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How I made $1.05 million in sales in 4 months via SEO

Since it’s old news, I’m going to finally reveal the gritty details of my successes in 2009 all in one post.

I’ve had more than one person confirm my earnings as a fact. It was generated from April 11th through August the 14th of 2009. I generated well over 6,000 leads for the product at a price point of around $175 per sale. This comes out to a little over 1 million dollars in sales. These are my personal best estimates, I could be off, but likely not by too much.  My total net income was significantly less than this because of costs involved with sales, and the fact that I was running everything was as an affiliate.

The most interesting thing about this entire ordeal was that my total basic out-of pocket costs were less than $500 for the entire campaign. This excludes server costs which rapidly ballooned over the course of time due to my personal paranoia about Google and servers. That cost me a ton of money which I won’t go in to, because it’s completely irrelevant when dealing with this post.
I started in early 2009 working towards developing a few SEO campaigns. I had a wordpress.com blog that was starting to get pretty heavy on traffic. It was a real estate blog dealing with almost only foreclosures. 95% of my traffic was from SEO sources I was quickly realizing the power of SEO. I had also joined a few SEO/Marketing forums that were full of pretty awesome people. I was always impressed by Eli and Bofu’s take on SEO and how well they were doing. Especially since Eli was ranking #1 or #2 for “Acai Diet” and other phenomenal keywords. Through the grapevine, I had heard that Eli was potentially doing $1m in sales per month off of just that one website. In hindsight I’m unsure if this is true or not, but at the time I figured that it was true.

It was plainly obvious that if i followed what every single person was doing, I wouldn’t end up anywhere, so I had to find a unique way to get into some of the more major niche markets. At that time there were 3 that were killing it – Acai , Google Money and Colon Cleansing. Since #1 and #3 were almost the same thing, I decided that #2 would be the much better option.

I had already tried PPC for the Make Money Online niche, it was abysmal. Although I was getting cheap traffic from Yahoo, the conversion rate was still providing me at most a 15% profit margin with some days seeing a loss of 20% or more. This was extremely hard on me because I was running everything essentially on a credit card with a $2,000 limit. I started to break down the data I had got from Yahoo on the kinds of keywords that were converting. Keywords like “Google Money Scam” , “Google Money Review” , “Google money system for real” were by far the highest volume keywords with decent ROI. I was spending $2 to $3 a click for these keywords and each keyword was getting more than 100 searches per day. I quickly ran the math knowing that Yahoo accounted for less than 20% of the total search market. I quickly realized that these kinds of words on Google were generating a few thousand searches per day.

So, I developed an idea – Target affiliate product brand names via SEO. To test this theory I uploaded a post on my real estate blog about how awesome Google Money System was, and went to town on linkbuilding. Within 1 day I was on the first page of Google for terms like “Is google money system a scam” and “Google money system review”. At the #4-#5 positions I was getting approximately 100 searches per day. Most importantly I was getting product sales through a few affiliate links in the post. Around 2% of my traffic was buying the product. I was extremely excited about this, so I kept blasting more and more links. My absolute favorite link method was spamming affiliate marketing blogs with comment links. They worked great and within 3 days I was up to the #2 position, getting anywhere from 200-300 visits a day on the blog. Even more amazing was the fact that after refining my sales pitch on the page, my sales rate was anywhere from 2% to 5%. One day I sold something like 10 products at the $175ish price point. I was floored that I could make that kind of money with a absolutely free wordpress.com blog.

So, I developed a better plan – Do it on my own self-hosted blogs. I had already got a complaint from wordpress.com about putting affiliate links in a post, so I knew not to do that. I ordered a domain (Google-money-system.net) to use for the product. I quickly threw up a few 350-400 word posts chocked full of keywords and decent on-page SEO. Once I felt comfortable with the sales pitch about how much money I had already made by selling the product, I went to work on linkbuilding.

