The changes at eHow have left me a little confused about how to proceed since I made the site such a huge part of my overall residual income strategy. I've decided to leave my eHow tutorials on the site for no real reason, but I'm removing my eHow earnings tracker from the sidebar since it's really not relevant anymore. In case anyone's interested, however, I'm making about $350 per month from my 219 articles. I'm quite happy with this, but I've recently found that I could have been making much more. The good news is that you can still increase your earnings on eHow even though you can't submit further articles on the site.
Backlinks Increase Your Rank and Authority
I found out much too late that keyword research is only part of the process. If you want to make real money online from an article, website or blog, you need backlinks. The number of backlinks you need depends on how much competition you have for a keyword phrase. I use search status for Firefox for a rough approximation how many backlinks my competitors have. This, coupled with their page rank gives me a realistic idea of how many backlinks I need to beat my competitors for any given keyword.
Now, I do this before I write an article, create a blog, etc. It helps out tremendously. Before, I found a keyword that I thought would work based on the page rank of the top competing pages, then wrote the article and hoped to climb Google's ranks on keyword strength alone. I was missing something, however, and that was backlinks. My ehow articles that did manage to get a few backlinks perform much better than those that have none.
You can continue to increase your earnings from your existing eHow articles by helping them climb higher in Google, which means getting backlinks. If you've never thought about backlinks before, it's a simple process and won't cost any money - only time. Some links are better than others and its best to focus on these rather than wasting your time with crappy links that don't really help your article. Over time and with surprisingly little work, your articles will begin to rank better. This means more traffic and inevitably, more money. First, I'd recommend choosing a few of your existing articles and trying to rank them higher.
Backlink Strategy for Existing EHow Articles
Before you start trying to increase an article's ranking, analyze your articles to determine which ones require the least amount of work to rank. For instance, I'm going to look at two of my eHow articles below. The first one targets an extremely competitive keyword. (I didn't know how to analyze my competition when I started writing for eHow, so sometimes my articles were way off the mark.) The second one targets a less competitive keyword and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to rank this article on the first page of Google for my keyword phrase with a little work. Let's take a look at the difference:
My first article has some serious competition. I searched for my keyword phrase, recycle ink cartridges, and the first three results have a page rank of 4, 5 and 4. These are strong pages and while it wouldn't be completely impossible to rank my article on the first page for my target keyword, it would take more effort than I want to spend on an old eHow article.
Using search status for Firefox, I can also see the number of backlinks for each of my competitors as indexed by Yahoo. While Yahoo is different than Google, chances are that both search engines count these links, so I use this number as a rough guideline for the number of backlinks I'll need to beat the pages in question.
It looks like my top 3 competitors have 482, 1100, and 312 backlinks. This means it may take hundreds of backlinks to beat these sites and gain one of the coveted top three spots in Google for my keyword. It may take less, but I don't want to waste my time working on an article that I may never rank.
Further down the page, there is another eHow article that shows up for my keyword, which means it's definitely possible for an eHow article to make it to at least this position. However, we have to keep other factors in mind. I checked the page source and it looks like this article was published in 1999. Google gives weight to age in the results and this one has about 10 years on my article. It also has a page rank of 3 and 115 backlinks.
I don't think I'm going to try to rank my ink cartridge recycling article right now. Instead, I'll try to find one of my more recent articles that I know I can rank for faster results. Maybe someday I'll revisit this one, but for now, I want to maximize my efforts by ranking the easier articles first.
Looking at my second ehow article, I find that the first three competitors are weak and I can most likely make it to the top in Google for my keyword, large facial pores, without expending too much effort. The first three articles in Google when I search for this keyword have a page rank of 2, 0 and 1.
My article, though not ranking for the keyword yet, already has a page rank of 3. This is proof positive that page rank, page optimization and good keyword research aren't the only things Google takes into account when it comes to determining relevancy. In fact, these factors are far less important to Google than backlinks.
Another thing I notice quickly is that NONE of the pages in the top three spots even have the keyword phrase in their title. NONE! This means my article, with its high page rank and optimization for the keyword, will rank very quickly with a few keyword-anchored backlinks.
