Friday, January 27, 2006

What - They Don't Want My Pay Per Click Traffic?

I've been promoting dating sites for a few years now. Last year we were doing really well. We made 17,000 profit in January. This year sales are down.

Pay per click marketing campaigns that were profitable at 100% last year (by that I mean for ever dollar we invested we got back two). They are down to -10% this year. Well, there is a lot more competition I suppose. So we had to get more scientific about it. Doing it manually was a drag anyways. So we invested in some agency pay per click management software - an ASP service. It's expensive, but it allows us to set targets for acquisitions of emails so that we can put it almost on autopilot. There is a steep learning curve and a lot of configuration - but hey - autopilot sure beats the hell out of logging in and checking your costs and exporting them into a spreadsheet along side your sales.

Sounds like a plan right?

Well it works just fine for our paying clients - where we have control over their sites. We got so much business for one client that he had to ask us to stop for until March so he could catch up on inventory (but that will be another post).

I think that anyone doing paid search manually will not be able to compete with professional automated marketers any more.

But what about the dating? Well, when you are an affiliate you don't have control over the sites that you are promoting. Therefore you can't put your tracking codes on the landing pages and the thank you pages. Therefore it doesn't work.

Well, you would think that if you are sending $10,000 per month in business to a site - through pay per click alone - that they would make an exception, right? Well in theory yes - but I am still waiting month after month for them to 'implement their solution' to allow all affiliates to post tracking codes on their pages.

What happened? Well I stopped promoting them of course! To hell with them - if they don't want my 10k a month in sales then screw 'em. I can't afford to lose 10% on investment for long. And I don't have time to manually tweak it back up to a profit. We still have our portal sites and our advertising and our regular paying clients and we'll keep going with that for now... but sheesh - it must be nice not to have to be concerned about losing that kind of coin because you just can't get your developers to pump out a simple bit of code to show one tracking image or another based on referrer. Especially when your affiliates are taking all of the risk.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

So Google's Gonna Solve the 302 Redirect

So the big news is big daddy - Googles biggest search engine update in years.
You can test your search engine rankings in the new algorithm with these IP addresses:

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Guest Speaker on Affiliate Marketing

Next week I'll be speaking on affiliate marketing at the iDate2006 conference in Miami, Florida.

The audience will be mostly dating web site owners. I expect and hope the discussion of conversion from visitors to emails to sales will be of much interest to those attending. For affiliates, your web sites conversion is of utmost importance.

I'll be reviewing top dating web sites and giving my opinion on what works and what doesn't on dating home pages. Actual stats on conversion numbers will be discussed, and why some do much better than others. Business focus, home page focus, special features, free tours, innovative pricing models, and niche marketing are in the presentation.

I will be pushing the importance of detailed conversion statistics and access to add tracking codes to sponsor web sites so affiliates can use automated pay per click marketing software such as atlas one point or keyword max.

I'll also be presenting ways to promote to your affiliates, get more out of your affiliates and how to communicate with them more effectively. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Current Search Engine Market Share

Found this on Search Engine Watch today. It's funny how many clients think that only a Google listing is worth anything. It's true they have the lions share - but do you want some of the customers or all of the customers? Optimizing and measuring for all of the majors is and will remain my choice.

If you only do PPC or SEO on Google than you are missing out on 53.8% of searches. That is missing the lions share in my opinion. Not to mention that in the PPC world bids are just a lot cheaper elsewhere to Google.

Think it's to much work to do PPC on a dozen or so search engines? Well, you are right. It is a ton of work to manage all of the those bids and listings. That's why you should hire professionals that have automated bid management software and the expertise to use it effectively.

Don't bother with automated link programs unless you only care about MSN

We found a way to get to the top of MSN very easily by using a program that gets you about 4000 backlinks measured by MSN within a few months.

