Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Happy Birthday

Eleanor Treadwell Palmer

Born 4:16pm - Feb. 27, 2007
Baltimore, Maryland USA
8.3 lbs, 20 inches

Mother and baby are doing well.

It's now a pink world... Friday we'll talk marketing, but right now I'm going to get to know my daughter.

Go get some names...


Monday, February 26, 2007

A Quick One

Are you collecting names?

Renting other websites lists... doing a couple Co-Reg deals... up with a PPC campaign?

Good... How do you define success?

With outside list runs... you know you don’t always need to break even with an initial ad placement to be successful, right?

If your boss tells you all ad placements in outside lists must generate sales of 120% of break even... tell him he doesn’t know his head from his... ummm, maybe not.

Try this... explain how it's smarter to strive for an 80% break even with a free offer attached to the paid.

How so?

Remember the money is in the lifetime value of the name not the initial sale.

Let's say an ad placement costs $5,000, and the initial subscriptions equal $4,000. Your gross break even is only 80%. But never fear Mr. Boss Man - we’re not done.

During the list run you also collected 200 free names AND they start getting an e-letter using CVoD methods which produces revenue from those names over the next 3 months equaling an additional $2,000. Combining the two and the final break even is 120%. Everybody's happy.

Why is this a break through for your business?

If you only run to the good lists... the lists that you know you're going to do well on, you'll limit your runs. You will only exposes yourself to the smallest amount of liability BUT you'll only bring in one third the names and revenue that you would otherwise. 80% B/E allows you to be more aggressive and test more lists. This means... more list runs, more names, more revenue.

Oh, and if the boss still doesn't get it... maybe you should start looking for another job, eh?


On a side note... I will be alittle occupied for the next few days... I will try to post Wednesday as usual but tomorrow the stork is bringing us a pink bundle of joy… so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have over the next few days.

It's very exciting… an understatement to be sure.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Downside of Co-Reg

On Wednesday I explained how you can use co-registration (co-reg) to quickly bring in leads and grow your company's e-mail list. Briefly, you place your offer (with a brief description of the product or service you provide) on the registration page of a website that receives high Internet traffic. Visitors to that website are given the opportunity to sign up for your offer at the same time as they sign up for your co-reg partner's offer.

However, there is a downside to the co-reg lead-accumulation strategy. If not done correctly, it can become a spam nightmare and a waste of your valuable marketing budget.

Have no fear. I've identified five main problems you could run into, and have included ways to avoid them ...

1. Too Many Leads

A co-reg that brings in thousands of leads per day is a sign of trouble. Leads that come in big bunches are usually unqualified and unproductive. Getting 5,000 new leads for your company in one day sounds too good to be true ... and it usually is. The co-reg site could be illegally harvesting the IP addresses of every visitor, for example, or sending files of old names.

A good legitimate co-reg with normal traffic should give you hundreds - not thousands - of leads per day. Check for dead names and multiples - then "de-dupe" the rest. ("De-duping" is the process of eliminating any names that are already on your list.)

Before rolling out with a big purchase of leads from a co-reg partner, test small batches to make sure they work for you. Protect yourself by including a cap in your initial contract. You might, for example, draft the contract to say, "Remove this offer after 2,000 leads are acquired" or "Client agrees to spend no more than $3,000 on leads."

2. Incentive-Based Affiliate Programs

Avoid co-reg sites connected with incentive-based affiliate programs. If an affiliate can earn gifts or commissions for bringing in a large number of leads, they might be inclined to set up a bunch of fake e-mail accounts and sign them up on hundreds of lists. This translates into your paying for a bunch of bogus e-mail addresses. Affiliate programs where they earn free telephone minutes for every offer accepted and every friend they sign up are the worst. The leads are worthless. Those people don't want your offer.

Trust me, I know! We once spent $5,000 on an incentive-based test sample, and the leads produced next to nothing. So don't waste your money on these incentive sites. You want quality, like-minded sites and their visitors.

3. Pre-Checked Boxes

Some co-reg services use pre-checked sign-up boxes on their confirmation pages. Many find this acceptable, but I do not. Pre-checked boxes are deceptive. The site visitors are clearly not taking action to opt in to your e-mail list. The permission to receive your offer is passive, and they will end up getting e-mail they probably won't remember signing up for ... thus creating the presumption of spam. You don't want this problem.

