Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Keyword Report Review

I found a new service last week called The Keyword Report. This is a pretty nifty service. The company maintains a mailing list of webmasters who pay a fee to receive weekly emails with low-competition niche keyword phrases. I'm a big fan of brainstorming tools, and on any given day, there is no telling what I'm going to be interested in, so I thought I'd pony up $29/month to see what it's like.

So far I'm pretty pleased with the report. Not only are the keywords "good", but they really are non-competitive. I don't see any reason you couldn't come up with low competition keyword phrases on your own through other brainstorming techniques, but these guys have already done a lot of the work for you. They've already checked the cost per click and number of ads appearing for these phrases.

And you get the personal email of the person who publishes the report each week, and he's friendly and open with advice and information. Definitely a plus. I hate buying products with no customer support, and I love buying niche products with a personal touch.

Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool Down

I've been using the Overture keyword suggestion tool since it was the GoTo keywords tool. Sad to see that it's no longer working, and from what I can tell by searching through some blog sites, it isn't coming back. So what's a search engine marketer to do?

(Update on 2/1/2007 - Looks like reports of the Overture keyword suggestion tool's demise have been exaggerated.)

I guess it's time to take a look at some alternatives to the Overture tool. Here are a few links to keyword suggestion tools I like. Some of them are free, and some of them charge. The ones that charge usually have some type of trial offer that can be pretty useful.

A lot of keyword suggestion tools used to scrape the Overture tool, especially for looking at potential traffic information, but the traffic estimates from Overture were always wildly inaccurate anyway, so no great loss there. Also, I can't imagine that they'll go without a keyword generator forever, although they might restrict its use to advertisers. MSN Adcenter also has a keyword suggestion tool accessible from within your Adcenter account.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another Dumb Email

I'm literally speechless at some of the silly and dumb emails I receive. Here's a correspondence from today from someone who wanted to buy advertising on one of my websites:

Them: "Hi, we would like to add a 120x60 banner with a text link to your site to sponsored links. Let us know what you have available and for how much for a month. Regards,"

Me: "What site are you asking about?"

Their reply: "Heh, good question. I sent the same email to about 200 addresses...."

Needless to say, I'm not real excited or motivated about selling advertising to this outfit now. Chances are if they're that careless about how they email potential advertisers, they're also careless about who they link to. And I don't believe in nofollow links, so guess who isn't getting an ad from me?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why I'm No Good at Linkbait

I'm so bad at linkbait that I don't even recognize it when I see it.

I guess maybe I'm not good at the whole link baiting thing because I haven't practiced it very much. I've been spending a little more time at Digg lately though, so maybe I'll learn something from some of the amazing people there.

I'm not a fast learner though. Some people just absorb stuff really quick and are able to run with it, but I have to study on it until I really grok it.

Laziness as a Business Virtue

At first glance, this Lazy SEO Manifesto from Andy Hagans looks like a clever bit of SEO humor and/or linkbait, and it works on those levels, certainly. But the post is more interesting than that, because it also makes us stop to think for a minute about what is actually a business virtue here. America has a lot of people who are so into the Protestant work ethic that if someone told them it's good to be lazy, their head might explode.

On the other hand, there are plenty of lazy people who literally want to do nothing. Andy's not wanting to do nothing. He wants to do a little bit of smart work on the front end so he can avoid a bunch of hard work later, and he also wants to make sure that he makes a LOT of money for the little bit of work that he's done. (There's a big difference in that attitude than in the attitude of some hourly employees who are convinced they don't make enough money even though they actually show up on time every day. As if showing up by itself is high value.)

Andy's post also reminded me of one of Thomas Leonard's principles of attraction, Be Incredibly Selfish. Point #1 on Thomas' list was that selfishness used to have a bad name, but now it's developing a good name. Andy's manifesto is a similar meme. Laziness used to be bad, but in the hands of someone smart and creative, laziness isn't bad at all, but a virtue.

I think I'll go take a nap now.

Google Penalties - Common New Penalty

Okay, so you're hearing about the Google Sandbox, the Google -30 penalty, and the Google -950 penalty, but here's the latest of the penalties: Your Site Sucks and Google Just Figure It Out. Nice post from the fine folks at Threadwatch, and a big hat tip to DigitalGhost for mentioning it. You can also read some fine and thoughtful commentary about this phenomenon over at Aaron Wall's place: New Google Penalty.

Now of course, those guys look at this from a professional SEO consultant perspective more than from an affiliate marketer perspective. And part of their point is to advise SEO's to not take on clients whose websites suck unless they think they can get the client interested in creating a website that doesn't suck. (Unlikely in most cases, IMO.)

But what kind of affiliate websites suck? I can tell you a few things that make up major suckiness in an affiliate website:

- Reviews of products that aren't really reviews, but are instead just sales pages for the product.

- Review of products that do nothing but list of the features and benefits of a product.

- Sites full of lame scraped content and a bunch of random more-or-less on topic links that are trying to manipulate some "hub factor" in an algorithm.

- Websites that have lots of pop-up windows of any kind.

- Websites with multiple flashing banners who seem to have one purpose, and that's to send epileptics into seizures. (Ugh - I hate those sites. They're common in the gambling industry, btw.)

- Websites full of really poorly written "content" that was only posted in order to generate search visitors.

- Websites without a distinctive voice or opinion.

I'm sure I could think of some more, but I'll stop there. I'd imagine a lot of affiliate webmasters will think that this list is pretty lame, or even offensive, but chances are, they're the ones operating sucky websites.

How NOT to Recruit Affiliates

So I got an email today from an affiliate manager, or an account executive, whatever you want to call him. The subject line read: "Randy will you promote our new widget".

Now that's not too bad. It at least got me to open the email. (I delete a lot of emails, especially the ones that say "You link to be removed".)

Then I read the first line of the email: "Dear sir, has a brand new widget variation that is taking the world by storm. We would like to partner with (place any website here) in promoting widgets."

This part, "(place any website here)" was literally actually in the email, word for word.

What's wrong with this email?

1- I'm already an affiliate, so there's no need to "recruit" me into their affiliate program. (If their affiliate managers were really on top of their game, they would know what all of my related wesites are already.)

2- Not changing the generic wording in the email is just a really bad, amateurish mistake. When I did affiliate recruitment, I hand-typed at the very least the first paragraph of every email I sent out, period. There is 0 excuse for sending out an email that isn't at least slightly customized. Hell, they obviously knew my name because they used it in the subject line, but in the salutation of the email, they referred to me as "Dear Sir".

3- The rest of the email wasn't bad, but it was short, and it didn't spell out the features and benefits of the affiliate program. Here's a hint for all you aspiring affiliate managers: if you're going to contact me about becoming an affiliate for your company, please include information about how much commission you pay, and what kind of earning potential that translates into.

Don't try to "tease" me into wanting to find out more. I'm busy, I work hard, and I don't have time for you to be coy, and the kind of affiliates you want to recruit are a lot like me.