My SEO strategy was simple – Build as many links as humanly possible to my blogs. I didn’t worry about anchor text variation , deep linking. Just blasting away every single day with as many comments as I could. In less than 1 week I had generated 150 links back to my domain. At that time, most blogs lacked no-follow plugins for wordpress. Within about 5 days the website was up to #1 for a host of terms like “Google Money System” , “Google Money System review” , “Google money system scam” and tons of other longtail keywords surrounding just this one product. Essentially I was leveraging all the advertising being done by affiliates through media buys and the like. I knew that 90% of the people that clicked through on their ads to check-out the money system product would be turned off for some reason. I then theorized that I could capture these leads via SEO and turn them around for my own interests. I was right on the money with all my assumptions as within just 5 days of installing wordpress and linkbuilding, I was seeing upwards of 1,000 unique visitors per day. My conversion rate hovered in the 1% to 5%. I think my overall conversion rate hovered just below 2% for the entire tenure of the project.

If you’ve done the math, 2% of 1,000 per day is around $3,500 which is just about what I was bringing in per day gross to the advertiser.

I was thrilled at the amount of money coming in ,but I knew I had to start scaling it. So I ordered as many domains as I could relating to google money system and the other products. I ordered URLs with hyphens, without hyphens, .org/.net versions. I then wrote unique articles for these blogs, and started linkbuilding to them as quickly as I did the first one. The .org version of my first site within 1 week was to the #2 position. I managed to get 3rd variation of the website to the #3 position as well. Within 3 weeks I literally had the first page of Google locked up concerning “Google Money System” including all anchor variations, long tails and the like. I was capturing approximately 3,000 unique views across all the sites per day. As time went on, these affiliate offers would drop off and would be replaced with similar products. Google money system , google biz kit, google money master, all of them would be the hot item and I would build websites out for the product and add keywords. A few people tried to copy my websites but after I integrated Xrumer comment spam into my SEO mix, I was able to push everyone else away.

As time went on, sales stabilized and I had a extremely hard time growing any beyond this point. I was roughly bringing in $9,000 to the advertiser every day. Saturdays and Sundays were the worst as I was bringing in only $5,000 a day while the typical Thursday brought in $12,000. I was hooked on waking up every day , logging into prosper 202 and checking my conversions. I had gone from having a maxed out credit card to making obscene amounts of money over the course of a few extremely short months.

Then it hit me “What do I do with this money?” I knew that Google Money system and those kinds of products would eventually lose favor with the public and traffic would drop down to nothing. So I made the absolute worst mistake possible – I took the money and invested it.

I had people from all over asking for money in their revolutionary ideas. One guy locally caught my attention early on – He was arbitraging bankruptcy leads between various firms. He was essentially buying affiliate data and re-selling it to another brokerage. He was paying something like $6 per lead and selling it to a major firm in California for $10 each, a profit of $4 per lead. He told me he could handle roughly 5,000 of these bankruptcy leads per day.  I figured that it might not be a bad deal, it would *Only* take a investment of 30% of all that I had made. I was sure it would double or even triple within a month or two and put me in a even more secure position. So I did what I perceived as smart and invested it with him.

Over the next few months, my costs started to balloon. I hired a guy to manage the dedicated server(s) I had leased out so that everything was running smoothly on the new sites. Some of my older sites were still on my shared $4.95/mo account at webair. It didn’t occur to me that if I was making tons of money off of $4.95 hosting and doing everything myself that it would be a bad idea to hire someone and buy expensive dedicated servers.

Time went on, and that 30% investment was quickly running me out of cash. I also thought that running PPC campaigns along with my SEO stuff would help. I was making so much money that I thought I could throw more money into it, not analyze and be just as profitable – I wasn’t. I quickly started spending $500 to even $1,000 a day on PPC expenses via adwords for a increase of $500-$1000 per day. It was breaking even but I didn’t care as the SEO portion that I had essentially made for free was still making $9,000 a day.

