8 White Hat Strategies for Combating Search Engine Bias

8 White Hat Strategies for Combating Search Engine Bias

While you may view search engines as a neutral tool for querying, in actuality, search engines are created by company-affiliated individuals and operate much like any product. They’re designed to satisfy the consumer and financially benefit the producer.

Although this realistic view of search engine intent shouldn’t necessarily raise any red flags, what might concern you is how search engines serve up results.

Google, in particular, intervenes algorithmically to remove spam results that the search engine believes are useless to the consumer. While it is arguable that less spam is a good and welcome thing, what happens if Google deems your site spam?

In addition to the removal of spam, Google is a habitual booster of massive corporations such as Amazon and Facebook. The rationale for boosting larger sites is not particularly nuanced.

Big names can outperform small companies when it comes to SEO, and they typically offer a wider selection of items that can satisfy the consumer. With that said, this Google bias can underserve your site by burying it under offerings from big names.

In the world of Google bias, you need to understand how the deck is stacked against small businesses and actively work to ensure your site performs to the best of its ability.

How Are Search Engines Biased?

When you encounter the word “bias,” you might associate it with nefarious connotations.

Although there have been claims that Google bias slants search results against particular political leanings, when it comes to search engines, Google bias overall tends to trend more toward erring too heavily on the perceived wants of their audience.

Google search algorithms are based on a slew of information, including the phrasing of your query, the reliability of sources, the relevance of pages, and countless other factors. Even your location and settings can help Google discover the most relevant information for your search.

It stands to reason that the aggregation of this information lends itself toward suggesting sources that try to match and satisfy past behavior, as well as other defining indicators.

In addition to these algorithms, Google bias can be impacted by domain authority (DA), a ranking metric that indicates both your site’s success in ranking on search engines, as well as your site’s perceived expertise surrounding a specific topic.

DA is measured by various factors, including inbound links, which are vitally important to score calculation. With an increased amount of inbound links from other relevant domains comes an increased DA score, in most cases.

The Effect of Search Engine Bias on Businesses

Unfortunately, bias (whether helpful or not) can significantly impact small businesses that have few inbound links and sparse content. For big organizations with equally big wallets, constant content creation can earn inbound links and score a high DA score, helping them land top positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Collectively, the above factors can severely limit your site’s search result visibility. Not only are you competing against big brand names, but you’re also losing SERP traction if you’re not actively recruiting inbound links and establishing expertise.

There is also a chance your DA will decrease when a massively popular site (think Twitter) gains a large number of inbound links, deflating your search rank and lowering your overall DA score.

For sites as large as Twitter or Amazon, there’s not much a small business can do to compete with the sheer number of inbound links and resulting high DA. However, you can aim to earn a higher score than your competitors by employing white hat strategies to combat Google bias.

Ethical Strategies for Combating Search Engine Biases

While the above may seem daunting for small-to-medium business owners looking to grab some top-SERP terrain, you can use several strategies to help you compete for those rankings.

By incorporating the following four approaches into your digital strategy, you can compete in the battle for search visibility.

Focus on a Single Subject

While it’s clear that Google bias means delivering results from big-name sites, the algorithm is also partial to sites that focus on a single subject in depth.

This strategy not only helps you earn points in Google’s algorithm, but it also helps you establish yourself as an industry expert in your field.

Instead of creating a range of content, focus on a single topic that satisfies every component of the buyer’s journey and build out a content map from there.

This task might seem overwhelming due to the sheer amount of potential content, so here are three places to start:

  • Content that educates on early-journey topics
  • Content that highlights your point of view on your topic
  • Content that explains industry perspectives on the topic

Build Site Relevance

When we talk about search engines, the word “relevance” references how much a site’s content correlates to the active search term.

Much like DA, relevance is vitally important in determining where your site lands on the SERPs for a specific query.

To improve your site relevance score, you should determine intent around user search and create a content strategy to match those queries.

Also, make sure you are relevant to user queries by having the most up-to-date business information on your site and local search profiles.

Earn Inbound Links

Inbound links (or backlinks) are links coming to your site from an external source. This type of link does a great amount of work to improve your site’s perceived expertise. If another site is linking to your content as a point of clarification or for additional information, you’re clearly an expert in the field.

