What I did – March 2012
Daniel here and it’s Spring 2012 already.
This month …
Content is no longer available on Knol. If you have any knols, you should be migrating them now.
On April 17th, your default user interface will change to My.EzineArticles.com. The URL change is a bit of a nuisance if you’ve got loads of fixed links everywhere, but it does look more modern. You get badges for just about everything now, a bit like Squidoo.
IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council revises ePrivacy Directive
The IAB represents over 600 businesses engaged in digital marketing and in particular, advertising networks, which includes affiliate programs.
This sounds like a pretty boring topic, but if you are an affiliate marketer, it’s something you should be aware of as the latest revision to the ePrivacy directive, referred to as the ‘Cookie law’ and agreed in Brussels in 2009, is now part of UK law and will affect anyone working in the ‘digital’ industry.
What’s the law about?
Some of the services that will be directly affected are services such as; personalised content, web analytics and even the safe-mode service for family protection online such as SafeSearch.
The main focus of this change will be ‘online behavioural advertising’. It’s now actually against the law for companies to grab your details and display ads to you based upon your previous surfing history ‘without’ telling you this is happening.
It’s basically centred around ‘informed consent’ and how to get this consent.
There are some exceptions to the law such as using cookies to track the state of orders ect. but these are very few.
What do you need to do?
The law has actually been in place since last year, but has not yet been enforced in the UK. Our government voted to ‘phase it in slowly’ - a bit like everything our government do!
You can also add to this notice the benefits of using these cookies, which many people are not aware of.
This act is all about protecting privacy and protection from being bombarded with irrelevant ads.
If you need to know more, you can read a full review of this and much more about ePrivacy in the digital industries here.
Scam PayPal Emails
I received about six hoax emails from PayPal this month, which were not really PayPal; just scams. One was from a fool who didn’t even lock down his directories so I was easily able to confirm that the PayPal scam page was sat on his server – not that I needed this confirmation as the simple fact that it was addressed to ‘Dear PayPal Costumer,’ told me immediately that it was a scam, but I’m always interested to see just who’s doing this sort of stuff. I uploaded the screenshots in a post which you can read here.
It is possible that someone could not know about a hoax being hosted from their site – but highly unlikely and if someone doesn’t know what’s happening on their sites this amounts to a lack of responsibility on their part.
As you can see in the post one of the fake PayPal emails contains the URL:
This link is no longer live, which is common as these scams usually only stay in place for a day or two – just to grab as many email/login details as possible, then scarper quick before getting caught, which is naivety in its own right as any evidence is still in place in black and white on all the computers it was sent to!
To check the URL that any link inside an email message is pointing to, just hover your mouse over the link and the full URL will show in your email app. On windows live, it’s always at the bottom left, but on other apps, it could be displayed anywhere in the window.
If you make a note of the displayed URL and type it into your browser address bar, then delete all the directories after the root domain, you will see the originating site. In this case, I deleted all the subdirectories from the URL and pasted http://tonydunderfelt.com/ into the browser and arrived at this:
So, this guy, if the image is genuinely him, is either a Scammer or someone who doesn’t know what is going on with his site.
When the root domain URL has been typed into the address bar, it’s just a case of adding the sub directories, one by one and you’ll arrive at the scam page, but unless you’ve got a decent anti-virus/phishing app in place, I wouldn’t advise hitting the scam page!
Future SEO and website ranking points of interest
Google are forging ahead with their ‘lets dictate how websites rank’ algorithms and the next item rethink on their list is going to be site optimisation itself, and in particular, backlinks.
In an attempt to make the internet more easily navigable, broken links already form part of new algorithms including broken images, so this is something to be checking.
If you’ve been going for a while and have hundreds of old websites, all still making a pound or two every week, it’s changes like these that make administrating these sites almost impossible just on time alone.
I tried to do some of my old sites this week, but the task of bringing loads old HTML websites up to scratch to fit in with new ranking algorithms is just daunting and with so many, outsourcing would be far too expensive.
All you can do in this case is just apportion some time; a day, a week or whatever to the task and just work through them – if they’re worth it!