You'll get fewer leads with unchecked boxes ... but the leads you get will be better quality. The spam complaints and potential black listing of your ISP are not a fair tradeoff for the additional leads you'll collect.

4. Vague Descriptions

Make sure the description that accompanies your offer on the co-reg site is very specific. You are paying for each referral, and you don't want to generate leads that are simply not interested in what you're selling. By providing a good description, the overall quality of the leads will be higher, even if the number of referrals is lower.

It's best to hire a professional copywriter to write the description. But whether you hire someone to do it or do it yourself, make sure you have several people who represent your target market read it. If they don't understand your offer, fix it so they do.

5. The "Select All" Feature

Be wary of co-reg services that use a "select all" feature that allows visitors to subscribe to all the offers in one shot. This is often seen when a co-reg host offers dozens or hundreds of lists in a solicitation. Chances are that someone who has opted to receive hundreds of e-mail offers is not going to have time to read any of them.

Stay away from these "opportunities." Remember, even if visitors to the site take action and click on that "select all" box, such multiple registrations will create the presumption of spam when they forget they signed up for them. And the presumption of spam can be just as dangerous to you as spam itself.

There it is... as one part of your campaign, co-reg services can be an excellent means of growing your e-mail list.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Co-Reg This...

A fast, easy, cheap way to do build your list is with co-registration (co-reg). Although there are some problems with co-reg (which I'll explain later), in most cases, it can be a productive and cost effective part of your overall list-building campaign.

Let's back up a little. Right about now, you may be thinking, "What, exactly, is co-reg?"

Co-registration is the practice of referring leads, subscriptions, or memberships in conjunction with another registration process. You place your offer (with a brief description of the product or service you provide) on the registration pages of websites that receive high Internet traffic. This gives your offer great exposure ... and, thus, gives you the opportunity to build a large customer database.

You pay a small fee for each lead acquired. This cost per action (CPA) can range from 15 cents to three dollars, depending on the quality of the site and the data collected.

Take, for example, a visitor who signs up for The New York Times' free e-letter. He fills out the online form and submits it. Then, on the confirmation or thank-you page, he can sign up for additional "special offers" from the website's "premier partners."

The visitor is given a choice of four offers, one of which is The Daily Reckoning a free, daily financial e-newsletter. If he chooses that offer, he "registers" with (opts in to receive) both The New York Times and The Daily Reckoning... virtually at the same time.

Most co-reg sites have these additional offers on the confirmation or thank-you page (which appears after the initial registration) so they won't decrease response to the initial offer. This also allows rival offers to be included without fear of competition.

Another example is a popular co-reg page on the Zacks website. Zacks acquires the lead for its own list before allowing the visitor to see the co-reg partner "board of fare." Visitors have the choice to opt-in to multiple publications or lists simultaneously, or choose none.

This is a classic example of permission-based marketing. It is up to the visitor to take action.

Here are some quick points to consider when running a co-reg test campaign for your business:

* Look for co-reg partner sites that are similar to your own. Like-minded sites will have like-minded visitors ... which means they'll produce quality leads for you. Use search engines and directories to find these sites.

* Don't overwhelm your visitors with too many choices. Fewer offers on the co-reg page produce a higher volume of leads. (And fewer offers means a greater chance that your visitors will remember signing up for yours ... and a lower risk that they will perceive your e-mails as spam.)

* Target your offers to get individuals and/or businesses that are truly interested in your offer. The more relevant your co-reg partners' subject matter is to your site, the more qualified the resulting leads will be. Stay within your industry for best results.

* Think outside the normal limits of your industry. You can find co-reg opportunities in most industries, from home business to self-help, from financial to travel. Some industries lend themselves to a wide crossover, such as health-related products. Test co-reg sites for industries that are outside the norm.

* Make sure your delivery methods include leads delivered in real-time, an e-mail file of leads sent daily, or FTP delivery directly to your server. (FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, a method of moving files between two Internet sites.)

* Gather as much data about your potential customers as possible. Data acquired can range from e-mail only (with IP address and timestamp) to a complete record (e-mail, full name, IP address, timestamp, street address, city, state, country, zip, phone, gender, date of birth), depending on your needs. The cost will vary accordingly.

