This is part 2 of a two part series on how I go about ranking my “money” articles (articles which make me money). If you haven’t yet read part 1, I suggest you go read that one first and watch the introduction video over there.
So last week we talked about the first steps I make when deciding to rank an article on the first page of Google. We talked about:
- Keyword research and “buying” type keywords
- Onsite Article Creation and SEO Work
- Making titles stand out
- … and more
Today I want to talk about the part that most people are both the most interested in and also have the hardest time with…
But first, I just want to show you that this stuff really does work.
In Part 1 of this series, I made an example of my OptimizePress article and how it’s one of my money articles. Two days after I published the article here’s the email I received:
Offsite Optimization (Backlinking)
When it comes to ranking an article in Google and giving it a strong push to reach the first page of the returned results, one of the most powerful things you can do for your site is to get reputable and relevant backlinks.
There are tons of ways to get both dofollow and nofollow backlinks, some of which include:
- Blog comments
- Article directories
- Feed submissions
- Social bookmarking
- YouTube backlinks
- Forum profiles, signature, and content backlinks
- Guest posting
- Private blog networks
- Web 2.0 sites (HubPages, Squidoo, etc.)
- Press Releases
The list goes on.
But this article isn’t a tutorial on search engine optimization, it’s an article about the SEO methods I use to rank my money articles. If you are successful in ranking your articles by a different means then what I’m about to show you, then great. By no means is what I’m about to show you an exhaustive set of steps to crush any competition.
Here’s the thing.
Keyword research and competition research is an imperative first step to ranking your money articles. Get that wrong and you’ll have to work super hard at ranking your article. So do that well as well as making sure your site has a great design and content…
Then your offsite SEO will be much easier to do because you’ll need less backlinks.
Great Design + Great Content = Great User Experience
Great User Experience = Less Backlinks Needed (Thanks to Panda)
Great User Experience + Relevant and Reputable Backlinks = High Rankings
Okay so here’s the steps I typically take to rank my articles.
1. Tweet My Article
The first and easiest thing to do to get your money article out there and get people linking to it is to post it in your social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
I’m not a huge fan of Facebook and other social media realms, hence you never see me there. I do have accounts to many of them because I test them and like to see how they work, but aside from that I’m pretty quiet in social networks.
The one I do post to often, however, is Twitter. So that’s typically the only place I will shout out that I have posted a new article on my blog.
My suggestion to you, of course, is to shout out a link to your money article to all of your social networks as soon as it’s posted.
2. Plan Out My Backlinking and Follow Through
These days I typically don’t have to plan out my backlinking strategy because I already have it figured out, so in that case I just follow through with my strategy after my article is posted.
But since you don’t yet know my strategy, let’s back up and review what I do and a couple things you should make note of.
Make Note Of: Link Velocity
Before you start a backlinking campaign, it’s important to first understand the importance of link velocity. Link velocity is the speed at which you build backlinks to your article.
To clarify, let’s look at an extreme example…
Let’s say you’re Google and you see two new articles posted to two different websites. One article was just posted on Copyblogger.com (a high ranking website and trusted authority) and the other was just posted to a brand new website.
When an article gets posted to Copyblogger, it’s normal to see hundreds, if not thousands, of Likes, Tweets, bookmarks, backlinks, etc. pointing back to the article just days after it’s been published. Therefore, if someone on Copyblogger wanted to post an article to the site and then immediately build 200 backlinks to the article for SEO purposes, Google probably wouldn’t see that as a red flag that someone was purposely working to rank the article.
On the flip side, if someone posted an article on a brand new website and then immediately created 200 backlinks, 700 bookmarks, and 500 Facebook Likes to it…
What do you think Google would think about that?
What I’m saying is, you have to watch how fast you build links to your articles. Make link building look natural. If your blog regularly gets 10 backlinks a few days after an article has been published, then feel free to build 5 to 10 links to it a day for the next week or two.
For me, I usually stick to about 2 or 3 direct links a day for about a week or two, but we’ll talk more about direct and indirect links in a moment.
Make Note Of: Diversifying Your Anchor Text
Anchor text is the text you use when making a link. For example, if you scroll up to the top of this article and look in the first paragraph, you’ll see that I linked to page one of this article series.
The “Anchor Text” I used to link to that article is, “go read that one first.”
