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4 Improvements to My Authority Website and 1 Failure

A few weeks ago Quinn from CubicleFree.com and I shared a public review of each other’s authority websites. These reviews included recommendations on how to improve our sites.

 

All Posts from Our Site Review Exchange Series:

 

From his review here are the changes he recommends and the impact of each change…

 

A. Monetization

Suggestion #1 – AdSense Removed

Personally I am not a huge fan of AdSense Only websites but Jon acknowledged recently he wants to move up the value chain and I found out the majority of his earnings already come from better ways to monetize. This is awesome news because I think much bigger opportunities await Jon’s website.- From Quinn’s Review

I have struggled with making much money from AdSense and after split testing 5 different ad blocks have yet to have one with a greater than 1% CTR.

As a result I have switched the main monetization area of the site to my CPA offers.

Another benefit of removing AdSense from the site is that the “commercial look” of the site is reduced and that increases the chance that bloggers and institutions will link to the site.

The general theme I am working on with my authority site is to…

act and promote my site like a blogger and monetize like a business.

An interesting article a reader of this site (Daryl Mander) shared in the comments was this study from 2010 showing that on average sites adopting monetization methods other than AdSense typically have a higher earnings per visitor. (read article here)

 

Suggestion #2 – Email Opt Ins

I have written about the failure of generating email subscribers and RSS readers in my income reports.

Based on his suggestions I went through his exercise to identify what my ideal visitor is looking for and update my email opt in form accordingly.

 

Here are the questions I(Quinn) ask myself to create a sales funnel:

  • What does his(my) ideal visitor look like?
    • Recent graduate with private student loan debt, a job and looking at ways to reduce the financial burden of the debt repayments.
  • What would his(my) ideal visitor buy?
    • The ideal visitor would purchase a private student loan consolidation.
  • Why would someone sign up to his(my) newsletter?
    • To get a list of tips that will help them save money on their student loans
  • Finally, how could he get them to buy once he(I) has(have) them in the funnel?
    • Once on the list they could go into an auto responder series educating them on the pros and cons of loan consolidation and provide affiliate links to loan consolidation companies. In addition this could be supplemented with useful information on financial products most graduates require (freemium financial monitoring software (mint), car loan comparisons etc)

 

These questions come from Quinn’s ninja marketing post.

 

Based on my answers to the questions above I have modified my opt in box, below is the before and after…

 

Before:

Opt-In-Before

 

After:

Opt-In-After

 

The updated email opt-in form is much more specific to the ideal target visitor and their #1 desire – Save Money!

However, the result has been no improvement in opt ins. With over 1500 visitors in the last week(great week for traffic!) there has been 0.0 opt ins.

This is another data point confirming that obtaining opt-ins from my audience is proving extremely difficult!

 

B. Content:

Suggestion #3 – Improve User Engagement

Quinn has tested my content creation strategy and had ok success. His on page content suggestion was to improve interlinking on my articles for deeper engagement.

I believe I can improve on this and have now added to my wordpress publishing procedure a requirement for 3-5 HIGHLY relevant natural internal links which improve engagement/user experience.

Whether it is an article I have written or an article I outsourced, my VA uploads all articles and must follow a simple checklist I created. Using this checklist he must now ensure that there are 3-5 highly relevant natural internal links before an article is scheduled.

 

C. Web Design/Engagement

Suggestion #4 – No Logo

I have no excuses on this one! No logo looks amateur! However, I am now working with a graphic designer to get one created.

I believe a lot of people believe that a logo along with a perfectly set up website is required before they can start a website. In my mind a logo  one of those things that is a nice to have but won’t make the difference between success/failure for my site so I have been spending my time more heavily on other priorities.

Here are the first drafts of the potential logo’s I am creating…

Potential-Logos

 

I have plans to not just pick the one I like the most but actually test how each one impacts the key metric a logo can improve – Bounce Rate.

 

 

Suggestion #5 – Improve Menu Titles

Quinn’s suggestion is to improve the titles to make them more engaging, I completely agree that my current titles are leaving engagement on the table!

Unfortunately I have run out of room on the site to be able to do this and include all the content. I realize I may be losing some engagement by not having more enticing headlines but the SEO benefit of a logical page/post structure is worth more to me I believe.

In my next site re-design likely at least one year away I will be looking at implementing this recommendation.

 

D. SEO On Page

His SEO on page recommendation is to improve interlinking of my posts, see suggestion #3 above for how I will be implementing this.

 

E. SEO Off Page

Quinn likes a lot of the strategies I have been using…

1. Blog comments and social profile interaction to build relationships (love it)
2. Guest posting on relevant sites (love it)
3. Web 2.0 properties like wordpress.com blogger etc using the ok quality articles my content creation system puts out (see link building notes)
4. Building backlinks to web 2.0 properties using LinkAuthority.com with the lower quality content my system creates (see link building notes)
5. Finding expired highly highly relevant domains and 301 redirecting to my site (only a few and ONLY if they are very very relevant) (like it)
6. Finding expired relevant domains and building a small “feeder” site using original relevant content (no benefit yet – this is my long term foundation) (love it)
7. Building backlinks to my feeder sites with linkauthority.com with the lower quality content my system creates (see link building notes)

He cautions that some of these strategies could get me in hot water with Google if they are done incorrectly. I agree they “could” but I am not using any automation or spun content and my main site has some added protection by using tiered backlinking for any non-white hat techniques.

I could be exposed to a potential Google penalty but it is a risk I believe I have mitigated, knowingly accepting and the benefit is worth the risk.

 

Final Thoughts

I want to thank Quinn for taking a look at my site and providing me with some very valuable tips which I have implemented many of on my site and already have seen benefits from his monetization tips!

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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