How To Build a Killer Authority Site in Months (without building a single backlink)

The golden goose of  Internet Marketing is this: creating a high traffic, authoritative website  without having to manually build backlinks.

If you follow a lot of the SEO-orientated blogs out there, there’s a lot of focus on building (whitehat) backlinks.

Many of these sites have changed their tune, having previously hawked some of the old school methods which involved building spammy backlinks from questionable sources using questionable methods (disclaimer: I did this in my former incarnation years ago).

These rank-quick-spam methods though are now out of favor because they don’t deliver long lasting results. And even worse, they can completely destroy websites.

[Insert Any Meme Here with a SEO Person Hitting Own Head with Egg]

So the new marketing trend when it comes to blogging and building traffic is to build white-hat backlinks.

And there’s nothing wrong with this. Whitehat methods are effective and deliver tangible results.

But it STILL involves you on your computer hustling people for links. No matter what technique you find taught on the web, it all involves you manually reaching out and asking for a link of some sort, even if it’s not ‘couched’ as asking for a link.

A call it a socially polite way of link begging.

And I really hate begging for links.

So I’m not going to and, even better, I’m going to show you some of my working strategies so you don’t have to either.

The goal with this monster of a post is to teach some strategies that I use and have used effectively to build up a brand new blogs from scratch and turn them into reputable authority sites within six months to a year WITHOUT building a single backlink on your part.

Whoa, can this really be possible? I mean aren’t backlinks the backbone of search traffic?

Well…let me tell you a little secret.

Backlinking is dead.

Yes, you’ve heard me: Backlinking (at least the way you may know it) is no more.

I’m not saying backlinks don’t help your site. They do — there are entire websites out there to help you trick out more backlinks with socially-accepted Google-accepted practices. But I maintain (and it’s the strategy that I follow with all my sites now) sniffing around for backlinks, at least directly, should not be your primary focus.

You see over the past few years I discovered something. Something I didn’t know, something I didn’t practice. Maybe it’s something YOU’VE already figured out on your own, but for me this strategy was a light bulb, a new way of thinking I had not considered before.

And that is this: if you focus on building up a core website stuffed with lots of content that offers some serious value to the reader AND promote your site (specifically, key, viral flagship articles), you don’t need to ‘link build’ to rank your site. Your site will gain social traction, pull in links because of this, and naturally start ranking all on it’s on.

Without you lifting a single finger in the process to build a backlink.

Pretty cool eh?

Before you guys run crying foul to your local ‘SEO guru’, realize that I’m not saying backlinking, if done right, won’t boost your site’s traffic. They will, and it’s not a strategy you should entirely ignore. But what I’m saying is that yes, it is entirely possible to completely ignore the building of backlinks, focusing on providing awesome content and promote your site on social networks. This replaces the manual backlinking effort and, if done right, can yield far better results.

Make sure you read my huge 10,000 word case study article on How I Took My Blog From ZERO to 1 Million Page Views in 13 months. I talk about specifically what me and my brother did and the exact steps we took  to make that happen. It’s a compliment article to this one.

Also look at my Building an Authority Site on an Expired Domain Case Study series — I also outline a specific strategy for building a high traffic authority site from scratch using these same methods outlined in this article. You can follow along my current progress and watch how the magic happens over time.

And if you want to know a bit about me, and some proof that I’m legit and not some guy living with his grandparents, sitting around in his underwear, making stuff up and posting it on the web (well, I do sit around in my underwear writing posts, but I don’t live with my grandparents!), then please read my detailed income report posts. I have a big thing against all the bullshit perpetuated in the Internet Marketing / Make Money Online / Blogging sphere, so I like to back up my claims that I know at least a little bit about what I’m writing about here.

The Advantage of Social Authority

Because this concept is so important, I’m going to repeat myself again here. Understand this: building (whitehat-style) backlinks like crazy can rank your site and, eventually, bring in thousands of organic visitors a day. Yes.

But building backlinks doesn’t necessarily build up any social authority or social presence for your site. You can get a stream of Google visitors, yes, but you won’t have an interactive audience who will share your posts like crazy, come to your site and leave comments, and generally become a ‘true fan.’ You’ll have one-off visitors who find your site based on a search, then (usually) fuck off pretty quickly once they find what they need OR go to Facebook / Selfigram and click on that new Twerking video link they see plastered on their feed, then go like it and share it a million times and leave a dozen comments arguing with a 13-year old about the size of that booty.

The thing is, after reading this article, YOU could be the one posting that Twerking video on your website, taking advantage of all those social shares and interaction.

Feel me?

Good. Onwards we go.

Search Authority vs Social Authority

a) You can have high Google Authority but little Social Authority.

b) You can have High Social Authority (at first) but Little Search Authority.

c) Or you can have BOTH.

And what do you think will eventually lead to BOTH?

If you guessed b), then you win a smile from Ben K because you are right.

B Always leads to C, but A does not necessary lead to B or C.

Both Search and Social authority are separate streams you need to fish from and BOTH do in part, require different sets of strategies to build a significant presence in.

If you want Social Presence, you’ve really got to WORK on it. Don’t expect to just siphon off search traffic from Google and build social authority from that source. I know — I’ve tried. It’s possible, but it takes a freaking long ass time (years).

And this is something I did discover.

Social Authority is not equal to Google Authority. It’s BETTER.

A strong social authority is far superior than just gaming the system and building backlinks.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving over the long run — your site will, all on its own, just pickup backlinks, shares, and a stream of traffic from Facebook, twitter, and other sites like Reddit, pinterest, etc. And it’s another sort of traffic that does NOT rely upon the shifting changes of Google search algorithm.

Even better, social authority, over time, eventually leads to authority in the search engines. And it does so, much, much, much faster than the converse situation (i.e. Search Authority leading to Social Authority).

