February 26, 2010

Ultimate Guide to Making The Most Money With Online Writing

For Intermediate Writers

I’m going to try and keep this brief and thorough (yeah right). I have a way of making things get really long even though I’m trying to stay brief so bare with me. I won’t sacrifice content for brevity so you will still need a lot of time to read through this.

This guide will be directed specifically at those people who have written content online for a long time but haven’t really made a lot of money. Most of you are spinning wheels and making ends meet but your efforts can be greatly enhanced by simply doing things a little better. This guide is not for everyone and it’s not going to be at expert level. This is for the advanced writer with plenty of content but only a little experience in search engine marketing.

Lets Begin
For the sake of argument let’s pretend or assume you have a lot of articles posted online at various places. Some of those places might be blogs, others might be, article directories, some maybe revenue share content sites like eHow, InfoBarrel, Examiner, Xomba, etc. No matter where your content lays there are ways that you can make it earn more residual income. You just have to structure it properly.

Some of you who have been writing for a long time may even be experiencing declining revenue on your older articles. There is some valid arguments to be made that these declines in earnings are the fault of others but quite often it is because the articles are weak in the search engine results page (SERPs). The reason for that is because articles rank in the SERPs for two reasons: on-page SEO, and backlinks.

On-Page SEO

I won’t discuss this hardly at all. To get an article to rank in the search engines your page should be well optimized. Most people accomplish this by targeting a topic through the use of a keyword and placing that keyword in their article title. By doing this the keyword also is included in the URL. Next the article uses the same keyword in context with other topically relevant subject matter. The keyword should be used a handful of times throughout the article.

You can further increase the on-page SEO by bolding your keywords at least once somewhere in your article, captioning your pictures with the keyword, and by applying tags or categories to the article using the keyword. Depending on your writing platform some of these options aren’t possible. eHow for instance doesn’t allow bolding of anything in the article so just do what you can.

The thing is however that you can only do so much on-page SEO. You can’t keep improving it; there is a point of maximum return and no amount of time or effort will make the on-page SEO any better. That’s why you should not dwell on it. Just do what you need to do and move on to more important things.

I’ve been helping a friend on eHow with some articles on eHow in the Home & Garden category. She has a small group of 15 articles that have all been on eHow for at least a year or so. Most were very good earning articles and most have decreased in earnings by well over 50 percent (some around 80-90%) per article over the past 12 months. Having at first suspected conspiracy from eHow she allowed me to look at the articles and I discovered that none of them were being outranked by the eHow Home & Garden website fro her main keywords. I responded to her situation with this:

My suspicion is that these [15] articles were great earners for you in the past but over the last year some other articles with stronger SEO [& backlinks] knocked you down a couple spots in the SERPs. Of these top 15 H&G articles in your list I only found one of eHow's H&G site outranking you for your main keyword. That leads me to believe that they aren't funneling your traffic their way, it's just that their SEO is better on this one article or there is more backlinks to it.

On-page SEO will only let your article rank well in the SERPs if there is little competition for your keyword or topic. This is why it is not important to dwell on on-page SEO. Think of it this way, if every page on the internet that discussed “flowers” had the same on-page SEO then what would make one page rank higher in the SERPs than another? Backlinks do that.

Backlinks are far more important for search engine ranking than on-page SEO is. We’re talking on-page SEO is like 10% of the importance with backlinks being 90%. Most people who have lots of articles on the net which are getting fewer page views every month and fewer earnings every month are probably having this problem because they have great SEO and at one time they ranked well for their main keywords but they have slowly slipped in the SERPs because new articles on the same topic have been posted with similar on-page SEO but have more backlinks.

What Kind Of Backlinks?

Some of you may even think you’re sending backlinks at your articles too. You’re sending out twitter links and Facebook links and stumble-upon links and your articles get good traffic at first but there’s no money that comes from this traffic and the moment you stop sending these links even the traffic dies out.

Links that have lasting value and bring increases in revenue include only one type of link. “Dofollow” links from content pages. Whether you have a blog, article, or post on a revenue sharing site, “dofollow” links from these pages that point to other pages are where the money is and these links will keep you ranking well in the SERPs. When you have backlinks pointing at your articles you will be the strong page that knocks other pages down.

But what is a “dofollow” link and how is it different from a “nofollow” link… and where do I get them?

Dofollow Versus Nofollow
Both “dofollow” and “nofollow” links look exactly the same to readers of a website. They both do exactly the same thing as well. However, when you look at the code for the website and look at the link as it is coded some links look like this:


...and other links look like this:

rel="nofollow" href="SOME RANDOM URL">THE ANCHOR TEXT

Links with the "nofollow" tag as you see above are not used by Google to affect search engine results pages (SERPs). The link from above that doesn't have the "nofollow" tag attached to it is commonly referred to as a "dofollow" link. These types of links are used by Google to affect the SERPs. If your article has these you will rank better in the SERPs.

