Welcome to my very first monthly report – an overview of “what’s happening” in my business and on the internet in general in the past month.
This update is primarily made for the people who are subscribed to one of my email lists. I think by making one comprehensive monthly update, you’ll get much more value and a better insight into how I run my business.
This months update will cover the following:
- Recent Google Changes
- New SEO Tactics/Updates/Tests
- My Website Rankings in April (winners and losers this month)
- The Massive Opportunity That Exists Right Now
- Exciting Months Ahead
Let’s get started.
1. Recent Google Changes
April 2012 was a very very interesting month for anyone who relies on Google rankings for traffic generation. In other words, for anyone who does SEO.
Here’s a timeline of what Google has been up to in the past 45 days:
March 19th 2012 – Google Brings Down Paid Networks
April 17th 2012 – Google’s Parked Domain Error Causes Good Sites To Lose Rankings
April 24th 2012 – Google Penguin Released
Let’s take a closer look at each of these:
March 19th 2012 – Google Brings Down Paid Networks
On March 19th BuildMyRank.com (a blog network) announced that its entire network of sites had been de-indexed. Build My Rank was not the only big network to report issues though, others blog networks were hit as well.
The result for many internet marketers was that many of their existing links, no longer carried any value. Websites that based their back-linking 100% on the use of paid blog networks were the one’s that suffered most.
Obviously link diversity (getting links from lots of different places) is important and using just one SEO strategy is never a good idea. People who used paid blog networks as a main source of links suffered most.
Here’s a ranking report showing how one of my websites dropped from #3 to #23 as a result of Google eliminating some paid networks:
The crackdown on blog networks did have an impact on some of my sites, however thankfully, most of my main sites were un-hit, some even improved their rankings as a result of this crackdown.
Obviously a drop from #3 to #23 is frustrating and I will lose an income of about $500/month as a result, but it’s not catastrophic. I expect to be able to regain my top ranking and that income stream for this particular website within 2-3 months.
April 17th 2012 – Google’s Parked Domain Error
On April 17th, many good websites lost their rankings in what turned out (thankfully) to be a Google error. Within 24 hours Google realized that they incorrectly classified some good quality websites as being parked domains and the incorrect ranking drop was reversed.
None of my websites were affected by this error.
April 24th 2012 – Google Penguin Released
On April 24th Google released another algorithm change, this one is called Google Penguin and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s quite significant and is having a big impact on a lot of websites – some of my own sites have been affected in a negative way (minimally), while other sites I own have actually increased their rankings.
Google officially announced that the Penguin update was designed to target “Web Spam”. Interestingly enough, in the lead up to the Penguin update, Google had actually referred to it as an “Over Optimization Penalty”.
Google later back-tracked on calling it an over-optimization penalty and carefully called it a “Web Spam Algorithm Update”, and then gave it the “Google Penguin” nickname.
So what is Penguin all about?
Well, the fact that Google originally referred to this update as an “Over Optimization Penalty” leads me to think that one of the things Google has been analyzing is the anchor text usage.
When you build links to your website, it’s vitally important that you vary the anchor text. Not enough variation is a sure sign to Google that you’re actively trying to manipulate your rankings.
Until a few months ago I’d always recommended using your target anchor text (the keyword you want to get ranked for) about 50% of the time when link building. I’m now going to take an even more conservative approach and will use my target anchor text a maximum of 25%-30% of the time. I’ll create more links using the raw URL as the anchor text, and I’ll ensure I use a much wider anchor text variation in general.
The Penguin update deals with much more than just your anchor text usage however. Website owners who’ve been actively acquiring a disproportionate (unnatural) number of any type of link have also dropped in the rankings.
A close friend of mine (we’ll call him Sam) was (until a few days ago) earning over $12,000 per month from a mixture of eCommerce, Affiliate, and Adsense websites. Sam had been able to nail down top rankings for a range of highly competitive, high traffic keywords. A big part of his strategy was to leverage high PR links – and for a long time it worked really well.
When the Penguin Update was launched, Sam lost his rankings.
