How To Make Money With Your Travel Blog of

How To Make Money
With Your Travel Blog
By Matthew Kepnes of
Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
May 2009
Copyright 2009 Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
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Table of Contents
Setting up a blog
Creating Your Blog
Increasing Traffic
Search Engine Optimization Tips
Monetization Tips
Putting it All Together/Conclusion
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The origin of this book comes from all the emails and questions on social networks I’ve
received about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to make money travel
blogging. Lots of bloggers want to make money online and few of them really know the
SEO and internet marketing skills that would enable them to do so. They don’t know
where to start and they often find a lot of wrong information. Moreover, most people
don’t stick with their website long enough to make any money. Making money online
takes time and that is why there are so few people who actually do- most people quit
because they don’t have the patience to wait.
There is a distinct difference between internet marketing and blogging. Each requires
different rules and different methods for success. Internet marketing is about creating
websites whose sole purpose is to rank high in Google and other search engines to sell
something. This means creating sites based around Google Adsense or certain specific
products like cell phones. Internet marketers start with the goal of making money. Their
sites have nothing to do with content, photos, or social networks. It’s all about SEO and
Blogging is different. Blogging is about sharing your thoughts, opinions, and advice with
people. You are looking to create a community and a network of like-minded individuals.
Money isn’t the purpose. Social connections are what you want to form. Bloggers don’t
start off with money in mind, though everyone would love it if their blog made money.
The problem is that many people who start off as bloggers try to make money online after
the fact. Or they put Adsense up and watch the pennies roll in before getting frustrated.
But blogs by their nature generally tend to be poor income earners until later in life. It
takes a lot of work to make money through blogging but it’s not impossible. The thing is
that you must start with both blogging and SEO in your mind and begin doing them
I started as a blogger over a year ago. My goal was to be a wildly successful and hugely
popular blogger who, like ProBlogger, makes a ton of money talking about what he
loves. I think most people who start a blog want that. Six months into it I was putting in a
lot of hours and not making any money. I thought if I got traffic I would get money.
People would click on my ads and poof! I can quit my day job. But it doesn’t work that
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I was frustrated and went searching for information. I stumbled across the “make money
online” people and proceeded to learn by trial and error on how to make money with
blogs and static (non-updated) websites. I’ve made many mistakes and some sites haven’t
worked out as well as I wanted but, a year and a few months later from when I started my
digital life, I’m now earning a living of over $3,000 per month running travel sites.
This ebook will help you avoid my mistakes. It’s to help beginners get in the mind set
of making money online through blogging as well as teaching existing bloggers how to
monetize their blog and SEO. It will teach you how to utilize your existing networks to
help increase your traffic, your income, and teach you basic SEO skills to help you
increase your Google traffic, which is the best and easiest traffic to monetize.
The ebook is split into six sections:
Setting up a blog- This short section discusses what you should think about before you
even create a blog and what questions you should ask yourself when thinking about what
to blog about and how that can help you make money.
Creating Your Blog-This section discusses picking a good theme, good plugins for
Wordpress, domain name issues, and some Wordpress SEO.
Increasing Traffic- Here we discuss ways to use social media sites and community
websites to increase your traffic. Advertisers like to be the big dog and traffic makes you
that dog.
Search Engine Optimization Tips- Here is an in depth discussion about search engine
optimization. It discusses what you should do on your site, what you should do off your
site, and where to find valuable links.
Monetization Tips- Here we discuss the four main ways to monetize your website:
Adsense, text links sales, affiliate advertising, and private ad sales.
Putting it All Together- This section is a mix of a F.A.Q. and an action plan. It
addresses questions about how long it will take to make money, what traffic levels you
can expect, what is success, and how much time to put into the various lessons presented
in this book.
The key that I want you remember is that even though this is split into five sections, each
area should be thought of as part of a whole. You can’t do one step by step- everything
needs to be worked on simultaneously.
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Creating Your Blog
Travel blogs comes in two varieties: travel journals and information sites. Travel journals
are personal stories about people’s trips. They begin when the person goes on the road,
they talk about life on the road, show photos and tell stories from the trip, and, when the
trip stops, the blog usually stops too. A good example of this would be Euros Ate My
Dollars. It was a great blog that stopped when their travels stopped. Information travel
blogs are ones like Travel Rants, Indie Travel Podcast, and Nomadic Matt- blogs that
offer consistent advice even when the traveling stops. There is nothing wrong with either
but the real problem with travel journals is by the time the website really gets going and
garners lots of interest, people stop updating it. So…
The first question you want to ask is: what kind of blogger do you want to be?
For a newbie, this is the first thing you should ask yourself before you start your blog. If
you already have a blog, you might want to consider what category your blog falls into.
Generally, travel information blogs are much more sustainable and more easily
monetized. The depth of content is much easier to rank in Google, the information can be
much more targeted for advertisers, and since they last so much longer, they can maintain
momentum and keep building traffic. Mike from Vagabondish turned his personal blog
into a travel information site and it’s now one of the biggest non-company travel sites on
the web.
However, if you have a travel blog, you can easily convert it into a travel information
site. Think about all the information you got while traveling. You have a wealth of
knowledge about travel insurance, finding deals, flying, and much more. Use the
knowledge you gained on your trip to extend the life of your website until your next trip.
Travel blogs can succeed if you are traveling for awhile. Gary from EverythingEverywhere has one of the biggest personal blogs on the web now but he has been
traveling for two years.
Knowing what kind of website you want to set up will help you focus your time and
energy into building the right kind of traffic. Blogs require a lot more work because
you have to focus on building a network, posting, being involved in the online blogging
community, and promoting yourself. This is a tiresome effort and why few people stick
it out. The best travel bloggers devote most of their free time to their site and, eventually,
this pays off because they become the top dog in the niche and attract a lot of advertisers.
Information sites are static websites. You put the content up there once and then work on
getting search engine traffic. They are easier to maintain because you don’t need to
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update them constantly or build a community of people around them. Your goal is traffic
from search engines so the how you spend your time to get that traffic is much different
than if you were a blogger.
The second question: What is your niche?
A niche is defined as an area of expertise and focus. Travel is a niche but backpacking is
also a (smaller and more targeted) niche within the travel niche. And backpacking in
Europe is even smaller. The smaller your niche, the easier it is to be the expert in
that area. That’s the goal. When you are an expert in your niche, you attract traffic
naturally because people always go to the best for information. You don’t buy books on
physics from college students- you buy them from Stephen Hawking. People go for the
best and where people go, traffic follows, and when traffic follows, advertisers follow
I’m a backpacker. I travel on the cheap. I find the deals. I try to save people money.
That’s what Nomadic Matt does. That’s my niche- budget travel.
Travel Rants talks about the consumer travel industry.
Travel Fish and Asian Ramblings focus on travel in Asia.
Almost Fearless talks about inspiration and life as a digital nomad.
Soul Travelers 3 and Travel Savvy Mom discuss family travel and traveling with kids.
Go Galavanting focuses on women and solo travel.
Indie Travel Podcast focuses on podcasts and video.
There are many niches out there from scuba diving, to luxury travel, to couple travel, to
backpacking, to cruise travel. Find your niche and be the expert. Don’t try to be
everything to everyone but concentrate on being an expert in one aspect of travel and you
will find that it will be easier to get traffic and monetize your blog because all advertisers
want to be with the best and most popular site.