Ok, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee — preferably a Starbucks GRANDE size — because in true Ben K style, this post is going to be a long one. It’s the size of a small eBook (10,000 words).

This article pairs nicely with a huge case study I just finished writing, showing you how we built a respected authority site in only six months without building a single backlink to it (AND without doing any link outreach, networking, or any proactive step on our part, other than writing CONTENT.)

Can I Really Do Away with Backlinks and Still Build Traffic and Authority?

Yes, it’s possible. I’ve done so 4 or 5 times, building up websites that get anywhere from 1000 visitors a day to 12,000 visitors a day.

Recently I used this strategy on a website my brother and I worked on. In less than 8 months we took the site from 5 or so visitors a day to 2000-5000 visitors a day (see images below in the next section).

So this is indeed a strategy that I utilize myself, and I’ve done so on a number of websites. In fact this is THE strategy I now employ on serious website projects now.

For each one of these websites that I worked on building social authority for, I didn’t build a single backlink.

That means:

  • I did not open up my email and spam out link requests or shady guest posts proposals or anything like that.
  • I didn’t try and network with related sites for link building schemes
  • I didn’t hit up forums and pretend to be a member to drop my link; I didn’t stalk authorities on twitter and beg for them to link to my articles
  • I didn’t sign up for any Private Blog Networks (PBN’s) and post links.

Even more, I did NOT do any sort of link outreach or networking with other blogs in the niche!

For a couple of the sites, I did send a link from one of my other related sites. But this effect was pretty negligible, and it was only ever one or two links.

Disclaimer: if you are not going to hunt for backlinks, you are STILL going to need to promote your site / content in some way. As much as I’d like to say there is a way around promotion (well there is, sort of, but we will talk a bit about how to build a traffic site without promoting it later), there is not. You will have to promote your site. But more on how this works later.

If You Build It…They Will NOT Come

There is a common misconception out there in the internet marketing sphere. I call this ‘the field of dreams’ that leads to nowhere.

The idea is this: if you build a great site with great content, people will magically find it.

Not so.

At least, not anymore.

Yes, you may be incredibly lucky and find you build a site, someone influential stumbles upon your site and spreads the word.

But for the majority of you, this is more of a pipe dream than reality and won’t deliver practical results for the masses. There’s just simply TOO MUCH content out there right now to easily stand out.

Here’s a site I SLAVED away at for 4 months, writing anywhere from 30 or more of the best articles I could. I spent days on each post, days more putting together custom graphics and gifs to complement the material.

I did NO promotion and NO backlinking.

Check out the actual search traffic:

tracking

 

If you are expecting to see any impressive stats in that red circle, you won’t. There were about 5-10 visitors a day for the first part of Funerary. I actually only started tracking this site Feb 2014 with Google Analalytics, but the site at this point was 4 months old. I was tracking it on StatCounter previous to this. On a ‘good day’, the site would get 2 or 3 visitors, from Google or Bing.

So you can see from this obvious example: great content does not equal traffic.

Google (or any other source) won’t just magically send you lots of traffic, especially if you are not busting ass and building backlinks. And on the social front, if you are not actually trying to build a social audience, no one is going to know who you are and you are certainly not going to be considered any sort of social authority on a topic.

But.

I found an effective strategy where you focus  only on content and building a bigger social footprint, but without having to lift a finger to actually build links.

Yes, it is possible.

Here’s the key steps to this strategy, a strategy which I call Social Backlinking. It’s not about building backlinks directly, but about building up your social authority to the point where you DO eventually start getting backlinks as a side effect of your social strategy.

Here is this strategy applied to that same site in the example above that was getting 0-5 visitor a day. Look how in the matter of ONE day the site suddenly picks up steam, getting 1000-5000 visitors a day, up from the 5 visitors a day IT was previously getting:

social

Now wait a minute you say. That was a freak traffic spike right? The traffic dies down back to 5 – 15 visitors a day shortly after yes?

Wrong. Building Social Authority is a gift that keeps on giving you back.

8_months_analytics
Look at that. Once the site started getting social tracking, it continued to get that traction, permanently.

So. How do we do this.

Keep reading 🙂

How to Build a High Traffic Website (Without Building Backlinks)

Here’s the basic strategy I use to build traffic to websites by focusing only on building social authority NOT google search authority.

Step 1: Produce Good Fantastic Content

If you are going to throw backlinking out the window (and you should), your success will then rest completely on how good your content is. You can’t very well promote your content socially, if your content is mediocre or, at least, very targeted to get social shares.

So a disclaimer: if you can’t produce compelling content in some way, or are unwilling to put in the required work to produce stuff you can be proud to show off to anyone, well, then this strategy of authority site building is not for you.

The goal here with this step is to produce excellent content, so good in fact that your articles go above and beyond what everyone else has. YOU NEED this level of content to build your social authority.

What do I mean by fantastic content?

If someone digs an inch, you dig a foot. If someone climbs a skyscraper, you climb a mountain.

Do you get me?

Maybe you don’t.

To disambiguate this, I’ll break content (for social promotion) roughly into three categories. I’m sure you can come up with more, but these categories work for most cases.

The Three Types of Content

You have three content strategies to pursue.

1) Social Bait Content: Content that’s click bait friendly with catchy headlines, large images, with the stated goal to drive in quick traffic (usually social)

Article Example: Man Hits Monkey and You Won’t Believe What Happens Next

The first type of content is what I call ‘Social Bait’ articles. These are those articles designed as click bait. The purpose is simple — catch the eye of potential readers on social networks when your article is shared and get those readers to your site.

For building quick traffic from social networks, viral style ‘Social Bait‘ articles work wonders.

But.

It’s not easy to produce these and there is a precise format you need to follow to see results (i.e. to get your articles viral or at least somewhat viral).

I’m going to be realistic here though and say creating viral style articles about some topics that are, well, flat out boring, is difficult.