Co-reg allows for a constant flow of quality leads, putting your business ahead of the competition.

Establish three or four of them, and let the leads trickle in.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gung Hei Fat Choy!

"Gung hei fat choi! Sun nin fai lok!"

"Good luck and fortune! Happy New Year."

Welcome to the year of the Pig. If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 or 2007 there is no fighting it... you're a pig according to the Chinese zodiac.

According to The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco's website...

"People born in the Year of the Pig are chivalrous and gallant. Whatever they do, they do with all their strength. For Pig Year people, there is no left or right and there is no retreat. They have tremendous fortitude and great honesty. They don't make many friends, but they make them for life, and anyone having a Pig Year friend is fortunate for they are extremely loyal. They don't talk much, but have a great thirst for knowledge. They study a great deal and are generally well informed. Pig people are quick-tempered, yet they hate arguments and quarreling. They are kind to their loved ones. No matter how bad problems seem to be, Pig people try to work them out, honestly if sometimes impulsively."

Great, my new daughter is going to be a pig!

AND not just any pig! This year is a special year according to the Chinese Zodiac.

It is not only the year of the Pig, it is the Year of the Golden Pig. According to Chinese Foklore, this is an event that occurs once in every 60 or 600 years, depending on who you listen to, and will ensure that a baby born on this year will experience a prosperous and wealthy life.

Don't worry, I am not going to stop working just yet... maybe I'll wait till she hits her teens at least.

For me, the best part of the Chinese New Year is the giving of "hong bao" or "leih sih." These are small red envelopes that relatives, friends and business partners give out to those less senior, perhaps unmarried and/or as a reward for good work. The envelopes contain money in large generous even sums.

So... go set off some firecrackers to scare off all the evil spirits and enjoy the Lunar New Year celebration.


UPDATE: My new PPC campaign is going strong after three full days. I slowed it down a bit - I'll explain why later in the week... the results are as follows:

- 3,992,765 impressions
- 8,954 clicks
- 0.22% click through rate %
- $0.72 average cost per click
- 2,786 names collected
- 31.11% conversion rate %
- $5,934.87 total cost
- $2.13 cost per name acquired

Friday, February 16, 2007


Today I write this blog post shocked... overjoyed... and somewhat speechless.

For those of you that know me, I'd bet that you're surprised to hear that. You know me as full of piss and vinegar... or as my Irish grandmother would say I was born with the gift of gab.

But I sit here speechless... dumbfounded... all because of Google PPC.

Oh sweet... Google. Our love hate relationship continues... and today, be it two days late... "..would you be my valentine?"

I consider myself a well-crafted Internet marketer... educated and experienced in all aspects. I don't consider myself a PPC guru, but I'm no slouch either.

"Don't kid yourself, you're in credible slouch!" - thank you Chevy Chase.

I've been doing PPC for several years and successfully without question. But what happened in the last 24 hours is my best result ever. Let me explain...

I'm looking to acquire a free name. An e-letter subscriber to a financial missive. In exchange for the email address I'm giving away a free special report. Fair trade, eh?

Hehehe - we know better.

I created a simple page... with fulfillment upon confirmation screen and email welcome letter.

The results after 24 hours...

- 1,310,399 impressions
- 3,973 clicks
- 0.30% click through rate %
- $0.60 average cost per click
- 1,410 names collected
- 35.49% conversion rate %
- $2,364.87 total cost
- $1.68 cost per name acquired

Let me repeat a 35.49% conversion rate!

"I'm a little verklempt… Talk amongst yourselves..."

"I'll give you a topic."

"The shocking end to the Internet’s “dot com” revolution was neither a shock nor the end of the Internet. Discuss."

Until next week... keep the names coming in.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Listen To Your Peeps

Hey there - how is your e-letter doing?

No, no... don’t talk to me about opens… don't you know that is a useless metric?

Don’t get me started on open rates… that’s a soapbox moment we don’t need to get into. Maybe I'll rant about it next week.

Anyway, I want to know how you, dear reader, figure out if your e-letter or your web site is working. Do you look at clicks... or conversion to sale?

Making money is great... I mean we are here to make money, right?

But what if your sales are one fourth of what they could be? AND how does a sale tell you if you’re giving the readers the content they want?

