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How a complete novice took a site from scratch to over 1,500,000 annual unique visitors in 2 short years.

August 20th, 2009 : · 29 Comments ·

For those of you who have purchased some of my products in the past, you know that I have mentioned a site built by my wife.

http://www.greenbeansnmore.com

This site is a perfect lesson on organic SEO and how to apply basic techniques and turn a site into a traffic powerhouse..

This site currently averages around 5000 unique visitors per day, and that’s on a normal day. during those times of the year when holidays are upon us, this site has pulled in as many as 25,000 unique visitors per day.

The comments you will read below that are Cathy’s are attributed to her, I have added my own comments when needed.

Let me state that even though I come from a background of SEO, I really never spent much time teaching Cathy SEO. I gave her the owners manual to Dreamweaver, signed her up for some HTML 101 classes at the college which they canceled before her courses were complete, and I spent maybe an hour or two with her at the beginning.

This site is a passion and a labor of love for her. It was not built to make money but does pretty well.

The niche was selected simply from a conversation we had where Cathy said she had no idea what topic to build a site around. I told her she made some really killer green beans and that was it.

She likes to cook. And this site 2 years later is the end result though it is always a work in progress.

There are no professional graphics. To this day she rarely asks me a question about anything related to the site, in fact she doesn’t let me near it or have anything to do with it.

It’s her baby, and one she is quite proud of.

It proves that you don’t have to always have a site that is in those all too common niches to make some decent money online.

If you have a passion, it can turn into a very profitable site if you put some work into it. It won’t happen overnight.

But it can certainly be done.

Cathy’s comments:
I had taken html coding classes at our local community college and needed to use what I’d learned before I forgot it. I decided to write about green beans because I like them! It was Dave’s idea to call it green beans “n more” so that I would be able to add information about other vegetables on the site.

Dave’s Comments:
I did suggest the domain name and registered it for Cathy, she had no idea of how to choose a domain name nor register one and still to this day, doesn’t.

Cathy’s Comments:
I used a very basic site design with the menu on the left. I chose to use broad topics relating to green beans on the menu such as “how to grow green beans”, “freezing green beans”, “canning green beans”, “varieties of green beans” and “green bean recipes”.

Dave’s Comments:
I did help Cathy create the very basic template, that’s about all I did, I created the images and the very basic layout. As you can tell, I’m not very good at site design which is why I make my living in other more suitable areas.

Cathy’s Comments:
Once I had the pages above made I started adding green bean recipes.

As the site grew I got a lot of traffic several months after it was launched, in the following spring for the search term “growing green beans” and similar searches, but then the traffic would slow. It was Dave’s idea that I add topics that would have people searching my site on a more year round basis. I decided to add Thanksgiving content. I then added “Holiday Recipes” and “Valentines Day and Romantic Dinner Ideas”.

Dave’s Comments:
This site absolutely rocks at Thanksgiving time especially. The traffic is incredible. When I suggested that Cathy expand her search terms she really didn’t think there would be much search traffic for them. But go to any keyword database and search for terms as seemingly benign as pork chops, and you’ll be amazed at the number of searches, and virtually no competition.

Cathy’s Comments:
Over time I have added recipes for BBQ’s and cookouts, Mediterranean and Indian recipes. Each adding potential for more traffic and giving me more traffic year round.

Here are some of the things I do.

1 ) Keyword research.  I NEVER make a page without doing keyword research – NEVER.

I use Keyword Universe in Wordtracker for this. I search the
terms in Google with quotes. When I do a search for a
particular term – use “avgolemono” as an example, I use a variety of the terms in Wordtracker such as “avgolemono sauce”, “avgolemono recipes”. I do a Google search for the actual term to find different words associated with it on other pages, such as “greek lemon sauce” and “greek recipes” and “egg lemon sauce”.

When using Wordtracker I pay attention to how many searches the term receives. Of course you’ll find the more searches the term has the more competing pages it has.  When my site was new I chose terms with less than 50,000 competing pages in Google, when searched with quotes,  Now that my site is ranking well in Google I will use keywords with more competing pages. I use a variety of words with high and low competing pages.

I use a variety of keywords (usually 8 to 10 or more) when writing content on a page and when writing the meta description, title, h1 tag and url. Always remember to keep the writing natural. Don’t overstuff with keywords. Here’s a pretty good example of that http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/greeklemonandeggsauceavgolemono.html.

Dave’s Comments:
Keyword research. The most important element of any project. Choosing a niche that is both doable and gets search traffic. But the way you use the keywords is very important. Those of you who have purchased my Profit Loophole course have a very detailed explanation detailing what Cathy broadly describes above.

I confess, that the couple of hours I spent with her at the beginning dealt with keyword research. Get it right and you will do very well. get it wrong, and well, probably not.