If you try to be everything to everyone, you’re blog won’t be that successful because only
a small portion of the site will relate to any one visitor. Visitors will only come when they
see you have that information or will just skip over you until they find a site that only
talks about what they want. If you talk about everything, no one will think you are the
authority on that subject. You’ll try to cover so much ground, you’ll only be able to
scratch the surface of any topic.
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People want experts. Be their expert. Find one area and be the best in that area. If you
are the authority on a subject, it is easier to get traffic and find advertisers because
everyone wants to read and work with the best.
Have Multiple Websites!!!
If you are going to make money online, you should have more than one website. In fact,
three is a good number. This allows you to focus on different types of advertising options
(some methods only work on certain types of sites) as well as allows you to leverage a
network of websites with advertisers and thereby increase your revenue. When an
advertiser contacts me, I can sell them advertising on multiple websites not just one,
which makes me a lot more money.
The best combination is to have one flagship blog (your main site) and two static sites
designed to rank high in search engines and capture that traffic. Your flagship blog (like
Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site) lets you have a voice and be part of the online travel
community. It lets you interact and talk on the web. On the other hand, the static sites
allow you to create a network of travel sites and diversify your income. These sites also
don’t need much updating. Set it and forget it. I might update content on these sites every
three or four months.
Create one blog to be the expert in something you are passionate about that will let you
build a community, interact with people, build relationships, have fun with, and create a
following. Next, build two static websites about anything related to travel that interests
you. I have one site on tropical islands and another on backpacking and round the world
travel. Once these sites are up, you don’t need to update them like you do a blog. You
should never put all your eggs in one basket and creating a few sites lets you
diversify your income and leverage that network to sell advertising over multiple
websites. These sites don’t need to be big. My tropical island site has 10 pages. But that
is all it needs to rank in the search engines and to sell advertising.
More websites are always better.
Bottom Line: Multiple websites let you have more than one way to make money and
more chances to make that money. Staying focused and discussing one travel related
topic can make you an expert and will allow you to build your traffic and grow your
website much more easily.
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Installing and Building Your Blog
This is where SEO begins. Picking a domain name and getting a good Wordpress theme
are just as important as finding traffic to your site. From the time you decide to buy your
domain name and create your blog, you need to think about SEO as these are important
factors both for ranking and attracting visitors.
First, create your blog in Wordpress. Don’t use blogger. If Wordpress is good enough for
the New York Times, it is good enough for you. You’ll be able to tinker with the coding
more, have more theme options, have an easier user interface, and be able to use a variety
of plug-ins that can enhance your website.
Yet sometimes Wordpress can actually be bad for SEO because most people use very
complex themes that have a lot of code and go for design over what is good SEO
practice. For example- drop down menus. They look great and are a nice feature. But
search engines don’t read that code so you are not getting any link value (a positive result
in the search engines because of the link) from those menus. (Link value will be
discussed in detail in the SEO section.) Wordpress itself is fairly good but if you get a
complex theme, you’ll have to spend a lot of time changing the code. (See below for
theme discussion)
You can download Wordpress here:
Second, buy your own hosted domain name. (A domain name is your website name.)
This lets you own the blog, put your keywords in the name, and have a better chance at
selling advertising. Advertisers prefer self-hosted sites. If you have a blogger or today
blog, they can be shut down by the either company but that can’t happen with a website
you own.
When you buy your domain name, think about what your niche was and put those
keywords in your domain name. I made the mistake of using my name. Now, I rank
number one for nomadic matt but really, how many people search for that? Only people
who are looking for me.
Go Green Travel Green has an edge in the search engines because the words “travel
green” are in her domain name. My site about How to Travel the World has the same
edge because it has the keywords people will actually type into Google.
Keywords (the words people search for) in the domain name are important. If you
are going to write about backpacking, try to include that word or some variation of it in
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your website name. You’ll rank higher. Search Engine Optimization begins right here
with the domain name you decide.
To buy a hosted domain, you need to have your own web server. Two of the most
popular hosting companies are Media Temple and Hostgator. These companies will
register your domain name and host your site on their servers.
I prefer Hostgator. I find them to be cheaper than Media Temple and they have never had
a server problem since I’ve been with them thus keeping my website always live on the
web. My interactions with their customer service department have always been easy and
quick. They are extremely helpful and their customer service is open 24/7. Furthermore,
when I was starting out, they answered any question I had, no matter how stupid.
They will take care of anything and will walk you through any problems you have. Visit
and sign up with them at:
Next, you need to choose your wordpress theme. Themes are important. (Themes refer
to the design of your website) You want a design that is visually appealing because you
want people to come back. The uglier a site is the less likely people are going to visit it.
I recommend buying your theme. Two good websites for buying themes are Woo Themes
and Studiopress Themes. A paid for theme will give you many more options than a free
theme. You’ll be able to get access to the developer and ask him how to make any
changes you need to make to the coding. You’ll get more functions and options that will
allow you to have a more visually appealing and user friendly website. Themes cost
between $60 and $100 USD.
Moreover, try to choose a theme that is SEO friendly. The bigger and more complex
the theme, the less likely it is going to be well optimized for search engines. Pretty is
great and you should make your site visually appealing but remember if you want
substantial search engine traffic, you need a theme that is good for SEO.
SEO friendly themes have few bells and whistles. No drop down menus, no featured
galleries, no special widgets. The coding is very simple. If you are good at HTML and
PHP, you can tweak any theme to be SEO friendly. However, for people with neither the
time nor the knowledge, some good SEO friendly themes are Court’s Internet Marketing
Theme, SEO Zombie’s themes, and the new Thesis theme.
Now, don’t get me wrong: visual appeal is really important, especially for your
flagship blog. I recommend using these SEO themes for your static websites. Those sites
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are more focused on SEO. Your main blog is there to share your knowledge and build a
community. With your blog, don’t worry so much about the SEO aspect as you want a
theme that is visually appealing to attract more users. And since your main goal with that
blog is huge traffic, you’ll need something that looks good. My blog has the dreaded drop
down menus and other bad SEO practices because it looks good and attracts people. With
blogs, numbers and community matter. However, on my SEO static sites, you will find
none of that prettiness.
Everyone loves plugins. I love them. You love them. They make blogs better. Plugins
are add ons to the Wordpress platform that give your theme and website more
functionality. There are a lot of plugins out there from ones that let you run polls, or help
protect against spam, or track yours traffic statistics, or let you put up buttons to social
media websites. For SEO purposes, I recommend using the following:
All in One SEO- This plugin helps optimize your titles, meta descriptions, and meta
keywords for your blog, posts, and pages. This allows you to put the keywords you want
to use in each one. You can get this plugin using this link:
Yoast Breadcrumbs- This plugin lets you create a “bread crumb trail” through your
subpages creates links which can help in passing PageRank and allowing the search bots
to better find your pages. You can get this plugin using this link:
Related Posts- This allows you to show related posts at the bottom of any post, which is
good for two reasons: it lets users see related content they might be interested in reading
and it creates links for the search bots to crawl your content more often and help pass PR
and build links. You can get this plugin using this link:
Google Sitemap XML- This sitemap tool automatically creates and updates your web
sitemap for Google. Sitemaps are good if you have huge sites because it helps Google
crawl and index your site. It’s a recommended SEO practice to have a sitemap for your
website. You can get this plugin using this link:
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Finding Traffic
The next section on SEO will teach you how to get traffic from Google but if you want
social traffic, you need to build a community around your blog. A blog without a
community is like apple pie without the apples. The more readers you get, the more
popular your blog becomes, the more traffic you will get, and the more advertisers will be
attracted to it. But beyond money- blogging without people is boring. Seeing one
comment or a few visitors each day is uninspiring. And when bloggers are uninspired,
they give up. They haven’t “made it” in 6 months and so they just quit. However,
building social traffic and a network takes time. Don’t expect to have a huge amount
of traffic or readers right away. But if you are committed to it and stick with it, traffic
will appear.
