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Using expired domains-is this black hat SEO?

Over at Authority Website Income, Jon Haver talks a great deal about using expired domain in order to add ‘juice’ to his niche websites and help to build traffic.  In fact, I get the impression that promoting and finding expired domains for his reader has now become an intrinsic part of his business, but where in the world of white/grey/black hat SEO does using expired domain fit in?

It is an interesting question, and one which I would approach with some caution given my experience with Penguin 2.1.  Jon Haver himself states that he considered the use of expired domains to be a somewhat grey area in the world of SEO but is it really?

If you look at a website such as the Daily Mail, you will at the bottom of the page that there are a whole series of links to other websites such as Zoopla and Jobsite, clearly which you would have thought are either part of the same company as The Daily Mail or else have paid huge sponsorship rates to get their links on the bottom of the homepage.

So does this in any way differ from bloggers developing a whole series of blog networks and linking them all together??  I don’t think that it does, but given that Google are becoming infamous for favouring large corporate companies when it comes to website rankings, maybe it is seen as acceptable by the big fish but not by the little fish.

I am still oooming and aaahing about using expired domains in order to look at enhancing the rankings of the sites that I am trying to develop, but certainly, I will be keeping an eye on the performance of sites such as Jon Haver’s over the next couple of months to see if they get penalised in any way.


Post Penguin 2.1 disaster- where from here?

Well, as you will know from my last post, the Penguin 2.1 update well and truly wiped out my niche website just as it was really beginning to have an impact on my online earnings.

The highest daily pageviews had reached 225, and I was just shy of £30 on my highest daily earning so..agh!!

Never mind, there is no point crying over spilt milk, and what is important is to look at what I have learnt from this:

  • Diversify your earning potential-having written on several forums about the damage caused by Penguin 2.1 to my niche website, the general consensus and irritating assumption was that it must have been a spam website or that I had created spam backlinks in order to generate traffic- none of this is the case, so what this shows me is that actually, any website could get hit by Google at any time, so it is therefore important to diversify where your earning potential might come from.  By that I don’t mean not to put all of your eggs in one basket such as relying on Google Adsense earnings-(this was another comment thrown at me in forums-’if you are relying on Google adsense as a sole means of income you are screwed’…but without some level of traction and traffic- what other form of income could there be on a niche website at this point??) Rather, what I mean is, unlike much of the advice given out in the online world, I am beginning to believe that it is important to have several websites on the go so that if one gets hit (and who knows what Google will do next), you have others to rely on.
  • Competitive, high-stake niche’s bring dirty players- I can only imagine that my niche website was targeted in the fashion that it was because it was beginning to get some traction in a very competitive, financially rewarding niche- should these niche’s be avoided for a single player like myself?  I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll have the answers in a couple of year’s time!
  • Press on! There is no time to waste..I now need to take the energy I was putting into my niche website and use it to grow and diversify other website properties.  (in all honesty, not as easy as it seems- losing the niche website was quite a blow and it has really taken me a couple of weeks to pull my energy levels back together)- I guess these set backs are what separate those who achieve in developing an online business and those who don’t).

Next steps

The way I see it I now have to focus on:

  • Continuing to grow Care Marketing Advice. This is where I am currently getting my bread and butter in terms of offline consulting from, so I need to focus on continuing to post quality content relevant to my niche here, but also consider a more rounded content-marketing strategy.  I also need to make decisions about which way to go with the members area- growth is slow, so maybe wrapping all of that content up in an e-book might be better?  Decisions, decisions.
  • Other Care website-whilst out walking the dog and the baby (great thinking time in my opinion), I am trying to decide on the direction to take my other care website.  I am thinking it needs to be more consumer that industry driven- otherwise (read above) I am once again beginning to place lots of eggs in one basket.
  • Niche Financial Website- Much of the content of my collapsed niche site could be used as guidance for the new financial niche website- only worry, as highlighted above, is whether such a competitive, lucrative niche will always be targeted by black-hat techniques??
  • Another niche-no where near doing anything about it yet, but I have stumbled upon a keyword with over a million searches per month, low competition and has a google adwords value of over £2.00.  mmmmm….

So, plenty to do then, the time has come to lift my head back up and get back on the horse…(I’ve gone a bit metaphor-magic here today- apologies!!)


Malicious backlinking

So, after some investigation yesterday, I discovered that there are a number of backlinks going to my niche website which have nothing to do with me and which, strangely enough, have appeared in the last couple of weeks, just as Penguin 2.1 was about to be released.

This has, in no uncertain terms, devastated my niche website.  I have gone from a traffic high of 225 pageviews last week and record adsense earnings on Monday to virtually zero traffic today and miniscule adsense.

The strange thing is however, there are only 16 domains linking into my site, so it seems strange that so much damage could be done by so few links, but there you go!

Obviously, this has massively deflated me, I had already beaten last months Adsense earnings and now…well, it could be a long time before (if ever) the niche site reached these levels again.

Any advice, comments or just positive mental attitudes that people have would be most appreciated!

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Penguin 2.1- niche website hit hard!

So, this time last week I was riding high- my niche website had earned it’s highest ever traffic day and on Monday of this week, I reached my highest ever Google adsense earning for a day….

Yesterday, my traffic decreased by 95%…yes, 95%.  Having asked over at Warriorforum, it would appear that my niche website has been demolished by the Google Penguin 2.1 algorithm update, and as 99% of my traffic to my niche website comes from Google, this is not good.

I have checked Google Webmaster tools, and I don’t appear to have been hit with a manual penalty.  The way to search this is to go to your Webmaster tools account, click on the site you want to check, go to ‘search traffic’, then ‘manual actions, and here you should find a note if you have been penalised.

