Category Archives: Make Money Writing

Real Secret to SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a big concern for many writers and website developers. The concept of SEO runs counter to pretty much everything a good writer learns. SEO suggests that a webpage can rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs, based on how well it conforms to certain search engine friendly concepts rather than based on how good the content of the page is. Even worse, many of the main SEO rules are the opposite of what makes good writing in the non-search engine world.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s What They Know

There are a lot of SEO resources out there that will teach you the tricks of the trade for SEO. SEO tactics like getting the right title tags, using header tags properly, and most importantly of all, building backlinks can help your webpages and your online writing rank higher on Google and everywhere else. However, there is one factor of search engine rankings that is often overlooked. It is overlooked, because it actually has nothing to do with SEO, targeting keywords, or ranking highly for a desired phrase.

For a good writer, the most important factor in determining whether or not you can make money writing online is not how well you can rank for the keywords you want to rank highly for, it’s how well you can rank for the keywords THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.

A good freelance writer can write an informative and useful article about almost anything given enough research. Therein lies the rub. The Google search that most people are making is the research that they are doing. Unless your article title and its associated title tags match what they are looking for, another article that does match will rank higher for the search they are performing, regardless of its quality. That means you not only need to write quality content, but that you must do it in such a way as to match what someone less informed might be searching for.

For example, after doing some research, you might know that someone upgrading the memory in a netbook would need 200-pin DDR2 RAM. However, if your article jumps right into referencing RAM, and DDR2, and 200-pins and so on, it won’t ever be seen by someone looking for information about how to upgrade netbook memory, because they will type into Google, “netbook memory upgrade” or maybe even, “put more memory in netbook.” Notice how the words RAM, DDR2 and pins are all missing. Eventually, they might know some of those words, but that will be a smaller search segment.

When writing about topics that you don’t know or that you need to do significant research about, write your title and introductory paragraphs before doing the research. That way, you’ll be coming from the same place as your reader and be much more likely to hit them on their searches. Be sure to include lots of synonyms or other ways of saying the same thing to catch all the possibilities. From our example above, the intro paragraph should incorporate the words netbook, laptop, computer, memory, RAM, upgrade, and so on. Otherwise, you are just leaving money on the table for someone else.

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Yahoo Partners With Zillow For Real Estate Listings

Yahoo made news not too long ago when certain investors demanded that the company be sold (to Microsoft) and then again when Yahoo partnered with Microsoft’s search engine technology in order to get out of the business of being a search engine. While such news was apparently welcome to investors who had grown tired of owning the stock of a company that was the number two search engine in the world. Apparently, the company’s new CEO agreed and Yahoo search has been wound down. Most Yahoo search results are now powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine, whether that is made apparent on any particular webpage or not.

The question, of course, has to be then, what Yahoo plans to do as a business in order to make money if it will not be a search engine company. The answer has been a scattered set of developments, online services, and technologies that Yahoo! has rolled out over the last year or two, including Yahoo buying Associated Content.

Ironically, in many of the new areas Yahoo is focusing on are ones where the company is also the #2 provider (or less). One of the areas that Yahoo has been working at expanding its online offerings for is real estate listings.

Searching Real Estate Listings Online

Some industries were ripe for the Internet from the moment the technology and bandwidth speeds were in place to handle them. Searching homes for sale was one of those areas. The Internet allows users to browse through hundreds of real estate listings, including pictures without having to drive around just to see a dozen houses. What’s more, computers are great at parameter based searching. Users can select to only see houses with more than three bedrooms, or only those with at least a two-car garage, and so on.

Yahoo! Real Estate has been providing just such an online home search service to users for some time. However, it has languished behind other websites with a real estate focus. The company has made a new move to increase its real estate listing offerings, as well as provide more advertising sales and opportunities to local real estate agents via a new partnership with Zillow.

One of the things that make this deal interesting for those looking to earn money by writing websites or making money writing online by using AdSense or other online advertising is that Zillow has shown up as one of the Google third-party ad networks for Google AdSense. With Zillow offering ads on both the Google publisher network and on Yahoo, savvy webmasters and professional writers creating online content will need to keep an eye on whether or not their Google approved AdSense sites continue to get “the good ads” or whether the CPC for third-party ad network ads drops due to Zillow serving up lesser or left over ads on Google content publisher websites.

(Note: The deal was just announced and no one knows what, if any affect, it will have on AdSense earnings or publisher websites. This is only one more reason to closely monitor the level of AdSense success each website has, not a statement that things are already worse, or that things will change at all.)

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Google Certified Ad Networks Who Are They?

google-certified-ad-networks-questions-graphicGoogle has allowed certain third-party advertising networks called, very benevolently, “Google Certified Ad Networks” to the Google AdSense program. The official party line is that these additional online advertising networks will provide publishers with higher income allowing them to earn more passive income online from the content they publish on websites. The skeptical party line is that nobody sells ads better, or in greater volume, than Google AdWords, and that the 3rd party ad networks have to earn their money by taking a cut of revenue as well, therefore, these new ad networks will only drive down the amount of money webmasters can earn with AdSense advertising on websites.

Who is right?

Unfortunately, that is a pretty tricky question to answer.

Early on in the launch of the third-party ad networks, many webmaster claimed that they saw their revenues and earnings in the form of cost per click or CPC decline. They further claimed that after disabling all of the third-party ad networks that their ad revenue increased back to “normal” levels. That might have been all she wrote, except for at that point one of many unofficial Google spokesmen turned up on that forum and said that the 3rd party networks were being rolled out very slowly and therefore, whatever those guys were seeing was not the result of lower payments from third-party ads. He went on to say that it would be a “mistake” to follow the disabling course of others. Curiously, no other information has been forthcoming sense.

