Tuning Your SEO For the Mythical Google Sandbox

Tuesday, September 11
Time to clean out your online garage this fall? If you're like me you haven't spent the time to go back and clean up old site pages, links and broken, worn out HTML. What a surprise it was when I went back to some of my old posts on this site and other sites only to find a batch of bad links that had either expired or moved. Once I noticed that, I then started thinking about re-examining my entire portfolio.

Search Engine OptimizationPart of the reason I embarked on this effort was due to an article I read about the mythical Google sandbox, that is, the temporary place where you live in Google's search engine space when building out a new website, blog or community mashup page.

The deeper issue posed by this article was the effect of proper search engine optimization on your site's ability to jump out of Google's sandbox into a higher ranked page. Whether or not the sandbox exists I still believe that the Google algorithm to change my site rank is what happened to the site I mentioned in my last three articles on The Online Money Making Secret You Shouldn't Know. I happened to notice that my search volume jumped last Feb without really knowing why. This was exactly six months from the time I created the site.

Could I be on to something here? Typically, I can get some faster page rank on new sites (about six weeks) for low volume keyword phrases. But maybe things have changed a bit with Google's formulas. Leaving the mythical sandbox might take longer now. Nevertheless, trying to improve your site is critical to your search engine optimization success. You should always revisit your sites, blogs, lenses, etc. to build for the future.

So here are the things you should do in your fall cleanup:

1. Fix all broken links - if the link is gone then remove the hyperlink tags and just underline the link with a broken link annotation.

2. Check your site's HTML and CSS consistency - have you been fiddling with your site layout but forgetting to check if it is completely clean? Did you happen to leave out an end tag?

3. Optimize for SEO - do your pages have titles that are keyword friendly? Are your page titles optimized to remove the site or blog name on every page?

4. Get your critical section headers optimized - be sure all keyword focused pages have H1 tags on the section or paragraph headers. Move any unnecessary H1 tags away from deep within the main flow of the html - in other words, have the title and H1 tags be near the top of your page source.

5. Highlight keyword phrases - be sure to add bold headings around your optimized keywords.

6. Add alt keys to your images - always add descriptive keywords as alt tags to your site images.

The Online Money Making Secret You Shouldn't Know - Part 3

Sunday, September 2
After getting back from a long vacation in the desert Southwest I was startled to find that my high volume search keyword site had shown some significant growth in the last 2 months (if you haven't read Part 1 you can find it here, or Part 2 which can be found here).

If you remember I mentioned that having a site devoted to a keyword phrase that has extremely high monthly search volume can be a great way to make money online and boost your online marketing strategy. After reviewing one of my own sites I thought I might show you what kind of results you may get (DISCLAIMER - your results will vary!).

I initially built my site on August 21st, 2006 with just a couple of pages but focused on three extremely high volume keyword phrases in the entertainment industry that I thought might work well. I really didn't spend much time on it for the first two months or so but then picked up in October by promoting it as much as I could (as noted in Part 2 of these articles).

My AdSense revenue was limited with my first revenue click occurring on November 4th and my November average revenue being $0.60 / day for a total of $17 - not bad considering I only put two hours into it. Now, this is a bit unfair considering the search engines had from Aug. 21st to about Oct. 20th to index my site before I really pushed the search engine optimization. I'm not sure how long the engines would have taken had I started pushing the site sooner.

In December I focused entirely on adding content with about 7 more pages of site articles and information really ignoring backlinks from external directories, forums, blogs, and articles. My AdSense revenue stayed about the same until about Feb. 12th. I'm not sure why (my guess is my search engine rankings went up) but my visits jumped by a factor of about 8x. This didn't really increase the revenue because the clickthrough rates were low.

After reading some of Brad Callen's books (be sure to subscribe to the Agile Marketer Newsletter to get a free SEO ebook from him, or, really become a SEO expert and buy SEO Elite probably the best SEO package available) I decided to modify my ad placements based on his research. By the end of April I was nearing $1 / day on one site with only five hours of total work.

By continually adding content , promoting and reorging the ads I now had a site that was curving upward in daily hits (from about 30 a day in late 2006 to 700 a day by June 2007). Well, to make a long story short here are my results from August:

By Google's Terms of Service I can't show you the clickthrough rates or page impressions. But you can see the daily earnings for just this single site (I've filtered out all my other AdSense earnings).

So, what's the moral of this story? With NOT a lot of work and some patience, diligence and focused high volume keywords you should be able to do the same fairly easily. If your goal is to work from home then this might just be one part of your arsenal to get started. Just be sure to keep the content flowing.