How the Heck do I Monetize THIS??

In my last post I talked about not giving up on trying to make a living doing what you love. I have no doubt that quite a few of my readers thought “That’s fine for a lot of people but my passion is XXXX and there’s no way I could make a living doing that.” You might be surprised.

I was out of town last week an in work related training which literally had me occupied from the time I woke up until I finally stopped studying at midnight each night. Despite this huge time sink I managed to produce a post (and therefore tweet, Facebook post etc.) Monday morning, Wednesday morning a Friday morning. The only way I was able to do it was because I wrote the articles last weekend and had WordPress schedule the posts to go live at those predefined times. I literally never touched this site once last week due to time constraints but everything kept on chugging along.

The reason I’m bringing that up is because the key to getting good rankings in search engines is the exact same as the key to monetizing your passion. You have to produce quality content frequently. How frequent is frequent enough? Ideally daily but a minimum of a few times a week. I know that I should have daily articles but a 50+ work week plus commute and other obligations make three articles a challenge.

For me the key to getting those three articles done is I don’t let myself go to bed Sunday night without having all three written and in WordPress ready to launch. My goal is to get one month ahead on my posts but I’m not quite there yet 🙂

If you think it’s impossible to produce daily content about your passion, you’re probably wrong.

If you became enthralled with bronze work at a young age and really felt that it was your passion, how would you begin to monetize that??
My answer would probably be something like this. If that truly was my passion than I was probably an active member of the online communities which discussed bronze work. From this material and from my own thoughts and experiences I’ve probably got enough for a few blog posts a week, a podcast whatever my preferred method of media is. Ideally the answer is both! I would then use a cheap (under $100) digital mini camcorder or the video camera on your phone to crank out some YouTube videos. If you’re a skilled bronze worker, start making how to videos.

If you’re just starting that’s fine too. You can learn something then cut a video showing what you learned. It will help reinforce what you learned and help others who want to get started too. To steal a quote from Marge Simpson you can start giving piano lessons tomorrow, you only have to stay one lesson ahead of the students.

Pumping out quality content on a regular basis will not only keep readers coming back to your site but it will do more than anything else to help bring new readers to your site. When we started making an effort to do a daily post on my wife’s site a year ago our Google visits went from a few dozen a day to a few hundred a day. Not only will you get traffic for phrases you’re targeting but you’ll start to get traffic from things you never thought anyone would type into a search engine.

Producing quality content takes a lot of time but if you truly want to be able to make a living doing what you love it’s the best way I know to get there.

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Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams

Time for this blog’s first ever post that has nothing to do with SEO 🙂

I was out of town for the past week and just got home today. The week really re-enforced some lessons about following your passion and being happy.
Last week I spent Monday-Friday in Phoenix for work related (and most importantly funded) computer training. The training ran every day from 8AM until about 6PM and I was up until midnight each night studying for the two certification tests I was going to take at the end of the week.

To explain how I engrossed I was in this course I went for a run Monday morning before class started. That was literally the last time I stepped foot outside the hotel until I took my bags to my car Friday. Most people would think that sounds miserable but I loved every minute of it. When I saw my wife Friday she told me I was glowing.

The long hours and extreme happiness combo reinforced an extremely important lesson, a person is much, MUCH happier doing what they love doing. I would rather do what I love for 14 hours a day than do a job I dreaded going to for 8 hours a day.

Once my class was over Friday afternoon I drove across town to meet my wife who was exhibiting at the Phoenix Comicon. I spent the weekend hanging out with her, walking around checking out the sights and talking to a lot of really genuinely good people.

That place was full of people who were likely never going to get rich doing what they loved, but were having a blast doing it. Two times during conversations with separate people the subject of “I may need to give this up and get a real job” came up. Screw that!!!

I met a great guy name Brandon who told me that his passion was creating fantasy worlds, but his real world job was in the produce section at a grocery store. I told him that I thought it was really cool that he knew what his passion was and that he should stick with it at nearly any cost. The very important but often tricky part is figuring out how to monetize your passion to the point that it can provide a stable income.

