I'm all for the lifestyle business thing, but there are more fulfilling ways to make $2k/month, imho... As the cost of creating businesses drops, the number of viable niches literally explodes.
The problem comes just after you click "download" and realize you have a 600MB XML file listing the Ph levels of groundwater sites around the country for the past 25 years. How in the hell are you going to make that data an interesting draw that users want to read or learn about?
I have no skill for frontend design, but I've recently begun to learn how to display data in an intelligent manner. If anyone is interested, these books have helped me:
Information Dashboard Design: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596100162
Visualizing Data: http://www.amazon.com/Visualizing-Data-Explaining-Processing...
Beautiful Data: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Data-Stories-Elegant-Solutio...
People are probably looking for that data. Find out exactly what they're searching for, and tailor your content/site presentation around those keywords. You can use Google Keyword Tool to find this information:
Developers need to know how to display data in an easy to understand, easy to follow, and easy to consume manner in order to get people to the site. Keywords and SEO only go so far. You still need readable content for humans.
My God, thank you for the warning. I will be alert for exploding numbers!
I have my doubts that yet another generated content spam site would be worth $2k/month, though I'm sure there are a few...I kinda suspect it'd take months of experimentation to actually find one that pays, and keeps paying over a long term. If you only get one $2k month, and it drops like a rock soon after (either after competitors sweep in and rejiggle the same data, or after the data becomes stale and needs more human intervention to update).
Also, ew. I'd feel gross if I were creating spam for a living. I've come upon this kind of site quite a lot when looking at government auctions (which admittedly have horrible sites, when provided by the government), and the level of spam in the industry is just disgusting. Everybody fighting for the same keywords, clogging up google results for the real data, always out of date, often pointing to no-longer existent goods, mingling many types and branches of government (each branch has different requirements for buying from a government auction; even if you qualify to buy at one, you may not qualify to buy at several others) to beef up their listings, etc. When done poorly, it's evil, plain and simple. A low-grade evil, but evil, nonetheless. I don't want that kind of thing on my conscience, and I don't see how anyone could do it well on a few hours a week or month.
You have to work to make money from your business (most likely). With an authority site providing data that people want and are linking each other to, you're making money passively.
$2,000/month is only $66/day. That's not a big number. That's a single sale of certain products on Clickbank. If a given product averages one sale for every 1,500 visitors, your goal is 1,500 unique visitors per day. That's not unattainable, either. Making money online is not a complicated process.
I don't see how the OP's idea is anything near a spam site. It's taking data that people could be interested in, making it available, and helping people find it. If people happen to click some ads while they're on the site, great! A spam site IMO would be like those fake torrent sites that come up when you search for a product name.
The problem isn't that a bunch of folks have made lame sites; the problem is that no one has made a good site. Make one, and Google will happily rocket you to the top of the results page.
It strikes me that there must be huge and quiet money in some forums. One forum in particular I use a lot is Better Bidding, where people discuss how to get cheap rates on hotwire and priceline and share information on what the unnamed mystery hotels are (so far I've had a 100% success rate in finding out the name of a hotwire hotel before booking it). But every time the words "priceline" or "hotwire" show up on the site they're converted into a (presumably) affiliate link, so the owners of the site must be making one metric shirtload from those. If you can find a way to combine user-generated content with affiliate links to stuff that the users were about to buy anyway, that's gotta be some great passive income.
Oh well. If this story did nothing else it at least inspired me to dust off a blog project I've had in the back of my mind for a while (http://projectomniscience.blogspot.com) and experiment with adsense. I doubt it'll be a big money-spinner, but at least now I know how to use adsense (and besides, I got to learn interesting facts about zebras, pants, and governors of North Dakota).
You describe my biggest hit; people searching for something, finding my site and writing a post or a reply that helps generate more search traffic. I don't have to police much since the sites are very focused (not forums).
Find 12 people who conduct significant business online, tell them this story, and set your bill rate accordingly.
I think this specific article sort of underestimates the amount of effort involved ("Now that you have a site, just add marketing"), but if you're totally skeptical about it ever working, a) take a look at BCC's sales and b) think of what they would be in a niche with $50 CPA affiliate payouts which are 10x easier to achieve than purchases. BCC levels of traffic are not an unachievable goal for a programmer's first web project, for obvious reasons.
