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The second day of Affiliate Summit East 2010 started with a great keynote speech by Frank Luntz, a well known political consultant (according to Wikipedia it’s actually Dr. Frank Luntz). Frank’s specialty is “testing language and finding words that help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate”

 
Frank wrote a book called Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear (yes, this is an affiliate link :) ) and his talk was very much about the same topic. Specifically, how people say one thing, but the words they use harm, even completely sabotage their goal. He suggested using certain words that in this day and age evoke responses. Put simply, by merely rephrasing what you say you can make a world of difference! Frank showed many videos that demonstrated how people become more attentive or tune off when certain words are used.

 

 

I thought Frank’s talk was very insightful and some of the tips he gave can be immediately applied (or perhaps I should say “fiercely insightful” – he said that “very” no longer means anything because it’s been so overused, and gave ‘fiercely’ as an example used by one political candidate to replace ‘very’).

 
Using Social Media For SEO
After the keynote speech I went to this talk. I was particularly interested in this considering much of what I do is social media. The focus of this talk was on leveraging social media platforms and users to get backlinks (the building blocks of SEO).

 

Several useful tips:

  1. Build links to your site using Twitter, Facebook, etc (I share a list of the platforms he gave below).
  2. Incentivize people to tweet your link (for example, give them a special discount)
  3. When using forums, people an opportunity to tweet about the post with a link to your website.

The speaker said that there is evidence that in the near future Google will determine how important/authoritative a profile is (for example, using follower/following ratio) and assign a greater weight to links tweeted from that account. Note that as far as I know, to a very limited degree this is already happening.

 
Surprisingly, a few things which I experienced firsthand and expected to be in this talk were not mentioned. Huh. Maybe I should suggest a talk about these for Affiliate Summit West?

 
Social Media link building opportunities

  1. Youtube: one way DoFollow
  2. Google profile: one way DoFollow
  3. Yahoo answers: NoFollow links. (though these could still bring traffic).
  4. Facebook profile: one way DoFollow as long as the profile is public (this was the only thing that surprised me – need to check).
  5. Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc – most are followed

 
Afterwards I went to a talk titled “Android Affiliate Mobile Marketing” which was so good I intend to dedicate a separate post to it. This session focused on using Google Android phones for advertising/promoting CPA offers, etc. More soon.

 
Similarly, the next talk I went to “Crowdsource Your Success” is worthy of a separate post. I didn’t expect to learn anything new (isn’t Crowdsourcing only 99designs?) but was very fiercely surprised.

 

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I haven’t written about blogging for a while. Since I follow quite a few blogs every day, not to mention, monitor the activity of my own blogs, it’s interesting to see what works and what doesn’t work – sometimes it’s just plain obvious, other times I had to learn certain lessons the hard way. Here are six suggestions that may be useful to anyone who’s blogging.

 

  1. Avoid ads (at first, at least): when you just start a blog and even when it’s quite a bit more established, it’s best to avoid putting ads. First, you’re not going to make any serious amount of money: if you place AdSense code, you may get the occasional click which would probably amount to ~10 cents. However, you will cause – and this is particularly important at the beginning – your potential audience to reconsider visiting your blog.

     
    Here is a personal example: I have a niche site which provies book and movie reviews. When it first launched I got quite a few people very involved because it’s dealing with a specific topic that apparently many people find interesting. About a month after I launched it I added ads: this drove my two most loyal readers away – they never came back! I even wrote one emails and she never responded. After two months during which I made a whopping $4 I took the ads off. I think these people’s response was extreme but some people are turned off by ads or anything that can be viewed as trying to make money (if you’ve been on Twitter for a while, you know that people on Twitter – tweeps – are very hostile to ads). Note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with placing ads – you spend time and effort, get a domain, a hosting account – why not get compensated, at least a bit, for your efforts?

     
    Another consideration is that a blog is a personal thing and ads take away from that intimacy. I think when you have an established audience, most (if not all) will understand it if you put ads, but at first it will turn people off.

     
    If and when you do place ads, it’s a good idea to put them in a place that doesn’t ruin the “visitor experience”. Some blogs are so crammed with ads it’s just a turn off even for me.

     

  2. Give your posts proper titles – the search engine perspective: Try to incorporate phrases that people search for in your titles. It’s not really hard to do, a quick visit to the Google keyword tool will show that. For example: Six Blogging Tips and Tricks (the title of this post).

