to find link opportunities in Google, then offer to work with them to help both of your sites. Similar to what I recommended with PIN’s, but actually having people come to you to pitch content.

So you could set-up a dummy website like “Real estate backlinks” or “real estate guest posting” and try to rank for relevant terms to each of those. Then make it very open on your website that you offer link opportunities, and people should get in touch with you if they want them.

Only once they get in touch do you start negotiations that are beneficial for both of you, rather than just plainly accepting their guest post on one of your websites.

As Ken says, it’s likely that not everyone will be a perfect fit, but just like my success with outreach for paid links (see below), you’ll find the right person to work with now and then who makes it all worth it.

Why Maps are the new Infographics When it Comes to Link Building

When infographics became all the rage a few years ago it seems like every other article I was reading had them embedded. People saw them as a way to “ethically” build quality links to their website, and get a few extra pins on Pinterest.

Infographic creation companies sprouted up across the web and some startups dedicated to their creation received millions of dollars in funding.

While infographics are no doubt useful and visually appealing, I would argue their massive success is due to the SEO’s of the world creating them for links.

This could well mean that maps, or more specifically interactive maps are going to be the new infographic when it comes to link building.

After all, the biggest publications in the world are sharing them on a constant basis.

I took this screenshot on the same day this article is going live.

David McSweeney gets the credit for noticing this trend and doing a huge write-up on the topic a few months ago. Since his article I’ve certainly seemed to be noticing this more, and no doubt your average webmaster will be picking up on the idea soon enough.

It’s Working for Insurance Companies

I don’t really want to link to this one as it’s clearly just some SEO agency having created this for their client, but if anything it shows that even obvious implementations of this strategy can attract links.

GoCompare, a UK-founded financial comparison site created an interactive map on the topic of ‘What Powers the World’ which you can find here.

While it no doubt took technical skill to put together, it’s incredibly simple and doesn’t really reveal much at all.

The map, while seemingly irrelevant for what GoCompare was founded to produce, has been able to pick up links from over 100 different domains.

The obvious ‘problem’ of course is that for most people, these maps aren’t going to be easy to create out of the box. Keep in mind for however that for many people the same was true for creating infographics and still is today. I couldn’t design a beautiful infographic without help from others even though I’ve used Photoshop for years.

I think we can expect to see more ‘map creation services’ popping up as people look to capitalise on this opportunity while it’s seen as a more ethical (and perhaps easier) way to build links.

Do note that maps don’t have to be interactive to be shared. This following one was featured on Business Insider recently and is nothing more than a static image.

As long as the angle you’re taking for promotion is interesting then maps offer a nice visual which could attract views and social shares for whoever publishes (or republishes) the information.

If you’re interested in this tactic the first thing I would do is spend a few hours going through other examples of maps and simply noting which ones received a lot of social shares. Then try to find ways to make popular angle’s relevant to your own industry.

The Report That Earned Me Hundreds of Links (And Still Works in 2016)

At 18 years old, not long after I have just moved to South Africa, I started a personal development blog called PluginID (no link as it’s no longer online).

I was trying to grow my reach with the site as much as possible and basically wanted to track my own progress compared to other bloggers in the space. I decided to create something which showed me exactly that.

If I recall correctly the following script cost me around $150 to put together, but thanks to the links and attention it received, it was more than worth it.

There were 71 sites on the list from the last count I can find so while the sites at the top weren’t interested in promoting it, those who were lower down the list definitely came back now and then to check how they’re doing.

It’s funny to see the metrics I used to track back then and the ones we track today. It’s almost a history of the internet.

Google Pagerank is dead.

Alexa barely gets talked about anymore.

Technorati is dead, too.

These days the reports that I put together look something a little more like this:

Note that this is not my own website but is a design I helped to advise on. I talk more about it near the end of this video.

As a bit of an internet time-capsule, I wonder if we’ll still be counting links, likes and Twitter followers five years from now.

I absolutely love the twist that Nathan Gotch has put on this idea (and not just because he has been far too kind in ranking me). His stats are not based on any particular scores like share metrics but his personal opinions of each article.

Showing he reads and rates so much content in the SEO world instantly makes him appear to be an expert on the topic.

And of course, everyone who is mentioned there wants to share it as well. While Nathan doesn’t seem to have picked up links, keep in mind that they’re generally much harder to get in the IM space because everyone is more likely to Tweet something than link to it. And people are definitely tweeting.

I’ve seen dozens of tweets (and made some myself) but I’m unsure how to find them all directly due to Twitter shortening the URL’s.

The great thing about this idea is:

Every month, some of the 10 people who are featured will share the page
It’s fairly easy for Nathan to put together since he reads the blogs anyway
It’s useful for his audience (I’ve found a few cool new blogs via his list)

As long as he can share 10 links for his audience each month it’s really a win-win for everyone.

How could you do that in your industry?

Could you curate a list of the top 10 articles about cooking, health and fitness, vegan recipes or anything else?

Notify those who get featured and start becoming the standard ‘go-to’ resource in your niche for the top content found on that topic. If you’re passionate about the industry you’re in the articles should be easy to find.

And don’t worry about “giving away” authority. I linked to 71+ blogs back in the PluginID days but people kept coming back to my site because I had the list and must have known a lot about the topic if I knew all of these sites.

Reverse-Analyse the Link Building Efforts of Wikihow Link Builders

Wikihow is a website which receives an estimated 86% of it’s traffic from search engines, according to SimilarWeb.

While their external links are no-followed, once again the webmasters who are taking advantage of their resource have built a lot of other links you can duplicate as well.

Whenever Wikihow pages link to external sources they use the heading text “Sources and Citations”. Therefore with a custom Google query you can pull back relevant pages from their site.

If you edit the query to include a word relevant to industries you operate in, you can find active webmasters building links in your space.

Similar to previous reverse-analysis ideas I’ve shared, you would then go and analyse other backlinks these sites have picked up and find some great link opportunities.

Literally Just Ask Websites If They Sell Links

I’ve put this towards the bottom of the article as it’s probably the least advanced tactic here due to how simple it really is.

That being said, it’s rare that you’ll find bloggers talking about buying links these days, especially when it’s frowned upon.

Then again, there have been some big brands who have experimented with it for SEO reasons, even if they don’t endorse the tactic directly.

I’ve bought so many links over the last year that I almost wish I could offer link buying as a service (it wouldn’t be fair to the sites I’m buying them from if I was “caught”).

As I said, this is a very simple process. I simply give a list of 1,000 or so domains (gathered from lists of top blogs in various industries) to an assistant who then log’s into a email platform I set-up and then simply asks them if they have links for sale.

While the success rate is fairly low – many webmasters are scared of selling links – you do find people who have huge networks of links for sale, with fair pricing.

[EDIT: The people who sent me this example email asked for the graphic to be removed from the post. I do want to make clear that there was zero identifying information on the sites selling links, nor who sent the email. They simply recognised their own email they sent to my assistant. However, out of respect I removed the image.]

Most people you come across have websites they’re passionate about but they just don’t receive that much traffic and therefore aren’t making money. If they can get an extra $50-$100 per month for essentially doing nothing then many of them will jump on that.

Just make sure when you’re sending emails you’re not using a domain or email address that you care about.

For less than $3 per month you can use a private email option with Namecheap (found here) and then you don’t have to worry about setting up new hosting and so on.

How to Consistently Pick Up Targeted Backlinks from the Top Sites in Your Niche

While Dale Carnegie left many nuggets of wisdom during his time with us, the following quote is undoubtedly the truest.

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie

People can be talking metres from you without you hearing a single word they say, until your name pop’s up, and suddenly your brain is able to tune in on that discussion.

I would argue that the second sweetest sound to a webmaster or product owner is a favourable review of something they’ve created

Trust me, the best way to get anyone in the world talking about you is to have success with something they sell.

I have an entire page dedicated to people who have success with my Marketing program and if anyone else sends me a video testimonial, you can be sure I’ll be quick to put it up there as well.

One obvious place to start is somewhere like Clickbank and go through their marketplace to find products relevant to your niche. This is a bit of a tedious approach though because most of the reviews and testimonials that are found on sales pages, if they exist at all, rarely contain any links to the authors website.

Instead, I would head on over to iTunes and find the top podcasts in your niche, and then see if those podcast hosts have any products or services you would personally be interested in.

For instance, let’s say you’re a golf coach, run a golf course or sell golf equipment online. If you head on over to iTunes the first or second result you’ll find under a podcast search for ‘golf’ will be the Golf Smarter show, which has over 500 episodes.

While there are no site names in the description, if I Google the name of the podcast I quickly find Fred’s website. I also find that he has a product for sale, for a very reasonable price.

When you find something like this there are two approaches you can take:

Reach out and ask Fred if he would be interested in featuring your review of his show on the website
Reach out and ask Fred for a preview and in return you will review the show for him

The review would then link back to your website and Fred would have a chance at getting more sales by actually having reviews on his site (he doesn’t have any yet, which is surprising).

Please note that this is just an example: Please don’t flood poor Fred with dozens of review requests.

Another example is the podcast IMTalk, designated for those in the middle of training for an Ironman. It’s surprisingly popular:

If we head on over to their website we can see not one but three opportunities to get a link from them.

You could:

Purchase and review their products (ask if they’re interested in featuring testimonials upfront)
Sponsor their show
Submit content for their audience

Using Copyblogger as an example once again, you can see that the reviewers of their ‘Authority’ program get a nice backlink from a great domain.

While these links take a bit of effort, it’s probably one of the best links you could get if you also run a fitness website or more specifically one catered to those training for an Ironman competition.

I have a special announcement coming on Monday so if you’re not already on the ViperChill email list please do be sure to opt-in below or in the right sidebar. Thank you for reading!

Read More
Image marketing-inc-empire.jpg

How ViperChill Founder Dave Cunningham Generated $1.4M in 2015

You’ve probably noticed over the years that I’m not a big fan of talking about my own finances. I have close friends and family who read this blog and as they don’t share their current wealth with me (I don’t really want to know), I would rather not share mine with them. However, I do know that those who are struggling to succeed online get a lot of motivation from the success stories of others, so I’m excited to share one with you today.

Dave Cunningham, the original founder of ViperChill, generated more than $1.4m in revenue in 2015 and I’m going to share exactly how he did it. Long-time readers may know a little about Dave already, but those who haven’t been here quite so long may have never have heard his name before. That’s because Dave does pretty much all he can to avoid the limelight. Ironically, he was more than happy to put his name on the headline of this article.

And just in case you think I’m making this whole thing up, here’s Dave’s name on the ViperChill ‘About page’ back in August of 2006.

You really liked using capital letters at the start of words, Dave.

All good? Let’s continue.

Now I believe the standard way to go about conducting a case study is to ask the subject questions about their story, get their answers, and compile it into a polished, compelling report. Yet for this case study, I’m not going to ask Dave a thing. I spent almost all of the first 18 years of my life with Dave – though we drifted apart over the last few years – and honestly think I know more about his story than he does.

So my first disclaimer is that Dave had absolutely nothing to do with this article besides the emphatic approval for his name to be in the headline.

As a second disclaimer, if you’re still doubting the current direction you’re taking online, this article could possibly ruin your life forever.

I’m not saying that to be dramatic or even increase your curiosity in what I’m about to say. I’m being genuinely serious. When I learned what Dave now knows I ditched 90% of my online projects, carved out a new opportunity for myself online and I too now make more money than I ever thought possible.

I would almost be shocked if at least two of those three things didn’t happen for you after reading this.

If you’re a skim-reader than don’t worry, it will likely only happen to those who read every word. Which is you, because skim readers wouldn’t have found this sentence (hah. Sorry!).

Years of Writing for a Handful of Readers

I could talk forever about the entire history of ViperChill but for the sake of trying to keep things brief, the business was a very unsuccessful venture (financially) for many years. From 2006 to 2008 ViperChill was positioned as an SEO company yet really struggled to land clients. The blog attached to the site contained poorly written posts on boring topics and attracted a handful of readers. Literally.

After two years of writing for the site, the Feedburner chicklet was added to see how many people subscribe to RSS updates (RSS was the biggest form of digesting blog posts at the time). The answer? 19 people. And at least two of them were Dave.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and while it was far from clear back then, it couldn’t be more obvious now: Dave’s biggest mistake in running ViperChill as a business was the wrong assumption that he needed to appear to be something he was not.

He wrote on the website about being a team of “we” yet was actually working on his own (and from his bedroom at that).

Because he acted like he had some huge team, he also acted like he could solve all kinds of marketing problems. He offered SEO, social media marketing and reputation management while promising that his “team” could take care of it.

Dave was quite simply, a liar.

Not because he wanted to deceive people, but because he thought it was the only way people would actually trust him enough so he could show them what he could do. The constant redesigns of the site didn’t seem to be helping.

ViperChill wasn’t actually as ugly as you see above, since Archive.org couldn’t preserve all the graphics, but still pretty bad.

Dave wanted people to trust him because he really was great at driving traffic to websites. I would argue he was one of the best in the world and still is to this day, but he didn’t know how to convince other people of that so the truth was stretched as far as it could go.

Probably the weirdest thing Dave lied about, was his name. He didn’t want his friends in college to Google his name, find ViperChill and think he was this strange ‘internet nerd’. He also didn’t want potential clients to know he was just a teenager.

Dave’s name really was just four letters in length, but the first letter should have jumped three spaces ahead in the alphabet, to G.

When he quit college at 17 he didn’t feel the need to hide himself anymore and I, Glen, finally added my real name to ViperChill.com.

Landing Hewlett Packard and Land Rover as Clients

Though the ViperChill blog was no roaring success, I had started to gain a little bit of interest and traction among industry peers. I was active in a number of forums regarding SEO and a member in one had been reading my blog and reached out to me about a potential job offer in South Africa.

He listed some of the companies they worked with, like HP, Land Rover and Nissan, and asked if I would be interested in leaving Newcastle (England) to move to Cape Town, South Africa. (Note: I’ve written about my story before, so please forgive that I have mostly copied a few of the following paragraphs. If you know my story I recommend skipping to the next heading.)

I still had a year left of college, so I politely declined but assured him I would speak to him in a year after I had finished college if the job was still available.

I went on with my day as usual, spending some time with my cousins. My mam came home from work later in the day and I laughed as I told her about the offer. “This crazy guy in South Africa wants me to go and work there” I said. She was surprised I had said no, and urged me to rethink it. “You don’t enjoy college, you hate your job, and this is what you want to do when you finish college anyway.”

She was right.

Within 30 seconds I had decided I was going to leave England and go and work in South Africa.

I didn’t know one single person in the country, and all I read online talked about how bad the crime there was. Yet, the chance to work on my dream projects was enough to lure me away from everything and everyone I knew.

In South Africa, I learned a lot about myself as a person and had the opportunity to put my many marketing ideas into practice. When working with Hewlett Packard, I was competing with big marketing teams from all over the world, representing the HP brand in their specific countries. Though I was working on my own, I sent more targeted traffic to the HP website than any of the other marketing firms. Combined.

Besides doing well for the company and our clients, I had a lot of success on my own. In the two years I spent working in South Africa, I built a large number of very profitable and very successful affiliate websites. Once I found a unique niche angle that was working well, I then used that idea across a number of industries and started making a decent sum of money.

I also started PluginID (no longer online), a personal development blog that documented my journey in South Africa and the things I learned about spirituality, motivation and productivity along the way. I came to the point where in January 2009, I was making more money in just a few hours per week with affiliate marketing than I was at the marketing company full-time, so I decided now was a good time to leave.

As much as I enjoyed the job, there’s nothing that compares to being able to work for yourself and on projects which totally excite you. I returned to England where I continued to focus on my affiliate sites and PluginID. PluginID reached 75,000 visitors per month and had over 7,000 RSS subscribers before I later sold it for a mid-five figure fee.

I knew that I was going to miss having an audience online, so it made perfect sense to resurrect the ViperChill brand at the same time I sold my personal development blog.

How Dave Generated $1.4m in 2015

This is probably what attracted you to this story in the first place, so let’s get into the details. And yes, I’m still keeping up with the ‘Dave’ game for those who will skim this post (if read it at all).

The last few years have kind of blurred together but around three years ago I made the decision to start offering marketing services again. It was the first thing I ever tried to sell online and helping others get more traffic and leads is something I’ve always enjoyed.

I love the challenge of promoting something and when I get to do that in other verticals and to new audiences, I can test a lot of ideas I wouldn’t usually get to try.

Marketing is also something I believe I have become pretty good at over the years and when you’re good at something you tend to enjoy it more. You can generally make more money, too. After all, the marketing consulting industry was worth over $201 BILLION dollars in 2015 alone (and that’s just in the US) so there is a lot of potential financial upside.

To cut yet another story shorter, Diggy and I had been having a lot of success with private link networks and decided to invite some friends, business contacts and members of an SEO product we ran to try it out.

The site was password protected, had ‘rules’ that users needed to agree to first and we only accepted a small number of users each time we opened our doors. Even though we added these extra hoops for people to jump through to become a client, we sold the first two rounds with ease.

The trend continued and it seemed as if we were selling our ‘availability’ as soon as the doors opened.

The biggest thing that helped generate the sales, looking back on it now, is that we were clearly specialising in something. We weren’t offering on-site SEO, or social media management or reputation management or anything like that. All we said is “We have a link network you can borrow time on and it’s working well. Would you like us to send links your way?”

Our analytics tool was showing less than 200 people reaching our site when the doors opened yet we were adding between $10,000 and $20,000 per month in recurring revenue. It was a huge surprise.

Then, because I always like to ‘figure’ this stuff out, I felt I had to learn how to replicate this success. And what I found was that some of the most successful marketing agencies in the world specialised in serving just a specific audience.

You already know there are huge marketing agencies making millions per month catering to anyone and everyone, but up until that point I hadn’t seen niche agencies with the same financial success.

6 Consecutive Years on the Inc 5000 by Serving Just One Industry

Ask yourself the following question: If you owned a gym and wanted to hire a marketing company to get you more customers, would you go with the company who works for every business or the one that specifically works with gym owners and has success stories to go with it?