Also, this is advocating the creation of classic webspam. Creating thousands of autogenerated pages using data thats already publicly available doesn't "help" anyone.
Puzzles me when I think back to the righteous outcries on HN a couple of months ago about the declining quality of Google's search results.
There is a lot of information out there that is terribly hard for your common searcher to find still, and if that information can be extracted from government data farms and displayed and organized in such a way that it is easy to read and navigate, this could be a really great thing.
That being said, this article does come across as: Here's how to create some Google spam for profit.
Years ago I use to buy pre-populated databases (such as all the veterinarians in the US) and create SEO-perfect websites with one piece of information on each page. It was highly crawlable and did well. I threw adsense on it and made good money for a while. A lot of other people figured it out and Google started dinging sites like this. I don't think this would work anymore.
Not only that but Google profits directly through ads that appear in search results showing your data. And indirectly keeping 32% of revenue if you're running adsense.
Now if it's covered in ads that destroy the content or if the site uses cloaking or tries to trick you into signing up or thinking you have to sign up the way stackoverflow's competitor did, then that's worth a penalty.
Information that is unique and useful, presented in an honest and timely fashion is exactly what Google wants and desperately needs more of.
Don't confuse what I'm describing here or in the blog entry with duplicate content or content that has been scraped and remixed to look unique.
It adds a lot of value to me, and Google rewards with huber page rank than government websites, which one assumes get a huge authoritativeness bonus from Google.
A lit of folks get indignant that someone is "just" exposing true information for money. That is 99% of what Google does and why everyone loves them. If you cut the money out, the ride stops. Organized information is more valuable and more costly than scattered hidden information.
We already have one of those: it's called the World Wide Web.
If only bottom-feeders could stop getting in the way of navigating it, we could get back to answering useful questions with a quick Web search the way we used to.
The great thing about the internet was that it replaced the hassle and expense of doing that. It works pretty well even with the nearly-content-free sites clogging up the system.
Incidentally, for Q&A, IBM might have something that will beat google search:
http://edwardbetts.com/postoffices/ and http://edwardbetts.com/postboxes/
I think both these sites went live in 2008.
Here are the AdSense figures for this month so far (May 1st to May 27th):
* $52.94 earnings
* 21,708 Page views
* 147 Clicks
* 0.68% Page CTR
* $0.36 CPC
* $2.44 Page RPM
Or connect conmen with heiresses, vacuum cleaner salesmen with Persian cat owners, horny teenagers with lonely centerfold models... I can come up with these all day, now get busy!
Autoblogs work entirely on copied content and do REALLY well for how little work they require to setup.
The "Here's how" gave it away, but I originally thought the article was an argument against people feeling bad that they do development work on the side.
I've clearly been spending too much time reading English.SE...
Sometimes I see people who refuse to use coupons in stores because they think it's beneath them (even if the coupon is right in front of them in a display for what they are buying).
I realize the need to prevent fraud but there has to be some kind of balance to allowing someone in a bad situation to keep a little dignity.
Then there is the craziness that you can buy things like candy with foodstamps but not vitamins.
On the contrary, that would be counterproductive.
At low levels of income, there is virtually no relationship between earnings and consumption. So if a person's utility function is proportional to consumption, with a slight disutility for working, they will choose not to work.
This happens in the US up to the $30k/year level - i.e., a person earning $0k/year and a person earning $30k/year will consume roughly the same amount of goods and services.
However, if you make receiving food stamps/welfare/etc unpleasant (i.e., more unpleasant than actually having a job), you would encourage some people to work for a living instead.
The modern welfare system does not allow non-disabled people to draw an infinite amount of assistance - it's very restricted and for a finite amount of time. They must constantly show real proof they are looking for work and even with part-time jobs their assistance is immediately scaled back.
Assistance shouldn't be a punishment, it should be care and kindness while someone gets back on their feet. You aren't going to make assistance less attractive than a minimum wage job, it's impossible.
They must constantly show real proof they are looking for work and even with part-time jobs their assistance is immediately scaled back.