What you don’t want to do is go out and get all your links to have the same anchor text in it. You need to diversify your anchor text. It’s hard to say how much, but a good rule of thumb would be 60% anchor text and 40% non anchor text (but related).
So if you are targeting the keyword phrase “how to cook bbq ribs”, you don’t want 100% of your backlinks using those words exactly.
Change it up with some saying:
- learn how to cook the best bbq ribs
- bbq ribs cooking tips
- tips for cooking bbq ribs
- tutorial on cooking bbq ribs
Some people say they use “click here” as anchor text. I don’t use that because to me it’s sort of a waste of relevance. I don’t think Google has an algorithm noting if a page has X number of “click here” backlinks.
So diversify your backlinks… very important.
Overall Backlink Strategy Diagram
For a long time, pretty much all of my backlinking came from the article directory Ezinearticles and Web 2.0 sites, like HubPages and WordPress.com (have to be real careful with wordpress.com blogs, they don’t like you to use those for backlinking to your sites).
But here recently, I’ve come to realize the power of owning your own blogs.
When I write (or have written) content which gets posted to Ezinearticles, I’m posting to a site I have very little control over and zero equity in (i.e. it’s not an asset I own). And don’t get me started on sites like HubPages and Squidoo. Getting a link from those two sites are great, but they also want you to stay invovled in their sites.
HubPages, for example, will only give your links a dofollow attribute if you keep your “HubScore” above a certain level.
Because of my love-hate relationship with article directories and Web 2.0 sites, I’ve decided to build my own assets online.
Here’s a diagram of what I’ve got going on (click to enlarge).
As you can see, I own a few self hosted blogs and I use those as my first set of backlinks to my money article; then I use 3rd party websites to both link to my money article and link to my generic self hosted blogs.
How I Work the Diagram
Again, the idea here is to build your own online assets.
Right now my self hosted blogs have low PageRank, but in a year’s time they should start getting up there as I post new content to them and generate backlinks to them from the 3rd party sites.
If I can get off topic for a moment, I should mention that I do have a two secondary reasons for having the self hosted blogs and building their authority.
- I engage in Niche Marketing and AdSense Marketing
- One day I might decide to sell my online assets for a nice chunk of change
Reason 2 is obvious but as for reason 1, realize that in Niche Marketing and AdSense Marketing, often times the target keyword you are going after will likely have competition you might deem easy to beat.
It’s no secret Google doesn’t really like article directories and 2.0 sites like HubPages. Don’t get me wrong, if an article is really good then Google will see that, but let’s look at the big picture and Google’s actions.
Can you say, “Panda Update“?
I don’t like having other people’s actions affect my actions – and that’s the case with sites like Ezinearticles.
So when I find AdSense or Niche competition easy to beat, hopefully in a year to two’s time all I’ll need to do is post one or two links on my self hosted blogs and be done with SEO.
Okay back to how I rank my money articles on my blog.
Let me explain my diagram in a video.
A Note About the Self Hosted Blogs and IP Addresses
There’s some debate going on when it comes to you owning a number of websites and having them link to each other. Here’s the hot topic…
Google likes links to happen naturally and when it deems backlinking to be done artificially, it keeps a SUPER close eye on what’s going on. The second it thinks you’re trying to cheat your way to the top it’ll slap you… hard.
When you buy, let’s say 5 domain names, and then have all 5 domain names share the same hosting account, each website will show a record that they are hosted on the same web hosting server – the server IP address.
Google can see that.
Furthermore, if your domains are not Privately Registered, it could see the whois information and see that all 5 websites are owned by the same person.
What many people worry about then is if you have these 5 websites all linking to each other to help boost the SEO of each site or articles, then Google will penalize your sites because you are artificially boosting its SEO.
In other words, the only person linking to you is yourself -> and Google dun like that!
This is such a huge topic that some hosting companies even brand themselves as SEO Hosting companies where each hosting account is on what’s called a different C Class IP address. This will make it so each website will be considered to be in different locations. Here’s a decent explanation for more details.
On the flip side, some people say there’s no real proof or data showing that a marketer has seen a difference in SEO from once owning websites on the same server verses different servers.
