My Blogging, SEO and Affiliate Marketing Mistakes in 2015 + 2016 Action Plan

We’ve been hard at learning SEO, blogging and building traffic to our affiliate sites for just over a year now. We took a 6 month break to recuperate, buy land and start a homestead. Now we’re back focusing on our portfolio. It’s pretty neglected. Okay it’s a downright mess. So much so we’re overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get back on track.

Last night we were even talking about selling our entire $10,000 pbn and all of our money sites to focus on blogging. It seems like a shame. We’ve come so far. It’s earning a decent income. I wish someone would have thrown a bucket of ice water in my face and told me to get real!

After reading some leading internet marketing blogs and watching videos before bed I had an epiphany. It might sound stupid, but we never really focused on conversion rate optimization among many other things. In fact we’re 100% guilty of doing the one thing we coach our SEO clients NOT to do. That’s go from traffic straight to the sale. It doesn’t work. At least it won’t work very well. That’s us. Well not entirely, but if the CRO police came by, we’d be arrested for sure.

It’s time to get real, admit our failures and where we went wrong all these months. It’s time to get back on track, find a starting place and build greatness.

One of the most glaring failures of all our work in the past year generating over 322,000 page views is our low conversion rates. We’re in high margin verticals. We have solid search engine rankings. We have great content that helps people. Really high quality video. Super active social media channels. Yet the income just never has been what we wanted it to be. It’s enough, but we didn’t get into digital marketing to squeak by. Did you?

This post is first going to be an admission of the failures, oversights and mistakes of the past year and then our goals to improve conversions and ultimately success across our portfolio of blogs, affiliate sites and social media channels. We hope this helps you launch into 2016 with renewed passion for your sites, income and life!

When you’re an SEO rankings are your obsession

Whether you’re new to SEO or have been in internet marketing for years search engine optimization is a drug. The allure of free traffic. Tens of thousands of hits for free. Getting the coveted #1 spot and telling everyone about the success. The big G has it locked down. Every SERP tracker is built to track GOOGLE. They’re the guerilla. Everyone talks about them. It’s hard not to be obsessed with getting ranked, ranking well and getting all those free clicks. It’s all a big waste of time.

We have learned that even a poor ranking site can have excellent traffic and great conversions.  In fact we have earned more revenue from sites that don’t get any SEO traffic than the combined revenue of sites holding down top 3 rankings. These non-SEO sites are solutions to problems. Designed to help people. They get traffic because they improve peoples lives. They weren’t built for search engines. We’re guiltly of disconnecting from the idea that “Internet Marketing is so much more than SEO” and this:

First lesson, crash course in on-site, for if the onsite is not good, the amount of traffic coming will not matter. Getting 1000 visitors a day to a site with no call to actions, or clear outlined funnel process would equate to just getting absolutely no traffic in the first place. –

Checking your rankings daily, okay let’s be honest, several times a day, hoping for upward movement. It mesmerizing at first and then it’s exhausting. Even once you have the coveted #1 spot. It’s “rinse and repeat” as they say. Which is all good until you realize you’re just one algorithm update from an overnight disaster. In the words of co-founder, “What I learned quickly was that you should never build a business model that is dependent on another platform, especially an SEO play on Google’s platform.” Let’s just add Yahoo and Bing in there too shall we?

The lesson here is that SEO can be part of a strategy, but it isn’t THE strategy. If you’re building sites exclusively off SEO, you’re setting yourself up for an overnight failure. We are guilty of this with many of our sites. It requires a tremendous amount of resources to rank in competitive niches. We’re not prepared for this fate. I’ll touch on how we’re going to change this later.

It’s so easy in SEO and internet marketing to think only of yourself

As marketers we’re accustomed to learning the human psyche and how to exploit it. That’s what marketers do. In fact the great Frank Kern once said “Marketers should kill themselves” in one of his Mass Control videos.  It’s just too easy to think of self and no one else. SEO’s in particular are the essence of such thinking. Ripping off software, stealing products, sharing logins, group buys, blackhat tactics, buying products then reporting the purchase as fraud. Some of you reading this are guilty of one of these if not all of them. We are too.