Sadly, about half of his income has evaporated.
There could have been a number of things that triggered him to lose his rankings, however I believe his link profile had a lot to do with it.
He had an unnaturally high number of high PR links when compared to non-PR links. He also had many links coming from the same kinds of sites…typically links in the footer section of the sidebar.
While there is nothing wrong with footer links of sidebar links, when an unnaturally high percentage of your links are these types of links, and when you have other unnatural signals (such as a disproportionate number of high PR links), obviously Google will know something fishy is going on.
The best advice I can give you is to get as much variation and diversity in your link building as possible.
Varying your anchor text and varying your link building strategies are two simple things you can do to set yourself up for solid, long term rankings.
SEO Tactics and Trends You NEED To Try
I want to talk briefly now about three things that are working extremely well for me:
- Google Authorship
- Facebook Likes and Google +1’s
- Content Facilitator
Firstly, let me get started with Google Authorship.
1. Google Authorship
For some time now Google has made it possible to get your photo shown next to your search result.
There are many advantages to getting your photo listed next to your search result. The biggest initial benefit is more visitors to your site thanks to a higher Click Through Rate (CTR) from Google’s results pages.
Google Authorship has SEO benefits as well though.
A higher than average CTR from the search results indicates to Google that your site is what Google’s searchers are looking for. Google takes this high CTR into account and may boost your rankings…I’ve seen almost immediate increases in the SERP’s as a result of adding Google Authorship images to my niche sites.
Don’t know how to get your picture displayed in Google?
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered.
I’ve just finished making a brand new report which shows exactly how to get your Google image displayed:
Right Click Here & Select “Save As” To Download
I highly recommend you download the report and add an image next to your listing – it may give your website the boost it needs.
2. Facebook Likes and Google +1’s
Facebook Likes & Google +1’s act as social indicators of the quality of your website and they’re becoming more and more important as a ranking factor all the time.
If you’re currently not building Facebook Likes and Google +1’s, I strongly recommend you get started.
Aim for 5 a month…that’s very achievable and can make a huge difference.
Here are a few ideas about how to get Facebook Likes and Google +1’s:
- LinkingMadeEasy.com – Sign up to one of their monthly services and you’ll get Social Links.
- Fiverr.com – Pay someone $5 on Fiverr.com and get a few links. Do NOT pay someone $5 for hundreds of Facebook links…these are spammy and won’t help you in the long term.
- Friends and Family – Chances are your friends and family members have Facebook accounts. Ask them to “Like” your pages for you.
- Create an Alias Facebook Account – This is a little black-hat, a little sneaky, and definitely takes some time. A “fake/alias” Facebook account can be used to Like and Share all your pages…(more on how I use this method in a future update)
3. Content Facilitator
Content Facilitator has really started to take off in the last month. Hundreds of new members are signing up (for free) and helping one another to build links.
Basically what Content Facilitator does is allow you to use credits (which can be earned or purchased) in order to publish content on other people’s sites.
The beauty of the system is that, by default, you get a huge amount of variety in the places your links come from. It’s also very much a hands-off approach to link building…you just submit your article (which takes no more than a few minutes) and then wait for someone else to publish it on their website.
In many cases, I’ve been able to get good quality links on websites in my same niche – these links carry extra weight as far as Google is concerned so are definitely worth the effort.
Sign up for Content Facilitator here: Content Facilitator
Tip: Once you’ve signed up, go to the “Use Coupon” menu (inside the “Get Credits” menu) and use the “DistributeMe” coupon to get GIVEN $20 worth of advertising credits completely free.
April Ranking Improvements
Despite all the recent Google algorithm changes, I’ve seen steady growth and ranking improvements on almost all of my most important websites. This is a testament to my link building plan which is based around getting high quality links and working on a high link diversity which includes a steady flow of social links (Likes and Google +1’s).
The screenshot below shows how the rankings on the Authority Hybrid demo websites have improved over the last few months (my website is the green line – the other lines are my competitors). I’m now ranked #2 for my main keyword and am receiving good traffic and earnings as a result.
