I recently searched for [Tippecanoe County Shrine Club] and Google ranked a huge Wikipedia page first. When will search engines start directing searchers to portions of a page instead of just to a page? How will that change affiliate, contextual, and web merchant business models?
I recently got asked to write a couple articles for various websites and publications. I said no problem, but then I kept putting them off. I just handed in one today and did not get feedback yet, but I am uncertain how well it went. Yesterday I handed in one and the editor was less than impressed. Then it sorta dawned on me, that I am a bit spastic and random in nature, and without using those words that is sorta how my article was described (in a nicer way though of course).
Some people do well with containers and other people driving them, but I have been so (searching for a word here...maybe undomesticated) that it is quite hard to fill in the box or create something that is exactly how someone else wants it. I got so focused on random abstract thoughts that I am only really good at doing something if it is something I really want to do when I want to do it.
I have a PowerPoint presentation and speech to put together and am hoping I do well with it. The biggest benefit to it over the articles is that the request for it came after I put together something similar in nature but in another format.
So I guess my (semi?)relevant marketing thoughts on this post are:
I think the closer you are to your audience the easier it is to be successful (at least for me).
The more passion and interest you have in a topic the easier it is to be successful.
It is definitely worth focusing on what you are good at, but it is also a good thing to occasionally try different containers or formats. I suck at many containers and do well with others. Respect the container, or throw the container away and try something new ;)
For most people publishing format (so long as it is legible) likely the format has little to do with your personal credibility level. Everyone is different and probably has their own best way to express themselves. I don't think mine is in 1,000 world articles...at least not at this point!
What have been your most successful publishing formats? Do you think the structure of the web will drastically change media consumption habits?
Looking through Google Videos many of them appear to be exceptionally bad or advertisements. While many more of them appear to be exceptionally bad advertisements. But I found one video that I thought was pretty cool.
I need to step up my game on learning about video stuff. If you had a remarkable product and could display how cool it was I don't think there would be much need to buy ads to distribute your message.
I find that video much more interesting than the announcement of Pearl Jam's recent terrible song being distributed on Google Video, but I think they need people like Pearl Jam to help find and share the good stuff.
This post topic has the ability to quickly get me steamrolled and a lot of hate, but I think advertisement clickthrough rate is something well worth considering before creating any website that is monetized via pay per click ads. I have recently launched a number of AdSense monetized sites and these are some of my early thoughts on factors affecting monetization and CTR.
Are there Any Ads? Are the Ads Relevant? Is There Any Search Volume?
If you search for Google and nobody is advertising for your targeted industry or phrase sets the opportunities to make money are going to be rather limited. The same holds true if the traffic volume is low or the bid prices are dirt. The Google Traffic Estimator Tool makes it pretty easy to get an estimate of the bid prices and AdWords click volume while the Google Keyword Tool lets you check the depth of competition quickly. You can also use Shawn's Google AdSense Sandbox to see how compelling and relevant ad offers are for a specific topic.
Signs of Desperation, Ignorance, or Stupidity
I am sure this category might get me a bit of heat, but I own one website that was getting about 400 pageviews a day about a specific topic. Adding a single page catering to some ignorant people in that vertical (one could assume a certain level of ignorance by their search queries - sorry but I can't give that term away) added 50 pageviews a day and doubled the ad clicks and earnings for the site.
Dumb or naive people are less likely to realize they are clicking paid ads when they land on your page.
What are some common signs of intelligence or lack of intelligence? Or signs of naiveness?
topics for kids - they clearly are going to be operating on limited business experience and limited financial and business understanding, and thus may click click click without thinking anything of it. I have a site that caters to a broad field, but the page most focused on kid friendly searches has a 50% ad clickthrough rate, whereas the next best page is coming in at 18%, and the site averages around 10%.
searching for things that do not exist - these are going to be easier to rank for than their official alternatives. These searches may be an indication of intelligence or lack of intelligence depending on vertical and query. From my limited experience, more frequently they will likely indicate a lack of intelligence, but it really depends on the reason WHY the market has yet to fill the demand.