The only manual way to know what link is what is to look at the source code for the web page. You can do this by clicking "view" in your browser and then "view source code" in the drop down box. If you do this a text doc opens up with the code for the page. You just have to find the link buried in the code and see if the "nofollow" tag is added to it or not.

To save you the trouble, all links pointing to other sites from eHow articles are “nofollow” automatically. This means you many funnel traffic through an eHow link to your blog for instance but the link doesn't help your blog rank well in the SERPs.

On the other hand articles on Examiner, Your Blog, InfoBarrel, and many article directories are all “dofollow” links. These articles do two things for you. They all funnel traffic through the link to the destination but they also help the destination page fare batter in the SERPs.

Also, you should know that reciprocal links (your blog post links to an eHow article eHow and the same eHow article links back to your same blog post) function to funnel traffic back and forth but the links (generally speaking) cancel each other out for SERP ranking purposes. You don't ever want a reciprocal link unless you don’t care about either page ranking well in the search engines. Always send the link from the dofollow page and not the other way around. For this example send the link from the blog post to the eHow article because the blog post will send a dofollow link to your eHow article and not the other way around.

Additional Reasons Why A Page May Fall In The SERPs

If you have two articles with all on-page SEO being equal and one has been posted online for a year and the other you post online today it is highly likely that the newer article will start ranking better than the older article because Google has an affection for “fresh content” or new articles.

This means that if you have an article on “flowers” and it has been posted online for a year or so but it doesn’t have any “dofollow” backlinks. It will slowly fall in the SERPs for two reasons. Articles that start generating backlinks will slowly overtake it and also every other article out there with no backlinks will get a fresh content bonus and push yours down for the time span that that article gets the bonus. Without generating backlinks that bonus the other article will get slowly diminishes and you article will regain lost ground in SERPs but as long as new articles are constantly being published around the net their will always be a steady stream of articles getting a fresh content bonus keeping your article lower in the SERPs than it deserves.

You can only combat this by having the backlinks to your article. If you have backlinks to your article the new articles without any backlinks will not overtake you as easily and if they do it will be for a shorter period of time. You have to stay on top of the SERPs to earn money from your articles. Your articles only earn money from search traffic and you’ll never get enough of that traffic if you are not ranking well.

Fresh Content Bonus + eHow UK Example = Declining Earnings For Articles With No Backlinks

One of the biggest problems long time writers who have not don’t backlinking are facing right now is with the eHow UK situation. Eventually this situation will be a thing of the past but to many people they have lost a ton of their residual income because of it. This is a perfect example of the fresh content bonus and a perfect illustration as to how articles with no dofollow backlinks are in danger of falling from the SERPs.

In the second half of 2009 when eHow launched eHow UK they cloned all of their articles and put them on a new URL with a .co.uk instead of a .com. This caused a big change in the SERPs not because of manipulation on the part of eHow but because of the way Google applies their search rankings.

Because the original articles had few if any backlinks the fresh content bonus of the UK site which was heavily backlinked from the eHow.com site as well as other demand media web properties suddenly started outranking the original articles in the SERPs. Was this a shady move on the part of eHow; yeah, probably. They probably realized that the promotion of the new site coupled with the fresh content bonus Google applies would likely make many of the pages outrank to original articles. For that they have been appropriately slammed by many writers.

However, for writers who sent quality dofollow backlinks to their .com articles on eHow they didn’t see much of a blip at all in their earnings. Of all of my articles I could only find one where the UK outranked my own US article. This is because of the backlinks I sent to my US articles and no other reason.

Additionally - Early in 2009 there was also a huge influx of new content writers on the net... mostly because of the economy and so many people losing their jobs. The people who started writing before many of these new writers got a "fresh content" bonus from Google before the influx on new writers in early 2009. In early 2009 when these new writers were signing up and publishing they were now getting the fresh content bonus and were pushing down older articles with poor backlinking strategies. In fact there were more people publishing in early 2009 than in any year previously so there was more writers out there getting "fresh content" bonuses in the SERPs than in the past.

Some of those writers also promoted their articles well and probably pushed many older articles down the SERPs. Look at it this way: There's more supply of articles out there and the demand for those articles in the SERPs has not changed. This might also be a reason why in the spring of 2009 many long time writers slowly started to see a less robust surge in traffic and earnings.

The moral of this story – To stay relevant in the search engines you have to have more than just on-page SEO and fresh content; you have to have backlinks pointing at your articles. The backlinks are like a healthy backbone. You may be able to stand without them but even the slightest breeze will blow them over. If your articles have backlinks they will hold up for longer periods of time and will not waiver or falter in the SERPs as easily.