Time kept going on and i thought to myself “I need to find another investment”. The lead sales deal with the guy was going phenomenal………..on paper. According to him my initial investment had already grown by 200% or so. Rather than take out my initial investment, I decided to keep going on, since even if I lost the entire investment, I still had all my SEO sales going strong. I decided as another investment I’d buy a few properties in my area. I figured that I’d have more than enough money to buy a rental, fix it up and have it managed by someone else, just in case everything fell apart and I was stuck with no income.

August rolled around and everything was still going great. That was until the last half of the month rolled around. Google had received a few lawsuits from people buying the products I was promoting, so they decided to do a manual review of every single site. This took my entire network of websites down with absolutely no chance of re-indexing. I was in a totally “Oh crap moment”. Over the next 2-3 weeks I ran around trying to figure how to get those keywords back, I couldn’t figure out how to do it.
I went into a self-preservation mode, I called the guy who I had given thousands of dollars to with the lead buying deal. I spent another 4 weeks trying to get that money – it was gone. The company that we were selling leads to had been shut down by the DOJ for fraudulently filing bankruptcies (or so I was told). That 30% of my money was gone but I still had plenty left, right?

Well , over the next month I ran around getting all the servers, employees and stuff shut down. I had to buy out contracts for everything it felt like. I was quickly hemorrhaging money. I started to look at the rental to check if things were going well – they were not. The repairs were totally under stated by the company that I had contracted to do the repairs. My 10% repair cost quickly became 150% to fix the property. I had spent 5 figures on fixing the property up only to find out that nothing was really done and that the property was in such bad repair that I was being fined by the city as an eyesore.

By January I was literally back where I had started – A maxed out credit card, and a handful of somewhat profitable SEO campaigns. The big money was gone, taken by people that I thought I trusted, employees and the like. The only thing I had to show for it was a truck I had bought in July for cash.

So, looking back ,what are the lessons that I’ve learned?

  • Always plan long term. Don’t rely on what’s going on today to keep you going tomorrow. Run multiple projects and diversify when possible. There are only so many hours in a day.
  • Build a list – Even though the sites went down, had I of list built I could have had 150,000 to 500,000 email subscribers interested in making money online. Instead I ran them directly to the advertiser so I didn’t have to deal with building a email list. This would have been something great to fall back on, instead I wanted the quick buck.
  • Don’t trust anyone but yourself. Everyone you deal with has their own interests in mind, and the only one working for you is yourself.
  • Don’t get into long contracts with employees and only outsource if you have to. Leveraging other people’s time is a good thing but only if you do it right.
  • Save back as much money as possible for calamity. I ran thin through the entire course of this project and it killed me in the end.
  • Don’t buy realestate unless you can watch over the repairs being done on a daily basis.

Please re-tweet and share. I don’t want anyone else to run into the problems I have.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, feel free to ask and I’ll update this posts with answers. P

(Almost) end of month update

Well , as I’ve been doing better, I’m not so overly upset to post my stats and where I’m at with my various SEO projects. (Click for the expanded picture)

The chart is based on unique views to my current blog network of 7 websites. Adsense earnings growth generally matched my UV count as well , starting with a median of $3-5/day  ,and ending the month in the $10-$20/day range.
So far , so good , as far as the method of just setting up blogs, trying to SEO them goes. I’ve also been making money by other ad sources and have done well. One site is also collecting opt-in email addresses, and is up to around 650 or so opt-ins since I started the first of the month as well. The last day of the chart was a anomaly as one keyword I rank well for went crazy in terms of traffic. I haven’t updated my spreadsheet in the past 2-3 days other than my internal income sheet which I’m not going to post online.

I’m finally back in the game

The past month or so has been pretty good. I’ve FINALLY got a scalable, workable project that’s MAKING MONEY!

I’m not going to go into lengthy , gory details of it , but I’ve got a method to develop websites now that will build visitors over time, most importantly it’s profitable and it helps me invest back into the project.

So , my goal for this year is to end the year with no less than 100 high-profile websites in my portfolio , although my real goal is 250. Right now I’ve got about 7 sites I consider ‘high profile’. Once I reach my goal I’ll reveal a little more information , but in the mean time I’ll be sharing charts & graphs with everyone, since I love them so much.