Hopefully the above graph shows that SEO is definitely alive and well, and that getting top rankings is still very much achievable…the way to go about it has changed though.
Without getting in depth about my current link building plan, one tip I will give you is to focus on getting a small number of high quality links as opposed to massive amounts of low quality links…do this, combine it with Social Links, and you will be rewarded.
Google Has Given Us A Massive Opportunity
Earlier in this post, I told a story about Sam, a friend of mine who’s just had his income slashed in half thanks to a Google Algorithm update…he went from a consistent $12k/month to less than $6k/month in the space of a couple of days.
Sam isn’t the only one who’s suffered a big loss of income…I know of many other internet marketers who’ve also been hit significantly.
I think the important thing to remember here is that whenever there are big fallout’s such as this, there are also massive opportunities. With so many websites falling down, there’s a big chance for new websites to fill their places.
Now, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting times in internet marketing in the last 6-7 years. People who are taking action and creating good sites are being rewarded…
Exciting Things Happening Soon
May will be a fun month – starting tomorrow.
Tomorrow I’m opening up a few more spots in my 1 on 1 coaching program. My coaching program has been running for about 6 months now and this is the first time I’ve opened up new spots…more on that tomorrow (make sure you’re on one of my emailing lists to ensure you get the update about the coaching).
If you’re not on my mailing list, add your name and email to the form below to stay updated:
I’m also going to be paying extremely close attention to the fallout from Google’s latest updates….expect to hear more from me about that in one month time, in my May update.
I welcome your comments below, feel free to leave any feedback – I personally read all comments and encourage you to say hi.
Thanks so much for providing such a valuable April Internet Marketing Update. I definitely have high respect for what you’ve been able to accomplish in your business, and I know you will continue to have even more success in the coming future. I wanted to know if you could explain in a little bit more detail about switching up anchor text links? For example, if I have a website in the relationship niche and I produce an article to link back to my website (through Content Facilitator) with the main keyword anchor text being how to save your relationship, are you saving I need to make sure I use other keyword anchor text as well & not just solely focus on the main keyword I’m trying to rank for which would be how to save your relationship? I definitely can’t wait to hear more about your one on one coaching because I’m going to do it, and can I still get your bonus package if I buy Push Button SEO through your affiliate link?
Thanks for the feedback!
Regarding the anchor text, what is very very very important nowadays is that you give it a lot of variation. If the page you want to get ranked in Google targets the keyword “how to save your relationship”, then I’d consider linking to that page using about 10 different keywords.
I’d use “how to save your relationship” about 30% of the time as the anchor text, perhaps “save your relationship” 20% of the time, the other 50% I might use keywords such as “relationship advice”, “relationship problems”, the URL “http://www.domain.com” and from time to time, I’d even use “click here” or something completely unrelated.
This approach gives you the most natural link pattern possible and is the best long term strategy.
About my coaching, I’d love to have you on board 🙂 I’ll be sending out an email tomorrow (Wednesday 2nd May) with details. Regarding Push Button SEO, all the bonuses are gone, however if you do become one of the few 1 on 1 students, then of course – you’ll have access to absolutely everything and much more 🙂
Great update format and information easy to follow.
Patience and continuity seem to be virtues when it comes to SEO and rankings.
My successes have come from my offline business sites which have steadily grown in stature over the last 2 years since some articles I wrote about 6 years ago have been picked up by more sites. I now have a PR4 from Google and two associated sites sit in top 3 of page one for my key words.
Again thanks for the Blog – a great way to spread the news and views.
Thanks for the feedback Chris! I’m glad you’ve found this useful and that you like the blog format I’m planning on using moving forward 🙂
Hi Aidan –
Thanks for the in-depth update. I used MarketingSamurai to gauge if my burial ins. site is ranking and it’s nowhere in sight.
It will be exciting to catch a glimpse of it as it comes into view on the horizon.
I wonder if it’s worth taking the time to go back and eliminate some of the anchor test I used on that site. I attempted to maintain a 1% or less density.