While this all sounds wonderful, how do you earn those inbound links? With many strategies available for the savvy marketer, below are our top five white hat steps for success that can help you grow your number of inbound links and reduce Google bias.

Score Inbound Links

When you write good content, good things may happen.

Editorial inbound links are the holy grail of link building: they’re free and they’re lasting.

Next time you’re crafting content, consider the true value of the piece and assess how your audience will use it.

If it’s helpful to your industry and includes a how-to, chances are it can earn you at least one inbound editorial link. It’s just because you wrote great content.

Craft Useful Infographics

Infographics are great tools. They allow rapid dissemination of information without a lot of reading.

When you create infographics on topics relevant to your industry, it can exponentially increase the likelihood that another content marketer sees your graphic and links to it in their next blog post.

Give What You Get

Although we’re talking about inbound linking, we can’t discount the power of outbound linking. By linking out to other members in your industry, you grow your community.

Not only that, but you also increase the likelihood that the goodwill outbound linking will return the favor in the form of inbound linking.

Create Unique Content

Notice missing content about your specific industry? Chances are, you’re not the first to notice content holes.

When you encounter missing content, you should prioritize taking advantage of the hole and filling in the gaps in information.

This strategy not only benefits your site by further establishing you as an expert in the field, but it also creates opportunities for others in your industry to link to your content, earning you even more inbound links.

Aid a Journalist in Need

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a service that connects journalists with potential sources. Three times a day, HARO sends emails that share topic areas and specific questions journalists are hoping to be answered, like the one in the image below:

When you share responses to these questions, journalists typically indicate your role as the source, linking back to your site and scoring you additional inbound links.

Create Long-Form Content

If you’re not writing long-form content, tomorrow is the day to start.

Long-form content can gain you more online visibility in the measure of likes and shares, an opportunity to engage more with your community, and serve as a clear indicator of industry expertise.

How does long-form content help you combat Google bias?

A serpIQ study found the best-performing content usually tallied over 2,000 words.

Research conducted by Brian Dean underlines the finding that long-form content is much more valuable to users than its shorter counterpart in many cases.

Now that we know long-form content performs better, how can it eliminate Google bias and help make your site more visible to future consumers?

Below are the top two reasons why long-form content can help your site emerge from the shadows of big brands.

Authority

We talked about the importance of establishing expertise in all content development, and this tenet is nowhere more true than in long-form content.

When you create extensive guides, blog posts, white papers, books, and other deep content dives, you not only establish yourself as an expert among your peers, but you also begin to establish yourself as an expert to search engines.

This can give your content and your site a much greater chance of being seen by an unindoctrinated searcher and overcoming existing Google bias.

SEO

When you create long-form content, you have nearly endless opportunities to use keywords to your advantage.

In shorter content, deploying multiple keywords may present a challenge, but with high word counts come more opportunities for you to make your keywords do as much work as possible.

When you start winning on some of your identified keywords, your site can begin to climb in SERP rankings, making you more visible to searchers, providing an edge over your competitors, and removing existing Google bias.

Conclusion

While it is inarguable that Google bias exists, it’s important to remember Google bias isn’t inherently bad, and it doesn’t mean small businesses are incapable of overcoming search barriers.

By incorporating these elements into your digital strategy, you can begin to surmount Google bias and start increasing your site’s rank on the SERPs.

As you implement these strategies, keep customer intent in mind and remember not to create content for content’s sake. Like most things, when it comes to content strategy, quality prevails over quantity.

Which white hat strategy have you found most effective to use against Google bias?

Lessons Learned from 175 Website Flips: Mushfiq’s Easy Win Strategies for 10x Growth

Lessons Learned from 175 Website Flips: Mushfiq’s Easy Win Strategies for 10x Growth

Mushfiq S. is a name I keep hearing more and more about. I’ve been aware of his work, but had never connected with Mushfiq until now. 

Mushfiq is the owner of a popular  website flipping newsletter and EasyWins.io. To date, he has completed over 175 website flips, whether buying, selling, or brokering website deals. 