My Take On the Self Hosted Blogs
It might seem like we are a little off topic in regards to how I rank my money articles, but we’re not. If you are going to consider using the link strategy I use in my diagram, you have to be informed as to the issues and possible consequences which lie ahead.
The last thing you want is to spend two years building up your money articles and websites only to find that in one single day Google has dropped your sites from their search engine.
bad bad bad bad and… bad!
Here’s the thing. Google tends to leave you alone as long as you’re providing good, original content. What I try to keep in mind is that I’m building “online assets”, not a linkwheel.
To do that, the self hosted blogs have to also link out to other websites as well as contain articles which may not have any links on them (just pure content). They can still be monetized, just throw some AdSense on there or something.
Should Newbies Use the Self Hosted Blogs?
I would say, no.
If you’re new to article marketing and ranking articles, don’t bother with the self hosted blogs. In fact, you may never even want to go that route. You can still rank articles by using the diagram as is but without the blogs.
This is a very advanced strategy I’m talking about here and one which you probably don’t have the time and possible money to implement.
Let me be clear…
I’m not writing the content on those blogs. I don’t have the time. I’ll either use my employees in the Philippines for that or hire someone to write me a pack of articles (the link here is an affiliate link to a Jon Jonas Webinar – the guy who taught me how to hire in the Philippines).
So for now, if you’re new to this I highly suggest you generate your article marketing backlinks from the following sources:
- #1 is Guest Blogging on related niche sites
- Ezinearticles.com (just make sure you write a GREAT article because Google knows what people use EZA for)
WordPress.com(they really don’t want their site used for marketing purposes so probably best to stay away)
- HubPages.com (be sure to understand Hub Scores)
- MyBlogGuest.com (problem though is you don’t know how great these blogs are – do they have a lot of crappy spun content on them and do you want your backlink there?)
I have a love-hate relationship with Web 2.0 properties like HubPages and Squidoo.
I use them but the problem is that they like you to stay involved with their websites. HubPages will only dofollow your links if you do things like leave comments on other Hubs, make your article content feature rich enough to keep your Hub score up, link to other Hubs, publish articles regularly, etc.
A link from Squidoo is awesome, but again they want you to keep adding to your articles and participate on other things Squidoo. I’ve noticed in fact that they have removed some of my articles from visibility because not enough people were visiting it, commenting, content quality, or whatever.
It’s all a bit of a pain to be honest, that’s why I like Ezinearticles and sites like Blogger and WordPress.com.
How To Increase the Strength of Your Self Hosted Blogs
When it comes to backlinks, PageRank matters. I don’t care what other people say about “I’m not interested in PageRank”, in my testing, PageRank matters greatly.
I’d rather get one link from one of my self hosted blogs which has a PageRank of 3 than 10 links from other sties with a PageRank of N/A. In fact, many times those links won’t even be indexed by Google (UPDATE: Google Penguin might have made it so links from pages with N/A but on topic are better than links from non related sites with high PageRank).
So if you’re going to use the self hosted blogs, here’s a neat little trick you can do to increase its linkjuice power and authority.
What you want to do is either:
- Buy an aged domain name, preferably with some PageRank, and set that up as your blog
- Buy an aged domain name like above but then do a 301 redirect of the domain to your already set up blog
This will give your sites a little push in power.
Here’s a video I did on finding aged domains…
Links mentioned in the video:
Article Marketing: Using Original and Spun Content
The most important links I get are contextual links from articles.
For me that’s the preferred primary method over forum backlinks, blog comments, social bookmarking, etc.
As of now, the sites I tend to work with the most are my self hosted blogs and guest blogging, like my SEO article on Problogger to help generate a strong backlink to my Niche Profit Classroom article.
What I don’t have time for is writing a ton of articles to go on these sites, so I outsource. I suppose the exception to that rule would be when I guest post on a BIG authority website.
In those cases, I typically will write the article myself.
Other than EZA and HubPages, I’ve tried other article directories in the past, such as Suite101, Squidoo, Article Base, Article Alley, and a handful of others, but to make things manageable and simplified, you might stick to the ones I mentioned a moment ago.
Where To Use Unique Content and Spun Content
I’m sure you know what “unique” content means, but you might not know what “spun” content is.
Article Spinning is when you, someone else, or software spins the words in your article so that it says the same thing but in different words.