I also notice that the top three pages have very few backlinks - 90, 28 and 6. Let's put this in perspective. I would normally pass on a site with 90 backlinks, but because the page doesn't have my exact keyword phrase in the title, I can assume that most of the backlinks to this page are not anchored by my keyword phrase. This means I can beat it to the top spot with far fewer backlinks. The second two pages also don't contain my keyword phrase and they have so few backlinks, I can easily beat them anyway. I'm definitely going to start building backlinks to this article and hopefully, I'll soon have it ranking in the top three.
Keep in mind this is not an exact science. You have to examine each situation and keyword phrase differently, and even then, you'll probably get it wrong sometimes. Look at the page rank, number of backlinks and the title of the competing pages. Here are the things you're specifically looking for:
- Each of your top competitors should have a page rank of 3 or below; the lower the page rank, the better your chances of beating the page, especially if your article already has some PR of its own. While entirely possible to beat pages with PR 4 or even 5, this is going to be much more work that the article is worth.
- If they have your keyword phrase in their title, the competing pages should have relatively few backlinks. I usually don't try to compete with a site that targets my keyword and has more than 30 or 35 backlinks. This is up to you, however, depending on the amount of work you're willing to put into the particular article.
- If they don't have your keyword phrase in their title, the competing pages can have more backlinks, though I usually draw the line at around 100 if the topics are related. If it's completely unrelated to your keyword, you could probably even beat a page with more backlinks, though this almost never happens.
How Much is Your Keyword Worth?
Now that we've found an article that appears easy to rank, we'll need to find out if its financially worth the work we're putting in. First, I'll search for the keyword using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, set the match type to "exact," hide advertiser competition and local search volume, and show estimated average CPC (cost per click).
I can see that the keyword gets around 2400 searches a month and pays approximately $1.37 per click. Keep in mind that this is only the amount the advertiser pays to Google. You get a portion of this after Google and eHow take a cut.
We have no idea how much we'll actually earn per click, but lets say that you end up with 20 percent of the cost per click. This means I can reasonably expect to earn about $0.27 per click. As you can see, I'll need quite a few clicks before I make any money. This article is easy enough to rank, so if I can get into the #1 position on Google, I'll likely get a large chunk of the 2400 searches.
There's no accurate way to determine how much money you'll make on eHow, but in my experience, if you get to the #1 position for a keyword that gets 2400 searches per month and earns at least $1.00 per click, you can usually make $8 to $10 per month for that article. Larger search volume and higher CPC yield even better results, of course. My advice is to look for a minimum of 2400 searches per month when you set the match type to "exact" in the keyword tool and at least $1.00 CPC.
There is a formula you can use to find out how much a keyword is worth in the #1 position. I highly recommend joining The Keyword Academy and watching their training videos for more guidance on this. You can join for $1 and cancel your subscription anytime via your PayPal account. Even if you cancel after the first month, you'll get your money's worth 1,000 times over. In fact, I learned more after watching their core videos than I did in over a year of trying to figure things out for myself.
If you don't have $1 to spare, you can visit this page, enter your email and get the free ebook, videos and email series. The ebook is extremely helpful and convinced me to join the site (which I don't regret and I never pay for things like this). It explains the basic formula for finding a keyword's value, though joining the site provides an easier and more detailed explanation, as well as tools to do all the work for you.
Using Alternate Keywords for Backlink Anchor Text
Now that I've found an article with potential, I'm going to start obtaining backlinks. My strategy is to get a few links each week until I begin to rank highly for my keyword. This may take weeks or even months, so if you want to really increase your earnings, work on getting backlinks to several articles at once. If you just want to test the water, choose an article that appears easy to rank and start getting links. Soon, you'll be ranking highly and ready to move on to increasing the earnings of another article.
There are several ways to get backlinks to your eHow articles, some of them harder than others. I stick with the easy ones and they serve me well. The best backlinks are keyword-anchored and reside within the body of the article or post on a website or blog. Keyword-anchored backlinks are links that use the target keyword or a related keyword as the link. For example, when I link to my large facial pores article, I use the actual keyword as the text for the link.
One thing you want to remember, however, is that it doesn't look natural for every single backlink you get to use the same keyword phrase. Instead, you'll need to find a group of related keywords that are reasonably easy to rank and use those as alternate keyword anchor text. I'll show you how I do this below, then we'll move on to using these related keywords to actually get backlinks.
