Friday, 27 February 2009

My niche blog waits for Google and Adsense

Probably the most difficult part of being a successful niche blogger is caused by the sandbox effect. As no readers seem to find their way to the blog, many bloggers lose the faith in their blog. And losing faith in the project means failure: the blogger gets bored and does not trust that some day his/her blog will be on the top of the Google search results.

And when the trust is lost, the blogger does not write any more content for the blog. And when no new content appears on the site, it becomes even more probable that the blog will never make its way to the top of the niche.

The game is over.

But I've been there before. I did not lose my faith in the Lightweight Linux blog. Finally there were more than 100 daily readers. And before too long there were 200 and even 300 daily readers. Unfortunately, the niche is not especially profitable as the open source enthusiasts seem to be adverse to clicking on the ads.

I think it is important to try to find at least some readers before the Google starts to bring the masses to the blog.

This can be done by actively commenting other blogs and participating in discussion forums on the topic of the niche. This way at least some potential readers will find their way to the blog.

And if you for some time lose your interest in the blog, you can start yet another blog for which you have some fresh ideas. And when you have run out of the ideas for the second blog you might already have gotten something to write about for the first blog.

Diversification is an important concept of business strategy. When blogging this means simply that you should have several blogs on different topics. This way you can diversify your blog portfolio and you do not rely on only one blog as a possible source of income. If some blog does not make it to the top, you still have some other blogs in your portfolio.

Maybe one of your blogs will be the next big success in the blog world?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Waiting for the AdSense revenues

According to the Google, it does not have any Sandbox. Most of the webmasters, however, seem to believe that there is a special sandbox for new web sites. Only after the web site is in a way mature it will be added to the Google search results.

It may well be, that Google does not have any special sandbox but the algorithms used by the search engine might well result in the sandbox effect. Anyway, this blog is probably still waiting in the line for several weeks before it hits the search engine's result pages. I suppose the AdSense starts to bring any decent amount of dollars only after I'm on the first page of the search results. If there are no readers, no one clicks the ads...

It seems the language used in a blog can very much effect on the delay before finding the blog in the search results. When blogging in Finnish, the blogs usually get first readers through Google in less than two weeks. With English blogs it takes at least weeks.

My Linux blog experienced its rise to the number one position for its keywords in several steps.

After a few weeks, my blog was to be found in the page 20 of the search results.

After some more weeks, it jumped to page five or six.

After about three months, I was in the bottom of the first page.

After half a year, Lightweight Linux was finally the number one for the search "lightweight linux".

Most of my articles in that blog were pretty short. This might have an effect on the slow rise to the top of the keywords that are not very competitive. It will probably be much more difficult with this blog but I intend to fight against the algorithms by providing more unique content and using longer articles that should have more keywords that I want to be found with.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Content, content, content or SEO, SEO, SEO?

There are basically two contesting views about how to write a niche blog. According to some, it is imperative to think only about search engine optimization. Others tend to think that "content is the king".

Three challenges of a niche blog: Content, content, content

As you probably have noticed from my earlier articles, I tend to see the content as the most important thing for finding readers for the blog. SEO can certainly make it easier for people to find the blog, but you need fresh, unique content to keep the customers coming back.

It just is not enough to have an optimized web page that nobody bothers to read.

Three challenges of a niche blog: SEO, SEO, SEO

In retailing business, the three most important things that affect the sales are location, location, and location. The store just hast to have a good location to make good sales. In a way, SEO is the same thing for any web site. You need an optimized web site to make business. But it is not enough.

Search engine optimization is both an art, a science, and a business. So far I have not read very widely in the literature about optimizing the web site but I think I have grasped the most important things like 300 words rule, using keywords in the site URL, article headers and bolded in the text. But I certainly have a lot to learn about SEO. But that is exactly one of my main reasons for starting this blog.

A few years ago, there were many important search engines. Most of them are nowadays forgotten as Google grows bigger and bigger. I very rarely get any visitors to my other blogs from other search engines like Altavista. And Altavista was in fact the big player in the last decade. The changes in Internet business environment are a lot faster than in the "real world", it seems.

