Rabble Rousing – Evolving Web Directories Cheat Sheet

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m working my way through Spencer Haws’ suggestions about SEO for my existing niche website. Spencer, designer of the keyword research tool Longtail Pro, “details” his search engine optimization process in a blog post.

I’m having my Virtual Assistant submit my site to several high PR directories that are free.   Because not all of the links will be approved, I’m submitting to 50 or so directories to start.  So, I’ll get more than 10 links total, but many won’t be indexed either, so I might end up with just over 10 real links pointing to my site.  That’s fine with me.

Fantastic. Which directories?

It turns out, to my annoyance, Spencer never reveals this. (Instead he suggests readers go to a site called Point Blank SEO, which doesn’t reveal it all in one place either, unless you want to register for the online course.)

I reread the transcript to an interview Spencer gave, in which he mentions web directories, and gives three examples (don’t worry, they’ll be down below). The others, we’re told, will be in the show notes for the interview. No dice.

Ok, this is basic stuff – submit your site to 50 or so web directories as soon as it’s reasonably complete for low-medium quality base-level link building and forget about it. So why won’t anyone talk about the specific directories?

Well, that’s where your boy comes in. Increasing the abundance in the universe. I have my theories about why the major web-biz gurus are reluctant to list things, and they relate to encouraging readers to click on their affiliate links. I have no affiliate links. I have no dog in this race besides helping the maximum number of people possible crack the code to passive income. I want this stage to be a no brainer for my readers, because we’re content creators, not SEO experts.

Here It Is

Below, my working list of web directories. If you see it below, it’s because I’ve submitted, or tried to submit my site to it. If there aren’t 50 yet, it’s because I’m still adding to it.

Technorati.com – Spencer Haws’ recommendation. Registration required.

Blogs.com – submit page appears not to be working

Open Directory Project at dmoz.org – registration required

Bing.com – formerly Yahoo Directory – guess Bing bought them. Requires registration.

Gimpsy – free submission available, but currently overloaded.

Joe Ant – “become an editor” to submit a site for free.

Go Guides – only paid submission available, which I skipped because web directories are such an apparently small part of the SEO equation.

Top Blog Area – straightforward and free – just register.

BlogRankings.com – straightforward and free – just register.

Blogarama.com – straightforward and free – just register.

Zimbio.com – was hard to tell if this one worked at all – you simply enter your site url into a field and click “submit.” It only takes five seconds, so not a waste of time.

That’s it – I’ll continue adding as I discover more.

How I Found These

Googling “web directory list” was a bust. Up came a bunch of niche sites with questionable affiliations. So I googled “web directories technorati, alltop”, including the two examples Spencer Haws specified, and that led to greater success.

Again, want to emphasize that this is a preliminary step, like getting toilet paper for the John when you first move into an apartment. I won’t spend more than a few days on it. And that’s why I want it to be even easier for you.


Monday Morning Post – Countdown to Dollar One

I may regret this.

That’s one reason I’m doing it.

Remembering the importance of “stakes” in motivating me to follow through on a promise, and inspired by a recent interview I heard with AppSumo’s founder Noah Kagan, I decided to create a little social pressure for myself. I often say “talk less, do more,” mostly as a mantra for myself, but the exception to that rule is when talking big will motivate me to back it up.

Well, I’m starting to get some traffic to this blog from smartpassiveincome.com (big ups!), mostly folks trying to do the same thing I am, and feeling like a part of that community, in some small way, also gives me a sense of responsibility.

Finally, as I wrote last week, I managed to score a pretty good keyword for one of my sites, and as of last Friday was ranked 64th in google without doing any search engine optimization. (As usual I encourage interested readers not familiar with the lingo to read the archive.) That discovery made things a little more real, a little more tangible.

So I decided to take a page from Noah Kagan and work backward from my first dollar.

Here’s what needs to happen-

1) I need an Adsense account. I could sign up for one tomorrow, but for accounting purposes, I want it connected to my LLC, the paperwork for which is awaiting approval. If everything else was in place I’d be more impatient about this, but the delay gives me a chance to maneuver some other key things into place.

2) I want to improve my ranking as much as possible. The front page of google is competitive for my keyword, and I feel I’ll get a decent amount of traffic even on page 2, based on the number of page views I’m getting at #64. All that means is I won’t use not being on the first page of google as an excuse to delay monetizing. This is the first niche site – I need early victories.

But I will still do everything I can to get on page 1. To that end I’ve been studying the SEO strategy of Spencer Haws, designer of Longtail Pro. Spencer’s top two strategies are select a niche wisely and create great content. Content wise, I want to do a little more to flesh out the category I’m trying to rank for so it’s a real authority site. But I won’t let that delay my SEO.

The next stage is submit my URL to web directories and begin to make comments on relevant blogs. The first I have yet to do, the second I began last night.

After that, spencer recommends Web 2.0 properties, a squidoo lens, and accounts on Slide Share and Doc Stock. Those photo sharing sites work perfectly for my niche, which involves travel. On my own I may consider a Facebook page. I don’t want to subject my weary Facebook friends to every hairbrained project I’m up to, but I’ve had decent success generating views for my web show with a Facebook page and strategic paid advertising to increase “likes”. Social proof is a snowball effect, and google likes sites with natural traffic.

The “varsity” Spencer Haws strategy is purchasing expired domains for relevant sites, resuscitating the sites, and building links from them.