The above chart shows my network wide pageviews starting in December at a total of 594 daily pageviews, and ending yesterday at a total of 3021 pageviews across the network.

The chart includes a total of 5 websites (I’m developing out the additional 2 websites mentioned above) and the 5th website was added on 12/20/10 starting at 4 pageviews that day , and on 1/3/11 it reached a total of 253 daily PVs (This is an anomaly but it shows me that it has potential.)

Total ending pageviews were 1578 ,818 , 443, 253, 182 across the five websites. My #1 website is a music blog , while the lowest is a general interest blog I’ve had for over a year.

LAMCO , AKA lamconetwork.com scam review

Here’s another company trying to collect a $259 fee off of poor real estate agents and people who don’t know better.

I get a email directly from their people every 3-4 months, so I figured I’d post a little bit about them. They say they have listings and give out REO listings to agents, so  I did my normal research.

If you go to their site and click on “maps” you can see how much volume they do in your area. I checked my state of Ohio , and surprisingly enough they had a DOZEN properties in the entire state! I hate to break it to everyone , but a decent management company will have several dozen in a city , let alone the whole state! So , if you figure it out , with LAMCO you’ve got about a 1 in 50 or 1 in 100 shot of ever listing properties with them. Take my advice and don’t pay the $259 fee, you’d be much better of by buying some signs and posting them on telephone polls that say “Please give me bank listings!” At least in that case someone would see your name.

Here’s the link to their map to check your area : http://www.lamconetwork.com/Search-Results.aspx

*Edit*
I’ve been getting 1-3 emails a WEEK From lamco , and now one of their telemarkters called me. I argued with him for around 5 minutes which he did not address the major negative reviews I’ve read and had about them. So , still in my book they’re still a scam!

Bank of America (BOA) Short sale & Loss Mitigation phone numbers

I’m negotiating one right now ,and finding the numbers online hasn’t gone so well , so I figured I’d share it with everyone.

The phone number to the shortsale & loss mitigation number for bank of America is 1-866-880-1232

Their contact fax number is 866-808-5050, both of these numbers were working at the time of this posting (9/14/2010).

The Average American Bugout

This will be a little bit different than my other business related articles, but goes in line to a point with everything I talk about.

As I’ve explained before plenty of times, I do quite a bit of work in my area (central Ohio) for large and mid sized banks. Most of what I do is called ‘recon’ for banks , I go out and take pictures of properties they have in their lending portfolios and tell them how much it’s worth. In addition to that, I go out and valuate homes for PMI reduction purposes, and homes that are in foreclosure ( BPOs ) to tell the bank if the home is in good/bad condition and the market value they’ll get by selling it as a foreclosure.

Outside of working with banks, I’ve worked on every level regarding distressed property sales, from the owner who can’t afford a mortgage anymore (I’ve walked them through a short sale), to the other side of the coin , working with on a eviction , and repossession of a property. I find the whole process very interesting, and have heard just about every story possible out there regarding foreclosures, in fact a while ago I ran one of the largest foreclosure blogs out there.

One of the most interesting things that I deal with is the end stages of foreclosure, after the bank wins the property back at auction, it sets a series of events in motion that I get to deal with. In the state of Ohio , normally the homeowner has 30 days to vacate the property from the time of the sheriff’s sale, and after that time, the bank will take physical possession of the property. DSC_0635

Now, as simple as this seems, it’s a very complex process on the bank’s end, usually involving a multitude of lawyers, real estate agents and some times law enforcement officers. What interests me is the sheer number of people who either don’t realize they’re loosing their home , or continue to believe they will not lose their home after not making payments for months or even years. See, I’ve seen situations where the homeowner hasn’t made payments on their home for well over a year, the bank files for foreclosure, sells the property at a sheriff’s sale , then the local sheriff shows up one day to evict them. By evict them , I really mean escort them off the premise of what used to be their home.

