Matt Cutts gave Digg & Wikipedia a nice piece of news last week at Wordcamp 2007. During the conference Matt was offering tips on search engine marketing to WordPress bloggers and explained that Google is starting to treat underscores in URLs the same as hyphens. In the past hyphens were treated as word separators while underscores weren’t.
CNet has a good summary of the news:
One key development that Matt shared with the audience was that underscores in URLs are now (or at least very soon to be) treated as word separators by Google. That’s great news, because it historically hasn’t been that way. Back in 2005, Matt stated that Google did not view underscores in URLs as word separators. That meant that in a URL like http://www.mysite.com/iphone_review.html Googlebot couldn’t “see” the words iphone or review. Instead it read iphone_review as one word. I wouldn’t recommend targeting “iphone_review” as a keyword, as I doubt anyone will be including an underscore in their Google query.
Digg and Wikipedia are probably the largest sites that uses underscores and will see a huge increase in traffic. I’m not saying the increase in rankings for each page will be huge, far from it. However if each of Digg’s 2 million pages and Wikipedia’s 12 million pages ranks 1 place higher in the search results thats going to equate to a load of traffic.
The last thing we need is Wikipedia getting more search engine traffic.
Having had two posts from BlogStorm hit the Sphinn all time top listing I decided to add a Sphinn submission button to the bottom of all our posts on the blog and in the RSS feed.
The reason for this post is so you know what the green eight pointed star is that suddenly appeared although most of you probably recognise it.
Sphinn has sent 248 visitors so far to the two hot stories.
Starting a new website from scratch is the most difficult aspect of internet marketing. If the site is the online home of a bricks and mortar company you can normally leverage the reputation and contacts of the business as well as a large marketing budget to kick start the process. These luxuries are not usually available when we launch an affiliate site.
Choosing a niche
The golden rule is to choose something that you are passionate about or, at the very least, knowledgeable about. Ideally you should already read some of the blogs in the niche and know the names of the editors. If you try to start from scratch in an industry you know nothing about you will find it hard to build any traction.
Make sure you have browsed the marketplace at sites like Commission Junction and Trade Doubler to see what programs are available and what sort of CPA they pay.
Building the site
Unless you are good with php you probably want to start your affiliate site using WordPress. For the first few months you really don’t want to be worrying too much about monetizing the site – all you are going to be doing is link building. Make sure you have things like unique titles and meta descriptions on your pages and you really can’t go too far wrong with WordPress.
After a few months you might find you need something more flexible so you might be able to move away from WordPress or to have a mixture of normal php pages and WordPress pages on the site.
I would recommend removing date stamps from url’s as they might make visitors think your offers have expired.
To make your affiliate site appear trustworthy you need to have an eye catching logo as well as an appealing design.
If you’re using WordPress then it’s best not to worry about the design for the first few months. Download one of these themes and the site will look stunning right from the outset.
Most of the ideas you might have for your affiliate site have probably been done before. Unless something is truly revolutionary it is very unlikely that you will achieve any press coverage. A new website for your local shop might be able to get a mention and a link from some local websites but this won’t happen for your affiliate site so you need to think slightly differently.
Try ideas such as offering awards to various businesses or reviews of products and services. Many companies have press sections on their websites where they link to sites that mention them. You will need to appear very authoritative to pull this off.
Assuming you have added some useful tools and a blog to your site and chose your niche wisely it should be quite straightforward to launch a linkbaiting campaign. Adding some cool content and tools to the website and promoting them everywhere you can in the first few months will dramatically reduce the time it takes for your site to rank and you will reap the benefits of having a solid, natural link profile.
If you have chosen a niche full of interesting products you need to use images of the products in your pages and blog posts. The use of images makes your site appear legitimate and encourages buyers. Images also allow you to get lots of traffic and links using Google Images.
It’s much harder to use images to your advantage in niches such as insurance or mortgages so you might need to consider this when deciding.
Adding your affiliate links
Until you add some affiliate links your site probably just looks like a normal WordPress blog. The key thing to remember is that until you start getting traffic from the search engines you won’t make much money from affiliate marketing so you may as well not include the links.