     

  3. Give your posts proper titles – aim to go viral. If you can come up with a good catchy title it will certainly draw attention. And if it’s a good post, people will want to share it, retweet it and send it to their friends. My recent blog post “Gaining A Million Followers In Less Than 30 Days” – got the fastest numbers of visitors from the moment I tweeted a link to it from all of my other blog posts.

     

  4. Use video properly: using video is a great idea which is highly recommended. Search engines love it and people respond better to videos than to text – after all, it’s easier to listen than to read. However, videos can’t replace your blog post completely.

     
    There are blogs that only rely on a video to convey their message. No description of the content nor a meaningful title. Not only this is bad from an SEO perspective since there is no way for the search engines to figure what the post is all about, and so, index it properly, but this is also true for people too. Often I can’t turn on my speakers from various reasons and consequently, can’t listen to the video – so there are some blog posts I literally have no clue what they are about as much as I’d like to know.

     

  5. Use a correct permalink structure: meaning, the path to the post should not use Wordpress’ default structure (which looks something like this: www.domain.com/?p=1234. Instead, use /%category%/%postname%. This is good for three reasons.

     
    First, it helps with search engine optimization, as the path has a definite impact on SEO.

     
    Second, it helps humans know what the post is about if they just see the link. For example, even without reading this blog post, by looking at the link (which is: http://www.industryreview.org/search-engines/six-blogging-tips-and-tricks), people can get a pretty good idea what the post is about.

     
    Finally, it helps you when you check for rankings. One of my oldest sites – coincidentally, the one I mentioned in #1 – has multiple pages that rank well in Google (and Bing and Yahoo) for various phrases. However, I made the mistake of using the default permalink structure – so unless I manually check, I have no idea which pages rank! All I see is a www.domain.com/?p=1237.

     

  6. Beware of spammer comments: Although I’ve written a post about this before, some comments are really quite devious in the sense you may be tricked into approving them.

     
    Not only they may have hidden links – and this has happened to me – a space between two words had a link to some nasty site, and I couldn’t see it until I actually viewed the code. But additionally, even if they are harmless, and you approve them, they make your site look amateurish to anyone who has seen these comments a million times before.

     
    In other words: avoid any comment that sounds generic – like they could fit any post – particularly if they sound flattering, i.e. “Thank you for the great post”, “Can I use parts of your post in my own blog?”, “Darn, I left a comment but it didn’t work.. do you see it?”, “Your design is fantastic – can I ask where you got that theme from?” and that sort of thing. All these are similar to comments I get every single day.

 
That’s it for now. I hope this has been useful.

 

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Pulling hair

 

If there’s a simple solution to the problem I describe below then (a) I will be very happy and (b) I will think that this post might make me look like a fool – BUT I’ll take that risk :)

 
I probably mentioned this in the blog somewhere but I like creating sites. At the moment I have around 70 and keep creating more all the time – some for specific niches, some personal, some for hobbies, some for lead generation, some for.. other… purposes.

 
Putting the necessary effort in keyword research using tools like Micro Niche Finder and Market Samurai (both are superb tools!) in order to create sites that have a good chance in appearing in high positions in search engines is fun and creates a nice income (if done consistently!). Even though this does require effort, and more importantly, patience, it’s generally a very good method.

 
Some of these sites I can truly set and forget. Of course, I track the search rankings of all my sites and know that some eventually drop unless I continuously add new content. It really depends on the niche and its competitiveness. Usually if it’s a successful site or a site I put a lot of effort into, I continue building it, but at times I prefer to spend my time creating new sites rather than tweaking and retweaking old ones.

 
A large portion of these sites, naturally, have affiliate links. When I first started I spent months finding the “perfect” links, hunting down exotic offers from specific vendors, it all had to be just right. Didn’t take very long for me to realize that this is a very inefficient usage of my time.

 
Last week I happened to visit one of my older sites which seems to be getting a lot of traffic again. I clicked on one of the affiliate links: broken! I clicked on another: Internal Server error! I clicked on a third – took me to an unrelated offer. Then I started going through my old sites and many, many links were broken or switched to another, irrelevant offer. God knows how many conversions I lost.

 
Almost always these were CPA offers – the product offers/eBooks (Clickbank) mostly still worked. And of course, AdSense (in those sites that include it) continued to work. That is why I never explored this in depth – as the sites that performed continued to perform.

 
I continued checking and even a site I recently updated – only two months ago – had all broken links!