Ideally, I would've used at least two or three different keyword phrases in the eHow article, and I can use those as alternative anchor text. If I can't remember (which I can't), I'll look through the article and try to find alternate keyword phrases I may have used. I see I've also used "large pores" and "large open pores." I'll use these two phrases as alternates, after a quick check in the keyword tool to make sure they get some traffic. Eventually, I may even rank for these phrases, so I want to make sure they get some searches.
I see my first keyword gets around 6,600 searches and a check in Google shows me competition isn't too bad. Competition hardly matters for your alternates, though. They're more to strengthen your main keyword and provide some different backlink anchor text so your links appear more natural.
Now, I'll keep a list nearby on a notebook, word document or spread sheet of my main keyword phrase and alternates. I usually try to get at least three alternate keywords, but in this case I only have two and I don't want to edit my eHow article so I'm just going to work with what I've got. Now I'm ready to start getting backlinks.
How to Get Backlinks to Your EHow Articles
After compiling a list of my alternate keywords, it's time to start writing again. That's right - the easiest way to get backlinks is to write articles related to your topic and link back to your eHow article using your keyword anchor text. Bookmarking on Digg and putting your article on Facebook won't work nearly as well as simple article marketing. Don't let this scare you away. It's surprisingly easy and I'm going to show you step-by-step how I do it.
If you can't stomach the work, the only other option you have is to pay huge money for paid links on large blogs, outsource your article writing or spend all your time begging small bloggers to post your link. In my experience, your time is better spent writing simple articles and submitting them to the right sites and directories. (In this post, I'm assuming that if you're interested in increasing your eHow earnings, you probably don't have the money to pay for your backlink articles.)
What are the right sites and directories? Well, I'm sure no one can really say, but I can tell you which ones provide the best results for me:
The first three are popular article directories that allow backlinks. Ezine allows backlinks in the author bio and you can use any author name you want. I make up a new author name for each topic on which I write - one author for gardening, one for home improvement, one for health and beauty, etc. GoArticles allows links in the text body, which is the best type of backlink. The Free Library allows links in the text body, but they prefer if you keep them in the author bio box.
It's also wise to look for related websites and blogs that accept articles. You can try and find sites like these by searching for your keyword plus "submit articles" or "submit an article" in Google. For example, if I wanted to find a site that accepts health articles, I would put this into the Google search bar: health "submit articles" Click the link to see what I mean.
Before submitting an article, make sure it has do-follow links. If the site does not allow do-follow links, it's basically worthless and won't provide much link value. To check if a site is do-follow, I use SEO for Firefox. Once installed, you can visit the site in question, open an article and toggle SEO for Firefox to highlight no-follow links.
If the links in the article or bio box are highlighted, move to another site. If the links in the article or bio box are NOT highlighted (even if other links on the page are), the site allows do-follow links and would make a good choice for getting backlinks. Although some would argue that page rank doesn't matter at all, I always feel more comfortable submitting articles to a site that has at least a PR 1 or 2.
Now that you've found a few sites that accept submissions, start writing articles related to your topic. I usually look for keywords for these new articles that are related and have relatively low competition. Don't worry about CPC because you aren't trying to make money from these keywords specifically. It doesn't really matter much if the keyword has extremely low competition, either, except you'll be more likely to get click-through traffic you rank for it. The most important thing, however, is to focus on getting the links indexed by Google.
I always submit articles in the order I've listed the sites above, simply because Ezine and GoArticles seem to get indexed very fast. In normal circumstances, I try to get 5 backlinks to an article before moving on to another one. Then, after getting 5 backlinks for the second article, I go back and get a few more for the first, then I start over with another, etc.
Find a pattern that works for you, but don't build links too quickly for any one article. I'd say if you were working constantly, you'd still only want to get 10 to 20 links per week per article. Also, use your primary keyword phrase as anchor text about 50 percent of the time and your alternate keywords as anchor text the other 50 percent of the time to keep things legit.
Sometimes, it will take 30 or 40 backlinks to rank an article number one, sometimes 5 or 10 will do it. The only thing you can do is keep at it and you'll start to see your article climb the ranks. It's possible to double or even triple your eHow earnings simply by linking to your articles from other sites. These same techniques work for any site - HubPages, Suite 101 or any other residual site you fancy. Good luck!