Displaying All Posts by Andre Kibbe

The Netsetter: Are You Avoiding the Content Farm Stigma?

Last month, Google rolled out a change in its ranking algorithm that has come to be known as the “Farmer Update” — a reference to the so-called “content farms” that Google has put in the crosshairs. Not surprisingly, the algorithm change was more than a little controversial. Many observers pointed out collateral damage supposedly done to more legitimate sites, while other critics charged Google with allegedly singling out individual domains.

While I think the latter is a conspiracy theory, I do have access to the analytics of a number of large sites (200K to 1.5M pageviews per month), and the rankings drop in the sites that were hit hardest did seem to drop unilaterally, while the sites with minimal damage seemed to lose rankings on a page-by-page basis. How can you protect your site from being flagged as a content farm, regardless of whether or not it is? I don’t pretend to know Google’s algorithm, but I can offer some educated guesses.
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The Netsetter: Reviewing Ad Spending for Competitive Intelligence

You don’t always have to look at what your competition’s doing to be successful, but there are times when it makes sense. You might already have a website that’s plateaued in some way. It might get lots of traffic that doesn’t convert, or you might have a site that’s absolutely adored by a small audience that needs to grow by an order of magnitude.

Or you could still be in the stages of selecting a product or service to market, and you’re finding it hard to distinguish those that generate buzz from those that generate sales. Whether you’ll looking to increase your traffic, conversion rate, or your revenue, the simplest way to get actionable data is to look at your actual or prospective competitors’ performance, and model it. Let’s look at a couple of simple ways to check out the competition.

Look at Ad Spending

Just because certain products and services are widely offered doesn’t mean they’re actually selling. In the brick-and-mortar world, you can tell which kinds of restaurants do well by just looking at their customer turnout, but websites don’t volunteer their sales information. So how do you know if they’re making money?

Regular ad spending is a quick way to gauge how much money’s on the table. If a website is spending an average of $20 a day on AdWords, you can reasonably assume that it’s at least breaking even. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to advertise at a loss.

I just looked up “solar power systems” in the Google Keyword Tool, which reported 3600 local searches per month. Each click would cost me $3.61 if I were to advertise using PPC. So if I wanted to drive traffic to a sales page for a some solar power system products as an affiliate, would it be worth the advertising cost?
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The Netsetter: Web Pages vs. Web Sites

A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to explain to a friend why links from high PageRank sites is often overrated. When he then insisted that I was contradicting advice I had given him earlier, I was confused for a moment, until he gave me a concrete example.

“Didn’t you say that a link from a high PageRank site like HubPages or Squidoo was better than a link from a low PR site?”

I finally understood his confusion. It wasn’t what I said, but what he heard. Whenever I talk about “web pages”, people hear “web sites” and assume the two are synonymous. You might think that going over this distinction (which I’ve alluded to in earlier posts) is splitting hairs, but it actually does matter for link building and content development.

Pages Matter More Than Sites

Links point to individual web pages, not sites. Google results list individual web pages, not sites. Occasionally, Google will list a site’s home page as a search result, but the result itself is for that page specifically, not a referral to the site as a whole. These facts are pretty obvious when stated plainly, but they’re easy to lose site of when listening to some SEO theorists.
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How to Choose a Search Friendly Domain Name

Choosing a domain name should never be allowed to become a stumbling block for launching your blog or business. While it’s easy to go wrong with domain name selection, a bad choice is almost never catastrophic, unlike failure to take action. As with most things in life, making a decision work is more important than making the right decision.

There are two basic approaches to picking a name for your site. You can either focus on branding, or focus on keywords. If you take the branding route, you don’t need much help from me—you know the product or subject you’re trying to promote better than I do, assuming you know enough to create a website about it. That’s more of an art than a science. On the other hand, if you want to go for a keyword optimized domain name, there’s a more deterministic way to pick the best one available.
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The Netsetter: Legitimate Ways to Get Backlinks

SEO can be made as complicated as quantum physics, but the reality is much simpler. While there may indeed be the oft-cited “200 ranking factors,” anyone with experience knows deep down that backlinks are the lynchpin to scaling the heights of Google. However clever your keyword selection and copywriting are, there’s no getting around the fact that you need more links, stronger links, or more relevant links pointed back at your content than the next guy’s.
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The Netsetter: My Favorite Keyword Research Tools, Part 2

The previous two keyword research tools I covered were extremely powerful for finding keywords and checking their competitiveness on a large scale. They allow you to accomplish in hours what would amount to days or weeks of checking by hand.
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The Netsetter: My Favorite Keyword Research Tools, Part 1

You don’t need fancy tools to find good keywords. I can and have done all of my keyword research at times with nothing but the good old Google AdWords Keyword Tool and a couple of free browser extensions. That said, there are a few industrial strength keyword discovery and analysis tools that allow you to process thousands of keywords in the time it would take to review dozens by hand. We’re going to look at the first two of the half dozen tools I use on a daily basis.
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The Netsetter: Tackling Competitive Markets

A lot of prospective Internet marketers preemptively concede highly competitive niche markets to super affiliates and A-listers without testing the market for themselves. They either dismiss a competitive market out of hand, because they’re told it’s “too competitive,” or get scared away by their own keyword research, which may not have been extensive enough. You actually want to go after highly competitive markets, for the same reason people rob banks—because that’s where the money is.
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