People who find your site via social networks and RSS feed readers are far less likely to want a new mortgage than the user who typed in “new mortgage” into Google.
The key with affiliate marketing is to pass your links through redirects to make them look like normal links. This results in more clicks from your human visitors as well as making sure Google doesn’t see that your site is full of affiliate links. Luckily there is a good WordPress plugin for adding and tracking your affiliate links.
Where to put your links
If you fill your pages with affiliate links the visitor will probably not click on any of them. I recommend using a couple of links per page along with some “Buy Now” buttons. Keep testing the layouts, click rates and bounce rates to see what works well for your site. My favourite trick is to add an affiliate link such as “Top Sellers” in your navigation bar.
If the affiliate program you are promoting only sells products to US residents you are not going to earn any commission from people in the UK. The solution is to install something like the Maxmind IP to Country database for $50. This allows you to send US visitors to your standard affiliate program and foreign visitors to another.
If you can’t find an appropriate place to send the visitors simply use the Auction Ads Url Converter to send the traffic via Auction Ads to eBay.
Make it look real
If you want to sell gadgets, for example, it really helps your conversion rates if your site looks like a gadget shop. Visit the leading retailers in your niche and make sure your site is laid out like theirs. Most users are still new to blog layouts and prefer to be faced with a standard online shop. You need to strike a balance between appearing too commercial and struggling to attract links and losing conversions because your site looks like a blog.
Good news for lots of bloggers this week, we are all about to get a massive boost in our (totally meaningless) Alexa Rankings.
The reason for this boost is that Alexa have just released a Firefox version of their toolbar called Sparky. Previously the toolbar was only available for IE which meant that only people so determined to boost their rank that they would use IE could use it.
Now there is a version for Firefox there will be thousands of webmasters installing the toolbar and we will all get sub 10,000 rankings.
Obviously this won’t mean anything but its nice to know the reason your rankings suddenly changed.
A new blogging network is launching today called LaunchTags.
The site appears to allow users to create their own blogs in return for a revenue share.
As anyone who has tried to make money using Squidoo will confirm, this model simply doesn’t work. If you want to blog you need to create a unique site on your own domain, not rely on somebody else.
Some of the problems with creating pages on Squidoo are that Digg banned all Squidoo pages and then put them on the auto-bury list and Google recently gave them a massive ranking drop. How much would you lose if you are denied traffic from Google and Digg?
Promoting your blog is hard enough without having to worry about Digg and Google penalizing you for the actions of other people.
If you really can’t afford a domain then write some quality content on blogspot, get some readers and then ask a sponsor to pay the $5 for your domain in return for some advertising.
Google has today announced a new message center section of Webmaster Central so they can communicate with webmasters.
I logged in to my account just now to see what Google has to say. Maybe they would have something interesting to tell me, like how long my mortgage sites will be sandboxed.
Anyway I don’t have any messages, has anyone else got a message? What does it say?
Have you ever opened up your Google Reader account or personalized Google Hompage and spotted a feed that you didn’t remember subscribing to? If you have then it might have been due to a security issue with the way Google handles RSS subscription requests.
Clicking on the subscribe using Google button on most blogs takes you to a page saying “Google offers two different ways to keep up-to-date with your favorite sites” with the option to click on either “Add to Google homepage” or “Add to Google Reader”.
You can see it in action by clicking on the button below (don’t worry, this won’t auto-subscribe you to anything):
The problem is that unscrupulous websites can copy the links to Add to Google homepage or Add to Google Reader and open them up in an IFRAME for every visitor, meaning that anybody who visits their website while signed in to a Google account will suddenly have subscribed to the RSS feed on both Google Reader and the Google homepage automatically.
All a site needs to do is add the following code to their pages, replacing the blogstorm feed with their own feed, and they get a bunch of new readers.
<iframe width="1" height="1" border="0" scrolling="0"
<iframe width="1" height="1" border="0" scrolling="0"
It is worth noting that none of the other RSS readers I tested had this vulnerability.
If you want to see the security issue in action, and are signed into your Google account, click this link. Please be aware that this will auto subscribe you to the BlogStorm RSS feed so if you don’t want to know about internet marketing and general web design related topics you might want to be careful.