It’s easy for someone to cook out a headline catching article about dogs, cats, or a topic people have a lot of passion about.

But it’s not so easy to do about lawn fertilizer.

2) Informative Content: Content that seeks to answer a question or provide a real solution (usually search engine traffic)

Article Title Example: The Complete Guide to Selling Real Estate as a 20 Year Old

The second type of content, that is Informative Content should form the basis of your website. Real quality articles that deliver value. These are those articles that will attract links over the long term and rank in the SERPS.

3) Viral Informational: Content that’s viral friendly yet provides deep, informative answers as well

Article Title Example: Five 5 Minute Things You Can Do That Will Earn You $5000 Extra

This is the best type of content, but it’s not necessary easy to produce in some niches.  The difference between Social Bait and Viral Informational is that Viral Information may have a catchy title and be about a topic people will find interesting, but it’s also designed from ground up to deliver some deep information.

How to Use This Content To Really Build Traffic Fast

Link-Building-vs-Link-Attraction-Content-Traffic1

How These Content Types Work for You

The key note here is that you do need some of the Social Bait content. These are those articles that have a chance to go viral and that with the right promotional efforts can bring a stream of social traffic to your site, increasing your social shares and social authority. It’s also a bait and switch. Visitors come to your site based on a catchy topic but stick around when they see quality content related to that topic as well.

Ideally, your site will mostly have the Informative Content types of posts with  a few few viral friendly posts which we can, with the right strategy, promote and use to build a social presence.

It works like this: The viral gets the easy traffic, the Informative stuff keeps people coming back (and eventually will rank in the SERPS).

Warning: Keep in mind if you fill a site ONLY with click bait shallow articles, people may come, but your website and your content will be forgotten about the next day. Those posts also won’t likely stick around and RANK in the serps. This is why you want an information heavy website. This is a site that people will find useful and, if you have some personality and the content is incredibly helpful, will attract LINKS and regular return readers.

If you guys want a ratio here, I recommend about 70-80 percent Informative Content and 20-30 percent Social Bait Content. To quickly build up a social presence, social authority AND eventually, steady organic traffic, you need BOTH types of content — not just one type.

If you focus too much on Social Bait Content and promote it, you can get a steady stream of Facebook traffic BUT these visitors are one off’s — they will come to your site, read your article, then abandon your site, likely never to return. Additionally, you won’t get very many real backlinks from sites that matter. And you won’t get long term organic traffic and rankings with this type of thin content.

If you focus too much on Informative Content, you won’t have as much success getting social shares, social attention which is what we are using as the bait to attract social authority and eventually, real links from quality sites. Informative Content is GREAT for long term organic traffic, but not so much for social traffic. Keep in mind that if your site has enough quality informational content about a topic and you are attractive regular social shares and visitors because of your viral style content, eventually the people who you want to see your site will see your site and you’ll get LINKS to your site or your informational content.

The whole goal of the Social Bait content is to GET YOUR SITE IN FRONT OF THE EYES OF THE PEOPLE WHO OWN QUALITY SITES WHO MAY JUST BE SO IMPRESSED BY YOUR SITE CONTENT THEY WILL LINK TO IT ON THEIR WEBSITE.

That’s it.

You should see now that BOTH types of content are key here and needed for your strategy. The third type of content is the best, but you often have to be in a niche where you can create a quality, informative topic that has clickbait / viral appeal.

Stellar Content Gives You Better Rankings

You know why I keep on repeating that you need to have awesome content? Because have enough good content and you improve your User Experience Rating. And this can lead to better rankings WITHOUT backlinks.

Enter the User Experience Score

You see, Google NO LONGER only ranks sites based on backlinks. And they haven’t in a long while, but recently in an effort to get away from the backlink model which is vulnerable to being gamed, Google has been putting more and more weight on other signals that factor in ranking. Social signals are one such factor.

But another factor is a High User Experience rating.

These USER EXPERIENCE SIGNALS are a power indication about HOW people view your content.

Think about a site you come to from the search engines then immediately leave.  What does that say about the content? In most situations, its a signal that the content and site is NOT delivering what the reader is looking for. This is the Bounce Rate and Time on Site stats — and you bet google keeps track of those, both through Analytics and your behavior on Google Search. They also have access to even MORE deep data if you use the CHROME browser.

The User Experience is now a powerful factor in determining how to rank a site. Websites with better User Experience Scores will do better in the search rankings.

Some of these key factors are:

  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site
  • Pages per View

If you have a site with  a LOWER bounce rate than other sites in your niche with higher an average Time on Site and a Higher than Average Pages Views Per Visit rating, you may be able to rank much higher with far less backlinks.

And one of the most effective ways to BOOST the shit out of your User Experience Score is to have content that delivers value. Content that the reader finds useful. Content that the reader will STICK AROUND FOR A WHILE, on your site, and read. Content that encourages readers to visit another post on your site.

Think about what a long, detailed informative post will do to a reader’s behavior on your site. Readers will be more likely to:

  • Stay on your site and visit another page (Lowers your Bounce Rate)
  • Spend longer time reading your posts (Increases Time on Site)
  • Visit OTHER posts after the initial post (Increases page view count per visitor)

See how high quality LONG posts can boost your user experience rating?

Boost this rating and you can increase how well your post ranks in the search engine, resulting of course in more traffic.

Your Content is You and You are The Brand

brand yourself

When writing content, you need to consider one thing: how your content relates to your ‘brand.’ The ultimate goal here when creating an authority site — a site that has both social authority and search engine authority — is to create a brand.

That is, your site needs to, in some way, become a brand. The easiest way is to BRAND yourself. You specifically need to develop a relationship with the readers so they come back to the site because they want to hear what YOU have to say. If you do become the brand, then your site is simply the platform to communicate with the readers. You can really use any platform you like (Facebook, twitter, Reddit) and as the spokesperson and brand itself can build movement (and make money) anywhere online.