What we’ve forgotten is the Law of Reciprocity. The reason it’s called a law is because it’s as reliable as gravity. You jump off a building without a parachute you know the consequence. If you want to ignore the Law of Reciprocity, the consequences are just as severe. When you give of yourself to help others, it’s natural for them to want to reciprocate. However if you’re always the one taking, stealing, thieving, siphoning, robbing and sucking for personal gain, you’ll end up broke and alone. As you should.

We want to get back to helping people. It’s not only fun and satisfying, it can be profitable and even lucrative. All my previous businesses were built by helping people solve problems. An internet business shouldn’t be any different. We want to help others reach their income goals, life goals and lifestyle goals by sharing things we’ve done and learned. We’re going to focus on doing more of that with our work going forward.

Doing too many things and not doing any of them very well

In just one years time we learned all the different Google algorithms, to build a pbn, scrape expired domains, to use SAPE, build link wheels, tiered link building, Reddit marketing, to spin content, siloing, 301 redirects, on page optimization, link rentals, outreach, video production, Google analytics, email marketing, citations, built elearning sites, wrote ebooks, joint ventures and so much more. It’s enough to make your head pound. Ours did and often.

Because the internet is always on, it’s so easy to be plugged in. In the physical world you can’t call customers at 2am, but you can do link building or sell domains. It’s hard to unplug. Opportunity is everywhere. Doesn’t that mean we have to jump at everything that comes our way? We often did. Our bodies and minds paid the price.

For the coming year we plan to have fewer balloons in the air. Less juggling means less dropped balls. Focusing on things we’re passionate about and seeing them through to the finish line.

Going for the sale, not the relationship

One of our main focuses this year was getting our heads wrapped around affiliate SEO. We wanted to see what all the hype was about. Get that first paycheck. The big one. We got so obsessed with turning all that grinding, because blackhat seo is a grind, into profits. We spent a lot of time writing content among other things. It seems nearly everything was written for one of two reasons. To cater to Google’s algorithms or to sell something. Either landing pages or silo content. We were writing content for to help ourselves and search engines, not people.

It’s like I’ve forgotten everything I knew AND preach from building local businesses. No business survives on one time customers. PERIOD. If you can’t get repeat business you’ll dry up. The cost of new client acquisition is just too high. Your profits don’t start coming until you’ve built a steady flow of loyal clients. This rule applies equally as strong online.  You need people to come back or to be able to build rapport. Getting all that search engine traffic in the world is nice, but people don’t buy from search engines. People buy from people.

Not building relationships, like at all

Internet marketers are people too. There’s a community here. All the big fish are fairly well known, but there are many lessor known contributors and really strong communities that you’d do well to pay attention to. Early on I made waves in the community. Quickly getting banned in several groups. I don’t want to apologize. I want to learn from the experience and thank the mods in those groups for giving me the boot. I don’t have to agree with their moderation, but what I did learn is hospitality.

Respect and contribute to the community to get respect.

I’ll always be critical of others who stand up as leaders and challenge authority, but I can learn to be more cordial and look past flaws and find the good in people. At the end of the day, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Relationships matter.

My goal this year is to connect with people more and serve Google less. Contribute to your success not Googles.

Not up leveling and having better mentors

If you want to improve, and I hope you do, you have to look for people who are better than you. Learn from them.

In my past I’ve always looked for someone who is doing or had done what I wanted to do and sat at their feet as a student.

We’ve hired a few coaches in SEO, but none have really blown us away. Some we were even behind us in knowledge or experience. That’s not fun to find out after spending a few hundred bucks and a few hours of your time.

My thinking has always been time is irreplaceable. I can always earn more money. Seeking a quality mentor is something we tried early on with little success and we stopped looking. I’ve paid dearly in time and opportunity lost.

Looking for someone to mentor? We’re seeking a capable mentor. If you’re interested in a challenge and willing to take on a student to help us take it to the next level contact us here and tell me a bit more about yourself, your skillset and how best you work with students.

Have a coach that was pivotal to your success? We’d love to be referred to them. Send us a message or give them a shout out in the comments below!

Working from a place of scarcity, instead of abundance

One thing that drew me to internet marketing was the vastness of opportunity. I was tired of working with local businesses who endlessly complain that the economy is weak, customers aren’t loyal, there’s too much competition blah blah blah.

I started a business with $50 and sold it for $45,000 in 4 years. It was built off helping other people grow their businesses.

