Note: This post, at points, is highly speculative and purely based on my opinion. Yes, several of the techniques I list I use and have worked for me.. but I do go into some detail in relation to pure speculation in this post. That speculation isn’t based on anything other than my opinion after being in this industry for the better part of 8 years, working day in & day out in SEO on every level.
I know, I know, I haven’t done a post in a while (the Black Friday post doesn’t really count as a proper post), and hopefully today’s post will make up for the lack of content over the last number of weeks.
There is a very valid reason behind it though! I’ve spent a number of weeks travelling around, before eventually getting to Thailand (Bangkok & Chiang Mai) where I currently am, looking down the dinner table at some of Britain’s best SEOs and marketers..
I’m here for Matt Diggity’s (Shout out) SEO Mastermind session, which I’m hoping will be a valid excuse every November to travel to this amazing part of the world.
Enough storytelling now, let’s get into the post itself.
I feel this topic is one of the most under covered topics in the entire SEO industry, and as I am out in Chiang Mai for the 100+ SEO meetup it was also the #1 question people asked me. Learning and implementing tactics that’ll allow your SEO business to not only sustain in the long term, but flourish.
Table of Contents
Converting From Black To White Hat
This is something I have covered in significantly more detail in my course, and have lightly covered in my 7 day SEO email series. At some point in your (profitable) affiliate sites life, you’ll need to make the leap for it to be a sustainable source of income. Yes, some niches (e.g. gambling or weight loss) can be a much wider gap to leap across than others, but they all need to at some point.. or they’ll eventually become obsolete, and slowly taking chunks out of your income streams.
I’ve always wanted to expand on this subject a bit further in a more public environment, as you tend to get a lot more discussion out of those scenarios.. So, here we are.
Converting PBN Links
I don’t suggest deleting all your PBN links at once, or disavow’ing those links you bought from a BHW vendor, no.
There’s 2 scenarios to first (before building the new stuff) “removing” PBN links, so I’ll cover them separately:
1 – You Own The Network
In this case, it’s pretty simply.. Slowly delete your links whilst building the new ones to take there place.
2 – You Bought The Links
If they’re monthly subscriptions, then as above, slowly cancel your subscriptions whilst the new links are built. If they’re not subscription based, it’s not so simple.. but essentially: Leave them be.
If you’re buying one time fee links, it’s likely that within 18 months of purchasing them they’ll all be deleted or rolled off anyway.. Over an extended period of time (which the conversion process is) the natural way of link sellers will have your links slowly deteriorate until they’re all gone.
NEVER disavow PBN links.. You risk your site (admitting to buying links) and everyone else who bought them too.
Convert My Links To What?
Ideally when you convert your site, that site will be making money.. For me, the minimum threshold is realistically $2,000/month.. Anything under becomes an extremely time consuming white hat campaign, because you simply won’t have the budget (everything in SEO is about ROI, remember?) to carry one out.
There’s tons of link building tactics you can use, guest posts (Sponsored posting is better for conversions aka paying off bloggers), infographic submissions, social link building (e.g. Reddit, Tumblr etc) and well executed black hat tier 2 links too.
Like I said at the start, I cover this in way more detail in my course.. or, if you don’t have the money for that, check out my link building quick wins eBook.
Expanding Your Horizons
When it comes to white hat SEO, it’s very difficult to use link building to go after individual keywords unless you have a pretty significant budget.
So, once you’ve made that transition, you’ll have to start changing up the way you approach your keyword/niche research, and instead of finding buyer intent keywords to get your Amazon products on. Start looking at the bigger picture, and going after hundreds of variations with different pages, start creating blog posts that offer free value so you can send them into an email chain which leads to bigger and better affiliate sales, start thinking like a business, and less like a black hat.
One of the best pieces of content on this type of thinking, and actively starting to change your keyword research to the overall niche/topic content is by Ryan Stewart on his topical approach to content marketing:
Even if you aren’t quite yet to make the change, this may give you a few ideas/tips anyway.
Preparing For The Future
When it comes to Google, algo’s and future projections/products/deals/sale etc.. It’s always a good idea to be one step ahead of the game, because you never know when that step is going to pay off massively – For me, I’ve been lucky 1 or 2 times, and been prepared the other 10+ times to strike 5 figure days with my affiliate sites.
I Spend Most Of My Budget On Content
Gone are the days of spending 99% of my dollars on links. Instead, I opt for content as my #1 expenditure.. The more, the better. Sometimes I’ll create hundreds of well-written money pages to go after “longtail” keywords, whilst building up the overall authority/trust of the domain.