What I love about my blog is that I’ve met so many great and interesting people through
it. I can’t count the travel bloggers I’ve met in person and now have relationships with
because of my blog. It has enriched my life (so thank you guys and girls!) but without
devoted readers, you don’t get that experience. Here is where you can find social traffic
and loyal readers:
Other Blogs- This is the easiest way to find other bloggers but also the most time
consuming. Go comment on other established blogs, build a rapport with the owners, and
watch people come check out your site. I don’t go visit every site but if someone
comments a few times, then I usually go and check it out. 99% of the time, I comment
and then subscribe to them in my RSS feeder. The more bloggers you know, the more
they will visit, the more they will link to your site, and the more traffic you will get.
This can be a time consuming process but it is the best way to connect to the travel
community. Make sure your comments are not promotional and relate to the post in
hand. Do not spam! Don’t expect people to come visit your site right away either.
Commenting is about building rapport with the site owner. Most site owners will come
and visit and check out your website but only after a few comments. Some might never
come. But even if the site owners don’t visit, other commenters from that site might. I’ve
gotten people at my site who have said “I saw your comment on site X and decided to
come over.” At the end of the day, commenting is about building awareness of your site
and relationships with other bloggers.
You can use my travel links page as a starting point to find travel blogs.
Travel Communities- Travel communities like Travel Blog Exchange and Matador are a
great way to meet other travelers and travel bloggers. You can join groups, post in
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forums, and find new websites. I highly recommend using and joining both sites.
Additionally, you can guest write for Matador. (And they’ll pay you $25 to do it.) I have
found articles from Matador produce a steady stream of visitors with an initial burst of a
few hundred. Travel Blog Exchange won’t give you much traffic but the real benefit of
the site is that it allows you to build good rapport and connections with travel website
owners. Using both can help you quicken the speed in which people discover your
Stumble Upon- Stumble Upon is a great way to bring in massive traffic. The site is one
of the many social media websites out there that allow users to share their favorite
websites with other people. If you build up your SU profile, you can generate a lot of
traffic to your website, especially to posts with pretty pictures. This post on Iceland got
over 100,000 unique visitors from Stumble Upon. Additionally, it’s a great way to build
links to your site. My Iceland post ranks #1 in Google for “things to do in Iceland”
because of the links generated from Stumble Upon. In terms of repeat visitors, the
percentage is really low. About 90% of Stumble Upon users bounce out. Out of the 10%
that are left, less than 5% subscribe or become repeat visitors. However, when posts of
mine have generated lots of traffic, I have seen a large bounce in my RSS subscribers and
comments as well as personal e-mails.
To build up your Stumble Upon profile and be able to generate large traffic flows, simply
add other users who are interested in the same things you are. Subscribe to their favorites
and send them an e-mail letting them know you like their content. Users will typically
add you so they can share their sites too. Additionally, you can use Travel Blog
Exchange’s Stumble Upon group to find users right away. If you stumble a lot, you will
just naturally attract people because they will see your thumbs up, your comments, your
discoveries and visit your profile. Feel free to add me on Stumble Upon.
Here are seven tips to maximize your Stumble Upon traffic and get the elusive
stumble wave (i.e. go viral):
1. Have a Photo - Profiles without photos do not show up on stumbled pages so,
essentially, your stumble doesn’t count without a photo. If you are the first to
discover a page, you won’t be shown as that person. If you write a review, it
doesn’t show. So make sure you have a photo.
2. Stumble Often- The stumble algorithm is partially based on frequency. If you are
an active user, your stumbles/thumbs will count a bit more and you’ll be able to
send more traffic to pages you stumble.
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3. Write a Review- Adding a review to stumbled pages will give your thumb up more
influence with the Stumble algorithm.
4. Don’t Stumble the Same Site Often- Stumble works on the principle of
diminishing returns. If you are constantly stumbling the same pages, the system
will assume you are doing so in order to promote specific content for your own
benefit. Thus your first few stumbles may bring in 100 people but then stumble
four might bring in 80 while the fifth stumble may bring in 60, etc, etc. Therefore,
it is important that you space out your stumbles. This doesn’t mean you can only
stumble a domain once but to get the most benefit from your stumbles and avoid
this penalty, you need to space out your stumbles. I only stumble my domain name
once or twice a month.
5. Find Stumblers Outside Your Network- Stumble Upon is about sharing favorites
and allowing users to discover new sites. If you and your friends are the only ones
sharing and stumbling certain websites, the system will pass some traffic to you
but not as much as it would if someone from outside your network of friends
stumbled your site. The system wants new people to be finding and stumbling
websites, not just your friends. I keep some stumble friends outside my network so
that when I do want them to stumble something, it carries a bit of extra weight.
6. Pick Your Battles- Don’t stumble everything just because someone sends it to you.
If you stumble everything that gets sent you, stumble knows. Stumble knows you
got it from a friend and that you didn’t even let the page load all the way. If the
system thinks you aren’t really stumbling what you like but whatever is sent to
you, it will give you less stumble power. To Stumble, you are then just trying to
get traffic and not really using the spirit with its intended purpose.
7. Mix Up Your Requests- If your domain is constantly stumbled by the same people
over and over again, it will be harder to draw traffic to that site and get a huge
wave of traffic. I only ask people to stumble things I think will do good on
stumble. If they choose to stumble outside of that, that is their own business. But if
you want things to do really well on stumble, only ask your friends to stumble
things infrequently (remember rule #2). Moreover, mix up who you ask to keep
some variation in it.
Stumble Upon is a very democratic social media network. Even if you never make a lot
of friends, you can still generate a lot of traffic because, unlike Digg, Stumble sends
traffic to any webpage that is stumbled by someone new. But if you follow these tips,
you’ll be able to draw in a lot of traffic to your site and build up your stumble influence.
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Twitter- I can’t tell you how many people I have met from twitter and it has immensely
helped my website. Twitter is an online messaging service which allows people to
communicate using 140 characters. The service is an excellent tool to find bloggers and
connect with travelers and travel companies. Just search for people using the hash #travel
and #traveltuesday. Moreover, find one travel blogger and most of his friends will be one
too. You can link your blog to your twitter profile so it lets people know about new posts
and many people will retweet (repost) to their readers giving you added exposure.
To build followers, add other bloggers and comment on their tweets. Like blog
commenting, Twitter is about building a rapport with people and engaging them in
conversation. Simply clicking follow might get you some people but most people won’t
follow you until you reach out and connect with them. Remember that travelers are a
friendly lot and you’ll find people are more than happy to follow and converse with you.
We love talking to new travelers! Come find me on twitter @nomadicmatt
Facebook- I belong to 160 travel groups on Facebook. Every few months or so, I’ll post
a message about something new on my sites on the groups. (Space this out or Facebook
will think you are spamming and ban your account!) I usually find that up to a 100
people per day might come from these messages over the course of a week or so. Use
these groups to your advantage to bring in people that might not know about travel blogs.
Moreover, with Facebook’s new design, you can see who people become a fan of and
what groups they join. Start a Facebook fan page for your website. As your friend’s join,
your facebook page will come up on their friend’s newsfeed giving you the opportunity
to reach a wider audience.