But it is not rocket science, it is one of those areas that you can apply some very specific techniques to and come away a winner more often than not. The key is to truly understand the concepts, apply them and repeat them.

Cathy’s Comments:
2 ) Quality content & Updating the Site. One thing that’s always been very important to me is the quality of content on my site.  I did a lot of reading and research to come up with informative content for my pages. I still do reading and research and update my pages “growing”, “canning”, “freezing” and “variety” pages several times a year.

Dave’s Comments:
The point Cathy makes here is an important one. Her site is a constant work in progress, it is never done, Any page is subject to being updated with fresh content, and she does this on a regular basis, I’m not talking massive changes, but small changes and additions. But this is not a site for which she spends hours per day working on. In fact we’re talking a couple hours, a couple days per week.

Cathy’s Comments:
All content on my site is in my own wording. Where I have quoted or used exact recipes I give a link or name the source.

3 ) Updating the site. I try to add at least two recipes a month, sometimes it’s more. I also use my own pictures on the site.

4 ) On some of my early pages I used bbq-a, bbq-b, bbq-c, etc. as page url’s. I now use keywords in my page url’s – example;

http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/persianlovecake.html

5 ) When writing a title I use up to three keywords, and use a combination of terms that have high search numbers and lower search numbers. If I am posting a recipe from a particular source (and I try to use trusted sources that are well known) I may use the name (author or website) in the title. I use other keywords in the h1 tag.

6 ) As I often see my page come up on a Google search with the meta description I take care in writing a description that I think will catch the eye of the searcher.

7 ) I update the index page on a fairly regular basis using content corresponding with a particular time of year. Spring it’s growing green beans, Summer it’s bbq and cookouts, Fall and winter it’s Thanksgiving and holiday recipes.

8 ) Whenever I add a new page or update pages I always update my sitemaps.

9 ) Getting links has probably been the most time consuming and frustrating thing I’ve had to do. When the site was new I sought out links from other sites. As I had no “page rank” there were very few who would link with me. I literally sent out hundreds of requests. Now that the site has some ranking I often receive link requests. I have opted to only link to similar type sites and I don’t accept directory links. If you visit my link to us page you’ll see my link criteria.
http://www.greenbeansnmore.com/link-to-us.html

Dave’s Comments:
I gave Cathy NO direction in this area really, she came up with her own policies and decided how she wanted to do her linking entirely on her own. I bet in the past 2 years she has not asked me more than 5 questions about linking.

Cathy’s Comments:
I think what has also helped my site to rank well is linking that others have done to me on websites (chowhound.com, mothernaturenetwork.com) blogs (cumberlandfarmersmarketassociation.blogspot.com), gardening sites (schoolgardenweekly.com), and even newspapers (Chicago Sun Times, Charleston Gazette).

What has brought these people to my site is QUALITY CONTENT.

Dave’s Comments:
Build Quality Content and the big sites will find you, and if you’ve got something good to offer, it can pay off big time without you even having to do much. Several years ago I had a site of mine featured in Wired magazine. I had no idea till I saw my traffic go through the roof for about a week. It was a site that was on a normal day making about 20 sales and that shot up to over 100 per day just from one link, and it was all direct traffic.

Links from big sites are not just about the link pop they can give you. It’s about buzz. Those people who come to your site from major sites, are quite likely to bookmark your site. That’s stickiness. Those people tend to return again and again, and then tell others. It’s not true viral marketing but has some viral aspects to it.

Cathy’s Comments:
10 ) Article writing. This is another great way to get links to your site. I used ezine articles, especially when the site was first launched. They review all the articles and will let you know what they do and don’t like. They only post QUALITY articles. A great place to use the keywords you’ve researched.

Dave’s Comments:
EZA is a great source of traffic as well. Their articles tend to rank very well in Google. Good quality articles submitted to EZA can expect to get a click through rate of about 15-20% to your site listed in the author bio.

Cathy’s Comments:
11 ) Monetizing the site. I did not put Google Adsense on my site for several months. Dave felt it was best for the brand new site to appear non-commercial. I have several affiliate ads on my site which obviously work within the green bean/recipe theme (gardening, spices).

I have had the “opportunity” :) to eavesdrop on many conversations that Dave has had with clients over the years on how to get their sites to rank higher in the search engines.  While I really didn’t understand much if any of what he was talking about at the time, once I started building my site certain things that I had heard often, started making sense to me.

These are the points I’ve picked up:

1) Choosing a market you can rank well in
2) keyword research
3) quality content
4) updating the site on a regular basis
5) linking

Please keep this in mind – results don’t happen overnight. Don’t give-up on your site. You will be rewarded in time for your good work.

