SEO and Traffic Tools

I make over a $1,000 per month blogging on various websites. Technically, I make over $1,000 per month from AdSense and not blogging, but it’s the blogs that bring in the AdSense money, so I suppose it is all relative.

The point is that there is an amazing array of SEO tools and traffic analysis tools and so on our there. I’d like to try some of them out, and since I do make some decent cash from my writing, one might think that I would be willing to shell out $50 or so to try some of them out. And, frankly, I would except they all seem to cost $50 PER MONTH or worse.

Now, I’m all for spending money to make money, and all that, but I can’t help but wonder how much those tools are really worth. After all, I can check my rankings anytime I want for free by running the actually Google searches manually. Of course, that’s the rub, “manually.”

Still, $50 per month is $600 per year. That isn’t cheap, and that is for just ONE tool. What if I liked the rank tracker from one tool, the link checker from another tool and some sort of SEO checkup thing from another tool? That might be $150 per month, or over 10 percent of my income.

My only conclusion can be that either there are a lot of people out there making a lot more money with their websites than me, or that there are a lot of people out there who aren’t spending their money very wisely. I guess the question is how much actual value does the average website publisher make from those tools? After all, I’m already making $1K without them. Would I double my earnings? Triple?

Think about it this way. If I was able to generate a more realistic 10 percent improvement on my income that would be $100 per month, of which $50 per month would go to the cost of the tool. I’m not sure that works out for our heroes.

Speaking of which, I recently dropped $50 to upgrade to the Pro IMAuotmator. I’ll write about it soon.


What are your thoughts about SEO tools, search ranking monitoring tools, and link tools? Any you can’t live without? Any that are very worth it from a pure additional income standpoint?

PotPieGirl Exposes Google

Interesting post over at the PotPieGirl today. In watching several keywords, she noticed that one of the highly ranked webpages for the very competitive term “make money online” is an EMPTY WEBPAGE! This has apparently been going on for some time, now as well.

As it turns out, it used to be the website of someone called Griz who was/is fairly well known in the make money online circles. At one time, the site got tons of links, and lots of traffic. However, the website was taken down for TOS violations in 2010. That means a webpage that is part of a domain that does not have any content whatsoever, let alone quality content, ranks at #9 in Google’s search results based solely on the incoming links that are still out there on the web.

Here is a screenshot of my search results for the same term (no quotes) on 4/19/2012 at approximately 2:33 PM MDT.

Google Just Counts Links

Google goes out of its way to say that the only thing needed to rank highly in its search results is to produce quality content. Then, of course, people will link that high quality content and you’ll rank highly. Everyone whose been interested in writing online and ranking well for their content for more than 10 minutes knows that’s a fantasy.

Still, Google, and by extension those who believe what Google tells them, continue to parrot the line that content is king. This is proof that is simply not the case.

There is no high-quality content here. There is no content AT ALL.

Still it ranks in Top 10.

Not only that, but since this particular website has been down for going on two years now, it also has virtually no new links, at least not legitimate ones.

So, what does this all mean for someone who wants to make money writing online?

It means that you can generate quality content, but if you want people to find it in on Google, you’re going to have to link it. The sooner you get used to the fact that the number of incoming links you have outweighs the quality of your content, the better.

I’m not saying to write garbage. After all, I started this website for people who can, and do, write well. I’m just saying don’t be naive. You’ll have to do more than just write good stuff to rank highly and make money from your organic traffic.

Grab the MMWO RSS feed to keep up with all the tips, tricks and pointers that will help you take your quality writing to the top of the search results.

Bing Faster Than Google?

I’ve put some additional effort into tracking some of the various keywords that I write about for some of my clients. One of the new tools I’m using shows Bing rankings in addition to the more traditional Google rankings. What I’ve noticed can only be considered anecdotal at this point, and has only been observed on a handful of keywords over 45 to 60 days. However, it seems that when it comes to rankings, Bing is faster than Google.

Bing Search Rankings Accurate Sooner?

Faster Search Rankings graphic

Here is what I mean.

Imagine a website that is a well respected authority site for something like dog clothing. (I have no idea how this does or does not end up working out for thin, affiliate, type websites where the goal is to rank for a single keyword. I don’t have any of those sites to try it out on.)

Now, imagine that the website publishes a new article about ascots for dogs. Let’s assume that the goal was to rank well for the term plaid dog ascots. Furthermore, let’s assume that the page is reasonably well optimized for search and that a regular, non-automated, amount of links has been built to the content in question. Finally, assume that while this may be a competitive keyword, it is not highly competitive and that the top ranking results are not giant, authoritative, well linked pages of PageRank 7 websites, but rather regular, middle of the road, webpages for longer-tail keywords.