That’s what people ask themselves before signing up with Net Profit Explosion, one of the first companies I discovered doing very well just serving one market. They’re more often referred to as NPE, and they only offer marketing services to gym owners and personal trainers.

If you’re a plastic surgeon or lawyer or real estate brand and want their services, they’ll turn you away at the door. Yet in turning away so many people, they managed to land over 21,000 clients and generate more than $7m in revenue in 2014.

What I love about the NPE story is that they aren’t offering a single service that you too couldn’t offer a niche audience as well. A lot of their products are digital, meaning they sell them through their website and you get the ‘meat’ of that product through their website as well. Most often through a membership back-end.

To drive people those products they use webinars, an email list, a blog, Twitter and Facebook ads. An example of the latter can be found below.

Once again, all things you could utilise to help you find potential clients in a niche industry.

After discovering NPE, I have literally found dozens and dozens of companies providing very few services to just one industry and making millions in the process. It was a real eye opener to me, and it made me realise why our link building efforts had been so successful.

Dave Copied His Formula into Other Industries and The Rest is History

The reason Dave (OK, Glen) was able to generate so much money in 2015 is because he took a proven formula for positioning himself as the expert for one niche and applied it to multiple different industries.

I now operate not only in specific industries (such as automotive) but also have a marketing agency targeted towards a specific place (Singapore). It’s important to note that I wouldn’t operate in (or have any success in) these industries if I wasn’t very interested in them. Singapore is only second to Amsterdam in terms of a place I’ve visited the most and I could read about the car industry all day long.

Though it’s always tempting to expand each niche a bit further when it’s doing well, it’s good to keep the words of Justine Musk (wife of Elon) in mind, “Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally). Then develop that potential. Choose one thing and become a master of it.

Sticking to each niche and becoming the expert for that industry (or paying other people to be) resulted in the screenshot below.

We have two business Paypal accounts – and we’re not always paid via Paypal – so there’s around another $400,000 that has been paid to Diggy and I directly as well for 2015.

So you’ve now learned that Dave stopped trying to be a jack of all trades and also realised the importance of becoming an expert in his field. To be perceived as an expert, he simply needed to…

Produce Better Content (or, Be Willing to Write 22 Books in 15 Months)

I’ve said on multiple occasions that I believe my communication strength lies in writing. The only way I can put together a coherent podcast episode is if I write out what I’m going to say first. When I record a video I fill out the notes section of Powerpoint so I can read as I go along.

While I’m certainly not the writer I wish to be, I can see that I’ve come a very long way from where I started. Just look at one of my original blog posts on ViperChill at 17. The yellow highlights are just a few of the many mistakes I would make in a 200 word article. Ignoring the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about

The writing was terrible (and my god that haircut. Visit Archive.org to view the mess for yourself), but I realise I couldn’t really skip that step.

I had to be at the point where I was a grammatically poor and boring writer in order to improve.

John Lee Dumas, who’s podcast now reaches over a million people per month, sounds like a very amateur interviewer on his first few episodes
Rand Fishkin (of Moz fame) looks really uncomfortable during his first ever ‘Whiteboard Friday’.
There’s a remarkable difference between Seth Godin’s first bestseller and his seventeenth

The Bronte sisters are two of the most popular authors of the nineteenth century, with Emily being most recognised for writing Wuthering Heights and Charlotte, Jane Eyre.

Yet research into their early writing revealed that, “The first little books weren’t just amateurish – a given, since their authors were so young – they lacked any signs of incipient genius. Far from original creations, they were bald imitations of magazine articles and books of the day.

The sisters would later devote almost all of their waking hours to writing, having completed “twenty-two little books averaging eighty pages each in one fifteen-month period.” If you want to get better at something, keep doing it.

For ViperChill my ‘better content’ mainly comes in the form of blog posts, but on other sites I operate writing helps with:

Cold outreach emails to potential clients
Writing articles for marketing in specific industries
Creating ads that entice people to click on them
Publishing lead magnets that people want to sign up for

The only way I improved at writing was by writing more and reading more. I have written more than 600,000 words for ViperChill alone. You can’t write that much without your skills improving.

I expect to be a much better writer than I am now when that count hits 1 million.

Writing may not be your preferred way of producing content, but whatever method you use, stick to it. Where your skills currently lie is not where they have to stay.

Learn Everything You Can Then Give It All Away

In order to stand the best chance of success when it comes to attracting clients you must be willing to give away every single thing you learn about internet marketing. No matter how big or small it may be, you have to be willing to share it.

I have given away idea after idea after idea on this website and I couldn’t ask for anything more in return. I’m so fortunate to receive the feedback in the form of the comments and emails that I get.

Deep down you know this already but the people giving me feedback (who I so appreciate) likely don’t care much about me at all. We’re really all just tuned in to the same W.I.I.F.M radio station (What’s in it for me?).

If I didn’t provide you with any ideas or insights you could apply to your own online ventures then quite simply, you wouldn’t be here. You’re certainly not here just because you want to “see what Glen’s up to”. Similarly, people won’t give a damn about you unless you give them something worth caring about. In this case, that means something that is particularly valuable to their business.

In his post on building a 7-figure SEO agency, Neil Patel says that he grew by offering value while expecting nothing in return.

“The last, but not least, piece of advice I want to give you is to never stop giving. One of the major ways I grew the SEO agency is by helping people for free. When I first started, people helped me for free, so I would try to pay it forward by doing the same thing”

The biggest reason why you can afford to give everything away is because most of your clients will want a “do it for me” solution, not a “do it with me” solution.

Of course, there is a chance that sharing a lot of information could lose you potential clients who simply take your advice and apply it themselves. I can almost guarantee that those clients would have been the type of “do the work with me” client that are much harder to work alongside and will negotiate the hardest on your fees.

Ideally you want to land the Do It For Me client who now sees you know what you’re talking about and then gives you free reign (and a nice budget) to go and do it for them.

How do you know if the content is good enough, you ask? Well if it doesn’t make you think “Shit, this is good!” before you hit Publish, then don’t.

You Can’t Be Afraid to Sell

Ever since I started online, I’ve hated selling. Sadly, little has changed in the last 11 years. I don’t like selling, but I’m no longer afraid to push the sale. It’s actually quite easy to do when you truly believe in what you’re promoting.

Every system I have implemented into my niche agencies gets me as close as possible to the mindset of “If you want to be a client, cool. If not, that’s cool also.” However, many potential clients want you to straight up tell them that you are the person for the job.

They want to hear you say you can fix their problems. It’s weird that we have this fear of selling built into us but you have to remember that you are there to serve the client and it’s in their best interest to listen to you.

In a few sections I’m going to cover a product of mine which I charge quite a lot of money for. One of the reasons I sell the product is to have other people join me on the journey of running a similar business. Because that’s a motivation, it’s easy to think “then why not share it for free and get more people to join you?”

Well, one of the biggest problems for me is that people simply do very little with free. They don’t value it nor take it seriously.

There are often people who talk about a topic in a far better way than you can, so I need to hand the mic to the guys at 37 Signals for this one.

There are plenty of free project management tools. There are plenty of free contact managers and customer relationship management tools. There are plenty of free chat tools and organization tools. There are plenty of free conferences and workshops. Free is everywhere. But we charge for our products. And our customers are happy to pay for them.

There’s another lesson in here: Charging for something makes you want to make it better. I’ve found this to be really important. It’s a great lesson if you want to learn how to make money.

After all, paying for something is one of the most intimate things that can occur between two people. One person is offering something for sale, and the other person is spending hard-earned cash to buy it. Both have worked hard to be able to offer the other something he or she wants. That’s trust—and, dare I say, intimacy. For customers, paying for something sets a high expectation.

When you put a price on something, you get really honest feedback from customers. When entrepreneurs ask me how to get customers to tell us what they really think, I respond with two words: Charge them. They’ll tell you what they think, demand excellence, and take the product seriously in a way they never would if they were just using it for free.

As an entrepreneur, you should welcome that pressure. You should want to be forced to be good at what you do.

If you’re ever afraid to push the sale, just remember: Selling something will make it better, and your solution will improve the life of the person you’re giving it to so make sure they know it.

The Counter-Intuitive Idea Behind Delaying Conversions

It was my belief when I was first getting started online that as soon as I put my phone number or email address up on my website I would start landing sales. After all, I clearly stated that I offer SEO on my website. If you need SEO, you should pay me…duh.

Thousands of people saw I offered SEO. Very few (literally less than 20) ever asked me to do it for them.

And the worst part about it is that I was good at it. I earned a link from Google’s Matt Cutts at 17. Their multi-millionaire head of web spam linked back to this very blog and I knew the exact reason why…and I could do it for you.

Fucking Dave. Always getting the credit.

But nobody cared.

Any time I had even the slightest chance of being able to work with someone I would try to push the ‘deal’ as quickly as possible.

These days I am absolutely ambivalent to whether I land a client or not. In fact, most clients are waiting for me to decide on them, rather than the other way around.

And yes, this is even in industries where they have no idea I’m “Glen Allsopp” or “ViperChill”.

The reason I am able to pick and choose clients now is because they view me as the expert that can solve their specific needs.

And the view me as an expert, usually, because I have written something that makes me appear to be so.

I have shown them through content (it really can be any form, I believe) that I know their industry and I can help them get more of what they want (which is usually more leads).

I’m not the only one to have found that delaying a ‘close’ can have an improvement on the type of people you sign-up.

Proposify, a Saas company helping you craft better proposals found that they convert an extra 1% of their visitors into free trial sign-ups if those people view a case study on their website first.

Moz, the SEO company that pulled in $38m in 2015 found that people who read one or two blog posts on their site before signing up for their offering stayed on as customers 2-3X longer than average.

Instead of rushing for the sale, I now let people take their time to learn more about what I offer and I make sure the content where I show my skills is up front and center.

There’s a reason I don’t put pop-ups on my websites and follow the trend of other bloggers who take over your entire browser screen with that new header opt-in box. Just because your conversion rate increases it doesn’t mean your sales will increase. Let people crave your content and not just want it so they could get rid of a pop-up box.

As Seth Godin says, “Don’t try to convert strangers into customers. It’s ineffective and wasteful. Instead, focus on turning those momentary strangers into people eager to hear from you again and again.

And Let’s Not Forget the Real Key to Success…

It’s that boring predictable answer you’ve heard a million times before.

It’s so predictable that you probably get a little disappointed when you read it, still feeling like there’s a secret out there that’s being held back.

But it’s to grind, hustle, work your ass off, redline (my favourite) or whatever else you want to call it.

The world’s best-selling author, Danielle Steel, says about her success, “Other than that, I attribute it to very, very hard work, and persistence. Discipline to make myself work, even on a pretty day when other pursuits beckon, or when I’m tired and would love to have a break. (I finish the work first). Discipline, hard work, and persistence win the prize every time.”

As I write this I’m on Pomodoro 13 for the day, which is number 124 for the past fortnight.

I track every minute I work because that’s how valuable I think hard work is. I have spent days and days on this article and I’m giving it all away for free, and I’ll continue to do the same for the rest of this year. Trust me when I say it all comes back around eventually.

Want to Learn More? Introducing Marketing Inc. [Limited Webinar Spots Left]

Each minute, 97 new websites make their debut on the world wide web for the first time.

That’s 5,833 new websites every single hour.

Or 140,000 new websites every. single. day.

While of course not all of these sites will be started by the most competent people or even created for the sake of building a legitimate website, a huge portion of them will be. And whether you’re building a blog, niche site, eCommerce store or whatever path you’re going down, that’s a lot of new competition who wants to steal your potential audience on a daily basis.

Every day you delay getting started online your competition increases.

And every day you don’t put in enough work as you should, there’s someone like me who is giving it their all to become a leader in a particular space.

I’ve shared hundreds of specific niche ideas over the years on ViperChill but there’s one simple concept that has made people far more money than anything else. And it’s all based on looking at the other side of the coin.

Instead of getting up to 140,000 new competitors each day, have you considered what those 140,000 competitors need?

It’s something beginners with a $10 budget want.
It’s something every successful blogger, Youtuber and niche site owner wants.
Venture backed startups with millions in their bank account? They want it too.

That magical thing, called TRAFFIC.

In just a couple of weeks I’m going live with some FREE training on how you can truly serve the marketing of other webmasters, even if you (currently) don’t know a thing about marketing. I’ll also cover in-depth a number of strategies to land high-paying clients, fast.

The training will not be recorded. It will be taken offline after 72 hours. And it is INCREDIBLE, if I say so myself.

The last time we shared this training one of our students, Jesse, landed a $5,000/m client within 24 hours. How? Because businesses will always spend money if you can help them to make money.

There’s a lot of money to be made, but only if you follow a proven formula. I’m going to reveal that exact five-part formula on the webinar. We have three openings at different times (the March 1st webinar is now fully booked), so please select which one is the most convenient for you.

“If this model works so well…”

There is going to be an obvious question that pop’s into your mind at some point and that is the age-old “If this is working so well for you, why do you teach it?”

Since it’s an obvious question, let me give the obvious answer: I can make a lot of money through teaching.

There, I said it. The dirty secret is out in the open.

Of course there’s obviously quite a lot more to it than that but it’s the answer everyone has to get to eventually.

(As a side note, I promise at least an hour of nothing but value you don’t have to give me a penny for in the webinar).

My ‘more to it’ is actually not the second most obvious answer of “I enjoy teaching.” I do, but it’s far down my list of motivations for releasing my years of experience to the world.

In fact my biggest motivation is based on a quote which I absolutely adore. “What got you here won’t get you there.”

The person that generated $1.4 million in 2015 is the person that can “only” generate another $1.4m in 2016. That may sound stupid to you, but I truly believe it.

I want to build businesses that are pulling in $10M+ per year, and the only way to do that is if I take different actions to the ones that got me where I am today.

If I do exactly what I did in 2015, I am almost guaranteed to make similar revenue numbers (if not less, actually). In order to get to the point of generating close to $1M per month, I need something else. And part of the thing that took me from $1M in 18 months to $1.4M in 12 was learning from others on this journey.

I have learned as much from the people I’ve taught this method to as I have from my own experiences. It’s a bit embarrassing since I have been doing this for 10 years and only teaching for two and a half, but as they say, two minds (or potentially thousands in this case) are certainly better than one.

Daryl, one of our first students in 2014 (now doing $10,000+ per month) built a script that help us block link-research tools from scanning our private link networks
From Kotton Grammar I learned a great source of potential clients were the paid listings on Yell.com
From another student I learned that when doing outreach, don’t offer a free report you may have compiled for that person upfront. Instead, tell them you’ve written it, then ask if they would like to see it.

Only if they reply do you go ahead and create the report.

So simple it’s stupid, right? But these simple ideas to other people have helped add hundreds of thousands of dollars to my income in 2015, and I know for a fact that with more people following this same model, I’m going to add things that can do the same again, if not (hopefully) millions of dollars in 2016.

I have likely been wrong on a number of things over the years on ViperChill, but there’s one thing I can say with absolutely certainty: There are people reading this that have – or can quickly learn – faster and more efficient ways to land new clients, manage outsourcing and serve clients than I currently know about.

I want to connect with and learn from those people.

I’m not just saying this because it sounds nice. In my Make Money Online 2016 post I shared one of my biggest realisations for not achieving all I could have done in 2015 was because I spent time with too many of the wrong people. I didn’t surround myself with enough people on a path for success.

The type of people I want to connect with in 2016 are the people who are going to be on this same journey as me, with the same business model.

If nothing else, I just think it’s cool to have this tribe of guys and girls who are all chasing the same thing and learning from each other.

Creating an Army of ‘Make Money Online’ Preachers

Now if you’re not a skim reader and you are reading every word, you may have some slight discomfort with this idea.

Should we really be teaching people who don’t have any experience with online marketing to do marketing for other people? That’s a great concern, and it’s exactly why I put the word ‘currently’ in brackets when I said you can get clients “even if you don’t (currently) know a thing about marketing”.

Although I’m writing this article before it goes live (obviously, Glen…duh), I am writing this section to preemptively answer a question or lingering feeling that I think a number of people may have about this business model.

Which is essentially this, “Aren’t I just helping to create an army of people who are going to teach other people how to ‘make money’ without really knowing how to do it.”

This may not have crossed your mind at all. I predict it happened for less than 1% of people reading and more than likely from the type of people who hang out on Inbound.org. While I love the Inbound.org crowd and feel they’re ‘my kind of people’ they’re not the kind of people who would ever buy anything from me.

This is because they’re seasoned in this field, feel they have little to learn and have probably seen a lot of bullshit.

So while I’m not even slightly trying to convince that kind of person to be interested in what I have to offer, I am the kind of person who would want to see an answer to this question, so I’m covering it here.

So am I worried about creating an army of people to preach making money online or internet marketing to others? Not. At. All.

Because it doesn’t matter if I talk about success. I’m already showing it here.

Please accept that I’ve taken my ego out of this for a second, but just look at it. I (often) get hundreds of comments per blog post, I have a very engaged audience on Facebook and you can likely believe I have tens of thousands of people signed up to various email lists.

Yet, there are very few people trying to copy what I do here (if any at all).

Sure there are people who write long blog posts and do so infrequently, but none that I know of are spending most of that time trying to write about specific niche ideas their audience can replicate.

My ‘success’ is not very secret.

Find a cool niche idea
Research the hell out of it
Write about it in an in-depth way
Share it with others

There’s your ‘how to build a successful blog’ formula – at least for ViperChill – in 22 words.

It’s certainly not impossible or dare I say it, difficult, for other people to copy.

Yet they don’t.

And that’s because they just don’t care about it enough.

I’m that weird guy who finds this stuff absolutely fascinating. It has never been about the money for me. If it was, I wouldn’t have kept ViperChill going for 11 years when for 7-8 years I literally lost money by running this website.

It may also be the case that other people come along and start trying to teach others how to build their own successful agency, but I don’t believe they’ll reach many people nor will they keep it up for long.

Although I’ve admitted that sharing niche ideas doesn’t really work very well, I can’t stop doing it. It’s just what drives me.

It drives me so much that I build tools about it in private.

