Archive for April, 2009

Starting your niche site

April 27th, 2009

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So you have your niche picked out, you have a decent domain name and some web hosting.  Now you have to actually get the thing built.  A lot of people, including myself, think ugly designs are actually better for adsense revenue as they distract less from the ads.  With this in mind I went ahead and found a free website template from a template site on google, a quick query brings up many sites to pick and choose from.  Pick one you like and download it.

Now here you have to make a decision on how you want to build your site, if you know PHP you can quickly write some code that will allow you to wrap the design around your content, which will most likely be stored in a database.  If you don’t know PHP not to worry, it’s not too hard to just copy the template for each new page you make and just edit the information – it just becomes harder to maintain if you add a lot of pages or make changes later on.  I would suggest that everyone learns a little PHP to make this step easier.

The way I do basic templating in PHP is like so:

  1. Split up the design into logic top and bottom sections, put them both in their own file
  2. Each new page you create, add <? include_once ‘templatetop.php’; ?> at the top of the file, and a similar one for your templatebottom.php
  3. This will add the template around the content contained in the new page
  4. You can make it more advanced by setting variables like $pagetitle = “My Page Title”; before the include which you can then use to alter the title of each page.
  5. It requires very little code but makes your entire site much more maintainable
  6. Personally I do this for a few static pages, then create the rest of the pages using databases

You must make sure that however you create your pages, you use unique titles and unique H1 tags as this is very important for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), we will cover SEO in more depth later as it is a massive topic that requires it’s own post, hell, it requires many posts but starting with basic on site SEO is a good place to begin.

Creating content
So you have your template ready and know how you are going to create new pages, the next step is obviously to create those pages and put some content in.  Many people say that content is king when it comes to ranking, personally I believe links are king, content is queen, but either way content matters – a lot!

From your keyword research when choosing your niche you should have a number of related keyword phrases that get searched for.  You should use these as the basis of your articles.  Writing the articles themselves is usually a case of research, research and more research! The more unique the articles the better, you should not just copy them, it isn’t fair on the web master who made the original article and google can tell!  But drawing on a number of websites for inspiration and information is a great thing.  I usually combine information off a number of sites as well as my own personal touch in order to make my articles.  Your articles should be about 500 words or more in length and be of good quality.  You want to make 10-20 for your site.

This will take a fair amount of time to do but stick with it.  Content generation is usually one of the hardest parts of starting a new site but is totally essential, without it your site probably won’t get off the ground.

Chris Adsense Challenge, Resources

Adsblacklist and adsense competitive ad filter, does it work?

April 27th, 2009

If you are familiar with adsense at all you have probably heard of Adsblacklist.  The site is based around the competitive ad filter in adsense.  The competitive ad filter was designed to let you block competitors from advertising on your site, but it also allows you to block any other site you want to.  Quite a lot of low cost clicks can be put down to MFA (made for adsense), or similar, sites.  These sites bid on any keyword they can at the lowest price possible and will then attempt to redirect the user through more ads on their site to earn more money.  This is called arbitrage and goes something like this:

  1. Spammer pays $0.04 for your visitor and directs them to a landing page
  2. Spammer throws up loads of cancer ads to visitor paying out at $20 per click
  3. Spammer has a 10% CTR rate on his landing page
  4. Spammer earns $20 per 10 visitors (or $0.40)

The theory goes that if you block these bad sites your earnings will increase. So this week I am trialling this to see if it does work.  The eCPM for one of my sites is currently sat at $2.01 for the past week.  We shall review this in a week’s time to see if it has made any improvement.

Chris Adsense

The shortest URL shortener… ever?

April 27th, 2009

I was reading a blog today and noticed they used a very weird, but enticing, URL shortening service called  I put this blog through it and ended up with http://›.ws/䪒 which is totally cool! I believe it works by taking advantage of asian characters and unicode support.

If you notice they also have developer support clearly displayed on their front page, this is also quite cool.  The site is obviously targetted as, well, people like me!