When I switched to IM my attitude changed for some reason. I didn’t have enough. Enough websites. Enough rankings. Enough conversions. Enough revenue. Enough profits. So I went into scarcity mode. I kept everything and took as much as I could get.

I’d like to get back to abundant thinking. Looking for ways to help others. Share the wealth and create opportunities.

Too leveraged on Google

This was discussed earlier, but it’s worth saying again. If you’re business is leveraged off of Google, or any other platform other than your own, y0u deserve to have your doors rolled up in a night with no notice. We’re already working to diversify and deepen our traffic sources and SEO isn’t our #1 priority. We won’t ignore it, but we won’t be obsessing over it either.

Not having a written promotion strategy

As anyone who blogs knows it takes immense effort to create really great content. It’s a tragedy when that content goes unused or unseen. Its not uncommon to spend 8-12 hours writing an article. This past year our distribution and promotion strategies were pathetic and lethargic. We wrote a couple great resources like this one on trust flow and our Ultimate SEO Toolbox which have been shared many times and helped a lot of people. When people benefit from your work it’s the motivation you need to keep creating great things.

We’ll focus on having a written and actionable promotion strategy for our work so that as many people as possible can benefit and we’ll have the motivation we need to keep the quality high.

Working in my business, not working on it

It’s so easy in digital marketing to be a one man show. This has been played out in every industry prior to digital marketing which could conceivably be run by a single person. I know better. Before shifting to digital marketing I built local businesses and I was getting good at getting them to run without me. It takes time to build a business, it’s easy to start a job.

Using teams. Delegating tasks. Building people from within. Creating a business, not a job.

When it came to digital I fell into the “If I want it done right, I need to do it” mindset. This is the well paved path to certain burnout and failure. I’ve created a job. To be fair I needed the experience. I needed to learn as much as I could. Helps you know who to hire and trust.

Look at anyone who has built true success and you’ll see they to develop people. They don’t make work for themselves. They build systems and work with other people to create success. They have a team.

This year I’ll be focusing on system development and system optimization so I can bring sustainability to our business and get our life back.

Giving back to the community

We all love getting things, but giving isn’t always as easy. I have a lot to learn in internet marketing, SEO, affiliate and blogging, but I also have lot to share from my business past and lessons I’m learning as I go.

Going forward I want to give more to the community by sharing great things I find, lessons I’ve learned and giving of my knowledge when it could help someone else. If you need something, have a question or are stuck hit me up and I’ll see if I can help!

Focusing on revenue, instead of conversions

I’m almost certain every new internet marketer and SEO is guilty of this. Quite frankly everyone is looking for quick and easy money. They are also rarely sitting on a large nest egg. So they’re looking for cash in the bank. That wasn’t really the case with us, but we spent a lot and wanted to see some ROI.

In seeking an ROI in dollars, we overlooked the most valuable thing we could. Our list. We focused on sales, not building an audience who would benefit from the things we wrote and built.

I can’t tell you how empty it feels to be writing low quality content to stick up on a site and sit there waiting for Google to pay attention. It feels so much better to write from the heart and let it all hang out. Really give it your best because you now you’re going to share it with people and they’re going to benefit.

We want more of the latter. Wealth is the product of relationships, not clicks.

Our #1 Goal for 2016

With our properties gaining momentum and rankings doing well we want to focus less on revenue and focus more on relationships. Within the community and with those who visit our websites. Building lists and engaging people. The greatest compliment you can get from a visitor isn’t a sale, it’s their email and the greatest gift a friend can give you is their time.

To do this we’re going to start focusing on capturing more emails from all of our sites, sending more frequent emails and creating higher quality content to help people. Perhaps you noticed when you arrived here today we added the Welcome Mat from SumoMe. That’s where we’ll start. We also have some giveaways planned to share some of our favorite tools, services and products!

If you want to find out when about these giveaways you’ll need to be subscribed to our emails. If you aren’t already, just use the blue bar at the top of the page. We’ll only be sharing these with our friends via email.

Wrapping it up & Feedback

While there are many more things we could have improved on this year those are the major pain points and getting them in writing has helped me admit them to myself and will help me hold myself accountable going forward.

Did one of these points speak to you? Are you setting goals for 2016? How can we help you reach those goals?

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