This, and excuse my French, is a complete shitter.  Apparently it only affected ‘about 1%’ of searches…but they happen to be mine.  There is a great article on Search Engine Journal about what to do about it, so there you go, I had better get busy.  It doesn’t look as if I’ll be tripling my Google Adsense earnings this month then…

mmmm…I’ve also just done a rank tracker update via Market Samurai (this automatically gets done every week, and keywords that  was ranking on page 1 of Google for last week, are now position 70…and showing no previous ranking history??


September 2013 Online Income Report

Right, well,this is exciting, my first income report!

If you read the About Zen Life Online page, you will know that towards the tail end of 2012, I decided to try to build a website in a niche and start writing about it.  I then had a baby in the first week of January, so this first income report will be a bit of an amalgam of everything that has gone on this year with my online business so far…

Care Marketing Advice website

The Care Marketing Advice website is something which I created a while back, much on the lines of Pat Flynn’s Green Exam Academy site in that I have a certain level of knowledge of a business area, based on my career to date which I felt would provide useful information for people out there working in the care industry.

Challenge-In terms of the website itself, the design is fairly perfunctory and I have added a members area to it wherein members can download copies of useful templates which can be utilised in the care marketing world.

So far, in terms of developing the Care Marketing Advice site into an interactive hiving members community, I have had minimal success, and I think that this will be my biggest challenge going forward with it- should I stick with the members area idea or consider going down the route of an Ebook??

Success- Success has arisen on the Care Marketing Advice site via the consultancy projects that have come my way.  I think in many ways, it provides ‘proof of the pudding’ that I know what I am talking about when it comes to care and specifically elderly/senior care marketing and via this, I have picked up several consultancy projects over the last few months.


Start a website in a niche site

Starting a website in a niche has been a really interesting experience for me.  Firstly, and if you read some of my posts around starting a website in a niche, it gave me quite a lot of insight into things that I had perhaps at first overlooked when it came to developing blogs such as how to properly use plug-ins!!

Challenge- The challenge for me, as you may have guessed, has been to try to get any development done on this site whilst being a single parent to a very new baby, and on that basis alone, how can I be anything but pleased with my progress to date? I basically fitted in, as my posts in the How to Start a website in a Niche series show, posting, backlinking and everything else,  in between….everything else!

With that in mind, below are my growth figures in terms of page views for January-September 2013:

January- 19 views

February- 30 views

March- 41 views

April- 55 views

May- 246 views

June- 949 views

July- 1425 views

August- 2284 views

September- 2,348 views

I think that the fact that I managed to have a push on the backlinking strategies around April time really helped push the views into the summer months, but there really was very little growth in numbers from August to September.  With that in mind, I have once again attempted to up the ante with the site and have set myself the task of writing at least four new posts of a minimum 500 words per week until I reach 100 posts-(I currently have 52 published, so that should take me to 68 by the end of October), let’s see how we go!

I will also aim to do an updated post on here on my backlinking strategy.

Adsense Income

In terms of adsense income on the site:

January- £0.00

February- £0.53p

March- £0.00


May- £5.78

June- £12.97


August- £61.31

September- £134.17


So…slow and steady progress to say the least, but progress none the less!  Something to note here is that I have almost doubled my click-through rates via ad placement experimentation and increased my CPC by quite a margin by using channels.  Both of things I will go into in more detail in further posts this month.

I have made other small amounts of Google Adsense earnings across the other sites, but until it is in any way significant (if you call the above significant!) then I won’t go into much detail.

So, that’s about it for the moment, and bed calls because a small child is likely to be calling for me sooner rather than later.  So where do we go from here?


Well, so far in October (today is the 4th) I have been posting like a demon as well as trying to develop further backlinks.  So far this has seen me with my biggest weekly page views to date this week (and we still have two days to go) and I’ve already generated a third of last month’s income.

My October targets therefore on my niche site are to:

  • Double- last month’s page views- a challenge, but 5,000 page views for the month is my goal..
  • Treble- last month’s income- oh dear- I just wrote that- I was going to write double but my hand slipped..oh well, nothing like a challenge!!

In terms of other work:

  • Revisit the CMA site and see how I can either a) develop the members area, or b) think of an alternative to it..if you have suggestions for me, I would love to hear them, so feel free to comment below!
  • Sort through & begin to develop content on my other two sites
  • Continue to have the best time of my life with my little son and dance with him every day…



Placing Adsense right of post in Thesis theme

Hallelujah!  I have finally discovered how to place an adsense large rectangle right of post in Thesis theme ! For anyone who has been paying attention and is interested in running Google Adsense programmes on their website or blog, you will know that a large rectangle right of post but in post, is one of the largest converters out there in terms of click through rate.

Being pretty basic when it comes to internet savviness, I had tried pretty much every single Thesis hook for WordPress to try to discover how to place an adsense ad right of post, not to mention scouring the internet for said information including visiting the DIYthemes blog itself, as well as the countless different threads related to Google Adsense in Warrior Forum, but all to no avail!.

I can’t remember how it came about today, but in one of my many internet magical mystery tours, I came across reference to Quick Adsense, a really straightforward plug-in which, sure enough allows you to place adsense right of post in Thesis theme!  In fact, all things being equal, you should be able to see that right now on this post- I do hope you can!

So, as with everything else web business related, it really is a case of taking one step forward, fifteen steps back, but with each of those tiny steps forward you feel as if you might be about to step on the moon!

Don’t despair, there are tunnels, but I can definitely see some light looming!