Even more impressive, he’s done all of this while still holding a full-time job. 

How did he manage to flip so many websites? He’s created systematic processes of “easy wins”. These easy wins are tasks, or site improvements often overlooked but take relatively little time to complete and provide a big impact. 

He then took the processes and bundled them into a resource you can purchase at EasyWins.io. It’s not a course, but a growing database of 100+ strategic wins for website creators to 10X revenue and traffic

This week only, the Niche Pursuits audience can get $50 off EasyWins.io right here.

100+ battle-tested strategies applied to 175 websites over 12 years to increase website valuations

  • 100+ strategies and growing!
  • Sort by category, impact, and effort required
  • Lifetime updates
  • Guaranteed impact or 100% money back

Get $50 Off Easy Wins

Watch the Entire Interview

How did Easy Wins get started?

Mushfiq started his first website as a college student in 2008. Then in 2010, he got an offer from an Australian company to buy his website. 

At the time, Mushfiq didn’t even know you could sell a website. This was just around the time Flippa and other website marketplace platforms were just getting started, and there wasn’t a lot of information on website sales.

The sale of his first site netted him $25k. The company that purchased his site is now known as Slashdot Media, the company behind SourceForge and other popular brands. 

As other college students were going into debt and working minimum wage jobs, Mushfiq got his first glimpse into website flipping and found his passion. 

Mushfiq says browsing websites for sale on sites like Flippa and Motion Invest is almost like a hobby for him now. Whenever he has a little downtime, he finds himself scrolling website classified listings. 

Website Flipping Examples

Mushfiq’s website flipping hobby is paying off big time. In the last few years, he’s been able to 10x a handful of sites. 

Example #1: Outdoor Website

In April, he bought a site in the outdoor niche from Flippa for $23,000. At the time, the site was only making $300, about a 70x multiple. By just about any standards, this meant the website was notably overpriced. 

As most people passed the site over as of the high asking price to revenue multiple, Mushfiq saw the potential. 

The site was receiving over 100,000 views a month. Mushfiq knew it was under-monetized. In just a few short months after adding advertising and affiliate links and applying several of his other “easy wins”, the site began making $3,000 a month. 

Ten times the original monthly sales, but he didn’t stop there. Last month the site did $7k in monthly revenue. 

I would maybe just chalk this up as good luck, but this wasn’t the first time Mushfiqs has 10x revenues. 

Example #2: Relationship and Dating Website

In 2019 Musfiq had similar results when he bought a relationship and dating website for $25,000. At the time, the site was making $1,000 per month with 30,000 pageviews. Again Mushfiq believed the site to be under-monetized and had plenty of potential. He was able to bring the site from making a mere $1,000 per month to over $8,000. 

100+ battle-tested strategies applied to 175 websites over 12 years to increase website valuations

  • 100+ strategies and growing!
  • Sort by category, impact, and effort required
  • Lifetime updates
  • Guaranteed impact or 100% money back

Get $50 Off Easy Wins

Using his systematic approach of applying his list of easy wins, he was able to quickly grow this site in less than a year.

What makes a good deal?

Mushfiq spends hours looking for great sites. He’s says finding these opportunities for a 10x revenue flip typically only happens once per year. There are a few very particular things to look for to make this happen. 

  1. Previous Owners.
    Mushfiq loves to find amateur bloggers or hobbyists that are writing about their niche because they love it. People who start a passion blog have great content but lack the experience to generate significant revenue from their online presence.
  2. Lots of traffic, low monetization
    Low monetization can mean a lot of things, and different industries have different benchmarks. It could also mean other monetization channels, whether that be from advertising or affiliates.
  3. Quick deals
    Mushfiq prides himself in fast deals. If there is enough potential in the site, he’s ready to strike a deal. Mushfiq won’t spend much time negotiating. If he can get the deal done quickly and the opportunity is there, he is willing to pay the full asking price.

Mushfiq’s Website Flipping Process

Each deal is held anywhere from 3 months to 1.5 years. Each site is different, but the operational aspects of Mushfiq’s website flipping process have been boiled down into a few categories: growth, stabilization, and maintenance. 