Yes, it may not be the beautiful, fancy SEO strategies to go after 20k monthly search keywords.. but I guarantee I’ll get triple the traffic going after 200 different keywords than your main one. Plus, it tends to be a lot easier to rank for that fat keyword once you have an already authoritative site, and a huge number of pages to use for silo’ing.
One of the hardest parts of SEO, especially when it comes to scaling SEO.. Is finding decent copywriters, en masse. If you’re going to prepare yourself, and not only weather the storm, but ride that son of a bitch.. Then you’ll need to be getting the connections, staff or VAs in place NOW to create high quality content quickly. I’m not talking about a well written review of a blender for an Amazon site, I’m talking writers that have the ability to dive head first into an industry and within a matter of days come back with a 10,000 word case study.
You may be wondering why on earth you need such length and quality, and without being too much of a Google propagandist, that one word that should strike fear into your spun dreams is: Panda.
Right now, Panda can be manipulated pretty easily with a solid density, synonyms, length and a mixture of micro-data.. but once AI starts kicking into the algo and Panda becomes truly rolling (not this core BS that Google keep going back on themselves about) then you’ll start seeing affiliates across the globe weeping over their rank trackers and lost revenue.
Penguin Hit Harder Than Everyone Thinks
For me at least, I was only really hit on 1 or 2 sites in any significant way, as well as almost ALL of my parasites. That’s because Penguin has been extremely effective vs one tool in particular: GSA SER.
So, why am I still getting questions about using GSA on parasites? Using GSA to “blast” Tier 2s? And so on..
Because y’all don’t DAMN test. Yes, I bet you thought this segment was going to be about Penguin.. Well, it isn’t, it’s actually a bit of a rant.
I’m sure like many of my readers emailing, Skype’ing, messaging or commenting to me, most of your SEO knowledge is based on what other people say, and not what actually works – Yes, it may be extremely difficult for a large portion of you to run multi-thousand dollar tests every month, but that’s not what I’m asking you to do.
What I am asking you to do, is TEST. It might astound you to know that you can run GSA SER tests on a parasite page that requires <$50 spend, and under an hour of your time – Find a low MS, low competition keyword, throw up a 500 word parasite and buy a blast off Paul Steel or Peter Rota. See what happens.. I guarantee you’ll learn something, even if it is only learning that WordPress.com or Blogger suck as parasites.
Becoming someone who actively learns, is willing to push the boundaries and take risks is becoming an expert in SEO. You don’t become an expert by using the same formulas over and over again.. Just going off what other people have to tell you. This isn’t university, and you aren’t doing an engineering degree that requires systematic thinking. There is no system to SEO, and it will be wildly different for every niche and keyword you go into.
For those that did want some info on Penguin, you can check out my presentation from the Chiang Mai Mastermind:
Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, I have some special sh*t coming soon!
Future Tense Anchors
Whilst sitting around the villa table in Chiang Mai, I got to talking with James Dooley (Another British SEO) about how I’d go after keywords for the following year.. e.g. if I was tyring to rank for “cheap laptops 2017”, whilst still in 2016. He managed to jump the gun on me a little bit, and actually write about this topic whilst we were over there.
For the last 12 – 18 months now, I and several of my JV partners have been using a special link building strategy (via anchor texts) that helps prepare sites to rank for date based keywords months before those dates ever arrive.
Let’s stick with the “cheap laptops 2017” keyword, and say we’re trying to rank for this keyword at the beginning of November, 2016.. Now Google will recognized our PBN links creation date being in 2016, so we can’t just go ahead and use that exact keyword phrase, because the freshness/penguin/hummingbird updates will all come in an animal frenzy and bite us in the ass.
Instead, we use synonym, future tense based anchors, such as:
- Get ready for 2017, with these cheap laptops
- Want a new, cheap laptop for 2017? Click here
- Prepare yourself for 2017 with these cheap laptops
And so on..
These longtail variants, mixed with some proper keyword targeted OnPage will help you rank for those 2017 keywords months before, whilst not triggering any algorithmic based penalties.
Responsive Is King
This one is a pretty obvious one, but if you’re running ANY kind of site.. For gods sake, please make sure it’s responsive.
Mobile, tablets and smaller laptop resolutions are growing as a trend year on year and searches from them are growing at an even rapider rate. It may sound stupid to suggest this, but you’d be surprised how many people (especially in the affiliate industry) are using outdated designs or themes from 2010 that don’t scale well on mobile at all.
Update your designs, make sure you have responsive working properly, or you’ll be left in the desktop era of yesteryear.
Thanks For Reading
I hope you enjoyed this post and it gave you some helpful insights into how to future proof your SEO work, sites and business. I’ve woken up to having multiple sites deindexed, and trust me, it ain’t worth the heartache.
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