Several months ago I asked Dave a question about a link I was offered and his reply to me was “continue to do what you’ve been doing”.

Dave’s Comments:
While this is just a very broad overview, it should give you a good idea of what it takes to build a single site from scratch that can start out as nothing more than a hobby, an interest, or a passion you have, and turn into something much bigger.

Remember, a lot of the biggest online sites today were never built with the intention of making money. They were built as hobbies, projects, a means to share.

So while there is nothing wrong with working in the more common markets if that is your choice, don’t ignore things that may often seem out of the ordinary or a topic not often discussed on marketing forums. The reality is there are so many topics and niches that can turn into money makers, that you are only limited by your imagination, and the effort you put into it.

- Dave -

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • Anthony

    Caught your video on this earlier Dave and it’s good stuff. Funny how the basics — not trying to trick Google — but just doing the SEO Google likes to see can boost a site.
    Thx.
    A.

  • Nnamdi

    Thanks for this post.

    The problem I am having right now with the Profit Loophole report is mainly just getting good, reliable links.

    I actually subscribe to Angela’s Backlink Packets and I try to use those. My only fear is that Google will crackdown on these kinds of links eventually.

    I am also having a dilemma about whether I should just be going for Angela’s kinds of links and other free methods such as Squidoo and Ezine Articles, or if I should be looking for actual linking partners with established sites. I am thinking this might be hard to do with a small mini-site and because I am not an authority on any of the subjects that my sites are about.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  • admin

    Hi Nnamdi

    You said.. “I actually subscribe to Angela’s Backlink Packets and I try to use those. My only fear is that Google will crackdown on these kinds of links eventually.”

    The answer to that is maybe, but the more likely answer is that the sites will crack down on them..

    These mini sites can do very well and accomplish exactky what their purpose is just by following what is in the PL report.. without Angela’s links, those were a bonus, but I have never used her links on one of these mini sites.

    - Dave -

  • John

    This was really cool to read, thanks. One thing though, I was curious about how many backlinks the site had and I checked it at backlink watch and it was showing zero, obviously this is not correct but I was wondering how many links the site had. Great post.

  • admin

    John, Google is showing 6, Yahoo 368, many of those are from the same site, in reality there are probably a hundred or so quality links max.

    - Dave -

  • Nnamdi

    So what you’re saying Dave is that you only use Squidoo, EzineArticles, Blogspot, HubPages etc?

    If that has worked well for you then I might as well just focus on those then.

    Also, is it normal for traffic to fluctuate a lot at first? One of my sites started receiving traffic from Google about a week and a half ago after I built a couple links. It was getting about 20 uniques a day and then all of a sudden it dropped to about 2 or 3 a day.

    Should I just not worry about it and keep building links?

    Thanks

  • admin

    Hi Nnamdi, Yes for these types of sites that is what I do, I provided the other link info to show what you can do if you need more for some sites or just want to know more options.. It is very normal for traffic to fluctuate a lot initially, your site often will rank fast then fall back then traffic will slowly return usually sometime i the second month, just keep working on the sites

    - Dave -

  • Sonia

    Dave

    Your wife has certainly given me optimism. I’m typically never one to give up or stop trying at a project. Perhaps that came from managing stores and having to constantly come up with action plans and strategies to improve Gross Margin and Profit. After all that is what I was being paid for…but I have to say, the online business and marketing has truly tested me. I never imagined the road so long and difficult. Reading Cathy’s story has re-assured me it can be done…I just have to be patient. Dave please pass my kudos onto Cathy and I’m passing them onto you as well….that’s why I keep coming back here…to get my daily boost.

  • Denny

    “1) Choosing a market you can rank well in”

    I would say this is the most overlooked step most marketers miss. Myself included.

    Green beans, hats off to your wife Dave!

  • Sakana

    I always wanted a home made baba ghanoush for the longest time and flowing Katy’s directions should be a breeze to make this weekend (I probably have my wife make it :o )

    Anyway…I rushed into reading PL the first time thinking that I knew it all and just eye scanned through out. I went on with purchasing domain names and had all my articles for 4 sites written for me, only to find out that all what I have accomplished Dave strongly advised against. The funny part is that PL report had a huge heading in red to be very cautious doing the very first step, keyword research, yet I managed to miss the point.

    So I spent last night re-reading PL in its entirety and this time taking some deep notes. (Reminded me of my days in college) Pass midnight, I concluded that there is no magic bullet to riches when it comes to IM. Only Solid work ethics that adds value with proven strategies will prevail at last.

    Thanks

  • Sakana

    Ooops…just cought my eyes that I miss-spelled Cathy’s name there.

  • Sonia

    Dave

    How do you know if your site is ranking well. What is considered ranking well? 500,000 and up on the Alexa scale or ?