I know the most popular topics on Wikipedia at any time because I paid a bunch of money to an awesome programmer to make sure I know that.

I have better data than BuzzSumo on the most popular blog posts for websites – even though they make millions of dollars offering it publicly – because I, once again, paid a bunch of money to an awesome programmer to have that tool.

The list goes on.

I am obsessed about what I do, and that’s the only reason I can keep doing it. Fly-by-nighters might pick up a few followers, but experience shows me it won’t last very long.

Now is the Perfect Time to Follow This Business Model

I truly believe that for the vast majority of people reading this, building a niche marketing agency is absolutely the best path for you to take.

You’ve already proven by reading this blog that you’re interested in learning more about internet marketing strategies and you have a desire to implement those ideas, so why not do that for someone else?

There are a few pain points that come up when I try to recommend people down this path, such as:

I don’t have a huge budget, can I really do this?
English is not my first language, can I still succeed?
I have a full-time job. Is that OK?

The answer to all of them is an emphatic YES! I have a video that covers this after you sign-up for the webinar.

But the problem I come up against again and again, often expressed in varying ways, is that people don’t believe they’re expert enough to be able to help other people.

As the millionaire consulting coach Alan Weiss would say, people feel like they need someone to ‘knight them’ before they can provide value to others.

I’m telling you to knight yourself.

If you have to go out there and do pro-bono work for charities to feel like you deserve to call yourself an expert, then go do it. But it’s still going to be you who gives yourself that title.

Recently, Easy Agent Pro sent out this email to their subscribers (who are realtors looking for marketing services).

That’s it.

A status update from one realtor which was the most popular status he’s ever shared that other realtors could copy easily.

If you had found this example you could have taught it to other people as well. That would be super valuable to them.

The entire point of my training is to help you find these opportunities that you can teach to other people. If you want to get into more advanced stuff like technical SEO for eCommerce sites, that is obviously going to take more time but your value doesn’t have to come from time.

Just from being able to seek out opportunities that others in a specific niche can use.

Although this is now the third year in a row I am talking about the Marketing Inc. method, I still rarely come across successful examples. While I do have dozens already, that’s because I spent weeks and months to actively seek them out. Coming across new examples is rare.

I believe the reason is simple: It’s counter-intuitive to think that limiting your audience can make you more money.

Offering fewer services (so fewer angles to make money) to less people (who can pay you) can actually make you more money. WHAT?

I understand it’s odd.

But the people who you are looking to serve are actively looking for niche-focused solutions. And when they come across them, it takes all guesswork out of their potential buying decision.

Now, if I have anything to do with it, I can’t promise that in two or five years from now, that’s still going to be the case.

I honestly view this opportunity as like being one of the first people who could get those ‘How many triangles are there?’ Facebook ads approved and were making $10,000+ per day or having an inkling to how valuable dictionary domain names would be today back in 1990.

The power of getting involved in this model soon is not critical to your success, but it will make success easier.

By that I mean in 10 years I have zero doubt that niche marketing agencies will be far more common than full-service agencies, and new players will still be able to enter the space in 2026 and make money.

Yet, they are going to have more competitors and probably go even more niche than you have to in order to acquire them.

Showroom Logic, a marketing agency that only work with car dealers, and are the 143rd fastest growing private company in the whole of America. Their co-founder Patrick Bennett understands the power they had in getting to the market early, saying “I will always be first to market. If I’m up against anyone else I will always be first to market.”

One of the people I helped to generate $21,000 in his launch week – before I ever taught any of this, was Jon Sonmez of Simple Programmer.

He wanted to help programmers with their marketing so they could get higher paying clients (what a cool, specific niche).

Here’s what John said for me as a testimonial:

“I was scared to do a big launch of my product. Lots of uncertainties racing through my mind. This was my big moment, and I didn’t want to screw it up.

Glen came to my rescue and gave me all the right advice and confidence I needed to have a successful launch. Glen helped me to see the value of directing ad traffic to a landing page instead of directly to my sales page. He also helped me understand how to get conversions and test different copy to improve my conversion rates. But, most of all, his wealth of experience and knowledge in online marketing, gave me the confidence to know that I was going to succeed.

And succeed I did. With Glen’s expert guidance, I was able to more than double my launch goal and now I have a long term strategy for selling my product.”

And you know what?

I didn’t do anything overly special for John. I simply taught him about some of the things that many of you probably already know. Like split-testing, and running ads to his site.

As my Dad would say, “a question is only easy if you know the answer.”

Some people simply don’t know this stuff and they won’t know it without someone coming to help them. They won’t actively seek it out or if they ever do, it won’t be for a long, long time.

The whole point of the training is to teach people the most sought-after facets of marketing first – and making sure they know how to deliver it – before landing clients.

But if you feel like you need years of experience in SEO, having spent tens of thousands in Facebook ads or have a million followers on Instagram to be able to teach marketing, you’re kidding yourself.

And you’re vastly under-estimating your own value if you have any experience with these things at all.

After you opt-in for my upcoming webinar (the one on March 1st is booked out, so we just added another on March 2nd) you’ll learn one of the keys to my success was going niche.

If you’ve taken notes while reading this post, you’ll know it already. Now that you have this knowledge, imagine a close friend or family member came up to you and said I’m going to start an online marketing agency.

As you feared, they’ve decided they have no specific industry to serve or angle to offer. Just knowing my own experience, you can say to them “Dude, I think you should really pick a niche first. Look at what happened with this guy…[link]”

Boom.

You could have just saved them a lot of money and a lot of time. Surely that was worth them sending some money your way.

If you think this is an overly-simplistic example, you’re still not giving your own value enough weight.

You’re REALLY Going to Live Like This?

To wrap up what is now one of my longest blog posts ever, let me leave you feeling excited or insulted. How’s that for a proposition?

The vast majority of information I am going to share in my webinar – and have given away in a paid product – was once given away for free in a video series. Maybe you personally watched it.

Here are the specific numbers for how many people watched each video:

After an hour of 15 minutes of videos I had lost half of the people who originally started watching the series.

Now of course some of that will be down to people simply not believing in the idea or hating my accent (It’s weird, I get it!) but this model I teach has made people ridiculous amounts of money.

I’m willing to bet 99% of the people who watched those videos are still looking for a path to generate money online today.

If you’re one of those people: I think it’s pathetic.

And I don’t mean because you didn’t follow my idea and put it into action. I mean because you didn’t follow any plan and stick with it. There are hundreds that will lead you to financial freedom if you put in the time.

You know what else? I really fear for future generations. It was distracting enough in school to have to deal with people passing paper notes around the class. Imagine now having your phone buzzing constantly in your pocket and everyone expecting you to be on Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp and Facebook at most hours of the day.

And it’s not just the younger generation, but look at these figures:

Reddit just passed a record 500m visitors per month
9Gag just passed a record 200m visitors per month
IMGUR just passed a record 450m visitors per month

That’s your competition.

That’s who you’re competing against in your journey to make money online. That should make you really excited.

Because if you’re not the kind of person spending hours each week keeping up with 9Gag or the Kardashians, there’s no reason you can’t do the numbers I talk about in this post.

I’m not smart. I just spent a lot of time on one angle and stuck with it. See you there?

Read More

PIN’s: The Future of Private Link Building

What I’m going to reveal in this blog post is a strategy that will likely weed out a certain section of the ViperChill audience. In other words, I’m fully aware that this blog post will make a particular type of person unsubscribe from ViperChill and likely never return. It’s certainly not going to end up on the homepage of Inbound.org.

If you are loyal to Google guidelines, the teachings of blogs like Moz and love playing by the book, then you’ll probably realise with this article that we possess a very different perspective.

When I first started my internet journey – where I spent day and night trying to make a living online – I tried and tested more website ideas and angles than you would believe.

Today, I’m still pushing the boundaries to see what works. These boundaries most often pertain to SEO, since it’s what I’ve enjoyed the most over the last 11 years.

I’m in the fortunate position that my business it not tied to some employer who dictates how I have to do things when it comes to promoting web properties. As such, I’m always willing to ignore everything I previously thought about marketing and to be open to new ideas and opportunities.

This blog post details one such opportunity, but I realise it will not be for everyone. Not everyone is the position to implement it for their online business, and even if you are, you may question the ethics of what is coming up.

With that disclaimer out of the way, today I’m going to introduce you to the world of PIN’s. Just before I do that, I want to talk about why I think they’re necessary.

I Predict We’ve Got Four to Five Years Left to ‘Do SEO’ As We Know It

This isn’t some “SEO is Dead” article you see go viral in the SEO blogosphere every six months, but a genuine prediction based on how Google search results have evolved over the last few years.

Google make all of their money via ads so quite simply want more people to click on them (and more often). The less success people have with SEO, the more likely they are to move to Google’s advertising platform.

Long gone are the days when we’re presented with just 10 blue links on a page.

The White Space Between Search Results Has Increased

It’s known that the higher up the page a search result, the more clicks it will receive. Therefore, when organic search results are pushed further down the page they’re going to be receiving fewer and fewer clicks. Not only are they lower down now in mobile results due to spacing, but the change is being tested across desktop results as well.

The search result on the left includes the new extra spacing with the ads taking up far more vertical space than the search result on the right (graphic via SEMPost).

There Are More ‘Featured Snippets’ Than Ever Before

There isn’t much to say on this one besides feature snippets are to be found for millions of search queries in every industry imaginable. What, when, how and why questions are often answered with a featured snippet box.

This not only pushes ‘organic’ search results further down in search results, it also attempts to give you the answer right from the results page. We can argue whether or not it’s useful for searchers, but for SEO’s, it gives new meaning to having the top result in Google.

‘Map Packs’ Completely Changed Local Search Results

Some call them ‘map packs’, some ‘the local pack’ and some even call them the ‘snack pack’. Whatever your term of choice, after being introduced a few years ago SEO’s have been trying to figure out how to get themselves and their clients into the pack to compensate for a lack of expected search results.

After all, these local listings take up a large portion of screen real estate.

I’m not complaining about this change; I’m simply pointing it out. There’s no doubt it makes search results more useful and that is Google’s aim (usually) after all. While Google did reduce the listings from seven to three back in August of 2015, the redesign of the listings with adding spacing means not much changed in terms of organic results being seen.

Those Map Packs Now Contain Ads, Too

We’re not going back to Google updates of a few years ago to make a point about Google evolving. Just last month Google announced that the map / local / snack pack would now include ads, as shown below.

This image is a mockup by Barry Schwartz, though the real thing looks very similar

It’s interesting to follow both PPC and SEO guys on Twitter and see the difference in reaction. PPC guys are over the moon since it gives them more traffic opportunities for their clients and SEO guy’s, well…I’m sure you can guess the reaction.

Based on how Google’s past, it’s not one of surprise.

They Have All The Answers

The knowledge graph was released in May of 2012 and it’s almost disappointing when you don’t see it for queries when looking for quick answers. For example, when I want to see how my football team, Newcastle, have fared against Liverpool, I literally don’t have to click anywhere.

Whether you want to learn about how old someone is, what 12 x 56 is or who discovered Radium, Google has the results right there for you. As a searcher, I love these quick answers, but as an SEO, it’s just one more thing which has lessened the likelihood of people clicking on my website if it doesn’t appear in this box.

They Continue to Make People Scared of Link Building

Google are great at making people fearful of performing any type of SEO. After all, this was the company that introduced the rel=”nofollow” attribute so we could link out to websites without giving them “link juice”.

That isn’t the real headline for the article – I’ve got to have some fun in these serious posts – but Google have publicly cracked down on pretty much everything when it comes to link building. The list includes, but is not limited to:

Guest posting for links
Using directories for links
Utilising private blog networks
Adding links to website themes
Adding do-followed links to widgets
They literally created a ‘no-follow’ tag

That’s not all; they openly share how much human intervention is involved in finding people abusing the guidelines, rather than algorithmic. This tweet speaks volumes.

Anglo Rank was a small network being promoted on the Black Hat World forums.

Just think about this for a second. One of Google’s first employees (and former Head of Web Spam), worth millions of dollars, dedicated his time to actively targeting a tiny little network on some private forum just to scare other people away from doing the same.

The simple fact is that Google can’t figure out with absolutely certainty which links are earned, or bought, or manipulative, very effectively.

Now I’m not taking anything away from Google here. Their company is worth hundreds of billions and mine, well…isn’t. They have undoubtedly created the world’s most sophisticated search engine.

But as I said earlier, it’s far easier for them to get us to police ourselves than it is for them to police us.

Big Brands Dominate the Long Tail

As SEO becomes increasingly difficult and searches are more and more dominated by big brands, the long tail will be the final frontier of search traffic opportunities.

When I said we only have a few years left to do SEO as we know it, the long tail will be where the majority of SEO’s focus their time through on-site SEO changes and content marketing.

While we’ll still have opportunities for SEO to ‘work’, long tail search results just don’t seem to be as diverse as they were in the past. It makes sense to me that Google have some kind of ‘filter’ whereby if they’re not sure what to list for a search result, they simply show more results from an authoritative site to be on the safe side.

Logically, this makes sense, but as an SEO, it could be a worrying sign of things to come. You can see this lack of diversification above in my screenshot of the map packs as well, with Yelp dominating the first three organic search results.

The Lack of Diversity in Search Results Will Only Get Worse

If you’ve only found ViperChill recently then it was likely because of my recent article, How 16 Companies Are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results. It has been shared thousands of times on social media and been read over 40,000 times, making it one of the most popular articles I’ve ever written here.

In the article I highlighted how Hearst Media were using their brands like Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Day to point footer links to a new website of theirs, BestProducts.com.

That strategy, which would get the rest of us penalised, continues to work incredibly well.

“Just follow the Google guidelines.” Why?

Since that post, I was also contacted by a few people associated with the brands I had featured. One of those people I talked with was Tre who works in the growth department of About.com. I had already mentioned in the article how About planned to spin off into many more verticals over the coming months, which he confirmed.

I admit I’m being a little pedantic with my highlighting, but when you’re Director of Growth for About.com you’re going to share which terms are driving traffic to one site with the team that is in charge of another.

I appreciate Tre’s replies and I’m sure there’s only so much he can say, but About.com’s real goal with their spin-off’s is to no doubt own ten search results, instead of one.

PIN’s: My Version of Fighting Back While I Still Can

When I talked about why I started using private link networks and then continued to use them after Google’s “crackdown”, my primary reason was very simple: Writing quality content and getting ‘whitehat’ links wasn’t working for me. I was being outranked by people with crappy link networks who could build their own ‘relevant’ links on a whim and I decided to fight back.

You could view PIN’s in a similar light. I am utilising them because we’re not competing on a fair playing field, and what is supposed to work is very rarely what ranks, at least in the industries that I operate in.

While I don’t wish to reveal those exact industries, let me give you an example closer to home, with ViperChill.

I will say in advance that this is a search term I really don’t care about ranking for. I have no idea how many times it’s searched for each month and honestly, I doubt it gets many searches at all.

Here are the search results for the query, ‘Future of blogging’.

My site is usually either in 10th or 11th for that term, yet by every SEO standard metric I should be number one.

I have more links to the page ranking than anyone else
I have more ‘domain authority’ than most other pages
My title tag seems more relevant than half of them

Yet in order to get more traffic for this search term, which I think I ‘deserve’ from a 10,000 word article which took me weeks to put together, all I have to do is one thing.

It’s not getting more links. It’s not improving my on-site SEO. It’s not building better connections with influencers.

All I need to do to get my traffic back is to add a sentence to the start of the article which says ‘Last updated: July 25th 2016‘.

This is a search result where how recent an article was posted is more important than whether it’s actually a good page to rank.

I don’t actually have to update the article; I literally just need to make it appear to Google – thanks to that one sentence – that my article was updated recently. This one sentence, this ‘trick’, would bring me back the ranking I feel I deserve. (Though, again, I doubt this even gets searched for. It’s just an example).

This is not theory. If you look at the first sentence of my WordPress SEO guide that’s exactly what I’ve done before, with great results.

This little change is not too dissimilar to what I need to rank in other industries. I don’t need better on-site SEO. I don’t need to build natural links from relevant sites through content marketing. I simply need to add more domains to my private link network and write more guest blog posts.

Yes, these are both tactics that are looked down upon by Google, but they still work incredibly well. In 2014 when I covered Google’s crackdown on private blog networks I did mention that they would now be less likely to care about private link networks.

In my exact words:

What I expect to happen is that Google will ease off looking into private networks. The damage is mostly done.

Why? Because they’ve already made people scared to build them. The best way to deal with people trying to game the system is essentially making us as a community police ourselves so we don’t try to game the system in the first place.

The continued use of private link networks and guest posting for SEO is part of the reason why I will get a lot of criticism from this post. How to implement these tactics more effectively, which I’ll talk about later, will be the larger reason for criticism.

The Approach to Take

One of the first ideas I had when I started out online was to assemble a team of people who could work together to build a huge website. At the time I was following the growth of TechCrunch and Mashable and saw how quickly they were able to grow thanks to having a team of writers.

My idea was to essentially connect a team of people who all worked on one website and in return everyone had a percentage ownership. The logic being that working as a team would result in the site growing faster and even if revenue or a sale price was split, we would have more success than working on our own.

It’s a similar idea a number of ViperChill readers had after reading my last article on the small number of brands dominating Google search results.

While it’s a nice idea, in theory it doesn’t work so well.

Some will want to dictate the direction of a site that others don’t agree with and more importantly, some people will put in far more work than others. If you’re writing more content than others and your articles are getting better traction, you’re going to want to increase your ownership compared to someone barely putting in any effort.

There is another option you can utilise if you wish to team up with others though, and that’s a PIN.

It comes with all of the benefits of creating your own team, without the downsides of worrying about who is contributing what work.

What the Hell is a PIN?

A PIN is a play on the acronym PBN, which is commonly referred to as a private blog or link network.

I’ve received my fair share of critics over the years for talking about PBN’s and their success – and continuing to build them – but there’s a reason I do: They work.

I simply don’t believe that playing by Google’s rules is always going to get me the results I want. In some industries I wouldn’t make the money I do without them. I don’t use them for clients, but do for my own websites.