Monetizing can be difficult and it will definitely take long hours to work on and cost you some sleep but it is possible. Your passion may be such a small niche that it may be impossible to get rich off of but who cares about being rich! I encouraged both of the artists that I talked with to avoid the “advice” that most people will give which is to get a good job, work yourself into the ground for 30 years, collect your $50 watch at your retirement party and then you can follow your dreams.

There are too many variables and life is too short. Know that you will have to put in long hours and hard work but you can monetize on your passion.
The only reason that I’m posting this on a SEO blog is that I imagine 90% of my readers are trying to create their online brand and presence for a startup business. Some of you probably feel like you’re not making progress and the rewards aren’t worth the effort.

If it’s just about the money to you than that decision is 100% yours to make and I’m sure you’ll make the correct one. But if you’re like most of my readers and the only reason your trying to increase your web presence is because you’re trying to realize your dreams and make a living doing what you love than I really hope you stick with it.

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Make Sure You’re Updating Your WordPress Sites

Not a “real” post but I wanted to put up a quick reminder to keep your WordPress sites updated. Most of the WordPress updates fix multiple security flaws and if not kept up to date, your site can become infected with all sorts of bad stuff and make your life miserable during the cleanup process. Even if you have a site you never ad content to it’s best to check it out every few weeks and apply the updates.

While performing competitor analysis the last two days I’ve seen literally dozens of infected sites which set up my anti virus when my software tries to visit the sites to analyze the links. The particular worm I kept seeing is the biggest current security threat on the internet according to AVG and out of date WordPress sites are particularly vulnerable.

Applying those updates only take a few seconds and they can save you a WORLD of hassle.

NOTE: A lot of people have custom themes and never update the theme. That’s usually ok but don’t mistake not updating your theme with not updating your plugins and WordPress itself.

Posted in Wordpress Tips and Tricks | 1 Comment

Initial Impression of Market Samurai

Market Samurai is a very popular SEO tool that is generally considered a keyword research tool. I usually use Rank Tracker to do my keyword research but I grabbed a 40 day trial of Market Samurai to see if I was missing out on anything good.

I expected functionality fairly similar to Rank Tracker but it’s vastly different. It’s worse in a few ways but has quite a bit of functionality that Rank Tracker does not.

For pure searches of where a website stands in search engines, Market Samurai is a complete non option. Rank tracker kicks it but is too many areas to list. As I write this Market Samurai tell you that you shouldn’t use Google in your rank tracking due to technical issues so that tells you how bad it is. It also appears quite a bit slower than Rank Tracker but I’ve got 35 private proxies so my seo tools that support those go very fast.

The keyword research module is where Market Samurai really starts to shine. Market Samurai doesn’t generate nice reports like the enterprise edition of the SEO PowerSuite tools do, but it does have a lot more fields in its findings. One extremely useful field that I hope rank tracker ads soon is the exact phrase vs. broad metric which shows the % of Google searches for those terms were for exactly that term vs. what percentage had those words but with other words or in a different order. This is a must have feature as some terms look extremely promising on the competition vs. traffic front but a quick check with Market Samurai can reveal that only 2% of Google searches with those words used that exact phrase.

Market Samurai training literature states that you like the percentage to be at least 15% and that sounds about right. Market Samurai keyword research reports also contain both the number of broad and exact searches for a phrase.

The big feature-set difference between SEO PowerSuite tools and Market Samurai will be of great interest to some and of little interest to others. That feature set revolves around revenue and monetization.

Market Samurai tells you what the going rate is on Google Adwords for each of your terms and what your daily revenue would be if you had the #1 spot for that term. If you build websites with an eye towards ad revenue Market Samurai is a must own. If your site is about building your business or brand and not about making money through ads then this feature may not mean much to you.

There are a lot more features in Market Samurai like a competition analysis, domain name finder, content finder and monetization opportunity finder. I’ll cover these in future posts but suffice to say that it’s a pretty neat little tool.

Maybe the best feature of all with Market Samurai is the cost. $97 for a lifetime license with no update fees. By SEO software standards that is incredible cheap and while I got a lot of playing and testing still to do, I imagine I will be a buyer once my trial period has ended.