Now, this sort of thing is harder to do if you create just another generic site full of outsourced content where there is no personal connection between the author of the content and the readers. So making yourself into a brand really only works when it’s YOU who’s creating the content (or at least, getting the public credit for it).

This is why it’s so much easier to create a branded authority site about a topic YOU really do know well, where you actually are an authority about the topic in some way, and where you are the one writing all / most of the content. You can let your personality shine through your content and foster a personal connection with your readers.

Get it?

Remember, people may VISIT your site because you promote it, but STAY because of the content and RETURN because your PERSONALITY (they like YOU).

Using a Tailored Content Marketing Strategy

Here’s a summary how:

1) Look at the top sites ranking in your niche for specific content topics

Take those topics and content and write a better article. If the top ranking article is 2000 words, write a 5000 word article. If the top article has 5 pictures, shove in 10 pictures and a custom infographic to boot. If they have a list a references at the bottom, you give a bigger one.

2) Divide your content into two types: informational (search engine targeted) and viral

This is how each will work for you:

Use the informational articles to fill out your site and to target long tail topics in your niche.

Informational articles should be huge, full of information that goes above and beyond to solve the reader’s problem and you should have a personal element to them. Remember, the viral style articles will bring the traffic, but the informational articles will KEEP the people on your site.

Use the viral style articles for social promotional strategies (see next section).

Social bait articles should be set up specifically to attract visits. The titles should be very catchy (clickbait style) and the posts full of images. Some suggestions: superlative style lists with pictures, funny or controversial articles, unique infographics or art. It’s important that you fill your social bait articles with LINKS directly to your best informational content articles to divert some of the readers to see what your site really has to offer.

In some cases, it’s possible to combine both into a single article.

3) Take a direct hand in creating the content

The bottom line is no one is going to care more about the content of a post than YOU, the owner of the website. For some of the KEY posts, you may need to be the one who writes those posts.

4) Inject some personality into the articles

If you are trying to build up a personal brand as an expert with your name attached to the articles, then you want to foster a connection with your readers. There is no better way to do this then to inject a lot of personality into your articles. Connect with the readers, have your own style of writing, and put in a personal aspect into your writing.

Step 2: Write a Lot of Content

Writing-lots-of-great-content-for-his-blog

Rome wasn’t built with only a few stones and you shouldn’t expect your blog to be built with only a couple either (i.e. just handful of posts). Anything substantial in life takes a solid amount of material (and time) to produce.

Look at all the top websites in any niche.

How many posts do you think those websites have? One, two…a handful? A dozen?

No, I’m betting hundreds or even thousands of posts. And likely, those sites have been around and established for at least a couple years (it’s rare to find a brand new site that’s under  a year old. I’d say most top authoritative sites are at least 3+ years old).

It’s simple logic really: the more content you have posted over time, the more authoritative your site grows (over time) to cover a wide range of topics.

This is even more important if you are going to build up a lot of search engine traffic to your site. The more posts you have about varied yet topically related content, the more long tail searches you will likely get, assuming in time your site does develops the search authority from both the natural links and from the good User Experience ratings your site accumulates over time.

Writing frequent content also gives some very positive signals to Google — you get fresh content ranking bonuses AND you are providing a tangible feedback signal that your site is a legit one. It also imitates some of the BRAND signals that Google considers important. The end result is this may help you get MORE organic search traffic sooner than later.

Frequent quality content updates also builds up your social momentum. People who do visit your site  — from social promotion or other means — and LIKE what you have to say just may become frequent return visitors if you regularly post. This really helps to foster a relationship between YOU and your readers which is something that you need to do if you want to build a successful website over the long term, one that becomes a social presence.

How Much Content Does Your Site Need to Get Traffic 

I’m going to cope out here and just say ‘it depends.’

The real answer is simple ‘enough to do the job.’ For long term organic search traffic, you are going to need a lot of posts. Frankly, I’ve never had a site that didn’t have at least 20 or 30 long articles get more than 400 or 500 visitors a day. All of my sites that have breached the 1000 visitor a day mark have had a dozen, dozens, or even hundreds of pages of content.

Some of the sites I’ve created that get between 3000-12000 visitors a day in fact have thousands and thousands of posts (even if those posts are very small — a few hundred words at most). The less backlinks you have, the more content you’ll need.

There’s a lot of studies out there done by SEO blogs that do show the average size of posts ranking for the top 10 keyword positions are at least 2000 words (see Quicksprout’s’ article about this a few years ago).  For the top 3 positions, content is at least 2500 words in length.

Ultimately, to really get a lot of traffic and rank for broad authority, you’ll need:

  1. Lots and lots of content (hundreds or thousands of pages)
  2. A good number of QUALITY backlinks
  3. A Good User Experience score
  4. Site Age

My take on how these factor into your ranking based on my on anecdotal experiences with a lot of different sites in different niches:

  • If you only have 1 of the 4, you’ll get some, maybe a little, traffic, but the traffic ceiling will be very low (we are talking a few dozen to a few hundred visitors).
  • If you have 2 of the 4, you can get some  traffic, but it won’t be anything crazy (under a few hundred)
  • If you have 3 of the 4, you can get a lot of traffic, thousands of visitors, but you are not reaching your full potential. Get the last one, and you’re traffic will explode
  • If you have 4 of the 4, google will open the floodgates of traffic, rewarding you with thousands and thousands of visitors each day, and your site will only GROW over time.

The bottom line here is that you need all four of these to build up authority and traffic. And there is no reason why you only need to pick one of the 4. You can easily achieve all 4 with my strategy.

How Long Do Need to Keep Pushing Out Content For Before Promoting

Now, I know for the people who want to get a brand new blog up and running, SOONER, than later may not want to wait months just to fill out the site. Certainly, you can rush things along. Here are two suggestions to increase the output of your content.