Going forward, I think PIN’s are going to be crucial to my success in certain industries, and I think they are going to be crucial to a number of people reading this as well.

PIN, stands for Private Influencer Network.

Before you think that just means making some “friends” online and building up your connections, allow me to continue.

I define a Private Influencer Network as a group of people looking to rank their websites in Google in similar industries (but not the same) who work together to help each other reach their objectives.

Essentially, they use any opportunities they have to build links (such as private blog networks, guest blogging, interviews, blogger round-ups) to send backlinks to other people in their network. In return, other people do the same for them.

The end result is that for the work you would do to build ten backlinks, you can get twenty to forty (of the same quality) in return.

A $100,000/m PIN Operating Right Under Your Nose

I first came across a Private Influencer Network a little over a year ago. A few ‘influencers’ in a particular field were using their private blog networks to – quite simply – link to each other.

I didn’t think much of the tactic at the time, until I found another example of this happening just a few months later.

Then three months after that, I found my third example. This time it really got my attention.

A group of just five people (from what I could tell) were ranking in one of the most profitable industries online and undoubtedly making over $100,000 per month in the process. I operate in the niche, which is how I found their collaboration, and know the numbers very well.

This is when I started working on building my own, PIN.

Finally, the idea to write this blog post came to me when I found yet another PIN. One of the members of this network is one of the most well-known SEO’s on the planet and is reading this article. He already “knows I know.”

If you follow the SEO blogosphere, you’ll undoubtedly know who he is.

One of the sites they are promoting also very likely also makes more than $100,000 per month. I’m not involved in the niche, but I know others who are and with the rankings they have, those numbers wouldn’t surprise me.

I reached out to the owner of the ‘money site’ they had all teamed up to promote. I keep a private database of paid link opportunities and one of them costs more than $10,000 per year. I found their website there, so sent the main owner an email.

One months revenue spent on link building is a small price to pay when you’re doing huge numbers thanks to gaming Google.

While some would view four to five guys linking to each other to make more than $100,000/m from a one-year-old website as shady and unethical, I’m personally impressed at how well they are crushing a very competitive niche so quickly.

While there is a chance that a PIN could be “outed”, the last two examples I found were so well put together that I’m almost certain I was the only person who connected the dots.

If you’re not trying to rank in an obvious industry that’s constantly monitored by SEO’s – like blogging and internet marketing – the chances of your PIN becoming uncovered are relatively low. Much lower than having your private blog network discovered.

As you’ve probably already figured out more succinctly than I am at getting to the point, members of a PIN use any opportunity they have to ‘link out’ to take care of their whole team.

While I’ve been fairly slow on the uptake to building my own PIN, I have been slowly building them in a few industries over the last few months and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

I didn’t want to write this blog post until I had a better understanding of how to build and manage them, because managing them is actually the most time-consuming part.

You have to make sure everyone in the network is pulling their weight and giving (and getting) equal opportunities. Opportunities, of course, is code for links.

A Real-World Example of How a PIN Works

One of the websites I find myself checking for ideas and inspiration is Entrepreneur.com.

I recently found an article on the website, published by a contributor and not a staff member, which could serve as a great example for how PIN’s work.

Let me say it in bold (for those just skimming) that the example below is totally legitimate.

I’m highlighting it because it’s natural, but could have been used in a non-natural way.

While the screenshot below might be the longest ever embedded by me into a blog post, there is something much more important that I have to say about it.

There is no specific reason I have singled out this article. It was simply the first article on Entrepreneur.com when I was looking to give an example for this post. Proof of that is the date. This article is going live on July 25th whereas this article I’m featuring below is from July 22nd.

It just happened to be a great example to see a PIN (or what could be a PIN), in action.

I made the article a little shorter than the original (the screenshot was long enough, I know) but you can see the majority of it here. The first thing you’ll notice is four mentions of Weekdone. Unsurprisingly, these are all links to the company that the author works for.

A good guest article, utilised for a PIN, will link to other recommended resources that are connections of the author. The links should be relevant, but also to other people in your network so that you are ‘owed’ a link back.

Now on the surface (without my large logos stuck over the text) this looks like a totally normal article (albeit with a little overuse of linking back to the authors employer). If you do a little more research, you’ll learn that the other two highlighted companies, Zlien and Mavrck, are actually clients of Weekdone.

In other words, Weekdone likely earn some bonus points from their clients for mentioning them in an article on Entrepreneur.com. I see nothing wrong with this and it’s a one-off occurrence so it’s not done for SEO manipulation; I’m just trying to show how a PIN link looks without actually revealing one.

Essentially everything looks natural until you look under the hood. It’s normal for a client to talk about a company they use, as shown below where the relationship continues.

Once again, I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong here. It was one of the top articles on Entreprenuer.com as I was finishing up this article (the post is only three days old) and happened to make a good example.

The truth is that Entrepreneur.com, along with Forbes and the business sections of the Huffington Post, are great resources to see mini PIN’s in action. The people who write content for these sites generally try to get as much out of writing for them as possible.

They link to their friends, and their friends link to them.

A PIN in Action

I wanted to create a graphic for this section but your understanding of the concept is far more important than your ability to decipher my poor Photoshop skills. Before it gets a little bit crazy, I have assumed that there are just two ‘influencers’ in your private network.

The yellow box is your money website (the website you wish to rank in Google).

The brown boxes are private blog sites you own (optional).

The grey boxes are link opportunities you’ve created through guest posting or similar.

While the graphic is admittedly not the prettiest (I did warn you), the concept is very simple.

Some of your private network domains will point links to the other influencer in your network, as will some of your guest posts on other websites.

In return, the other influencer will do the same for you.

Once you start adding more people to your network, things get a little bit more messy, but the principle remains the same.

When I try to visualise this with four influencers as part of your PIN it gets a little ugly, but here goes.

The golden rule you need to remember is this: If you receive a link from someone from a specific source, you need to replicate the link in kind.

So if you receive a link in a guest post from someone in the network, you need to give them a link from a guest post you write.

Essentially meaning that the work you do for 10 links for yourself gets you 30-40 links in return.
This number varies because sometimes it’s a bit risky (such as using blog networks) to link out to the same sites which are linking to you but you still receive more links than you would have without your network, for essentially the same work.

The Types of Links Which Are Shared

I originally tried to write these guidelines as if there were four people in a PIN but it became a little bit too complicated to read (and write). Instead, I’ll assume there are only two people in your PIN and show you what types of links you could generate or other ways to help each other.

If there are more people in your PIN, which I highly recommend, then understand that Influencer #1 will sometimes link to #2, while #4 sometimes links to number #3 and so on. It’s basically just varying the following link opportunities to keep things fair for everyone.

The types of reciprocation that can take place.

You can tweet or Facebook share an article from another influencer
You can retweet or publicly thank another influencer for mentioning you
You can utilise a guest post opportunity to link to a relevant quote or article from another influencer
If you use build private blog networks, you can use some to link to other influencers
If you find articles where comments drive traffic to your site, you can inform other influencers
When being interviewed you can link to a relevant quote or article from another influencer
Sharing link opportunities you find on your site they can utilise for theirs
Offering website design advice
Utilising Web 2.0 properties to give links and get the same in return

If performed properly, there is no reason to hide that you have a connection with other influencers in your niche. The only thing you would have to care about is that the obvious mission for having these connections is to help each other’s search engine rankings.

If you are outside of the internet marketing world you don’t really have to worry about other people finding your private link networks, but always keep a few rules in mind to avoid footprints.

Ready to Build Your Own PIN? Here’s My Advice

If you see the benefits of utilising a PIN for your own search engine rankings, and actually getting more than rankings in return, then here’s my advice for setting one up.

A PIN Must Have a Leader

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to write about this topic until I had attempted to do it myself.

My short but relevant experience tells me that there has to be one person (or two at most) who is in control of the group you gather together to make sure that everyone in the team is pulling their weight.

In other words, you need to make sure that the people who are receiving links are doing their part in giving them as well.

The leader must also make sure that members of the team are active. It’s no use everyone playing along for the first few weeks while the idea is hot and then dropping off the map.

Bringing Together Your Team

While some of you may be excited about getting started on this – and some horrified that I’m even talking about it – there’s one important caveat to keep in mind.

Do not bring anyone into your team who has never shown any self-drive in terms of search engine optimisation.

If someone:

Doesn’t already have a website they wish to rank
Doesn’t regularly produce content for their own sites or others
Doesn’t have at least a basic knowledge of SEO fundamentals

Don’t invite them to be part of your network.

I assumed this would be the case from the start of building my own, but I’m even more sure of it after trying to get other people excited about the idea who weren’t actually willing to contribute to the rest of the teams’ success as a whole.

A simple test to see if someone would be right to join your network is to send a candidate over to this article and have them read about this concept for themselves.

If they don’t immediately “get” the idea and they don’t reply with something like “I can see this working well” then it’s not someone you want on your team.

You shouldn’t have to convince anyone to work with you. They should see it for themselves. If they’re against it because of ethical reasons, then that’s totally fine (and understandable) but again, it’s a sure sign that they’re not someone you want in your team.

As far as communication goes, there are a few platforms out there that would be useful.

You could create a Skype group where people get together. I certainly recommend that everyone get on a call together at least some point to make sure you all understand each other’s roles.

Slack is another good option, as you can keep up to date via their mobile app and have a history of previous agreements.

A private Facebook group is another good option.

Both Slack and Facebook allow there to be a leader who can add or remove members to the network.

The platform is really up to you. My only recommendation is not to lay out all your plans in Google Docs ;).

Take One Step Back from Your Current Niche

It should be obvious but I’ll state it anyway: You don’t want to work with people who are targeting the same keywords as you.

However, you still want to connect with people who are in a relevant niche (I’ll give you the chance to connect with ViperChill readers at the bottom of this post). For instance, if you’re promoting your real estate website then it makes sense to team up with other realtors, just not for the same region.

If you’re in the weight loss niche then it makes sense to collaborate and grow your audience with other people in that niche, but target different keywords and / or promote different types of products and services.

Whatever niche you’re in, imagine you’re shopping for that specific industry on Amazon but go back one category to find people to work with. Again, I’ll give you the opportunity to find PIN partners at the end of this article.

Footprints are Hard to Find, But Still Be Careful

From the PIN’s I’ve discovered and the ones I’m working on myself, I’ve found you really don’t have to be too careful when it comes to leaving some kind of footprint. After all, it doesn’t ring any alarm bells when Copyblogger keeps mentioning Problogger or Mashable keep linking to TechCrunch. It’s “natural” and something you can expect from the owners of websites who have developed friendships with each other.

Where you have to be careful is primarily with private blog networks and not creating footprints of clearly linking back and forth to each other from the same sites at all times. Of course, you don’t have to use private networks, but remember for each link you give out, you can get three to four back, so it can dramatically speed up the process of ranking your site.

You Need to Know How the Microphone Works

And how to sing.

One of my favourite authors, Daniel Priestley, said the following in his book The Key Person of Influence;

You don’t need to know how the microphone works, you need to know how to sing.

He was referring to the technology behind the microphone and how, when it was first invented, your time would have been better spent learning how to sing than how a microphone worked, if you wanted to reach a lot of people.

When it comes to ranking in Google, I don’t think that’s the case. You need to know how the microphone works and how to sing.

There are going to be people who worry I’m encouraging armies of people to come together to take over the Google search results.

The truth is that I don’t believe people who can’t sing – in this case, can’t produce great results for search engine users – will have much long-term success.

There’s no point putting all of the work into your PIN if the end result is going to be a crappy website.

The third example of a PIN that I mentioned earlier now easily does in excess of over $100,000 per month. What I didn’t yet tell you is that they built a fantastic resource for their industry. The site doesn’t have many pages (less than 50), but each one genuinely solves a question that a particular searcher is looking for an answer to.

I don’t view utilising a PIN as a way to “sneak” up the Google results and send thousands of visitors to an ad-riddled website.

Instead, I see it as a way to help you start getting great content noticed that could attract natural links once it is.

I mentioned at the start of this article that I would likely weed out some of the audience of ViperChill. I want to make it clear though that I’m not trying to help people with shitty websites rise to the top of Google.

While I believe there is a great opportunity here, it isn’t easy. Turning the concept into reality sounds much easier on paper (or in a blog post).

The truth is that when it comes to making money online, most people are, quite simply…lazy.

They may be excited about this idea for a few weeks but if you’re going to use this to rank in an industry worth ranking for, you should be aiming for keywords that take a few months to get any serious traction for.

Links Aside, The Connections You Build Can Be Invaluable

I’ve already briefly talked about the other benefits this kind of network can have, besides link building.

You can connect with people who have a genuine passion for your industry who in turn spur you on to put more work into your site and help you improve your online ventures. Whether that’s giving advice on your design, your writing, your strategy or anything else.

Working online can seem lonely at times, especially if your offline friends don’t have an inkling to do anything online. When you’re aiming to make money from your web projects it’s nice to find other people on the same journey.

In my future of blogging post a few years ago, one of the most popular on the site, I mentioned how some bloggers had worked together to help grow their respective audiences in the same industry.

TechCrunch and Mashable grew incredibly quickly at the same time while investors were putting more and more of their money into web-based projects. They mentioned each other thousands of times.

Smaller operations – though still huge – like Copyblogger and Problogger would guest post on each others’ sites, promote each other’s products, send traffic to each other via their email lists and essentially enhanced both of their own images through their connection.

I took the time to actually figure out how many times some sites mentioned each other, which you can see in the graphic below.

While links were a key factor in all of these partnerships, I wouldn’t essentially class them as private link building. Most of the links didn’t include any specific anchor text and they weren’t to random affiliate sites or anything like that. All of them were trying to build authoritative online businesses and found someone with a similar passion on the same journey.

While TechCrunch and Mashable were almost in direct competition with each other, they still highlighted the stories that the other site got to first. Michael Arrington later sold TechCrunch to AOL for $25m. Pete Cashmore is still the CEO of Mashable though according to Politico.com, is trying to sell the site for around $300-$350m.

That’s a partnership that certainly paid off for both of them. Pete holding out six years on his sale seems to have been a smarter choice, however.

A Facebook Group to Find PIN Partners
For what is probably a very limited time only, I’m giving access to a private Facebook group where people can assemble together to potentially build their own Private Influencer Network.
I don’t want the comments here to be full of pitching opportunities, so let’s take this elsewhere to see what industries you’re working with. To be approved for the group you must leave a comment here with your Facebook name or put your Facebook initials at the end of a comment. Facebook will likely recommend the group to people who have no idea what PIN’s are and I don’t want to do a lot of moderating.
Don’t reveal your exact niche when you start a discussion, just simply zoom out of your niche and reveal a higher category that you would like to work in. You can find the group here (remember to comment to be approved).
Thank you, as always, for reading.

Read More

6,595 Words on a Traffic Generation Tactic You’re Not Using (But Should Be)

I would argue that when it comes to making money online, the most important skill you need is not in being able to find untapped niches, knowing how to do A/B testing, creating attractive websites or even having a great ability to write. Instead, the most sought after skill in my eyes is being able to generate website traffic. To get eyeballs on whatever it is you have created.

After all, a lack of (targeted) traffic is often the reason why most online ventures fail. If you can’t get enough people to see what you’ve built then you’re never going to get any kind of financial return. Today I want to share a way to drive traffic to your website that doesn’t follow any of the traditional methods you may be accustomed to hearing about.

It doesn’t rely on free search traffic from Google
It doesn’t require paid advertising campaigns via Facebook or Adwords
It doesn’t involve connecting with influencers
It doesn’t have anything to do with email marketing

It is perhaps one of the most effective ways online to get people to your website yet it’s probably one of the most underutilised. So much so in fact that I can guess with 99% certainty that you aren’t currently using this to promote your core online business.

I won’t claim it’s some mind-blowing idea you’ve never heard of or considered before, but I hopefully want to present it to you in a new light that may convince you to give it a serious try. While success with this method is far from guaranteed, the potential upside is so large I think you would be doing yourself a disservice not to attempt it.

While there are no certainties it will work for you, this ‘tactic’ should really be focused on in terms of giving, without expecting anything in return. The reason it can work so well is because it doesn’t have any kind of negative connotations that you’re ‘marketing’ but instead providing a lot of value to a loosely defined target-audience.

If you’re struggling to get people to your blog, Saas offering, eCommerce store or other kind of website, it could just be the key ingredient you need to take your traffic and income to the next level.

Introducing what I’ll simply call, the Traffic Side Project.

The Traffic Side Project: A New Approach to Growing Your Core Online Business

The inspiration for this blog post came around three months ago when I read an article on Medium about ‘Side Project Marketing’. In the post, author Ali Mese makes a very compelling argument for online business owners to create side projects – often on new websites – that give great value to a particular industry and lightly promote your core venture.

Core meaning a site that you actually plan to make money from.

Although Ali shared a lot of examples in his post – a few of which will be covered here – I couldn’t help but think of far more in other industries that could give you inspiration for your own successful side project.

The key to creating a successful traffic side project is to provide value to a niche-focused target audience without asking for anything in return. This value can be in the form of insights, humour, practical advice or any other kind of angle which would make a general member of your industry online glad they stumbled across it.

While the bigger aim is to make more people aware of your services and offerings, you’re far more likely to succeed if you can put that as far back in your mind as possible. Your intentions for your ‘traffic side project’ will present themselves in the little details and it’s the end user who is supposed to benefit the most here.

To give an example that’s close to home I want to talk about a website I created a few years ago.

At the time, bloggers were reliant on RSS subscribers more than ever and many of them used Feedburner to track how many people subscribed to their feed.

I still have an RSS feed through Feedburner if that’s your preferred way of receiving content, but RSS feeds are largely ignored these days (even by tech-savvy web users) due to increasing usage of social media and the downfall of services like Google Reader.

After Google’s acquisition of Feedburner in 2007 they provided very little in the way of updates or support the following years. As Google started to kill a few other web projects, Feedburner users became increasingly worried that Feedburner could be next on the chopping block. It certainly didn’t invoke confidence when it would take weeks or even months to fix issues the service sometimes had.