 
This is extremely frustrating! The only affiliate network I am aware of that updates you about broken links is Commission Junction, and unsurprisingly, my CJ links work properly as I always fixed them (actually, Lidango too, but I don’t really use them anymore – and they just send you emails “you have a broken link” which isn’t helpful). Then again, all my Shareasale, Linkshare, Linkconnector and Amazon links seemed to be working properly, maybe they update you as well.

 
I’m thinking of creating a massive list of links and periodically running through all of them either using a script or even manually. It will take some effort but it’s worth it. Though even this is a partial solution: it’ll show me the broken links but not when the links have been switched to different offers. I could factor the landing page into that though, I guess.

 
I’m also thinking of limiting the networks I take links from. This is actually something I have been doing for quite a while… whereas in the past I used to pick the ‘best’ links from many different networks, now I feel it’s easier to stick with a handful of networks. Easier to keep track of, and often that extra bump in commission isn’t worth the hassle.

 
Any suggestions as to how to monitor this? Are there any tools available? I’ve discussed this with several friends and it seems I’m not the only one facing this problem. I’m just angry at myself for allowing it to go on for far too long.

 

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Resources for Affiliate Marketing

This Wednesday I’m giving a two hour introductory talk about affiliate marketing. This is following my plan to start doing more speaking engagements which I enjoy (as mentioned in my post about my talk at Social Media 201).

 
Preparing my Powerpoint deck was fun although it was somewhat time consuming. I also prepared a resource page for the audience.

 
I don’t know exactly the demographics of this blog’s visitors (clearly Alexa is untrustworthy, as I’ve joked about): I would estimate that at least a quarter are seasoned affiliate marketers, another quarter is friends, and the rest are people I meet through Twitter or people who Google for certain topics I’ve written about – Twitter Jail being the most popular (of course, it’s possible to be both a friend, an affiliate marketer, and know me from Twitter :) ).

 
Since I took the time to make this resource list, I figured, why not share it? If you’re an affiliate marketer, you can stop now because at least 95% are things you know, and know well (however, I AM sure most marketers aren’t familiar with the Mobile CPA Network I joined, for example). But if you’re not… proceed.

 
I think I will make more of these introductory posts, explaining resources for building links and other things new affiliate marketers require. But that’s for another time.

 

“Standard” Affiliate networks

These are networks dedicated to physical products or eBooks.
Clickbank Sign up page – eBooks, eCourses
ShareASale sign up page – physical products
Linkshare sign up page – physical products
Linkconnector sign up page – physical products
Commission Junction sign up page – physical products

 

CPA networks

Here are some of my favorite CPA networks: harder to get into than other networks, and normally require a brief phone interview before being approved.
Neverblue sign up page
Marketleverage sign up page
Azoogleads sign page
Clickbooth sign up page
Copeac sign up page

 

Mobile CPA networks

This is a CPA affiliate network dedicated to mobile offers. I am aware of two more such networks, but since I have not used them myself (yet), I’m not listing them.
Sponsormob sign up page

 

Offer directory

An excellent resource for finding offers and comparing commissions across networks.
Offervault

 

PPC: Keyword spying tools

If you’re doing any PPC at all, you really need a keyword spying tool. I used PPCBully 2.0 and thought it’s great.
PPCBully 2.0
Affportal – has a lot of useful tools for PPC campaigns

 

SEO/Blogging: Keyword research tools

If you’re creating search engine optimized niche sites you must do your keyword research.
Micro Niche Finder: superb tool, and even has a ‘brainstorming’ function which just finds good niches for you on its own.
Market Samurai: superb tool which just gets better.
Google Keyword Tool: a good place to start

 

SEO: Link building

eZArticleLink: If you need links, this is a good resource – there’s even a free version!

 

Pay Per View Networks

I included only some of the PPV networks I use.. since this is an introductory talk, I’m not sure I would recommend on PPV being the starting point. However, I didn’t want to leave this out.
DirectCPV
AdOn Network
MediaTraffic

 

Pay Per View Resources

If one does do PPV then Affportal is a must. An absolutely fantastic – and mandatory – resource for PPV which just gets better.
Affportal

 

Email marketing Resources

Here too I only mentioned the one tool I use. Yes, there are others, but this one is the best.
Aweber – best email marketing tool

 

Twitter resources

This is probably better phrased as ‘Twitter monetization resources’.
Ad.ly
SponsoredTweets

 

Media Buying resources

This is useful for anyone doing demographics research for the purpose of media buying. Most definitely not for new or even intermediate affiliates!
Alexa
Quantcast
Compete

 