misspellings and misuse of language - I am a bad speller so I offer no hate here, but on average most misspelled queries come from people who are below average on the intelligence scale
poor credit or lack of financial planning - sure we all go through ruts, but the average person looking for a payday loan is going to be less intelligent than the average person looking for a mortgage loan
general topic - the average person searching for scientific information is going to be smarter than the average person searching for a personality on Fox News or American Idol.
demographics - old and young people may not be clued into how the web works. Some other demographics may be more or less clued in. Many search queries may do a great deal to identify the gender, age group, or ethnicity of the searcher.
traffic source - On average the average Google user is going to be smarter than the average MSN Search user, who is going to be smarter than the average free spyware download search accelerator searcher.
query length and syntax - advanced search queries and specific long tail searches are most likely going to be from smarter searchers or searchers closer to purchasing.
The more ads look like content the more they get clicked on. Default blue is a beautiful link color. Some people do well by placing images near their AdSense ads.
Quality and Quantity of Ad Alternatives
Content that is of amazing quality that solves the visitor's problems may make the ads look less appealing, although if it allows you to become the industry standard resource that additional distribution can more than pay for the added cost of creating real quality content.
If a page is a resource link list or has many alternative paths to leave the site outside of an ad click many people will take those paths.
Are the top SERPs dominated by real resources?
If the top results are quality informational PR7 .edu pages best of luck on the rankings front. You are going to need it ;)
If the top sites are cloaked pages or other sites that do not look like real resources it is easier to get your listing clicked on by crafting a quality page title and meta description.
Does Your Site Have Enough Authority? As recently posted by Quadzilla, if you have authority it seems you can extend it out cross topic. If you lack link authority and age related trust it is an uphill battle to compete in Google.
How Much Commitment is Required to Buy?
Buying a home is a much more extensive and expensive process than buying a treadmill.
How Web Friendly is Your Product Offering?
Ads for physical books, heavy commodities or things like diamonds (which perhaps require some amount of trust to purchase) are going to go for far less than they are worth when compared to ads for items that fit the web nearly perfectly (take software or ebooks as examples).
As an SEO I think there are 3 main types of content. That which would not pass a human review, that which would pass a human review but is just ok, and content which is linkworthy. When building a site you need to consider what you are targeting. Do you want to quick spam Yahoo! and MSN? Or are you looking to create something that is more longterm in hopes of an eventual Google ranking?
Content which is crap and content which would pass a human review but is still of low quality can dominate Yahoo! or MSN, but if you want to do well in Google you need to target ultra niche terms, work from an old domain, or try to create linkworthy content.
I guess the three types of content could be broken down into 5 main types if you wanted to:
that which would not pass a human review
that which would pass a human review but may cause people to trust you less, unsubscribe from your site, and pull links
that which would pass a human review but is just ok
that which would pass a human review and is pretty good. may build a bit of trust and gain a few subscribers.
citation worthy content
Even if you made some articles nearly perfect, based on their niche and topic they may not be citation worth, whereas content that is targeted around linking opportunities (or intentionally biased against a product or service that is easy to hate, for example) may be more citation worthy even if the amount of effort needed to create it was minimal.
When you start a website you have to know what your targeting and what type of content to use to fulfill that goal. If you mix and match your goals and content quality you kill your efficiency and profitability.
Once you become well known in forums or write enough on your own site it may be easy to forget how well or bad you answer questions. A cool feature with Yahoo!'s Answer service is that it is large enough to have a huge userbase interested in just about any topic without you being known there. And it probably is easy to sign up for secondary usernames to start from scratch if you needed to. They show you what percent of your answers are chose as the best, which makes it easy to practice answering questions to see how clearly you are communicating without the bias built around your current social relationships. Obviously there will be some biases to the system (nepotistic behavior, spam, and biases based on score level), but if you can see past that Yahoo! Answers offers a great avenue to practice answering questions.
A friend of mine recently said in an instant message "The Dumber My Content the More Money I Make". Once you think about how much of the market is completely new to your topic it makes sense that people who aim to make content accessible and easy to understand often are far more successful than people who know more but do not express what they know well.
