Monthly Income, Growth & Traffic Report – February 2015

This is the 29th income report as part of the zero backlink experiment.

Every month I will publish a post like this one that shows you how this blog is progressing and everything I have done across the month to get it there.

These reports will help me track my own progress while teaching you what to do and more importantly what not to do.

How to start a successful blog in 7 days

What I Have Done In February

I took a couple of weeks off towards the end of February but had an ambitious task list to work through, so I bit the bullet and put myself through a fairly brutal couple of weeks.

At the moment I’m overhauling the blog on all fronts from a complete content audit to a new theme. Along with trying to automate as much as possible and preparing for a change in direction for the blogs future.

I will be back in full swing again from Tuesday so expect to see some rapid changes across the next month, as your about to see I already changed a lot of things.

Content Creation

This month I published a total of 9 posts which is 2 more than last month and might be the most I have ever posted! Did it feel like too much for you guys this month? Let me know!

I showed you some awesome Gmail tips, tricks and secrets along with 43 expert social media marketing tips to boot.

You also learnt how to promote your website with key influencers & a detailed local SEO guide.

If you want to fast track your success you should focus on these blog metrics and you might learn something from these 3 exit popup case studies.

Last but not least I dove into Stuart Walkers bounce rate problems by showing him how to reduce bounce rate.

Other than those posts we just had the regular best of internet marketing & income report roundup posts.

Specialist SEO Agency Development

Last month saw the full launch of my specialist SEO agency which was met with great reception.

In the first few days the team were drowning in enquires and we had to fight through the queue to speak to everyone on the phone & draw up proposals.

agency-screenshot

Even though it was a bit hectic for a while it was a very smooth launch and we have already delivered a number of ranking increases for new clients (case studies to come).

We specialise purely in ranking sites in search engines. Nothing more, nothing less. There are 5 core services-

We also have a few active client case studies available for you to check out-

  • Diet & Weight Loss Recovery – This client was penalised by Penguin 2.1 & now has over 4,000 1st page rankings brining over 500,000 organic visitors per month.
  • Pet Store Ecommerce – We have more than doubled search traffic for this client by ranking for core commercial terms.
  • Video Streaming Site Recovery – This client was hit by a manual penalty losing rankings for terms like ‘online movies’ – we removed the penalty & they now enjoy 114 #1 spots with 980 other top 10 listings.

I’m going to be adding more case studies & testimonials to the site this month so be sure to check them out!

Blog Development Round 1

I’ve got a very clear plan mapped out for the blog during the first few months of this year. I’m looking to build on what I already have by doing a complete revamp of well, everything.

This includes the theme, content, images, optin process, an app, automating processes, growth & more!

I have already started executing parts of the plan meeting deadlines as I go – the entire process will be complete in a couple more months but for now I will keep you update on what I’m doing in these reports.

New Theme

Let me start with telling you the new theme will be deployed in the next 7 days.

The guys from MyThemeShop were kind enough to re-develop the current theme from the ground up.

This means at long last the site will be fully responsive and won’t look rubbish on mobile devices – this has to be the #1 complaint from the past few months and I’m happy to finally address it.

It also takes advantage of modern coding standards like HTML5 & CSS3 along with all of the latest schema markup for articles, comments, reviews & more baked into the core.

On top of that it is super lightweight, for example the homepage is now only 512KB compared to 988KB with the current theme.

But what might shock you is what it actually looks like (so far)-

new-theme

As you can see – not a lot has changed and with good reason.

The problem with changing your design, layout or theme is it comes with great risk. If you get it wrong you can see engagement metrics drop off a cliff and your search rankings slip away.

So I decided to manage that risk as much as possible by keeping the design/layout identical to the current theme with some minor visual tweaks to measure the impact that has on both engagement and search rankings.

The idea is that will give me the perfect platform to build on with split testing rather than going for a radical design change in 1 crack of the whip.

The new theme should be deployed within the next week so keep your eyes peeled, you’ll need to :P

Social Network Auto Poster

As part of my overall blog changes I have looked for as many time saving opportunities as possible.

