Building A Robust Business With Real Authority Sites – Interview with William Allen
With the Google updates coming thick and fast these days, many people have become disillusioned with creating heaps of little “niche style” sites. In fact, I’m one of them. Most of my niche sites have taken a battering over the past 12 months. It’s got to the stage where I am hesitant to create new niche sites because it seems like a waste of time and effort.
I guess that’s what Google want people to think. But their actions seem to be broadening the divide between people that choose to align themselves more closely to Google and those that rail against them.
Publicly, Google say they want a superior user experience for anyone that use their services, principally their search engine. So if you want to align with Google you have to improve visitor experience. This is the approach I am now following. I think it’s a safer, more robust strategy.
With that in mind, I interviewed William Allen from RealAuthoritySites.com about how he gives Google what it wants and does very well in the process.
How long have you been doing internet marketing ?
I’ve been doing IM for about 6 years now.
Are you part time or full time ?
I am full time.
Why do you think the failure rate is so high in internet marketing ?
I think the failure rate is so high because too many people want overnight success. And it’s not often their fault that they think it’s possible. There are a lot of products out there that promise near-instant riches.
In my experience I’ve found that there’s no such thing as an overnight success in this business. The only thing that works is hard work and persistence. I don’t know anyone that makes a lot of money in IM that only works an hour a day.
What attributes does a person need to be successful at IM in your opinion ?
I think anyone can be successful at IM if they put their mind to it. As far as attributes go, I think if you’re persistent and work hard then you can achieve your goals. Just make sure that you’re persistent with the SAME method. Find something that works and stick with it. Then when you achieve success in that one area you can move onto something else.
What business model or method of IM has worked best for you ?
Authority sites have been my main method but I also work with PPC. I’ve been trying some new stuff with PPC lately and I like it. It’s a whole different ball game than SEO but just like anything if you take the time to learn how to do it right you can be successful at it.
What do you like about the authority site model ?
The reliability. I’ve been online and I’ve done a LOT of different things and I’ve found that my authority sites have remained the most constant in terms of traffic and revenue. I tried stuff like Google Sniper and small MFA sites and they all lost traffic after a certain time period.
I believe there’s also less maintenance with an Authority Site. If you’re building 3 to 5 sites a week, that’s a lot of work. If you have 5 authority sites then all you have to do is create some content each day and do a little marketing and you’re done. Now, building an authority site is a lot more work than building a small site. But in the end I like the bigger sites better.
How do you define an authority site ?
An authority site is NOT just a “big” site. You can’t just have 200 posts on your site that were all written by some guy in the Phillipines for $5 and expect your site to reach authority status. There’s more to it than that. An authority site is a site that people look to for information. If you have a 10 page Amazon site on “Weed Wackers” that you built in 30 minutes, it might make you some money but you won’t get return visitors. People won’t Tweet about it and they won’t “Like” it on Facebook.
However, if you build a big a big site about lawn care and you put work into the posts and spend time communicating with your visitors then you’ll build a lot of respect in the niche. Your followers will Tweet about your site and they will “Like” it and they will talk about it on forums and other sites will reference you etc. Authority sites are sites in which you build a community that has an interest in common. That’s key. It’s all about the community.
Sites like WebMD, Oprah.com, etc. are what I consider authority sites. They have enormous amounts of human and financial resources dedicated to them…surely it’s not possible to compete against sites like these ?
You can compete as long as you don’t go too broad. For example you wouldn’t want to try and build a site on just “health” because you would be competing with WebMD and MayoClinic. You want to narrow down into a specific niche like Acupuncture or Natural Treatments.
So if you are going to create an authority site, how do you gauge if some niche topic is worth the effort but not too competitive ? What’s your sweet spot or do you just develop a “gut instinct” for the validity of a project with experience ?
I have a process I go through to determine if a niche is worth going after. Usually I try to go after the bigger online markets where I know money is being spent. Markets like health, money, relationships, etc. You just have to narrow down to a specific niche. For instance, I have a site about weight loss that does pretty well. Weight loss is still pretty broad a topic but I find that I almost never run out of things to write about. And I try not to follow any instincts. I try to make decisions based on empirical data.
Many people may feel intimidated by the idea that they will be creating an authority site on a topic…. Do you have to become personally recognizable as an authority in the niche ?
Not at all. What I like to do is handle most of the content creation myself (at least right at the beginning). When I do that I become pretty well versed on the topic. Plus I like to spend some time studying the niche before I delve into it. I do stuff like visit forums, yahoo answers, spend time on other sites in the niche, etc.
How can you produce quality content in a niche if you aren’t an authority ?
Simple research is the key here. I create content like I would a research paper. Just get the information you use to create your articles from trusted sources. Sites like CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, .edu sites, etc.