Growth: 

As a developer, Mushfiq says he loves to work in sprints. Each time he purchases a new website, he will put together a sprint of easy wins to build momentum for the project. 

The growth stage is when he is focused on income. This is where is putting in the changes to take the site from, say $300 to $3,000. 

Stabilization: 

At this stage, the focus is on infrastructure. Maybe a new website theme is needed, removing or adding plugins, site speed, or structuring keywords. 

Maintenace: 

Depending on whether he is planning for a quick flip or keeping the site in his portfolio, maintenance may look a little different, but ultimately at this stage, the goal is to look at page keywords, content, etc. Essentially he wants to keep doing the things that made it a great website in the first place. 

Using EasyWins.io Strategies for OwnTheYard

100+ battle-tested strategies applied to 175 websites over 12 years to increase website valuations

  • 100+ strategies and growing!
  • Sort by category, impact, and effort required
  • Lifetime updates
  • Guaranteed impact or 100% money back

Get $50 Off Easy Wins

Each phase will leverage different strategies found in the EasyWins database. To show exactly the type of strategies that are in the list, Mushfiq gave my site OwntheYard.com a quick audit and shared exactly what he would do to improve the site. 

I knew there was room for improvement with my site, but what surprised me was just how quick and easy the suggestions Mushfiq suggested would be to implement. 

These suggestions were things I could do once and be effective for the life of the website. 

I’ve included just a few of the recommendations he provided. You can see all his recommendations with the Youtube video here. 

  • Sticky Side Bar Ad

    I was already using Ezoic on my site and have been monetizing quite nicely this way, but Mushfiq shared a way that I could optimize to earn even more.

    The sticky sidebar ad is one of the highest-earning ad placements. On a handful of my pages the sticky sidebar ad was not enable. By enabling I should instantly see a spike in revenue.

  • Minimizing Featured Image

    Above the fold is one of the most valuable places on the page. By reducing the large featured images to be smaller, I could get more content above the fold and provide a better user experience.

    Making featured images smaller would also result in more ads being shown higher up on the page, providing additional revenue.

    Mushfiq also recommends using tools like Canva to add a customized logo or making the images unique as he’s seen a better performance than when using custom vs stock photos.

  • Adding Link Text

    I used the AAWP plugin  and the AmaLinks Pro plugin to push traffic to my Amazon affiliate links, but one area that I wasn’t linking was the link text.

    A quick, easy win would be to add link text when mentioning products and brands. Both text and image links are high converting links. By adding the link text we should see a significant increase in the number of on-page clicks. 

  • Replace Amazon Native Ads

    At the end of many pages, I include a “Shop Related Products” option using Amazon’s native shopping widget.

    Historically this native shopping widget provides low conversions. Mushfiq’s recommendation was to replace the native ad with AAWP product comparison or telling the readers my best product suggestion at the end of the article as a call to action.

Implementing EasyWins.io

Anytime I start thinking about optimizing my sites, I start feeling overwhelmed. Owntheyard.com has over 500 pages. Optimizing feels like a never-ending task. 

Mushfiq recommends only looking at the top 10 revenue pages or pages with significant traffic, and the suggestions like updating the themes featured image position would only have to be done once and implemented across the site. 

Mushfiq also sees some of his Easywins.io customers leverage the database of strategies to provide the list to a virtual assistant to complete the tasks. 

These just scratched the surface of the strategies Mushfiq and EasyWins.io have to offer. There are over 100 and the list keeps growing. 

You can get $50 off the database this week when you purchase EasyWins with the NichePursuits link here!

 

6 Advanced Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Try

6 Advanced Affiliate Marketing Strategies to Try

You’ve poured a ton of time into creating a blog. You are regularly posting content, so you’re starting to build up an audience.

At some point, you’ll probably want to monetize it, right? Why not get all that hard work to pay off?

So, you dive into affiliate marketing, which has a lot of earning potential. A study from VigLink (now Sovrn) shows that affiliate marketing is the biggest revenue generator for publishers after Google AdSense.

Once you’ve started with affiliate marketing, you can gain more revenue from using more advanced affiliate methods.

What is Advanced Affiliate Marketing?