It is difficult to no how much value to give to various forum posts since users are notorious for inflating their importance and income. Reading many user’s posts leaves one with the considered opinion that the author has never published anything other than a handful of token websites in their life, let alone have any sort of ability to provide a valid analysis.

Testing Google Certified Ad Networks Impact On Earnings

Unfortunately, truly testing the impact of Google certified ad networks would require either directly violating Google’s confidentially terms and conditions or violating the rule against having more than one AdSense account. Since AdSense publishers can only enable or disable third-party certified ad networks on a whole account basis, there is no way to turn them off for one set of sites and leave them on for another and then compare the results. To publicly compare results would violate rules against disclosing cost per click and eCPM metrics.

Thus, Google leaves us with no way of knowing whether or not the new 3rd party certified ad networks are good for us publishers or not. Are the Google Certified Ad Networks hurting earnings, or are the new 3rd party ad networks helping earnings? I guess we’ll just have to go ask Mr. Owl.

Who Are Google Certified Ad Networks

The only thing we can see is who the certified third-party ad networks are. If you were expecting to see the names of numerous advertising powerhouses or other well-respected online vendors, you have a surprise coming. Most of the certified ad networks list reads like that starting lineup for the Cleveland Indians at the start of the movie Major League, “I’ve never heard of most of these guys.”

As always, successful AdSense publishing requires diligence on the part of the publisher and webmasters. Monitor your sites and check in periodically to see what ads are showing up. Find out whose ad is on your webpage and add those served by undeserving advertisers to your competitive ad filter where both Google and 3rd party ads will be blocked.

Determining which, if any of the third-party ad networks to block will be much more difficult. For now, monitor your AdSense income and respond to any substantial across the board drop by blocking all 3rd party ad networks immediately.

Remember, this is the holiday season, when AdSense earnings are at their highest. If you are publishing real, legitimate content and honestly building links and authority to your webpages, your AdSense income should be going up through the end of the year, not going down. So, now is the perfect time to over-react. Next year, you can re-evaluate if necessary. And, the good news is that you will have a baseline of data from your “blocked” period to use as a starting point in evaluating whether or not to continue allowing the Google Certified Ad Networks back onto your websites.

List of Google Certified Ad Networks

Here is a list of third-party ad networks as of 11/28/09:

Invite Media
Specific Media
OwnerIQ, Inc.
Adconion Media Group
AudienceScience Inc.
Dapper Inc.
Dedicated Media
NetSeer Inc.
QuinStreet, Inc.
Teracent Corporation
ValueClick, Inc.
Aggregate Knowledge
Collective Media
CPM Advisors, Inc
Efficient Frontier, Inc.
Quantcast Corporation
Rocket Fuel Inc.
Semantic Sugar, Inc.
Traffic Marketplace
Goodway Group
Ad Marketplace
Epic Advertising
Reply! Inc.
Criteo Europe
Criteo UK

If you have any data to share, or experiences to report, regarding 3rd-party ads on your website, please don’t hesitate to comment or email.

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Keep Making Money Online By Writing Ahead

writing-ahead-graphicIf you target the right keywords and focus your writing just so, you might be able to rank highly for a specific phrase or set of key words without updating your site regularly. But, doing so is really more the realm of those make money fast types who want to convince you that you can make big money on the Internet by doing virtually nothing. All you have to do is throw up a couple of websites that you can build in minutes. Of course, you will never figure it out on your own, so you’ll have to cough up $49 for an eBook, or subscription, or something.

But, since this site is about helping writers make money online by doing what they do best, that is writing, I’m not going to go there right now. Instead, I will tell you that the three-word phrase you see on everyone’s how to make money posts, Content Is King, is 100% true.

I am currently in the midst of an ongoing project to build a big money making empire of websites. I could use all those SEO tips and webmaster tricks out there to try and make crappy sites rank high, or I could just do what I do best, write quality articles and posts for these sites and let Google do what it does best, separate crappy MFA sites from good ones.

That being said, it would take very fast typing fingers to write daily content for even a dozen websites, let alone several dozen. Trying to do that while running a small freelance writing business would require the aid of some form of time stopping ability.

What is a budding writing web entrepreneur to do?

Write ahead.

Every day, you will be writing. After all, you are a writer, and that is what writers do.

However, some days you will fill like writing about certain topics and not about others. Save the forcing-it writing for paying clients with deadlines and use your want-to writing to write for your sites. You’ll write faster and better.

Don’t just write one post or article and move on. Write three. Write a dozen. Heck, write 20. Then take advantage of WordPress’s scheduling ability to meter those posts out in nice search-engine friendly increments. Personally, I like to publish every other day, not including weekends. That makes a Tuesday-Thursday publishing schedule fairly attractive.

Sticking to this schedule gives you two major benefits. First, your content is always new and fresh, which Google loves.

Second, since you know that your “automatic posts” go out every Tuesday and Thursday, when you need publish something a little more timely, or you just don’t want to put what you just wrote at the end of the queue, you can set it to post on any of the other days of the week and know that you won’t be overlapping without having to go into your control panel and look it up.

Do this for each site as you set them up and have maximum enthusiasm for the topic. You should easily be able to crank out 5 posts. With the 2 a week schedule, they’ll last 2 1/2 weeks before you have to come back.

Chances are, you’ll have plenty of good ideas before then.  Keep going and pretty soon you’ll have enough posts queued up to take a vacation and not miss a beat.

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