Oh sure... we can assume we're giving the reader what they want because otherwise retention would be low, clicks would be lower, and sales would be non-existent. So how do you really know?

Its simple direct mail on the web... you go to the "court of last resort" and ask your readers!

Everybody hold hands and say it with me... It's survey time!

Surveying your customers and subscribers is a great way to find out what they think about your products and services. You can find out if you're giving them what they want, or better yet, if you're giving them what they don't want so you can stop and change tack before you lose them.

An online survey is easy to do. Many commercial email providers offer it as a part of their services, but in the alternative there is always Check them out if you aren't familiar.

You may want to offer an incentive for your customers to fill out your survey. Just like a special report in exchange for an email address... you're looking for that fair exchange.

However, I found it depends on what you are asking. If you're looking for demographics or personal info then, yes, you need that extra push to you them to give up the more private data. On the other hand, I like asking free e-letter readers to rate and comment on each issue. This is a great vehicle for testimonials and will show you the most popular themes that your editors should focus on. This makes the reader involved in the process... the editorial process. They feel they are an important piece of the community ...and of course they are. As such, there is no need to offer incentive in this case.

Don't make the survey too big... the longer they are, the more incentive readers will need to fill them out. I’d rather ask 3 or 4 pointed questions then ask my readers to answer a four pager. I’d bet the answers on page 4 aren’t taken too serious... if they are answered at all.

Ok... so you're doing a survey... what should you ask them?

I want to know how my e-letter is doing right now (today) and what direction we should take tomorrow. A general rule is only acquire data that you can act on. It's analogous to a well-known direct mail principle on testing.... you only test big things. That same principle applies here… you should only ask the “big” actionable questions.

Oh, and don’t get too intrusive. These are your readers, your customers, your friends. They are your most valuable assets... so treat them as such.

Now... stop guessing how your online business is doing and go ask your peeps!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Video Search Engines

Today… we don’t opine. No soapboxes. I’m researching video marketing on the web.

If you haven’t read my last articles please do.

Optimizing Video Content on the Web

Video Redux

Video can be a great traffic driver for your site. A great format for free content.

For your files… a list of video search engines and directory sites. Bookmark these for future use. I’ll also be referring to this list in future CVoD posts.

Cheers - AP

Video Search Engines and Directories

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Web Analytics and Goju Ryu

You may have heard me say that web analytics are crucial to examine the success of your web site. It’s an absolute. The questions and the answers that you need to base your business on are always in the numbers… be it your P&L’s, name collection efforts or your web site traffic.

It is important to take a snap shot of your site metrics to see where you are today and what needs your attention for tomorrow.

Always keeping in mind that your site is never really finished.

But what are you measuring? Are you wasting time looking at micro level pages or are you concentrating on the important simple things?

Every system from Google Analytics to Web Trends will give you more tables, charts and figures then you will ever need. In fact, I try to turn some of it off. It’s too much, and often totally irrelevant to your business.

The first thing I always ask is “What is your primary goal… what’s the big picture?”

That is where you can make the most improvement and web metrics can be the most effective. Using an extreme analogy… who cares if you have nice wood floorboards if the roof has a big leak and glass is missing from your windows, eh?

In other words, the little things that bring value can wait. Work on the big things before examining the small. If everything is perfect, then move on.

So let’s start with Visits… how many visitors are coming to your website?

Look at your total visitors or sessions… these are all of the sessions/visitors during the week or month. (Choose the time frame based on getting enough data to make a statistically valid decision.) These visits are identified in your web analytics by transient cookie values.

Then look at your unique visitors… all the unique sessions during the week or month. Unique visitors are measured according to their unique IP addresses, which are similar to your online fingerprint, and unique visitors are counted only once no matter how many times one visits the site.

So… how are your numbers?

Is it what you had expected?

I can tell you it never is… you always want more. BUT every now and then I am positively surprised… and like that perfect putt that doesn’t come until the eighteenth hole, it brings you back.

AND more determined than ever!

Next… where are the visitors coming from?

If you study the referring URL’s and search keywords you'll be able to focus your marketing efforts in positive directions.

Referring URL’s will tell you which websites are sending you traffic and conversely, which are not. You might be surprised.

