Building Future-Proof Niche Sites – Interview With Matt Carter

March 7, 2012 , 16 Comments

In this interview, Matt Carter discusses the keys to his amazing success with niche marketing and talks in detail about what he does to make sure his sites rank well.

Matt Carter is a leading authority on SEO and niche marketing, as there are few people who have as much success or as much experience with niche sites as himself. Check out the interview below to get some very valuable insight into how he works.

Here are some of the topics we talk about:

  • How Matt got started with online marketing and what his turning point to success was.
  • The correct mindset for making niche marketing work.
  • What type of website Matt builds and what type of site he avoids.
  • The number one factor that makes sites “Panda proof”.

Download Audio File


[thrive_toggle color=’white’ title=’Click here to read the interview transcript.’]SHANE: Hello and welcome. This is Shane from and today I have the pleasure of talking to Matt Carter. Matt Carter is an SEO expert, a niche marketer, an online marketer and he’s not just any online marketer, he is probably one of the best guys in the field. Just in terms of his level of experience and his level of skill, there really aren’t many people out there, who are on that kind of level as Matt is.

You might not even know it if you have seen him, heard of him, because he tends to deliver his content with very little fanfare. He is a down to business kind of guy, but what he does do and does know is nothing short of impressive. So Matt, thank you very much for taking the time to come on this call and welcome.

MATT: Hi Shane, thanks so much for inviting me along, it’s a pleasure to be here.

SHANE: Alright, the first thing: can you give us a little bit of background on how did you get into this online marketing, affiliate marketing thing?

MATT: Yeah Sure. I have been doing it for about 4 years and I used to do cold calling sales as a job, believe it or not, and it was not very nice job to be in. I really did not like my day job. I just despised it and I wasn’t, I always wanted to just run my own business and not have to work, you know, in a job daily grind that I just didn’t like. I was quite depressed in my job so I started exploring ways to get out of that and I had a friend that was doing an online e-commerce store and I saw him starting to do ok and he invited me along to a conference about affiliate marketing in Sydney, Australia when I was living there. I went along to that and I was pretty excited about the concept of being able to sell somebody else’s products online and that means that I don’t have to worry about stocking products and having to invest a lot of money upfront to get all the stock and put it in my garage or wherever you do. And so that really excited me and that’s what got the ball rolling for me and I started to explore how affiliate marketing works, got in touch with another friend of mine, Mark Ling, who had been doing this for quite some time. I went to high school with him and that was just very fortuitous that he had been doing it a lot longer as well and then it sort of carried on down that path and here I am 4 years later with a hugely successful online business.

It’s really changed my life dramatically. It took me, probably the first 6 months were pretty tough. I am not going to sugarcoat it for people and say it’s real easy when you first get into it because it’s not. There is a lot to learn. But once you get over that hump of all that learning and you get your skill level up to a certain sort of critical mass, if you like, it starts to make sense and then you realize it’s like an unveiling, you realize how much opportunity is out there with this stuff.

You just have to get your skill level up. I didn’t come from a background of technical skill or anything like that. I wasn’t very good with computers. I was good at selling because that’s what I have done and I think that helped me to be able to sell online because I sort of understood the selling process and how, you know, people think when they are buying things. That definitely helped me. But as far as technical skill, I had pretty much zero, so I had to go through a process of, sort of, getting up to speed and understanding websites and how they work and that sort of stuff, but even today I don’t have a lot of technical skill because you don’t need to. I just know enough to get by, to get things to function properly for me and I know how to get the right people to get things done for me and that’s how my journey began.

It’s gone through affiliate marketing and now I branch out into e-commerce as well and I do a lot of lead generation which is, it’s still affiliate marketing, it’s affiliate marketing with a little bit of tweak, if you like. We can talk about that later, if you are interested. But that’s sort of how I got into it and my journey over the last 4 years and now I am doing pretty good which I am happy about.

SHANE: Ok. I am very similar to you. When I started with this, I didn’t know how to build a website, I didn’t know the difference between a domain and hosting, I just didn’t know anything. It took me a very long time to just get that stuff sorted out. I think its also really good to hear that because I think, when someone hears about the kind of success you have, I think there is a tendency to imagine that you just must be impossibly talented and somehow, the first time you touched a keyboard, you made money right away.