Domain registration

I registered more than 60 domains with Namecheap and don’t have a single complaint. They’re also the cheapest. In fact, I’m going to register one, possibly two, domains right after I finish this blog post…
Namecheap

 

Domain hosting

Unlike domain registration, I’ve had my share of hosting accounts and was very unhappy with most. However, Hostgator is excellent: very good service, high reliability, quick and friend customer support. Definitely better than the other accounts I used. Even their pricing is competitive!
Hostgator

 

Facebook advertising resources

Since it’s hard to do split-testing with Facebook because there is no way for the average user to get a bulk upload tool, the Facebook Ad Manager is a must in order to do any serious Facebook advertising.
FB Ad Manager

 

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Social Media 201


I want to announce that I’m going to be participating in Social Media 201: a social media conference which will be held in Seattle next month.

 
This conference, which is sponsored by Microsoft, Comcast, Fresh Consulting, Regillo consulting group as well as other companies is geared towards small business owners.

 
I will be giving a talk titled “SEO for Small Businesses” in which I’ll discuss the benefits small business owners have to gain by optimizing their websites to rank in search engines for phrases related to their business and their local area. In addition I’ll also be participating in the “monetizing social media” panel.

 
As far as I know a recording of the conference will be sold later: though I may be wrong on this.

 
For more information, go to the conference website or view its agenda. You can also follow its hashtag on twitter: #sm201

 
Note that to get a $50 discount, enter code ULABS (this is not an affiliate coupon – I’m not personally gaining anything from it).

 

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SEO Traffic in 2000

I haven’t blogged in a while. Some people have asked me whether I decided to quit blogging. “Of course not” I responded “I’m just too busy”. Which is true (as I briefly elaborated in my last post).

 
The frustrating thing is that, as mentioned before, I already have three posts just waiting to be finalized and published. One of them I’m not going to do anymore. It describes my experiences at Affiliate Summit West (ASW10) and it would feel quite silly to publish it almost two months after the fact. So I won’t. I’ll just say: ASW was great!

 
Earlier today I was lying in bed and suddenly realized it’s been exactly ten years since I began my first job in the US (had others elsewhere. Curious? Check my LinkedIn profile).

 
In my first job I worked as a software developer for a dotcom called iAnalyst. This was before the dotcom bubble burst, so we were all reaching for the stars, ready to work crazy hours, and mentally preparing to become millionaires. The sad fact is, we kind of knew we won’t become millionaires, many of the crazy hours were spent starting at the PC and chatting – it was more of a “morale” thing, we all stay at work regardless of whether it’s actually necessary. So there were whole weekends I spent at the office doing nothing. With that being said, I don’t regret even a single second – it was a fantastic experience even when the company went down.

 
I had three projects in iAnalyst, with the most important one being the creation of the company’s production system. Basically, it allowed our producers to enter content, which would miraculously be transformed and transferred to our website. Sounds familiar? I bet it does: Wordpress does just that. More than that, Wordpress does it 1,000 times better than my creation did. Then again, we’re talking a full decade ago – that’s centuries from a technological perspective. Literally the stone age.

 
Why am I mentioning all this? I was lying in my bed and thinking why the company failed. It failed because we didn’t get almost any paid clients. This despite the fact the company got a massive amount of media attention: we were featured in many articles as “a hot new startup”, and our CEO was even interviewed on CNN – NOT the website – the television channel. Yes, we were on our way to greatness.

 
Prior to the CNN interview, we had a company bet: how many new people would register immediately afterwards. There was even a reward promised to the person who will be the closest. I remember increasing my bet to more than what I thought it would really be, for company morale. One of my colleagues was a financial analyst: he came up with a complicated calculation that derived a number. This was the lowest estimate, by far, of everyone. What happened was that he was the closest – the real figure was roughly half of what he projected. There was such a gloomy atmosphere after this he never got his reward. We just didn’t talk about this anymore.

 
So why did we not succeed? Basically, we just waited for people to register to our services, counting on the media attention and word of mouth. Considering I was a prominent member of the technical team (which consisted of only several people), I don’t remember a single conversation about advertising online, making ourselves available for people who search for certain terms. We didn’t even consider this. Yes, these were prehistoric times in terms of internet advertising and SEO, but it still existed back then in its primordial form.

 
We just sat and waited for the traffic to arrive, and it never did. Then we ran out of money. And then we shut down.