Maybe I should in the future just use GO instead of SEO? If it really is Google that is the only thing that matters, we should probably speak and write about Google optimizing.

Google, content and SEO

In fact the three points (Google, content, and SEO) are intertwining. Good unique content is needed for SEO and Google. Otherwise I just don't get a decent page rank, a top ranking in the Google search results and most importantly, the customers stay away from the blog.

I need Customers. Without them I won't make any money.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Stop Press: New Font Options for AdSense

Until now, the bloggers have had little control over the appearance of AdSense ads in their blogs or other web sites. But now, Google has heard our prayers!

From now on, we can choose between three different fonts: Arial, Times and Verdana. These are available in languages using Latin fonts.

There are a few ways to customize the font used. It is possible to change the font settings for every ad unit that is generated from the user's account. If this is what you want, visit the 'Ad Display Preference' in the Account Settings to select a new font to be used in all the AdSense ads. The change will affect even the units created earlier.

See the official Google AdSense Blog for more information!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Adsense revenues with free niche blogs

At the moment my main business idea for this blog is to monetize it using AdSense banners. It might not be the most lucrative source of revenue but it is easy to use and Google as owner of both Blogger and AdSense has nothing against using AdSense on Blogspot blogs.

In fact, the combination of a free blog platform and advertising limits our search for possible ways of monetization somewhat. On one hand some free blog platforms like Wordpress do not accept any advertising on the freely hosted blogs. On the other hand, some advertising affiliate programs do not accept blogs that are published on free hosting services to join the program.

But AdSense and Blogspot combine well together. The Blogger menus for setting the layout of the blog even include AdSense widgets that are extremely easy to add to the blog with only a few clicks (blog layout -> monetize). Thus it is not at all surprising that AdSense is the most popular advertising program used by a growing amount of bloggers who use the Blogspot as the platform for blogging.

There are many other good reasons for the choice besides it being free to use. As it is one of the most popular platforms, there is a huge selection of free templates to use. The default selection of templates is pretty boring, but the Internet is full of nice themes that can be used with any Blogger blog.

So far I have used several different Blogger templates that are "AdSense ready". Some bloggers might argue that this does not mean anything, as any Blogger template can be used with AdSense code. But for those of us who are not html and css code wizards they certainly make the life of a webmaster easier. At least I have been pretty happy with several free adaptations of popular Wordpress themes.

On the other hand I have used the very plain Minima white on one of my most lucrative blogs. So it seems that even the plainest design can be used for a money-making niche blog as long as there are customers who are interested in the content of the blog. I think I will use Minima also with this blog at least in the beginning. Keep it simple, Stupid!

I will return later to the theme of blog branding when I myself have to start considering the branding and visual image of this blog. Even if I don't consider it as the most important part of successful blogging it certainly helps to have a well designed blog template that is designed with AdSense in mind.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Break the 300 word rule of SEO!

Not every blogger believes in the three hundred words' rule of search engine optimization (SEO). Following the rule might help you to get to the top of the Google search results or at least to some of the first pages. But just writing 300 word postings does not guarantee that the people who are searching for information actually find your blog worth reading.

In fact, there are some very famous bloggers who all the time break the 300 word rule. One of the most popular is Steve Pavlina whose web site I have followed for some time. Steve writes about personal development and the topic is very interesting. But Steve constantly breaks the advice of writing shorter postings, in fact, his articles are usually very long. They are more like articles written for a magazine than ordinary blog postings. This way, he makes it sure that his readers get enough for their time spent on the web site.

I am not sure if I can constantly keep my standards on a level as high as Steve Pavlina has kept for a long time. But I'll try to do my best in providing enough content that can satisfy the needs of my customers - that is the needs of my readers.

I suppose the main important point to remember is that one can break the 300 words rule by writing longer articles. But one should never be satisfied with short blog postings of 100 words. They just don't make it to the top of Google. In addition, short postings don't keep the readers on the site long enough to click through some Google AdSense advertising.