Most law enforcement officers I’ve delt with are quite nice about everything, however there have been instances where the homeowner has literally a hour to vacate the home. I’ve been in properties shortly after the eviction where food was still sitting on the stove (obviously the burners were off) as well as bowls of cereal on the dining room table (with food even). It gives me quite a eerie feeling when I enter a home like that to take pictures. I almost feel like I’m in the setting of a zombie movie, one of those type where the guy walks around the city and no one is there ,every home being vacant and frozen in time.

In these situations, I find it quite interesting to see what the ‘Average’ person takes with them , the things they feel are worth the most to them. The reason I’m also posting this is that these people are effectively in emergency situations and make some serious mistakes in the things they don’t take with them.

#1 – Cash
In general, in the homes I’ve been in have been devoid of all cash. This isn’t to say they take all currency with them, as almost every single home I visit has quite a great deal of loose change all over the house. It seems to me that alot of people don’t know where they keep money, or just keep it on them. I’ve been in one or two homes where the owner had saved an amount of change in a jar or box and just left it (maybe $20-$30).

#2 – TVs
The absolute second thing I don’t see in homes are decent TVs. It was a tough choice picking between this and cash, every single home that I’ve been in that has a nice TV has been removed. Granted, they could be stolen from the home after the bank/sheriff locks the home out, however they’re almost always gone if they’re nice. I’ve run into a few homes that have older TVs or rear projection TVs that are still there, but they’re quite obviously worthless. One thing I’ve noticed is that they will usually leave the HDTV’s stand there. It’s a bit interesting because the cost of many of those stands are quite high.

#3 – Guns
I have YET to see a home where anyone has left any sort of firearm in it, from what I can tell these have a HUGE value to people (which to me should be obvious). The only reason this isn’t #1 is because it’s hard for me to estimate how many of the homes I work with have firearms in them. I know in general in my area, roughly 50% of the homes have firearms, but I’ve never seen one left in a house. I’ve seen a few gun cases, and even a small unlocked gun safe (which by itself was worth $100-$200). I know for myself personally, firearms would be the first thing I’d take if I had to leave in a emergency. DSC_3178

#4 – Computers
Most of the homes I’ve done work in have obviously had computers in them at one time, most of the time I can find work areas with computer manuals but not computers. Interestingly enough, I’ve been in some homes where the homeowner was in such a rush , they just pulled off all the cables from the case and took the case with them. I’ve seen a few LCD monitors (easily $75 or so) left , and a TON of old-style tube monitors.

#5 – Primary vehicles
It should be pretty obvious that most people have a decent vehicle, and normally they use it to haul off all of their junk. Interestingly enough , one time I saw a rather nice one-axel trailer that someone left behind with tags. I really can’t imagine why someone would leave something like that but they did.

Now , those are the top 5 things I’ve noticed people seem to value when they have to leave the house, I think most of use would say ‘Yeah , I guess those are important’. However to me is the glaring issue with what people chose to leave behind in their homes. These are not in order of commonality , however they’re in the order of what I would consider important if I had to leave my home and didn’t know where I’d be going to.

#1 Financial documents
I don’t want to get into the gory details due to people that like to steal identities, but there is not a single personal document that I’ve not run into inside a foreclosed home. Check books , atm cards , some credit cards, birth certificates, social security statements and everything like that. In addition to this, I see ALOT of homes where family portraits , pictures and letters are left as well. Obviously these aren’t absolutely vital or carry the risk of ID theft, but it bothers me a bit that people generally don’t care about pictures.

#2 – Secondary vehicles
Most people seem to not value vehicles, even if they’re in decent shape but have some sort of issue that keeps them from running. The best car I’ve seen at a foreclosure was a late 90s dodge intrepid. I know that’s not the bee’s knees but it has to be worth something even if was without engine (I didn’t check). I also ran into a pretty decent looking mid 80s camaro at a house too. Another property I was dealing with had about a 2000 F150 truck , it had sat there for over 2 years, I was told that ‘something’ didn’t work in it, but have no clue.