 
What we should’ve done is used paid advertising. As far as I know, PPC didn’t exist back then, but there were ways to pay per impression (I’ve heard many stories about the “good old times”, how easy it was back then to profit from advertising because there were no accurate measures or pay per click). I don’t know exactly how Google ranked sites back then (yes, even then Google was #1), but considering I was involved in generating the site, I don’t remember a single conversation about how we should optimize it to appear higher in search rankings. The whole concept never occurred to any of us.

 
I’m wondering what would’ve happened had we been able to optimize our online presence using all the knowledge we now have, even with the tools that existed in 2000. I’m sure we could’ve increased our traffic a hundredfold if not a thousandfold. We did have money. Whether this would’ve saved the company? Probably not, but I guess we’ll never know. There were talks of eTrade buying us (they didn’t) – it certainly could’ve made the difference in that case.

 
It doesn’t feel that long ago, yet in so many levels, it’s light years away.

 
Note that exactly one year later (2001) I was working as a lead developer/team lead for a small firm. That is when I was first introduced to SEO. We had a guy do a bunch of what I thought was pretty comical: he hid a lot of keywords in white text on our site’s main page so they would be invisible to everyone but the search engines, also put tons of links in tiny fonts. Of course, these are very rudimentary SEO tactics and now search engines will punish you if you use such tricks, but in 2001 this still worked.

 

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Too busy

I know I haven’t been here for a while. Things were incredibly busy for me, and I kept postponing updating my blog. However, when the third person asked me whether I’ve abandoned it, I realized it is time to post something.

 
Unlike other posts, I’ll just write what I’ve been up to. I have several posts I intend to publish soon, but they’ll have to wait a bit.

 
In the past few weeks I’ve:

  1. Finally turned my company, U Labs, into a legal entity. This meant (finally) forming an LLC, getting it a bank account, a credit card, commissioning a logo, commissioning a professional looking website (not that the one I created using Wordpress is bad, but well, it did take me around 30 minutes to make – I want to make a better impression than that). This is still not complete.

     

  2. Had to comply with the new FTC regulations regarding affiliates. This meant going one by one to every single site I have and adding certain disclaimers and making changes where this makes sense. Since I have no sponsored posts in this blog, I actually didn’t add any here. I did receive several offers in the past to do so, but I always thought they would stick out and felt I had to reject them. Of course, I’ll be honest, if the price was more, uhm, tempting, I might’ve made a different decision, but for now every single post I have written was initiated by myself – I’ve sponsored nothing here for money.

     

  3. Started participating in a weekly series of webinar events as a panelist. In the past few months I’ve joined a fantastic mastermind group that consists of seasoned internet marketers who share their wisdom in weekly calls. This series of webinars is but one of our joint projects. Last week we had our first (and test) session: despite some technical hiccups, it went extremely well. Our goal is to share our expertise on various subjects. In this session I discussed basic aspects of SEO and intend to do this a lot more in the coming weeks. More information soon. I’ll just say this was phenomenally fun – I had a blast!

     

  4. Started a massive hunt of ad networks. From various reasons, I’m looking for good ad networks, particularly those that provide decent traffic volume, easy to configure campaigns (without requiring to go through an account manager) and (ideally) international traffic as well. Fortunately, ad:tech occurred pretty recently and was a good source of those, so I started going one by one and testing every network I found. In addition, I posted some questions in forums and tried these sources as well. This takes time. Unfortunately, money too – but no pain no gain. Any suggestions would be welcome, by the way!

     

  5. Had my mother as a guest for 10 days. ’nuff said, no? :)

 
I expect to have more time soon and then I’ll return to blogging more consistently.

 

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Buying shoes

I keep planning to do two big posts and yet things always keep interrupting me and I end up writing about something else. I suppose this is the good thing about having a blog: you can always talk about what you find interesting at the moment. And I still intend to write the other posts.

 
Some time ago I created a new site promoting a piece of clothing (I won’t say which one). Using several tools, I estimated it would have a decent amount of traffic, even if on the low side, and little competition. Furthermore, I did a quick search: monetization should be easy: both in terms of ad revenue and in terms of affiliate offers (easily found some, and good ones too). I built the site, and within 2 weeks ranked #1 on Yahoo, Bing and Google. Piece of cake.

 
To my surprise, I got traffic, but very little of it. Really disappointing; although I was not expecting a lot of traffic, clearly the tools I used to estimate what I’d get were wrong since I never got more than 5 visitors a day – and I was #1 on all three search engines!