Travel Forums- Travel forums are a great way to get new readers. These forums let you
have signatures with links back to your website. This way readers from the forums can
follow the links back to your site to get more information. People that post on travel
forums are looking for information and if you show them in the forums you are an expert,
they will most likely click over to your site and check it out. Because of a lack of time, I
haven’t had a chance to be active in the forums lately. However, when I was, I used to get
up to 60-80 visitors a day from them. I prefer to use the Eurotrip and Boots N All forums.
Lonely Planet has a very large forum that I can occasionally use but because the brand is
so big and so many people visit, you find a lot of spam and junk postings. Sometimes you
have to search the forum for a long time to find a post worth commenting on. I find for
the time and energy spent on posting, the Boots N All forum is the best followed by the
smaller Eurotrip.
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Blog Directories- Other blogs are a great way to get traffic and readers but finding them
is often a time consuming challenge. Luckily, there are a wide number of blog directories
out there that can help speed up the process. Besides my link page, Gary from
Everything-Everywhere also runs a pretty comprehensive list of travel websites. Beyond
that, there are few good blog directories out there with good travel sections. The three
best are: Top Blog Area, Top of Blogs, and Blog Top Sites. Between these five resources,
you’ll be able to find all the travel blogs you’ll need to increase your traffic, links and,
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Search Engine Optimization
This section is fairly long so sit back, grab a coffee, and enjoy.
SEO Basics
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about ranking your website high up in searches for
the keywords you are targeting with your website. SEO uses a combination of internal
page and external linking factors to help accomplish that goal.
SEO is about ranking on the first page or higher (the goal being #1) on search engines
and, by that, I really mean Google. Google accounts for 72% of search engine traffic in
the United States and over 90% in Europe. There is a huge difference between Google
and everyone else and that gap gets bigger every day. Focusing your efforts on Google
will give you the most traffic which is why Google and SEO go together.
You want to rank high on Google and if you do, you will also have good rankings in the
other search engines. Like Ricky Bobby said in Talladega Nights, if you aren’t first,
you’re last. In SEO, if you are not on the first page, you aren’t anywhere worth being.
Ranking Factors
There are lots and lots of variables on how you rank in Google. Google factors in
hundreds of different variables when determining where to rank you in search results.
Now, you don’t need to focus on all of these. Many of them are very minor and used only
when all other things are equal (which they never are). We only need to focus on a few
key things.
You can split Search Engine Optimization into two parts: Internal SEO and External
SEO. Each requires you to do different things but at the end of the day, the most
important thing you can do (and I’ll say this frequently) for SEO is to get links to your
website. This plays the biggest role in determining where you rank in search engines. If
you don’t believe me, Google click here. Adobe ranks #1 but “click here” isn’t even on
the page. That’s because most people link to them with some variation of “if you want an
adobe product, click here.” That link power is the same reason why George Bush
showed up for the search “miserable failure”.
With the April 2009 update, Google began emphasizing brands, i.e. big corporations in
their search terms. Even though there is a preference to brands, links are still what’s
important in both quality and quantity. We’ll get into how to get both. While Google
may change things in the future and put an emphasis on social traffic to see “what’s hot”,
the thing you want to focus on now is getting keyworded links to your website.
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Does PageRank matter? PageRank is the value between 0-10 that Google assigns each
page on the internet. The higher the value the more link authority Google views your site
has. PageRank is determined by the quality and quantity of the links your website has.
To see your PageRank, look for the green bar on the Google toolbar. If you don’t have
the Google toolbar, you can check your PageRank here.
A lot of people worry about PageRank and get excited when Google updates the toolbar
and brings your blog to a PR4 or PR5. PageRank is good to have and getting links from
high PageRank sites helps. PageRank will get your site and new pages indexed quicker
but it is not a major factor in search engine rankings. Google “make money online.” The
number #2 result is a PR2 page. People worry about chasing PageRank but PageRank
won’t help you rank higher in search results so don’t focus on your PageRank, focus on
Internal Site SEO
SEO starts at home. You need to make your site constructed in a way that allows search
engines to easily crawl and index your site. That was why I said before from the moment
you create your blog you need to focus on SEO. It is really hard, complicated and time
consuming to go back and rework your whole site when you could have optimized it
from the start. For internal SEO, you need to do the following:
Keywords in Your Domain Name- Get the right keywords (keywords are the words you
are targeting in the search engine and what your site is about) in your domain name.
Pick the keywords your site is about. If you are talking about ecotourism, family travel
or being a digital nomad, work those words or a variation of them into your domain
name. Putting keywords in your domain name helps you rank higher much, much
quicker. I have had sites rank within days of going live based on the domain name alone.
Now if you already have a domain name without the keywords, that’s ok. You can
overcome any weakness by being strong in other areas.
Keywords in Your Website Title- Again, get your keywords in your title. Getting your
keywords in your website title allows Google to know what your website is about and
helps you move up in the rankings. The site or page name should always include the
keywords you are targeting.
Keywords in Content- Put your keywords and variations of that keyword in your
content. Don’t use it too much or you will keyword stuff and go down in the rankings. If
it sounds funny to people, it sounds funny to Google. If someone would wonder why you
keep saying “cheap flights” in your post, you are probably over using the phrase. Putting
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variations of your main keyword in their will help you rank for smaller, less difficult
words while adding authority to your main keyword. Also, remember that the longer a
post is the more long tail keywords you are likely to rank for. Long tail keywords are
long search phrases people are looking up. An example would be “cheap flights to LA
in June”. Short tail keywords are one or two word searches like “cheap flights.”
Remember to write naturally but keep SEO in mind and include your keyword a few
Internal Linking – Interlink your site as much as possible. Interlinking is about
linking (connecting) as many pages on your site to as many other pages on your site
thereby creating a vast web where no page is more than three clicks from another
page. This helps build links to your posts, helps spread PageRank among your pages, and
allows Google to crawl through your site easier. Moreover, if you point a lot of internal
links towards one page, you are letting Google know it has high importance and this can
help give it small increase in the search results.
Keyword the Post URL- Put your keywords in the url of your post. This also helps you
target that keyword easier. Just like keywords in the domain help, keywords in the post
URL will do the same.
Use H1 tags- For titles and important words, use the H1 title tag. This tells the search
engines which words are important to the page and thus are the terms the page should be
ranked for.
Use Meta Tags- Meta Tags are tags that tell the search engines what your page or site is
about and can be filled in using the All in One SEO Wordpress Plugin. These don’t help
you rank really though I know Google highlights the related keywords from the
description but a meta description is seen by a person and if you make it interesting, it
will increase clicks to your site. This is again just good SEO practice.
Use ALT tags- Always put a long and descriptive alt tags on your images. Alt tags
appear when the image can’t be loaded and Google uses this as a way to determine if the
site is friendly to people who can’t see. (Special software would read the alt tag out loud).
Google likes sites that have good alt tags. An alt tag looks like this:
<img src=”” alt=”my crazy image name” />
This helps make your site more SEO friendly and can also help your images get ranked in
the Google Image search.
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Here is a visual of each of the things discussed above:
The Bottom Line: Internal SEO is making sure your main keyword and related
keywords are all over the place, the pages on your site are interlinked, and your photos
have good Alt tags. If you do that, you’ll make your site Google friendly.
One Special Note: I mentioned in the theme’s section about simple site designs. A
simpler site will always be more SEO friendly as the search engine bots will have an
easier time crawling, reading, and indexing your site since there is less stuff in the way.
The more complex you make your site, the more you will damage your internal SEO.