1) Outsource (lots of content — IF you can find an outsourcer who can build quality)

2) Write several posts a day for at least a month, maybe two months

You can promote your site as much as you like right from the start — and I suggest that you do to get a nice head start on building some real traffic to your site — as soon as you have a few posts. However, I just suggest you don’t really start promoting your site socially until you have at least 10 or so posts so the site looks filled out.

Keep in mind that when someone comes to your site, they will make judgments about what your site looks like and how ‘full’ your site is. If you have only a couple posts on your site, this does not leave a very good lasting impression that you are an ‘authority’ about the topic. While I’m not going to say that having a site with only a couple ‘great’ posts and empty otherwise will derail your promotional efforts, it certainly won’t do your site any favors either.

To get around this, simply make sure your site is nicely filled out with enough content. At least enough so your site looks like it’s somewhat established, not just the brand-new blog that it really is.

Step 3: Prettify Your Site

makeup-brushes-101-1

There’s not much to say in this department. Your site should look good. It doesn’t have to look crazy good, but humans are visual creates and will cast judgement about the trustworthiness of your site just by how it looks. I highly recommend you have a good looking site — as beautiful as possible — for the initial ‘build up your authority site phase.

This phase can last months to a year or more, but the idea is to get traffic and social authority which will eventually pay off in search authority later on. And it’s hard to really build social authority when your site looks like shit.

People are judgmental creatures. Create a site like THIS and see how many people are going to come to your site (even with promotional efforts), stick around. You’ll have even less chances of building any real natural links to your site.

The Importance of a Good Looking Site

Besides having a site that looks authoritative enough that people will TRUST what you are saying, this actually can make a difference in your rankings. Why?

Remember that thing we talked about? The User Experience Rating?

Remember, some of the key factors in this score are the following analytic statistics per each visitor:

  • The Average Bounce Rate
  • The Average Time on Site
  • The Average Pages Visited Per Visitor

If you have a site with  a LOWER bounce rate than other sites in your niche with higher an average Time on Site and a Higher than Average Pages Views Per Visit rating, you may be able to rank much higher with far less backlinks.

And you can affect these scores WITH how your site looks.

Ugly sites with bad layouts have a higher bounce rate, a lower time on site and less page views per visitor.

So having a good looking site is, like having quality content, also vital to increasing your User Experience Score.

Money Now vs Money Later

There is a balance between having an aesthetically pleasing site and a functional site. I have found that the more ‘pretty’ your site looks, the worse it seems to do when it comes to CTR for ad clicks and affiliate sales.

For example, my brother has a site that generates about 40 USD a day. The theme he has is simple, clean, but nothing fancy or extremely good looking. He recently switched over to a new, more modern, more fashionable theme that emphases the modern parallax look.

Well this about killed the Adsense earnings. Adsense went from 40 USD a day to less than 5 USD a day — all because he switched to a more modern, far more attractive theme.

If you go all out and opt for an ugly yet ad-click generating site, you may find your social promotional efforts not as productive. On the other hand, if your site looks like it was designed by a fashion designer, you may find more people stick around on your site (lower bounce rate) and a higher page count view (more pages viewed), but you may find when you try to monetize that your site does not do well.

So.

You have to decide what you want to focus on first: making money sooner or delayed (but potentially more lucrative) gratification.

If you decide to monetize right away, you may piss off some of your (new) readers who think you are trying to cash in. I personally think it’s better to work on building up social momentum and attract steady readership and traffic FIRST before you go all out on trying to make money. It’s much harder to get links when the linkers think your site is trying to make a cash grab.

But ultimately, this is a personal choice.

The thing is, if you have a more functional, yet still decently attractive site, you may be able to offset some of your promotional costs right away though paid advertising that generates more money then it costs to advertise. There is a whole school of internet marking devoted to this concept where people pay for Facebook advertising (and Adwords to some degree) with the sole intention of generating MORE revenue from Adsense and Media.net ad clicks then it costs to purchase that traffic. However, this method, while potentially lucrative IF you find the right balance between ad costs and revenue earned, takes a lot of trial and error and you need to invest a money into testing it out.

It’s up to you what direction you want to go. Personally, I opt for the middle ground. If you can actually make more money than it cost to advertise, you can build up a social presence for FREE or little cost at the end of the day. And you can’t beat this. Otherwise, you will pay out of pocket to build up social momentum.

How to Prettify Your Site so it Looks Authoritative…

1) Buy a premium WordPress theme 

themeforest

It’s pretty simple: just buy a premium theme. There’s a ton of them out there.

There’s a couple things to keep in mind:

  •  Simplistic design with an eye to minimalism
  •  Simplistic color scheme (only a couple colors on the site)
  • Post page layout that’s Ad friendly

Think about the APPLE design philosophy — KISS (keep it stupid simple). The same applies to website layouts. The more simplistic your design, the more reader scan focus on what matters: your core content. Images (and ads) also stand out a lot more on simplistic minimalist designs than cluttered, multi colored templates with a million colors and objects shouting for your attention.

Remember, the overriding goal here is to DRIVE your readers into the direction YOU want them to go, whatever that direction may be. It’s much harder to do so on cluttered layouts.

Personally my favorite theme by far is Avada (affiliate link).  It’s the most popular and highest selling theme in the world, and once you buy it, you’ll see exactly why this is the case. You can customize the shit out of it and cook up a site that’s very professional looking. Did I say how customizable the theme really is? I’ve used this site on about five or six of my sites and it’s my GO TO theme. You really can use it to make a bunch of different looking yet very attractive sites.

If you want a more functional looking theme, I recommend the Genesis Framework with one of their premium themes. You get a functional and fast loading website that’s pretty clean cut, but one that’s also pretty favorable for Adsense CTR with the clean design and simplistic layouts as well.