One of these was the posting of new posts on social media. Although I could do it all with 1 click with Buffer for free (except Google+ personal profile) that still meant I had to actually do it every time I posted.

That not only means remembering to do it but you also have to be sat at your computer when a post goes live.

On top of that when you post via something like Buffer you tend to get a very basic post with just the title & URL that looks like this-

fb1

It’s not exactly engaging and Facebooks algorithm doesn’t take kindly to that type of page update anymore.

So the solution was to use Social Network Auto Poster which not only updates every single social network automatically, but it also adds lots of additional content-

fb2

Now my social media updates are working harder for me whilst I have stopped thinking about them entirely.

Seems like a good deal to me!

Content Audit

I also started work on a complete content audit which includes updating old content, creating new featured images, optimising headlines, create a solid tag structure & more.

Featured Images

So far I have created 185 new featured images with only 52 more left to complete this week. It has been a real grind to do but it’s a very low invest/high reward task.

For example I used this guide to make sure every image looks great on every social network.

So now when they are shared they should stand out more & encourage people to engage more than they would before.

I want every piece of content I have produced to work as hard for me as possible so I decided to dig in hard and update every single one.

Headline Optimisation

Whilst I was optimising images I also decided to optimise the headlines of every article.

I did this by setting up a split test so every post has 3 possible titles. Again it was a pain to do but is something that has a very high reward ratio.

I tried a couple of different solutions for this start with HeadLines by KingSumo. Less than 12 hours after setting it up though I had to pull it.

It was adding query strings to all of the URLs, which was causing issue with caching and was too much of an SEO risk for me. Also how it collects the data seems like a good idea on the surface but would take forever for the average blogger to collect.

So instead I opted for title experiments which unlike Headlines is 100% free.

It collects data by split testing post headlines on your blog – so when people are browsing archive pages they are shown different titles to measure which attracts the most attention.

headline-test

As you can see it is really easy to setup & the results can only help lead to increases in engagement over time.

Paid Advertising Assault

I have a very solid email marketing strategy plan in place which was recently improved with my new email conversion rate formula.

With a funnel like that in place I know that new subscribers are worth $17.81 to me over a 90 day period. So in essence if I can buy each subscriber for less than that I will see steady growth.

To do that I have launched a number of paid advertising campaigns across Facebook, Twitter & YouTube which are detailed below.

Facebook

I have decided to attack Facebook on a number of fronts because I have spent an awful lot of time experimenting with Facebook Ads over the past year.

First of all I have deployed all of my lead magnets by retargeting blog readers.

So if you read an article about social media on the blog and have not opted in – you will start seeing adverts for my social media lead magnet.

I have also started to spend $60 promoting some new posts. This is split into 2 campaigns, 1 targets blog subscribers & facebook likes that have not read the article to re-engage my existing audience.

The second campaign is designed to find new audience members through interest targeting that have not read the article and aren’t current subscribers.

Then I have some secret sauce in the pot that is currently eating through some tests.

fbads

As you can see that is making for some very cheap clicks & conversions.

Twitter

While I am well versed with Facebook Ads I haven’t spent a whole lot of time experimenting with Twitter ads.

So I have decided to replicate my post promotion strategy from Facebook on Twitter to measure early results. So far they are encouraging as clicks are cheap and the traffic is decent.

twitterads

You will see a CPA of $25 for new email subscribers which seems high compared to above but the campaign in the screenshot is purely the promotion of a blog post – it is not a landing page.

The cost per click is pretty cheap though and helps me reach a new audience so I’m going to do some more experiments over the coming weeks to try and automate future growth.

YouTube

I have spoken at 2 conferences that Ben Ezra also attended and he keeps telling me to take advantage of YouTube advertising. So I decided to implement his advice.

In essence I can have any video I want to play as an advert on top of other peoples videos. So that is exactly what I did using the video from here.

The results are fairly encouraging so far-

youtube

Well that was until this email landed in my inbox-

adwords-email

Which put an instant halt to the campaign shortly after it started.