How To Structure Your Articles To Make The Most Money And Remain Relevant In The SERPs

So to bring all of this together the question I posed above must be addressed. How do you write content that will make money and organize that content on the web in a way in which you will be sending backlinks for SERP ranking?

Since many people reading this will be long time devotees of eHow I will start this section with the eHow writer in mind. eHow articles make great money because the domain eHow.com is very strong. If you post an article on eHow and an identical article just about anywhere else and do nothing to promote either the eHow article will probably be highest in the SERPs. If you have articles posted there already you should take advantage of this.

Many people advocate pulling articles from eHow and posting them elsewhere and I think that is the wrong move. As I discuss above the fresh content bonus is applied to new material but it is short lived. Once it’s no longer fresh (weeks to months) it will fall back in the SERPs and be replaced with older articles. At this point the age of the article provides a bonus with all things being equal. With identical articles (with the exception of their age), the older article will rank better on most occasions.

If you have an article on eHow that is a year old and you move it to InfoBarrel your blog or some other site it will initially rank well due to the fresh content bonus but will quickly fall back because it’s not a very old article. This is why I recommend not moving articles that have been published for a long time… especially if they have the potential to earn well or have earned well in the past. You can always make an article earn well again by simply working it back up the SERPs with a handful of backlinks.

A Hypothetical Article Structure

What To Do To Earn More Residual Income With What You Have Written Already
In the future I’m going to post a guide aimed at new writers to start earning quickly but for now this will be continually aimed more for those people who have content already posted.

• Let’s say you have 100 articles posted on eHow
• Let’s say you have an account at InfoBarrel with 50 articles posted.
• Let’s Say you have a blog with roughly 50 posts.
• Let’s say you also have an account with Examiner with 50-100 articles or so.
• Let’s say you’ve heard of GoArticles & eZine articles; you may or may not have an account and you may or may not have any more than a handful of articles on those sites.

Look at your eHow articles. Rule of thumb states that 80 percent of your earnings come from 20 percent of your articles. Make a list of the 20-25 articles that you have that earn the most on a monthly basis. Don’t look at the ones with the most earnings. Look at the most recent month ending and identify the top 20-25% of your articles that earn. Make sure none of these articles (your top 25%) link out to any of your articles anywhere on the net. Edit them if you need to remove the resource links.

Now go to your blog if you have one. If you have 50 posts there than go to each post individually and add 1-3 links back to various eHow articles that already make money. Don’t send them to all of them, only send them to the one’s that make money. This will probably result in you sending a total of ~100 dofollow backlinks from your 50 blog posts back to your 25 eHow articles. That’s about 4 backlinks per article.

Now go to your InfoBarrel articles if you have any. From each article you can send two contextual self-serving links in each article body to wherever you want. You can also send an additional link in the signature box totaling four links. If you have 50 Infobarrel articles that’s roughly 150 backlinks at your disposal. Send about 100 of them to your 50 blog posts (not your index or main page) – that’s a rate of about 2 backlinks per blog post. The remaining 50 links that you can send with your InfoBarrel articles should go to your best earning eHow articles. If you have 25 then that means each eHow article will have two backlinks from InfoBarrel.

Now go to Examiner and do the same thing as you did for InfoBarrel. Add links in the body of your content and link them to your InfoBarrel articles, your blog posts and your eHow articles. Stick to the linking guidelines and you’ll be fine. The point is the backlinks are one-way links (not reciprocal), they are dofollow links (meaning they help the destination page rank well), and they only point to articles that actually make money.

You don’t want to waste links that go to pages that don’t convert to money or residual income. It’s a waste.

Once you have done all of the link structuring then you can consider moving only the articles on eHow that don’t earn any money, especially those that don’t get views either, to the article directories: eZine Articles and GoArticles. When you do this make sure to add links into the text pointing to your money making articles. By making this move you are repurposing an article that doesn’t earn money and doesn’t give dofollow backlinks to a place where you can at least get backlinks from it. You won’t earn with them posted on the Article Directories but those articles won’t earn on money sites either. The directories are the best place for them.

Lastly remember that backlinks are the key to the whole process of making lasting residual income. Without backlinks all your articles will eventually fall in the SERPs as other articles overtake them with better SEO and backlinks. Send 80% of your time creating backlinks to articles that make you money and you will do fine.

Additional Places to Get Dofollow Backlinks

I posted not long ago on the eHow forums places to get dofollow backlinks if you want to continue writing for just the backlinks which is a good idea if you already have a lot of content published.

