Thursday, December 29, 2005

Affiliate Marketing and eBay

This is an idea I've played with for a while. Suppose you were an affiliate for some kind of product that costs money, but isn't something that is often sold at a discount or sold used. Like a magazine subscription, for example, or herbal hangover pills.

And suppose you put auctions for that product up on eBay. And the person who buys it sends you the money through Paypal, then you log in through your affiliate link, make the purchase on the customer's behalf, have it shipped to the customer, then make your money on the backend commission.

Is this a potentially useful affiliate model? Has anyone tried this?

It's not something I have personal experience with. I'm just wondering about other folks who aren't interested in building content websites but want to make some affiliate revenue. This might be a viable, if work-intensive, business model.

Content Ideas

Published an article at Poker Affiliate World about getting ideas for content based on the time of year. While the article is specifically aimed at content development for poker webmasters, the principles apply to any other niche you might target, like credit cards, mortgages, etc.

Google Search Tricks

Best information about Google Search Tricks I've found yet. I learned some new ones that I didn't already know today. Thanks, Graywolf.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Favorite Blog Posts in 2005

I'm going to list the my favorite blog posts I've read this year, the ones that were most helpful to me in running my website businesses. This is an entirely personal list, and might even leave some blog posts out, but it's been a long year. Anyway, if these posts are helpful to you in your affiliate marketing career, then I'll have done something worthwhile this year:

1. How Does Google Collect and Rank Results?

This isn't a blog post, but it was pointed out to me in a blog post from Aaron Wall's excellent SEO blog. I consider myself a reasonably successful search engine marketer, but this article gave me a new perspective on how the search engine process works. One of the best things that Aaron does with his SEO book and blog is increase the amount of context from which you're doing your SEO work in. It reminds me of Charlie Munger's investing approach. He uses a variety of mental models that combine to make you a better search engine marketer, instead of going into a lot of detail about how many links you need and how to do keyword research.

2. How Not to Pick Out a Domain Name

Great post from Aaron again, about how bad some of the domain names are out there, and how to avoid making the same mistakes when buying your own domain name. Can you brand an affiliate website? Hell yeah. (My answer, not Aaron's, but that's why it's relevant to this post.)

3. 10 Tips for Training a Link Developer

This is especially useful in a way that the author never intended. It's useful for learning how to do your own link development. Last night an affiliate marketer I know asked me for advice about one of his sites, and how to improve the conversions there. I told him that I'm pretty much a two-trick pony, and the only advice I ever give is "get more links and write more content". That formula is pretty simple: links + content = traffic. More traffic = more conversions. The post above will help you with the links part of the equation.

4. Content Creation Ideas

If the formula for success in this industry is links + content = search engine traffic, then item # is essential reading for the links advice. But Jim Boykin's post about creating content is pure gold for the content creation advice. I don't have a single site that I couldn't use his list of ideas on, at least a good portion of it.

5. Writing Content

Darren Rowse has a whole category of posts devoted to writing content, and I've included a link to the category here, because I think it's so important. Great stuff in this section, especially this post: 20 kinds of blog posts.

6. Don't Hate on Reciprocal Links

I've learned more from Andy Hagans and Aaron Wall this year than from any other bloggers. Andy's post about reciprocal links is excellent, and it explains exactly what are good and bad reciprocal links clearly. Andy's a BIG fan of one-way links, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a post from him defending reciprocal links.

7. Optimal Titles SEO Case Study

This post taught me how to get down and dirty about testing my theories and assumptions regarding what the search engines like and don't like. In terms of putting together a testing methodology, the post above, along with these posts are essential reading:

Push those search engine experiments past their normal boundaries.

That about wraps it up, except for a link to one post I made about a poker blogger's post here: The Ultimate Secret to Making Money with Affiliate Programs. It's the best thing I wrote all year, and the post that inspired it, The Ultimate Secret to Winning Poker, was the single best thing I read all year. (My post was actually good enough to get linked to from Aaron's SEO blog, which made my entire year.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Your Only Asset

I'm reading a book about Warren Buffett right now, and one of the points made in the book is one that I've heard before, but had forgotten. The book describes what Buffett explains to his managers about how to run their individual businesses.

Buffett tells the managers of his businesses to treat that business as if they owned it. And not only that, but he also asks them to treat the business as if it were the only asset that person would ever own, and the only asset his family would own, for the next 100 years. Then act accordingly.

How would your website change if you took that attitude toward building it? If your website, or your affiliate marketing business, were literally the only asset you could use to provide for your family for the next 100 years, what improvements would you make? What would you get rid of?

Here are some things I would (and should) do:
  • Write better content.
  • Write more content.
  • Spend more money when I hire writers to write content for me.
  • Have higher expectations of writers I've hired.
  • Proofread and edit my content more thoroughly.
  • Be more careful about how I pick and choose my link partners.
  • Look more closely at the potential ROI when determining a niche to target.
  • Design my site with a long term view.
  • Learn CSS better.
  • Learn html better.
  • Have a professional designer set me up with a real logo.

