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The Industry Review

One Guy's Thoughts On Technology, Social Media, Internet Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, and more


Tag: Traffic


Contests are a really useful way of drawing traffic and attention to a site. They can be used to launch a product, a site, a television show… You, of course, know all this since so many companies utilize them in order to get subscriptions, feedback, reviews, tweets, whatever. They gain potentially a very large amount of publicity (at times) for a small amount of money.

But let’s disregard that. I think contests are fun. I’ve won a handful during my lifetime and that was always exciting (even if I didn’t want the prize).

The very first ‘modern’ site I created is a book and movie review site (I’m not considering the sites I created in the mid 90s nor the eCommerce-type sites I created for work). This site is still up and running – it’s the site I put the most effort into, but, unfortunately, is practically abandoned. The problem is that even though it has quite a lot of dedicated followers (and a Facebook group), it is simply not worth the time I put into it: no ad or any form of monetization seemed to work and I just couldn’t afford working on it.

At the time I thought of running weekly contests. I never finalized the details, but I thought of sending a book (of choice) to the person who will write the most interesting book review, which I could use. I thought it would be a good way of getting content, even if somewhat expensive, but more importantly, it would be fun! BUT I was too busy so I never did it.

Several conversations I had recently made me feel like running such a contest again. This time, here, on my blog. However, I am still unsure about the details. Nor am I sure I want to go ahead with it.

I figured, why not use the blog itself to get answers to my dilemma? At the moment I’m considering that in order to participate in the contest a person will have to:

  • Sign up to my blog newsletter (he can always unsubscribe later).
  • Tweet about the contest
  • Leave a comment that he’s signed up
  • And that sort of thing. Nothing that requires any effort or commitment.

In exchange, I’ll help the winner get 3,000 followers – actually, almost certainly more – in about 10-12 days (I don’t want to commit myself to a certain number of days because this largely depends on the starting point: a brand new user is definitely harder). If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably know I’m pretty good at getting many followers, and quickly too ;)

For some people this might be trivial. For others uninteresting – many people don’t want more followers. However, I know people who both want more followers but don’t know how to get them. Often they are “stuck” at the 2,000 Twitter follower barrier.

A friend of mine said that people might think there’s a catch. No catch. The thing I will gain is potentially more traffic to this blog and have fun. Furthermore, it would involve some work on my end; I wish I could wave a wand and make an account suddenly have 3,000 extra followers – but I’m not Ashton Kutcher, you know (for me he’ll always be the king of Twitter! You hear this, Britney??). Also, obviously I’d need to know the user’s password to arrange this, but he/she can change it every day and let me know, whatever. I truly don’t care.

If people think this is a good idea, I’d also need to determine a way to pick the winner. Could be random, could be another criteria, like, coming up with the funniest Twitter Jail joke (a trend I began at the time!). Frankly, I’m undecided.

Is this ‘prize’ worth it? You tell me. Let me know your thoughts. I really like the idea of running a contest but as I said, still fine-tuning the details. I only want to do this if other people think this could be fun too.


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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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ad tech new york 2009

As I wrote in my previous post which dealt with my personal experiences at ad:tech, I set up quite a lot of meetings with companies who contacted me. This turned out to be a very positive experience because many – if not most – would’ve been companies that I would’ve been interested in chatting with anyway, so rather than me having to chase them, a meeting was set up with allocated time. I never played the journalist until this conference but really enjoyed this.

Here are some of the companies I met with. The vast majority were very relevant to what I currently do or my background, but not all were. Those I felt I have nothing to write about I omitted.

If anyone spots any mistakes I’ve made – which is possible, since I didn’t take notes but rather counted on the brochures I diligently collected, please do let me know!

2ergo has a technology that enables conducting marketing campaigns on mobile platforms. Interestingly, this strongly resonates with a session I attended the next day (which I’ll describe in the next post) that says teens prefer SMS texting to any medium, really: email, chat, etc. Although I (currently) don’t do anything that involves mobile advertising I can’t help but think that maybe I can utilize this somehow.

BurstMedia: my first question to Jarvis Coffin of BurstMedia is “what does your motto ‘Discover the Long Tail’ mean?”. His response was that they specialize in niche websites – even those that focus on extremely specific subjects. They own a large network of niche sites and enable very targeted advertising on these sites. An example he gave me – and I don’t remember the exact site – was something along the lines of Apparently this site, despite the fact it’s extremely nichy, not only gets traffic, but a very respectable amount as well. Quite surprised me! This is useful both for potential publishers as well as potential advertisers.