At every stage it’s a tension between SEO power and pissing google off. If I have an unnatural number of links from a single domain, or with the same anchor text it can actually hurt, since google has the power to “sandbox”, or de-rank, sites they think are using shady link building tactics. And since I’m not an SEO expert I want to be extremely careful. Better to rank on page 2 and gradually work my way up to page 1 “the old fashioned way” than to get sandboxed.

So that’s it – it’s this, along with a streamlined version of my web show – that I’ll be sweating blood over in the coming weeks.

Thanks everybody who’s been reading so far. I want to show you this is a viable alternative to the rat race, that it can be done, even by a “normal” guy like me, and I expect you to hold me to it.

I don’t usually end with “calls to action,” but I’d like your feedback – are you working on something similar? Do you have thoughts to share about your own journey? Leave a comment. This site is not monetized, so comments are purely to share our thoughts and experiences.


Hacked – Why Longtail Pro is the Best Keyword Software, and How to Use It

It’s a rare week that I have time to post twice on this blog. Heck, it’s a rare month, at this rate. Well, it’s been a productive day. Below I’m going to outline a crude but revealing process I learned using a keyword research software.

But first some background…

I’m going to assume readers of this post have some familiarity with Four Hour Work Week, and further with muses, passive income, and niche websites. If not (and bless you for reading this far into the post), please check out some of my earlier posts on the subject.

I’m well into the process of trying to create the third of my niche websites. The first two are “long game” sites – sites for which I realize there’s fierce competition, but which I’m launching because I love to write about the subject matter, and which I believe will eventually become “authority sites”. The third, I’m going “cold blooded” about. As you may know, one of my gurus for online business is Pat Flynn, whose original blog series on niche sites (published in 2010), was the “101 class” for the launch of my two existing sites and search engine optimization of one of them.

This is like business school for me, and niche sites are the canvas – the case studies.

Anyway, Mr. Flynn is launching the second installment of his niche site series, “Niche Site Duel 2.0”, and its criteria are stricter.

Stock in Trade

Niche sites live and die by ranking on the first page of Google for keywords. Say you noticed a lot of people asking about the best grips for female golfers but no web resources devoted to supplying information about it. In theory, you could build a site to satisfy the people searching for that information, and monetize it by trading your traffic for advertiser or affiliate dollars.

But how can you be sure of those two crucial contingencies?

1) Get on the first page of Google


2) enough people searching for the term that your site will get enough visitors to make it relevant to advertisers.

Keyword Research – that’s how. There are various tools, but Google itself supplies the crucial data on who’s searching for what and in what numbers, to anyone willing to sign up for an account. In order to make sense of the data, though, you need to cull through hundreds of variations on your keyword, checking each for competition, value to advertisers, etc. It can be an exhausting process.

Several softwares simplify it. Market Samurai and Longtail Pro are two such softwares, and I’ve used both. Both seek to import data from Google and organize it in a manner more useful to the user.

Here’s what an effective software needs to do – display, at-a-glance, the most relevant information on value and competition for an ever-evolving multiplicity of keywords, allowing the user gradually to winnow down thousands of possibilities to the most optimal few.

Pat Flynn calls this “panning for gold”.

Here’s why Longtail Pro (platinum) does the best job, and how I’ve managed to make it even more efficient.

-You can enter multiple keywords at once. The software searches for relevant data on all of them, then eliminates the ones that don’t qualify for certain preset “filters”, for instance 3000 minimum exact-match local searches per month.

-In the platinum version, there’s an algorithm that distills down multiple factors – page rank, domain authority, something called “SEO Moz” (don’t worry about it), etc – into a single number indicating average competitiveness. It’s not a be-all-end-all, but it’s a useful early filter. Basically if things tick north of 30 in this metric, there better be a compelling reason to keep the keyword (maybe you love the subject, think you can write better posts than the competition, etc).

-Here’s the best part – you can distill down all your historical searches to only keywords that pass muster, then continue to add new ones. I have my “dirty dozen” sitting in Longtail Pro, and I keep trying to “beat” them with any ideas that occur to me throughout the day.

And here’s my hack…

I’ll surely face accusations of being too binary, but you can use math to mirror the spirit of the basic function of keyword research. Every keyword needs to be investigated thoroughly, and qualitatively as well as quantitatively, but you can eliminate a lot of hassle by using simple math.

-Basically, a keyword’s value is some combination of the average Adwords cost-per-click (a measure of your phrase’ value to advertisers) and the number of monthly exact-match local searches, diminished by factors limiting its chance of getting seen – i.e. competition that will make it difficult to rank on the first page of Google.

(CPC * Local Searches)/Average Competition coefficient

…with shades of gray, of course.

To find this, do your keyword search in Longtail Pro for several days until you have a decent “distilled” list. Then run the “average KC” function for everything left over. Eliminate every word over 30 that you wouldn’t absolutely love writing about/researching.

Then click the “export” button on the bottom right of the form, and export the file as a CSV. Import it into Excel.

Now make an extra column, and assign that column a function based on the above: “= [CPC] * [Local Searches] / [Avg KC]”. Copy and paste that formula down the column, then sort by that column in descending order.

And there you have it – a list of your keywords in descending order of potential reward/hassle.

Of course now the most difficult work begins, but thought I’d share this little hack.