Continuing our example based on this scenario, after five to 10 days, Bing starts ranking this webpage for the keyword plaid dog ascots at #5. Google starts the ranking for the same page for the same key phrase at 28. Most website owners fixate on the Google ranking and consider their efforts to be a success or failure based upon that number.

However, what I have noticed a few times now is that without doing anything more than maintaining the existing site that over a matter of two to three weeks, the webpage in question will slowly, but surely (though not linearly) make its way up Google’s SERPs until it comes to rest within one or two rankings of the original Bing ranking.

This suggests a few things. One, that Bing, unlike widely reported on Google, may not limit or “sandbox” new content, allowing it to rank naturally almost immediately. Google, on the other hand, seems to almost require that an article be at least two or three weeks old before it can rank in the top 10, assuming that it is not given “hot news” treatment. Two, it seems that Bing might be a good predictor of the final ranking position for long-tail keyword webpages that are not hyper-competitive. Three, if that is all true, then observing one’s Bing ranking for a given keyword offers some insight into how effective the webpage was constructed and linked.

I’ll keep you posted as I work. Maybe this is a fluke that only happened a couple of times. Maybe, this is a very useful insight into SEO for writers.

Google Panda Update 1 and 2 Shaking Out

Google pushed out a set of updates to its search ranking algorithm in the first couple months of the year. These changes affected websites and webmasters in waves, with the first update hitting one set of the so-called content mills, and the second wave hitting those who got missed the first time around. After much consternation, things are settling down with some websites and networks scrabbling to control damage, and with everyone else trying to figure out the new SERP rules.

panda-update-googleGoogle mentioned that only a small percentage of rankings were affected with each update. That’s small comfort to those website owners that go hammered. On the other hand, many web developers found themselves only minimally affected. The key questions moving forward, is what to do to help your websites rank higher and what to not do to keep from hurting your website’s search rankings.

Google Search Results Quality

Everyone always says that content is king and that quality is the way to a top Google search ranking, but everyone knows that isn’t really true. The "if you build it, they will link" theory of search engine rankings is based upon the na├»ve assumption that everyone who publishes webpages and online content link based solely on how much they value the pages and information that they are linking to. That may have been true a decade ago, but it hasn’t been true in years.

These days, website owners routinely link based upon self-interest. Content mills, for example, add the nofollow tag to any link pointing offsite. One example,, has links to "references" at the bottom of every article it publishes. It is these references that, supposedly, validate the information provided and prove that the data within is quality information. However, every one of those links is nofollowed. If the content being linked is useful enough to be the validating reference, how can it possibly be unworthy of a full follow link?

The answer, of course, is that no one in the world uses the nofollow tag the way it is intended. Rather, websites and SEO experts use the no follow tag to enhance the links that they want to power up for their own benefit and to downgrade all other links regardless of value.

The other reason that Google search results are broken is that they over-emphasize the title tag, ranking websites of lower quality higher than better quality websites because the lower quality site matches the wording entered into the query box slightly better than the better quality article.

Content Mills Punished

It seems that neither Google, nor any of the search experts out there, seem to think that Google has changed its link counting ways or its text pattern matching algorithm. Instead, the focus is on the concept that there is a "penalty" for low-quality content that extends to the entire website.

The idea is that if there are 200 low-quality pages (that is, low-ranking pages) and 100 higher-quality (higher-ranking) pages, then the 100 good pages are dragged down by a penalty from the low pages. That is why content mills (and other websites) are now frantically pulling their "junk" content down in hopes that their rankings will improve for their better quality content. Demand Studios, publisher of eHow, for example, is decommissioning all of their unmoderated user-generated content in hopes that their better, editor approved, content will regain some of its luster in Google’s eyes.

Of course, this may all be moot as recent actions by various flower selling websites demonstrated recently. It seems that all of the major online florists were buying links in the run up to Mother’s Day to ensure that they would rank high (or not lose their high rankings) for the big flower buying holiday.

Google’s response was essentially that it is fine to break the Google Webmaster Guidelines as long as it doesn’t affect the final rankings. The stupidity of this concept is staggering considering there is no way for Google, or anyone else, to know whether or not the forbidden link buying campaigns affect EVERY search made. The link buying may not have affected the rankings for "Mother’s Day flowers" but could have made a big difference for "mothers day flower specials cleveland".

If you want to make money writing online, you can naively write quality content and hope for the best, or you can write quality content and then get out there an build some links. You’ll never outspend 1-800 flowers on a link-buying campaign for Valentine’s Day, but your top-notch article on how to pick good roses at the flower store might just make it into the Top 10 Google search results if you build out some links, and then hope for the best.