I’m thinking of submitting my, ehm, nichiest site there, which gets very decent traffic but monetizes very poorly.

measuring success

Elephant Traffic: although I’m very familiar with the concept of domain parking, which refers to domains that are not actively used but rather instead show relevant ads, Elephant Traffic tackles it in a rather unusual method – by simply taking the search query from a search engine and matching it to a parked domain. i.e. if someone searches for “buying toothbrushes” they’ll take him to a domain they park (this is a made up example – I doubt they have this domain). This offers very cheap and yet very targeted traffic – since it is extremely likely that those who type search query this would in fact be interested in buying toothbrushes. Again, very useful for both potential advertisers and publishers.

I liked the concept and think I’ll attempt to use it from both ends: both use some of the domains I’m not using with them (unfortunately for me there are about 30 of those!) – and also explore getting some of their traffic for the offers I promote.

eZanga is another one of those companies that I would’ve gone to talk to regardless of my being press or not. They are offer a PPC search platform that enables high quality, high volume, traffic for competitive prices. Definitely on my list (for a while, actually) of companies to try.

Looksmart is a second tier PPC search engine network that offers competitive prices. Second tier refers to the fact that they are not Google, Yahoo or Bing. I was actually familiar with Looksmart before I spoke to them and heard good things – though I’ve never used them myself. I definitely intend to give them a shot. Until now, the only second tier PPC search engine that I liked has been 7search (and I still want to kick myself for forgetting to visit their booth!)

As a side note: From what I heard – and sadly, based on my own experience as well – many of the second tier search engines offer really low quality traffic (and often fraudulent traffic – traffic that never converts).

geo targeting

MyPRGenie enables submitting your own press releases. The cool thing is they offer many free yet still useful services. There are, of course, paid subscriptions which offer more, but for the starting entrepreneur this could be very useful.

Netezza was different from other companies I spoke to in the sense that what they do is not really relevant for me now, but would’ve been tremendously relevant for me in the past. They offer a hardware implementation of a data warehousing relational database (such as Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL, Sybase, etc). As you can imagine, this offers a significant performance boost (if I recall correctly – and I may not remember correctly – a boost that offers 100 times speed performance). I was really surprised to hear such a technology existed let alone utilized as this could have been extremely useful for me in my last workplace (I worked at a hedge fund and our major bottleneck was analyzing data – even a 5 time speed boost would’ve been significantly useful for us). I can think of three of my friends that can benefit from this technology and might have not heard of it, so will let them know.


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How Accurate is Alexa?

Alexa is an internet service that by using a toolbar that is installed on a large number of people’s browsers, is able to collect a lot of information on internet sites. Since the claim is this statistical sample is large enough to make statistically significant statements, Alexa theoretically can be used to accurately measure traffic of most (if not all) internet websites.

The lower the traffic rank score, the more popular the site is and the more traffic it gets. For example, I just checked Google’s traffic rank and it is 1. I tend to believe this is accurate and Google is the most popular website in the world. Bing is ranked at 19. Of course, it can’t be 100% accurate since not all internet users in the world have Alexa installed, but the claim is that it’s accurate. And with a large enough base of users that accurately represent the collective behaviors of internet users (this is pretty important!) it should be true (this is the same problem faced by people who conduct polls – to get a sample that represents that the population demographics).

I noticed that with some of my sites, Alexa seems to estimate traffic pretty accurately However, with others, it is completely and utterly wrong. For example, my most popular site – quite a niche site admittedly – yet one that has been able to get a very decent daily number of visitors and two page 1 Google rankings, is assigned an extremely bad traffic rank of ~5,000,000! This is far from accurate. The mentioned site gets at least 3-5 times as much traffic as this blog, yet has a far, far worse rank. And this blog is barely a month and a half old.

The answer to this question is simple: the ‘average’ user does not visit my mentioned website as much. However, isn’t the claim that Alexa’s user base is large enough to be able to give a good indicator? And if that is not the case, how can we trust its rankings for anything except for the most popular/mainstream websites, really?

My goal in this post has not been to analyze the pros and cons of Alexa, but more to pose an open question to readers: How has been your experience with Alexa rankings? And if it’s been accurate (in your opinion), is your site big/small, on a popular subjects/niche topics, targeted to a specific demographic/worldwide? I am just curious in trying to get a better understanding for this.

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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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