I’m going to start off this entire post by saying I realize my sites aren’t very pretty. They have always been a work in progress to see what works. To present in a way that gives the user information and yet have Google still deem it worthy of going to the front page. I have big plans but like most of the domain investors I know, it’s more in my head than in my site. If fact, in the near future I will be working with Theo and Tia Wood to redesign the sites that present my information in a much prettier way.
You’ve heard me say I make $500 to $1000 a month with my websites and many months more. Because they are plant related they tend to be very seasonal. There is also a huge difference in daily amounts based on what ads happen to appear. Some ads will pay a nickel and I make $3.00 and then the they pay $1.15 and I make $40 that day. So the monthly totals are all over the board but tend to be much higher when it’s growing season. I also have some random non-updated sites with little content that still make money each day. Sites like lazystripper.com, moderngardener.com, butterknuckle.com. They are pretty much sites I was having a little fun with and I keep them up because they do make a few dollars here and there. I probably have ten or so of these sites and they bring in an extra $10 to $20 a day. It’s not much but it ads up. They also taught me the value of pictures.
I make my money on all my plant sites through providing information and pictures. I’ve learned that even with these poor sites, people will find them through Google image search. Even those old sites can get thousands of hits on a given day all because a picture was on the first page of an image search. I also learned that for my garden site I need to take advantage of my ability to take an endless amount of photos of plants. Photos that are different than all the other stock photos of plants on the net. This led me to my next discovery.
Google often doesn’t care how many links you have or pagerank. My sites like coneflower.com and heucheras.com are on the first page of google with essentially no links and higher than many sites with a higher amount of everything. They rank because they are THE keyword. They also rank because the keyword is repeated in every post because the plants are the keyword. Combine that with original pictures and Google seems to think my sites are worth promoting. I cheated a little with heucheras as there really is no such word. The plural of heuchera is heuchera but I figured nobody really knew that or cared and it contained the right word I needed so I added an “s” to the end. I also think the description I use is very appealing to a Google user. I often use “The complete guide to Insert plant with original photos and descriptions. All this seems to work.
Coneflower alone gets thousands of visitors on some days and usually gets more than my blog. It doesn’t show that in compete or alexa but it doesn’t really matter to me as long as people are coming. Coneflower was another experiment as I wanted to see if Google preferred Blogger over WordPress. Originally I thought they did but eventually I figured out that Google only really likes the style of Blogger. Lots of tabs and varieties on the first page. Nothing buried too deep. Simple and upfront. I haven’t taken the site off Blogger because it does well and other than not being pretty, statistically it’s great. Blogger is free hosting as well so I just let it be. I have 40 more echinacea/coneflower varieties to add (with original pictures of course) but I haven’t made the time to do it.
I have a site coreopsis.info that I set up to test the ability of a dot info to rank. I chose that one because I grow a lot of different coreopsis and Frank Schilling owns the dot com and I knew he’ll never develop it (something I will talk to him about in due time). There are plenty of sites that talk about and sell coreopsis but most don’t have the keyword. Sure enough coreopsis.info, as shitty as it is right now, is already up to page two and climbing. I think my redo and add all the content and photos I have sitting on my computer at home, I will be able to put this dot info on the front page. I have a few other sites like vermicomposting.com (worm composting) that I took all the photos for and then wrote all the article based on personal experience. I worm compost myself and pretty much put the site together in one day based on what I already know about it. I essentially could do lots of these sites but I get turned in 1000 directions and never just sit down and work.
So listed in order here’s what’s been working for me on my sites
1. Keyword domains seem to push my sites to the first page faster. My competitors in the plant world aren’t the most versed in SEO and prefer to try and promote pages within their site rather than set up seperate sites that lead to one master site.
2. Well tagged and original photos drive big traffic in the plant world. People want to see what the plants look like and get tired of seeing the same photo over and over.
3. Personal descriptions and opinions that seem like they are from someone that actually works with the product draw better response
4. Adsense pays pretty well most days. Amazon used to add a few dollars a day but I’m in Illinois so I got dropped. The real money is in selling the plants themselves and that’s is my plan here in the very near future now that I’m on page one for a few of the sites. I am not going to even attempt lead gen because I have the plants, I can generate leads for myself.
5. If the product is based on beauty then you better have pictures and lots them. They need to be your own. Google loves originality and will reward you for it.
6. I make more money that most on my sites because I know what I’m talking about (about plants). I do it every day. I see and touch these things. I have been in the industry my entire life and live and breathe this daily. I could sit down and write articles all day, every day and do it for years. You will have a MUCH better chance of success if your site is about something you truly love or are an “expert” about. Google may not exactly care but the readers will and they will show their appreciation through links and likes.
7. Did I mention original pictures and owning the keyword?
So yes, I have a lot of work to do with the site. I have plenty of names to develop that I haven’t even touched. Coleus.com, spirea.com, and 20 or 30 other domains owned by my business. I am working on developing more of a template style I can easily fill with data and photos. I look at how much I make per month and know how much more I could be making but per usual, I just need to step up and get going.