I think it is important to offer a few things that go above and beyond the normal day to day stuff (to create well cited industry resources), but most blog posts are probably maximally effective if the writer puts being easy to understand ahead of going in great depth.
I'd propose replacing the ideal of objectivity with some principles that may be easier to achieve.
The principles that collectively go beyond objectivity are thoroughness, accuracy, fairness, independence and transparency. Of course, they tend to bleed into each other, and in a several cases can even conflict or at least be somewhat orthogonal. I put this problem into the category of "Life is messy."
I think that we'll find in some ways that this is the real secret of the relationship between free and non-free content. There will be so much free content that it's going to be hard to find and those who can help you find what you want will be able to charge for it - in one way or the other, whether it's through advertising or through subscription or something else. It's about managing to find "the best", and "the best" is a kind of metadata.
I still think there are many overlooked creative ways to add value to the publishing value chain. More on that in about a month ;)
In all honesty, in many ways, an ebook was probably not the most profitable way to format my knowledge. In the long run I could probably make more money by making that free and coming up with other miniature information products in other formats that are easier to sell and consume. I could create a new video every week for about a year straight, and always have new products to sell.
This example also shows the ease of distribution on vertical search and the importance of having oars in many lakes. While few people have watched that video so far (about 5 people a day), that has given me another channel to reach people and helps reinforce my brand. Also look at the economics of it - the distribution on Google Video is free. The only cost is time, but for a one time hour of work I get at least $1 worth of free exposure a day.
In many ways, for many content creators and small publishers, the Google brand, reach, and growing feedback mechanisms will make amateur or non-traditionally published content far easier to sell.
The web is also more about information than it is about shopping or selling. Google realizes the limits of content quality of free content in many verticals and they are eventually going to start pushing more people to pay for it (via micro payments, subscriptions, or other non straight ad models).
Content quality is probably the #1 limiting factor in search technology right now. The only way they are going to encourage more high quality content production is if they can create a framework that helps make it more profitable.
AdSense can only go so far until Google has a database of information products and purchase streams to recommend further products and information consumption habbits. And oddly enough, Eric Schmidt was recently talking about that.
"The quickest way to improve the quality of an ad is to have the ad instantaneously turn into a purchase that is 100 percent perfect," [Eric Schmidt] said. "We now have a solution that we believe enables advertisers to offer a digital product on the Web so that when people click on it, through a credit-card mechanism, it is automatically taken care of."
Hehehe. So I know nothing about the stock market, but I recently revived the ads on a low profit site that is in a general and low profit category.
What ad unit that provided the most value per unit space? My AdSense search box. BY A LOT!
Moderate to high traffic publishers are probably screwing up if they litter their sites with ads and don't have a profit share search relationship with a major engine.
As search eats more of the web many publishing models are getting chewed up. Those who are good at monetizing usually do one or more of the following:
create content late in the buy cycle;
find uncovered niches that are easy to compete in;
leverage viral non commercial ideas to give their site an unfair authority advantage over competing sites;
are good at mixing in a few affiliate advertorials (if you can spend 12 hours creating a page that makes a few hundred a month for years on end that is a nice ROI and passive income stream);
use their market position to make money in other ways; or
negotiate strong ad prices directly.
Those who lack every piece of that skill set may still make a decent living off the web by just making it easy for their visitors to search for more information.
If the next major OS and browser release gets people to view the web differently (ie: search is ALWAYS done from the browser) that may change, but for now the search box is the easiest loose money waiting to be collected by most content publishers. (Millions of dollars a day are waiting to be collected).
Also when advertisers opt out of contextual AdSense ads their ads usually still show up in publisher partner search ads, so that advertiser depth can still be rather appealing to publishers that do not fear losing their visitors (and typically the feel for the need to keep visitors misses what the web is about).
Another nice benefit of the Google search box on your site is that most people view it as a service instead of an ad, so it is an effective way of cramming another ad or two on your site without your site looking any spammier or ad cluttered. People also sense that THEY are in control when they search, so they find the ads there more acceptable. Provide search inline with content and you will be surprised at how many people use it.