External SEO
This is about one thing and one thing only: getting keyworded links to your site. A
keyworded link is a link that uses the keyword you want in the anchor text (the text
people see). If you really want to rank high in the search engines, links will do it. All my
attention is always on building links, building links, and building more links. If you are
thinking about what you should do for SEO right now, the answer is build links. It is the
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biggest determining factor in how Google ranks your website. If you are not good in
other areas of SEO, you can overcome these weaknesses with building links. We want
links of both quality (high PR, high authority, high ranking, good branded websites) and
quality (anyone near our topic!). This will help us get to the top.
Here is why links are important and how they determine your rankings:
Here site A links to both B and C. Which is Google to rank higher? Depends on other
factors but links won’t have anything to do with it because they both have 1 link. So
Google will look to another ranking variable. Now Site A only links to Site B:
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Who ranks higher? Site B because it has more links and at the end of that day, that is
what matters. Google thinks “If more people are linking to Site B, it must be a better
authority on the subject so it should rank higher.”
But let’s say we have this more complex scenario:
Now who ranks higher? Both Site B and C have equal links pointing to them so Google
goes out one step further and see who links to the linkers (Site A, D, and E). (Google
does this for every site on the web. It maps out the whole internet.) Since lots of people
link to Site D, it has more authority than Site E (or A) and thus is more influential. It’s
link to Site B will be stronger count more than Site E’s link. Site B wins and is ranked
higher. But what if we have this scene:
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Now we are back to them both having equal links again so who ranks higher? Site C
because Site E is the New York Times while Site D is Joe’s Travel Site. The New York
Times will be a much more quality link and carry more authority than Joe’s website and
thus carries more influence in the Google ranking system.
Bottom Line: Quantity (and quality) of which sites link to you is important but so is who
links to the people who link to you. Don’t get caught up in trying to see who links to who
but just know that it counts and focus on getting quality links to your site (as well as
quantity). To determine who is a quality website, find sites with high PageRank or a
trusted brand. High PageRank sites mean they have more link authority and brands are
trusted by Google.
Links Factors You Need to Know
Anchor Text of Links- You want links that look like this: <a
href=>my keywords</a>. Anchor text is the text used to
create a link.
When a web page gets linked with anchor text they are trying to rank for, it will help
them to move up in Google’s rankings. However, you always want to vary your links.
Why variation? Because if you have 100 links and all of them say the same thing, it looks
like you are manipulating the search engines. Logic would say that an infinite number of
unconnected people would use a variety of different anchor texts to link to your site. So
when getting links to your site, remember to vary it up a bit using 6 or 7 different
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Number of Links to Your Site-The more links you have, the stronger your site and the
easier it is for you to move up in the rankings and get new pages indexed and ranked
quicker. If you have a brand new site, you probably have a weak link profile. It will take
you longer to rank higher and get new pages into Google. On the other hand, if you are
The New York Times you have a fantastic link profile. Their high number of links allows
them to rank quickly and easily for most things that they write about. The more links you
get the easier, you move up and the quicker your new pages do.
The stronger the site the more that link will help you. Google works on more than
PageRank. They have something called “trustrank.” This is essentially how much trust
and authority your site has. Without going into too much needless detail, let me say sites
with PR6+ higher have good trustrank. Get a link from there and you will be very good.
But a PR4 link is also good. Any link is good. You can never have too many links!
What’s important is that you get links from authoritative sites in the niche as well as sites
with strong link profiles. Site A and B might both be PR4 but site A is better because it
has double the links pointing to it than site B does. But like I said, don’t get caught up in
PR. A contextual keyword link (in post link) from a PR0 site can be worth just as much
as a sidebar unkeyworded link from a PR3 site. With links, more is always better.
Topic Relevance of Linking Sites/Pages- If you’re trying to rank for “red widgets”, the
ideal links from other sites that also talk about “red widgets” or “widgets” in general.
Links from sites in your niche or the overall niche (i.e. travel) are what you want to go
find. Links from non related sites don’t count nearly as much and have a lot weaker
value. The further from your niche, the less the link will help you.
This rule also applies to pages linking to you.
The Bottom Line: You want a lot of links, from a lot of websites that are of good
quality, in an area as closely related to your site as possible. If all the sites on the web
about “red widgets” link to your site, then you must be the best authority for “red
widgets” and Google will rank you #1.
Some Other Minor Ranking Factors
Size of Your Site- Bigger sites are better resources. Would a site about travel with two
pages cover as much as a site with 200 pages? Probably not. So the more pages you have
on your site, the easier it will be to get pages to rank high on Google.
Domain Name Registration Length- This isn’t a big factor but it still is important.
Google hates spammers. A spammer just wants to rank high quickly, make quick money,
and then run. They don’t want to register domains for a long time because they know
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their sites will get banned so why waste the money? A legitimate site owner is in for the
long haul. If you register your domains for 2 or more years, you’ll see a slight benefit.
Age of the Site- The truth is old domains rank higher. If you have a new site, you haven’t
earned Google’s trust yet so they might not rank you at all for a few months, especially if
it is a competitive keyword (the so called “Google Sandbox”). However, you can outrank
an older site by beating them in other areas. If your new site has much better links than
your older competitor, you can still beat it for your keyword.
Where to Find Links
Because links are so important to SEO, you will want to find a lot of them. You can never
have too many links. So where should you go to find links? These places:
Bloggers- If you are part of the online travel community, people will add you to their
blog roll. You’ll be able to do a ton of link exchanges. The more of a community
member you are the more links you will get. I give people links all the time from my
sites. All you have to do is ask. In return, if I need a link, people will usually give me one
too. This is why creating a flagship blog is so crucial. If I create a new site, most bloggers
will link to it. The same goes with sites they create- I always link to new sites from other
bloggers because that’s what being a community member is about and why being one
gives you substantial edge over regular internet marketers.
Article Marketing- Create 500 word articles for article directories like Ezine Articles or
Article Base (In reality, there are hundreds of article directories but only a handful of
good ones. Google has a special soft spot for these two). These articles might get read by
people, links might be clicked, and you might get some traffic. However, the real reason
to write these articles is because at the bottom of each article, you can create a resource
box and put two links in that resource box. These articles eventually get PageRank and
are considered “strong” links.
Moreover, if you use a program like Unique Article Wizard, you can create three
different versions of your article and have them submitted to about 600 article directories.
The service costs 67 dollars per month but if you are serious about SEO, you should
purchase it. It may be a lot of money but it will really push you higher in the rankings.
Moreover, you create multiple resource boxes as to vary your link anchor text. I use this
service daily to submit articles to and have seen it lift me up in the rankings. You’ll get
hundreds of links indexed and will be able to more your site higher in the ranking for
multiple keywords. Most SEO people I know use this service and I highly recommend it.
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Another option is Article Marketing Automation. This is like Unique Article Wizard
except it posts to blogs. You can put 2-3 contextual links inside the post you create.
Links inside posts count more than resource or sidebar links. That is why this service
can be really good. However, I used to belong to it and I found the network to be very
small and the blogs your article went on were not that great. However, I have heard the
service has expended and the network is bigger and the quality of the sites better. This
service is only $47 per month.
Connect Content- Connect Content is a private site created by a fellow SEO blogger.
You put up the links you want and people put them in their blogs. You get keyworded
contextual links just like that. The system works on karma. It’s assumed that if people
are giving you backlinks, you will give them backlinks. You may not get many links or
you may get a lot of links. The system varies. It all depends on your keywords but travel
is pretty popular. Moreover, links come in waves. I’ll get ten or twelve and then nothing
for a week or two and then a couple of links in one day. The more you give links, the
more you tend to get links. Like with bloggers, you do this to help people out and for 12
dollars a month or 120 for year, the price is just right.
