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online marketing newsletter issue #11, June 2004

About the first steps in search engine optimization, a reciprocal linking strategy and ppc advertising.

Dear Colleague,

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.

Dear friend,

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 today´s issue:

seo basics
past issues

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" effect.

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.

web directories

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 and sales.

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:

Step 4:

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 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 important features.

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).

Arelis Trial

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,

truely Yours,

Guido W. Stiehle

P.S.: Peace !


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I accept no responsibility whatsoever for the content, profitability or legality of any published articles or advertisements contained within articles published on my web pages.

And, although all of the guest articles have been selected for their content, the publishing of such articles on this website does NOT constitute a recommendation of the products or services mentioned or advertised within those articles.
Be responsible! Always do Due Diligence before responding to any offer.

If you found some information to be out-of-date, please contact me and let me know it.
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Sincerely Yours,
Guido W. Stiehle

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