Posted in SEO Software Reviews | 2 Comments

Video of Live Keyword Research using Rank Tracker

I’ve already made a video going over the features found in SEO Powersuite tool Rank Tracker but I thought there may be some interest in a video of some basic keyword research done live. I keep the numbers small so the video is 10 minutes instead of 45 minutes but it’s a good overview of one of the processes I use.

I’ve also been playing around with another SEO tool called Market Samurai and I plan on doing a series comparing Market Samurai to SEO Powersuite. If there are any other tools you’ve been eying but weren’t sure about let me know and maybe I can review them as well.

Posted in SEO Software Reviews | 2 Comments

A Step by Step Guide to Increasing your Share Price in Empire Avenue

Here is a video I made where I explain step by step the moves I make on Empire Avenue to raise my share price. Below the video I’ll put some tips. If you’re just starting out in Empire Avenue, the goal is to get your share price above 50 so you can create missions.

It’s worth taking a peek at the recent arrivals every once in a while for great buys cheap. Getting a stock at 10 and watching it shoot past 50 does wonders for your portfolio.

Don’t waste your time looking at recent arrivals with no picture.

Know that recent arrivals with less than 4 social networks connected will probably not be big gainers long term. If a recent arrival has 4 of more social network connections they are likely real and will rise quickly so grab 200 shares cheap.

Be careful matching share for share with someone who has a value much greater than yours. A lot of high value players understand this and will match your buy of 50 with a 200-800 share buy in you but some will not. If at all possible, try to buy people with a share price somewhat similar to you or buy the higher priced shares in lower quantity.

The goal (unless your share price is well over 50 and stable) is to invest in users who will in return invest in you. This will steadily raise your share price and provide you will a solid shareholder base. The best way to accomplish this is to browse the recommended users for other users who own shares in as many people (or more) than own shares in them. If you see a user who looks great but has 300 shareholders and a portfolio of 80, then you know that they are unlikely to return the investment favor and you should probably move on.

ALWAYS shout when you buy someone’s shares and shout back when they shout at you. These count as Empire Avenue actions and help your score.

P.S. I forked over $100 on Amazon for a blue yeti microphone in an attempt to increase the audio quality of my videos. Please let me know any feedback you have on how I can improve my videos!!!

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Empire Avenue is a Must Use

When I first heard about Empire Avenue I thought that it was a cool concept, but I wasn’t incredibly thrilled about using it. After a few weeks on Empire Avenue I can honestly say that anybody interested in building their brand or web presence should really sign up for that site and spend a few minutes a day there.

At its core Empire Avenue is a game but there is a lot brewing underneath the surface. You sign up for the site, and you become a stock. You associate all of your social media profiles and blog rss feeds to your profile and the more active you are, the higher your value will rise. Other uses can buy and sell your stock and have some effect on your share price but your price is largely under your control. If you’re active on social media, YouTube, instagram etc. than your value will soar. If you send out one tweet a week to your 8 followers, your stock price may stagnate. The currency of Empire Avenue are called “Eaves”. You start out with a decent number of Eaves and with a few wise investments you will quickly earn more.

The main draw for me when I first heard about Empire Avenue was the fact that it analyzed your social media accounts and gave you ratings in different categories. This sounded like a fantastic idea because it would give me one place to look and get an idea of where I was doing ok in my social media efforts, and where I was slacking. These analytics are what prompted me to sign up for Empire Avenue.

After I signed up for Empire Avenue and started to play around with it I quickly discovered a section called missions. Once I understood how missions worked, I realized that they were the primary reason to join Empire Avenue.

People with share prices above 50 eaves per share can create missions, which are just tasks they’re asking other members to do in exchange for a set amount of eaves. You’re under no obligation to ever look at the mission section but if you’re trying to earn a few extra eaves, it’s a great place to head to. When you go to the mission page you see a list of missions that other users are offering along with a very brief description of what the mission entails and the number of eaves that you will earn by completing the missions.