The service asks you to post a link directory on your site that they populate - and then you get back links from about 5000 other sites using the same program instantly. It takes about 3 months for all of the backlinks to start appearing in a link popularity test. We found the results are really good in MSN, but Google seems to ignore the links altogether. The sites we used it on got good rankings in MSN but no movement in Google at all.

I am starting to think that it actually hurts the Google ranks because Google is smart enough to know that the majority of the sites are 'non-trustworthy' and therefore your links to them hurt you, and their links to you hurt you.

We are taking it off the sites that we are currently using it on and continuing with the more 'white hat' method of manually searching for and requesting good quality, relevant links. It is definitely a lot slower and more labour intensive, but if Google is what you want (which we do) I can't see any other way at the moment.

Automated Content - The Holy Grail?

We've been experimenting with automated content for some time but have yet to find the perfect solution. Getting to the top of search engines is one thing - but having a site that is interesting and converts is most important when the visitors arrive - and these two goals seems to be frequently at odds with each other.

Recently we've tried articlebot for the task. It's a program that rewrites a page of content using a thesaurus and a common phrases database to rewrite the same content in different language. You can generate hundreds of versions of the same content that is more than 30% unique - so in theory, you can create tons of unique content - and some of it will rank highly.

The results? Well, in some circumstances it works - you never know which pages will rank, but some of them certainly do get good ranks. The problem is the content is generally crap. It reads like it was written by someone that is just learning English and is fumbling for words and uses incorrect phrases and grammar all of the time.

Hardly good content to create trust and keep people reading. We gave up on it after a few attempts.

Automated content has to pass the Touring Test - It has to sound like a real, intelligent human being wrote it.

It seems like we'll stick with caching RSS feeds for now but it is not as good at getting to the top.

Comments are welcome.

v7ndotcom elursrebmem

The latest SEO contest has begun on January 15, 2006. The winner is the person that can have their site rank #1 in Google on May 15, 2006 for the nonsense phrase "v7ndotcom elursrebmem".

These contests are very interesting in the SEO community because a lot can be learned about the Google algorythym by analyzing the techniques, backlinks, etc. used by the winners and the losers of the competition. We'll keep you posted on the results.

The official thread to watch is:

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I say Flash is a bad choice for web site.

I am often told,"but Google can index Flash now". Maybe so. A little bit. But there are more problems than you can imagine.

If you want to read more on this - go here:

SEO Mike's post says it perfectly:

The problems of indexing and ranking flash for the search engines.
1. Where to start, where is the main content? frame 10 on layer 2??? Your guess is as good as mine.
2. Whats to stop a person from importing text files, xml feeds or database driven content into frames,scenes and layers that are never called or used...
3. How do you write a program that understands heavily actionscripted files that have to be triggered to pull in content...4. Let say we get all the content from all the source files, xml, or database. How do we organize it and break it up like an html site would.and thats just a short list

This is not to mention an even bigger problem with Flash. Users have a general idea of how web pages should work and there are certain conventions of navigation, etc that web sites should follow. The temptation of most Flash designers is to create wacked-out interfaces that are definitely not conventional. Do you think this helps people navigate your site? Do you think people have the time or inclination to figure out your funky navigation?

If you have an art site - fine. If you want to make money with the Internet as a tool - forget it. Use flash in embedded elements. You can make great sites with HTML and Flash together - stick with that.

How crazy can SEO get?

Black hat SEO techniques - not recommended or condoned:

What is Web 2.0

I am frequently asked what is Web 2.0. Some people that seem to think there is a 'new' Internet coming out that is going to replace the old one. The funny thing is that there is already a new Internet that the current one has almost invisibly morphed into already.

Web 2.0 is not a new technology. It's not a new platform. It's more like a milestone - a turning point that we have crossed at some fuzzy point in the last few years. It's in the way the Internet is being used, the applications that are being developed, the new ways of thinking about what can be done, the new ways of co-laborating, the new connections and layers of connections. At least that's my humble stab at an explanation.

For the most fabulous explanation of what is actually going on - read it from the guy who coined the term, Tim O'Reilly: