Tuesday, 7 December 2010

30 Day Challenge Experience

I'll admit it, this year I am yet to the do the 30 Day Challenge (now re-branded to "the Challenge"). I suck, I know. I have however done it for the past three years and although none of the websites I have created through the 30DC are making me millions, I have made money from all of them.

It was interesting for me to observe the evolution of the method used through the SEO of two sites which have similar competition and were created, step-by-step, using the suggestions from the 30DC crew.

The first is: Poker Amateur
  • The site ranking for the search term "poker amateur" is NON-EXISTENT. I have a very strong feeling that some of the suggestions from the 30DC that year were in fact black-hat SEO tactics (or at least 'not-encouraged'). This may have penalised me because it was ranking quite well for a while.
  • I realise that LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Scribd all rank really well with Google. Although the relevance factor is often missing, I am still convinced it is worth having a profile/articles on all of these - 75% of my traffic comes from these sites.
The second site is: Diamond In Africa
  • Ranking really, really well. In fact I see it as no1. for the search term "diamonds in africa". Could be slightly different for others.
  • I believe that 'phrase' is not commercially attractive and my intuition is that people searching for "diamonds in africa" are most probably not looking to buy. However I have two results on the first page of searches for "buy diamonds from africa". Score! Probably should set up some conversion tracking to check were people enquiring about prices have come from.
  • As our target market and greatest traffic is from clients in the US, I specified on Google Webmasters that the site should be focused on US searches. The odd things is, as soon as I did this I got to no.1 for google.co.uk but went down the rankings in google.com. Odd... Things seem to have returned to normal now though.
  • Getting about 250 clicks per month, 70% of that traffic comes from search engines. SEO Score! Market Size fail!
  • I now rank higher than the un.org site for my SEO phrase - somehow I thought I would never take no1 away from that site, but I now know the big guys can be removed from their throne. Amazon and Wikipedia, make way for Nik and his cheesy SEO tactics. (I wonder if I'll now rank for "cheesy SEO")
My question, to anyone willing to answer this is...
"How important is the domain name? If I find a market that can be SEOd (good traffic, little competition) should I pursue it even if I can't get a good domain name for the keyword? Also, I have been reading something about the new Google algorithm liking brands... does this mean its now easier to build a www.brandname.com and optimise it for a different set of keywords?"
Its clear that Diamonds In Africa is a success while Poker Amateur was not. I now know there are many reasons for this but my advice to anyone doing the 30DC is: Think of it as rough guide, not an Internet marketing bible... but as far as rough guides go... the 30DC is pretty damn good.

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