Ultimately, the design of your site is important but not as much as your content or the promotion of it which will play the ultimate role in whether your site succeeds or falls by the way side.

Ben’s Guide to Buying the Best WordPress Themes

When it comes to buying premium themes, I always do recommend you go with one of the more popular, established themes unless you need a very specific niche theme or you fall in love with a specific theme look.

The reason is that with 99 percent of the themes out there, the theme authors try and cash in on quantity over quality. As such, they create a theme then shortly abandon it within a year. This means the theme becomes outdated within a year or two. New versions of WordPress will theme break the theme or security themes will make your theme vulnerable. With the more popular themes, the pressure is on for the design team to BETTER their theme and keep it up to date to keep the cash cow full of milk. As such you, get far more bang for your buck with a theme that’s always being updated, live customer support, and new features consistently being added every few months with each major update — all for free.

For example, since we bought SmartMag (affiliate link) about two years ago, there have been major theme updates covering 2 versions of WordPress (3 and 4) and a host of brand new features added to the theme to give it even more functionality.

I’ve fallen into the trap buying WordPress themes I liked the look of but were not ‘popular themes’ and almost every single one of those themes has been abandoned by the theme author who are too busy building new themes. So keep this in mind — you want a theme that will last for years and years.

A good place to start looking for themes is ThemeForest— the world’s biggest theme marketplace.

2) Pay for a professional logo 

99designs-logo-spacing

A good logo can really make or break the look of your site. At the very least make something that looks pretty good yourself. Or better yet, pay someone on fiverr or freelancer $50 or $100 bucks to cook something up.

3) Fill Your site with Good Looking Images

Trust me, you want your posts to have some quality images. Studies show that people are far more likely to share posts with images than just posts with text.

Step 4: Build a Strong Social Footprint 

social-media-footprint

Now here is where things get interesting. And, this is what explode your traffic and allow you to build a high traffic authority site in months and not years.

If you’ve been following along so far, we’ve done the following:

  1. Selected a niche we want to conquer — one that has a lot of passion and ultimately some commercial potential.
  2. Filled the site with  quality content — better content than you find anywhere else — and lots of it. The content consists of both viral and of informative content with the viral we will use to promote the site socially.
  3. Selected a premium theme and prettied up the site so it looks professional and authoritative.

Following along? Ok here what makes this tick.

Since we won’t be building any manual backlinks yet we know we do need backlinks, at the end of the day, to bring in search traffic…how do we get them indirectly?

Well, one way is to build up your social footprint in a big way. The idea here is to have enough social traction where your posts get shared on places like Facebook and your site gets thousands of visitors a day.

In time, the right people who are willing to link to your site may see your awesome content and awesome site and link to it, especially if you’ve written some really stellar articles. The goal here is not necessary to pump out shitty thin articles, but find some topics that really do offer a lot of  value to the reader but also spike their interest enough they are willing to click on your links when they see them.

The whole goal with building up social authority is so that we can instantly access social traffic any time we wish. This gives us a lot of readers right away without having to wait for them. More readers means more eyeballs on your content which means your site starts getting NOTICED by the right people and the right websites.

Why Leveraging Social Traffic Can Exponentially Boost Your Social Footprint

Think about this for a second. With google traffic, one of our single pages may get 100 visitors a day, after 2 or 3 months of getting ranked. So that one article in 12 months, may yield a total of 1000 visitors to our site in 10 months. Promoting that article on our Facebook page (for free — you can reach even more if you opt for the sponsored post approach with facebook) can potentially bring in 2000-10000 visitors to that article in only 1-3 days.

That’s essentially 1-5 years of traffic (or ‘eyeballs’ as it were) in 2 days.

And I think you can see the benefits of this. This is why you can EXPLODE your site in the matter of a few months. Because social promotion done right exposes your site to 10,100, or 1000’s of times more visitors than you may otherwise get. And some of that explore may even lead to LINKS which improve your organic authority.

I’ve done the other sort of site to. A site that never worked the social angle. I have one site that gets roughly 6000-7000 visitors a day from Google, but only 50 or so Facebook referrals. It’s taken me about 7-8 years to bring that site from 200 people a day to 7000 people a day, just by virtual of letting the site build up momentum all on it’s on from search traffic.

You tell me what you prefer: slowly building up a site for 8 years, or doing the same thing in 6 months to a year?

Here’s a tidbit from my follow up case study article building SOCIAL authority also helps you build SEARCH authority…but in months and not years. In my next case study, I show you how I built my site from 5 people a day to over 1000 organic search visitors in less than 8 months…

How to Build Social Authority

how to build social authority

There are a couple ways to build a social footprint which leads to social authority.

I’ll talk specifically about our exact method step by step on how to build social authority in the next post where I do a 30 page case study on how we build an authority site from ground up in less than a year.

I’ve found there are really two ways to build social authority:

You can pay for it or You can work for it

…or you can do both.

Now both methods can be highly effective. However, if you are willing to PAY, you can scale up your efforts very very quickly and achieve quick results that would be almost impossible to obtained the old fashioned way (not unless you got really lucky). But, the choice does remain, if you don’t have the money or are unwilling to PAY to promote your site, you can focus on building social authority by working your but off and promoting your site yourself (we call this, whitehat linkbuilding methods).

I’ll give you three specific strategies here for building a quick social footprint. However, it’s up to you whether you want to scale those efforts by paying to achieve these or not. 

1. Build a (Awesome) Facebook Page for Your Site

fanbase2

Let me tell you the benefits of a strong Facebook page with thousands of likes. Every time you share one of your posts to your page, you get hundreds or thousands of likes and social shares. Every time you post, you can pull in thousands of visitors a day to your website.

FOR FREE. Without paying anything to get that traffic.