 
Therefore, I started using it as a test site: I did experiments with it such as removing a large number of backlinks at the same time to see what would happen: they slowly vanished from the my site (meaning, the backlink count slowly started going down every day), and eventually I lost my #1 position on Bing – but that’s it, still #1 on both Google and Yahoo.

 
I removed the ads and started testing other forms of monetization, not because I thought I’ll get anything from it (clearly I would not with so little traffic), but because I wanted to see how it would look/affect the rankings/whatever. Some things have peculiar effects on SERPs and I was curious whether I’d stumble on anything interesting.

 
Following a conversation with a friend I had on Friday, I decided I’ll just flip (sell) the site. I’ll rebuild the backlinks, restore the ads, and quickly regain my #1 Bing position. I would advertise it exactly as it is: #1 rankings on all search engines, all original content, small niche, but very little revenue. Hey, even if I get a $150 it’s worth it – it may be useful for someone else, but from my perspective the site is a total loss.

 
As I started rebuilding links I noticed something .. interesting. Something which completely made me feel like an idiot. Apparently all this time I was checking the site rankings for the wrong keyword phrase. Clearly I was #1 for a phrase but it was not the phrase I was aiming for originally. And all this time I just assumed I somehow got a niche that sounded good in theory, but in fact isn’t. After checking my rankings for the right keyword phrase I saw I’m around 40 something. This clearly explains the low amount of traffic I get… and still not so bad considering I eliminated a large portion of its backlinks in an antagonizing way to the search engines.

 
So no total loss. Back to building backlinks, I restored all the ads, added multiple affiliate offers (more than I had before) and starting tracking the right statistics now.

 
This emphasizes the importance of doing things meticulously. Although I usually pride myself on being very thorough, I’m only human too. I’m at least glad to see that it means this site is not a total loss and may yet prove to be quite a good one!

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The Wannabe Guru

The Wannabe Guru

I just returned today from the Lightweight Startups meetup. Overall, an excellent meetup, though frankly, our 202 Affiliate meetup is much better (not to mention the fact that we win free items every time). During the meetup I noticed that the attendees tend to be very different from those who attend our affiliate meetups, who in turn, are quite different from the people who attend the tech meetups (which I occasionally attend as well). It is then that I realized that I’ve attended enough affiliate meetups to be able to categorize affiliate marketers into several distinct groups. Ah, a challenge! I’ve decided to do so in this blog post.

 
Note that if you’re not an affiliate marketer, you may not understand what I’m talking about, though I’m sure you’ll see some analogies to a domain you are familiar with. We are dealing with human nature here, so the same/similar patterns will emerge in various circumstances.

 
Let’s begin. I’ll start with the lowest of the low.

 
The Newbie: he comes to the meetup with bewilderment in his eyes. Someone told him that he could make tons of money very quickly, and he wants to know how. Sometimes he knows a bit (“you can advertise on Google with CPO, right?”) and sometimes he knows virtually nothing. Usually despite the best efforts to help him all you can really say is “take a good class or do a lot of reading on the subject, as you need to be familiar with the basics before you can do anything productive”.

 
The Struggling Affiliate: usually this type knows his stuff but hasn’t had great success so far. It might be because he doesn’t know some crucial bit of information, or he simply hasn’t gotten his lucky break yet. Sometimes he admits this, sometimes by talking enough with him you’ll be able to tell.

 
The successful affiliate: you can recognize this type by the calm assurance he handles the meetup and the occasional slip-up of large expenses he mentions. You can also tell that he is generally not interested in either the Newbie or the Struggling Affiliate because they have nothing that he needs (he may throw a bone in their direction, but nothing beyond that).

 
The Bullshitter: this type of affiliate has done it all and made a lot of money. He won’t say anything specific. Just that he’s done PPC, SEO, Media Buys, PPV, on all the affiliate networks, and promoted all the hot products (he can name every single one as if his life depended on it). He also knows all the gurus, every single one (he’s been to Gauher’s house and is fact the godfather of his child!). Yet when you really try to get some facts from him, you see that his knowledge is skin deep and basically what he does best is talk. One final bit: the bullshitter knows he’s a bullshitter. He’s not self deluded.

 
The super affiliate: a super affiliate is what we all aspire to be. Those are the guys that make the big bucks. From my experience, the real super affiliate tend to be rather shy about it (“I do well” they answer when asked), and in fact, that’s how I usually recognize them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t super affiliates that are the bragging type, there’s definitely a lot of those.