Griz Niche Support- The Griz is a legend among internet marketers and on his website
he has a list of people willing to trade links. Just look for the travel people, e-mail them,
and exchange links. You virtually always get a positive response. It’s hard to find linking
partners and this makes it easy. Since it takes so much time out of finding links, everyone
loves to use it. It speeds up the process because as long as two people have legitimate
websites, you always get a trade from someone who responds. An additional benefit of
this is that you move outside the travel blogger community, increasing the scope of where
you get links.
Linkvana- For those with some cash to burn, this service lets you write 100-150 word
posts and insert one link into them. Your post will then go up on their blog network
(PR2-PR5 sites) and you’ll get a link back to your site. Instant one way link. The
downside- the service costs $147 dollars per month. This service is only really good if
you have multiple sites. If you have 4 or less, it is not worth it. I only recommend this
service to people who have multiple websites they want to build links for.
EBOOK DEAL: I belong to this service. I’ll trade my access for writing. You write me
some posts and I’ll let you use the service to get links for your blog. It saves you money
and saves me time! Note: This is only to sites I approve. I’m not opening it up to everyone
and I must see your site before I agree. Weak and spammy sites will get me banned from
this service.
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Start a Link Farm- Don’t like socializing and don’t like paying money? Well, start your
own travel blogging community. Sign up for free sites like Squidoo, Hubpages,
Wordpress, Blogger, and Today and create a network of “farm” sites that you can use to
point links to your own main websites. It’s an artificial way to build links but it works.
However, you must be VERY, VERY careful. A link farm violates Google’s Terms of
Service. Creating a farm artificially builds you links and if you get caught, your sites will
be deindexed. There are a million ways to interlink a network of websites to stay under
the radar so I won’t go into it. However, if you start a link farm, interlink your sites
“randomly” and don’t connect all of them together. That way you don’t risk your whole
farm. The bigger the footprint (or trail) you leave around the web, the easier it will be to
get caught. I’m neither advocating nor discouraging you use this option, I’m simply
letting you know it exists.
Lastly, there are a few other ways to get links but I don’t recommend them. They work
but they take a lot (A LOT) of your time. Your time is better spent using the above
methods but if you do want to try these methods out you can go to Google and type in
one of the following command:
<keyword> blog
“keyword <keyword>”
intitle: blog <keyword>
inurl: blog <keyword>
“add comment” <keyword>
“post comment” <keyword>
These commands will pull up blogs and websites with the keyword you searched for. It
can help you find relevant links on relevant sites. This is a time consuming process since
you have to look and review every blog to see if it fits and is still active (Google pulls up
everything), which is why I don’t recommend this option.
Why would you need to get links from other sources if you have blogger friends already?
Because it can take a lot of links to get to the number one spot and you want to have a
variety of link types. Most of your blog links will be reciprocal. Reciprocal links are not
worth as much as one way links to your site. Article marketing, Linkvana, Connect
Connect, and the Griz network all get you one way links to your website and increase the
scope of sites that link to you, improving the authority of your site and its rankings in the
search engine.
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How to Make Money With Your Site
One of the promises of this book was that it would make you money. Monetization of a
travel blog can be difficult. There aren’t many advertisers out there and there a lot of
people who want advertisers. It’s not a bloggers market. In order to get advertisers and
make money, you need to get lots of traffic and leave no stone unturned. There are four
major ways to monetize your blog:
Google Adsense
Text Link Sales
Affiliate Marketing
Private Ad Sales
Google Adsense
This is the monetization method people use the most. It’s easy and simple. Sign up; put
the code on your site, and watch the money roll in. Right? Wrong. Adsense is awful for
blogs. Most people don’t make any money and give up thinking “you can never make
money using Adsense.” Adsense isn’t the problem though- it is how people use it.
Adsense works by taking the keywords from your page and then putting relevant text or
image ads onto that page. If the page talked about cruises, Adsense would display ads
about cruises or vacations. The idea is that since people are reading about cruises they
would be inclined to click ads to book or learn more about cruises.
The problem bloggers have when using Adsense is two-fold: First, there are too many
keywords on a typical blog page. Second, blogs get the wrong traffic and therefore never
see many clicks.
Most bloggers have multiple posts on one page, have a sidebar, a blogroll, and other
words on the page. This clutters up your page with too many different potential keywords
and phrases which just confuses Adsense. It doesn’t know what kind of keywords you are
targeting so it doesn’t know what ads to put on your website. In the end it puts on
whatever it feels like might be relevant or the dreaded Public Service Announcement.
This leads to people not interested in clicking your ads.
Secondly, blogs have the wrong kind of traffic. Visitors who come from social media and
bloggers aren’t going to click on your ads. I have never clicked on anyone’s Google
Adsense. Why ? Because I’m here to be a part of a community not to click on ads. We’re
there for the good content you produce so your ads stay unclicked.
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It all sounds pretty depressing. However, you can make money with Adsense. I have one
website that makes $100 dollars per month. Not a lot but I’d rather have $100 than no
dollars. In total I have 4 Adsense sites that make a total of $350 dollars per month. In
order to make money with Adsense, a few basic rules must be followed:
1. Make sure you have one post on your page. That way the keywords are more
targeted. This way the Adsense code knows which ads to put up that will be
relevant to your content.
2. Make sure the site/page you are putting the Adsense on has a high degree of
traffic from Google. Search engine traffic is the easiest traffic to monetize. They
want something after all. If an ad displays it, they will go to it. Pages with high
Google traffic also see high ad clicks.
3. Keep a 300x250 box on the on the upper left of the page. For some reason, this
spot on the page sees the highest clicks. People just like clicking ads here and this
is where you will make the most money. Rarely ever should you have Adsense in
the sidebar. No one clicks it. Even on sites with a high degree of Google traffic,
sidebar Adsense always preformed bad for me. It never had a CTR of over 1% in
this position.
I follow my three rules from above and watch money come in each month from Adsense.
This is also where multiple websites come in and why they can be good. Nomadic Matt
doesn’t have any Adsense on it and it never will. The traffic just isn’t right- it’s bloggers
and social traffic. I have a number of pages that are number one in Google and I could
put up Adsense on but the focus of the site is not Adsense. Because when you add
Adsense, you sacrifice the look of your site. On my other static websites I have Adsense.
These sites rank high for their keyword and I have Adsense on them because the traffic is
Text Link Sales
This is probably one of the easiest but most misunderstood ways to monetize your
website. Let’s be clear: selling text links violates Google’s policy. They don’t like it and
it is easy to see why. Since links still count a lot, buying a lot of them will artificially
push you up in the search engines. You can get to the top right away if you just buy all
your links.
However, it is really hard for Google to find out you are putting paid links on your
website unless you are really obvious about it. As long as you are not putting links from
spammy websites or from outside your niche, Google can never really know. The reason
they will never know is simple.
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Example: I have a links page where I put travel companies I recommend. Who is to say
Matador didn’t pay me for a link there? You can never know. The link is blended with
other links. Who can say all those bloggers didn’t pay me for links either? Many of them
are one way links. But all the links look natural- they are in a natural part of the page, it
seems like a normal person would put links there, and it’s natural that a travel bloggers
would link to other travel sites and companies. That’s how you do it and get away with it.