MATT: Yeah, people do think that, and its quite funny and I laugh about it because I am not like that. And you know the difference, Shane, between people that make money on the internet and the people who don’t, it’s not the skill. It’s nothing to do with your natural talent or your skill. Some of that helps if you do but its really nothing to do with that.

What it comes down to is your mindset. And it’s the people that are determined, they really want it, they want it so much that they are proactive and they go out there, when they come across something they don’t understand or they don’t know, they google for the answer, they go to YouTube and they research until they find the answer and figure that out, and then they go onto the next thing and they figure that out. And you have got that type of person, and then you got the opposite type of person, when they come across a problem, maybe they don’t know what hosting is, they immediately complain and they look for somebody else to solve that problem, so instead of being proactive, and just doing a little bit of research, and solving that problem, they’re lazy minded folks and they want somebody else like me, or yourself or somebody else’s email list they are on, they want them to solve the problem for them and they refuse to go and solve it themselves. And that’s the biggest difference. If you got a mindset of being proactive, and being a problem solver, you will do well on the internet. It’s as simple as that. And I see it, like chalk and cheese the different sort of personalities.

Often, its not people’s fault, they just have, sort of, been brought up in a schooling system which has trained them to not think for themselves and they are sort of trained almost to be a robotic in their white mannerisms and always expecting somebody else to solve their problems. That’s not entrepreneurial, and that’s really what blocks people. So, if you can shift away from that, you will do fine.

SHANE: That’s actually really interesting you say that. Because its like a combination of dogged determination but also you have to take responsibility. You basically have to accept responsibility for what you are doing and not be too quick to look for someone else. Would you say that’s what your biggest strength in getting you to where you are today?

MATT: Yeah, it absolutely was. And I will be honest, in the beginning, when I first started doing this, I did lean towards having a little bit of lazy mind and I broke that and I changed it.

One of my friends pointed it out. He said,” Just look it up, if you don’t know what that is, just go and look it up.” And I was like shocked when he said it, I am like, “Right, I could just look it up myself.” You know, it is sort of like obvious, but it’s a mindset thing, when I started to just go, “I can solve any problem I want. All the answers are out there. I just got to go and look for them.” Then it really does change everything. And yes, when I started doing that and it absolutely was the main thing that changed it for me and made me successful. Without a doubt, absolutely.

SHANE: Okay. That’s very cool. Okay, so to go into some more details here. You already mentioned you do some affiliate marketing, you do some e-commerce, lead generation. Can you give us an idea of what kind of, like if you are building a website, what kind of website would you build? Are you one of the guys who have 500 tiny websites or do you have a few larger websites or is there any other pattern to what you do?

MATT: Yeah, I do. Well, the short answer is yes, I have less websites and they are higher quality and they tend to be larger. I definitely, definitely do not do 500 little sites, that’s like the worst thing I could think of, managing something like that.

You know I have been, when I first got into this stuff, its been a journey for me to work out, what works and what doesn’t. But I have been caught out and gone down the path for a while of building lots of little sites and hoping they each make like $50 a month and just having very low quality small sites and just trying to do lots of them. I have been guilty of doing that in the past. I will admit that, and they have worked for me. But that doesn’t work. Its not a good way to build websites, its not a way to build a sustainable online business. It’s really, it’s just low quality stuff like that doesn’t work out. Google doesn’t like it. And Google is getting smarter and smarter at getting rid of that low quality stuff from the Google results. They may not get rid of them completely, but they really cut the traffic off, which is like choking the oxygen supply to the website so they can’t make money. So I lean towards higher quality website and they tend to be larger, because its all about improving the user experience.

You’ve got to move away from the mindset of just make a quick buck. It’s not going to fly very well and you wont be successful. You might have a lucky wins here and there but at the end of the day, Google is the main player online, and a lot of traffic that comes to the website is via Google. You’ve got to produce websites that google likes, otherwise you really are wasting your time, because google is going to catch you out.