Before we get into advanced affiliate marketing, here’s a quick refresher on how affiliate marketing works.

Affiliate marketing is an effective way for anyone with a blog or social media following to earn money. Basically, it’s commission-based sales. You promote a product to your followers, and if they purchase through your affiliate link, you get a cut of the profits.

Many affiliate marketers use networks like Amazon Associates or ClickBank to find products they can promote. Since these networks have a wide variety of products available, it’s pretty easy to find things your audience might like.

A lot of people think of affiliate marketing as a way to make easy, passive income. That is only partially true.

Sure, you can make some money by just slapping a few links on your website, but if you really want to profit from affiliate marketing, you’ll have to put some thought and strategy into it.

So “advanced affiliate marketing” could be defined as using sophisticated strategies to earn more from your affiliate marketing.

What does this mean in practice?

It could mean finding the best niche to promote, choosing products your audience will like, and finding effective ways to promote them, among other things.

Below, I’ll explain how you can use advanced affiliate marketing to earn more money from your online content.

6 Ways to Incorporate Advanced Affiliate Marketing Into Your Business and Increase Revenue

So, you’ve already got an affiliate marketing site built but are looking to take your site to the next level? Here are six advanced affiliate marketing strategies to try.

Tailor Your Products to Your Audience

This one is super important: Make sure you’re promoting things your audience wants.

This can be more complicated than you might think.

Choosing great products to promote is about more than just picking categories that are generally aligned with your blog. It’s about understanding your audience and their psychology.

For example, you might assume that a new high-tech baby stroller would be an excellent product to promote since you have a parenting blog. But maybe you’ve drawn in a lot of price-conscious readers with your posts about meal planning, coupons, and budgeting.

If you promote a product that’s out of most of your readers’ price range, they won’t buy. More importantly, you could end up looking inauthentic and too salesy, which will turn people off and hurt your brand.

When it comes to understanding your readers, data and analytics are your friends. Use them wisely.

If you don’t already know who’s reading your blog, you should take steps to find out. Software like Quantcast can show you this data or use the Demographics and Interests feature in Google Analytics.

Here’s what Demographics and Interests can show you:

Besides getting actionable data from Google Analytics, you can use several other methods to better understand your audience.

Social media is an excellent source of data. Some social media platforms have built-in analytics features that make it easy to understand who’s following you.

If you have a Facebook page, you can go to “Manage Page” > “Insights:”

Then click “People” > “Your Fans.”

You can also do this using Instagram Insights if you have a business account or YouTube’s Channel analytics tools.

If you want a more in-depth picture of your social media analytics, there are tons of third-party tools you could use as well.

And if you have a specific question, why not just ask your followers?

Send out a survey asking what type of content they would like to see. A more personalized affiliate program means both happier followers and more sales, so it’s a win-win.

Be Transparent With Your Affiliate Efforts

If you want to make money with advanced affiliate marketing, you have to be transparent.

You should let your readers know when you’re using affiliate links for a few reasons. First, it can help you stay on top of regulation and avoid any potential legal issues.

Second, it helps you build and keep your readers’ trust. If your audience suddenly “finds out” they’re being marketed to when they didn’t realize it, they’ll get upset, and you’ll lose your following — meaning you’ll be making zero money from your affiliate program.

A third reason you should be transparent about affiliate links is that it makes your site look legitimate and less spammy, which is essential when trying to avoid search engine penalties.

Don’t forget that Google penalizes “thin affiliate pages,” so along with being transparent; you should also make sure your affiliate links are integrated into interesting and valuable content.

Choose Great Products in a Profitable Niche

Maybe you’re thinking of building out new content based on affiliate products. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure to choose a niche that can make you money.

If your market is receptive to high-value products, that’s a good place to start. Since you’re earning a commission, selling something more valuable will make you more.

Of course, a low-value product can also be interesting if it’s super desirable, and you manage to sell a lot of it.

I’ve already covered the basics, including choosing a profitable affiliate marketing niche in a previous post. One of the tips I gave was to use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify in-demand keywords (and, therefore, possibly valuable products that are worth spending the money to advertise).