The point I made last is worth remembering. When one is trying to monetize a blog by using AdSense or some other advertising affiliate system one needs to keep the readers on the site as long as it is needed for them to turn their interest to the ads on the margins of the page.

Some might try to do the trick by MFA (made for AdSense) pages that have only little original content and as many AdSense widgets as possible. This way they encourage people to continue their surfing immediately by following the links given in advertisements.

But that is not the way I intend to follow in this blog. I want to offer my readers quality instead of crap.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Subscribe to my Niche Blog about Google AdSense!

If you are a first-time visitor, and considering the age of my blog you most probably are, you should subscribe to this blog.

It is quite easy to do by clicking the "Subscribe To" widget on the left hand column of this page. Doing this you make sure that you will not miss any update or any interesting bits of information.

Of course, you can use the traditional bookmarking, but do you really remember to visit all the bookmarked sites you have hiding somewhere in the menu of your web browser? If you are like me, you most probably forget the links and never visit the site again.

There are many good free applications for reading RSS and Atom feeds. Wikipedia has a nice list of different feed aggregators - you might very well have some aggregator already installed in your system.

If you don't want to (or cannot) install any new applications you can of course use web based aggregators. Google reader is a good example of them.

Do yourself a service and subscribe to this blog now. It is a win-win situation: you win by reading this blog regularly and I win new readers.

During the last year I have experimented a bit both with full feeds and partial feeds, feeds with AdSense and without AdSense, feeds using Sideburner and a lot more. I'll return to this theme later. If you subscribed to this blog, you cannot miss the later posts on this interesting topic!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

300 Words or Quality Content for SEO?

Much has been written about the "300 words rule for SEO" during the last years. In short, it is usually adviced that bloggers and other content authors should write posts that have at least 300 words. This should be the optimum or at least the minimum for getting the web site a good ranking in the search engine results.

Three hundred words are not much especially when one writes in English. Every text has lots of "meaningless" words that do not carry any meaning that is used for web searches. With these meaningless words I mean for example articles ("a", "the"), prepositions ("in", "at", "of" etc.) and very common words like the verb "to be" ("is", "are" and so on).

I have not read anything very specific on this topic but I tend to think that as author I should concentrate on using words that have a meaning, words that add to the content of the blog. I doubt there is any point in just trying to make the articles longer by adding meaningless words to it. After all, what is the point of writing a blog? Is it just to make money by providing a platform for Google Adsense advertising? Or should I think my readers as customers who have needs that have to be addressed?

If I think my readers as my customers I have to provide them something that is worth reading. In my opinion this is best done by writing lengthy blog articles that have some point and answer the problems of my readers - or problems of my customers. If I think my readers as my customers I must concentrate on the quality of the service I provide. Only so will the customers return to the blog. Otherwise they will just read a few lines and never return back unless Google sends them here again with some new combination of search words.

Another point in providing quality content is the fact that even if I would not earn any high AdSense revenues I myself learn all the time. I learn about many things, not only about SEO, blogging or AdSense, but at least as importantly about writing in a foreign language. All of these are skills I can use elsewhere.

I am convinced that in order to keep my readers happy I have to be ready to work. Otherwise the blog is not worth reading. And at least as importantly I will not learn anything.

Monday, 16 February 2009

AdSense added to the blog, waiting for the revenue

I have written already six different, unique articles to this blog to be published during the next days. As I'm pretty sure that I will continue to add content to this blog even now that I decided to add the AdSense widgets to the blog. I made this decision a lot earlier than what I originally thought. At the end of the day, the idea of getting maybe 1 EUR a day more than now was the main reason for acting fast. It might have been clever, or it might not have been clever. But it's done :-)

The template I use is the very clean and basic Minima lefty. Minima lefty differs from the classic Minima template by using the sidebar on the left side instead of the right hand side in the Minima. Some readers of my other blog have complained that having the sidebar on the left makes it more difficult to read. On the other hand, according to Google the ads are clicked more often in the left sidebar than they would be clicked in the right column. So the choice is based only on the idea of profit-maximization. You might not like it, but I have to consider the money-making potential of the template.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes before any readers find their way to the blog. Furthermore, I'm very interested to see how high or low the click rate is in this rather competitive niche where the readers are aware of the fact that Google ads are paid ads that should bring some money to the publisher of the blog or web site.