The biggest goal for Google is to make sure that people that use Google, have a good user experience. They go to google, they type in the search phrase that they are looking for something and they land on a website in the front page of Google and it’s a good quality website that answers the question they had, and solves what they were looking for and they also have a good experience while they are there. They’re like “Wow, look at what else these people have got. This is just the perfect site for what I was looking for. I was looking for something on”, I don’t know, it might be , “how to build solar panels” or something or “renewable energy” and they’ve landed on this site and not only has it solved their first question, now look at all this other great information. They’re like “This is such a good site, I am going to bookmark it and I am going to email it to my friends, and I am going to share it on FaceBook, because its so good.” That’s what Google’s looking for. So if you build websites with that in mind, you are always going to play into Google’s hands and they are going to like you. Whereas, if you just try to build websites to simply bounce people off your website very quickly via your affiliate link over to a merchant offer is almost as quickly as they arrive, get them off again once they have been cookied with your affiliate link. If you, sort of, have that approach, you are not going to win out long term.

You might get away for a while in goole, it ends in tragedy unfortunately, because you are not thinking of the user experience, you are thinking of your own pocket first. And its okay to think of you own pocket first, because of course we are building profitable websites here, but you have to have the user experience in mind first. Put yourself in the shoes of somebody who would arrive on your website and ask yourself how would you feel if you would arrive on your own site. You know, be honest. And that’s the sort of site I like to built, and for obvious reasons that it works out better. It takes a little bit more work, a bit more research, but its worth it. So hopefully that answers the question. I can elaborate more if you’d like.

SHANE: Sure. Yeah. That’s been my experience as well by the way. I’ve had a few sites that I was very lazy about, you know, I didn’t spend that much money on content, and I just picked a few key words, bought a few articles, slapped some ads on there and that worked fine up until a point, but as you said Google’s getting smarter about that and out of my portfolio of websites, Google have been very good at slapping the ones that I was lazy about and not the other ones. So I’ve seen the same things, which brings me to a point. Have you seen any effects with the Panda updates. Have you lost any of your sites to that?

MATT: Yeah, I did have a few sites that dropped down some of the keywords on the pages and I know why they did, because of the style. They were lower quality like you’ve said, but not anymore. Not the way I build sites now because I know what Google’s looking for and some of those sites that have had a little bit of a drop, I think I had slipped into targeting, just trying to make money quickly and not thinking of the user experience enough and then, you know, classic example, Google comes along and they know how to pick that stuff out and they’ll drop the traffic to that site.

The good thing is I know now why and you learn from that stuff and you really develop better quality sites, so it’s a progression and a journey developing quality websites but, yeah, but the key thing just keeps coming back to the user experience. That should be the main question in your mind when you’re building anything “Does this create a good user experience or not?” and if it doesn’t then don’t do it.

SHANE: Can you give an example of what you do on one of your sites to create a good user experience, I mean, i’m thinking it’s probably about more than just the content, right? If we have a site and it has well written, well researched content, I’m guessing that’s probably not enough.

MATT: It’s about covering a niche topic really well so that if somebody is interested in the niche topic, let’s just pick a niche topic, say it’s muscle building, a lot of young guys are, and some girls are into building muscle and, you know, getting bigger because they’re skinny. That’s a niche market, and people want to know how to get bigger and they want to buy supplements, they want to weight training tips, you know, anything about it to help them. You know, they’re fanatical about going to the gym. That’s a niche market, if someone is arriving on your website you need to ask yourself what are all of the things, and you can research this obviously using key word tools, but you just ask yourself “What are the major things that somebody would want when they arrive on a site like this?” so you need to cover it off really well so it’s almost like the one stop resource for them. They don’t need to go anywhere else because, you know, you’ve provided maybe workout programs, you’ve got stuff on biceps, quadriceps, gluteus, and you’ve got stuff on diet and you’ve got stuff on supplements and, you know, you’ve just got everything on that website that they would need and that creates a good user experience, and Google knows that. They’re like “Your site’s about muscle building. We would expect to see this, this, this, this and this on a high quality muscle building site because we know from all the data we have on all the trillions of URLs that we’ve indexed, we know what a good site on that niche looks like so we’re going to see how you measure up to that and if you’ve only got stuff on, you know, how to build biceps or buy a product online review and a handful of other pages, you know, with just product reviews and that’s it, then that’s not a very good user experience. They’re not going to click through and look around your site and go “This is really great.” That’s the opposite of a good user experience.

