Blogging for income and the importance of Backlinks – First year goals

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Blogging for a living

Many of the successful bloggers, especially those who preach financial independence often advocate blogging in order to earn passive income. Although the term ‘passive’ may be used quite loosely since it takes a bit more effort to obtain than the passive income earned through the dividends of stocks. Anyway, in starting WiselyInvested.com I have decided to follow this advice passed on by the blogging gurus. I have read many experts on SEO talking about the importance of backlinking when it comes to building website popularity and, in this post, I will explore this and try to see just how important it is.

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Heavy traffic

I’m very new to blogging and having started this website less than one month ago I’m still learning much about what it takes to actually build a successful one. Although it could be argued that the true measure of the worth and usefulness of a website is not its popularity, it is still quite a good guide. Putting this website together and providing readers with ideas and strategies for boosting their wealth has been rewarding in itself. However, I’d be lying if I hadn’t intended to earn a passive income stream from it just as many bloggers do (specifically the FIRE type like myself). Essentially when it comes to website revenue, especially for a blog, traffic is pretty much King.  Sure, there are other variables involved, such as the niche, how well the advertising strategy is executed, how targeted and so on, but traffic still tends to be the dominating factor. So traffic is desirable to me in that it’s a measure of my success as a blogger and my success financially also.

Backlinks are still very important

Although the algorithm that Google uses to sort websites and arrange search results pages with has undergone many modifications over time it still relies heavily on looking at the linking to and from sites to access the worth & authority of a website. Simply put, websites rank higher up and are more likely to be displayed for keywords if they have more inbound links to them, especially if the inbound links come from other websites with a strong rank. So it depends not just on the quantity and the quality.

Referral Traffic

Another reason backlinks are so important is because search engines aren’t the only source of traffic. The next largest source tends to be referral traffic, especially small websites. That means visitors reach the website through clicking on an inbound link from another website to get to your website. So building backlinks builds traffic through promoting appearance on search results pages and through connections from other similar websites of the same or similar niche.

The relationship between traffic and links.

An interesting article I stumbled upon gave an idea of the relationship between links and traffic. The study showed that there was a very high correlation (approximately 0.8) across the top 100,000 websites by traffic and the # of referring domains.

I decided to test this theory out on blogs in the same niche as mine and their levels of traffic to see just how well this correlation holds up. You may wonder why I’m bothering to do any of this….My idea is that I can use this information to work backwards and set sub-goals for my website in order to achieve my long-term goal of creating a successful and profitable website.

Setting goals

From what I have been able to gather, there are many bloggers out there earning a living from the passive income of their blog alone. Most of these do so through predominantly affiliate programs and AdSense and generally have traffic levels on the order of 100000+ visitors/month. These are all just rough numbers, but that’s all I really have to work with at this stage. This is basically the eventual goal though – to generate an average income through blogging.

Since I’ve already established that backlinks are quite important, using the backlink checker tool at ahrefs I can estimate what it is going to take to reach my traffic goal. To do this I took several well-known blogs, checked their # of total links and also the # of unique subdomains linking in and then retrieved the traffic level for the blog. I came up with the following table.

 

Website Global Traffic Rank Traffic level (visits/month) # Total backlinks # Unique Subdomains Traffic level/ #unique subdomain Traffic level / # total backlinks
mrmoneymustache.com 32000 1970000 809000 9000 219 2.4
financialsamurai.com 84000 936000 444000 5520 170 2.1
makingsenseofmoney.com 186000 352000 165000 3552 99 2.1
retireby40.org 515000 104000 236000 1295 80 0.4
rootofgood.com 700000 74000 207000 878 84 0.4
thinksaveretire.com 748000 58000 75000 756 77 0.8
msziyou.com 1600000 32000 61000 168 190 0.5
quietlysaving.co.uk 2500000 19000 22000 144 132 0.9

 

The points of interest are the two columns on the right. Sites with moderate levels of traffic (<100,000 visitors /month) generally get 100 visitors/month per every unique subdomain linking in and about 1 visitor/month for every 2 backlinks on average.

Beyond backlinks

Obviously, backlinks aren’t everything and the relationship is only a rough correlation for many reasons. The very popular sites in my niche actually get more traffic than expected based on backlink counts. This is probably due to direct connections and the reputation they’ve built. Also, the age of the website must count for a great deal also but it’s hard to measure this effect. Regardless, building backlinks is a very important activity for website owners in terms of promotion and boosting awareness and it is correlated well to traffic levels.

My goals.

As ambitious as it sounds, I have decided to set my traffic goal is to attain 100,000 visitors/month for which I have set a deadline of 5 years to achieve. This should provide good revenue and would definitely mean success for me as a blogger, at least to me. Based on the above, this will probably require around 200,000 total backlinks from around 1000 unique domains. Initially I was thinking of setting the following goals:

 

Years running Traffic level Total links # unique subdomains
1 5000 10000 50
2 10000 20000 100
3 25000 50000 250
4 50000 100000 500
5 100000 200000 1000

 

To get 5000 visitors/month after just 1 year is going to be very tricky. 50 subdomains is easy enough considering I follow quite a few blogs already but 10,000 total links is so much… I have to assume early on that I’ll be building 90%+ of the backlinks since my site will be totally unknown. I’ve instead opted for the more realistic goal of 2000 total backlinks and 50 unique subdomains for the end of my first year of operation. This translates to 1000 – 5000 visitors per month approximately, so i’ll set the traffic goal to 3000 visitors/month.  I’ll monitor the backlinks with ahrefs.com and see just how well I’m progressing after 1 year given the level of traffic. If need be, I’ll readjust the other goals in light of new information since it’s quite hard to gauge how realistic the targets I’ve set really are.

Creating Backlinks

Now that I’m fairly well convinced that backlinks are quite important to the success and popularity of website the next step is to look into how to build these up. There are a handful of well-known methods to achieve this, and I will simply regurgitate some of the wisdom of the SEO sages:

  • Posting in other blogs – usually you can link to your website
  • Try to get a guest post/article published on a large website in your genre with a high level of reach
  • Use social media
  • Build internal links

And so on….

The path ahead

After all this talk of goal setting & shameless self-promotion, it’s important to stop and realise that regardless of how much or how little readership this blog manages to obtain, the main thing is to do this because I also enjoy it. Otherwise there is no point. I enjoy writing and its early days yet so it’s important not to get too far ahead of myself. I may do blogging for a year and decide it’s not for me, but at least after having written this post I feel like I have a direction in which to head. In the future as things progress, I’ll give updates on traffic numbers and see how well this correlation holds up in my case. If I eventually monetise the site, I will give information on this too, which may prove helpful for those looking to try their hand at it too.

2 thoughts on “Blogging for income and the importance of Backlinks – First year goals

  1. Hey, thanks for this – I never thought I’d ever feature in the same table as MMM, haha! It’s never been my intention to earn anything significant from my blog (it’s more a journal than anything else) so I’ve never really bothered with SEO etc, don’t track analytics or anything like that. I’d say that I’m quite happy with the number of readers/comments I have, I can cope with that! Good luck with your traffic numbers!

    Like

    1. Thanks Weenie. I like your blog and it deservedly earned a spot in the same table as MMM 🙂 Yeah, I like the journal approach and I feel I’ll lean more towards this as i start setting goals towards FIRE. Traffic and blog income would be cool but they’re secondary; I really enjoy writing and reading other blogs. I think creating passive income through stocks and other means such as MB will be my main focus for the time being and I enjoy reading the income updates from FIRE bloggers such as yourself. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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