Also, I’m using LME with a couple of main KWs. I wonder if that will be too much useage of those terms. For next month I should change it up a little.
Anyway, nice little site you have with the update. Thanks for that.
I’ll watch for your 1-1 coaching email.
I wouldn’t worry about changing your keyword density at this stage…your site is doing well, leave it as it is and just keep building links from as many different places as you can 🙂
Regarding LinkingMadeEasy.com – as I understand it, they’re going to be changing the way they accept keywords, so you’ll be able to give them 15 or so keywords each month and they’ll use all of them to ensure you’ve got lots of variation 🙂
I learned lots of interesting info that I had no idea about.
I look forward to future monthly updates as well.
Great – thanks for the feedback Leanne 🙂
Is blogging underground a thing of the past or would it be worth while to use it for link building.
Great information on your monthly report. Be looking for it next month.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure how hard Blogging Underground was hit…I don’t think paid networks are completely a thing of the past…I think the way they are structured does need to change though.
I’m glad you’ll be watching out for next months report…I’ve already got some ideas of interesting things I’m planning to discuss 🙂
Thank for having a monthly update on whats working and not. With your past background in using paid advertising to drive traffic successfully and in the light of Googles out of control attempts to control their environment – do you think a mixture of paid and free is a good approach?
Paid and Free is a good approach…I’d only send paid traffic to a site that I know all the conversion stats for though and perhaps a site that sells physical products via eCommerce as opposed to some affiliate products (and you can’t sent Google Paid Traffic to an Adsense site – it’s against the TOS).
Thanks for the info Aidan! Looking forward to your 1-on-1 coaching notice…just hope the bank transaction to my PayPal account makes it in time for that, LOL.
By the way, with your coaching, any idea if I’d be able to make at least the amount needed to pay for the following month of your coaching? Don’t have a whole lot of cash to spare…
Hi Ken, like everything online, it’s very hard to predict how fast you’ll be earning money. It depends on so many variables such as how many hours you can invest in your business per week, if you can speed up the process by outsourcing something like link building of if you need to do everything yourself, your past experience is obviously a factor as well…
Glad to hear that you weren’t too badly affected by the recent Google algorithm changes.
I am pleased that I read this, even if it was just for the anchor text information and social links.
Just taking a look at the Content Facilitator now.
I look forward to your 1on1 Coaching offer today, I may well be interested 🙂
Hi Alice, thanks for the compliments, glad you’ve found this useful. Content Facilitator is still very new but from what I’ve seen so far it looks good 🙂
Very straight forward update, clear and to the point.
Your advice will be followed, or I should say, will keep on doing your action steps since January. On my site Pinguin has been very friendly indeed, thanks to you.
You’ve given me lots to think about…
And reminded me of a lot of work I have to get done.
Thank you for the free Google authorship report Aidan, It would be sweet to have that little thumbnail next to the links in G. What do you think about ‘Author Rank’ is it going to be as powerful as ‘Page Rank’?
Need An Article
p.s. for your analytics, I found this post through your nice guest post on Brian G’s site. ; )
As always, thanks for the high quality content and useable tips and strategies. Your advice is always helpful and appreciated.
HI Aidan – Thanks for a very interesting and informative post – also for your promise to provide high value monthly updates. I prefer quality to quantity any day and have been unsubscribing from marketers who bombard my inbox on an almost daily basis! I will look forward to your future reports.
Good luck on the launch from another southerner downunder in Australia.
Good on you mate!
PS Cant wait to read your report
I have just printed out the Google Authorship doc.
Cant wait to read the little section on google snippets!
I also have the same social sharing buttons as you have on this site!
But I have the pintersest button too…hehe….
Is the link to the report working?
Or is it just me?
Hi Rosemary…it seems to be working…
Thank you for the great tutorial on G+ and the information on the recent G updates.
I have a question about adding the authorship to a site that has a G + page and not just your regular profile.
I have several eComm sites that have their own G+ pages, do you know how to add the authorship picture next to those sites?
I am using BlueCart from Tim and Steve.