I’m not really sure how to fix that so if you have any ideas – please let me know in the comments I’ll be eternally grateful =D

Crunching The Numbers

So let’s get our hands dirty and take a look at what my hard work has done for me this month.

Visitor Statistics

This month I managed to stay above my 50,000 visitor threshold with 58,946 (2,105/day) visitors which is a nice jump from 54,827 (1,768/day).

I put that down to the additional paid promotion work that has been done this month that will begin to bear fruit in the coming months.

analytics-overview

Most Popular Content

The local SEO tutorial stole the show this month grabbing the most amount of pageviews.

In a very close second was my favourite link building strategy & it was nice to see the new Google keyword ranking factors post getting some attention.

But better than all of that is the fact my thank you page broke the top 10 visited pages. That page is only accessible after you subscribe to the blog.

In the perfect world that would be the most visited page on the blog – I’ve got some work to do!

analytics-content

Top Traffic Sources

Traffic has grown steadily this month and the break down below shows you that the majority of that is from Facebook.

You will also notice an increase in Traffic from Twitter as I tested some post promotion campaigns out.

analytics-tsources

Search Engine Traffic

Organic traffic from Google has grew gently this month with 37,426 (1,336/day) visits compared to 36,887 (1,190/day) last month.

As you can see the majority of top 10 keywords driving traffic that Analytics reports are brand driven.

analytics-kws

YouTube Views

I lost all of my historical YouTube views because of changes I made to the branding – so I keep track of them separately.

Views have dropped from 23,115 to 21,977 which is a decent view rate but is a rate that is steadily declining.

Total minutes watched also took a knock from from 127,157 to 119,225! That still means there nearly 3 people were watching one of my videos every minute of every day!

youtubestats

Social Shares

I have temporarily removed this section while I find a better solution to collect the data

Subscribers

The most important metric on the entire blog – earning a subscription from someone is the ultimate form of commitment and conversion.

This month brought 4,595 new subscribers across various channels which is a steady increase on last months 3,441.

There are now a total of 102,184 subscribers across all of the different channels breaking the 6 figure barrier for the first time!

  • E-mail – 2,588 (2,549 last month) / Total: 53,704
  • Twitter – 487 (201 last month) / Total: 7,264
  • YouTube – 245 (318 last month) / Total: 7,243
  • Facebook – 979 (176 last month) / Total: 15,882
  • Google+ – 180 (101 last month) / Total: 17,612
  • RSS – 116 (66 last month) / Total: 479

Income Report

Here are the numbers you really want to see-

Affiliate Earnings

Expenses

Consultation Earnings

I separate out my SEO consultant earnings from the affiliate earnings. The blog drives affiliate sales directly and whilst it does generate SEO consultation leads these are separate projects in their own right.

I didn’t take on any consultation work this month which results in zero consultation earnings.

Other Income

I’m working on another project right now that is part of the blog but not something I’m ready to talk about publicly yet or maybe ever.

I will declare the income here though as it wouldn’t be possible without the blog and ‘technically’ it is affiliate income.

This earned a total of $9,669.50 which is up quite a bit from last months $6,412.00.

Earnings Total

  • Affiliate Income – $9,169.62
  • Consultation Income – $00.00
  • Other Income – $9,669.50
  • Expenses – $2,063.22

Grand Total: $16,775.90 / £10,865.58 ($20,963.73 / £13,914.14 last month)

On the surface it looks like income has dropped, but income actually remained at a similar level even though I took 2 weeks off.

My increase in expenses this month with paid social advertising impacted the bottom line, but that supports future growth of the blog and will come full circle in time.

How to start a successful blog in 7 days

Signing Off

While I’m still technically ‘on holiday’ I’m going to make the most of today before picking everything back up again tomorrow.

I have some huge changes to make to the blog and that is going to require a boat load of good old fashioned elbow grease.

Nothing beats hard work. Well, except working smart AND hard :)

So I’m going to sign off for the day and make the most of my relax time while I still can!

Thank you to everyone that has helped me reach my goals – I couldn’t do it without you, the reader!

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