This is simply false. The vast majority of the poor are not looking for work, nor are they working. Nevertheless, they consume an average of $30k/year.
Did you even bother to read my link?
You aren't going to make assistance less attractive than a minimum wage job, it's impossible.
It's hardly impossible, but I agree that a lack of dignity is probably insufficient to push more than a few people over the threshold. That doesn't mean we should skew the incentives even more toward couch surfing and away from work than we already do.
Furthermore, it is likely that in many cases the very poor don't work because they are unable to -- mental illness is a commonly cited factor, but these days it's hard for anyone to get work -- particularly those lacking high school degrees, for instance. If someone cannot work for such a reason, then by attempting to punish them for not working you simply reduce their already-slim ability to contribute to society.
Edit: removed rudeness
In reality, humans rich and poor alike have many considerations of equal or greater importance than their utility function. For example, people not work full-time because they are in school, because they are practicing an art or craft, because they are taking care of family, because they have a wealthy benefactor, because they are employed in an illegal trade like drugs or prostitution, or because they are trying to break into a difficult industry like film.
If you wish to claim that the poor disproportionately prefer to gain other things than wealth (e.g., they prefer hobbies/long shots over work which might earn them $0-30k), you are agreeing with me.
We also seem to agree that "a lack of dignity [or other minor disincentive] is probably insufficient to push more than a few people over the threshold [towards work]" (as I said a few posts up).
I'm always glad when I can convince others (including others with whom I share different values) of the correctness of my pet hypothesis. It suggests I'm on the right track.
Also, don't forget that Clinton ended welfare as we know it, resulting in fixed periods of welfare anyway. It also resulted in some evils, like single mothers working 6 hours a day (with their kids in a daycare) making less money and spending less time raising their children.
I think the final line (heavily edited) "it is rational not to work as long as work opportunities pay less than $30k/year" is what we should focus on: let's try to make their work opportunities better through extra services (maybe mandatory without a waiver of disability or insanity) that give training and education.
I believe that instead of making poverty "unpleasant", we should structure the reward system so that it drives the poor towards self-reliance using positive rewards. For example: right now, if a mother is not working, she gets support for childcare. But the moment she starts working, her support dries up, so it becomes an economic disincentive to find work. So the rewards should be graded in such a manner that they don't disappear; it should be a continuous function, whose gradient points to self-reliance. So for the same single mother in my example, for every dollar she earns, her childcare benefit would go down by, say, 10 cents. She would still get 90% of the benefit of her labor.
I'm sure if we put our minds to it, we can come up with a system that works.
Unfortunately, a lot of the current stakeholders (in addressing these issues) have a lot to gain by maintaining the status quo; they'd be out of a job if there was no poverty....
Then there is the craziness that you are immediately ineligible for foodstamps the very day you get a job, regardless if you do not get a paycheck for a couple more weeks.
It really depends on a number of factors including the audience, their intent, how they find your site, the site layout, etc.
It may not be common but I wouldn't say it's unrealistic.
PS: If you're making $50 from 150,000 page views per month, are you open to selling the site?
However, the article is saying it is incredibly easy to do this. On that point I disagree. I think if you spend a lot of time working on finding the right niche and developing the site that you can definitely pull it off, but I don't think it's easy. And, as someone else pointed out there are a lot more interesting ways to make $2000/mo building a niche web app.
If you use Wordpress, consider using something like http://www.ctrtheme.com or ProSense.
In April, I had a 1.78% CTR.
The shitty thing is, it is an AJAX app, so there is only the frontpage, and each lookup does not refresh the Adsense ad. The average time on the site is about 12 minutes.
This is also not a very high volume search term. So the upside for me is pretty limited. Even if I ranked #1, ahead of the .gov site, I do not think I would come close to $2,000.
It should be pretty simply to reload the contents of your ad block in the "success" callback of your Ajax library... you're probably leaving a ridiculous amount of money on the table.
It's pretty much impossible to claim any CTR or CPC rate is unrealistic because they vary so massively depending on the site, the market and even things like the time of year.
0.02% CTR on 50k page views a month; revenue under $1. I guess that's the compromise you make when your niche is involved articles for a technical audience, but is there a way to improve that?