With fuel added to the fire from likes of TechCrunch and CNN speculating on the services’ potential demise, it was a very scary time for a lot of bloggers.

We relied so heavily on our RSS feed readership to drive people back to our websites the concern wasn’t to dissimilar to how you would feel today if Facebook announced they were closing down fan pages. You would likely be losing a core portion of your audience and have no easy way to export them anywhere else.

On a whim, I decided to create a website to try and get Google’s attention and some answers about the future of the service. I creatively (heh) named the site, Please Don’t Kill Feedburner.

The site has turned into some kind of Japanese sex-advice blog so I won’t link to it, but here’s an idea of what it looked like:

Since the topic was getting a lot of press at the time, a lot of fellow bloggers supported the idea – though none knew I was behind it – and started using the example tweets I had created to spread the message. The site and the relevant hashtag, #pleasedontkillfeedburner, started to pick up a bit of steam.

I went to sleep that night happy the website was finished and hoping someone from Google would actually see it and prompt them to give us an update.

Unbeknownst to me someone had just submitted the site to Hacker News and a few hours later it would make its way onto their homepage. I woke up to see that thousands of people had landed on the website overnight.

While it’s not the millions of visitors people might associate with ‘going viral’ these days, I was quite proud of the result. Not only did the site reach 9,000 people in its first 24 hours but there are a few other notables:

The site received between 300 and 500 backlinks (!) depending on which link checker you use
The domain is was a PR 4 before I let it expire
It was shared on social media over 1,400 times
The entire website was built in less than one day

Moodboard: A tool for making boards about your mood that are easy to share
App Cost: A way to calculate the likely cost of a mobile app you’re looking to develop
Launch This Year: A 20,000+ strong community of people launching an online community this year
App Vs. Website: An interactive tool helping you to decide which is right for your next project

These side projects have brought in over 100,000 email subscribers and make up three of the top five referring websites back to Crew.

How the Fastest Growing Search Engine Uses Traffic Side Projects

Over the past year search engine DuckDuckGo grew from 5.3 million search queries per day in January to over 9.3 million by the end of December. It’s no surprise then that Moz.com’s Rand Fishkin predicts it will be the fastest growing search engine of 2016. Based on those numbers, I would have to agree with him.

If I ask anyone who uses DuckDuckGo why they chose that search engine over Google, it’s unlikely their innovative search features are the first answer that comes to mind. Instead, the answer almost always has to do with privacy.

DuckDuckGo have done a great job at branding themselves as the search engine for private searching. They did this by not only creating one traffic side project (TSP), but a number of them. The most popular, DontTrack.us, is little more than 15 images on what other search engines do to track you as an individual (which DDG don’t).

This one-page website has been shared 46,817 times on Facebook and reached the homepage of Reddit without having a single social share button on the site.

Another traffic side project by DDG, known as DontBubble.us, has been shared on Facebook 24,643 times.

I came across both of these TSP’s naturally over the years, multiple times, and it really reinforced my belief in the service as one that truly cares about your privacy. Aligning with the ideals of an end user is a sure-fire way to increase visitor numbers which is shown in how fast they’re growing.

How a Digital Agency Created a TSP That Reaches 150,000 People Per Month

With my most recent post covering the Pomodoro Method, I thought it would be nice to show a potential side benefit for anyone who was willing to try and build the site I mocked-up in the article. (As a side note, there have been a few attempts submitted to be via Twitter and email, but I’m yet to see any finished projects I could actually use.)

Marinaratimer.com was created primarily for users of the Pomodoro Technique and features a typical 25-minute Pomodoro timer, a custom timer and also a kitchen timer. This simple but beautiful site has clear branding on it by an agency called 352. You can see this most clearly in the headline of their about page.

It’s likely that people using this method of being productive – which is a little more ‘nerdy’ than most – are going to be freelancers and more tech-savvy web users. That audience is not a million miles away from being the type of people who could be interested in the development services of an agency.

SimilarWeb reports that the site receives up to 200,000 visitors per month with 53% of their traffic coming back to the website directly. I can’t tell you how many of them have converted into clients, but I’m sure Marinara Timer has been a highly successful TSP for 352 Inc.

A Simple Traffic Side Project That Launched a $55,000/m Online Book Editing Service

In 2011 Natasa Lekic left her job as an editor of a book publisher in New York to seek out a new career. Two years and dozens of interviews later, she was still searching for something to do. After failing to get into other industries she decided to focus on what she knew and loved, which was book publishing.

She launched NY Book Editors as a way to give authors the chance to work with some of the best editors in the world that they would never normally get access to.

With just an $80 investment (spending $20 on Squarespace and $60 on an SEO class), she knew that she needed to get eyeballs on her new venture.

On a whim she created a map to curing writer’s block that she knew her target market would no doubt struggle with at one time or another.

This very simple infographic received over 54,000 notes on Tumblr and sent tens of thousands of people to her website thanks to the link back to it underneath the graphic and the branding on the top left corner.

Among other things, it helped launch NY Book Editors into the mind of wannabe authors and just three months later her business was already doing over $8,000 per month in revenue. By the middle of 2015 it had passed the $55,000 per month mark and is continuing to grow.

A TSP Set Monthly Traffic Records for this Video Start-Up

While Crew created Unsplash to give away photos, the founders of Veed.me decided to create a version for videos known as Coverr. If you’re a developer looking for videos for your clients websites or you have a video as the background on your own homepage, Coverr offers options to match any industry.

In the middle of 2015 SimilarWeb estimates that Coverr was reaching 150,000 unique visitors per month which no doubt sent a lot of traffic back to the Veed.me website it’s branded with.

Like Crew once again (do they use the same marketing company?), Veed.me created an interactive website to help you determine the cost of a video, not dissimilar to Crew’s interactive site to help you determine the price of a mobile app.

After you go through their 10 questions, you’re presented with an estimated cost of the video and a link back to their site where you can find the type of people who can create that video for you.

The site reached over 60,000 people in its first month of launch and once again sent traffic back to their money-making site. In fact, Veed.me’s best ever traffic month is the exact same month that their traffic side project, How Much to Make a Video, launched.

Take a look at the graphs below to see what I mean.

There’s no coincidence here. TSP’s really can help take your online business to new heights.

2 Million+ Visitors by Curating Free Tools

Since Ali was the inspiration for this post, I have to give him more credit by highlighting one of his own personal success stories. Back in January of 2015 he wrote a blog post covering some of the tools he uses to help with building and marketing an online business. This included the likes of free image editors, on-site seo analyzers and tools to help you generate content ideas.

In February he noticed the post was starting to go viral and by March he had received over 600,000 visitors to the guide. This prompted him to create a new Tumblr blog on a separate domain so it was easy for him to keep the list updated and (possibly) hide any type of self-branding which could hinder further sharing.

Since then it has become one of the most popular items on Product Hunt (with 1,600 votes at the time of writing this) and the site has received over 2 million visitors. I seem to be seeing Ali’s name a lot more often these days so it’s doing wonders for his personal brand.

He’s sold over 700 copies of a $129 digital product on how to get website traffic so there’s at least a $90,000 return, no doubt in part from his success here.

The thing I love the most about this example is that while it’s an incredibly useful resource, it really isn’t that difficult to put together. You could create something like this for all kinds of industries.

The Free Teardowns Keeping a UX Designer Booked Out Full-Time

Samuel Hulick is a UX designer from Portland, Oregon and also happens to be the brains behind what is one of the most popular usability sites for marketers, UserOnboard.

On the site Samuel literally tears down the onboarding process (the way apps and websites turn visitors into members) highlighting not only what they do well, but where they could improve their process as well.

It’s clear that Samuel has a great grasp on what it takes to get people interested in what you’re doing without having to go out and actively seek customers. Here’s the top tweet on his Twitter page which has been retweeted over 350 times, “The secret to successful customer acquisition is realizing that you don’t acquire customers — they acquire you.

I reached out to Samuel on Twitter to see the reasoning behind starting the site:

Through the website he is able to sell his book, training programs and consulting services. The site currently reaches over 130,000 visitors per month in the USA (again, according to SimilarWeb) and is one example where what started as a traffic side project to sell his book is now actually a full-time gig.

How to Create a Traffic Side Project That Saves Your Business or Grows Your Bank Account

The more I’ve been thinking about this concept over the last few weeks, the more I’ve found ideas to be jumping out at me at random times. I’ve often found myself opening Evernote to add them to the list in order to make sure that I don’t forget them.

The aim with this section is to share some of those ideas and help you generate many more of your own.

First of all, I want to make it clear that I think your traffic side project should be niche-defined, but fairly loosely. This gives you the potential to reach enough people to share your project but still be relevant to enough people who could be interested in your main website. In other words, I would recommend focusing on reaching 100,000 people over a million, but also 100,000 over 10,000.

Narrowing your focus-reach means you’ll be more likely to create something that a particular audience would be interested in, rather than creating something generic that doesn’t quite hit the mark. Before creating a new tool as a side project, the team at Crew always ask themselves one question, “Does the tool solve a problem the kind of people we want to work with have?

As I have mentioned a few times in this post, it’s imperative that you’re happy to create your traffic side project whether it actually sends traffic back to your website or not. There has to be some other motive to create it than potentially growing your core business.

The team at Crew simply had left over photos available from a photo shoot and thought they would be useful to others.
I just wanted Google to reveal their plans for the future of Feedburner
Jessica Hische just wanted to create a fun chart because of all the requests she gets for doing free work
Samuel Hulick studies onboarding all the time anyways so decided to openly share his thoughts

While there will of course be somewhere in the back of your mind hoping that your TSP takes off (I wanted my Feedburner site to spread so that someone at Google would notice it), there has to be something more than traffic that drives you to create it. You have to care about creating something useful, humorous, interesting or insightful for your target audience far more than the potential upside for yourself.

This mindset is going to give you a far greater chance of making something that can drive traffic your way.

Take Your Best Content to the Next Level

Although you may have a few ideas running around your head already for a traffic side project, it certainly doesn’t have to be based on an entirely new idea. In fact, it may be the case that you’ve produced popular content before which you could repurpose in another way.

For instance, some of the top blog posts on ViperChill have been:

My guide to WordPress SEO
My guide to link building
My unmasking of Ramsay a.k.a Blog Tyrant
My free video series Cloud Blueprint

Any of these could be repurposed onto a separate site and promoted again without having to come up with an entirely new idea. I would remove much more branding this time around so that they stand out on their own and then bring a small percentage of traffic back to ViperChill.

An example of content I could promote again is my free video series Cloud Blueprint. It’s a few years old now and seriously needs updating (that’s why I didn’t link to it here). The method I cover in the video series is still very solid so I could create a brand new website and share updated videos alongside social share buttons.

With a little push from my current audience I’m sure I could get an updated version out to thousands of people who hadn’t heard of the ViperChill brand before.

Maybe I should do just that.

Find Inspiration in the 1,000+ Vote Club on Product Hunt

I don’t know how they managed to get the word to spread so fast but it seems like I’ve been hearing about Product Hunt everywhere. I actually haven’t even found a good use for the site yet so I don’t even know how it’s taking off. Then again, I don’t use Pinterest and that has hundreds of millions of active users.

One interesting use of Product Hunt is to find the items on the site which have received over 1,000 upvotes (we still call them that outside of Reddit, right?). Since they’re enjoyed so much by the community it’s a great resource for you to find ideas to build for your specific industry. Some of the most interesting popular items include:

DuetDisplay: An app that lets you use your iPad as a second display
Noizio: Ambient background sounds for your Mac
Code4Startup: Learn how to code by cloning real life startups
Brick by Brick: A free guide to building awesome communities

That last item is none other than a Traffic Side Project in itself, with clear promotion for a community app called Telescope.

While it may look pretty, there is very little to the guide and I’m surprised it was actually so successful.

Improve Upon an Existing Idea

One tool I used a number of times while writing this blog post is called Link Tally which seems to be a side project of Hubspot, a marketing company that has received more than $100m in investment capital.

Link Tally ranks highly in Google for variations of search queries like “Find how many times a link has been shared” and that’s exactly how I found it. The only problem is that it doesn’t work anymore.

The only count that ever seems to work is how many Facebook shares something has received. I’m sure Hubspot could fix it but I doubt they really care (it has probably been broken for a while). I know I could have my programmer code up a solution in about 20 minutes if I asked him to then all I have to do is put it on another domain.

Maybe there has been a TSP in this post that you thought you could improve upon? If so, don’t hesitate to see what you can do. The original idea has already proved there was someone who wanted the solution you’re going to create.

Similarly, I said that the Brick by Brick guide to building awesome communities may discuss awesome communities, but the guide itself is far from awesome. All I can tell is that if you’re going to create a minisite like this where content is your main focus, make it pretty.

Make the content awesome and relevant to your niche and you’re onto a winner there as well.

Create a Blog (If You Don’t Already Have One)

Telling you to build a blog is about as 2010 and unsexy as it gets, but you can’t discredit the power of blogging. After all, you’re reading one right now and any link I share has the potential to be viewed thousands (if not tens of thousands) of times. That’s powerful.

Blogging, which can often be thought of as one of the slowest ways to generate traffic and get people to a website, can certainly be used as a traffic side project as well.

Minneapolis based Top Rank Marketing get more clients than I’m sure they can handle thanks to their award winning marketing blog, Top Rank Blog.
Moz.com wouldn’t be generating millions in monthly revenue without the success of their content marketing
Tim Ferriss says that his popular Four Hour Workweek blog has sold far more copies of the book with the same name than the book has helped to bring in readers to his blog.
Seth Godin has written over 6,000 posts for his Typepad blog which has no doubt helped to make 17 of his books bestsellers.
Copywriter Demian Farnworth found his guest post on Copyblogger resulted in phone calls and email exchanges with HubSpot, KissMetrics and Treehouse all interested in his service. He says, “I routinely turned down work as a freelancer because the demand was so high“.

They’re a little bit nerdy.
They probably have a website
The probably want more visitors to that website
Technology in general, interests them

Don’t those sound like the characteristics of someone who could potentially become a client of your SEO company, or at least have the ability to spread the word about your cool interactive site to someone who would be?

The structure I envision for this idea is a simple full-screen slideshow which shows you the results of certain search queries. In some instances it would show you search results side by side so you can see the different results when using specific queries. For instance, here is how I would show off the difference in using quotes and not using quotes for search results.

Not all examples would be able to use side-by-side comparisons like this but you should be able to easily skip to the next option with the slider icons on the left and right. A visual representation like this would surely make the search operators much easier to remember as well.

A TSP for a Graphic Designer: Share an eBook Cover PSD Every Week

There are hundreds of millions of blogs on the internet and a large majority of them give away some kind of eBook as a lead magnet for their email list. Writing an eBook is fairly simple, but creating the cover isn’t. It’s a process that more often than not has to be outsourced to someone with more skills to you. Even if that job is found on Fiverr.

A designer looking for clients would do very well by releasing a free eBook cover every week that people could easily edit in Photoshop. Each week they could be branded around a different theme or for different industries. You would only have to create a tutorial for editing the PSD’s one time then you could continue to release them for life. If you have an actionscript to go with it then that makes the entire process even easier.

If the idea were to take off – which I’m sure it would if the covers were of a high quality – you would no doubt find yourself clients looking for custom covers or other graphics they are likely going to need for their blog.

A TSP for Web Designers: Free Attractive Gifs for Twitter

If you aren’t already aware, Twitter allows its users to share images alongside their statuses. Many website owners have been using static images as an opportunity to draw attention to their tweet, but few have been using interactive GIF’s because they’re generally harder to put together.

One GIF that really caught my eye was shared by Barry Schwartz in relation to Google confirming their latest algorithm update.

If you saw that in your Twitter stream, would it get your attention?

I have no idea if Barry made this himself or he took it from Google (Update: he made it himself) but I do know that even with my decent ability in Photoshop, I don’t have the skills to make this, nor the patience to learn.

I would love to share GIF’s like this alongside my Twitter statuses though so if someone were to create ‘generic’ GIF’s that could apply to many different types of content I think they would be on to a winner.

A TSP for Any Niche: The Curated List

You’ve already seen Ali’s list of tools for businesses that received over 2 million visitors. While it was helped to go viral in large by being featured on Product Hunt, it’s not actually the top item of its kind on the website.

In fact the most upvoted ‘product’ ever is a website called Startup Stash which is very similar to Ali’s idea but some would argue it’s laid out in a more beautiful manner.

It’s such a simple idea but so useful at the same time. I could see this working so well in an unlimited number of industries. Just a few ideas that come to mind include:

A curated list of the best golf courses in the world, organised by continent, country and weather based on the time of year
Best places for amateur photographs to get their images seen
The best places for graphic designers to show off their talents
The best websites for people looking to land a better job including not only job sites, but guides on improving their CV and interview skills
A resource on the best SEO and website analysis tools
A curated lists of sites for musicians to get their sounds heard
A curated list of the best communities for gamers to interact with online
A curated list of the best sub-Reddit’s for people interested in X
A curated list for real estate brokers to promote their listings and guides on how to improve them

I’m just sprouting off a lot of random ideas here but it’s all done purely with the aim to help you see if this idea could be relevant to your own specific industry or perhaps an industry you have a client in.

How to Drive Traffic to Your Side Project

The only real criticism I found towards Ali’s original article on this topic was that people wanted to know how to promote their side project once it was created. Just because you build something else on a new domain, it doesn’t mean you suddenly then don’t have to worry about traffic. If anything, the more traffic side projects you build, the more websites you have with a lack of traffic problem.

In a moment I’m going to recommend some tools and services to use that can help send some initial traffic your way but they should only be thought of as secondary option. No amount of free or paid traffic is going to help your side project go viral if it simply doesn’t resonate with your desired target audience.

If my Feedburner side project was more about making sure ViperChill didn’t lose subscribers rather than bloggers as a whole, I doubt anyone would share it.

If Crew decided to put their watermark on the free images they give away on Unsplash, I doubt anyone would put them on their site.

If App vs Website required me to tweet or Facebook share the site before revealing which one I should build, I don’t think that would send more customers to Veed.

There’s no real way of knowing whether the side project you’re looking to create will pay off. All you can do is make sure at least someone in your audience will benefit from it.