Most bloggers are too scared of Google and don’t want to sell text links. Why? In reality,
this is the best way and probably the main way most of you will be able to monetize
your blog. Text link sales took one fellow blogger to Australia. Text link sales let me
quit my job and focus on this full time. Across my network, link sales have made me over
$6,000 dollars in the last 4 months. You can do it and not get caught. For most of you,
you aren’t trying to do SEO and internet marketing, you are a blogger. You are there for
the community so at the end of the day if Google only makes you a pr3 instead of a pr5 or
keeps you at #9 instead of #6, it really won’t affect you that much or your ability to build
a community site.
Text Link Sales are O.K. as long as they are done in moderation. To avoid being
really penalized by Google (i.e. deindexed!) here is what you should remember:
1. Avoid selling excessive links- Websites that have a lot of external links on their
high PR pages send a flag to Google. It won’t hurt you but it will keep you from
getting more trust from Google. Google knows blogrolls and links pages when it
sees it. But if you have 10 links in your footer going to businesses and travel
companies, it just looks funny. If it would look funny to you, it definitely looks
funny to Google. I wouldn’t put more than 4 links per page.
2. Avoid Spammy Sites- If a site doesn’t look right or feel right, don’t do it. Sites
that end in .info or .biz usually are spam sites. I recommend downloading the
SEO for Firefox plugin. This plugin can let you see the age, PageRank, and links a
site has. It can help you determine if the site is spam or legit. Spam sites put you
high on the Google watch list and can get you in trouble. If you put non relevant
links up to spam sites, you will lose all your rankings.
3. Stay in Your Niche- I often get people asking me for credit card links, home
security links, finance, and even gambling links. These links would bring me in a
lot of money but they have NOTHING to do with travel. Google would see that.
They would go why is this travel site linking out to a home security site? Then if I
link out to a whole lot of sites that are unrelated, Google really starts to wonder.
They might wonder so much they visually inspect the site. They will see where
you are linking to and if these sites are spam or not. Moving out of your niche is
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the surest way to get caught for selling text links. It makes perfect sense for a
travel blog to link to a website about travel insurance, cruises, hotels, and airlines.
It does not make sense to link to a make money online site. The more you stick to
your niche, the less likely it is you will get caught. In fact, as long as someone
doesn’t tell Google, you won’t.
4. Learn to Say No- I have turned down deals before because sometimes, a site just
doesn’t feel right. If the site doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. Because if your
instincts go “I don’t know how closely related that is” it probably is not related
enough. Don’t risk your site for a few hundred dollars.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about prices. How much should you
charge? The thing to remember about link sales is that they are after your PR not
traffic and any traffic they get is just an added bonus. They want PR. So you can’t charge
a lot of money because they usually can find someone cheap who is desperate for money
and will undercut you. You can always charge more when people find you than when you
find them but in my experiments, most people will not pay more than $400 USD per year
per link. If you have a pr5 or higher website or page, you can charge a lot more. Here is
the pricing system I use that brings me in quite a bit of money.
Pr4 page: $40 per month
Pr3 page: $30 per month
Contextual link: $20-25 per page depending on its position in Google search results
This is my starting point. When selling links, I always give discounts for multiple links
and long term sales. If people want multiple pages, I also give a slight discount.
Moreover, if the seller will buy links on all my sites, I’ll also give a discount.
So if you were to buy 1 PR4 link for 1 year, I would do it for $350-400 depending on
what I can get from the advertiser. (Always start high- don’t lowball yourself!). A PR3
link would be $300 per year and a contextual link is about $200.
I mentioned that contextual links are the best kind to get so why do I charge the least?
Because they are the least likely to get me caught and few people will see it. If I put a
bunch of links on my sidebar or footer, people will notice. That’s also the place where
Google would notice the most too. If I am going to make my site ugly or risk getting in
trouble, I want more for it. However, if John’s Travel Site wants to pay 200 dollars to
stick a link on an old page 1 person a month might read now, then that’s fine with me.
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HIGH PR SITES: If your site is a PR5 or higher, you can charge a lot more money. I
would start at $70 per month for a PR5 and $100 per month for a PR6. These sites have
much more authority and are harder for advertisers to find. PR3 and PR4 are a dime a
dozen but these higher PR blogs are rare and worth gold.
Should You Sell Permanent links? I have only sold 1 permanent link. It was to a travel
company I really like and I knew the marketer so I did him a friendly favor. BUT never,
NEVER, sell permanent links, especially if they are not contextual. You are losing
yourself money because they never have to re-new plus if that website buys too many
links and gets caught, Google will begin to look at who links to them and your website
might get flagged. Mostly, though, why screw yourself out of good money?
TIP: This is again where multiple websites come in. If you have one website they will
probably want to buy on other websites. Leverage your network to make more money.
Where to Find Text Link Sales
Advertisers not knocking on your door? Well, when it’s a slow month, and I need some
extra cash I get proactive and go looking.
1. Digital Point and Sitepoint: These webmaster forums have great marketplaces.
Simply register and post your link sale. You’ll need 25 posts before being allowed
to post in the marketplace, don’t put the URL of your site up, wait for people to
private message you. You also will not be able to get as much money for links
from these websites. Typically, I have found you get about 60% of the prices from
2. Search Other Blogs: There are a lot of bloggers out there who sell text links.
(Some of them too excessively). If an advertiser wanted a link on one travel site,
they will probably want a link on another. Search blog sites for footer links or
“partners.” Those are probably the sold links. Click over and send an email. I
usually hear back about 75% of the time.
Should You Use A Text Link Broker? No, don’t use them. Sites like Linkworth and
Text Link Ads are well known by Google. Google has penalized these sites and sites
working with them. Don’t take the risk. I have heard inLinks, a site that inserts
contextual links into your blog is fairly good but they are from the same company as Text
Link Ads so I would stay away.
EBOOK BONUS: Want to sell a text link on your site? I have a few advertisers who will
buy advertising on your site. E-mail me with the subject EBOOKLINKSALES and I will
give you their information so you can make some money right away.
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Affiliate Sales
Affiliate sales, like Adsense, are best for really targeted traffic. You can sign up with a
company like Commission Junction, Linkshare, or ClixGalore and put ads from
companies like Lonely Planet, Expedia, and STA travel on your website. Moreover,
Amazon has an affiliate program too. You can put up banners and links to your site.
This is where SEO plays an important role. Regular readers aren’t just going to buy stuff
from your website. Chances are they have their own affiliate links they use. The best
traffic for Affiliate link sales comes from people who find you because they are searching
for something they want. By having affiliate links you offer them that. I see the highest
sales and clicks on pages where the ads are really targeted to the traffic. And, the best
targeted traffic comes from search engines.
People aren’t simply going to click on a banner on your blog. If you have an advertiser
paying you for that banner, put it there. But only put affiliate ads on pages where the
traffic is targeted. My best affiliate is REI. I make over hundred dollars a month from
one page that ranks in a long tail keyword for backpacks. It’s not much money but I’ve
never made money from affiliate sales that were just there. I have had clicks but no sales.
Off I make money from posts that do well in Google. At the end of the day
affiliate marketing works best with targeted traffic. First rank a page high, then put the
ads up. General ads on your pages will see a low CTR and a low sales conversion.
Private Advertising
This is the HARDEST advertising to sell. By private advertising, I mean banner ads. To
sell these ads, only one thing that really matters is traffic. Lots of traffic. Advertisers here
sell on CPM basis and are looking for traffic to make the ad worth the cost.