Another tip is to look for products and categories that are trending right now. If something goes viral, there’s no better time to promote it with an affiliate link or product review.

To check if a product is currently hot, you can use BuzzSumo and Google Trends.

Just look at what happened with fidget spinners:

Mid-year 2017 was the perfect time to get into that market.

And searches for face masks peaked in June 2020, with interest tapering off near the end of the year:

Put Affiliate Links Where the Most Traffic is

You don’t always have to create new content to make more money from affiliate links.

Another advanced affiliate marketing strategy that’s super easy to implement is going through your existing content to see which of your pages are currently getting the most traffic. You can do this using Google Analytics.

Once you’ve identified a few high-performing pages, add affiliate links to them.

You can also promote individual pages using paid social ads or Google AdWords. By driving more traffic to those pages, you’ll be driving more clicks toward your affiliate links.

Be strategic about this, though. Try to choose pages that are already doing reasonably well and making affiliate sales, so you don’t waste money trying to promote underperforming content.

A/B Test Your Affiliate Links and Banners

A/B testing is a crucial technique for any online marketer, and it can also help you optimize your affiliate marketing campaigns.

Take two different versions of an ad, landing page, or other marketing asset and see which one performs better. In the case of affiliate marketing, there are a few different ways you could use A/B testing.

If you’re using affiliate links, you could test the links to see how they perform in various positions on the page. For example, links near the top of an article might be more visible, and therefore get more clicks.

If you have affiliate banners, you should A/B test them the same way you would any other ad to help overcome banner blindness.

Various ad positions and colors may perform more differently than you might expect since color can have a surprising impact on conversion rates.

Customize Your Links for Different Countries

Is there anything more irritating for a user than clicking on something they’re really interested in, only to see a big pop-up saying, “This is not available in your country?”

Or, seeing shipping and customs fees that are so high, they’re more expensive than the cost of the product itself?

This is the exact sort of thing you want to avoid with your affiliate links.

For example, if you’re linking only to Amazon’s U.S. store, your non-U.S. readers will probably click out of the page and search for the product again in their local store. You’ll then lose that affiliate sale.

With advanced affiliate marketing, you can make the experience easier for your international users by using a tool like Amazon OneLink or geo-tagging your affiliate links. That way, users are automatically redirected to their local site.

Amazon OneLink is a script that can be configured on your website.

Geo-tagging (also known as geo-targeting) can be done with a plug-in, short link, or code snippet.

Advanced Affiliate Marketing Software and Tools

If you’re looking to step up your affiliate marketing game, advanced affiliate marketing tools can help you speed things up and get better results. Here are a few popular options:

Pretty Links: This tool was specifically created to help affiliate marketers manage links and redirects. Redirects are essential for a few reasons. They help your links look better (hence the software’s name), they help you keep things organized, and they prevent bad actors from finding your affiliate links and trying to modify or poach them.

AnyTrack: AnyTrack is useful if you want to know more about where your affiliate clicks are coming from. It allows you to integrate and track your links with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel.

CAKE: CAKE’s affiliate marketing software helps you optimize your campaigns so that you can increase your traffic and earnings.

Advanced Affiliate Marketing Training and Courses

Maybe you’d like to dig deeper into advanced affiliate marketing. To learn more, check out these courses and other training resources:

Neil Patel YouTube channel: I cover all things marketing on YouTube, and affiliate marketing is no exception. I’ve made a ton of videos about affiliate marketing, so feel free to head over to the channel and check them out.

Udemy courses: Udemy is a great learning resource, and they have courses on just about everything, including affiliate marketing. Here are a few top-rated advanced affiliate marketing courses on Udemy:

Matt Diggity’s Affiliate Lab: This course is specifically designed for creating and monetizing affiliate websites.

Conclusion

If you’ve been doing affiliate marketing for a while, you’re probably looking for insights beyond just “Add some links to your website.”

The truth is, advanced affiliate marketing is like any other kind of digital marketing. It’s all about strategy, understanding your audience, and having the right tools.

If you put the time and effort into A/B tests, check your analytics, and invest in the right software, you’ll start seeing better results with affiliate marketing.

Can you think of any other advanced affiliate marketing techniques? Share them in the comments!