 
The Guru: I’ve met only a handful of those, but these are the legendary people. We all know their names. We all get emails from them. We all know who they hang with. They’re gurus, and they’ve earned this status. Usually they don’t come to meetups unless they’re invited to give a talk. Why should they? They don’t need to anymore. They’re beyond that. We all bask in their glory. If you look really hard, you’ll be able to see that some have a green aura around their heads (because of all the money they have, you see).

 
The wannabe Guru: the wannabe guru is a successful affiliate (possibly a super affiliate) that genuinely believes he is a guru and constantly talks about this, how much money he’s made, and how his life is the life of a rock star. But when you do some research he can never be found online! How mysterious! And no one knows his name! This type is easy to recognize because he talks more than everyone else, usually about how successful he is. The nice thing about the wannabe gurus is that there’s no chance they will ever read this post. Their time is too valuable to waste on mere blog posts (let alone from someone as lowly as myself – wait a moment, everyone are lowly to the wannabe guru, except for other gurus perhaps). Why waste their time when they could be hanging out with President Obama, Bono or even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (they know him too and are at times eccentric, so you never know).

 
The lackey/minion: you’ll see him hanging around whoever he thinks is higher in the ranks than he is (usually the successful affiliate, the super affiliate, the wannabe guru, or the guru). He’ll laugh at all the right moments, never interrupt mid-sentence, do whatever is asked/commanded to do. He lives to serve, all for the precious knowledge that he may gain (and who knows, he might – I’ve never been one myself so I don’t know).

 
The scammer: fortunately, I haven’t seen any of those in our meetups, though I have been in contact with some (through other means). They masquerade as gurus/super affiliates when in fact most of their income comes from scamming YOU. They do courses which are overpriced, promise the world yet offer nothing new. During the course they constantly try to pitch in offers (always with some excuse “I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but this is too good for me not to mention”) and often try to sell their own products as well, which tend to be overpriced junk. A quick visit to some of the affiliate forums will give you names, though you probably can think of some already.

 
Note that the categories are not mutually exclusive, that is, a person can be in more than one: for example, a successful affiliate may be a lackey of a super affiliate and a wannabee guru may be a bullshitter (though it’s not necessarily the case – he may truly believe he’s a guru).

 
Have I forgotten anyone? I have considered adding more types such as The Blackhatter, The Porn Affiliate, but decided this goes in a different direction to what I have in mind.

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Rewarding people who visit your blog

A quick recap of the previous post, Enticing People to Visit Your Blog: Part 1 of 2: new blogs and websites often suffer from a malady – no matter how hard the creator may work, and how talented he may be, no one visits his site. In the previous post I suggested ways of overcoming this using common sense and attitude. In this post I will cover technical methods of drawing people to your blog.

 
In general, these methods can be loosely categorized in two ways: one by allowing your blog to be more noticeable, the other is by giving your visitors a reward.

 
Although allowing your blog to be better noticed is clearly a way to attract visitors, what are the things your blog can potentially give its visitors? I can think of two major things: Link Juice (or more formally phrased: “Inbound Links”) and Publicity. So how does one enable his or her blog to do that?

 
Ok, let’s begin:

  1. DoFollow links: as I mentioned in an earlier post about DoFollow links, many users feel that commenting in a blog is an action worthy of a reward. Now, I don’t mean for this to sound like a criticism, it just that we, the users, don’t have to leave comments, so if we do make the effort and leave a comment, should we not get at least a reward (in the form of an inbound link)? I’m deliberately speaking from the users’ perspective since I am one as well (I visit other blogs). Unfortunately, Wordpress settings automatically define all comments as NoFollow links and this discourages many people from commenting at all.

     
    My recommendation: install the NoFollow Free plugin: it’ll allow you to set your commentators’ links to be DoFollow and have a lot of control in the process of doing so. This way, users are more likely to visit your blog. Yes, some will only come for the link, but it will get them to look at the blog as well, and they may like what they see. Besides, if they leave a good comment, it’s not a problem – and if they don’t, well, then just remove it – it is your blog after all.

     
    Note that in my previous post, Stephan (@ThatSwissIMGuy), raised a good question: what do we gain by getting comments? After all, they helps ‘bleed’ link juice from the site (so effectively weaken its Page Rank). Although that is true, Google really favors blogs with plenty of comments, and if you write a post that becomes popular, you’ll notice that it really helps that post’s rankings. Of course, Google hates fake comments, and I would not be surprised if it knows how to detect those (and I’m sure it knows how to detect spam comments). Interestingly, I recently read an article about a guy whose site was banned (deindexed) for using a fake comment generator. So I would strongly advise not even attempting to go down that route!