You can use this to steer your time and/or change your strategy if need be. It’s an insight into your successes. Make sure you follow up with what you see. In other words, if you find out a new site gives you hundreds of referrals - contact them! Set up a swap, or an affiliate relationship – what ever it takes, right?

Of course, this insight can also tell you to stop some efforts that are not working, or at least not showing up as site visitors. If you are paying for traffic and it’s not there – time to stop that deal, eh?

What about keywords?

Knowing what search terms are being used to find your site is … a gift from God. This information should help you direct your optimization and your PPC campaigns.

Some say... all this keyword info does is confirmation of what you already know. So how is it useful?

True – it should, but I think most importantly this keyword info will tell you what is not working. Often we think we know what the keywords are in our niche and our business, but more times than not we are wrong.

(Time to get back on the soapbox)


Remember it was Claude Hopkins who said eighty some years ago “…Almost any question can be answered, cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign. And that's the way to answer them - not by arguments around a table. Go to the court of last resort - the buyers of your product.”

Or in this case the visitors of your site will tell you the keywords that are important to you. Don’t let your ego steer your business!

The numbers will do that just fine, (and without having to constantly feed them.)

(Jumping off the soapbox)

Next, What are they, your visitors, actually doing on site… and is it what you want?

If your site is about sales, are they going to the sales pages, and order forms?

Are they signing up from the free eletters?

What is the traffic on those pages, and what is the conversion?

Crucial questions. This is why you MUST test constantly - to improve the location, the path, and the conversion of the visitors who come to your site. Test something new I beg you, and do it often.

What are the Top Viewed Pages?

This is what people want, and now that you know... go post more of this theme!

How long do they stay?

Remember, 50,000 visitors who stay twenty seconds is worse than 10,000 visitors who stay six minutes, eh? This is where creating value comes in. They come, they stay, the come again, they convert if, and only if you give them a reason. You give them quality content to reader - they stay for chunks of time. If nothing ever changes on site - they leave in seconds. If that happens, your traffic is a waste. Just stop and get out of business.

How was that... painless?

It's a quick hitting review. Very simple and basic… and that's the idea. Always start with rational logic and analysis of the macro numbers… more complex analysis is the next level.

Web marketing is very similar to the Five Secrets Goju Ryu,
(剛柔流 gōjū ryū), Japanese "Hard-soft style" karate. One must…

"Move quickly.
Sound, calm mind.
Be light in body.
Have a clever mind.
Master the basics."

And, of course, Create Value or Die!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Snake Oil & Guaranteed High Rankings

Have you heard the term “Search Engine Optimizer?”

I didn’t until today. But, I just might be one. Well, an honest one. Let me explain...

A search engine optimizer (SEO) is someone who provides services to business owners to help them take their web sites high up the rankings of the search engines. Unfortunately, many of these SEO consultants use “black hat” methods in their attempts to manipulate search engine results.

This hurts all of us who work to help offline businesses go online. But how does a business owner know who to hire?

Here are a few points published by Google (from their Webmaster Help Center) to help you distinguish between a real consultant and one that will get your site dropped from search engine results altogether.

- Be wary of SEO firms that send you email out of the blue.

Amazingly, we get these spam emails too:

I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories..."

Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for "burn fat at night" diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators.

- No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or through the Google Sitemaps (Beta) program, and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do.

Ask for explanations if something is unclear. If an SEO creates deceptive or misleading content on your behalf, such as doorway pages or "throwaway" domains, your site could be removed entirely from Google's index. Ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of any companies you hire, so it's best to be sure you know exactly how they intend to "help" you.

- You should never have to link to an SEO.

Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of "free-for-all" links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don't affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines -- at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.

Some SEOs may try to sell you the ability to type keywords directly into the browser address bar.

Most such proposals require users to install extra software, and very few users do so. Evaluate such proposals with extreme care and be skeptical about the self-reported number of users who have downloaded the required applications.

- Choose wisely.

While you consider whether to go with an SEO, you may want to do some research on the industry. Google is one way to do that of course. You might also seek out a few of the cautionary tales that have appeared in the press. While Google doesn't comment on specific companies, we've encountered firms calling themselves SEOs who follow practices that are clearly beyond the pale of accepted business behavior. Be careful.

- Be sure to understand where the money goes.

