Tag Archive for 'seo'

Success with AdWords

I’ve been building AdSense sites for years now, but have never done much from the other side, in other words participating in the AdWords programme as an advertiser. But I’ve been getting into this over the last few days to promote a product on a client site.

As pretty much of a noob at this side of things, it appears to me to all hinge on the so-called Quality Score, which is basically a measure of the relevance of your landing page to the keyword you’re targeting. The higher your score for the keyword, the less you’re liable to pay for a good ad placement and subsequent click than an equivalent ad with a lower score. This is obviously desirable as your advertising budget then stretches further and you end up achieving a higher return on investment.

Quality Score

The obvious question, then, is how to increase your quality score. Seems it’s doing the same kind of stuff that makes you successful in organic search: choosing good keywords, paying attention to on-page and off-page optimisation, and even targetting your ads very specifically at the keyword you’re bidding for.

For example, say the target keyword is Bible stories for children, you should:

  • use the keyword in the page, if possible in the title, meta description, heading tags, page body, alt tags, etc
  • get some links pointing to the page with the keyword as anchor text, and
  • use the keyword within the AdWords ad itself

I’m sure there are other finer points / black arts to be considered, but these appear to be the most obvious factors for now. Feel free to comment below if you think I’ve overlooked anything.

Managing Risk in your Online Business

Many internet marketers set themselves a goal of earning enough via their online pursuits to either scale back their day jobs or give them up altogether. But as you become more reliant on your online income it becomes increasingly important to understand the risks to your business systems so you can minimise them whilst at the same time putting plans in place to help you recover if an income-disrupting event should occur.

There are a number of potential online and offline points of failure which could compromise your ability to conduct your online business. Since internet marketing is technology heavy, in this article we’ll focus on a few of the technical challenges you may encounter and discuss things you can do now to minimise their impact on your earnings.

Web hosting problems

Problems with your web host can be devastating because often the first you’ll know about it is when you see the dreaded “Account Suspended” page coming up where your site used to be. This can happen for a number of reasons, but typically it’s because you have exceeded your resource allocation in some way. The obvious solution to this is to maintain two (or more) separate hosting accounts, preferably with different service providers. In the event of a dispute with one you can switch your site over to the other until the problems are resolved. Incidentally, this is why it’s a good idea to use a domain registrar that’s independent of your web host.

Assuming you have more than one site, you can also significantly hedge your bets by hosting them separately. Then even if something bad happens to one account you can continue to fly on your remaining engine while the first one gets fixed!

Search engine ban

Almost as bad as having your site suspended is having it de-indexed by the search engines. Or perhaps it’s worse because it’s a lot harder to rectify. You can probably avoid it happening by using strictly white hat SEO techniques to promote your site, and can certainly mitigate its effects by running more than one website. Beyond that you could look at driving traffic using social networking or building a subscriber list, so you are not completely at the mercy of the search engines.

Falling out of favour with a monetisation partner

In a similar vein, you should do all you can to stay strictly within the terms of your contract with whatever monetisation partners you have – the internet is littered with sad tales of those who’ve been kicked out of Google’s AdSense program for failing to comply with their conditions. By now I hope it’s becoming obvious to you that you should also monetise your sites in several different ways rather than rely on a single partner.

Site hacked

In case you haven’t heard, there are plenty of unscrupulous individuals and syndicates roaming the net. Whether out of mischief or malice they often hijack others’ sites for their own ends. Whilst you may not be able to stop a truly sophisticated hacker who targets your site, you can deter most other opportunistic attacks by maintaining strong security around login details and staying up to date with new releases of your website platform. As the saying goes: when being chased by a lion, it’s not necessary to out-run the lion, just the other people running from it!

Computer failure / loss of communications

Don’t forget that your computer and internet connection are also vital links in your business’s technical chain. Do you have a secondary machine in case your regular one gives up the ghost? Do you have backups of your mission-critical data? How will you manage your site if you lose your internet connection? My answer to these questions is the same as all the others: have a backup plan that you can activate at short notice to minimise downtime.

As you can see, most of these risks can be addressed by building redundancy and diversity into your business. There’s nothing new there – financial experts have been doing it for years. But perhaps it’s time we in the online marketing game grow up a bit and learn some of these lessons from others’ experiences rather than our own – it’s much less painful that way.