Common missions are following them on twitter, liking their Facebook page, visiting their homepage, watching their YouTube video or giving them a +k for a topic in klout. Mission rewards are usually 500 to 3000 eaves but can be higher. When you click the button to accept the mission the eaves are instantly deposited into your account and a new browser window opens up taking you to the page where you can complete the task. It’s usually a very quick process.

This may not sound like your idea of fun but it is one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever seen in building your internet presence. You can hook up your social media accounts and blogs so you get credit for things you’re already doing, spend a few minutes each day buying shares in others and once you get your share price above 50 eaves you have an instant on demand army to do whatever you want them to do!

Here is a quick example. You come to the realization that Twitter followers are easy to get, Facebook followers can be bought through ads or giveaways but Google +1 votes can be tough little cookies to get. Sure you can buy a few hundred on fiverr but they will all come at once, be from fake accounts and best case Google will ignore them, worst case they will punish your site with a penalty.

With Empire Avenue you could get REAL +1 votes from REAL users with REAL online friends at will. For 10,000 eaves (not that much at all) you could create a mission offering ten people the opportunity to hit +1 on your page for 1,000 eaves each. Within an hour or two you will have ten new Google +1 votes from users who are not only real, but are obviously interested in social media , likely have lots of friends and are therefore more influential in +1 search value.

If this sounds good to you head over to Empire Avenue, set up an account and start linking in your profiles. In my next article I’ll discuss how to maximize your share price with smart play.

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Switching a Blog from Blogger to WordPress

Most of the articles I post here are on will be on SEO or social media topics but today’s post is on transitioning from Blogger to WordPress.

I’ve helped a few of my wife’s friends move their sites from Blogger to WordPress and while there is a handy dandy tool in WordPress under tools -> import -> blogger that lets you port all of your content from Blogger to your WordPress blog it doesn’t always work. Most of the problems have to do with verifying your ownership of the site with Google but it still doesn’t always solve the problem so I want to talk about one “worst case” scenario that actually does an amazingly good job.

If your import keeps failing and you feel like you’re going to toss your laptop take a deep breath and log into your blogger, go to the settings menu, click on basic, then on blog tools and finally export blog. When you click download it will take all of your content and package it into an .xml file which you can download to your computer.

The next step is to go to a great little site located at http://blogger2wordpress.appspot.com/ and point it toward the .xml file you just downloaded. The site will then convert that file to a WordPress formatted .xml file which has all of the content.

Once you’ve download the WordPress formatted file you can go back to your WordPress dashboard -> tools -> import but not you can pick WordPress instead of Blogger. Choose the WordPress formatted .xml file that you got from conversion website and it will load all of your content into your new blog!

There are two things to pay attention to when it loads in your data. One is what user you would like to attribute the posts to. Usually you will choose your admin user from the drop down box but if multiple people had posted content to your blogger site than it can auto create accounts for all of them.

The second option to pay attention to is that it can automatically grab and upload all of the pictures associated with your Blogger posts. This is obviously one you want to pick.

The process only takes a few seconds and the end result looks awesome. I converted a photo intensive Blogger site to WordPress this morning and all of the formatting etc. came out perfect.

I know this wasn’t SEO related, but hopefully this post helps one of you guys out next time you run into a problem like this.

Posted in Troubleshooting Tips | 1 Comment

Is SEO dead? (part 2)

Part 2 of article from 5/14/2012

Social Media 20%

Not many people will agree with this number. Some will say it’s too high, quite a few will claim it’s too low. Both sides will have plenty of examples which seem to prove their point but you can find examples for anything.

For those who don’t think social media is that important since search engines deliver an overwhelming majority of traffic to their website, you need to know that search engines are absolutely looking at social media indicators to see which sites people like and are modifying their results appropriately. This practice is only going to grow in scope so you might as well start growing your fan base now.

For those people who think social media should take up far more than 20% of a website owner’s time, why? You can build a laser targeted twitter following with a few minutes a night or you can completely automate it with a tool like tweet adder. Then you can spend a few minutes a day interacting with your followers, re-tweeting a few of their tweets etc.

There really isn’t a free and easy way to get Facebook followers so you’re probably going to end up buying Facebook ads (which you can keep cheap and unbelievably targeted) or giving away some item or service to get people to follow your page as an “entry” trying to win the item.

