online marketing newsletter issue #11, June 2004
About the first steps in search engine optimization, a reciprocal linking strategy and ppc advertising.
welcome back again to another issue of TheJungleMarketer
and a special welcome to all new readers who joined since
the last issue two weeks ago.
Today we´re going to build upon the last newsletter and
I´m going to give you a step by step strategy that you
can use to promote your web site(s) from ground up.
But before we dig into today´s topic, let me quickly tell
you that I´m going to switch back to the monthly schedule
for the next three months due to the holiday season AND
due to the need of dedicating more time to my family.
I´m glad to announce that last friday morning at
4:40 CET our second child - a boy - was born.
Thanks to God, everything went fine and the whole
procedure took only about one hour. Our 2 years old
daughter is curious and excited about the baby, too.
in the past issues we discussed how you can earn an affiliate
income by building a web site to promote other people´s products
(even without knowing any html coding) and the basics of
promoting your site to the search engines, i.e. getting good
rankings for your chosen keywords.
If you´ve missed the past issues, here are the most important
links to the information based upon we´re continuing with
So here we stand now:
You´ve got a web site to either sell your own service / products
or promoting other merchants to earn commissions.
Your web site is brand new and nobody knows about it, yet.
You´ve built a sitemap and submitted it to the major search engines.
Be patient - it can take a month or two before your new web site
gets spidered and indexed by the major search engines and then
another month or two before Google gives it some PageRank (PR).
There are rumours that Google deliberately puts new web sites on
"hold", i.e. waiting a certain period of time to see if the
new site is somehow stable - some call this behaviour the "sandbox"
As you already know by now, SEO basically consists of two parts:
On-page factors and Off-page factors.
With all on-page factors (meta tags, title, keyword density, link
structure of your web site, etc ..) done right, you have a good
chance to get top 10 positions for keyphrases that don´t have more
than about 1000 directly competing web pages, i.e. number of SERPs
(= search engine results pages) when you search for the exact
phrase (with quotation marks around it). These on-page factors
are taken care of by the SEO-websitebuilder software.
The most important off-page factor is getting incoming links
from other websites to yours. But not just any kind of link.
In order to be of good value, the links pointing to your site
and the pages where your links are placed, must comply with
certain criterias, such as:
1. Text link must have your keyphrase in the anchor (= link) text.
2. The page where your link is placed must be noticable by the
search engines´ spiders.
3. The linking page should have a certain value (PR).
The more - the better.
4. There shouldn´t be more than 50 other links on that page.
The less - the better.
5. The linking page should be relevant to your content.
Relevant pages are for example those who are listed in the
search results for the same keyphrase you´re targetting.
6. You shouldn´t exchange links with sites that are banned
(penalized) by the search engines. A website which shows
a grey PR bar in the Google toolbar could be banned or
just brand new. Be careful with sites that have many links
in their linkpartner directories and still a PR of 0.
Any questions so far ? Just ask !
You see that promoting a web site from scratch implies certain
difficulties. The main problem in the beginning is to find link
partners. For good reasons (see point 3 and 6 above), other
webmasters are not likely to accept your link exchange request
when they see that your site has still a PR of 0.
I can tell you from experience that it can be a time consuming
task to find really quality and relevant link partners and if
you spend all this time just to find that maybe only 1 out of
20 will accept your link exchange request, then the whole SEO
thing can become very frustrating.
Don´t worry !
I´ll show you how to get started and how to build a reciprocal
link directory that attracts other webmasters to contact you
and beg for a link exchange and also how to increase positive
responses to your link exchange requests.
Step 1: the first dozen of quality links to your site.
There are thousands of directories on the web that will list
your site for free but most of them aren´t of any value in
terms of getting PR and good SE rankings, because their pages
are dynamically generated from a database and the SE spiders
won´t be able to follow the links.
Let me repeat this from the past issue: don´t use any kind of
mass submission software or service, the only thing you get is
a huge amount of junk mail from the owners of these directories.
Concentrate on those directories, which give you a listing on a
static page with a good PR (2-6) and not too many links on the
page, so there´ll be a reasonable value passed on to your site.
I´ve put together a list of good directories, some are free
(but require a reciprocal link from your site), others ask you
to pay a small one-time fee, but will give you a valuable
unreciprocated link to your site.
Having your web site listed in 10-20 of these directories
should give your homepage at least a PR of 3. Be patient as
it can take a month for the spiders to find all the links and
another month before Google updates the PR of your homepage.