I have read somewhere in the wide kingdom of the Internet that the people who read blogs on the niche "make money online" are among the worst possible readers when considering their willingness to click the AdSense ads. As I have already one blog where I write about open source operating systems and applications I cannot imagine that this niche would make even less money as AdSense revenues. But let us see what happens!

In the articles that are published during the next days, I will write about SEO (search engine optimization) and content as the king of GO (Google optimization). Please come back for more even more interesting articles!

Five-step plan for building a blog

You probably have noticed that so far I have not added any AdSense widgets to this blog. You might wonder why not? Why don't I try to earn some cash with ads from the beginning?

The answer is simple: at the moment there are no readers for this blog. So I think it is better for me to concentrate on providing content that will earn the site some credibility in the algorithms of the search engines. Only when I see that some people are actually finding their way to the blog, I will add the AdSense widgets to the margins of this blog.

Before adding the ads I have to decide which template I should use for this free Blogger blog. There are many good free templates that I have used. But at the moment I am not sure how I should brand this blog. The branding should be good and stable so that people would immediately recognise this blog and see the difference between this and thousands of other blogs that claim to have unique information about making money online with niche blogging or AdSense.

One might of course argue, that if I had the AdSense in place already now I would have higher motivation for building the readership of my blog from the first article. The few cents I would see in the Google AdSense reports would provide me a clear incentive for getting this blog to the top as fast as possible. I do not deny the logic behind this reasoning. As student of economics I would be one of the last to deny the importance of economic incentives for working harder. But I doubt money is the only incentive people work and write for. At least for me, the importance of learning is at least as important as money is.

With this blog, I plan to proceed in the following five steps:
  1. I create some unique content. The more the better, the more unique the better.
  2. I choose the template. This is an important step for branding the blog.
  3. I add the AdSense widgets.
  4. I start to build my readership aggressively by commenting other blogs and joining different discussion forums.
  5. I advertise the blog in my other blogs to find even more readers. For this, I might either use text links or add unique banners that look like paid advertising.

At the moment I'm clearly still climbing the first step. When I have proceeded to the step five, I might have ideas for the next five steps.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Niche Blogs with Google AdSense

Welcome to Niche Blogs with Google AdSense!

This blog is an experiment. I myself try to make some money online writing several blogs in Finnish and some in English. Unfortunately, I do not make more money than a few dollars a day. It seems I have to learn a lot more about creating low-maintenance websites, SEO and Google AdSense in order to be able to earn some decent income.

This blog is my learning experience. I try to get this up in the pretty competitive niche of money-making blogs. It is interesting to see how long it takes before Google ranks this blog and before it gets a decent ranking in the Google search results.

I have set myself some goals. Only a clear goal-setting can help me to see how far I have succeeded in this experiment. My goals are the following:
  1. First page for search "niche blog with adsense"
  2. First page for search "income with adsense niche blog"
  3. Make some decent money out of this blog
  4. Learn about SEO and building lucrative blog empire with niche blogging
  5. Learn about blogging about a competitive topic
In the beginning, I will not put much effort in the design of the blog as I doubt many readers will find their way to this blog before it gets indexed in the Google and gets a decent rating. That will probably mean a few months and at least 50 blog articles with a decent amount of niche keywords words in them.

Just to make sure that this blog will some day make its way out of the sandbox that Google has or might not have, I will submit this blog to the Google right after I have finished this article. I am not sure, however, if I should add links to this in some of my other blogs that I write about topics not directly related to making money online. But some of the 500 daily readers of my Linux blog (page rank 4/10) might, after all enjoy reading even this blog. I certainly have to think about mentioning this blog elsewhere.