While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they "control" other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn't work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you're considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.

- Talk to many SEOs, and ask other SEOs if they'd recommend the firm you're considering.

References are a good start, but they don't tell the whole story. You should ask how long a company has been in business and how many full time individuals it employs. If you feel pressured or uneasy, go with your gut feeling and play it safe: hold off until you find a firm that you can trust. Ask your SEO firm if it reports every spam abuse that it finds to Google using our spam complaint form at Ethical SEO firms report deceptive sites that violate Google's spam guidelines.

- Make sure you're protected legally.

For your own safety, you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee. Don't be afraid to request a refund if you're unsatisfied for any reason, or if your SEO's actions cause your domain to be removed from a search engine's index. Make sure you have a contract in writing that includes pricing. The contract should also require the SEO to stay within the guidelines recommended by each search engine for site inclusion.

What are the most common abuses a website owner is likely to encounter?

One common scam is the creation of "shadow" domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects. These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client's behalf. However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor's domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.

Another illicit practice is to place "doorway" pages loaded with keywords on the client's site somewhere. The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO's other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.

What are some other things to look out for?

There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It's far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:

- owns shadow domains
- puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
- offers to sell keywords in the address bar
- doesn't distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear in search results
- guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
- operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
- gets traffic from "fake" search engines, spyware, or scumware
- has had domains removed from Google's index or is not itself listed in Google

If you feel that you were deceived by an SEO in some way, you may want to report it.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) handles complaints about deceptive or unfair business practices. To file a complaint, visit: and click on "File a Complaint Online," call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to:

Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

For more information, go to

Monday, February 05, 2007

Should You Pay For it?

Time is money. Money is time. Money is money. Yes... I’ll stop now.

The question is... what should you spend your limited time on in regard to name collection?

Pay per click (PPC) ads, or optimizing your pages for the free organic listings?

You'll need to figure out what will produce more names, what you can afford to spend and what will give you the best return on investment based on the limited time you have.

Hmmm… not to mention all the other areas to collect new names. But, let’s not even go there… this is about the engines. They are the largest producer of impressions on the web today.

First off, is time of the essence?

If speed matters... then PPC will get you up online and in front of hundreds of thousands in minutes. You build your campaign, and with the click of a button, you’re getting traffic. Top of the page, keyword of your choice, yet paying top dollar for every click.

Sure it's money that buys you a good top position but any changes you need made are immediate, and you are the one in control.

Isn't that worth the money?

Organic is not as immediate. Certainly you can optimize a page in a few hours just as you would with a PPC landing page… but your posting is not immediate. You must wait for the engines to find you. And that wait can be 24 hours… or 24 days.

Also keep in mind once your page is ranked, you may have to do additional tweaking to attain a higher ranking, or maybe change the keyword for better results. Plus, you'll need to continue to make subtle changes as either the engines algorithm criteria changes or subsequent targeted pages are ranked higher which bump you down.

So PPC wins. (I guess)

Nonetheless, I advise everyone to optimize ALL pages and keep tweaking and testing. It may not be the quickest way to get exposure but in the long run your site as a whole will rank higher with the more pages you optimize, and you will then collect in a constant steady stream of names.

What about the costs?

Certainly you have heard the horror stories of companies spending, or rather losing, hundreds of thousands of dollars on PPC, right?

Yep, I’ve seen it first hand. But that does not mean it will happen to you. You can buy smart and cast a small net... or conversely jump in overly aggressive and lose your ass. Of course, some are overly aggressive and bring in thousands of names a day. So it depends on your goals, budget, and your monitoring.

Is it worth the money spent?

Yes it is.

Even though you are paying for traffic and organic pages get traffic free… with PPC the flow and type of traffic is controlled by you. And that is just too overwhelmingly positive to pass up.

So figure out a cost per name acquisition limit that you can build a campaign around. Give yourself a specified break even… just like direct mail. In other words, if you bring in names at $5.00 and they produce $25.00 on the list who cares if the cost is in the thousands? It’s all about the value of the name and PPC allows you the control to acquire them at a set price.

Oh, it may take constant tweaking of your bids, teasers and landing pages, but yes, you can control every aspect.