By following these methods you can build up a large, targeted fan base. The question is, what can you do with them? If all you do is constantly pepper them with “buy my stuff” then you will find yourself being ignored. It’s far better to build relationships, and then let them know when you have a new product release, a special etc. This will help spread your message and hopefully bring you some customers. That is an awesome tool to have and it can be fairly cheap to acquire but for most website owners that should be about 20% of their efforts because I think it’s about 20% of the total picture.

Social media is changing and growing and becoming more intermingled with search engines on a daily basis. You absolutely cannot ignore social media, but I also think that you shouldn’t spend all of your focus on it while ignoring content on your site or link building.

A lot of people think that with the growth in social media that 5 years from now Google will be less of a factor as people rely on asking friends more than they rely on asking Google. Let’s pretend they’re right for a second and jump into the future.

For the point of this exercise, I own a website that sells dog beds. In 2012 I got 200 visitors a day from Google but now in 2017 I only get 100 a day. On the surface that looks horrible but it might not be. Google is constantly modifying their algorithm to try to give people the results that they’re looking for. As they take in more social media signals and other data, they’re only going to get better at what they do. 200 visitors to a site right now may result in 5 sales. In the future all of this targeting may cut the number of visitors from search in half, but with four times the results. What if Google knows that from activity it sees in visitor’s social media and other online browsing patterns that they are likely shopping for a dog bed and therefore sends them to your site instead of just sending you traffic where the search had the terms “dog” and “bed” in it while ignoring all other context.

It’s more important than ever to produce quality content, while staying well rounded and participating in emerging platforms without abandoning the current ones.

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Is SEO Dead (part 1)

For years people have been using the words “SEO” and “dead” in their article titles attempting to link bait and get people fired up about their articles. More and more of these articles are starting to appear so I figured I’d throw my hat into the ring and give my opinion.

Usually when someone tells you that something is “dead”, they are trying to sell you something else. In the case of those proclaiming SEO is dead; they are trying to sell social media services.

Social media is huge, social media is growing, but right now Google is still king of the mountain for people looking for information and it will probably remain in that spot for the foreseeable future. That said any SEO “expert” who doesn’t pay attention to social media should be avoided like the plague.

It can be difficult to know how to weigh the importance of all of the different tasks a website owner has but this is my current opinion of the relative value of different items for building your online presence and increasing visibility.

I’ve listed content (and onsite optimization) at 50%, offsite SEO (aka, links) as 30% and social media as 20%. There will always be exceptions to any rule but I believe that this is a good general guide to these items importance. I can’t really start throwing out numbers like this without providing some sort of explanation so here’s a short one.

Content and onsite optimization 50%

This is pretty obvious. Creating quality content for users to find is half the battle. I’ve said multiple times if you have poor content but draw 10,000 people to your site threw some scheme all you’ll end up with is 10,000 disappointed people. By onsite optimization I’m referring to your keyword usage, metadata, website structure etc.

Offsite Search Engine Optimization (links) 30%

Links are still the primary way that Google determines which pages to serve up to users. It may seem like a scary time to perform link building due to all of the recent Google updates cracking down but those changes are what makes it a fantastic time to perform natural link building. Every link spammer that Google punishes is one spot that everyone else moves up in the rankings.

If you’ve read other articles and don’t think that SEO matters anymore then you should check out the raw numbers of Google searches that users perform. If a homeowner in El Paso, Texas has a pipe break right now how are they going to locate a plumber? I haven’t seen a phonebook in years so unless they know someone who they think they can call for an answer, they’re using the internet.

Once they fire up their laptop they could go to a site like craigslist to look for a plumber (that’s honestly what I would do) but most people aren’t going to go that route. Social Media apologists would have you believe that people at this point will jump on Facebook and twitter and start asking their friends which plumber they should call. Does this happen? I’m sure it does. Could this “crowdsourcing” trend grow, it absolutely could and probably will. At this point is the amount of people doing this anywhere close to the amount of people that would simply type “El Paso plumbers” into Google? It isn’t even close.

This article will be continued in my next post.

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