Chris Resources

Choosing your domain

April 26th, 2009

Now you have your niche picked and a good set of keywords and keyphrases to target you need to figure out what domain you want to get.  The domain you pick can play a big part in getting links and traffic.

There are a few things to look at when getting a domain, and for our purposes we only need to look at one – keywords! You need to try and get a domain that closely matches your main keyword phrase.  This is the one that will bring in the most traffic.  For example, if your niche is Holidays in Rome then the best domain for you to get would be, the reason behind this is that Google tends to believe that your URL is your company brand, and makes it easier for that domain to rank for those keywords.  If this domain is taken you could opt for hyphens, which work almost as well, but are less readable and less brandable i.e.  Choosing a domain rich in keywords has other benefits too.  When people link back to your site, they will naturally use your domain name, which will be your keywords!

Quite often these will be taken so you will have to look at other domain names, the easiest is to look at different top level domains, i.e. .net, .org, .info etc.  I always tend to shy away from .org as, to me personally, it reads as “non profit organisation” although there are no rules governing this.  .info domains are also a last resort as they appear to have less weight when ranking.  I think this may be due to their use as spam domains as they are cheap to acquire.

Another top tip is to use words preceeding or following your main keywords, for example, or  If your still struggling you will have to rely on a bit of research and some lateral thinking.  If you require any more help feel free to leave a comment and I’ll help you as best I can.

Chris Adsense Challenge, Web Hosting

My aims – Update

April 24th, 2009

Two weeks ago I wrote about my aims for this blog and thought I would write a little post letting everyone know where I am with them.

My first aim was getting 100 RSS subscribers and those of you with working eyes may have already noticed I am up to 9 according to the FeedBurner image on the right.

My second aim is to have 100 comments.  I currently have 14 which is great, and I also received my first spam comment the other day which is interesting as it contained no useful link or anchor text so I conclude it must have been a test to see if my blog accepted spam, after which they would drop real links.  Quite clever if you think about it as it means their money sites won’t be exposed unless they can actually drop the link!

My last aim was to create an Adsense notifier program, which is complete and works, however I am attempting to make it a bit more special, so probably won’t release for a while.  I’ll keep everyone updated on that.

I currently don’t disclose my earnings, and won’t until the adsense challenge kicks off properly.  I have, however, noticed my eCPM drop over all my sites significantly this month, which is annoying, I hope that this is just a small fluctuation and things will return in a few weeks.  Either way its not off putting, it just means I have to work more which, as I mentioned in my last post, is what I believe to be the secret to making money online. Giving up is not an option!

Chris About me

The real secret to making money online?

April 23rd, 2009

I see a lot of people asking the infamous question “How do I make money online?” and I honestly thing it comes down to only one thing… motivation.  I know a lot of intelligent people in the Software industry as it’s what I do for a living and I have the pleasure of working with some incredible people, but I make more money online than them? Why is this?  Sure luck has a part to play, as does experience but the main thing that separates us is that I had more motivation to work on websites than them.

The thing is, motivating yourself to work on websites in your spare time is really hard.  You have many distractions, such as your spouse, children, Xbox, TV and even house work.  Many people also say they just haven’t got the time.  This is not true, they do have the time, they just have to sacrifice watching telly quite as much.

You may question that motivation isn’t the biggest factor and that perhaps intelligence, skill or experience is.  I beg to differ, as all three can be improved immensely with enough motivation.  To put this point into context my current biggest earner is a graphics website, monetized with adsense.  An old friend of mine copied my success and is ranking just below me for a top search term.  I went to Uni and have a degree in Software Engineering and have many years experience on the Internet, he is a window cleaner.  BUT, and this is a big but, he had enough motivation to get himself in that position, which is commendable.

You only have to look at the likes of Jeremey Shoemaker who, at the start of his web career, was broke and made sites out of necessity (his motivation), and now he is extremely successful and rich.

Now, when someone asks me the question of “How do I make money online” I usually tell them that it’s all about motivation.  Which I think is true.