Those horror stories are from so-called "marketers" who were not paying attention to the campaign and thus let the costs spiral away from them. That won’t happen to you. I know you'll be on it like a hawk!

What it comes down to is both sides of SEO have merit and you need to do BOTH.

Your site can make a name for itself quickly by buying the top ad spot in your niche. The same goes for having the best optimized web site than anyone else in the niche. (Not to mention that you've created incredible value with your content!)

You do both - “you are gold!”

Isn’t it all just about traffic?

Yeah, kind of. You certainly need traffic and you’ll die on the vine without it, but both PPC and organic will get you traffic. But the traffic only comes to page one, for organic, and the top of page one, for PPC. Then you'll get the highest volume of traffic on the web.

So here is the bottom line. ARE YOU THERE?

If today, you're not on the first page with a niche keyword search of your organic pages… then be at the top with PPC.

One or the other... but you need to be there. So, start with PPC. Then go to work on optimizing your site. When your site moves up... you can change the strategy of the PPC campaign and go to other keyword areas, or stay there with a double whammy!

Exciting, eh?

Yeah... so let’s stop talking about it and go do it. I’ve got a PPC campaign to get back up right now. How is it doing?

Not so good, so I’ve reformatted the landing page. Test, test, test.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Do You Follow or No Follow?

“Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~ Albert Camus, French Novelist & Playwright, (1913-1960)
Your web site needs other relevant sites linking into it, among other things, for you to rank high in the search engine. As such, acquiring these so-called "back links" should be a key piece of your Search strategy.

I believe in acquiring links organically... use your content via syndication and the building of affiliates to get your back links. Don't buy links or participate in link schemes.

AND don't waste your time getting reciprocal links. They don't help you, in fact, rumor has it that Google has incorporated within their algorithm something which seeks out reciprocal links as well as link networks. These would down grade your site.

But some reciprocal links are normal and a part of business, right?

So in that case… the question is… should you use the "no follow" attribute to ensure that the search engines don't assume the link was obtained for the artificial purpose of trying to improve search rank?

Hmmm... First, if you don't know, what is "no follow?"

The no follow tag (rel="nofollow") has been adopted by Google, Yahoo, MSN and the other major and minor search engines as a way to thwart spam. The no follow tag was originally created for bloggers who were being spammed in the comments areas with multiple ads for pharmaceuticals, home loans and porn ads.

It was never defined as a means to telling search engines not to actually "follow" the link. It was more a way to say that you don't endorse the link. In other words, you are telling the engines to ignore it. Or perhaps... ignore the reciprocity?

Wikipedia just announced they were adding "no follow" to all outbound links. Thus taking away the incentive to use Wikipedia for spam AND greatly increasing the ranking of Wikipedia, at the cost of every other site on the internet. In other words they get points for the inbound link but don't leak any of their PageRank back out to the linking site.

Hmmm... That's either cheating or brilliant... I'm not sure.

How do you use this tag?

Simple, just add rel="nofollow" to the hyperlink. For example someone posts:

a href="">discount doggie site.

That link cound be changed to:

a href="" rel="nofollow">discount doggie site.

So why not do a reciprocal exchange but then attach the "no follow" to your partners’ link to avoid your site potentially getting penalized?


Some aggressive marketers are doing this now. Is it worth testing?

I don't think so… because there is a down side… and its call dishonesty.

In a reciprocal link exchange, you're not only trading traffic with another website but Page Rank as well. If you place a "no follow" tag on the text link of one of your reciprocal partners, it says you don't trust them enough to endorse the link. If that is the case, then why do the exchange at all?

It's also cheating your partners. They are giving up Page Rank in good faith that you'll do the same… when in fact you are depriving them of this. It's fraud. There is no exchange here. AND it's happening all over the web.

I'm writing about this today not to advocate the use of the "no follow" tag... not at all. But I think you need to know it exists and understand that every partnership you acquire, every link you think you have going to your site could be a illusory.

You need to protect your site from link partners who might be using "no follow" to cheat you. You'd be surprised how aggressive some marketers are and how some are willing to go into "black hat" or rather "gray hat" territory - charcoal gray - to improve site listings.

How do you stop this?

Choose good partners, and do your due diligence. Searching the source code on the link page where potential link will appear can tell you quickly if the no follow tag is being used or not.

It's all about credibility, don't you think?