You’ll hear a lot on forums about making money online from Blogger/Blogspot blogs and Squidoo lens/blog pages mainly because they are completely free, (lot of cheap people trying to make money online :))
I rarely use Blogspot as a content management system (CMS) since I prefer to use hosted WordPress blogs which means I buy a domain and host it on a server (got 3 virtual dedicated servers currently) AND as importantly there are only so many hours in the day and given the choice of working on a domain I own and a Blogger blog it’s an easy choice.
Registering domains and hosting them costs money, not a lot really per domain: for me in 2014 it’s around $3,000 to $3,500 a year for around 130 domains or $25 a year per domain. It’s interesting a hell of a lot of people who are supposedly serious about making money online are unwilling to spend money!
I do understand some people are poor and can not afford to pay for domains and hosting which is why I’ve created a free Blogger AdSense theme to download and use.
Make Money Online Blogging
You have to speculate to accumulate…
That’s not to say don’t use Blogspot/Squidoo/WordPress.com, but have them as supporting sites, not the be all and end all of your online money making empire unless you have no money to spend and you are just starting out.
For example you could create free blogs that are used to funnel link benefit (PageRank/PR) to important sites. There are sites where creating a lot of ‘fluffy’ content (link bait) that can generate free backlinks just isn’t an option, Blogger blogs or Squidoo lenses could be the answer.
Imagine spending years building up a nice network of free sites using free blogs like Blogspot and Squidoo and they get deleted or something! Doesn’t even require you doing something wrong, what if Squidoo decides to close down or is bought out by another company and they switch to a paid blog system? All your hard work is gone!
That will never happen with your own hosted domains as long as you pay the yearly registration fee and hosting costs.
SEO Value of Squidoo Lenses
There is a place for pages on free sites like Squidoo, from an SEO perspective a domain with aged backlinks is better than a newly registered domain (or a domain with no backlinks) with the same (brand new) backlinks to it: for a link to work it has to age, for full link benefit it has to be live over 9 months!
So when I talk about aged backlinks I mean links that are basically a year plus old.
With a domain that’s got lots of aged backlinks (like Squidoo: PR6 home page) it’s far easier to get a new page ranked well in Google than the same page on a new domain.
Even if you add 1,000 links to the page on the new domain the page on the domain with aged backlinks would do better in Google rankings short/medium term!
It’s why new articles on old established sites can dominate a SERP even when the domain in question doesn’t even target that SERPs niche.
Google Trusts Sites with Aged Backlinks like Squidoo
It doesn’t matter if the new page has many links to it, all that matters in the short term is it’s on a site with aged backlinks (and of course no Google penalties) because those aged backlinks give the domain what could be described as a Google trust factor: more/older the backlinks – more Google trusts the entire domain.
Lets call a domain with a lot of aged backlinks a Google trusted site so I don’t have to say aged backlinks every second line!
The usefulness of this is when you add new content to a Google trusted site it might jump right to the top of the SERPs for some semi competitive SERPs, can dominate the SERPs in some niches. What SERPs you get depends on how hard the niche and how trusted that site is (more aged backlinks with high PR = more trusted).
Being on a Google trusted site per se is highly unlikely to gain a new page really hard SERPs, (maybe if you got your new page on google.com you could dominate almost any SERP :)) but it will generate a LOT more traffic from semi competitive SERPs (and easy long tail keyword SERPs) than if the page was on a new domain which will only be able to gain very easy long tail SERPs in the short/medium term.
This isn’t an age of the domain per se SEO factor, it’s not a case of a domain that was registered 10 years ago will beat a domain registered last week. There’s ZERO SEO value in an aged domain per se, it’s the age of the backlinks that’s important. If you registered a domain 10 years ago, but have never used it, it has no more value than a domain you could register today.
This is a simplified view of how Google ranks trusted sites, it’s not a simple this site has PR6 worth of backlinks that are over a year old, so it will dominate all sites less than PR6. Google uses hundreds of ranking factors, this is just one explaining why old, trusted Google sites (Wikipedia for example) can dominate a lot of unrelated SERPs without doing a great deal of specific off-site SEO. A new page on Wikipedia covering a semi competitive SERP can jump to page 1 in Google without any external backlinks.
Do you Own a Squidoo like Google Trusted Domain? I do!
To give an example, my youngest son (with my help) wrote a short review on a Clickbank product about a “Warhammer Online Leveling Guide Review” to try to make a little cash from Clickbank and as soon as Google indexed the new page it got some relevant semi competitive SERPs.
Do a search for derivatives of the pages title, (search for the whole title is a good start) he’s took some number 1 Google SERPs, even beating my Warhammer Online Leveling Guide Review!
I kind of shot myself in the foot a little there :)
He’s not had any sales yet, but I have a feeling that one page could make him $30 a week which will be all his (lot more pocket money than I had at 12 years old).
Update: Within 10 days of the page being indexed my little lads page had made $90 in sales :)
The home page of his site is only PR4, so it doesn’t have a load of backlinks, but they are near enough all aged backlinks and this is enough with some well optimized content (teaching him SEO) to take some nice semi competitive SERPs.
Had we put this page on a new domain (he has a newer domain as well for his art work: PR3 but not from aged backlinks yet) it probably wouldn’t be top 50 even if I added 100 new high quality links to it from some of my popular sites. Add those links and a wait a year and things could be different since the new backlinks would have aged.