Chris Make money online

Choosing your niche and keywords

April 21st, 2009

So if you have decided to join us on the challenge then we need to take our first step which is to actually pick a niche, find some keywords to target, and then selecting a decent domain name.  Your first and most important step is deciding on your niche and keywords and this can be quite a tricky step.  A good niche and keyword selection is what is going to bring in the money and choosing badly can make things a lot harder for you.

The basic premise is this:

You need to find a niche with high paying keywords but with low competition

What this means is that you are looking for keywords / phrases with a high CPC that will earn a good amount everytime someone clicks on of your adverts.  Finding such a niche with low competition should make it easier to rank your site for, which in turn will result in traffic!

What I did to pick my niche was to start with one of the following, typically high paying niches.

  • Medical
  • Holidays and Tourism
  • Legal
  • Financial

Obviously these are massive areas so you have to try and whittle them down to a more specific topic.  To do this you can, again, try think of the first thing that comes to mind, its better if you can relate this to you somehow.  For example if we look at Holidays and Tourism, I instantly remember my last holiday which was to Rome, so I could then try and look up Rome related keywords and see what that brings back.

Finding your keywords
Now you need to narrow your search down further, but there are some tools that can help.  What I tend to usually do is head straight to the google keyword tool and put my top level term in and search.  What you can do though is goto a site like kwbrowse first and put your keyword in there for more ideas to put into the google keyword tool.

When you search on the google keyword tool it will come up with a list of related searches (make sure “Use Synonyms” is ticked).  Your first port of call is to Show Estimated Avg CPC and you do this by clicking the dropdown that says “Choose columns to be displayed”, this will then show what an Adwords publisher would be likely to pay to show an advert on a page with those keywords.  You now want to order your searches by volume of traffic, I usually do this on average traffic rather than monthly.  Finally change match type from Broad to Exact as this will show you more accurate numbers.

So now what we want to do is find keywords with high CPC (try get it above $1 or £1) and with a relatively high number of searches.  Ideally you would like to find a number of related ones then base a site around that.  If you find a contender (I tend to stick about 10,000 searches) then you want to find out what the competition is like.

Note down all keywords and phrases that match this criteria.

Now we need to check competition
The easiest way to do this is with FireFox and the SEO For Firefox addon by Aaron Wall.  When installed any searches you do on Google or Yahoo will now show SEO information about each site.  PageRank is listed as PR under the SEO addon for FireFox, and the number of backlinks are shown next to “Y! Links”.  You want to look at the top 10 results for each keyword and phrase you noted down and try find out what the competition is like.  You will usually come up against 3 types of results.

  1. Pages that belong to a much larger site, such as Wikipedia
  2. Sites dedicated to the keyword / phrase with high PageRank and lots of backlinks
  3. Sites based on the keyword / phrase with low PageRank and few backlinks

You may also get a few other random pages appear.  If the top 10 is littered with more of type 3 then your in luck as you should be able to easily beat those sites with a bit of work.  Type 1 can be beaten too with a bit of work, usually Wikipedia is the hardest of these types of sites, others are easier.

So there you have it, with a bit of research you should be able to find a niche and some nice keyword phrases (long tail keywords) to target.  If you are having trouble finding one try look up things that you like to do and see where that leads you.

Don’t be off put if you find this difficult, it is one of the hardest parts of starting a website and is critical to your future site’s success!

Stay tuned for the next part in this series on choosing your domain name!

Chris Adsense Challenge

Good news and bad news

April 17th, 2009

The good news is I have chosen my niche and bought a domain for the adsense challenge but the bad news is that my hosting company have not renewed the cPanel licence on my hosting account.  What this means is that I cannot do any modifications to my account, such as setting up new domains or SQL databases.  This sucks because not only do I pay them quite well, but it has been down for a week and I have heard no response from them.  If I do not hear from them soon I guess I will have to think about alternative hosting solutions which I don’t want to do because moving hosting is always a pain, especially when you have a lot of sites.  My current hosting provider has also been pretty good to me so far so it’s a shame this has happened.

As soon as I get my cPanel back I can get my site up then release the new post in the adsense challenge series about how to pick your niche, keywords and the domain name! Until then wish me luck!

Chris Adsense, Adsense Challenge, Web Hosting

Adsense Challenge – Join me!