Why would somebody want to do this?
Now most of you are saying “Why would a blogger want to get readers in this way?”
Well, there are two answers. The first is simple: blogs like to show off a large number of Feedburner subscribers so if you have no morals, a low quality blog and want lots of subscribers, this is the way to get them.
The second is a bit more sneaky. Imagine you are doing some affiliate marketing, what is the most valuable piece of real estate on the web? Where would huge corporations pay millions per day to get an advert? The answer is right below the search box on the Google homepage.
With this exploit thousands of people could suddenly see your best offers plastered right underneath the Google search box that they use hundreds of times per week. Some people will just assume Google put them there, many will trust Google’s recommendation and buy the products.
I wonder how long this will take to get fixed?
Today is the last day that webmasters can use the old Google Analytics interface.
In case you haven’t quite found your way around the new interface I wanted to remind readers about the Google Analytics tutorial we released last month as well as the second part where we answered your questions.
If there are any more questions, now is the time to ask!
Over the past year my websites have had the good fortune to be mentioned on a lot of very high traffic blogs. The likes of Engadget, Gizmodo, CrunchGear, TechCrunch are some of the larger ones but since BlogStorm launched it has attracted links from loads of search related blogs around the 1,000 to 10,000 RSS reader mark.
The thing that always amazes me is the low level of traffic that blogs can send you. For instance Engadget has 600,000 RSS readers and normally sends about 1,000 visitors, TechCrunch has 250,000 readers and sends about 2,000 visitors, even when they write an entire post about your site.
Some of the search blogs that have linked to BlogStorm have thousands of readers and only sent a handful of visitors.
I know you are probably thinking that most people read these blogs using RSS readers but that would still cause a spike in traffic from people clicking through from their reader.
Obviously I love receiving any amount traffic and links but it just goes to show that just because a blog has 600,000 readers it doesn’t mean they actually read it, the only way to judge the real readership is by looking at the number of comments each post is getting.
People are always talking about bloggings A-list but I still haven’t been able to figure out a clear definition. I’m pretty sure there is an RSS subscriber threshold that you have to cross before you make the A list.
My guess is that on average, any blogger with more than 10,000 RSS subscribers is probably A list. What do you think? Is this the best way to measure a blogs success? Are you an A-list blogger?
In tribute to the amazingly popular icanhascheezburger.com, which, in spite of failing the “can people type my domain name into the address bar” test, is serving half a million page views each day, I’ve complied a lolcats SEO edition. Enjoy!
Don’t worry – until this morning I didn’t know what lolcats were either.
Yesterday I was trying to take advantage of the Favourite blogs meme run by Mashable.
Mashable were displaying a Google Blog Search widget to show all posts linking to this post on their site. Mashable has loads of readers so I figured if BlogStorm could be the first one listed in Google Blog Search I would be onto a winner.
Under the Publicize tab in Feedburner there is a service called PingShot which notifies various services when you post. I have 5 additional services including the Google blog search pinging service listed so whenever I publish a post Feedburner pings a bunch of sites to tell them.
Feedburner also offers a pinging service of their own so you can tell them when you post.
Google is fast!
Armed with these tools I published the post, pinged Feedburner, Feedburner pinged Google and I sat back, waited a few seconds and started refreshing Google Blog Search to see how long it would take to get indexed.
This is the cool part, the blog post was indexed in Google in about a minute. I don’t know exactly how long but it was less than a minute. Pretty cool, huh?
Was it a fluke?
Tonight I published another post and tried again. This time it took just 120 seconds to be indexed in Google Blog Search. I took some screenshots below.
How fast can you get your blog posts indexed? Maybe some of you could take screen capture videos and we can see who is the fastest?
Latest from B3Labs
- Another milestone reached for Branded3 as it’s acquired by the
St Ives Group
- The latest media consumer findings & what they mean for digital marketers
- Talk to Branded3 at @BuyYorkshire in Leeds next week!
Latest from Blogstorm
- Watch @Tim_Grice talk all things Penguin 2.0 in June’s #B3Brunch
- Content can kill your site: How to fix it
- Search expert @Tim_Grice talks Penguin 2.0 in a G+ Hangout this Thursday