For example, let’s say you write one original article and then spin it two times. Here’s what spinning the first sentence might look like:
To make money in affiliate marketing, search engine optimization is a must to implement.
To earn cash in Internet marketing, SEO is a must to learn subject.
If you want to make commissions in web promotions, search rankings is a subject marketers need to implement.
Notice how the second spin kind of reads funny at the end?
I did that on purpose to illustrate something. Many times when you have software spin an article for you, you outsource the spinning to someone overseas who does not speak English as their primary language, or the spinner is American but relies heavily on software to do most the spinning work, what you’re going to find is that many of your spun sentences don’t read perfectly.
If you’re going to engage in article spinning, just be aware of that – and here’s why…
Many times the spun article (and link) won’t even get indexed by Google. Why would Google care to index such a crap article?
Long story short, what article spinning tries to accomplish is this… for the price of one article written and researched, you can have two, or three, or more.
Where To Put Spun Content
Never –> EVER <-- put spun content on your money site / article. Ever!
Personally, I don't put spun content on my self hosted blogs as well. To be honest I have a few, but those are from earlier days. These days though, I only put unique and original written content on my personal sites.
I will consider, however, putting spun content on the Web 2.0 sites and article directories, like Ezinearticles. But notice I used the word, "consider". In practice (meaning in most cases), I only put uniquely written content on those sites as well.
So where do I use spun content?
At the bottom of my backlinking diagram.
Unless I spin the article myself, my experience has always been that the spun articles I get back from other people is not-so-great work. In fact, less than “decent”.
This is kind of a grey area in SEO and when you find people to do grey area work, you tend to get grey area services.
So if you’re using spun content which is typically much lower quality content, make sure the links on those articles don’t point back to your money article or your self hosted blogs because if Google decides to put the smackdown on that article and penalize it, you don’t want any of that “bad juice” flowing down to your money article.
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t even work with spun content anymore. I spend my time and money invested in a much better onsite article and user experience. If you write THE BEST content / review out there, many times you won’t even need backlinks, Google will just know…
Or perhaps just a few links and that’s it.
Case Study Less Backlinks Needed
…be sure to watch it in HD
To sum this section up on spun content…
If you’re going to use spun content and blog directories which backlink to sites using spun content, make sure they link to your Web 2.0 sites and article directory sites, not your personal sites.
How Many Article Backlinks Will You Need?
This of course is not something I can answer right here. The number of backlinks you need will be directly related to the keyword and competition research you did in the very beginning as well as how great your content is and if Google thinks your site in general is providing a great user experience (i.e. low bounce rate and high number of page views).
As a matter of fact, during that research is the time when you should figure out approximately how many articles you’re going to need and use as backlinks.
Part of determining what number you’re going to need is taking a look at your competition’s backlinks (you can use SEO Quake or even better, SECockpit). Look at the quality of the link, that is, look specifically at PageRank and link relevance.
If you see someone you want to beat has a ton of backlinks but they are all links sitting on pages with N/A PageRanks and spammy looking websites, then your highly targeted guest post backlinks will crush their weak links.
To be perfectly honest, you just have to do it a few times to get the idea and feel for how many you might need. Experience and testing is key here.
But to give you some sort of a number to go by, when I’m thinking “I want to rank this article on the first page of Google,” I’m usually thinking 20 or so articles to be used for backlinking.
A Couple Notes In Regards to Ezinearticles.com
Ezinearticles is kind of like the Google of article directories. When I post articles there they always get indexed by Google and I even get some traffic to my money articles sometimes through the article marketing I do there.
When it comes to leaving links on Ezinearticles, you can’t leave a link in the content area of your article; instead, you’ll have to create an author’s resource box at the bottom of the page. This will be where you can promote your link.
Just make sure the link’s text is your target keyword phrase and links back to your money article.
A second thing to consider when using article directories such as Ezinearticles, is to use a Pen Name.
If you’re publishing an article you wrote and are proud of, then fine, use your name as the author of the article.
But in many cases you’ll be posting content someone else wrote for you and I don’t know about you, but if someone else wrote it for me, especially for $5, then I’m not so sure I’ll always want to take credit for it.
So my words of wisdom here is to make use of Pen Names in article directories. There are more reasons for using Pen Names as well, such as for niche marketing, but that’s beyond the scope of what we’re talking about here.