The truth about article marketing

Article marketing is a well established and effective method for promoting a website because it’s an easy way of garnering traffic and backlinks. Here’s how it works:

  1. You write an original article on a topic you know something about
  2. You submit it to one or more article directories
  3. In return for your quality content, the directory allows you to place one or more links back to a site or sites of your choice
  4. By submitting your article, you make it available for reprint by website and ezine owners seeking fresh content
  5. Each time your article is republished, so are your links, resulting in a multiplication of backlinks over time – and we all know that this results in more traffic for your site, both via direct clicks on your links and via increased search engine rankings.

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work!

In reality when people republish your article they often either remove your links entirely or make them nofollow, thus negating most of their value to you. Or at least that’s my experience, but I suspect I’m not alone in this. When this happens, your first thought might be to complain to the article directory and expect them to do something about it, but you will not get anywhere with this – the article directories’ terms of service almost always state that it’s your responsibility to follow up any violations of your copyright.

So what can you do? Well, you could simply stop submitting content to article directories, but this is cutting off your nose to spite your face. And remember, there’s nothing to stop other site owners from illegally using your content even if you only publish on your own site, so whilst this approach may limit your exposure it doesn’t solve the problem.

Alternatively you could be vigilant and make it your business to follow up every infringement, first demanding that the relevent site takes the content down, and if that doesn’t work, by filing a complaint with their hosting service. Before embarking on this approach, make sure you understand the cost to your business in time and lost productivity, and also the emotional and psychological cost to yourself.

Or you could do what I do and simply accept that the practice will continue, but not let that detract from the benefits that article marketing will bring regardless. This doesn’t condone the wrongful use of your content, it’s simply an acknowledgement that we don’t live in a perfect world but we carry on anyway.

Bing traffic converts well

We’re always told (I’ve said it myself) that when optimising your site for search engines that Google is king and you may as well forget the rest. Now it’s certainly true that Google commands the lion’s share of the search market, but in my opinion it’s also a lot harder to rank well in Google. It’s kind of like choosing a super-competitive keyword versus a long-tail one: you know it’s better to own the competitive keyword, but it’s a lot easier to achieve a good ranking with the long-tail one.

The reason I mention this is I’ve noticed something surprising happening with one of my sites. It’s a niche site, optimised for a handful of related keywords (and when optimising I had Google in mind), and monetised with AdSense. It’s not getting a lot of traffic yet as it’s still quite new and ranked quite low for my target keywords (at the moment the best-ranked is on page 8 in Google), so what Google is sending me is long-tail traffic. The surprising thing is that I’m on page 1 in Bing for most of my keywords, and while the volume of traffic Bing is sending is still only about 25% of what Google is sending, here’s the thing: it’s targetted traffic matching my keywords!

The result is that I’m getting an AdSense CTR of about four times higher on the Bing traffic than the Google traffic and the 25% (targetted) Bing traffic has made me twice as much as the (semi-targetted) Google traffic!

Of course, all this was unintentional. I didn’t set out to rank well in Bing; it just happened as a side-effect of optimising with Google in mind. Just goes to show that after all is said and done the search engines aren’t really that different! But perhaps Bing finds my particular blend of SEO especially tasty? I don’t really know at this stage, but you can bet I’ll be keeping a close eye on my stats!

Would you care to share your own experiences of Bing optimisation? Feel free to leave a comment below…

Need some SEO work done? Don’t use this lot…

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of unsolicited bulk email (a.k.a spam) offering me SEO services:

We would like to get your website on first page of Google.

All of our processes use the most ethical “white hat” Search Engine Optimization techniques that will not get your website banned or penalized.

Please reply and I would be happy to send you a proposal.

Do these people not realise the irony of their statement that they use only “the most ethical white hat” techniques, yet they have no qualms about spamming their offer all over the net? Seriously, if this is how they go about their business, I would not touch them with a barge pole, and neither should you.

Here’s a question: if they’re such hot-shot SEO experts, how come they don’t put their skills to good use to get their own site to the top of the SERPs? The quality of the traffic would be ever-so-much higher! (I’m sure you realise that was a rhetorical question! The simple answer is because they can’t!)

The contempt I have for this crew is matched only by that which I have for anyone who makes use of their “services”! Basically, you’d have to be crazy!