So you’ve got to make sure there’s good coverage of the topic and also that there is, the content’s good, that it can’t be, you wanna move away from outsourcing to people whose first language is not English. I don’t get any writers, I used to get people from the Philippines to write articles for my websites, and then I stopped doing that quite some time ago because you end up with content that, even if you get a writer than can actually speak and write in English reasonably well, quite often what happens is you get an article full of fluff. It’s really, it doesn’t really have any substance to it and that’s not a good user experience. So, for example, one of my sites at the moment, i’m paying a Canadian writer $40US dollars per article and that’s high, and I’m not saying that everybody needs to do that but i’m in the position now where I can do that and I want really well researched, high quality content for people and if you and if you can’t afford to hire somebody, even just $20 – $25 an article, then you need to write it yourself. If you can’t afford to pay that much then the option to outsource to somebody for, you know, $12 an article, it’s just not a good option anymore, so either you pay for quality or you research and write it yourself if you don’t have the money to do that. Those are the only real options that, I think, people have these days so that helps with the user experience, and anything else that you can have on a site that might make it a richer experience like having video on the pages, if you’ve got something like that, or some sort of, anything interesting, you might have a table or chart or something like that to make it a bit more engaging. Those are some things I think make it a bit better quality of a website.

SHANE: I think that’s also a great point and I call this basically distinction between money key words and information key words where, it used to be that you could build a site focusing on only key words that you could monazite, let’s say, like a product review key words and that’s all that you’d have on your site and that’s it, and it seems now that the way forward is much more to, where you’ll be building pages and optimizing pages for key words that you’re not even trying to rank for, they’re just information key words and they’re just there as you say to basically provide better user experience. They’re just there because you know people in this niche are interested in this, even though I can’t directly make money off of their interest of this.

MATT: Yeah, I do. I don’t know if everybody does that, but I do, I mean I’m doing a site right now, like this morning, before this interview I was getting a few articles organized for it and some of them I just can’t find any search volume but I know that would be a really useful article on, in this niche for people so I’m adding it in there, just so I feel that it’s a really good quality site with some of the common questions that they might want. Because that really increases the chances of them wanting to share it with their friends, because they’re like “Man, this site’s really got great stuff on here” which is ideally what you want because you get viral traffic and you get people naturally linking to you when you’ve got good stuff like that.

Not everybody does that but I think you sort of have to and the way to know a niche market and they need, it’s a good idea to at least, you’ve got to do some research and get your head into that space, even if you’re not interested in the topic it pays to do some research and just read, read about the niche. Go and buy a magazine if, you know, if it’s something about muscle building. Go and buy a muscle building magazine and read it from, you know, front to back, get your head in the space because that will help you make better decisions on what would make a good quality website because you’ve got to remember you’re the driving force behind your website. The article writer’s just doing what you tell them to do if they’re outsourcing, so you need to understand the niche to a reasonable level, you know you don’t have to be totally passionate about it or anything like that, but it pays to just get your head in that space a bit, so that you can come up with creative ideas that make the site better, and you can, sort of, be in touch with the market a little bit better and the problem that I think a lot of internet marketers face is they come from the angle of just looking for key words that are easy to rank for that are easy to back-link half a dozen or a dozen back-links to the top of Google and then slap up some good quality content, and, you know, just sort of hope and pray that their affiliate link is clicked, and that’s what a lot of people would do but it’s not really the best approach at all to build websites, so get your head in the space, understand what the customer is looking for and then plan your site around that. It really does make a big difference.

SHANE: Yeah, it’s something I can remember, also just a tiny bit of background. I was trying to build businesses before I was a marketer, so my first attempts at business building were horrible because I didn’t know anything about marketing and I remember the first times I encountered these concepts of, you have to get into the head space of your prospects. You have to know what do they want, what do they think like, what do they talk like, what’s their language and so on.

This was a very unattractive concept to me. I felt, kind of, you know, it’s a fuzzy concept and it sounds like a lot of bother. I don’t want to do that, I just want to build a website and make some money. But it’s an extremely important, it’s just a marketing fundamental, is being able to get into the head space of the person you are talking to, is such a fundamental thing. And I know that it can be a bit off-putting, maybe not to all people, maybe just me, but it really is, even though it is a bit of a soft skill it really can translate very directly into being able to build a more successful website.

MATT: Yeah, I agree completely and again that’s why, going back to what we mentioned earlier, having 500 small sites, each making a little bit of money, there’s no way you can get into the head space of 500 different niche markets and think you’re going to do it really well unless you’ve got a team of 500 people. And each one of them’s assigned a website. It’s not going to happen, so, like, it’s better to, you know, have less and do it better.

