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Passive Income and Online Friends and Competition

There is a great debate about how much those of us who build online passive income sites as to how much you reveal of your niches. There is every opinion out there – some people don’t care who finds their sites – others go to great lengths to conceal their niches.

1070365_friends_foreverIts at tricky balance in my opinion and part of the answer lies in people’s underlying personalities and some in their business model. Its an issue that anyone doing passive income blogging has to deal with at some point though.

I resisted the idea of having multiple online personas for a long time. Eventually though I realised that I wanted to start a couple of new personas on hubpages for the hubchallenge – having a few more profile pages which I could link to my sites seeemed like a good idea. Then of course if I build backlinks to those hubs from other sites such as article directories then I need the same persona to link there, and so it goes as they say.

Here’s some points that people do confuse themselves with – who are you hiding from Google or your competitors. If you are running Adsense you are not hiding from Google because the sites are linked with your pub-id – you might as well run Analytics as  well and use a gmail address.

If you are monetizing with Affiliate sales or otherwise yes you can “hide” from Google – though if determined they will still track you down unless other people own your sites, as a domain registrar they have access to this information even if you have privacy enabled.

What do you do – do you think hiding your niches is important – do you make a cursory effort to do this – or do you think its really important and you go to some effort and expense to do so?

16 replies on “Passive Income and Online Friends and Competition”

In the world of serious SEO, it’s considered non-deviant behavior for site owners to go over their competitors’ backlinks with a microscope and rat them out to Google if anything looks remotely like a paid link. Rand Fishkin loves to do it, and even Justin has done it to his competitors (I don’t think he considers us competitors, but I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side). You’re right that the level of scrutiny from other site owners depends on the keyword or niche.

Lorecee’s last blog post..Article Marketing: AMA and UAW Compared

Good question, Lissie. I reveal one or two of my sites at a time to other site owners for link exchange purposes but I don’t want anybody tracking down my entire network, so I never link to more than 25% of my money sites from any one supporting site. Losing 25% of them is better than losing 100%.

I’ve never been on page 1 for a high-volume keyword, but I know damn well the competition will be looking at me and trying to find an excuse to get Google to give me a manual review. I worry a lot less about Google finding my sites on its own–they really don’t go after small players like us unless we’re using YACG or other black hat software and getting 10,000 backlinks a day.

BTW, I’ve been taking issue on KWA with the statement (which came from Rand at SEOmoz) that Google has access to private domain registration. They do for GoDaddy’s Domains by Proxy because they joined its network of registrars. For any other registrar (in my opinion), they need a court order to see private registration info.

That’s interesting info Lorecee – even without a court order its a serious amount of work for them – they aren’t going to track you down unless they have serious issues with your account!
I probably should have said that being on page one of a paying keyword – its very niche dependent – I have several sites on #1 or #2 spot – generally thru exact domain name matches – but they are “normal” niches – ie the competition are legit real-world businesses and/or fan type sites which are not primarily about making money. To date I have had one offer to buy my domain but not real reaction in terms of competition.

good article,

I’m don’t go overboard to protect my niches but also i don’t reveal them if i have to. My niches are just small with not much competition anyway

@lorecee – but i wonder – what is to stop the competition buying back links for us and then reporting us to google ?

I think one of the issues is that Google will act first if a site is reported and deindex it – you can appeal and you may well win but you can lose months of income in the interim – which is annoying

Hi Lis,
I used to be really nervous about anybody finding out my great niche. Then I finally realized there are thousands of niches and there are competitors in each one so if I think I can sneak under radar I am probably wrong.
I now know the key to this is not only the niche but it is how hard I am willing to work to be effective in that niche. I really don’t worry about the secrecy like I used to.
Thanks for another interesting topic.

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Actually its not that hard to get Private Info. If you write a letter on legal letterhead asking for the information and why you need it (suspected fraud) the Reg. will cough it up without batting an eye.

If you really want to be private use a made up address a prepd credit card and an LLC or S Corp. The IRS will be the only one that knows you and they Don’t give info to anybody, even the big G.

Also if you are operating in your hidden networks, make sure you are logged out of all of Googles Aps. You should also clear your cookies prior to operating in your hidden networks.

jeez why do I know this shit?

just sayen

bk’s last blog post..Still not sure about Hubs

LOL bk you certainly know some interesting stuff! I didn’t know that a LLC had private info on the owners of the company in the US. Can foreigners registers an American LLC or s-corp? In New Zealand I can register a company for a few hundred dollars (which restricts my legal liability and is a different entity for tax purposes which is the same as a LLC I think) but the director info is available online and that is a legal requirement that its public info. You can’t hide behind a company in NZ or Australia AFAik

Its the same here. You can’t hide behind a Company if you are an Officer, Pres., Sec’y, or Treasurer. There are several ways around this that are legal but it’s not necessary for what we do online. If your just hiding from G or competitors an LLC or D.B.A. (Doing Business As) should suffice.

bk’s last blog post..I’m gonna Hate Hubpages

this is an interesting question.
I personally don’t worry about manual review from Google on ANY of my sites because I am always mindful to create solid content whether written or vid.
What I am concerned with, however, are competitors who will see my backlink profile and formulate a strategy to do better and take my position. (all my sites rank #1… ALL of them 😉 ) LMAO

However, it is actually quite a thrill to go up against a good SEO and see who can rank at the top. I have had some really fun email exchanges with competitors and some of them have ended up working with me instead of against me.
I love that !


It’s quite scary reading all these comments about people trying to get you de-indexed. Thank goodness they only seem to concentrate on Google (I get quite a bit of traffic from Yahoo).

On what you reveal – I don’t think there is any harm in revealing to people what doesn’t work. So many of us waste so much time on completely useless stuff, it would be nice if people had just said at the start, don’t bother with XYZ.

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@Silver Rose I think its a good point about what doesn’t work – although you can still upset people doing that – spend 2 hours reading comments on my site build it post 🙂 I’ve also got a fair amount of flack on forums saying stuff like entrecard is a waste of time and stumbleupon traffic is useless. People want to believe – particularly if they have spend a fair amount of time doing something. I think twitter is a waste of time too for what I do – but then it could work for other business models.

@Bihar – yes I do – partially – yes to hide some of my niches. Also because I buy the content for some of my hubs but I don’t want ghostwritten content on my “lissie” account.

This is an interesting topic. I never gave it thought untill now. But in reality I would not worry too much about it unless your niche is credit cards, mortgages, gambling, sex etc.

Lisse do you have several hubpages account.

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This is definitely a topic I’ve thought about. Part of it is easy: right now I don’t make enough to worry about it. As the successes keep piling up, though, you do wonder about it. For now I’m just not too worried, but I would definitely have other personas for some of the long term keywords I’ve looked at targeting that would make more income, and hence be in a more competitive field. I also like what Allyn says: making the solid content so as to not worry as much. It is definitely a food for thought topic, though, I’ll give you that. Cheers!

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