Outsourcing for Uniquely Written Content
Okay so now you know my plan of attack and how to set up your backlinking structure to your money articles, but how in the heck do you get all this content written?
Well you have two options:
- Spend a week and write the content yourself
- Outsource the article writing
Since I don’t need to explain number one above, let’s talk about number two, outsourcing.
Again you have two options here:
- Hire a freelancer on an article by article basis
- Hire an employee as your article writer
Option 1: Hire a Freelancer
If you’re new to all this and assuming you don’t want to write the backlinking articles yourself, I highly suggest you try hiring a freelance writer to write your first set of articles. If you’re like me, you’ll even continue to hire freelance writers even when you have employees in the Philippines.
Hiring an employee as a writer is an entire experience all on its own and at this point you just need to get your feet wet with article marketing and understand how it works.
Know the difference between a good article and bad article and how to focus your attention on where to logically place your backlinks.
Once you’ve got a handle on the article marketing process, then you can go about finding an employee and educating yourself on how to do so.
The question then is how much money should you spend to get articles written and where do you find these writers?
How many words should each article contain…
400 at a VERY minimum, but preferably 500 words or more. The more words the better.
Content is King, so you need as much of it as you can get.
Article research included…
Before talking price, make sure the freelance writer does article research.
In other words, if I give her the topic of “water-smart gardening” to write an article on, then make sure that she writes her article based off of research that she does.
If the writer doesn’t do research as part of their deal but still lets you hire them for the price I’ll mention below, then it’s likely that they might just copy someone else’s article (a.k.a. scraping) and rewrites it in their own words (spinning).
I don’t look for that kind of work.
I always look for freelance writers who meet all 3 criteria I’m mentioning here.
How much I look to spend per article…
Most well established freelance writers who write for a living charge a lot more money for a researched, 500+ word article then I want to spend, though these days with Panda and Penguin lurking around it might be what we need to do if we don’t have our own writers or do it ourselves.
In the past, spending $35 per article was just out of the question for the purposes of what I wanted to accomplish (getting content backlinks). I typically looked to spend anywhere from $5 to $12 per article. These days I am willing to pay more, though because of Panda and Penguin.
It is possible to get decent articles written for $5-$12, you just have to spend a little more time finding the right person or negotiating the right deal. For example, I have a GREAT writer who normally charges people $35 per article or more; but because I worked out a deal with her I get them at a deeply discounted price of $12.
Remember, if you want to get in the Internet Marketing area, you need to start thinking like an entrepreneur and not just someone looking to make a quick buck.
Because we are working with such low-ball figures (unless you opt to spend more money for articles), realize that it’ll take a bit of work to find writers who can write articles which meet our standards.
The articles have to be:
- Around 500 or more words
- Read well for English speaking readers
- Be able to pass Ezinearticles.com inspection crew (they review articles for quality before they are allowed to be posted)
GoodGreat content (I look for the best content)
- Cost between $5 and $12 (or more if you are willing to go the easy route and contact a pro)
That’s asking a lot of a writer for $5, wouldn’t you agree?
They are out there, but it might take a little work finding a writer who can meet your standards – or optionally if you put on your entrepreneurial hat, you might be able to analyze your assets and put them to good use to negotiate a deal (like you bringing the writer more business in exchange for discounted prices).
Luckily you know me and I’ve already dug through the trenches and have found a few stars out there which I will highlight for you so you can start working with a quality writer now.
Where to find freelance writers who meet our criteria…
My current *Best Writer* for the price which I have worked with is a woman who I met through my newsletter and comments on my blog. Her name is Helenee and she is an awesome freelance writer.
Currently she’s charging $12 for a unique, well researched 450-500 word article.
For the quality work, you can’t beat that… but you have to mention my name in order to get that discount!
Other places to find freelance writers for our purposes:
I haven’t used iWriter or Elance before, but I’m intimately familiar with Fiverr and somewhat familiar with oDesk (only used it a few times).
I’m sure down the road this link will no longer work, but for now here’s a decent writer who I’ve used and has written me articles good enough to pass Ezinearticle’s inspection without my need to edit the article.
seatbelt99 is his username on Fiverr.
Here’s a video I made of me searching for article writers on Fiverr so you can get an idea of what I look for.