SHANE: Yeah, ok. I wanted to ask something that I forgot about right now… let’s see, one of the other things I was also wondering. Do you, and this is something I haven’t figured out myself yet, do you think that, like, when you build up a website, in terms of design, in terms of the visuals on the website, do you think that this is something that Google pays attention to because I have, looking at the sites that were slapped that I have versus the ones that weren’t, it almost seems that maybe that was a factor, that the ones that were more like, have a nice logo and have a nicer design overall were safer than the ones that had, you know, like the standard word press theme. Do you think there’s anything to that?
MATT: Yeah, I think so, I mean I, again, have moved away from low quality design. I reinvest the money that my websites make into getting really nice websites done, like the look good, they stand out from the crowd because.

Well let’s look at it from a couple of angles, even if Google can’t work it out, Google algorithm, by the way, not Google human beings, but Google robot. Even if it can’t really tell, which it probably can’t to a certain degree, but, even if it can’t tell you want to think of it again from the user experience. If they arrive on your website and it looks like a piece of crap and it looks like you don’t really care about your website that much, they’re not going to, I don’t think it’s going to impact them as much and they may not remember it, and they may not want to share it with a friend or it might just, sort of, the first impressions might be a bit like “Oh, this is ok” and then that might taint the rest, they might read the rest of the website and go “Oh, something”, the first experience is, sort of, tainting the whole experience.

So, it’s like if you walked into a shop, like I’ll give an example, I walked into my old accountant, one of my, not the accountant I have now, but my old accountant, the one previous, and I’d walk in the front door and wait in the waiting room and I’d look around and they’d have the door behind the receptionist open and you could see the kitchen and all the dirty dishes and plates and coffee cups and they’d have, like, paintings on the wall from, like, 1970 and they’d have a candy machine in the corner that just looked ancient, and really run down couches, and they’d have a note, I remember once they had a note on the front desk that was just sellotaped on there saying “Happy Birthday someone”. And I’m sitting there going “These accountants, I’m glad they know numbers because they certainly don’t really understand the user experience of someone waiting in their waiting room.”

And it’s a similar thing to a website, you know if you arrive on a site and it just looks really low quality it’s the same sort of experience as walking into an offline shop, so I always take the time to make a site better and I don’t just use thing as the default word press theme and, you know, you can buy relatively inexpensive paid word press themes that look so much better, and I take it a step further now and I get my own themes designed for every site that I build, I don’t even use off the shelf ones, but not everyone’s in the position to do that with their businesses so I don’t expect people to do that, but you can, at least, take it a step further and get a paid theme that looks really professional and then go to a site like Odesk and pay someone $20 or $30 to design a little logo for you that will match the color scheme and put that in the header, so it looks like you’ve got your own cool little website, like you’ve a real website. I do that stuff and I think it’s important and if a Google and if a Google human reviewer comes along and they do have human beings that do review sites, if they come along and they see that, you know, you’ve taken time to care about the site and make it look good they’re going to notice that. I know that they do that. Google tells people to do that, you know, does this look like a site that someone cares about and first impressions are the look and feel and the graphics and stuff, so yeah, ignore, my advice, take it or leave it to the people listening, I would ignore advice from people that say the look and feel doesn’t matter, because it does matter and you shouldn’t just put up crappy looking sites.

SHANE: Yeah, ok, I agree with that because I also just thought that, as you said even if Google can’t detect it algorithmically, what they can detect is if someone clicks through to your site and then goes back to the search results right away, for example.

MATT: Right.

SHANE: So if your site is off-putting like that there’s, like, a secondary way for Google to find out there’s something fishy there.

MATT: Yeah, absolutely, that’s a good point.

SHANE: Alright, so my final question is for, for people who have suffered from the panda thing or people who are, like, starting from scratch, I’ve, in some of the emails I’ve been getting and comments i’ve been seeing and so on, it seems like some people are frustrated or not sure, is this niche marketing thing, is this still something for me, do you have any additional advice you want to give people who, kind of, want to restart and say “Ok, how can I approach this niche marketing thing in a way that it works”, apart from everything we’ve talked about, is there anything else you can share with us?