If Please Don’t Kill Feedburner hadn’t reached the homepage of Hacker News it wouldn’t look like much of a success story.
If my WordPress plugin ViperBar (no longer online) wasn’t pushed on the back of my already large audience I wouldn’t have had thousands of people install it.
If Unsplash didn’t capture the attention of a few influencers early on you wouldn’t be reading about it today.

You simply can’t predict what will work and what will fail. You can get better at it, but there’s still an element of luck involved when it comes to these things.

All I can say is that none of these side projects would have the chance of helping their creator if they weren’t created in the first place.

There is a risk that the time you spend on a side project would have been better spent on your core project (most likely because it didn’t ‘take-off’). The only way to offset the loss is to view your side project as nothing more than being an additional benefit to the audience you currently have and view it ‘taking off’ as something that either happens or doesn’t.

Don’t rely on it, but do give yourself the best chance for success. Here are a few options to help give you that initial push:

StumbleUpon Ads: You may be surprised to see this one at the top of the list but StumbleUpon still have an active community of users who can be reached cheaply. They users of their service don’t have the best bounce rate, but those who do stick around can certainly help to share your idea further
Share on a Relevant Sub-Reddit: RedditList is probably the best place to help you find sub-Reddit’s that will be the most useful for you to share your new creation. /r/InternetisBeautiful is probably a good place to start for more general side projects.
Post on Product Hunt: While I haven’t taken the time to learn enough about this site yet, a few of the TSP’s mentioned in this post have found success there. Note that you can’t submit links unless you’ve been invited by another user or you’re active on the site first.
Reach Out to Influencers: Use both email outreach and direct tweets on Twitter to stand the best chance of getting noticed. Make sure the branding of your own site is at an absolute minimum when you do this so they believe they are sharing something valuable to their audience and not just helping you promote yourself.
Utlise Other Social Media Ads These include Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and more recently, Instagram.

This was a tough article to put together if for no other reason that I keep coming up with ideas to create a TSP for the various industries I’m involved in an honestly just want to get started on them straight away. If you feel the same way, then my job here is done.

I would love to hear what you think about this article in the comments. Thank you so much for reading!

Read More

13 Advanced Link Building Strategies You (Probably) Haven’t Used

Copyblogger has long been one of the most authoritative blogs on copywriting and content marketing. While they used to reveal their most popular blog posts in their sidebar (sorted by most comments) it seems that is no longer the case. But what if it was? What if you could analyse any blog and see which of their articles have the most comments, in order.

If you could rank them by how many backlinks those articles have, you’re left with foolproof solution for finding content ideas that attract links and comments. Fortunately, with the technology available today this is totally achievable in minutes and doesn’t require you to fork out for a virtual assistant to do all of the grunt work. In today’s post, I’ll show you exactly how it’s done, and a whole lot more.

While a lot of the ‘whitehat’ link building web is focused on “writing great content” that sole focus could mean you miss out on some great opportunities to improve your standing in Google.

Jon Cooper has one of the best link building minds on the planet, and here’s what he tweeted just a few days ago:

While you can shout “Just write quality content” all day long, those of us who rank in Google are more often than not actively trying to do so. You can still focus on writing great content and add smart link building to your mix.

A Unique Formula for Finding Popular, Linked-to Content You Can Replicate in Any Niche

When it comes to analysing content to see what people are interested in reading about, we already have the likes of BuzzSumo to analyse how popular something was socially, but social shares don’t always correspond to links. What does correspond to links? Getting people talking.

If something is worth commenting on in 2016, it’s far more likely to attract a link. And if you want to attract links to your articles, then write something worth commenting on. Just like you can learn from articles which received thousands of Pins on Pinterest or Likes on Facebook, you can also learn from the success of others in attracting comments and apply that to your own endeavours.

I’m going to dive right into this first tactic and use Copyblogger.com as my example site to work with.

What I first need to do is find a list of the blog posts on Copyblogger. You could wait around for a virtual assistant to collect all of the links manually but thankfully we have tools like Screaming Frog (free for analysing up to 500 URL’s) which can automate the process for us.

If I just open up Screaming Frog as-is and run Copyblogger through the tool, I start seeing results like the following.

The problem is that most of these results are useless unless I’m analysing their on-site SEO.

They aren’t actual posts from Copyblogger and if you’re using the free version of Screaming Frog, you’ll use up your 500 URL limit very quickly.

Fortunately Screaming Frog does have an Exclude setting, allowing you to pull back only the types of results you’re looking for. Here are some of the terms I have blocked to get a better picture of Copyblogger articles.

In other words, if these words are present in a URL, then Screaming Frog will not list them.

To find this box simply go to Configuration > Exclude and then add the terms you wish to exclude. Think “dot star [word] dot star” if you’re looking to write a list of terms quickly.

Another option to help remove irrelevant results is to go to Configuration > Spider and uncheck most of the options, as shown below.

Now if I run the tool again, I should get some ‘cleaner’ results.

As you can see, I’m finding the actual blog posts that I was looking for with little ‘fluff’.

Once you have your list, use the Save option so you have your list of URL’s.

“This is just a list of pages from Copyblogger. How does that help?”

As you probably guessed, there’s a bit more to this tactic than simply finding all posts on the Copyblogger blog.

The next tool I want to use in my arsenal is URLProfiler which you can find here (not an affiliate link, there are none on this blog). While this is a paid tool you have the ability to scan up to 50,000 URL’s with their 14-day free trial as many times as you want.

I use URLProfiler when I want to extract something from a page and have it linked to a specific URL. In this case, I’ll be extracting the comment counts from each blog post on Copyblogger.

(Note: Screaming Frog does have a similar feature to what I’m about to discuss but I could never get it to work. Also, URLProfiler allows backlink count analysis which you’ll find useful in a moment).

Once you open URL Profiler you want to either copy and paste in your URL’s from Screaming Frog or right click and select ‘Import from Screaming Frog SEO Spider.’ Usually I do the latter. That should look something like this.

There are only 32 links because I don’t want to scrape their entire website. I have data about Copyblogger already.

What we want to do next is head on over to the website in question, Copyblogger.com, and select the data you want to copy. This is slightly easier to do in Chrome than it is Firefox, but both are suitable. I don’t think Safari, IE or Opera will work.

What I want to copy from Copyblogger, are their comment counts.

Articles that receive a lot of comments are usually great to model in terms of content to write for your own website, and typically receive more links from articles that wouldn’t invoke readers to leave a comment. There’s a lot to learn from articles that get people to actually write feedback on a specific site, rather than social media, and especially so in 2016.

So I head on over to the Copyblogger website and click on an individual blog post. From there I right click on the data I want to copy and click Inspect (I’m using Google Chrome) like so.

Then I need to right click on the element again in the Console window and click Copy XPath, as shown below.

If you’re familiar with Regex and so on then you can use those skills, but XPath has been the simplest one for me to get and it has worked 95% of the time.

Then we want to head back to URL Profiler and follow the steps in the image below.

Now click Apply and let URLProfiler do its thing. Depending on how many URL’s you import the job could take anywhere from a few minutes (less than 500 URL’s) to a few hours (50,000 URL’s).

I then get back an Excel file and with a little cleaning (i.e. removing irrelevant columns from Screaming Frog) I get some very interesting data.

I pulled back 392 articles with at least 10 comments, 221 with at least 50 comments and 81 with at least 100 comments.

Once you’ve done this process once you can be getting new data on any website in a matter of minutes.

Please note: For most websites and web hosts this kind of scraping is likely against their Terms of Service. I don’t accept any responsibility for what may happen if you take this too far (hence this post is titled ‘Advanced’). Please be responsible if implementing this kind of tactic by running the tools during low-traffic hours of the day, not pulling more pages than you need and so on.

Now I know the most commented articles ever written on Copyblogger I can analyse them to work out why they received so many comments. You can also take this further and use URLProfilers option of accessing the Moz or Majestic API (both free) to get backlink data on every single post.

In other words you can see the most commented on and linked to articles on any blog on the planet. For me this has been an absolute goldmine of information for new industries I want to enter and far better than just checking social shares with the likes of BuzzSumo.

I use this process for so many things that I actually rent a server from Amazon so I can run these tools at max speed. When you’re collecting data on over 400,000 URL’s (which was one of my recent crawls) then you can get the data back in a few hours rather than a few days.

If you get creative you’ll find there’s a lot more valuable information you can use this tool-combination on than just analysing link and comment counts.

Thanks to Joshua for his help with the tools needed for this.

Find Private Networks and Link Opportunities (Without Analysing Backlinks)

It’s a well-known tactic in the SEO world to check the backlinks of your competitors so that you can find any possible link opportunities that you can duplicate yourself.

What isn’t so common is to find out where your competitors are being mentioned without links, which may still pose some opportunities.

One such tactic I like to employ is to search for a phone number or email address associated with my competitor.

I’ve actually use the first option to find companies who are relying on other’s to rank sites that they then rent out to that specific business. Then you can delve into that site and see how they’re building links which help them rank.

For example, here’s a website which is ranking for a search term which receives more than 10,000 exact searches per month.

The website is featuring a real brand with a logo, Twitter account and Facebook page which has nothing to do with the domain name of the site I see ranking.

If I search for their phone number instead of just looking at backlink analysis tools then I find another part of their network, here:

This is a totally different site they’re using which also appears to rank well for their chosen keywords.

Another result leads me to a Twitter account with their phone number, and once again I find another website this webmaster is operating.

The keyword tools I use did not find this mini network they’re operating in order to dominate a sector of the pet niche in a certain state of the US.

However, when searching for a phone number (or other key details like the first line of an address, or their email address) you can generally uncover a lot more with your analysis.

AROUND(Number) is a Google Search Operator Which Improves Upon Regular Link-Finding Queries

One query I haven’t seen any other SEO blog touch upon is the AROUND(?) search operator. It has been useful in a number of situations for me in recent months when trying to find specific strings of text in search results.

It has been so useful that I’m surprised I haven’t read about it in the marketing world before — I found it when looking through some programming discussions on Reddit.

What this query allows you to do is essentially find words that are within a certain proximity to each other.

For example, you already know that if you search for niche “submit article” you’ll find sites in a particular niche which accept guest posts. This is a common search query shared on blogs about finding posting opportunities along with “write an article”, “submit your post” and so on.

However, if we search for something like niche “submit” AROUND(4) “article” we can see pages for a specific niche or from a specific website which reveal a sentence where submit and article are not together, but still in close proximity.

Not more than four words apart, in this example.

So what I’ve done here is try to find websites which say submit and guest post within four words of each other and also have the world gold in their URL.

Searching for “submit tip” or “submit guest post” would not have revealed this result.

Look how much more natural that search query is. It’s something you clearly wouldn’t find from a typical “submit article” search and opens up a lot of other link opportunities that SEO’s aren’t finding with commonly shared queries.

For example a sentence could have been “If you would like to submit your article” which a simple “submit article” search prior would not have found.

If you change the number after AROUND (the one in brackets) you increase the allowed space you can have between two words.

Let me give another example of how this query is useful. I recently noticed that some WordPress websites publicly show how much traffic their pages are receiving. This seems to be some kind of option in WordPress – I’m not sure where – but the WordPress forums are full of people wishing to turn it off.

Here’s one such website which reveal their daily pageviews for each article.

My first idea was to simply scrape their website (using the tools in the first tactic) and see which were the most popular articles they’ve ever written. That being said, I no longer run any viral pages on Facebook so I wouldn’t really have anything to do with the information.

I instead decided to check was which other websites reveal this information publicly.

Thanks to the AROUND search operator, I can do exactly that.

(I went to page two for this screenshot since the first page is just people asking how to remove it from their sites)

As we can see, even the USA government are in on the action to help out us marketers.

Now to be totally honest I didn’t find anything too interesting from sites that publicly share their pageviews. I was actually hoping to make a tool out of it but not many big sites share their stats. I found some interesting article ideas on a few sites, but nothing that was really worth the hour or so of trawling through the results.

Just think of all the standard search queries that you can now expand upon and find more natural results. Things like:

niche “top tools”
niche “recommended websites”
Niche “submit a post”
Niche “favourite links”

No longer do you need the words to be ‘touching’. You can specify how far apart they can be and broaden your link building horizons.

I’m hoping this query gives you some ideas of custom things you can search for you may not have been able to find previously. As I said, I use it far more than I ever expected it would and now that it’s in your arsenal, I hope you find places it can come into play.

Reverse-Analyse The Links of Successful Flippa Listings

When I used to write articles for SEOmoz (now Moz) back in the day, I wrote an article about four ways of building links that are currently working well for me. While the article was written in 2010, one of the tactics I shared there is still relevant today: Finding sites on Flippa with a lot of search traffic and analysing their backlink sources.

The reason you want to do this is because it’s interesting to see how some websites are ranking quickly, receiving a lot of traffic from search and are able to sustain that traffic. It’s essentially an open diary of what is working in SEO if you focus on the right listings.

For example, here’s a listing that’s live on the website right now.

I have blurred out the name but they’re completely open about these stats (I don’t have to be logged-in to see them) so while I’m not sharing anything others can’t find, I’ll at least protect the URL.

As you can see, their traffic has grown fairly rapidly.

This is only interesting to me if most of it is coming from search, which in this case, it is.

While the numbers aren’t huge, search still makes up most than half of the traffic to the site, and at least 33% of that is coming from the United States (meaning there are more lucrative opportunities for monetising that traffic).

If someone has built a site worth a few thousand dollars in less than a year which relies on search traffic, I’m always curious to know how they got there.

If we analyse their backlinks, it’s an interesting, albeit familiar story:

As you can guess the links they’ve built are pretty awful and almost entirely consist of comment spam.

However, their anchor text is very diverse so I think this is what has helped them stay under the radar and still benefit from these types of links.

Of course, as I often say, it depends what niche you’re in as well. Trying to do this for ‘Gold IRA’ is just incredibly unlikely to work, but an image-based site can certainly benefit from automated and fast link building.

Build a Private Database of Proven Promoters

I first heard about this tactic from Brian Dean on a podcast with Eric Siu a few months ago. The idea is simply to create your own private database of real people who have already shared your content or content that is very similar to what you write about or plan to write about.

You can then use that database to let people know when you publish new content that they may be interested in.

For instance, here are two women who have tweeted content I’ve wrote in the past few days.

If we click on Heidi’s profile (thanks for the tweet, Heidi!) we can see she has a very impressive number of followers and a genuine blog in the internet marketing space.

In other words, she’s the perfect type of person to strike up a relationship with if I want more shares (and potential links) on future content.

Please note that I will not be contacting Heidi or Kellie and request that others don’t either. They just recently tweeted my articles and therefore ended up in this example.

Heidi, like many website owners, does not seem to publicly display her email address. Instead she has a contact form if you wish to get in touch with her. If this is the case with someone you wish to add to your ‘list’ then simply send a friendly thank you email to establish some sort of connection. You’ll also receive that persons email address when they reply to your email.

Kellie on the other hand does show her email address prominently, so while I should still send her a thank you email, I could also add her to a ‘list’ very quickly.

I typically just make a simple spreadsheet in Excel which looks like the following.

I don’t write down any full names as I’ll generally never use them.

You may be curious why I use ‘Company’ as the column heading for the tweet where they wrote about me. This is just a preference based on the email messaging platform I use. When I import the email addresses later, it will ask me what variable I wish to assign tweets to, and I choose Company.

I personally use Reply for my email outreach but there are literally dozens out there so do your research first. I honestly just used the first option that looked good enough for what I needed, but it can get quite pricey.

Once I’ve imported the list, I’ll set-up a campaign to send a message like the following.

Note that I’m using the Company variable for where the link to the tweet they wrote about me will go.

While this is quite a slow process (it can take a minute per email and many people don’t share them publicly) I actually think that adds to its charm. There are less people who are willing to take the time to do it and therefore you’re going to get a better response on your emails.

I haven’t really utilised this much for ViperChill – though I may in future – but have for other sites.

Of course, if the site that you’re trying to promote is new (like mine have been), then you can’t say things like “You previously tweeted an article of mine.”

In that case you need to find similar articles to the one you are looking to promote, and then find the people who shared them on Twitter via their search engine.

You certainly aren’t guaranteed any links with this method, but if you could get an extra 100 Twitter shares on your next article from real people with real followers, you greatly increase your chance of finding the ‘linkerati’ who actually have the power to link to your content.

I did this for my article on ’16 Companies Dominating Google’ a few months back. Someone recommended an influencer who might like the article – they had no idea who I was nor had they ever read ViperChill to my knowledge – and I sent them a quick tweet about the post.

Then this happened.

I’ve never had more than 40 likes on a single tweet so it just goes to show what the right people can do for your promotion efforts.

Sharing good content is often good for the person sharing it, as it shows them as being an authority in their particular field.

Reverse-Analyse Scholarship Link Builders

When I talked about scholarship link building in my state of link building report, I received more hate emails and publicly negativity than I ever have. So much so that one Reddit sub-Reddit went crazy about what a terrible person I was and how I was giving away advice to people who don’t deserve it.

Normally negative feedback really gets me down, but in this case, I totally accepted it.

If you don’t see any moral issue with students taking the time to fill out forms in the hopes of winning a scholarship – when there’s likely 99.9% zero chance you’re even giving away a scholarship – then we couldn’t be any more different.

The example I shared in my last post was a brand new coupons website suddenly deciding to give away a scholarship in the first month of their opening and just got “lucky enough” to pick up dozens of .edu backlinks.

I can not be convinced they weren’t doing it just for links, and more than likely have no scholarship to offer.

I won’t be covering the tactic again, but I will state what there is to learn from the people who do this: What other types of links they build.

People who use scholarship links often:

Use donation links
Guest post
Participate in PIN’s
Buy links on websites
‘Sponsor’ software in return for a link

If you want to know what works in the world of SEO, you should be following the people taking the time out to create these scholarship pages and then contacting the universities for a link.

While I don’t agree with their methods, they’re on the pulse of what works.

Here’s the example I shared in the past, and some of the other links that they’ve picked up.