Only you can decide how valuable a site is. For example, if a site only makes £2 every week, but you have 500 of them, you could argue that all 500 are worth the effort as if new algorithms made half of them drop off the radar, then that’s £500 a week gone – just like that!
New algorithms can knock a website right off the first results page in an instant and if it’s a main source of income sales site, that could mean your livelihood gone.
Even grey and white-hat techniques are under review – and very soon, all those each-way exchanges are going to be worthless.
The Panda update was designed with ‘quality content’ in mind and Google regularly offer tips on how to optimise sites but they never release their entire list of algorithms, let alone talk about how much weight certain factors have compared to others.
Currently under the limelight is the whole de-indexing of paid blog/link networks, a major blow to thousands of sites, however, when you play the black-hat, or even grey-hat (and soon, maybe even extreme white-hat) tactics you’re taking a big risk of being dealt a severe blow.
If Google will penalise themselves, as they did with the ‘Chrome paid links’ situation, then they will not hesitate in slapping your site if it breaches their policies.
One of the major recent changes to websites, which originally started out as the perfect method of describing a website; meta keywords, has already been dropped by many search engines (but not all) and that was just the start.
Although Google and many others do not include meta keywords in ranking factors, some engines do and it is still considered ‘good practice’ to include keywords – in all the appropriate places and at the accepted volume.
The reason behind all the recent SEO changes is to try and ‘level the board’ so ‘mom and pop’ site owners stand a competitive chance against the big corporations who have money to burn.
At SXSW there was an event session called, ‘Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!’ which covered the ideas in place which will be a great help to people who have good content on their sites but don’t focus on SEO for whatever reasons.
Here’s the official description for the session:
If you build it, they might not come, if you haven’t thought about how search engines view your web site. Forget testing for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Search engines are the common browser that everyone uses. The good news is that search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t mean terrible design or some type of black-magic trickery. Rather, there are good, sensible things that everyone should do that pleases both search engines and human visitors.
These changes are well-intentioned, as how can a ‘mom and pop’ site doing their own limited SEO stand a chance against a corporation who is spending thousands of dollars on SEO every week?
Cutts from Google said:
“the idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit, so all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, ‘over-optimization’ or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little more level. So that’s the sort of thing where we try to make the website…the Googlebot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive, so the people who don’t do SEO, we handle that, and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they’re doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area. So that is something where we continue to pay attention, and continue to work on it…we have several engineers on my team working on that right now.”
Free Bing Ads
Up to £30 free ads are still available at Bing which is well worth the effort of a sign up, even if the free ads are the only ones you ever use!
HubPages will soon be adding special layout options to the HubTool in the form of five new capsules which are designed specifically for recipe and review type Hubs. These capsules give Hubs a more polished appearance and also tag them with information in such a way that makes certain details visible in search-engine results.
- Ratings Capsule
- Cook Time Capsule
- Ingredients Capsule
- Instructions Capsule
- Nutrition Capsule
There will also be an option to add all of the Recipe Capsules in bulk.
By using the Ratings Capsule when reviewing products, places, and services, and by using the Recipe Capsules in your recipe Hubs, you will be adding cool features such as star ratings, thumbnail images, cook time to Hubs presented in search engine results.
If you use Hubs for recipe based content, these are well worth the time to set up.
Latest Hype on the net…
I had a couple of emails this month about this and I’ve noticed myself recently that basic marketing techniques have been ‘resurrected’ and marketed with hyped-up, all-new ‘with cash-cow results’ webpage sales copy to make us think they are the latest, cash generating method – and we are supposed to believe that these techniques are ‘new’ and that we need them and must buy them in order to make money online!
The latest ones I’ve seen include basic list-building and squeeze page techniques (all in use since the 90’s) – but now, allegedly different and exciting with never before seen styles and layouts which ‘just make people buy!’… ??
They’re just squeeze pages!
Now don’t get me wrong. The position and style of a squeeze page or an opt-in form can make all the difference on a sales site, especially where mobiles are concerned or if the product is not that interesting and a degree of stimulus is needed, but if you’ve seen similar pages being hyped up, some on sale for $27, and are thinking of buying – Don’t waste your money!
Squeeze pages, direct or indirect, should form part of any sales web page as a basic requirement. They are not new, they are not complicated and there are plenty of websites that give free information and tuition about integrating these into your site. If you want advice on how good a squeeze page is, upload your page and send me the URL; I’ll tell you how effective I think it is.
Where squeeze pages are concerned, I’ve always used a 50/50 mix of ‘good business practice’ and ‘appropriate sales copy’ to achieve a good-converting page that lasts. I’ve used ‘hyped’ squeeze pages in the past but they’ve never converted as well as others that were more down-to-earth and realistic.
People are not stupid and these three page sales sites that seem to think that anyone will buy after they’ve read through the (6 pages) of hype are just insulting.
Have you ever read through a long page of sales copy? No, neither have I! It doesn’t work nowadays.
I’ve learnt that if you’ve got a product that people want, it doesn’t really matter how bad your landing page is, how poor your sales copy is or how aesthetically unpleasing your page looks, if it’s where people need to be to get ‘what they want’ you’ll make money.
However, it’s obvious that a more appropriate looking page should attract more click-throughs – and if you’re going to make a website, why not do it properly in the first place; but many people still get these elements wrong for one reason or another and if there are loads of other sites that look better than yours or are set up in a more appealing way, all selling the same product at a similar price, you will lose sales to those sites.
That said, before you pay for anything on the net, always research first to make sure it’s not being offered anywhere else for free.
I did a giveaway a couple of weeks ago, which is still available here if you missed it and received an email from someone who had just paid $12.97 for just one of the products in the giveaway. Ok, $12.97 is no major loss, but why pay for something when you can get it for free?
Make ‘all’ your online presence as economical as possible
I still get regular emails from people asking how they can reduce their hosting costs and when I look at their set-ups, I see they are paying for ‘per domain’ and ‘per web-application’ installations. If you are on similar set-ups, you are wasting money!
Multi domain hosting, also referred to as multi-hotel hosting, with unlimited space and unlimited web apps is available nowadays from around £3 per month – with full support. If you’re paying more, it’s a waste of money.
I’ve come across many ‘great’ marketers who preach optimisation of everything, but then I see they pay ‘per domain’ or for each web app? If you’re going to optimise, do it with everything – unless you like spending more than you need to.
It is now more difficult to make money online with static sales web sites, whether it’s for a physical product or digital download, than ever before!
There are lots of reasons for this; website saturation, product saturation, search engine indexing and ranking requirements, lack of trust in the product or site are just a few.
But mainly, from what I have seen over the past year or so, the main reason why so many sales websites fail is because they are trying to sell something that nobody wants, or that not enough people are interested in. If you land on a website that’s desperately trying to sell, or force-sell a product that you don’t really need or want, do you buy it? The answer is No!
This is why keyword selection is imperative even above choice of product, especially if you’re going to include Adsense on the site.
‘Keyword selection’ is the first secret to a successful sales site.
However, venture into the interactive side of websites and making money becomes a lot easier. All the big interactive sites know this and it’s no secret that the more people you have on your site, the more chance you have of making money from that site.
Web2 type sites were first seen online in early 1999 and in those first years, it was very difficult to get suitable software and almost impossible to set up a site without some ‘very expensive’ professional help.
Now, it’s a totally different story. There are loads of free interactive apps and plugins available for all the different platforms.
Web2 sites with full interaction, that is; being able to post directly on-site, full social media integration including ‘login using…’ apps, integrated emailing, commenting and messaging facilities between members and profile settings pages, are becoming more and more financially effective over traditional three page sales sites even if they don’t sell anything and this is the direction that I will be concentrating on for the foreseeable future.
Static sales sites do require a regular, even if only occasional, input of SEO to keep them ranking well enough to be easily found.
If you make an appealing interactive site, the membership interactions will automatically SEO the site and at that point, it can only improve.
This month was yet again mostly a time-out month and even though I don’t need to put the hours in, I still feel guilty when I haven’t spent any time on the sites, so this next month, I plan to make some effort!
’til next month
and as usual…