How would you define authority quality content?
It’s content that provides a solution to the searcher’s problem. It also quotes reliable sources. For instance, in most of my content I will directly quote and reference (link to) news or education based sites. If I have a quote from a professor at Harvard in my content (and a link to the page on the Harvard site where it was originally written) then people will tend to trust what I’m saying. It also helps to add a spice of your own personality. Plus infographics, video, images, audio, good grammar and no spelling mistakes.
You use WordPress to create the site ?
Why does WordPress lend itself to creating an authority site in your opinion ?
WordPress is just so versatile. Plus I use the Thesis theme which completely rocks.
So you have set up a site with content on it, how do you make money from it ?
I usually use a heatmap generator (from a site like LuckyOrange.com) to find out where my visitors are going and then I will put ads there. Usually I’ll start out with an ad at the top of the sidebar and somewhere near the top of the article. Then one at the bottom of the article. You really have to experiment and move your ads around to maximize your CTRs. And I use Adsense, CPA, Clickbank, Commission Junction, etc. Whatever works best with the niche.
My thinking is that you develop content and get a following to your site and then start thinking about how to monetize the traffic you are getting. In other words, solve problems first and then think about making money.
Is this your approach or do you identify things that can make you money first and then craft content around those things – could be affiliate products or simply high paying keywords for something like Adsense ?
I think it’s imperative to make sure that you identify what makes money FIRST and then build your site around it. That’s why I like the bigger markets online. In most of those markets people are spending money. And the keywords I choose are usually keywords I know that advertisers are spending money on.
For example, if I’m planning on creating a post to be monetized with Adsense Ads I’ll check the CPC of the keyword before I start creating content around it. Also, I make sure I don’t focus on ONE form of monetization. That way, if for some reason my Adsense account gets banned I could monetize with CPA or Clickbank.
How long does it take before your site makes money in your experience ?
I would say, on average, probably around a month. Sometimes sooner. Sometimes later. There are a lot of factors to consider here. Keyword competition, niche competition, marketing methods, etc.
Is it a realistic goal to create your own product as you become more of an authority ?
Absolutely. I think that if you’re in a niche that allows for it then creating a product is a natural step in the progression of a site.
Is this something you do ? If so, could you share some broad brush strokes about how you do this ?
I do create products. I will usually poll my visitors and ask them what their biggest problems are and then I create a product that addresses those problems. Usually an ebook or a series of videos.
Would you recommend building a list for any authority site you create ?
What strategies do you use to build the list ?
I will usually offer a free video or guide to my visitors in exchange for their email.
How do you interact with the list?
Sometimes I’ll create content specifically for the list but usually I’ll just link back to the newest post on the site.
I guess you try to showcase your knowledge of the topic to build credibility and trust but you also sell to the list ?
I do. I will create “sales emails” where I review or recommend a product. I make sure my list knows that it’s an advertisement. What I’ll do is tell the list in the initial follow up email that I will occasionally be sending out “Partner Emails” that features products I recommend. That way I can just label any promotional email as a “Partner Email” in the subject line.
I think it’s crucial to maintain trust with your visitors so I don’t try and “trick” them into buying anything. I also actually review or test out a product before I recommend it. This way you don’t burn your list.
Promoting your site is pretty important. What percentage of your time do you spend working on the site and what percentage of time do you promote it ?
I spend much more time working on the site than I do promoting it. I only do a handful of promotion. I like guest blogging and blog commenting. There’s also video marketing and social media marketing. The only “forced” type of linking I do is with Synnd. I try to make sure everything I do with a site is White Hat.
What is the primary source of traffic for your authority sites ?
Organic search engine traffic.
Is creating an authority site something that a newbie could do in your opinion ?
Absolutely! Especially if they get the right training
Do you think an authority site will continue to rank in the search engines given the constant changes ?
Yes. The recent Google changes have definitely had an effect on my sites. A few lost traffic and some gained traffic. I think you have to be able to adapt no matter what type of method you use to make money online. I’ve implemented some changes on my sites lately and have been able to bring most of the traffic back that I’d lost.
The thing that had the most impact, I think, is removing a lot of the internal linking. I still use the Related Posts Thumbnails plugin but I removed a lot of the post-to-post, in-text links. After I removed these internal links there was an almost immediate increase in traffic.
When do you start a second site ? What goal do you set yourself with a current site before starting a second one ?
I will start a second site when the first site is completely set up. That means everything is in place including the social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Google +). When the site is at that stage all I have to do is create content so it frees up time to start working on another site.
Thanks again William for taking the time to answer these questions.
If you’d like to learn more about William’s approach to creating Authority style sites then head over to Real Authority Sites.