  • admin

    Hi Sonia, the Alexa rating is just a measure of generic traffic volume, actual rankings are where you rank in a search engine for a specific term, the easiest way to know this is to track your traffic, I like web-stat.com it shows you exactly where and what search term people searched to find your site.

    - Dave -

  • Sonia

    ok thank you.

  • Paul

    Has anyone noticed that the url’s to your EZA’s are not being accepted by Digg and Propeller? I got a message saying that they were receiving what they considered spam submissions from the site.

    Way to go Cathy.

  • Robert

    Hi Dave,

    Don’t know if someone has asked this question, I haven’t got the time to go through all the comments yet.

    Just want to ask…..

    Where can I buy the HTML template that Cathy is using? Do you mind telling us?

    Thanks.
    Robert.

  • admin

    Hi Robert, that template was created from scratch by me using Dreamweaver, it is just a very basic template that anyone could create in DW or any WYSIWYG HTML editor, after a day of playing with the software..

    - Dave -

  • Steve

    Hello Dave

    Thanks for the story and the detail behind it. Trust me, this is far more informative than any number of ebooks, courses etc I have bought from the so called Guru’s out there.

    Yes, I have bought your Profit Loophole report/course and it is first class info delivered in a practical way. I plan to apply a kind of partial model approach and use some of the ideas in Profit Loophole with a twist or two.

    There are a few good guys out there who really teach in ways that are informative and include enough detail so anyone can do it… I believe you are one of them.

    Best wishes to you all from Steve based in the UK:-)

  • Randy

    This all rings very true and fits in with my experience. I began without a computer and couldn’t even copy and paste! My site has done pretty well, in spite of my many mistakes, somewhat in the same way as Cathy’s.
    I have the Profit Loophole and think it is great!
    Sometimes I have trouble following it, it seems kind of disjointed, but maybe I’m making it too complicated.
    My first attempt at selling was a failure, due to my own lack of organization and poorly documented earnings.
    One day I’ll graduate and be amazed!
    Thanks so much for sharing this post.

  • Tim Foster

    Hey Dave,

    interesting you are a musician too… I have noticed that a number of internet marketers do music.

    Maybe it has to do with the freedom. Musicians want to be free, at least to be able to spend their time according to their own schedule. And IM allows that I suppose.

    And skiing as well… it’s this freedom…

    Great post

  • M Metev

    Hi Dave,

    I am sorry to sort of “abuse” your blog… and… you can actually delete this comment, but…

    I’d rather know your position, than not knowing what you think at all. And… I am aware of how busy you are! I follow your “Profit Loophole” strategy and have been trying to show you a tip that might interest some of your followers, as it’s a free plugin for wordpress that creates PL websites (not the content of course) and then converts them to static html with basically one click. I developed this plugin myself to create my own PL sites and it works. I have sent you few emails already, but maybe they appeared as spam and I used your blog now as last resort to contact you and… I apologize for that… I know it’s annoying. If you don’t wish to hear from me at all, please just reply with one short sentence to my email and let me know. I am fine with that. But if you would like to see a quick video demo of how the plugin can speed up the creation of your PL type sites, you can do so at: http://www.instantprofitloophole.com/video/

    Thanks for your time, I know how busy you are.

    Respectfully

    Metodi Metev

  • admin

    Hi Metodi, Honestly, I have not seen the emails fro you and I do check my junk so I’m not sure what happened, anyway, I will take a look at this and followup with you, others can now see it to.

    - Dave -

  • Jackie

    Hi Dave and Cathy,

    Thanks for sharing all that you do. I learn so much from you. It is nice to interact with people who seem to be just down to earth, hard working people that want to sincerely help other people to also succeed.

    Thanks again,
    Jackie

  • Sirdi

    Yes, I dream to create a site like this but I more prefer build it using WP blog.

    The problem my English is bad. I don’t want to crate it for my language because the market is small & not commercial/profitable.

    I don’t have money to outsource people to create content for me. Is there any software to create better English content?

  • Neil

    There are small niches that are easy to rank in Google but we have to test what keywords will really bring traffic since these small niches would only cater for a small group of people. Will I go for these kinds of niches or should I go to mid competitive niches?

  • Sonia

    Dave

    Linkvana is already offering a free 5 Day Trial. Chris Rempel sent out an email about getting a free 5 day trial to Linkvana on him??

  • admin

    Hi Sonia

    yes, Chris has 100% full approval of Linkvana to make that offer..

    Dave

  • J-man

    Great information, really expanded what I read in the old blueprint! and look…. the “process” is there! hehe

  • Essential oil diffuser

    What a great story. I am trully glad. Keep writing amigo

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