(if by FREE we ignore the months or year of work you put into
building up a killer Facebook page
)

Here are a couple examples from one of my sites with a very strong Facebook Page…

This is a BuzzSumo report with some 5 of our shared posts. We have hundreds of posts and dozens and dozens that have more than a 1000 likes:

our_social_share

 

How did we get these likes so quickly?

By having a powerful Facebook Page where we post our articles and instantly get loads of likes and traffic, building social authority in a blink.

Here’s another example of an article we just posted last week. Not how fast it’s picked up likes — nearly a thousand a day for the first couple days. Even a week later it’s still getting likes and having social momentum.

shared_article

 

So you see why a Facebook Page can be so powerful?

This is a POWERFUL tool indeed.

You don’t even need google traffic and you can skip that whole ‘writing for no audience’ thing that would otherwise occur for a good six months to a year. If you can leverage Facebook traffic, you can build up a huge social presence right away without waiting long periods of time.

So how do you build up your Facebook page? Well there are a few key strategies you can use to get a lot of followers in a short period of time. Get my newsletter and the free ebook that covers this strategy in our case study. You can do it by paying to promote it or by busting your ass trying to get it to go viral yourself. Both can work and both can work together for best results. Either way STILL requires you to put in some serious effort though and your content has to be KILLER.

I’ve written a detailed 10 page free guide on How to Build a Killer Facebook Page and Get Your First 100,000 likes that you get when you
sign up for our newsletter. In this guide, I’ve detailed the exact steps both me and my brother use to build up our own Facebook pages across multiple sites (and yes, we will be doing the same thing for this site too shortly). So if you haven’t already, make sure you sign up for the newsletter and get that guide!

2. Promote Your Content with Advertising

word cloud - advertising

If you are willing to pay to play, you can trade in dollars for social likes and shares. Now this strategy depends specifically on your budget, and there are some tricks you can leverage where you can offset some of the advertising costs. But if you can pony out an advertising budget, you can dramatically increase the speed at which your site gains social traction.

You can use advertising to promote via Facebook and Twitter. If you get the Facebook advertising down right, you can get spectacular results very quickly — using it to build a big Facebook Page and to also promote your site’s best posts directly. A powerful tool, but one that you will need to pay to take advantage of.

Another method, of course, is Adwords. However, I have not personally tested out the Adwords pay model for building authority and I don’t feel it offers a good value for money versus Facebook, which can bring in loads of FREE traffic.

Let me clear something up though. Don’t think that just by paying money without having a real strategy to build up social authority or good enough content (content that’s also been tailored for Facebook advertising for maximum results) you can easily build social authority.

It’s harder than that.

You need the following to successfully build Social Authority with Paid Advertising: 

  1. A strategy of either building your Facebook Page or Building up Shares to Your Website / Website Post. Both of these are different strategies completely.
  2. Awesome Viral Informative Content that will GRAB readers from their Facebook feeds to your site and once on the article, find themselves impressed)
  3. An understanding on how to make the most per dollar spent on ads. You will need to understand things like Paid Reach, Organic Reach, cost per click, cost per like. At the end of the day, you need to try and squeeze out the most likes / visits / conversions per dollar spent on Facebook. If you don’t figure this shit out, you are going to spend a lot of your own money for little results.
  4. Some means of converting those paid visitors into return (regular) readers, newsletter subscribers,  or someone who may LINK to your site

I talk specifically about the Facebook strategy I used to build up our website’s social presence in a big way in a record amount of time in my next Case Study that I’ll release in a few days. I cover the exact steps both me and my brother too with our Social Backlinking strategy to build up a huge social footprint in only a few months and how this helped us conquer the search engine results in that niche. Did I mention you probably want to
sign up for our newsletter
and get that Facebook eBook Guide that comes with it. It will help when you read the next post.

3. Leverage Sites like Reddit.com, Stumble Upon, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

social-media-logos_15773

These social networks (we’ve talked a bit about Facebook already) can be powerful tools to generate free social traffic — traffic that can become readers of your site and who will help spread the word to other people. There’s a whole strategy behind promoting your stuff with Pinterest and Instagram that I’ll save for another time.

I will, however, talk a bit about Reddit.

Reddit can be a huge traffic source and a great way to get your site recognized by OTHER people who are interested in your niche. However, you do have to specifically target it with your posts and get a bit down and dirty by manually sharing your website to Reddit in the right group with an interesting message to get the traffic party started.

Keep in mind that you don’t want to get excessive when it comes to promoting your site on Reddit. You will develop a lot of bad will which may hurt your reputation.

How to Do Reddit Right

reddit-logo2

  1. First you need to make sure your site has value and lots of good, quality content. Redditors tent to be on the smarter side and tech savvy. If you think you can pass off shoddy content as a Reddit share to grab some quick traffic and links, think again. You’ll have your account banned quicker than Brittany Spears gets booed off stage. If you really piss them off, they can even try to sabotage your site.
  2. Then create a reddit.com account (if you don’t already have one), find the Reddit group (reddit.com/r/NICHE) that covers your topic, pick your best post related to something, and spread the word. There are a number of specific strategies you can use to gain traction on Reddit that I won’t cover here (it’s an entire article just by itself). But know that IF you do this right, you can get hundreds to thousands of visitors a day just from Reddit. And there is a chance your site may get some quality links from other sites because of this. If anything, you can get some social traction and some regular return readers.
  3. There is a chance, if you build up your social momentum on your facebook page (i.e. have thousands of Facebook fans), that trusted redditors may see your articles and share them on Reddit. This has happened to me quite a few times. However, if you do the sharing yourself and do it right, you can really use Reddit to get some readers and maybe some good social attention.

There are other social methods I haven’t talked about that are also effective (Twitter for example can be used effectively as can Instagram and Pintrest for some niches).