MATT: I think it’s just about picking a niche market where

a) there’s money being spent, don’t go into niche markets where no one is really spending money. Look for a niche, you’ve got to pick a good nice market and some of the things I look for are, there’s a lot of variety in the key words. You don’t want to pick a niche market where it’s very narrowly focused and there’s just not a lot of opportunity, there’s not a lot of key words. You’ve got to have variety, because variety in the key words available that people are typing in in this niche, means that you will be able to create a decent sized website that, you know, covers a lot of different topics, so you’ve got a really nicely balanced website. So look for that.

You’ve got to look for where there’s money being spent. You know, you don’t want to go into a really obscure niche, that just, you know, I don’t know, it could be something like “Knitting while skydiving” or something ridiculous, you know, go with something where at least there is a decent amount of people wanting to spend money in that niche and there’s lots of those sorts of niche markets around.

And then just focus on creating a site that would have a good user experience and also make sure that you produce quality stuff and structure your website well so that when Google comes along, they like what they see. You know, you’ve covered off everything quite well.

So in order for you to cover off a topic really well you can’t go too broad. It wouldn’t be a good idea to go and build a website on Health because in order for you to cover that topic off well and to tick all the boxes with Google because they know that topic would need to be, would involve, it would be a massive, massive undertaking to cover off health, what is it Mayo Clinic that website, you know, you’re talking about competing at that level with Mayo Clinic and that’s crazy. Don’t, you know, don’t do that. Pick it, come down a level, like, instead of health you might want to come in to Muscle Building as part of health and then you might even come down a level into a sub-niche inside of that and then you could probably cover that off really well. You know, but don’t go too far with this and go really, really, really nichey like only having a website like Calf Muscles or something. That would be a little bit weird. And so that’s going too far.

Find a spot where you are able to cover the content that’s required off reasonably well and then just focus on that, and focus on building your reputation on that niche over time and when you start to get people noticing you and over time you’ll be come an authority in that little niche market. That’s all you need to do to get this to work. You know, you could start building an email list in the niche market and sending them out updates once a week and start building relationships with the people that are following you. You could have a Facebook page as well and start sending them to your Facebook page and just sort of, you’ve got your own little universe going on in this small niche market.

If you do that and people start to see you as the go-to person for this topic you’ll make money online and you’ll do fine but it just takes a little bit of time to build that up. But it does happen and it does work, but a lot of people don’t want to do that becuase they’re like “Oh, I just wanted a get rich quick solution. I wanted to buy a course where I could just install some piece of software and it magically, you know, started making me money within 24 – 48 hours and now you’re telling me I’ve actually got to build a business, and people, like, inherently people don’t like to hear that.

They want to hear where’s the secret loophole on the internet that nobody has discovered yet, that if I just discover it i’m going to be retired, you know, in about 3 or 4 weeks and everything’s going to run on auto-pilot while I go out and have coffee and ice-cream, or whatever, and that just doesn’t happen and it’s just a mind set shift that we’re building businesses here and you should be business men and women and think of it as a business and if you start doing that and, you know, just focusing on less than high quality. There’s nothing stopping you from doing really well, you know, and there’s plenty of affiliate market niches where you can position yourself, you know, as a little authority.

I’ve seen in a great website that somebody did recently on Strollers, Baby Strollers, I saw a couple actually, really good affiliate sites, and you know they did a really good job on comparing strollers side-by-side. They looked at safety features, they looked at which ones were better for jogging with, how they folded up into cars and comparing what sort of sized car boot you have and obviously when someone arrives on this site looking for a stroller, like happy days. This site’s answered every question I had about buying a stroller. And so now they’re seen as the authority on buying strollers. And you know, you can be an authority on all sorts of bizarre things. You’ve just got to make sure that you’re answering the questions that those people want.

SHANE: Absolutely. I think that the overall message that I’m getting here, I think this is really good. It’s the first time I’ve really thought about is what you really want to do, is you really want to go down into a narrow niche and then you want to go broad in that niche, so once you’ve decided “Ok, I’m going to focus on just baby strollers, then you want to cover basically everything there is to know about baby strollers.

MATT: Right, yeah, absolutely. That’s it. And then if you do that, Google will know that if there’s a site on baby strollers you’re definitely the one because you seem to have talked about everything that someone would possibly want to know about baby strollers, you know, and they can work that out, Google, they have a lot of money invested in checking stuff like this, so yeah, that’s sort of where it’s at.