And that brings me to Squidoo blogs and how sites like Squidoo can be used to dominate SERPs without having to break your back gaining backlinks.
Using Squidoo Blogs to Gain Organic Search Engine Traffic
Squidoo has a PR6 home page (was PR8 when I wrote this in 2008: I’ve updated in April 2014) which means it’s got a LOT of backlinks and many of them are aged (over 9 months old). This makes it a VERY trusted domain that when a new page is added should result in lots of semi competitive SERPs.
The way to use Squidoo is as follows.
Create a Squidoo lens and link to your affiliate product etc…, keep SEO copyrighting in mind while creating the content. You don’t have full control over the page, so your SEO can’t be as good as when you create a new page in say WordPress with an awesome SEO theme like Stallion, but it shouldn’t be too bad with a little thought.
When you’ve published the lens you’ll have to get it linked from somewhere since otherwise there’s no easy way for Google to find it in the first place.
I’ve created an example Squidoo lens at
squidoo.com/Warhammer-Online-Leveling-Guide-Review Warhammer Online Leveling Guide Review (June 2014 Squidoo deleted it AGAIN).
which is targeting the same SERPs as my sons and my review. Since this article is going on a WordPress blog this might mean the Squidoo lens could gain several links from this, theoretically speaking one link should be enough.
Now we sit back and wait to see if this Squidoo lens page can compete with our two pages listed earlier. Will be interesting to see.
Problems with using Squidoo: it’s Hard to Dominate Squidoo
There are a few drawbacks with using Squidoo lenses this way, most obvious is you lack full control of your content.
If Squidoo employees dislike your content they could delete it.
You lack the ability to make money directly from your content (AdSense for example, Squidoo runs AdSense so they make that revenue) and because there are lots of links on Squidoo lens pages to related posts and other parts of Squidoo a lot of your link benefit is wasted.
The worst problem of all is there can be at best two Squidoo pages listed for a particular SERP, for example the “Warhammer Online Leveling Guide” SERP is currently (2008) held by a Squidoo page (not mine, but it’s just gone live so not indexed). Actually Squidoo is listed 1 and 2 for that SERP with the second listing being indented. So currently two people are in for a chance of traffic from that SERP due to making a Squidoo lens.
If a lot of people target a particular niche and they use Squidoo the probability of your Squidoo lens listing high is not very high at all. There could be 100+ people targeting the Warhammer Leveling Guide niche on Squidoo by the end of the year.
So great idea, but there’s so many people doing this I’m not sure of it’s true money making value. Lets give my new lens a few days and see how it goes, maybe better SEO will win the day, who knows.
Update: Within 12 hours of linking to the Squidoo lens it’s listed as the indented Google result for relevant SERPs. This means it’s currently considered the second most important page on Squidoo for relevant searches and that means on many relevant Google SERPs my Squidoo page is being shown as the indented result. Will be interesting to see how much traffic this generates.
If I didn’t own some well ranked sites already I could see this as a very good result, with no real backlink work, top ten from adding a page to Squidoo. I can see why a lot of people use Squidoo this way.
From another perspective however the original indented result has been knocked off over night by a brand new better SEO optimized page. Maybe with a little backlink work I could take number one (non indented result), time will tell.
Update 2014: Pretty much ignored the Squidoo lens, from memory vaguely recall getting the odd Clickbank affiliate sale from the hoplink (it’s over 5 years, didn’t get many sales, but did no SEO promotion). In 2014 a Squidoo page is still listed in the top 10 for the review SERP I mentioned above, but it’s not mine and there’s no indented result. As it happens the Squidoo lens is at 8 and my review is at 7. At one point my lens was offline, forget why, when I was editing this article it was back online again: no idea what was going on???
BTW the Warhammer Online game shut down last year (2013) so those SERPs have little value now.
Using Blogspot to Dominate Google SERPs
Unfortunately this does not work with Blogger/Blogspot because a Blogspot blog is hosted on a sub-domain of blogspot.com. I’m afraid Google treats sub-domains as separate sites, so obtaining say reviews.blogspot.com and filling it with relevant leveling guide information is the same as registering a new domain and adding the same content to it.
Basically a newly registered sub-domain lacks aged backlinks and so won’t gain any benefit in the search engines.
This is also true for all sub-domains, so before you think about splitting a site into sub-domains remember each one will be treated as a separate site and they will all have to gain enough aged backlinks to be trusted in their own rights!
I used to create sub-domains before I discovered this through SEO testing, I no longer create sub-domains. I actually have a site with half a dozen sub-domains and some of the sub-domains are PR5 home pages with aged backlinks and good rankings (over 1,000 visitors a day each). I’m seriously considering moving the content to the main domain and 301 redirecting the sub-domain to a sub-folder to both recover the link benefit from the current links and benefit from all that PR/aged links hosted on one domain (not tried this concept yet, so have to think about it).
In 2014 I’m in the process of consolidation some of my sites, I have a lot of sites with SEO and money making articles on them and just haven’t put the time in promoting them all. By pulling them all under one domain (this one), medium to long term the content should rank significantly better because I can concentrate my SEO promotion on one domain. It has it’s risks, if Google ever decides this domain warrants a penalty all the content is downgraded, so have to be completely white hat SEO :-)