Step 5: Keep Creating Content and Promoting Your Site on Social Networks

promote-your-content

Once you start building up thousands of Facebook likes on your site and find your site is beginning to get a real readership (you get return visits, reader comments, your posts get likes, etc), the next step is to keep on pushing out more and more content and getting more and more social traffic.

You don’t want to stop and lose momentum here. Think of your website and your social footprint like a snowball: it starts small but the more it rolls down the hill, the larger it gets and the faster it starts to roll. Both elements feed each other.

The same principal applies to your website and building social authority.

So once you start building a social footprint, you want to step up your traffic generating methods.

To do so:

  1. Continue to promote your Facebook page and your posts. Again, this depends on your budget, but it’s one of the quickest ways to build social momentum if you are willing to spend.
  2. Continue to produce great content at a rapid pace. You should be pumping out articles 3-7 times a week or more. Not every article has to be astoundingly awesome, but you should have at least ONE article a week that really impresses — this will keep readers coming back for more.
  3. Make an effort to network with OTHER top sites in your blog. Comment on their sites, hit them up on twitter, join their forums — NETWORK. Developing a relationship online can lead to networking opportunities. If you just do a cold approach for a link or guest post, you will likely get declined. But if you actually open some lines of communication FIRST with blogs in your niche (and even better, offer them something of value first on your part), you may just be able to get a link or guest post opportunity

Remember the part where I said you don’t need to backlink or make an effort to network? Well forget about that now. Bust your ass and try to network with other people so you can get links to your site. This will really help bring a lot of search authority to your site.

Step 6: Making Money

make-money-online

Once you have established your site and you get traffic from both Google and Social sites, you need to look at how to monetize your site.

I’m not going to cover the exact details on the best monetization strategies; effectively monetizing a trafficked website is an entire series of posts on it’s own.

You’ll find that it’s one thing to build a site up, garner social authority and eventually search authority. But another thing entirely trying to squeeze money out of the site. And sometimes, for some niches, it’s not at all easy to do.

You will need to test out different monetization methods to find the best return.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of different methods for trying to make money from your readers, once you have those readers. But you are going to have to experiment to find the best method. Sometimes, the difference between one method and another can be night and day.

Money Making Tip for the Future: Build a List Now, Not Later

build-your-list

As soon as possible Build a LIST. Let me repeat, you will make MOST OF YOUR MONEY FROM THE LIST. My brother started cashing in to the tune of 2-3000 dollars a month from eBook sales on his own digital product. However, most of those sales came from the EMAIL LIST he created, not the organic search traffic or even Facebook referrals.

Your list is your most core connected audience. Those readers who develop a relationship to you and WANT to hear what you have to say. If you start building your list sooner, over later, you get things rolling faster. Don’t wait a year or two, do it right away.

Be prepared to put in some serious time. Just because you are NOT spending your time spamming backlinks and hunting for PBN’s to use as link networks doesn’t mean this is on autopilot. There’s a lot of work involved in writing the content and doing social outreaches.

But, that work is work that will LAST. If you spend all your time trying to GAME the system, you may just lose all that work when it comes crashing down. But spend effort BUILDING your social brand, you are build a sustainable business that will keep earning year after year.

Things to Speed up Traffic Generation

There are some additional things you can do to build up your traffic to your authority site. And if you are like most of us who want results SOONER than later, you’ll want to pursue at least some of these methods all the while keeping to my Social Backlinking approach to building social authority.

  • Build a fantastic link resource and reach out to people who link to your competitors
  • Continue to post new content every day to send increase your BRAND signals and get Fresh content bonuses from the SERPS
  • Engage in Whitehat promotional methods (guest posting, link outreaches)
  • Build your site on an Expired Domain with quality links
  • Advertise like hell Facebook
  • Produce viral style content and promote the articles by means at hand
  • Create an App Version of Your Website to Access App Marketplaces (Itunes, Google Play Store) and New Traffic Sources

The Final Word

I’ve given you a pretty detailed template for building social authority and traffic to your website without needing to do any sort of manual link building. What surprises me is that many new (and old) marketers who try to make money online ARE STILL trying to take shortcuts and promote their websites using shady link strategies that are, in 2015, not effective long term strategies.

If you are one of those types who are STILL looking at finding the next best currently working Private Blog Network or engaging in some sort of link scheme, stop and just stick with your 9 to 5 job, because you are really wasting your time AND you won’t be able to build a sustainable LONG TERM income that will replace your job.

You can make a bit of money now, but it won’t last.

What you need to focus on is producing outstanding content and value to your readers.

This, at the end of the day, is the foundation of a solid social strategy. create, good, compelling content and promote it on social networks; stuff people will actually want to share.

But first you NEED that content THEN you can think about how to best promote it and tailor your promotion strategies to achieve the best results.

I’ve given a template here that works FOR ME, a person who really does not going out there and hustling for white-hat links like a greasy salesman. There are ways where you can build up your site without having to hustle for links or to mass email bloggers to promote your content.

Whitehat link building techniques are very effective as well and, for best results, should be USED as well. For whitehat link building where you try to secure bloggers to either share your content or let you guest post, you need to really foster relationships first with said bloggers (for best effect) and you need to make sure your content you want them to promote is closely aligned with that of the blogger’s website.

But the fact remains that you can just buckle down, produce great content and (passively) work on building a large social footprint which you can eventually use to promote your site directly with.

Make sure you get ourFree How to Build a Killer Facebook Page guide. Part of the strategy above directly involves building a Social Footprint. And Facebook Page can be used as such, if you build the right one.

Stay tuned for my massive case study on how my brother and I got a million visitors in a little over a year and built search authority to a new website without building a single backlink — all using the strategy detailed in this article.

Comments 5

  1. Mike McRitchie September 19, 2015
    • BenK September 19, 2015
  2. DREW September 23, 2015
    • BenK September 24, 2015
  3. pankaj kheriwal February 7, 2017

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