SHANE: Alright, great, so the final thing, first of all, if you want to learn more about Matt and from Matt you can go to which is his blog and I’ll also put the link below the audio if you’re listening to this on my blog, you can just click the link below to get to and you can also sign up to, first of all, to Matt’s mailing list and he does cool webinars and stuff from time to time so it’s definitely a good list to be on and as far as I know there’s also a free course that you can get. Do you want to quickly tell us what people get in that free course?

MATT: Yeah, when you sign up to my email list site you’ll get a series, and auto responder series that’ll be coming your way. It’s about 12 or 14 videos on just all sorts of tips and tricks that I have around internet marketing. You know, like what i’ve shared today it’s just more stuff around that and there’s webinars that i’ve recorded on different topics and just a whole lot of free information to help people really to get going. Yes, so that’s pretty much it. If you want to come and join us over there it’d be great to have you.

SHANE: Ok, excellent. So that’s and thank you very much for your time Matt. I think this has been fantastic, so thanks for taking the time for this interview.

MATT: Yeah, thanks Shane. It was a pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

SHANE: Alright, talk to you soon. Cheers.

MATT: Bye.

Transcript powered by TranscribeMe[/thrive_toggle]



I hope you enjoyed the interview! Check out Matt’s free training on his affiliate marketing blog.

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About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Great Interview Shane,

    Matt provided a lot of great insight from someone who is actually building high quality and valuable sites. I have to agree that if you take your focus off of quality and user experience you set yourself up for a tougher uphill climb. I’ve found that my sites with the lowest bounce rates and highest time on-site perform the best in the SERP’s.


  • This is so true and is how I build up my niche websites for myself and our clients :)

    great interview Shane!

    your secockpit helps a tonn ~

    I look forward to more of these types of interviews


  • Hello Shane,

    Typical great selfless work by Shane! The way YOU make money is that when YOU recommend something, we know to pounce. And the reason we know to pounce is because we trust you just because of things like this. This approach is taking the long way around, maybe, but it works for thee and me. Every time.

    The takeaway with Matt is that authority sites that look like good authority sites is the best way to go.

    On the other hand, Matt did over simplify just a tad. He left out the magic secret ingredient, whatever that is.

    It’s not enough to be the leading authority on baby buggies. Were it me on this site, after I learned that the BR549 model was the best, what’s to stop me from fleeing to Amazon to get a cut rate deal? I do it all the time.

    The goal is to get the user to click on *your* link, not the one on Amazon. In the end, it most often comes down, simply, to price. If your price is equal or less, well, that’s the winner.

    There is more to making money than having the prettiest site. Gosh knows. The ideal page presentation between the customer experience, the SEO, the page sales funnel strategy, and the preferences of Google is what keeps me up late at night. Of course, I might also be a worrywart. Ha!



  • I think choosing the right keywords is the first huge factor. Most newbies run off the rails right there. All these people listen to the “experts” saying that you need low competition keywords, or you need x amount of competition, or WordPress, or whatever.

    Give me a must have and I’ll show you 100’s of examples that dispute the claim. There are no rules, just guidelines =8~). Just like in the english language where many rules say always do this, except da da da.

    I also agree with Norm, without a good hook or method to induce a click it doesn’t matter how pretty your website is or how deep the content about the subject.

    You can build the best looking, informative, and greatest user interface but still not make money. And you can get tons of traffic that hang around all day long but if they don’t buy something then it’s all for naught.

    And look at the top ten spots on any good adsense keyword, like diets. Half (at least half) are junk adsense webistes that someone has thrown 1000’s of links at and they are all about adsense and affiliate ads.

    Every “rule” has an exception and I don’t disagree with Mark’s suggestions since they work well for him. There are many different approaches that work. But there are no silver bullets that I know of for long term success.


  • Hi Shane.

    Some good points discussed in the interview with Matt.

    In particular, the views on the user experience. I think the easiest way to determine if your visitors have a good user experience is via the bounce rate. If your bounce rate is high (>85%), then from my experience, Google sees this as a negative mark against your site.

    Apart from the obvious aspect of reviewing the content on your site to ensure it actually provides something of value and interest, quite often the easiest way to lower the bounce rate is to add a relevant video to your page.




  • Great interview Shane!
    Especially no hard selling of anything! I constantly get emails from marketers telling me how great this and that product is, I swear there is one guy pushing everything and anything and of course, its the next great internet tool!

