OK. Not much reading done this past week (I’m devouring Steve Scott’s Affiliate Marketing Without the BS, working on new content, getting typically distracted in the meanwhile) – but these are still good reads. If you haven’t read this series, this is my “link roundup” with a lame title.

Niche Websites Ain’t Dead

So say I, and so says Steve Scott. I’ve been living on niche sites for about 2 years to some degree: they make the most of my income…only now I’m making them more into authority sites.

Steve Scott has been making a 6-figure income off of authority sites himself, and I’m learning some things about his approach by reading his book “Affiliate Marketing Without the Bulls**t” (I bought it and it’s awesome, marketing advice is solid in it, so’s the approach, which is email/list-based).

While I incorporate more of that into my business, Steve’s playing in my backyard with a niche-site experiment. If you want to weigh in or check out his progress, do so here:

7 Questions About Niche Income Sites

He’s continued here:

15 “Google-Proof” Ways to Create a Quality Niche Site

So far so good – his book by the way gets a thumbs up from me. I won’t affiliate with it until I actually put it to use, but I have to echo his sentiments here (since it totally describes my 6-figure plan – only I figured out the hard way)…

Basically Steve’s got this page set up to describe his book, answer FAQ’s about it, and just to show you why I love the guy’s brain (since I think he stole mine):

Will I Need DOZENS of Websites?

No.

This does NOT teach you how to build dozens of small, niche affiliate sites.

I believe in a simple philosophy:

“One Niche to Rule them All”

This means you find one market and completely dominate it. In the long run, this is the BEST way to make a full-time income.

The bulk of my income comes from a single niche. So I’m living proof that narrowing your focus is THE key to affiliate marketing success. It’s worked for me. And I believe it’ll work for you.

That excerpt comes from this page here. Read it in full.

I’m not an affiliate of Steve’s, he’s just one of those guys I think that has marketing down, knows what he’s doing – and he thinks a lot like me.

Meaning: he needs some counseling he’s validated a lot of my own “A-ha!” moments and personal discoveries online (it’s good when you get outside validation that your theories or overall direction in business isn’t just madness).

Personally I think he’s a guy who deserves about 10,000 more readers, he’s been around the block and knows this business (I should know: I’ve read his book and you haven’t). :P

Traffic Tactics

Steve’s Traffic Tips

Um…I prolly should become an affiliate of Steve’s soon…because I’d like to recommend one more post of his. (Sick of me yet?)

This is his traffic case study. What I’d like to stress to everyone is how he had his own strategy and he did something funny with it: he tested how effective his campaigns were.

Business owners don’t “guess” if something works or “hope” it takes off – sure there’s risk to assume here and there, but if you take a gamble – you’d better measure its ROI or net impact.

Otherwise you can be throwing a lot of money down the drain ASAP. Read Steve’s traffic experiment case study thingy:
How to Increase Blog Traffic

Just in case you’re wondering: no – Steve didn’t pay me for these links. (Especially if you work at Google: I don’t sell links, Matt!) I’ve just been devouring his site.

PDF Traffic From Ana Hoffman

I’m listing this because it’s actually part of a strategy I’ll be using shortly. I don’t have a PDF submitter (though I’m sure you could train Magic Submitter to submit to these sites), but I’d do this manually on a few selected sites starting with her list.

More on my strategy later. This is Ana’s take on PDF Traffic Generation.

Kim Roach With MOAR Traffic Tips

I’m really digging Kim. She has tons of traffic ideas baking at all times, and I think she’s a robot. No really.

How else could she come up with this list?

What To Do With Google Rejection

Let’s say you don’t have 80 different traffic strategies – what do you do to get on Google’s good graces then? Hm…well, crying is out of the question (once you’re done I mean)…instead, read this:

SEO Guide: Help! My Website Has Been Banned By Google! Now What?

You may recognize that blog if you bought my Duct Tape SEO book – Web SEO Analytics is one of the providers of free tools I recommend – only now they really tease you with just one free use a day. Still, they’re a solid place.

Speaking of Rejection, Let’s Talk Bounce Rate

One of the SEO signals to watch for is your “bounce rate.” No I don’t mean how much of your body contains “jiggly bits” as you try to jog off last year’s holiday weight.

I mean when a visitor visits your site, then bounces back to Google to look for what you didn’t deliver. If the bounce rate is high, you may lose your positions in the SERPs…and this is something to think about.

Here’s the world’s driest video on bouncerate:

Dry but informative in case you didn’t realize the importance.

Something to consider. I like how Aaron Wall pointed out that on top of bounce rate, Google is trying to ellicit “blocking” sites from users…makes sense: they want to see if your traffic bounces, will they then block your site from their results.

This is something Google is taking into consideration in terms of ranking – so don’t think SEO is all about links. It’s more and more “about” the elusive “User’s Experience” these days (as their quality rater’s handbook clearly spelled out). This is what Aaron Wall said about it on his Google+ stream.

What to do About Bounce Rates

This is a sidenote – personally I’ve taken my bounce rate down using a simple plan.

  • Use a better theme – I prefer Flexsqueeze, but there are tons to choose from. Ugly site with a lot of ads? You’re inviting a lower ranking I think.
  • Use more video – preferably high up, either above the fold or near it. I use Traffic Player to make my video skins and add some flair, and just doing this with the new theme kicked my bounce rate down 15%. My niche sites have something like a 50-65% bounce rate.
  • Inner-link. To do this I use plugins like nRelate, Link Within, Efficient Related Posts, SEO Ultimate has a few widgets and footer links to add to posts as well as automatically building internal links with the Deep Link Juggernaut feature.
  • Use images – I’ve been using Fotolia a lot lately for my images, they’re cheap and professional stock photos. Then I go to Pixlr or a place like Picnik to make adjustments.
  • Decrease page loading time. Here I suggest you try Google’s page speed service (free if they accept you), or Cloud Flare, or the best premium one (for the price): MaxCDN which powers sites like CopyBlogger, for example. If people wait too long for your site to load, they bounce. Simple as that.

That’s pretty much all I’ve personally done – besides writing engaging content, using tables (which I use WP Table Reloaded for, or similar plugins), offering good calls to action…

But I went from 80-90% bounce rates on my “X Factor” AdSense sites down to an average of 59% for most of my sites. It’s not mission impossible, either.

The Pond

I can’t link to content in the Pond – it’s not in the index and not meant to be. But have to plug it – there’s a lot of value going into that place and it’s not a distraction.

If you want a place to connect, get some great out of the box ideas or ask silly questions (or good ones, why not?) – it’s the place to be.

Some are sharing their sites, others like Bruno are doing live case studies on sites, backlinking and ranking issues are discussed…it’s been a good read.

No affiliate link, just check it out here. It’s worth $10 for a month – if you don’t like it, that’s the price of 2 super-sized Big Mac meals you shouldn’t have eaten anyway.

I’m not being asked to link to it – it’s really earned its place. If you’re advanced, this is a place to share what you know, build an audience by being helpful and connecting with other like-minded people who won’t (I think) stab you in the back.

What about you?

This is what I’ve been reading lately – your turn. Any goodies out there?

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