Regardless, 150,000 hits per month is unrealistic.
You have 1,211 backlinks.
You have no meta descriptions on any of your pages. The links to your content pages (e.g., http://yakkstr.com/posts/3635-Cute-Friday) aren't inside a H1/H2 tag on your index pages. You are letting Google crawl/index your tag pages (pointless/bad). Your robots.txt isn't pointing to a sitemap. Are you using Google webmaster tools?
Get rid of the /posts/N-title and just roll with /title, if possible.
Set up a RSS feed and add OpenSearch.
You have a lot of on-site SEO work to do. :)
How much of a difference do you think those changes will make? I'm willing to do them as an experiment, except for the /title because that has caused me a lot of problems in past experiences.
Putting all your links to your content pages inside H2 tags tells search engines that they're more important that other links on the page.
The /title one is big. Google likes short URLs without a lot of extra cruft. You're using rails from what I can see, so the change is trivial. :) Add a route, throw an index on your slug field, and have requests to the old URLs do a 301 redirect to the short version.
Page load time is also a SEO factor now. http://yakkstr.com/tags/7-Politics takes 4.25s to load according to your X-Runtime header. That's really bad. You're not paginating, and you're only loading a few entries, so I think you're missing an index. :) Here's some tips: http://madhatted.com/2009/8/12/faster-sites-done-faster
Check this out: http://www.google.com/search?q=site:yakkstr.com Lots of empty/valueless results. Maybe you can noindex blogs that have no posts in them so they don't pollute the search results?
Your slug generator is generating bad slugs: http://yakkstr.com/posts/1793-Climate-Change--- You should look at using String#to_url from https://github.com/rubypanther/stringex instead of whatever you're using currently.
Google text ads may convert better than the image-based ads since they're usually more relevant to the topic at hand. Try experimenting with them.
This is an experiment I'm trying to do ;) My hypothesis is that these things won't make a significant difference.
But let's assume that it were a business, and I'll explain how my question is not only good, but the most important question a you should ask. We have finite resources and time, and we have to decide what to use those resources and time for. How do we do that? I could implement all of these changes in a 2 days let's say, or I could use that same time and money to add some feature my users have been asking for. Which should I do?
To answer that we have to estimate in some way the impact of each. Saying it "might make the site more attractive", "could help google", etc isn't a good answer.
"If you want hard numbers, it might take years of data collection and analysis to find them."
No it wouldn't, and what I'm offering here is to do the changes and measure the change.
Now if someone is going to tell someone else that they should do xyz, what are they basing that on? Their gut? Or did they do these things in the past, and measure an improvement, even when they didn't isolate all the variables as you are demanding of me! Why not demand the same from the person making the suggestion?
Fair question. I would say these things are current, accepted "best practices". I'd liken it to suggesting you use a version control system instead of emailing code back and forth. Your existing system might work, but many other people who were also emailing code back and forth are seeing gains using this new-fangled VCS thing, so it's almost definitely worth doing.
You might try searching for "SEO before and after" or "SEO case study" to see how on-site changes have worked (or haven't worked!) for other sites. At any rate, many of the current "best practices" are trivial, under the hood changes so it doesn't really cost anything to put them into place. Most of them simply help search engines understand how your content is structured and benefit both you and your users.
We ranked really well really fast, whatever sandbox people think google may or may not have didn't seem to affect us. Like I said, within a few months, on a brand new domain, without an SEO expert optimizing things like H1 tags, we ranked really really well for competitive keywords.
That's the basis of my hypothesis, without good backlinks, it doesn't matter a whole lot, and good backlinks matter a lot more than tags on a page, whether you have /posts/title, etc.
But I do really appreciate the time you took to look at my site and offer suggestions. You did catch a missing index :) I didn't notice because no human goes to tag pages, and it didn't show up in 'new relic' because my other pages are fast and get hit a lot more.
btw, i'm curious if you see my site on this search, http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8...
I rank decently for long tail things like that, if I did your suggestions would that page go up? I see it in 7th position.
Yup, I do see your site on the first SERP for that query. Here's a shot of the SEO breakdown for that SERP: http://i.imgur.com/URUr2.png Not bad positioning considering there's zero backlinks to that page on your site. If you had 1-10, you'd probably rank higher.