    I have been following Matts blog for about a year and ended up buying your SECockpit through him and its been a great tool. No junk, pure data you can use.

    Both of you hit the bullet points I have been looking for “confirmation” on where the future of search results is headed.

    I saw on Matts site his rapid profit formula but it was released in 2011, do you know if its been updated for 2012? Would like to buy but with current Panda strategies in detail.



    • Hi Rob

      I have Matts Rapid Profit Formula and can confirm he has updated it to meet the latest Panda update. Makes a point of advising people he has revisited the training program due to Panda.

      Hope that helps.


  • Always great to listen to two real life Internet Marketers discussing what it is like in the real world. Clearly you guys have taken this to the next level through a process of trial and failure and trial and error and you have also had success along the way.

    The real issue for all newbies and I am one of those is the amount of bs that is being produced and sent to them and it takes some time and pain to get to real people. It is made to sound glamorous and easy and the reality is that it is neither. Then when you get to the real people you realise that you have two choices, invest your time OR invest your money.

    Most newbies I am guessing work full time and also don’t have a lot of spare money. When you pay for hosting and domains then you have spent around $100-150 dollars and you have made a big fat zero. There are also some lazy people who don’t even get to there and blame everyone else.

    For newbies like me who do persist you quickly realise to start making money you do need to invest in some automation or die of writing and boredom. You do also need to learn a load of technical information.

    If you manage to get all of that done, then you need to get buying keywords, low competition and get started. 90% of people will have given up long ago.

    Panda simply tells us all that eventually authority sites are the way to go which will mean 60-100 pages of absolute quality and that’s before you do a single back link.

    So it isn’t easy and it ain’t glamorous and it takes a long time or a lot of money so newbies who persist will get there but I would estimate most earn nothing for at least 6 months to a year if they survive and keep at it.


  • Thanks for the interview Shane. It’s quite a shame that we have to continue to do interviews like this about something that should be so blatantly obvious but isn’t.

    One thing that I would disagree with Matt on is that I do believe that you should have passion for any niche that you enter. I have a website right now that I’m selling on Flippa that does really well but I’m the least bit interested in this topic. Not only have I not written any articles for it in 6 months but I’m now willing to pay to have any other written either.

    I looked back over my portfolio of websites that hovers about 35 or so and of those there are only about 4 topics that I am passionate about.

    Most internet marketers have it wrong and teach it wrong even if they are doing well. The only purpose of an online property should be to solve a problem just like an offline brick and mortar business. No one should put up a website without knowing the problem that they are trying to solve.

    Forget about the money….it’s backwards. Money is a function of what you do (the by-product)’s not the cause. Eyeballs equal money. If provide the type of content that is worth talking about linkable then you will get traffic. Traffic equals money. Said another way …eyeballs equal money.

    Of course 99% of the people who are wanting to build a business online will ignore this and focus on keywords etc. Approaching a business with the wrong approach oftentimes is not sustainable and its drudgery.


  • Thanks for sharing this freely. Some people would actually sell these kind of stuff… So, thank you Shane…


  • Thanks Shane,

    I only follow a few online these days and Matt is one of them.

    His stuff hits the mark for me.


  • Now that’s the sort of interviews I enjoy listening to. No hard sells at the end, no holding back on information until you click on this link.

    Good stuff Shane, keep sharing man :)




  • Excellent interview Shane. One of the most down-to-Earth I’ve heard. Such a relief to hear affiliate marketing described without the hype – and with genuinely valuable information.

    Thank you for introducing me to Matt, who sounds like another great source of information.

    with kindness,



  • Great guest, great interview Shane.

    Matt is right on target about building quality, audience-enticing websites. Marketing, whether brick and mortar or Internet is all about satisfying the customer’s need and answering their pain or problem.

    Great stuff!
    Thank you!



  • Great interview Shane on an issue that is top on the mind of every affiliate marketer struggling to build a profitable website, and I am one of them.

    Would you recommend Matt’s Rapid Profit Formula? I have read the sales page and it promised to teach essentially what was covered in the interview – building Google proof profitable niche sites.

    Any thought on the product?



  • Darren Butt says:

    Hello i am Darren Butt

    I enjoying reading your articles

    I am looking forward to read more

    post from you.


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