Content + links.

Quality counts. For both content and links, and when I say quality links, I mean inbound AND outbound links.

It's simple, but not easy. As a friend of mine mentioned on a forum the other day, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Joel Comm Adsense Ebook Review - Google Adsense Secrets

I'm never sure what to expect when I buy and read a new ebook. Sometimes I come across something so completely crappy that I'm just horrified that I gave my money to the author. And sometimes I think holy crap I wish I had written that, or something half as good. Most of the time I just yawn and think that I wish I had the work ethic required to actually put together something mediocre and do the work required to make the money from it.

But the other night, after reading The Lazy Pig, which was dreadful, I decided to pick up a copy of Joel Comm's Google Adsense ebook, Adsense Secrets, and I was pleasantly surprised and filled with ideas after reading it. I'll admit (and I think Joel Comm would also admit) that much of this information is now readily available in various blogs and forums about marketing now, BUT he puts the info together in an interesting way, and in a way that makes you want to actually go implement it.

His explanations of the Google Adsense program and how it works are clear and appropriate for any complete neophyte, but the real value from the book comes from the case studies and the example websites he shares. So many ebooks provide terrible examples that you would be foolish to follow, and they don't share any of their legitimate websites for fear of creating additional competition. Comm's Adsense ebook is refreshingly different in this respect, and he shares his own URL's and several other people's URL's. And all of the examples have done beautiful jobs of integrating Google Adsense with their own content.

Joel Comm is the real deal by the way. He was behind a website called, which later was purchased by Yahoo and became Yahoo Games.

Ad Rants and Viral Marketing Stuff

A blogger friend of mine pointed out this blog to me today: Ad Rants. It's a thing of beauty. That's what I told him via instant messenger, and that's what I'm now telling you here in the privacy of my own blog.

I posted on one of my other blogs this morning that spammy blog comments suck. Heaven help me, but maybe I'm becoming a "real" blogger.

Anyway, you can probably think of 1000 ways to make use of the cool stuff talked about over at Ad Rants to help you brainstorm your own viral marketing ideas without help from me. I just wanted to point out how cool it was.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Lazy Pig Ebook Review

Don't buy an ebook called The Lazy Pig. It's about 40 pages long, and the content is almost all available from reading almost any forum about affiliate marketing, Google Adsense, or any web marketing forum. And some of the advice in the ebook is just plain bad.

The Lazy Pig is also full of recommendations for products to help you get started with your "turn $1 into $85" business venture. These are almost always affiliate links which earn the author commission, which makes the recommedations suspect to begin with. And I've used some of the PPC engines recommended in The Lazy Pig, and I can honestly say I wouldn't recommend them to any webmaster I'd like to remain friends with or retain any credibility with.

I was not impressed with The Rich Jerk, but it was a better ebook than The Lazy Pig. But if you're really interested in reading an ebook or two that will help you make some money online, I'll recommend three:
  • James Martell's Affiliate Marketers Handbook
  • Aaron Wall's SEO Book
  • Planet Ocean's Unfair Advantage to Winning the Search Engine Wars

And if you want to learn how to make money using Adsense, you can find plenty of good information on any decent Adsense forum or blog. Jensense is a particularly good blog about Google Adsense.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Estimating Daily Visitors Via Alexa

When I was a hard-working affiliate manager, we were always trying to estimate how much traffic a particular website was receiving, because we were obviously interested in how much traffic they could send our affiliate program. If you're an affiliate who buys advertising, or if you're just trying to set benchmarks for your site, you can now estimate how much unique traffic a website gets via their Alexa ranking.

If you're familiar with Alexa, you probably already realize that it doesn't give you anything besides a ranking of how much traffic you get compared to other sites. And you're probably also aware that it isn't particularly accurate. But it's still not a bad tool for setting benchmarks, and if your Alexa rating is improving, that's probably a good thing.

Anyway, here's a tool for converting Alexa ranking into traffic.

Britney Spears - How Many Ways Can You Spell Britney Spears?

Sometimes I get interested in what phrases on the internet get a lot of search traffic. I'm toying with the idea of launching some kind of site that focuses on nothing but extremely high-volume search terms, somethine along the lines of my own personal Zeitgeist site.

Today I was checking out the Lycos 50, then taking a look at some of the sites in the search results at Google for searches on those hot terms, and I came across an interesting SERP from Google. I did a search for Britney Spears, and one of the results was a page from Google showing all the different misspellings of Britney Spears name that they had seen in the last couple of months.

Could someone use this page to develop a keyword list that could be used to drive traffic to Adult FriendFinder or MrSkin's affiliate program, for example? I think they could.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Must Reading from Graywolf's Blog

This post about Predictive SEO is one of the best search engine optimization posts I've seen in ages. I haven't posted here much lately, but when I see something this good, I want to make sure that I say something about it here.