#3 – Food
This is one of the top things people leave at homes , sadly I run into alot of homes that have perishables that are left in the fridge/counter that are far beyond spoiled when i get to the house. I’m pretty sure they leave it there on purpose for the bank and people like me , however I find more non-perishables in houses left lying around. I’ve found pantries with a good month’s worth of food. I know that if I didn’t know where I was going , food would be one of my top priorities.

#4 – Porn
I don’t know what it is with foreclosures and porn , but the majority of homes I visit have quite a collection of porn mags in them. By quite a collection I mean one house I was in had 4 stacks of magazines that were about 3ft tall each. I’d leave them there too I guess if I had to leave, but I find it interesting.DSC_8568

#5 – Tools
Every type of tool , of every quality you can imagine I’ve seen left at homes. In one instance (the house that had the f150) the homeowner had left about $2,000 worth of tools at the home. In this situation I actually knew the homeowner through a 3rd party, I asked him why he left things like cordless drills, a large table saw , batteries at the home, he said ‘he had borrowed them off a friend and didn’t care about them anymore’. I guess that’s a lesson in being careful who you lend tools to. The tools lasted about 6 months in the abandoned home as I had to check the property every month or two. They were eventually stolen from the property, which shouldn’t surprise you at all.

As time goes on, I’ll add to this list, I will also share some pictures of what I’ve seen in homes before (some of it will shock you).

Please feel free to re-post this article or modify , just provide a link back to this blog.

ABSREO – Another REO Scam company

I figured I’d post about another website that’s trying to part agents from their money , this time it’s ABSREO.com

ABSREO is another one of those REO ‘brokerages’ who says they will send you a ton of listings once you pay their fee to be featured.

Next time a company emails you , do what I do to check credibility……..Find out how many listings they handle in your area. In my case, they have a whole 5 listings in the state of Ohio , that’s right , 5 listings. More than likely they have a few dozen to maybe a hundred agents fighting and paying money for those 5 listings. So , long story short, if you want a 5% chance of getting a listing (they have a whole 35 properties in Florida and California) by all means go for them. However if you’re careful like me ,don’t spend the money, it’s just a waste of your hard earned cash.

26.6% Decline in home sales in Central Ohio

Well I’ve had a interesting past month with my real estate ventures.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of work for the large banks I work for (Chase, HSBC, BOA/Countrywide/FNMA/FreddieMac).

Anyways, one of the things I wanted to do was to pull a report on Central ohio home sales over the past month (Starting on July 1st) through the 30th , then starting again on August the 1st. From the MLS data I pulled , there has been a 26.6% drop month-over-month compared to 2009 in July, and a 15.5% drop so far in August. This leads me to believe that the housing market is pretty soft, even with interest rates being as low as they are (I’ve seen 3.5% 7-1 arms from our wells fargo affiliate bank).

I’m personally worried a bit as to what will happen with higher interest rates and a low demand market. Obviously I have a bad feeling about where we’re headed, but we’ll have to see where things go.

I’m also debating on whether or not I should do a webshow based on real estate. How many of you would like to see a show on the gory inner workings of real estate investment?

Waiting is the hardest part

Just figured I’d do a small update, since I haven’t done one for several months.

The project I’ve been working this entire year on has finally started to have SOME success, although not as much as I’d like.

I’ve been going into several avenue as of recently concerning other ventures. My adsense income is pretty stable now, not too bad for only have a small handful of sites with adsense installed. I’ve also been getting into physical product CPS sales which has worked out great! I’ve managed to snag a few long-term customers that keep re-ordering the same product which is awesome, considering my markup is well over 100%, hopefully I can expand that niche into a full blown e-store. I’m realizing that there’s lots of traffic out there for everything, you just have to get creative to do it.

Another interesting note is that I’ve been told a few times now that my facebook posts on doing gaming ruined the niche…….I guess there are lots of lemmings that are only interested in copy & paste campaigns, maybe I should monetize that?

As for my new greatest project, the one that’s taken most of the year – It’s going better, if we can scale it it should do a few thousand a day in net income which would be great, it’s just hard waiting.