However, I’ve known bloggers who have sold banners who don’t get 5,000 visitors a day.
Why were they able to do this? Because they were experts in their niche. For that little
travel niche, they were a top dog and as I said, advertisers- especially the ones who buy
banners- want to be with the top dog. You don’t need 5,000 visitors a day to attract
banner ads if you are the best in your niche but it does help.
With banner sales, I have two pricing methods: site wide and page specific.
For one page, I charge $75-100 dollars per month. Typically, that page is my blog page
because that is where most of the traffic on the site goes.
For sitewide banners, I use a CPM method. CPM is the term which stands for Cost Per
Mille (Mille being the Latin word for 1,000). Offering a flat monthly rate to advertisers is
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usually the best (and simpler) way to go. Most people charge between $1.50 to $2 as their
CPM. Even big sites like TechCrunch are in this price range.
For example, if your site got 10,000 page views per month, you divide 10,000 by 1,000
and times that by 1.5 giving you a monthly rate of $15 dollars. If you get 300,000 page
views per month, you charge around $300 per month.
Where to find Banner Ads
Typically, you don’t- they find you. There are two major ways to speed up the process by
looking. Head to some of the bigger travel blogs and see if they have any advertising
banners. If they do, go to the advertiser’s websites and contact them to see if they are
interested in advertising on your website. The success rate is usually about 50%.
Adwords is another way to get advertisers. Simply type in some travel related keywords
and see who pops up. Head over to their site and call or send an e-mail to them with a
proposition. Typically, for this to be successful you need high levels of targeted traffic. If
you can offer the advertisers lots of targeting traffic, you can convince him it’s a better
bet and he’ll see a higher CTR than with ad words.
Ad Networks
For those with high traffic levels, targeted traffic, or those who just want the option, there
are three major advertiser networks out there where you can sell banner ads. These
networks are split between self-service advertising networks and managed advertising
Self Service
Self-service networks are managed by you. The ad networks allow you to put your blog
up on their site, set your rates, set the number of ads you want, and tag your relevant
categories. The networks just take a small cut for the listing. The two best networks are:
BuySellAds- BuySellAds is a complete self-service network that is a good starting point.
There’s not many sites tagged under “travel” giving you a better chance of getting
Technorati Engage- Technorati is the Google for blogs and they are beginning to leverage
that into selling ads. Engage is their self service platform and because of its association
with Technorati, usually has many advertisers searching for quality websites.
After you have signed up for your site and tagged yourself, you will have to put some
script onto your website. This will allow ads to automatically appear on your website
without you having to put up each ad individually. It will look like this on your website:
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Advertisers can click on the “Advertise Here” space and simply buy an ad, which will
then appear as a new button. There’s less emails and negotiations involved. Moreover,
advertisers looking over the network will be able find your website and easily purchase
Managed Networks
Managed networks are private ad networks in which you must meet a set of criteria in
order to eligible for inclusion. For websites with high or targeted traffic and a lot of
backlinks, these networks would be great for you.
If your website is reviewed and accepted into these programs, everything is taken care of
for you. You simply put a piece of code into your wordpress template (like in the self
service networks) and the companies do the rest. Ads will appear on your websites
automatically. Typically the cut is 60% for the company and 40% for you. While that is
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not great, the upside is that all the work is done for you and the rates these companies get
are usually much higher than what you would be able to get on your own. There are two
big managed networks:
The Technorati Media network requires you to have over 100,000 pageviews per month
in order to qualify for their network. Your site also needs to be blog and regularly
Conductor is a network that places text ads on your site (in line with Google’s text link
policy). Websites are accepted on a case by case basis but typically, you’ll need over
20,000 backlinks and clearly separated content pages.
If you think you qualify for any of these networks, please e-mail me and I will pass on
your websites to the agents there. Personal recommendations help get your site reviewed
In the end, making money with your travel blog requires lots of work, perseverance, and
patience. You need to be creative about where you find advertisers. Leave no stone
unturned. But all these efforts will pay off with advertisers and money in the bank.
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Putting it All Together
So what does this all mean? What can you expect to happen? Here are some words of
 You won’t get rich overnight. The quickest and easiest way to make money on
your website is to sell text links. Selling a text link can get you a few hundred
dollars right away. But if you sell too many, you will hurt your site. Static sites
can take months or longer before they start generating money through Adsense or
affiliate banners. The reason most people give up is because they don’t have the
patience. Expect to make nothing for at least 6 months.
 Don’t expect to be the king (or queen). In travel, there is no one dominant force
like there is in other niches. There’s no one expert. There are people who
dominate certain niches better than others but there is no one blogger who
dominates all of travel. You’ll find that the playing field is relatively equal and
you’ll never be the only one on top. You’ll share it. But that is O.K. There is
enough traffic on the web to go around and people who read one blog usually read
others. I read over 100 travel blogs.
 Traffic takes time. It takes a long time to build an audience. Using my tips, you
can build one quicker but don’t expect to have thousands of visitors per day
overnight. It will take a long time to get to that level of traffic and you should
expect to see a gradual increase in your traffic not a sudden spike. If you go to
Alexa, you can type in a website URL to see what their traffic ranking is.
Anything under 100,000 is really, really good. Most travel blogs don’t get there.
There is a wide range but the well read sites have scores between 140,000400,000. There are only about ten single author sites I know of that score under
100,000 on a consistent basis.
 Don’t feel the need to blog every day. When I first started I put up content every
day. It was stressful always trying to fill the blog. It creates more work than you
need. You can build traffic just as easily with two or three posts per week.
So what do you do now? How do you best use your time so you don’t end up spending 10
hours per day in front of the computer working on your blog? Here are some rules about
how you can best spend your time:
 Create a schedule of tasks for each day and only do those tasks. This will eliminate
you from feeling lost and allow you to break down the work. It’s a simple thing to
do but has helped me manage my time a lot better.
 Spend the first month building links with other bloggers and signing up for
community websites and groups. Don’t do use any of the link building services.
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 In the second month, continue building your blogging networks and also start to
use outside link building techniques. Submit one article a week to Ezine and
Article Base and one article to Unique Article Wizard. You can build as many
links as you want using Connect Content and the Griz Niche network as you want.
 Don’t sell advertising right away. Let your site build links and gain authority. You
will have a higher success rate if you wait at least three months before going to
There you have it. The secrets to my success. These SEO tips, site building strategies,
website promotion, and monetization method have allowed me to rank high in Google for
a number of powerful search terms, sell advertising, and earn me over $3,000 USD per
month. It took me a long time to get there and you won’t get there over night. In fact, it
took 6 months of hard work before I even made 1 dollar from my website. This is why I
stress multiple websites. It allows you to increase your income quicker and through
different methods. So remember that it may take many months before you see any type of
return on your website but you will get there if you stick with it. Good luck!
Additionally, I would love feedback on this book. Let me know what you think- positive
or negative. If you have questions or comments about the advice and information here,
please send me an e-mail at [email protected]
Lastly, if you found this book helpful and want to tell others about it, I’d love the
promotion. As a benefit to you, you get 50% of all sales. Help make yourself money by
helping me make money. You get $13.50 per sale so all you need to do is sell two to pay
for this book. You can join the affiliate program by clicking this link to e-junkie:
If you are interested, just sign up and you’ll get the link code then send me an e-mail and
I’ll send you 15 different banners to choose from for your website. It’s just another way
for you to make money from your travel blog!
Thank you purchasing this ebook and I hope you found the information helpful!
Good Luck with Your Blogging,
Matthew Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt)
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