Tag Archives: SERP

Google Update and Writing Online for Money

One of the keys to making money by writing online is to get enough traffic to your money making websites. Ranking highly in search engines for frequently searched terms is one way to accomplish this. While Google updates the algorithm that chooses how to rank websites on their search engine results pages (SERPs) on a frequent basis, most of those tweaks can be ignored by writers looking to profit by writing online. However, when the big updates come out, it is important to at least check and see how you are being affected.

Google Counting Links

There are really only two main parts to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The first part is how closely a particular webpage fits the phrase searched. In this case, the best thing is an exact match to the title tag of the webpage. Or, if there isn’t one of those, then an exact match to a header tag, and so on. Of course, a close match comes next, and so on.

search engine updates

In a place as big as the internet, there is a pretty good chance that for any given search term, there is more than one page that matches. When this happens, Google essentially counts how many links point to each page that matches and then ranks the one with the highest number of incoming links at the top.

Everything else Google does is basically a tweak to the above formula in order to keep people from cheating. Many of the supposed 200+ ranking factors at Google are nothing more than the increasing or decreasing the value of incoming links. Links that are nofollowed count a little less than those that are do follow. Links from comments are less valuable than those in the middle of content. Links from higher ranking sites count more than those from tiny abandoned sites, and so on.

As a writer building online websites to earn money, you probably check to see what you rank highly for, and how much traffic that drives to your website. For the most part, changes in these rankings come slowly and infrequently. That’s because, your site and the other sites that rank don’t necessarily gain a bunch of incoming links, without you (or them) doing something to manually boost them. When, that happens, it generally only happens to one page, so you’ll see your webpage go from ranking 4th to ranking 5th. That’s just normal.

Big Google Updates

But, sometimes, Google makes a big update and that can dramatically shake up the rankings. Not only can you go from 4th to 12th, or from 8th to 1st, on one page, that same thing can happen to multiple pages across several different websites.

It’s best to keep at least one ear open for these kinds of changes. A quick check of the headlines at seroundtable.com (it stands for Search Engine Roundtable) can let you know if a big algorithm update is underway, or if it’s just strange things afoot at the Circle K.

The important thing is not to panic. These changes often lead to big movements, but wait for them to settle down and see what is, and is not, permanent. Then, maybe go through, and update and tweak the pages that you lost some ranking on. Most importantly, keep adding fresh, useful content.

If there is one static thing in Google rankings it’s that the search engine values sites that are current over those that have gone stale, and that more content means more pages to attract links and gain authority.

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Trick to Keyword Research

Whether your are new to writing online to make money, or you have been using your online writing skills for profit for a long time, you probably have put some thought into keyword research.

Keyword research is the act of looking at various keywords and key phrases to determine if they will be profitable, or effective keywords for your particular websites. Depending upon your goals, your keyword targets may be very flexible, or absolutely necessary. Either way, it’s nice to know what your task looks like before you get started.

Problem With Keyword Research

The problem with keyword research is that you already have to do something about the keywords you are after before you can do it.

For example, if you write a personal financial advice blog, you would need to already have some idea of what keywords you are targeting because just typing in “financial advice” or something like that isn’t likely to generate much in the way of usable keyword research. Instead, you’ll need to know how to narrow down large keywords. After all, you could spend a lifetime trying to rank for “life insurance” and while that would certainly, eventually, be profitable, in the meantime you could be missing out on much more viable keywords.

The trick in keyword research is that so much of the information out there focuses on how to refine, or pick from, an already well generated keyword research list. But, how do you get to a good keyword target list in the first place?

keyword research google planner

One common tool many people use is the Google Keyword Planner. It is technically a tool to find the keywords for paid ad campaigns, but it’s also a good way to find out what people are searching for, and how many are searching for it. You need an Adwords Account to use it, but it is free (you never actually have to run a campaign).

However, the two main keyword tools require you to have some idea of what keywords you want to research, and the closer you are to the actual keywords you want to rank for, the better.

For example, if our finance blog wanted to target retirement planning, what would the best keywords be?

Just typing “retirement planning” in the Google Keyword Planner gets you a long list of keywords, but are any of them useful for your needs? For example, the keyword retirement calculator seems to have a lot of high priced searches, but is also a very competitive term with numerous retirement calculators from well-known brands out there. Your chance of ranking for that term and profiting from it with online writing is slim.

But, it is a starting point.

Now put “retirement calculator” back in the keyword planner tool. Only a handful of more specific tools come up, and each of those has a search volume of around 10 per month.

Here is the trick to keyword research. I know from experience that there are terms around the subject of a retirement planning calculator that

  • a) can be ranked for
  • b) get more than 10 searches per month
  • c) are profitable, but nowhere near the CPC listed for the keywords on Google Keyword Planner
  • (No, I won’t tell you what they are.)

So, what gives?

The issue is that the Google Keyword Planner is not designed for making money with online writing. It is made for people to start and run ad campaigns. These are two different goals.

In order to make money online with writing, you want people to find your content, visit it, and then click an ad.

In order to make money running ads, you want all the people who might buy, or otherwise do what you want them to do, to click on your ad.

See the difference?

The right ad keyword should target people all over the web if they are reading about the kinds of things that you have useful information or products for.

The right keyword to make money online is the one that gets people from a search engine to choose your particular webpage and then click that ad, hopefully after finding some good information. In fact, it would be just as good as a writer, or publisher, if people came to your website for one thing, clicked a link for another thing and clicked a completely unrelated ad.

As a smaller publisher, your best bet are what are known as long-tail keywords. In general, these are more specific keywords. These keywords are often longer. For example, “life insurance” is a high-traffic keyword, and potentially profitable, but it will take you a lot of effort to rank for it.

On the other hand, denver life insurance is slightly less competitive, more specific, and more likely to generate ad clicks. Even better might be something like denver electrician life insurance. (They get it through the union, so this isn’t actually better, but you get the idea.)

But, and this is the key, no matter what keywords you stick in the Google Keyword Planner, it will almost never come back with something like denver electrician life insurance. In fact, while four or five word keywords can be gravy in many situations, the keyword planner (and other keyword research tools) tend to stick with two and three-word key phrases.

Keyword Research for Writers

As a writer, your ace in the hole is that as you generate content, you will be able to see what kind of content and keywords bring people to your website. Leverage that knowledge to fine tune your content on various topics.

We’ll get into just how you do that next.

 

 

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AdSense Experiments Microposts

Earning money with AdSense relies primarily on getting enough traffic to make it work. If you get enough traffic, most of the rest works out on its own. Of course, that isn’t necessarily true for a large, multi-writer, website, but for us writers looking to make money writing online on our own, that’s how it works.

Check out my article about whether Credit Karma is legit or not.

Getting traffic is an ongoing effort. There are many ways to get traffic, but one of the most self-sustaining is to rank highly enough in search engine rankings to get traffic from people looking for your information. There are a lot of factors that go into search rankings, or SERPs. The most important is the number of links pointing at your individual pages. These are called backlinks, and Google and Bing count them to rank your page.

micropostTo keep people from making junk backlinks, the search engines have a lot of different filters, and value different links from different sources. They also tend to not rank certain types of webpages, including those that are very short. Some say that nothing under 300 words will generally show up. Others say 500 words is the minimum.

Either way, if you aren’t looking to rank that particular page, then does a smaller post still have value?

Certainly, a small post can have value for your readers, and it may be that search engines do count them for other factors, such as the “freshness” of your site, or even the backlinks that come off of those posts.

I wrote about microposts over on my freelance writing blog, but since they have the potential to increase earnings, I thought I’d put some thoughts down here as well.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

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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.

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