     

  2. Controlling anchor text: one problem with leaving comments on blogs is that they are associated with the name of the person who left them. Go to a typical blog, and see that every name that has a hyperlink points to a website. Although the link is useful, it would be far more effective in terms of search engine optimization if it used a good anchor text, since anchor text is hugely important when doing SEO. For example: in most blogs, if I leave a comment, the link to my site will be associated with my name, Udi Schlessinger. Although this will help me better rank for “Udi Schlessinger” when doing a Bing or a Google search, it would be so much better if I could control this anchor text, let’s say, have it be “Best Computer Games” for my computer game website (which is a site I have).

     
    KeywordLuv is a fantastic plugin that enables users to do just that – determine their anchor text. Furthermore, by searching for the text “Enter YourName@YourKeywords in the Name field to take advantage” with a keyword, users are able to find blogs/websites that use this plugin and are associated with their chosen keyword. Again, this may get your blog visited only to get a link, but if they like what they see, they’ll keep on coming – which is the goal, no?

     

  3. Advertising your blog: another very useful plugin is CommentLuv. Blogs that have this plugin installed show the name of the last post the poster has created and a link to it next to the actual comment that he left. Therefore, if you have a catchy title and leave interesting comments on other blogs, they are very likely to draw attention and consequently, visitors.

     
    Similarly to KeywordLuv, there is a search string that users can use to locate this plugin (it is not always active, but if active, it is “CommentLuv Enabled”). See below.

     

  4. Top Commentators: this is slightly more subtle but very much powerful. Some sites have a ‘Top Commentators’ bar (look to the right, this one does). Although there are several such plugins, my favorite is the ‘Top Commentators’ plugin. I used to think this is only for show, to ‘award’ individuals who leave the most comments per week/month/year with sort of a title. My opinion immediately changed when I found out one day I’m getting about 70 inbound links from a site because I was a top commentator, and my name/link appeared in every one of the blog’s pages. At first I couldn’t understand how this could be the case, but then I realized: since the ‘Top Commentators’ widget appears on every page, I got as many links as there were pages! Although some blogs disable the linking function, many do not. And even if you don’t get any link juice, the publicity alone is worth it.

     
    It is possible to find such blogs by simply searching for “Top Commentators” and your keyword of choice.

     

  5. Social media: sharing your posts in various social media sites is a sure way of getting them noticed. Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter – you can share your posts in all of them. The good thing is that there are plugins that make this a very easy task. Better yet, your visitors can do that as well if they like your post. Again, there are many plugins that do that, but my favorite is the Add to Any: Share/Bookmark/Email Button plugin.

 
The next three suggestions are also technically based, but are not plugins:

  1. Signature: many forums allow you to place a link in your profile or in a signature that appears on every post you make. Regardless of the potential for link juice this may get you, if you are an active member of the forum other users are bound to notice this and visit your website at some point. This is, obviously, true for email as well: if every email you write ends with your site’s address, then quite often you’ll notice in your site’s logs that visitors have arrived through that link.

     

  2. Videos: one sure way of getting attention is making interesting videos that advertise your site, either by actually showing its usage (through capturing the screen while you use it), by actually talking to the camera about it, or by simply including a link at the end the video. Either is a good way to advertise your blog.

     
    In addition, if you upload a video to YouTube (or other video sites) some users will look at your profile (a statistic I read said that 0.5% of the visitors do so) which can include a link to your website. Although 0.5% is not a lot, if your video becomes very popular, this becomes significant. In fact, some people offer to buy or rent popular videos for this very reason (there’s a whole online course dedicated to this method).

     

  3. Incentives: this is something I have not personally done, and most affiliate networks/individual publishers do not allow that. However, some publishers and networks are fine with it. If you give an incentive (i.e. free iPod to the 100th commentator on a specific post) and just mention it on a public forum or use Digg, you will very quickly get traffic. Of course, you’ll also need to shell out an iPod for the winner, so hopefully the post will pay for itself (using an appropriate affiliate offer that allows incentives).

 
Ok, that’s it for now. Although I can think of a few more methods, I think I’ll stop, as it is becoming a long post. Hope you find this information useful! Please let me know if you do.

 
Quick edit: I knew that installing KeywordLuv and CommentLuv would draw attention from people just looking for links. However, it seems posting this article made my site 5 times more visible. I am going to include comments as long as they contribute to the discussion, and will reject all others. I advise readers to do the same.

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