Option 2: Hiring an Employee
This is the more advanced strategy to use but when it comes down to it, nothing beats having your own article writer work for you.
The two primary issues with hiring an employee are price and writing in English.
If you want to hire an employee as a writer, it’s imperative that they can write fluently in American English and at a monthly pay you can afford.
This article is not about how to hire employees, so I won’t be getting into that. But if you want to learn how to hire a full time employee at a price you can afford, once again you need to check out a guy named Jon Jonas.
Go sign up for his webinar right now and check it out.
On a side note, the great thing about having an employee is that you don’t have to personally submit all these articles to the various websites and directories, they can do it for you.
If there’s one thing I hate doing more than writing a ton of articles for article marketing, it’s submitting 20 or 30 articles to various websites. Very tedious work.
Whether it be a freelance writer or an employee, get them to work on your articles to be used for backlinking so that you can get your money article to start ranking in Google.
Backlinking Your Backlinks
There are quite a few ways to get backlinks to your backlinks and to be perfectly honest, I don’t always dig my SEO down to this level; however, taking the time to do this step will strengthen your holdings in the search rankings.
There are a couple scenarios which might help you determine if you should pursue the time and money of getting backlinks to your money article’s backlinks.
For example, is your article ranked but is on a topic which others continually try to outrank other sites for? If so, then strengthening your backlinks power might do the trick at stabilizing your ranking.
Remember, you’d rather get 5 strong backlinks then 10 crappy ones.
What many, if not most, successful Internet Marketers do to get backlinks to their backlinks at a very affordable cost is to use software to generate spun content and then distribute them over a blog network.
A blog network is simply a network of tons of blogs, say 250 or more, which have the ability to have posts automatically posted to them via software.
It’s always spun content which gets posted to these, so the article quality is typically quite low; that’s why I never link these backlinks to my money article directly. These links are only for backlinks to my backlinks.
UPDATE: I don’t deal with spun content anymore. I focus now more on user experience, great content, and backlinks from reputable sources; however, many very successful marketers still make use of spun content.
What Software To Use
There’s a number of programs out there you can use spin one of your articles written by your article writer, but probably one of the more popular ones is the Unique Article Wizard.
Here’s a video review of the Unique Article Wizard:
Click here to check out their sales page:
To be clear, I use to use Unique Article Wizard (UAW) and it did well for me until Penguin came along, then my rankings dropped. I no longer use UAW but I know of a marketers who do and still do quite well with it, so that’s why I left this link on this page.
Other tools people use who get into “spinning” are:
- The Best Spinner – thebestspinner.com
- The Leading Articles – theleadingarticles.com
The list goes on, but that’s a few to get you started if that’s the path you choose to go down.
Ranking Money Articles Summary
Unless you’re highly interested in learning how to rank articles in Google, I bet you skimmed through a bunch of this article and have stopped to see if you can pick up the “quick tips” here in the summary.
That’s cool. I do it too sometimes.
So let me see if I can bullet point my “How I Rank Money Articles” into actionable quick steps:
- Choose a topic to write about and promote
- Research the keyword in Google’s Keyword Tool. I look at the Local Exact Match column and typically like to see at least 1000 searches per month, but not always
- Research your competition for the keyword. If the top 10 returned results in Google have a combined PageRank of 2.5 or higher, then you might consider targeting a different keyword unless you’re great at SEO
- Research ClickBank or whatever you can to try and figure out if the product’s sales page is converting
- Implement SEO strategies on your money article’s page (title, links, description, best content, etc.)
- Choose a title which stands out over the other top 10 titles listed in Google (get yours clicked more than theirs)
- Implement your offsite SEO strategies
- Use article marketing for backlinks
- Find a writer to work with or use sites like Fiverr and iWriter
- Post articles to article directories and Web 2.0 slih3ites (optional your own self hosted blog network or the best would be to implement guest blogging)
- Optionally use article marketing software (see above) to generate lower quality links to your money article’s backlinks (don’t link to the money article directly and I don’t use this method of backlinking)
- In 5 years time retire to Hawaii and sip drinks with umbrellas in them
Do you have any SEO strategies you’d like to share which has helped you rank articles?
Please note that the links to Replacemyself.com (in the Outsourcing Area) and Unique Article Wizard are affiliate links of mine, which means I make a commission should you buy the product.