Step 2: getting more quality links to improve your PR
In addition to the listings in directories you could search
for websites which sell text link sponsor advertisements on
their homepages and other pages. The (monthly) price for this kind
of advertisement is based on the PR of the site, its traffic
(Alexa ranking) and the number of outgoing links.
- the higher its PR
- the more traffic the site gets (high Alexa ranking)
- the less outgoing links on the page ...
... the better its value for your site and therefore the
more expensive the monthly price for a text link.
How much should you and can you afford to spend for paid
text link advertisements on other peoples´ web sites ?
Of course, if you are on a budget and don´t know yet how well
your website converts visitors into buyers, then you shouldn´t
risk any money for ads like these. While you can get pretty
cheap links for 10-20 $ monthly, links from high PR sites (7-8)
easily sell for 300 $ or more (monthly !).
Good places to find webmasters who sell text link advertisements
are listed below the web directories (see link above).
You could also conduct a search for your keyphrase and browse
through the results to see if any of those (relevant !) web
sites are offering text link advertisements.
Step 3: Find out the value of your website visitors !
A very important step is to find out how well your web site
converts visitors into buyers or the "visitor value" of your site.
Here´s why and how you can find it out.
Let´s suppose you´re targetting a competitive keyword like
"posters". There are about 42 million (!) competing pages for
that term and over 11,000 search requests per month (according to
Wordtracker, probably the most accurate keyword research tool).
It´ll take much time and effort to achieve a top 5 ranking
for that phrase, but once you´re there - you´ll be earning
thousands of dollars in affiliate commissions.
REALLY ? How can you be so sure ??
Imagine this: You´ve spent countless hours during 12 months and
hundreds of dollars to get your affiliate web site to the top and
then you find out that most of the visitors you get don´t click
on your affiliate links, but purchase from someone else instead.
You´d be frustrated, desperate, you´d probably give up.
But if you knew how much the average visitor to your site
is worth BEFORE you put effort into promoting it to the search
engines, wouldn´t that give you an idea of how much a top 5 ranking
could earn you and therefore how much time and money you can
afford to invest in achieving this goal.?
That´s why you should find out the average value of your
visitors and here´s HOW you can do it:
using pay per click advertising !
Your goal should be to get a good ranking for your web site
on Google, which is still the most popular search engine.
So simply open an account with Google AdWords and start an
AdWords campaign, bidding only on the exact keyphrase you
are targetting, in the example above: "posters".
Note: in order to get only traffic for the exact word or
phrase you must put it in square brackets: [posters].
I won´t explain in details here how to use the AdWords system,
this is surely a topic which can easily fill two newsletters.
My first few weeks of using AdWords have been a huge mess, but
then I´ve learned from Perry Marshall, who has been successfully
using AdWords for years now and surely become a master in ppc
advertising. Perry´s AdWords course is definitively a good investment.
free 5 day adwords course
You don´t need to bid your ad into the first spot, but it should
appear on the first page of search results, i.e. you must be among
the top 8 of bidders for your chosen term.
There are still keyphrases that aren´t very competitive and
those for which you can get visitors for less than 30 cents each.
If you are just starting out with your first affiliate website,
then you should target a niche where the competition is fairly low,
increasing your chance of making a profit easier and faster and
thus also keeping you motivated in your online marketing venture.
Words like "viagra", "debt consolidation" and "mortgages" are
very expensive ( up to 15 $ per click ) and before you target
competitive but lucrative niches like these you should already
have some marketing experience and an online income that you
can afford to invest.
Alright. Let´s go on and say you bid 20 Cents per visitor
for [posters] and get about 500 visitors within a month.
You´d spend 100 $, right ?
Now you log-in to your merchant´s affiliate area and see
how many visitors actually clicked on your affiliate links,
how many sales you´ve made and how much in commissions
you´ve earned: 20 $, 50 $, 150 $ ?
Well, it happens that not all ppc campaigns are winners.
Analyze the results and if improvements are necessary,
think about how you can increase click-through rates
Low click-through rates could happen because your site
doesn´t look good enough or your affiliate links aren´t
placed in prominent locations. Do you have a call to
action to make them click on your affiliate links ?
Do they click but don´t make a purchase ?
Maybe you´re promoting a merchant who sells the same items
more expensively than the competition, or does your merchant
have hidden costs like very high shipping rates ?
Make the improvements if necessary and send another 500
visitors to your site. Don´t worry if your ROI (return on
investment) isn´t terrific right from the start. If you only
brake even, you´ve gotton to know at least a very important
number for f.ree: your visitor´s value.
Let´s assume that from the 1000 visitors that came to
your site, you´ve only earned 200$ in affiliate commissions.