In one minute I’ve found an absolute goldmine of SEO knowledge by just checking one website. I can also replicate every single one of these links if I wished to do so.

I’ve found one site I can donate to (it’s cheap) and two directories which accept links from anyone, as long as you get in touch with them. If I ever went the scholarship link building route (I wouldn’t), there’s two additional places I can get links from as well.

The site was only started in 2016 so those links that shouldn’t really work are starting to pay off for them.

This site is actually small in comparison to another webmaster who is building thousands of donation, scholarship and paid directory links.

Just look at their traffic stats to see what I mean.

They’re around 4x bigger than the first example but following the exact same method of link building.

Start from one source, like websites listed as offering scholarships, and then work your way backwards through other links they’ve built.

This tactic alone will give you more insights into SEO than the Google Webmaster blog.

A Little-Known Reddit URL for Finding Promotion Opportunities

If you’ve been following my journey on my personal blog at Glen Allsopp.com you’ll have seen that I shared exactly how I planned to write this article. In one update I wrote,

What I tend to do with articles like this is totally ignore what’s out there on the web until I’m finished my own post. Then I’ll search for something like “Advanced link building tactics” (the topic I’m writing about) and see if there are any great ideas I can include. I’ll try to add something the original author hasn’t covered but will always link back where it is necessary.

In other words, I never read articles on the subject I’m writing about until I’ve actually finished my own article. I want it to be original and don’t want to be swayed by the ideas of others.

The following tactic is something I actually found on Reddit just as this post was about to go live, and thought was an excellent tip to add.

Reddit has a little-known feature that allows you to see where a domain was shared anywhere on their website. So you could not only check your own website, but the performance of your competitors as well.

For instance, if I use the following query – http://reddit.com/domain/viperchill.com – I can see these were the most recently shared stories from ViperChill on Reddit:

What you can see in this highlighted box is that someone submitted my article to a sub-Reddit I didn’t even know existed and was actually able to send me thousands of visitors to my site in a 24 hour period.

Now, granted, those visitors did not stay on the site very long (with seems to be a common theme with ‘Redditors’) but I can take some things away from this:

I found a Redditor who reads ViperChill and has a bit of ‘authority’ there
I learned about a new sub-Reddit I could possibly promote to in the future
I received a lesson in writing Reddit titles for different audiences

If your site is new or you have yet to really write any content worth sharing then looking up your own domain will likely pull back few results, if any at all.

However, there’s no reason you can’t run your ‘competitors’ through the same query and get insights on sub-Reddit’s to use, Redditor’s who read content in your niche and content ideas you could cover yourself.

I decided to look up my friend Pat Flynn’s blog, Smart Passive Income, to see the results for his website.

I actually didn’t get the best of results back, so I modified the search URL a little, to this:

https://www.reddit.com/domain/smartpassiveincome.com/top/?sort=top&t=all

This will show me, from highest to lowest, the posts from Pat’s site which received the most upvotes in the history of Reddit. You simply need to click on ‘Top’ then ‘All Time’ if you want to do it manually, or you can just use the query above and swap out the domain name.

With that query I get the following result:

Now I’ve learned that I could potentially angle some of my future content towards the /r/productivity crowd and even though I’m in the internet marketing / make money industry, they could still respond favorably to the content.

Reddit links themselves aren’t really worth anything but if your post does go viral, you have an opportunity to reach the type of people who could link to you.

Rank for Terms the Linkerati Are Searching For

The term Linkerati, coined by Moz.com’s Rand Fishkin, refers to people who have the ability to link. Meaning they have some place on the web that they could actually link from, whether it’s a forum, blog, online store or similar.

If you don’t get the attention of people who can actually send links your way, then you aren’t going to pick up any links.

This gem comes from Ken Lyons, who shared the tip back in 2013 on a creative link building post by PointBlankSEO. Before I add my own ideas to the original concept, here’s what Ken had to say a few years ago,

We optimize and link to the “become an author” pages on each site we run this on so the doc will rank for search operators in specific keyword verticals. This gets us a steady flow of guest posting inquiries. We offer to “swap content” with bloggers that want to guest post on our sites. If you’re unwilling to or can’t swap, we won’t publish your article.

With the number of sites we run, we swap an average of about 100 articles per month. What I love about this tactic is the efficiency: link opportunities come to us versus us having to prospect for them. This really puts us in the driver’s seat and means:

– We can insist on only swapping with sites that meet or exceed specific quality thresholds.

– We have total control over link placement within the article and aren’t restricted to a single author bio link.

– We’ve been able to build ongoing relationships with others who run portfolios of sites and swap with them on a pretty regular basis.

How smart is that?

Rank for terms that link builders are using to find link opportunities in Google, then offer to work with them to help both of your sites. Similar to what I recommended with PIN’s, but actually having people come to you to pitch content.

So you could set-up a dummy website like “Real estate backlinks” or “real estate guest posting” and try to rank for relevant terms to each of those. Then make it very open on your website that you offer link opportunities, and people should get in touch with you if they want them.

Only once they get in touch do you start negotiations that are beneficial for both of you, rather than just plainly accepting their guest post on one of your websites.

As Ken says, it’s likely that not everyone will be a perfect fit, but just like my success with outreach for paid links (see below), you’ll find the right person to work with now and then who makes it all worth it.

Why Maps are the new Infographics When it Comes to Link Building

When infographics became all the rage a few years ago it seems like every other article I was reading had them embedded. People saw them as a way to “ethically” build quality links to their website, and get a few extra pins on Pinterest.

Infographic creation companies sprouted up across the web and some startups dedicated to their creation received millions of dollars in funding.

While infographics are no doubt useful and visually appealing, I would argue their massive success is due to the SEO’s of the world creating them for links.

This could well mean that maps, or more specifically interactive maps are going to be the new infographic when it comes to link building.

After all, the biggest publications in the world are sharing them on a constant basis.

I took this screenshot on the same day this article is going live.

David McSweeney gets the credit for noticing this trend and doing a huge write-up on the topic a few months ago. Since his article I’ve certainly seemed to be noticing this more, and no doubt your average webmaster will be picking up on the idea soon enough.

It’s Working for Insurance Companies

I don’t really want to link to this one as it’s clearly just some SEO agency having created this for their client, but if anything it shows that even obvious implementations of this strategy can attract links.

GoCompare, a UK-founded financial comparison site created an interactive map on the topic of ‘What Powers the World’ which you can find here.

While it no doubt took technical skill to put together, it’s incredibly simple and doesn’t really reveal much at all.

The map, while seemingly irrelevant for what GoCompare was founded to produce, has been able to pick up links from over 100 different domains.

The obvious ‘problem’ of course is that for most people, these maps aren’t going to be easy to create out of the box. Keep in mind for however that for many people the same was true for creating infographics and still is today. I couldn’t design a beautiful infographic without help from others even though I’ve used Photoshop for years.

I think we can expect to see more ‘map creation services’ popping up as people look to capitalise on this opportunity while it’s seen as a more ethical (and perhaps easier) way to build links.

Do note that maps don’t have to be interactive to be shared. This following one was featured on Business Insider recently and is nothing more than a static image.

As long as the angle you’re taking for promotion is interesting then maps offer a nice visual which could attract views and social shares for whoever publishes (or republishes) the information.

If you’re interested in this tactic the first thing I would do is spend a few hours going through other examples of maps and simply noting which ones received a lot of social shares. Then try to find ways to make popular angle’s relevant to your own industry.

The Report That Earned Me Hundreds of Links (And Still Works in 2016)

At 18 years old, not long after I have just moved to South Africa, I started a personal development blog called PluginID (no link as it’s no longer online).

I was trying to grow my reach with the site as much as possible and basically wanted to track my own progress compared to other bloggers in the space. I decided to create something which showed me exactly that.

If I recall correctly the following script cost me around $150 to put together, but thanks to the links and attention it received, it was more than worth it.

There were 71 sites on the list from the last count I can find so while the sites at the top weren’t interested in promoting it, those who were lower down the list definitely came back now and then to check how they’re doing.

It’s funny to see the metrics I used to track back then and the ones we track today. It’s almost a history of the internet.

Google Pagerank is dead.

Alexa barely gets talked about anymore.

Technorati is dead, too.

These days the reports that I put together look something a little more like this:

Note that this is not my own website but is a design I helped to advise on. I talk more about it near the end of this video.

As a bit of an internet time-capsule, I wonder if we’ll still be counting links, likes and Twitter followers five years from now.

I absolutely love the twist that Nathan Gotch has put on this idea (and not just because he has been far too kind in ranking me). His stats are not based on any particular scores like share metrics but his personal opinions of each article.

Showing he reads and rates so much content in the SEO world instantly makes him appear to be an expert on the topic.

And of course, everyone who is mentioned there wants to share it as well. While Nathan doesn’t seem to have picked up links, keep in mind that they’re generally much harder to get in the IM space because everyone is more likely to Tweet something than link to it. And people are definitely tweeting.

I’ve seen dozens of tweets (and made some myself) but I’m unsure how to find them all directly due to Twitter shortening the URL’s.

The great thing about this idea is:

Every month, some of the 10 people who are featured will share the page
It’s fairly easy for Nathan to put together since he reads the blogs anyway
It’s useful for his audience (I’ve found a few cool new blogs via his list)

As long as he can share 10 links for his audience each month it’s really a win-win for everyone.

How could you do that in your industry?

Could you curate a list of the top 10 articles about cooking, health and fitness, vegan recipes or anything else?

Notify those who get featured and start becoming the standard ‘go-to’ resource in your niche for the top content found on that topic. If you’re passionate about the industry you’re in the articles should be easy to find.

And don’t worry about “giving away” authority. I linked to 71+ blogs back in the PluginID days but people kept coming back to my site because I had the list and must have known a lot about the topic if I knew all of these sites.

Reverse-Analyse the Link Building Efforts of Wikihow Link Builders

Wikihow is a website which receives an estimated 86% of it’s traffic from search engines, according to SimilarWeb.

While their external links are no-followed, once again the webmasters who are taking advantage of their resource have built a lot of other links you can duplicate as well.

Whenever Wikihow pages link to external sources they use the heading text “Sources and Citations”. Therefore with a custom Google query you can pull back relevant pages from their site.

If you edit the query to include a word relevant to industries you operate in, you can find active webmasters building links in your space.

Similar to previous reverse-analysis ideas I’ve shared, you would then go and analyse other backlinks these sites have picked up and find some great link opportunities.

Literally Just Ask Websites If They Sell Links

I’ve put this towards the bottom of the article as it’s probably the least advanced tactic here due to how simple it really is.

That being said, it’s rare that you’ll find bloggers talking about buying links these days, especially when it’s frowned upon.

Then again, there have been some big brands who have experimented with it for SEO reasons, even if they don’t endorse the tactic directly.

I’ve bought so many links over the last year that I almost wish I could offer link buying as a service (it wouldn’t be fair to the sites I’m buying them from if I was “caught”).

As I said, this is a very simple process. I simply give a list of 1,000 or so domains (gathered from lists of top blogs in various industries) to an assistant who then log’s into a email platform I set-up and then simply asks them if they have links for sale.

While the success rate is fairly low – many webmasters are scared of selling links – you do find people who have huge networks of links for sale, with fair pricing.

[EDIT: The people who sent me this example email asked for the graphic to be removed from the post. I do want to make clear that there was zero identifying information on the sites selling links, nor who sent the email. They simply recognised their own email they sent to my assistant. However, out of respect I removed the image.]

Most people you come across have websites they’re passionate about but they just don’t receive that much traffic and therefore aren’t making money. If they can get an extra $50-$100 per month for essentially doing nothing then many of them will jump on that.

Just make sure when you’re sending emails you’re not using a domain or email address that you care about.

For less than $3 per month you can use a private email option with Namecheap (found here) and then you don’t have to worry about setting up new hosting and so on.

How to Consistently Pick Up Targeted Backlinks from the Top Sites in Your Niche

While Dale Carnegie left many nuggets of wisdom during his time with us, the following quote is undoubtedly the truest.

“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie

People can be talking metres from you without you hearing a single word they say, until your name pop’s up, and suddenly your brain is able to tune in on that discussion.

I would argue that the second sweetest sound to a webmaster or product owner is a favourable review of something they’ve created

Trust me, the best way to get anyone in the world talking about you is to have success with something they sell.

I have an entire page dedicated to people who have success with my Marketing program and if anyone else sends me a video testimonial, you can be sure I’ll be quick to put it up there as well.

One obvious place to start is somewhere like Clickbank and go through their marketplace to find products relevant to your niche. This is a bit of a tedious approach though because most of the reviews and testimonials that are found on sales pages, if they exist at all, rarely contain any links to the authors website.

Instead, I would head on over to iTunes and find the top podcasts in your niche, and then see if those podcast hosts have any products or services you would personally be interested in.

For instance, let’s say you’re a golf coach, run a golf course or sell golf equipment online. If you head on over to iTunes the first or second result you’ll find under a podcast search for ‘golf’ will be the Golf Smarter show, which has over 500 episodes.

While there are no site names in the description, if I Google the name of the podcast I quickly find Fred’s website. I also find that he has a product for sale, for a very reasonable price.

When you find something like this there are two approaches you can take:

Reach out and ask Fred if he would be interested in featuring your review of his show on the website
Reach out and ask Fred for a preview and in return you will review the show for him

The review would then link back to your website and Fred would have a chance at getting more sales by actually having reviews on his site (he doesn’t have any yet, which is surprising).

Please note that this is just an example: Please don’t flood poor Fred with dozens of review requests.

Another example is the podcast IMTalk, designated for those in the middle of training for an Ironman. It’s surprisingly popular:

If we head on over to their website we can see not one but three opportunities to get a link from them.

You could:

Purchase and review their products (ask if they’re interested in featuring testimonials upfront)
Sponsor their show
Submit content for their audience

Using Copyblogger as an example once again, you can see that the reviewers of their ‘Authority’ program get a nice backlink from a great domain.

While these links take a bit of effort, it’s probably one of the best links you could get if you also run a fitness website or more specifically one catered to those training for an Ironman competition.

I have a special announcement coming on Monday so if you’re not already on the ViperChill email list please do be sure to opt-in below or in the right sidebar. Thank you for reading!

Read More
Image 5556873-twd-tara.jpg

The Walking Dead Explores Secret Community With a Nightmarish Past [SPOILERS]

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead gave viewers a glimpse into another new community in the show’s universe. However, this group (made up of entirely women) has a troubling backstory which could be the future of Alexandria, if they’re not careful.

The episode revolves around Tara’s journey on her own. While Heath is here as well, “Swear” delves into a new community in the world, with an extremely troublesome past. Throughout the episode, we learn a lot about this unnamed community, which we’ve decided to call Beachfront. Here’s what we learned.

Warning: Spoilers for the November 27 episode of The Walking Dead below.

Heath and Tara have been away from Alexandria for a couple weeks. During a skirmish with some walkers on a bridge, Tara becomes separated and wakes up on the beach. She’s discovered by Cyndie and Rachael. Tara, who is unconcious, is given some food. Eventually, Tara follows Rachael and finds the Beachfront community, which is hidden in the forest, a bit inland from the water.

The Community is Shoot on Site

Tara quickly learns the first rule of Beachfront: They kill everyone they see. While the reason why isn’t revealed until later in the episode, this group of women is terrifying. They fire first and ask questions later. Tara learns that long ago, the group went to war with another. After that, they decided not to trust anyone, which isn’t the best plan. Tara explains that when you start seeing everyone as an enemy, you’ll never make any allies. She also tells them that it’s a bit hard to survive as a community, longterm, when it’s made up of women, since they can’t reproduce.

They Eventually Welcome Tara Into the Fold

Tara sits down to dinner with Rachael and the leader of Beachfront, and tells her that at one time, a group named The Saviors threatened their way of life. In turn, they went to their headquarters (the satelite relay station) and killed them all. At this point, we all remember that Tara missed everything that happened in the season premiere. The Beachfront leader tries to convince her to stay and live there. Tara would rather have Heath by her side, so Tara heads out with a couple members of the community to look for him the next day.

The Reason There Are Only Women in the Community

Things get a little hectic during the trip to the bridge. Tara thinks the two members of Beachfront accompanying her are going to check out Alexandria with her, along with trying to find Heath. However, she quickly learns they’re going to kill her, to keep their community safe and secret. One of the members of Beachfront tells Tara that a while back their group fought The Saviors and lost badly. The Saviors lined up all the males over the age of 10 and shot them all in the head. The surviving women snuck out of their town and made a new, secretive community. They wanted to be away from Negan and his men. That’s also the reason they kill everyone they see. It could be one of Negan’s men.

While Tara eventually escapes the members of Beachfront, after promising to Cyndie that she’ll never speak about the community’s existence, we’re treated to one of the weirdest moments of the season, which borders on pure absurdity. Tara gets back to the bridge, kills some walkers, and is trying to find Heath. What she sees is a walker, with her back to her, with Heath’s haircut. There is a long beat, before the walker turns around, revealing it’s a woman. In a sea of walkers covered in sand, there is this lonely walker, not coated in sand, who happens to have the same haircut as her friend? That’s just silly.

What’s important about this episode is that it adds another community to the list of potential allies in the war against Negan and The Saviors. Aside from Beachfront, we have Alexandia, Hilltop, and The Kingdom. This season, more than any other, has thrown so much at the wall in such a short amount of time, all while making it feel like the show moves as slow as the infected undead. Yes, this episode dragged a bit, and yes, the show is already a bit over-bloated when it comes to characters and stories, but maybe this slow build to the inevitable war with The Saviors will be worth it.

What we should all pay attention to when it comes to “Swear” is that Beachfront is what happens when you take on The Saviors and lose. Alexandria could end up like this if they take on The Saviors unprepared. This community’s existence is a warning, more than anything else.

“Swear” does a lot at building future potential while developing Tara a bit more. She feels a whole lot less like a background character now. However, it really feels like this episode could have been slimmed down some to give the episode more “umph.” It was an ok episode building towards expanding the world when “All Out War” eventually happens.

