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Tag: SERPs

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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SEO for Bing, Yahoo and Google

With all that’s going on these days in the search engine arena, I believe it’s particularly important to try to optimize sites not just for Google but for other search engines as well (which are, of course, Bing and Yahoo). The good thing is that SEO for all these search engines is rather similar. However, there are some factors that make a difference.

 
I have conducted a search online to find analysis of SEO for the various search engines. I found several excellent documents. Here’s what I found:

 
SeoWizz.net has done a conclusive analysis between Bing and Google SEO optimization. My summary is this:

  1. Google greatly values incoming links, particularly diversity, more than Bing does.
  2. Bing favors older domains.
  3. Bing favors links from pages that include your keywords in their title.

 
Inchoo.net adds that:

  1. Bing assigns more importance to the title tag than Google does.
  2. Bing favors older domains (similar conclusion to SeoWizz).
  3. Bing likes more incoming links than Google (which in fact, contradicts SeoWizz). It is possible to resolve this contradiction by not just looking at the number of backlinks but also factoring link diversity – an element Inchoo did not take into consideration (I believe).

 
SeoWizz also analyzed the difference between Yahoo and Google.

  1. Google takes into consideration meta tags whereas Yahoo does not.
  2. Google places more weight on incoming links than Yahoo does.
  3. Google assigns more importance to domain age than Yahoo (an interesting observation, considering Bing is even more extreme in that respect).
  4. SeoWizz’s conclusion is that Google is better at treating a site as a whole (i.e. a collection of pages) than Yahoo, which treats every page individually.

 

keyword rankings

This image shows rankings for several of my websites using various key phrases, for both Google (G), Yahoo (Y) and Bing (B) with a broad search. This was generated using Market Samurai, an excellent keyword research tool that can be used for a huge range of tasks, including keyword research, ranking, monetization, publishing content. Definitely the best tool in its category. It examines the top 200 results, and is sorted according to Google’s results.

 
When I look into my own site statistics, it becomes obvious the majority of my websites/phrases rank better on Google than either Bing or Yahoo. So the results are generally consistent with the reported above observations. That being said, my own experience – which was not mentioned by either of the above websites – is that Google assigns a lot of value to the site URL, much more than both Yahoo and Bing.

 
Therefore, I believe the rankings of my websites for the various search engines are currently the way they are because:

 
First, most of my sites are new to relatively new – thus, they would not be favored by Bing but would be liked by Google.

 
Second, I believe most of my sites have a rather diverse link portfolio and quite a lot of links. Again, liked by Google.

 
Third, most of my highly ranked websites are using a domain name that is heavily searched (found using keyword research tools) whereas the sites that are not well ranked are not.

 
Even this domain, Industry Review, is ranked #5 for Google for the broad key phrase ‘industry review’! And I have not done any backlinking or SEO. I think this heavily supports my conclusion.

 
That being said, there are the occasional anomalies. I can only explain those by certain Google slaps. These are actually sites that did very well at first, but suddenly drifted into the 200+ position (and have slowly improved over time).

 
It is going to be interesting to see what the new Binghoo engine is going to bring us, and how the various differences are going to be resolved. Personally, I am quite excited, as I see more opportunities than perils.

 
For additional reading:

 
http://www.seowizz.net/2009/06/bing-seo-how-does-it-differ-to-google.html

 
http://inchoo.net/online-marketing/seo-for-bing/

 
http://www.seowizz.net/2009/05/difference-between-google-seo-and-yahoo.html

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free online classes

I’ve taken my share of classes during my time. With 3 degrees it would be surprising if I didn’t, wouldn’t it?

 
When I started doing affiliate marketing, I realized there are many topics I need to learn how to tackle (PPC, Quality scores, CPA, SEO, SERPs, Traffic, Landing Pages, Keywords, Social media, Article directories, RSS feeds and the list goes on and on). None of it is rocket science, but there’s just a lot to know. I learned a lot of it on my own, but figured I may as take a shortcut in the form of a class or two – particularly since most of them have 30 to 60 day money back guarantees.