You probably wouldn't see any rise by just doing tweaks, but they're probably still worth doing overall. I would focus on encouraging your users to spread your content. Give them a "share this link with friends/embed this link on your web page" widget. Digg is dead/useless, get rid of that icon. Get a Tumblr and Stumbleupon share icon on there instead. I'd probably space them a bit more away from that big, ugly, unrelated image ad, too. :)
> It's difficult to say exactly since SEO isn't really an exact science.
The answer is that there is no definite answer. :)
Like I said, I'm happy to do this as an experiment and see what impact it has if you're interested. email me at yakkstr at yakkstr.com
Basically, SEO comes down to having awesome content, identifying it properly on your site, and getting other people to link to it.
What is proposed in the OP's link is NOT impossible as the various detractors in this thread would have you believe, but it IS a lot of work. The tech stuff is easy, consistently building out your backlinks is the hardest part. If you're lucky, they'll start to grow on their own and you have 100% passive income.
But the OP made it sound easy. It's not easy.
I like seobook and seomoz, and I'll check out the other sites you mentioned. Thanks!
The tech stuff is easy for us. If us programmers can figure out the non-tech stuff, we can be rich!
Is pure gold (there's tons more on SEOmoz).
I am not condoning such methods.
Also, careful clicking any links in those forums. Lots of disgusting, immature people over there.
It's an insightful read regarding the amount of work required and it seems the person was actually producing/aggregating useful content.
"Tell the right people about your site and tell them regularly via great blog entries, insightful tweets, and networking in your site’s category."
That being only a single line item in this plan underplays how difficult it can be to get good targeted traffic.
And didn't the gravy train stop because there were so many CIC stringers chasing so little good intel?
I was just using NNTP to fetch news and publish them on the web (now this does not work anymore, but there are tons of other stuff you can do).
So in short, yes, that works very well in my experience, and is ideal to fund your work for your startup without external help.
Two orders of magnitude better than I do!
I recently made a website that scrapes a popular message board and displays the archived posts. My goal wasn't to make money, but rather scratch an itch for the users of the board myself included (the message board deletes old posts and does not allow users search for posts based on user handles).
I was thinking of putting on Google ads to pay for hosting costs. I haven't bothered to do any SEO (I'm absolutely clueless in this area), but this month I have around 120k page views and 40k uniques. Most of the visits (over 80%) is from Google keywords.
Is the return high enough, like this article implies, to deface my site with Google ads? I heard that Google doesn't like content farms and my site could be considered a content farm, so would I even be allowed to put Google ads on? I would be happy to make $80 dollars a month so I can finally move from my free-tier EC2 micro-instance to a small instance... Any advice would be cool.
Care to describe what type of apps you demo'ed? Language(s) used?
Has anyone successfully sent Facebook traffic via paid ads to their adsense site profitably?
This, is the one big important step separating $0 per month and $2k per month.
2. realize that point 15. is by far the most difficult and time consuming of all steps
4. no profit
Here's a starting point: http://www.google.com/search?q=build+initial+backlinks
I like paid directory submissions, doing guest posts on blogs, building high quality Squidoo lenses (which include a link to your site), and paid reviews.
If you want the passive income badly enough, you will figure it out. If you don't want it badly enough, you don't deserve it.
I write code and run a Seattle based Web startup. I'm interested in ...
The site is non-spam, genuinely useful and solves a real problem. The current (soon to be previous) top ranking site for the category is awful. It's filled with ads to make it unusable and functionality sucks. It was acquired a long time ago, the core dev team has probably left and the entire category needs a refresh and I'm happy to help.
I should have added to the blog entry to look for categories where the competition is stale and has been acquired by a large publisher looking to cut costs and aggressively monetize.
When you take useful information and put it up like this, that also creates a lot of value for people-trying to search the USPTO for patent information is a nightmare when you don't know what you're doing.
I have Pentadactyl installed -- maybe that's causing an issue?
I know a site that has a good amount of traffic and makes nothing from Google Ads. Not saying its not all possible, but just not as easy as you stated and somethings you left out on doing it all correctly.