Read More

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

In the Academy Award-nominated film Food Inc, filmmaker Robert Kenner reveals how the varied choice of items we see on the shelves of supermarkets is actually a false presumption. Instead, that seemingly endless variety is actually controlled by just a handful of companies.

Today I’m going to reveal how the huge diversity we perceive in Google search results is once again a few large corporations controlling what we assume to be choice. More specifically I’ll reveal how just 16 core companies are dominating the most popular industries online and how that situation is going to get a whole lot worse.

To begin our journey down the rabbit hole together, I want to take you through a series of events which uncovered something I had never considered before about the industry in which I operate: Are the Google rankings I aim to get for myself and my clients actually controlled by just three hands full of companies?

Around two weeks ago I came across a post on Reddit about Hearst Media. I was unfamiliar with Hearst Media but very familiar with the brands they own such as Esquire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

The Reddit outing, which was shared on a new account, claimed that Hearst were using their powerful brands to “game Google” and rank a new website of theirs very quickly, using slightly shady practices.

Being an inquisitive marketer I had to check it out for myself. The quick summary is that Hearst clearly were (and still are) using their authoritative brands to point links to their latest venture, BestProducts.com.

While I expected BestProducts.com to be receiving a lot of traffic from the brands linking to them – which also include Marie Claire and Woman’s Day – I didn’t expect Google to have taken such a huge liking to them. Especially when the site in question had zero reason prior to be ranking so well (it was owned previously then the domain dropped a few years ago).

To give an overview of what was happening for those who are skimming this article, the situation looks like this.

The arrows in this picture represent links.

There are far more brands involved in this network, but we’ll get to those in a second.

As I stated earlier, I was far more surprised by how Google reacted to this.

Launched in October, They Now Receive More than 600,000 Visitors from Google Per Month

Here’s the graph that kick started the countless days of research I did for this blog post.

As we can see, the estimated traffic to BestProducts has shot up dramatically in the last few months. SEMRush is showing similar numbers, as we’ll get to in a second. With 62% of their traffic estimated to be coming from Google, that’s at least 600,000 organic (free) website visitors for the month of April.

I expect the data for May will be significantly higher, but I have to wait until June 10th to see (that’s when SimilarWeb confirm they’ll update their reporting).

So Why Am I Surprised?

Tons of authoritative sites linking to you is obviously great for SEO.

But as anyone who has been involved in search engine optimisation for a period of time might wonder, surely getting so many sitewide links in a short timeframe should raise a bit of a red flag?

Even if the links in question are from some of the biggest media brands in the world.

Here’s a few examples.

Esquire.com (Product Reviews)

Elle.com (Beauty Reviews)

Cosmopolitan.com (Beauty Reviews)

MarieClaire.com (Reviews)

PopularMechanics.com (Product Reviews)

Now, I will say that 90% of me thinks there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, you’ll see the majority of this post is focused on why I’m surprised Google give the resulting website so much traffic.

Quite simply if I owned a lot of websites, I would be fine linking them together. If for nothing more than from a usability standpoint.

That being said, 10% of me is a little surprised that these link texts and locations are constantly changing. I think it’s a bit risky on their part.

As of publishing this post, Cosmopolitan use ‘Beauty Reviews’ as the anchor text of their footer to the site. Previously it was in a different placement and used the anchor text ‘Style Reviews’.

These are not static footer links that have been left alone (and not just on one site). They’re changing to different pages – and using different words – on a fairly frequent basis.

To me this takes the situation away from “they’re just linking to their own site” to “they’re doing a lot of tweaking to see which results in higher rankings.” You could argue they’re testing it for usability reasons, but you’ll see in a moment why I think they know a thing or two about SEO.

Before I get into that, I wanted to see if I could figure out when these links were added to their network.

Were they all thrown up at once and it took a while for them to have an impact, or was there some clear plan behind the links from Hearst Media’s various brands?

Here’s some of the data I managed to uncover on when each site first linked to BestProducts (I bolded those that linked on the same day).

PopularMechanics.com – November 5th
Esquire.com – November 5th
Cosmopolitan.com – January 1st
Seventeen.com – January 12th
RedbookMag.com – February 23rd
Elle.com – March 15th
CountryLiving.com – March 18th
WomansDay.com – April 5th
MarieClaire.com – April 5th
RoadandTrack.com – April 13th

For my own curiosity, I was glad I took the time to trawl through every screenshot on Archive.org to find these answers. It’s now obvious that the people working for Woman’s Day, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics and Esquire had some conversion that went along the lines of, “Don’t forget, today’s the day we have to put those links to Best Products in the footer.”

As I said earlier, I don’t really care too much about what Hearst media are doing with their “link network” of magazine brands. I don’t see anything wrong with it and don’t think Google should either.

That being said, because I’ve done more research for this blog post than any other, I do want to add that they purchased the most successful SEO agency on the planet just a few years ago.

If you can’t read that because of my small post width (I’m working on a redesign), they paid $325 million for an agency that generated more than 60% of their revenues from SEO clients.

At the time of acquisition iCrossing were also the biggest search agency in the world based on revenue numbers. In other words, the staff at Hearst Media comprises of a large number of people who know a lot about SEO.

To me this explains the slow buildup of network links and the semi-frequent changing of URL’s and link text in their website footer.

I Have No Problem With What Hearst Are Doing. Google’s Reaction Is What Really Interests Me…

I’ve said it a few times but I’ll say it once more for anyone skimming the post: This is by no means an attack on Hearst Media. They own the websites so they’re welcome to do with them as they please. They also made BestProducts a rather attractive looking website.

Then again, I’m surprised at how well their strategy is working. I’m not naive – I know that authoritative links equal a good chance of increased search rankings – but I didn’t expect they would be outranking some of the biggest brands on the internet for search terms that can make them a lot of money.

From Zero to $583,000 in Free Search Traffic

We’ve already looked at the data from SimilarWeb, but the stats from SEMRush are interesting as well.

SEMRush pips BestProducts at ranking for over half a million dollar’s worth of search queries (if you were to buy them via Google Adwords) in a very short space of time.

Their Top Keywords According to SEMRush

Some of those incredible rankings they’ve achieved include:

hairstyles: 11th (450,0000 searches per month)
short hairstyles: 7th (301,000 searches per month)
best wireless earbuds: 1st (22,200 searches per month)
short haircuts: 9th (301,000 searches per month)
best running shoes for women: 1st (18,100 searches per month)
bluetooth speakers: 11th (165,000 searches per month)
lighted makeup mirror: 1st (14,800 searches per month)
best makeup brushes: 1st (14,800 searches per month)
haircuts: 7th (165,000 searches per month)
short haircuts for women: 6th (110,000 searches per month)

They’re still ranking for these terms, which is why I predict the SimilarWeb traffic graph will increase a lot when they update their data for May.

Their Top Keywords According to SimilarWeb

It’s interesting to see how different the data from SimilarWeb and SEMRush seems to be, but they’re at least right that BestProducts are ranking for what they state they’re ranking for.

best dishwasher 2016
best smartwatch 2016
best gaming headset 2016
best action camera 2016
best bluetooth speaker 2016

Hey, I did tell you all just before new year that you should be writing 2016 everywhere on your site.

I could make this page infinitely scrollable if I show all of their rankings, so I’ll just share a couple to show they really do rank.

While they aren’t a top result for this one it does show that they’re likely still getting hundreds of clicks per day for just one search term.

It’s certainly not just with BestProducts that Hearst are having a lot of SEO success though. Just look at how their brand is doing as a whole…

Hearst Alone Absolutely Dominate Certain Sectors of Google Search Results

Worried about ranking top three? Why not just take all of the spots.

Sadly, Google Search Results Will Never Look Diverse Again

At least not to me.

You may think Hearst are some kind of exception and partly, you would be right. However, they’re certainly not alone.

Purch also own some of the biggest sites online.

They all already link to each other in the footer of every site, but it’s my understanding that they were all fairly big ‘brands’ on their own before being purchased. Just look at the traffic numbers for some of those sites:

Toms Hardware – 51 million visitors per month
Top Ten Reviews – 17.5 million visitors per month
Live Science – 20.6 million visitors per month

I don’t have to go into their domain stats; you already know they have authority.

Purch and Hearst compete in many of the same industries and one of Purch’s sites – TopTenReviews – also ranks in my screenshot above for the dishwashers search query.

There’s no doubt they are watching the success of one of their bigger rivals and if they see that they can spin off new web properties into valuable entities, it must be very tempting to follow the same path.

Sadly, the more research I did for this post, the less and less varied Google search results appeared to be. Time after time I was able to trace back the top ranking websites to some of the biggest media companies in the world.

There are of course some I’m missing (especially outside of the English language) but these are the companies I found most often in search results across the board.

Click here to view a slightly larger image.

To show you I’m not being dramatic, let’s take a look at some actual search results I believe that these networks are dominating. They’re not just limited to one sector.

They’ve Taken Over Software

That’s a little bit of a long-tail example, so let’s look at something far more popular.

They’ve Taken Over Food

Image results were manually removed from this screenshot for clarity

And another…

For this screenshot I removed some Google images so I could fit in the search results

They’ve Taken Over Technology

I’m starting to feel like I was one of the only people who didn’t know about these brands.

They’ve definitely got a big hold on the technology industry.

They’ve Taken Over Gaming

Note: One Youtube result was removed from this graphic so I could fit in the screenshot

They’ve Taken Over Health

They’ve Taken Over Automotive

They’ve Taken Over Beauty

They Buy Out the Competition

They (More than Likely) Share Keyword Data Across Their Network

I can’t blame them for doing this, but it’s certainly interesting to see.

It’s not only the big broad keywords that send a lot of traffic they can share either. If you have similar brands, you should definitely be taking advantage of the long tail.

Why have one top search result when you can have two (or many more)?

These Companies Get $20,000 in Links Just for Buying a Domain Name

When Google search results are so reliant on one thing then we’re all a little bit at the mercy of whoever has the most money to throw at the problem.

Whenever these big brands start a new website the tech and news blogs share it with the world, and that means link acquisition.

Hearst’s Best Product Got Incredible Links On the Day of Launch

Here is Racked.com, ironically owned by another of the sixteen, talking about their new brand.

As Did Time’s New Breakfast Site

Even if you’re just writing about the first meal of the day, it’s notable to those in the tech space.

As Did IAC’s New Health Site

There are few better links to get about a new brand than a mention from TechCrunch.

It’s Clear That Domain Authority is More Important Than Ever

If you didn’t “catch” on to this after seeing how well BestProducts are ranking then let me make it clear: There are almost no backlinks from other sites pointing to the top ranking pages of BestProducts.com.

They do have some internal links – mostly from the footer of PopularMechanics articles – but very few. However, they have a ton of strong links pointing to their homepage and category pages, which is spreading the ‘link juice’ around their entire website.

This is inline with what Brian Dean reported when he analysed 1,000,000 Google search results:

As he says, “In other words, the domain that your page lives on is more important than the page itself.

Overall, it makes sense that domain authority plays a big role in overall site rankings (it’s not easy to get internal links) but I’m surprised to see it being so important.

How IAC’s About.com Used Their Authority to Catapult a New Site to the Top of Google

When TechCrunch covered the launch of About.com’s new standalone health website, Very Well, they had this to say regarding their SEO,

One of the greater challenges for About.com will be SEO. The company current has pretty good juice when it comes to Google searches, and launching on a new domain with a new brand could prove difficult to migrate.

The other interesting thing they quoted, which a lot of other news sites picked up on, was that,

Verywell will launch with more than 50,000 pieces of content ranging from common medical conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis to simple health tips like how to get more sleep or advice on fitness.

That’s a lot of content for a brand new site.

50,000 Pages of Content Did Nothing for Their SEO.

From what I can tell, Very Well seemed to come online around February of this year. The first mentions or evidence of the site didn’t appear until April, but some of their older content has February 2016 as the publish date.

Now the day they launched the site – whatever that really means – was April 26th, 2016. That means they added 50,000 pieces of content to a dropped domain in the space of two months.

During these two months not a single website analytics tool (such as SimilarWeb, Alexa or Compete) detected any traffic going to VeryWell.com

Luckily, About.com Has Some SEO Authority to Throw Around

As TechCrunch noted, About.com are one of the most SEO-authoritative brands in the world. It seems like no matter what you search for, they’ll be there ranking on the first page of Google.

It’s interesting then that About.com decided to risk that authority by pointing their health-related sub-domains straight to Verywell.com, as shown below.

This is just a sample of those I found. There are many more.

To be clear, these sub-domains used to have sites on them. They’re not just randomly redirecting. They were previously used by About.com.

WIth a wave of links from About.com and the media web talking about IAC’s new web brand, VeryWell started to get noticed on website analysis tools. Most notably by Ahrefs.

That’s a lot of links in a short period of time. Surely it must be setting off a few red flags like they did for Best Products.com? Heh.

“How’s That New Site Ranking, IAC?” Very Well!

If you want to know how this new brand is doing in Google, take a look for yourself.

That’s a recording of 3.6 million visitors to the site with 56% of that reportedly from free search engine traffic.

IAC must be pleased with that. So much so in fact that I think this situation is only the tip of the iceberg.

This Domination of Google Results Is Going to Get Much Worse

Over the last two weeks of dedicating day and night to this topic I found a lot of similarities in these mega brands.

Many started offline in publishing and brought those titles online while many purchased their own competitors and ran different brands like they were separate entities. For instance, IAC purchased About.com while AOL (now owned by Verizon) purchased Patch, TechCrunch and The Huffington Post.

However, the most common thing I’ve found in my research is that they all plan to spread the authority of their online presence.

IAC’s About.com Will Disperse into Many More Verticals

Speaking with TechCrunch, their CEO Neil Vogel states, “What we learned in rebuilding what we were is that we don’t want to be that anymore. About was built during a different time in the internet, where scale translated to trust. But the internet has changed. No one wants advice on their 401k from the same people that give advice on how to bake a pie.

As TechCrunch also note;

Learning that, About has shifted its focus to building out verticals around its troves of topic-specific content, with Verywell being the first.

After seeing the quick SEO success of Very Well, I’m sure they’ll be bringing that plan forward.

Time Have Already Spun-Off into Two Verticals

Back in September of 2015, Time Inc’s ‘The Foundry’ (sort of like their internal incubator) launched a car news website called The Drive. Time recently revealed the site is now receiving more than 2 million unique visitors per month.

More recently, Time launched a website called Extra Crispy. Oddly enough it’s a website dedicated to breakfast, but if you saw the screenshots above then you’ll know they’ve received a TON of links back to this site, simply because it was created by Time.

Two of the 16 Are Teaming Up

Just last month, two of the sixteen brands I’ve highlighted today actually acquired a new company together named Complex Media.

The video-focused company claim to reach more than 50 million unique visitors per month.

With Verizon purchasing AOL last year for $4.4B, I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see them make a few more content-focused acquisitions. *Cough* Verizon will buy Hearst *cough*

Hearst Built BestProducts.com in Just Six Weeks

I’m not even talking about how long it took to get the content on the website. I’m talking about sitting in a meeting one day and having the idea for the site to actually having it online and getting links from some of the most powerful domains in the world.

Digiday reports that Hearst can move fast. “We’re now at place where we can spin up properties incredibly quickly,” Young said. “This went from idea to launch in six weeks.

Young also commented that, “We have a strong new platform. Now we can start applying that to new opportunities.”

Which to me can only mean that more BestProducts-like websites are on their way.

A Depressing Summary, but Not a Negative One

Though this post may seem like a bit of a “it’s us against them” fight, that really wasn’t my aim.

The more research I did for this article and the more I realised certain brands were owned by the same company, the more I felt like I was watching Food Inc, the documentary that revealed the thousands of brands you see on supermarket shelves are really owned by just a handful of companies.

Side note: If anyone has the skills to make a similar graphic with the brands I covered here I would include it

It’s not too dissimilar from what I’ve shared today. Thanks to Jason and Mary for putting this graphic together.

Click here to view larger

As I’ve always said, I write articles that I personally think would be interesting to read. In 11 years of immersing myself in the online marketing industry I’ve never seen anyone talk about the huge dominance that certain players have on search results. So, as the research was interesting to me, I decided to share it.

Let’s take an ideal worldview for a second. If Google’s ideals are to be believed, results from queries in their search engine should produce results that searchers want to find.

For that reason, I’m sure teenage American girls searching for advice on colours of eye-liner aren’t thinking “Ugh, really Google? Beauty tips from Vogue again?”

Similarly, when I’m searching for tech product reviews, I’m actually happy results from The Verge appear over some site I don’t have much faith in. I trust The Verge, and I’m more likely to click on their results than from anyone else.

From an objective standpoint, the Google results are good, if not great. They provide what the searcher, and I, are looking for.

But I’m a marketer. If you’re still reading this article, I can assume with 99% certainty that you’re one too.

As a marketer I learned how little Google care if a new site gets hundreds of thousands of links very quickly.

I came away with even more belief in the importance of having a strong domain (read: a domain that has a lot of backlinks) if you want internal pages to rank.

I also became a little fearful that these brands are going to spread into even more verticals, taking their already huge financial war chests and filling in all of the blank Google results they don’t yet own.

If we want to debate whether it’s fair or not or whether Google should make changes, a court of law in the US has twice protected their search results under the First Amendment. Meaning it is totally up to them to list and rank websites wherever they wish.

The first time they won a battle on their rankings, a company called CoastNews were suing them for $5M because they ranked at the top of Yahoo and Bing but were nowhere to be found on Google.

At the end of the day, Google is a business that aims to make their shareholders money and if we as webmasters are looking to rank higher in Google, it’s usually because we want to make more money as well. I can’t feel it’s unfair and want to profit from it at the same time. After all, I do have several niche agencies which profit from ranking other people highly in Google.

I can complain – it’s a shame Google can’t detect some of what is going on here – but it’s not going to change anything about how I run my business.

All in all, I simply hope you found my findings as interesting in one go as I did while discovering them on the way.

You Can Still Fight Back

Next week I’ll be going live with a report on the state of link building in 2016 so if you want strategies on how to get links to make your sites rank, make sure you enter your email in the box below (or in the right sidebar) to make sure you don’t miss it.

Thank you so much for reading.

Read More