April 15th, 2009

A few days ago I wrote about my upcoming adsense challenge where I plan on creating and profiting off a niche site, using adsense, within just 3 months.  I think this would be a far more interesting challenge if some of my readers got involved too.  If you participate then not only will you benefit from any advice I have, but it will also help prove to others how anyone can do it! I want this to be a two way street!

What I would like to prove with this challenge is that neither skill, IQ, technique nor ability is a prohibiting factor in making money is simply effort.  Obviously having higher skill / IQ will help you achieve this faster, but without effort and motivation they are worthless.

With having a few of us do it, it should make for a more complete test as there will be more variables, more information, and more brains working!

Dont put it off!
If you are reading this then you are probably in one of the following camps…

  1. I’m going to do this with you!
  2. I want to do this, but not yet!
  3. I want to do this, but will procrastinate and probably never do it.
  4. I don’t need to do this I’m just wondering what the fuss is all about

If you are in camp 1 then great! Leave a comment and lets get this started! If you are in camp 2 or 3 then my question to you is… why wait? If you wait too long you may feel like you have missed the boat, or you will just never get round to doing anything.  One thing I have learnt in this business is that you will never make any money if you put things off. Do it now, make time for it, half an hour a day is enough, just do it! And finally, if you are in camp 4 then hello and I hope you enjoy the ride :)

Quick update to finish: I have chosen my niche and bought a domain name, I shall put together a post soon on how I chose it and what I plan on doing next.

Chris Adsense, Adsense Challenge

What is Adsense?

April 14th, 2009

After speaking with some of my readers I realised I had jumped the gun on what Adsense actually was.  I often found myself explaining it to family and friends as they simply don’t know.  So if you are a hardened internet guru then feel free to skip this post, but if you want to know more then read on!

How do I get Adsense onto my site?
Adsense, put simply, is a contextual advertising service from Google.  It is Google’s cash cow that generates most of it’s $21,800,000,000 a year [thats $691.27 a second]!  Here is how it works:

  1. You register with Google adsense
  2. You goto Adsense Setup, and create an advert block – this is where adverts will be placed
  3. You copy the Javascript code provided and place onto your site where you want the ads to appear
  4. Google will then attempt to show text or image ads based on the topic of the page
  5. You will earn money everytime someone clicks an advert, although you can earn small amounts if someone just loads your page

How do I make money using Adsense?
Once Adsense is on your site you now need visitors so that you can make some money.  Essentially what happens is a visitor goes to your site, and if they find the ad displayed interesting and click it you will make some money.  The money you make is dependent on a lot of things, but essentially it comes down to how much competition there is for advertisers.  The more competition an advert has the more it will cost the advertiser to be there, and the more money you will make.  Top paying niches tend to be medical / law related, but there are a lot of varying niches with good payouts.  The trick is finding ones that not many people know about :)

Checking your Adsense performance / reporting
When you log into your Adsense account you can view reports and see the performance of your ads.  You can see page impressions / views.  Click through rate (CTR) which is the percentage of clicks to view ratio. eCPM which is the estimated cost per thousand impressions, this is essentially what you earn, on average, per 1,000 impressions.  And of course you get the total figure you earnt.

The reports can be broken down into channels.  You can assign any number of adverts to be part of a channel, for example if you have a block of ads at the top of your site you could label these “site_top” and you could see a breakdown of how well these perform separately to the rest of your site.  This is very useful when trying to optimise your site.

How do I increase my earnings on my site?
I will go into adsense optimisation in greater detail at a later date as there is far too much to cover here, but essentially there are a few things you need to look at to improve your earnings on an established site.

  1. Improve click through rate (CTR) – the more clicks you get, the more you will get paid
  2. Improve eCPM – this will go up if your CTR increases
  3. Use adsense link units
  4. Test, test and test some more!

The list there is very breif and a lot of factors can affect this, for example having one ad block on your site may increase your revenue.  But this is a topic for another post.

I hope this helps some people, and if I have missed something out or if anyone has questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will try help out as best I can.

Chris Adsense