Good starting places for "dofollow" backlinks: I'd say, GoArticles, ArticleBlast, Ezine Articles, InfoBarrel, Squidoo, Examiner, SelfGrowth, Buzzle (this site takes longer to contribute to however the links are strong), Post Your own Articles, Article Dashboard, Blogger Blogs, Wordpress Blogs, and any other platform of blogs you can find. If you start a blog you can always use the same resources to link to it. This serves the purpose of getting it indexed and if the links are anchored with keywords it also serves the purpose of starting the blog off with a growing bit of keyword authority.

Do you need that many places to backlink your eHow articles... probably not. Most people make decent money with little or no backlinks. The problem is that when articles have little or no backlinks they can fall in the SERPs to easily. I think many people are experiencing this. To make the most money and have the most stability in the SERPs you have to have backlinks, as many as possible. Remember, you can always start a new blog just for the purpose of adding backlinks to a different site.

Anyway I hope this helps some of the many people out there who feel they have hit a wall in their quest to build residual income. Just start working at the backlinks and the earnings will rebound in time. That’s important to remember too. You can’t expect a rebound overnight. It takes a lot of time for the backlinks to take hold and influence your SERP ranking. Do not get discouraged if you spend an entire weekend or even month building these links only to find no benefit the following week in your earnings. You more than likely won't notice a change in your ranking or SERP placement until at least a month or three. It takes Google a while to notice the links, index them, and then apply them to the SERPs. It will happen though. See my SERP Rank Update post on my blog were I discuss this happening to my main blog.

Good luck and keep in mind I will continually refine this post to make it more clear and relevant. You can always find this post in my upper link bar. I hope it helps. Refer people here who need this help and please repay me for maintaining this guide by sending some anchored links to this site and my post pages. Please do add your thoughts in the comments. Thanks.

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  1. THIS IS AWESOME ... you have a lot of what I do plus a few extra places that I can use! I think this advice is SPOTON. Thanks for such an informative posting.

  2. As always, Brian, this is a very helpful post. I've done plenty of article SEO research, and you raise points that I haven't seen addressed elsewhere, along with clear information on how to apply these article SEO principles--thanks!


  3. Great article! I can say that I'm having trouble locating 'view' in my browser to get the drop-down menu. Am I overlooking something obvious?

  4. Thanks for the positive words - I hope this helps a lot of people struggling with how to do things right.

    @Glorybug - I'll be honest, I'm only familiar with IE and FireFox. Both browsers have "View" in the upper bar of their browser. If you don't then just go through your menus and find something that sounds like "view source code". Maybe even another commenter can help if we know what ind of browser you have.

  5. Nice article, Brian. I now know what actions to take concerning my articles that ehow has somehow killed off with their redirects. By the way, what is your personal feelings on why this has happened? I have not been on eHOW all that long, and my nearly 100 articles were doing so well, $6 to $9 increases each month, my dairly earnings were anywhere from 50 cents to $1.50 per day, then the redirects, a day or two later, everything just stopped. Now my earnings have begun to slid backwards. And when I google my articles, where they were once on page 1 of google, now they are way back, some so far back I can't find them unless I type in my name with the articles titles. My guess is the recirects altered my url's somehow and google kicked my articles way back on their search engines. Remember, my earnings were climbing every single day until the redirects.

  6. Great post. I've added it to my list of guides and articles on making money at eHow.

  7. @Jade - Thanks, glad it is of help.

    @JR - I feel for you. Between roughly January 10-25 I was experiecing the same thing. My articles went from earning good to hardly at all. After a little over two weeks of so they started earning again even better than before. My thoughts are mixed. I think the drop in earnings was do directly ti the redirects but for some reason everything started working again. For others for some reason it hasn't. I suspect that there is some problem in redirects translating to earnings. I can't substantiate that nor can I help it but I do know that getting people to your original article on the .com domain is the best solution. Cherry pick your best 5-10 earning articles before the slump and start sending backlinks at them. This should trigger the SERPs to bring your .com article up and bring your earnings back. I make no claim that their aren't problems at eHow. I hope they are working on getting them fixed but in the mean time do what you can on your side to maximize your earnings. Like I said in the article the backlinks won't take immediate effect so send about 3-5 backlinks at your top 10 articles and then give it a month.

  8. You have an excellent blog and very effective posts :)

  9. Thank you Brian, This is pretty informative and a way bigger help that we are getting from the ptb at eHow.

    A lot of mine are number 1 on Google page so does that make them better earners? Thanks! jseven

  10. Much help Thanks bookmarked and looking forward to the updates

  11. Great money making tips. I really appreciate you effort to make this post most interesting.

  12. I just think it's weird to promote your articles by writing more articles... I like the idea of removing links from money-earning articles though. I did that after I read your post. I don't want to write an article to boost my article in the search engines though. Any other ways of getting do follow backlinks? other than writing articles...


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