 
One thing I learned is that there is a great variation in the way the classes are being taught. I was expecting every class to be very similar in the approach taken, but it’s far from the case.

 
So here are 10 aspects I think every online class should have. If you’ve ever considering creating a class, pay attention. I classified them in three ways: Crucial (most classes actually do this), optional (can’t hurt to have), and subtle (many classes don’t do this, and yet it’s so important).

 

  1. (Crucial) Organization: Provide students a clear map of what you’re supposed to be doing every week, where you are headed, and what you’re supposed to learn. You’d be surprised how often this is not the case.

     

  2. (Crucial) Stored videos of classes: This is essential since it’s likely you’re going to miss some. I’ve actually never seen a class that doesn’t have this feature.

     

  3. (Crucial) Original content: many classes simply offer the same regurgitated content you can see elsewhere and present it as their own. Not only this is unethical, but it pretty much guarantees you’re never going to buy a class from that person again. People sometimes ask me: is affiliate marketing any good? This is one reason I sometimes find it hard to answer, because so many classes offer the same ol’ same ol’.

     

  4. (Optional) PDFs summaries of every lesson: At times, particularly a while after you’ve watched the class, it’s just easier to read a summary rather than go through an entire lecture again.

     

  5. (Optional) Bonuses: it’s nice to buy something and get a related piece material you have not paid for. Normally I would not mention this, but it almost feels standard nowadays since almost every class has this.

     

  6. (Optional) Forums: forums offer a way for you to interact with other course members who are going through the same process as you, and have similar interests. This is not crucial, but very important. Most classes I’ve participated in had a forum system.

     

  7. (Optional) Live webinars: not only the occasional live webinar gives the feeling it’s a “living” course (and not something that was created 2 years ago), but it also allows asking live questions, or examining students’ own work (such as websites).

     

  8. (Subtle) Standalone: Some classes expect you to have to buy another piece of software to successfully do the class. Sometimes this is unavoidable (like the need to register domains, etc – that’s part of the game), but other times it’s just not the case. For example, I’ve taken a class which was pretty cheap, but the lecturer kept using a software that – surprise surprise – costs more than $1,000. As far as I know, he also was involved with that piece of code as well. Since I couldn’t afford that software (nor did I want to buy it), and half the course depended on it, I ended up asking for a refund. This just feels like a cheap and dirty way to sell other items (give the course for not much, sell the tools for a lot).

     

  9. (Subtle) Availability for personal questions: When you take a university class, there are office hours, professor emails, and you can always physically approach them. Some online classes do their very best so that you will not be able to contact the lecturer. When you think about this, this is downright rude (particularly since some classes cost thousands of Dollars!) One class I took has several layers “protecting” the lecturer. I wanted to ask a personal question (inappropriate for the forums). So I had to ask support to get the lecturer’s email. They asked me to contact his personal assistant. Which I did. The assistant asked me what it’s about, so I sent my question to him – and he said he’ll relay it the lecturer. I assume he did – but after going to all this effort, I never even got a response. That’s unprofessional. Note that naturally, this was after the 30 day money back deadline passed. It makes class takers feel like the lecturer only cares for their money. In this specific case, the lecturer said in the sales pitch that he’s trying to build his brand, so he wants our testimonials once the class ends. Regardless of the quality of this content, I guarantee you this attitude would eliminate many of the positive testimonials he could’ve gotten.

     

  10. (Subtle) Availability for public questions: although this may sound identical to the previous item, it’s not. What I mean here is that there should be a way for students to post a question (to a forum or a mailing list) and for the lecturer, the authority figure, to give a definite answer. You’d think this is obvious, but many classes simply do not have this option. The lecturer is “somewhere up there”, and the people who answer comments are the other class members. Don’t forget: they’re students too and they are often wrong. This is irresponsible, and in this case the class does ill service to its students.

 
What do you think? Have you had similar experiences? Better? Worse? Please do let me know.

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