So the average visitor is worth 200 $ / 1000 = 0.20 $
Now with that number you can estimate how much a regular
top 5 ranking for your chosen keyphrase should be worth.
Taking in account that the term "posters" is being searched
over 11,000 times per month, then you should get at least
5,000 visitors to your site (depends on how appealing the
title of your web page is), thus earning you about 1000$
per month in affiliate commissions.
Now you can decide how much time and effort it´s worth to
put into the next steps of SEO website promotion:
Finding quality link partners and building a quality
link directory to make other webmasters beg you for links
instead of having to waste time chasing after them.
In order to increase the number of positive responses to your
link exchange requests your link directory pages should have
at least a PR of 3 and in your e-mails to other webmasters you
should tell them about this fact, so they´ll recognize that you
care about passing some value onto their sites.
The link pages of many sites I visit have PRs of at least two
or three points lower than their homepages´ PRs. This is because
they only place one link from the homepage to their link exchange
directory and the subcategories are located another level deeper.
When TheJungleMarketer.com first achieved a PR of 4, I had only
one link from the homepage to my
link partner directory
and this page as well as all category pages had PRs of 0.
Then I added a link to the directory index page from all inner
pages (70+) as well as a few direct links to the category pages
from the bottom of certain inner pages. In addition to that, I´ve
interlinked all the category pages themselves.
Browse through my link partner directory and see how it´s done.
The result was that soon all the category pages, which are located
two levels deeper than the homepage, received a PR of 3 ( only one
point less than the homepage ).
And of course, not only do I get about 4 times more positive
responses to link exchange proposals that I send to other web site
owners but also many more requests from other web site owners.
Organizing your reciprocal link campaign
In order to achieve good rankings for competitive keywords, you´ll
need a lot of links to your site and therefore you should organize
your link pages in categories, building something like a directory.
That´s pretty easy when you´ve got the right tool.
I personally use Arelis (Axandra´s reciprocal link solution), a huge
tool with lots of features to professionally manage a link directory.
Arelis gives you different ways to search for possible link partners, the
one I like best is that you simply enter the URLs of your main competitors
and then let it go out to search for websites that link back to them.
These are the websites that also should link to you !
You can even choose to let Arelis extract contact informations on these
sites that you can use later to send your link exchange proposals per email
to those webmasters who accept it that way.
Has a built-in browser that allows you to quickly scan over the found
sites to see if they meet your criteria (remember point 1-6 above).
Arelis builds and updates your link partner directory with a click of
a few bottons (you just need to feed it once with a template page).
Check if the links to your site are still active and working with
the built-in reciprocal link checker.
The only problem I had with this tool is that it took me some time
to get used to it, because it´s so huge and packed with lots of
The trial version allows you to use the search feature, but it won´t
build your link directory for you. It´s definitively worth trying it
out to see how it works and if you like it.
On their site, you´ll also find a link to download the f.r.e.e link
popularity checker (great tool to quickly find how many links
point to your competitors and compare several URLs at once).
To start your directory, I´d suggest you create about 5-10 categories
related to your site´s topic. For example if your site is about
"clothing", then you could include other shopping categories like
"sports wear", "watches", "accessories", "second hand", "footwear",
"costumes", "leather", etc ...
Then you´d go and search for possible link partners to these categories
using either the search feature of Arelis or browsing through some of
the major web site directories and link exchange directories.
Look for links on their homepages (usually at the bottom) with anchor
texts like "partners", "resources", "links", "directory" and see if
they are involved in link exchanges.
Some will tell you to send them your link exchange proposals by email,
other have forms on their sites that you should use to submit your
details. But before you contact them, place a link to them first.
Remember to tell them that you have visited their web site and
placed a link to it on a page with a certain PR value and few
outgoing links. If you want to speed up their response, you could
even offer a bribe (depending on what you have and what you can
afford to give) for responding within a certain period of time.
Although building your site´s link popularity is definitively an
important task of your way up to top rankings, you shouldn´t devote
too much time to it or you might get bored soon.
Once you´re site starts to generate some income, consider reinvesting
a part of it in purchasing text link advertisements or paying someone
to find link partners for you. Anyway - a good text link ad might even
pay off for itself, as you´ll be getting targetted visitors from it, too.
I think we should end here today. There´s a lot of
information to digest and if you still have any questions or need
some help anyhow ... just let me know and I´ll do my best to
help you out.
Whishing You all the best and lots of success,
Guido W. Stiehle
P.S.: Peace !
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Guido W. Stiehle