I do not currently display AdSense on this site for a few reasons, one of which is that it probably would not earn much since most people reading this site can distinguish ads from content.
Nathan Weinberg recently wrote AdSense Bad For Bloggers?, where he questions whether or not people can make money from AdSense using blogs.
I think he said his network gets about 1,000,000 monthly pageviews, but AdSense is not making him much money. Blogs about Google and MSN will get traffic, but the revenue streams might not be there since technologically savvy people are less likely to click ads.
One time I had a chat with a well known web guru, who stated that not all sites need to make money. Websites can act as a team.
If you have sites with a ton of authority and little revenue there are a few options:
alienate your users by trying to force a revenue stream that does not exist and thus lose your social currency
gather feedback and create a product or service that matches the desires of your site visitors
leverage the social currency of that site to help build up a network with other high profit channels
You only need one or two strong channels to launch a network.
A few of the major blog networks have even added poker sites to their networks, and people still link through to their network not minding that they are helping to promote illegal gambling.
In Nathan's comments Richard offered a good tip for bloggers wanting to avoid the evil generic blog ads:
The biggest positive changes occured for me when I stopped using the word â€œBLOGâ€ and I stopped getting the same boring ads for how to setup a free blog.
As an added bonus, Nathan mentioned that ProBlogger made a post about earning milestones, saying that he is making over $10,000 a month from AdSense on his network of around 20 blogs (most of which are low quality content spam IMHO and thus I don't want to link into his bad neighborhood, but the post is here: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/07/12/earning-milestones/ )
If you look at his network (www.livingroom.org.au & breakingnewsblog.com) you can probably guess which ones are making money and create / market better channels on those topics that will make far more than he is. Digital camera reviews are huge for AdSense.
Probably not the first time you have heard that PageRank is only one of many many many measures of link quality, but Mike Grehan just wrote an article about it, and also interviewed Jim Boykin, of WeBuildPages, who offered a few link building tips:
"We're unlike most people who buy links in that we try to buy from the source, as opposed to buying from an auction or broker (though we do occasionally do that, too)," said Boykin. "When we're approaching the source, we usually try to feel them out and get ad space as opposed to buying a link. We might be able to put lots of ads in a space."
"It's the neighborhood, which means the most to me," he continued. "I'll normally try to find the authority sites in an industry and approach them to see what they're offering. I'll try to bargain anything, from buying their office pizza to giving them free products from the site I'm seeking advertising for, or will outright pay them."
It would be interesting to know how quickly people add links to good properties and what algorithms Google has in place to detect surges of certain types of outbound links or site factors.
I omitted my friends name, but recently I had a chat with a friend via IM. I asked him if it was cool for me to post a bit of it and he said sure. The chat went like this... friend: there are so many people out their calling themselves seo professionals
me: well its an arbitrary title
me: am i a professional
me: if so why
friend: your right.......
friend: I looked at that excel file earlier. why have you spent less time keeping it up?
me: because why should i
me: why should i promote shitty biz models that are not forward looking
me: help a few sketchy webmasters be lazy and greedy
me: and bust my ass to do it
me: for free
me: better things to do w my time
friend: I have noticed a lot of them becoming link farms anyway
friend: they are dropping everyday also
me: almost all of them are shit
friend: I have focused more on good qaulity article submissions
friend: those suckers are viral if you have good content
friend: I can incraese your list of article submission locations if you need more.....
me: well if its easy to import the data sure :)
me: in the end though
me: most of those will get spammed out and deweighted too
friend: I took the liberty of adding sites to the excel file you sent me, ie. article subs and press release subs. it doesn't get any better than that.;-)
me: well if you want to email it through thats cool
me: but the thing is
friend: it seems like all of the good marketing outlets are getting lost in the shuffle because of spammers
me: I cant be the central maintainer because I thought that would scale but it does not ... so I can accept contributions, but its too hard to keep up with
me: not really
me: i dont buy that at all
me: good marketers evolve
friend: you just said a second ago that you thought article subs and press release sites will go down also. it sounds like you agreed with what i said.. i am confused
me: not the good marketers dropping off
me: just the lazy easy channels
friend: i was just venting in terms of spammers screwing it up for the rest of us
me: well my take is we are all spammers
me: is the stuff you are promoting uniquely inovative and useful? if it was you probably wouldnt need to rely on article submissions
friend: promting useful information doesn't always get you a spot in the top. Why do we try so hard to get links pointing in our direction if that were an absolute?
me: well what do people want
me: you need to serve multiple needs
me: what people will buy
me: + what people want to market for you
friend: thats where i think we are. I don't think articles should be writtien to spam. But, they can be written professionally to get better exposure online.
me: right. but your opinion doesn't much matter in the grand scheme of things
me: as mine doesn't either
friend: opinions are like butt holes, we all them and they sometimes stink....
friend: so how do you propose meeting the many needs of the masses?
me: well thats the point
me: each needs to decide
me: there should be no mass system
me: mass system = spam
friend: meeting the needs of the mass isn't spam if you are doing ethical work, su as putting toegether great content as you have put it many times on your site.
me: thats the whole point
me: if the content was so great
me: it wouldnt need an automated type system
friend: it seems as if we have very similar ideas
friend: i haven't been talking about automating things in our industry. I am just interested in gaining some insight as to your opinion about helping others online.
friend: thats all
me: well my insights are this
me: create something useful that people are interested in
me: and then be creative from there
friend: i know you have always taken the stance at emulating a users experience online. I have learned a lot from taking that mind set. believe me
me: so that is where I stand
me: the basic thing that is screwed up
me: is people think that online they can just get links
me: without thinking about the social aspects etc
me: sure it can work
me: but longterm it is way easier if people want to link to you or if you have a legit brand off the web
friend: i know you are big on the community aspect. this is a safe bet on or off line. I deal with people online like I would in person. This has also helped out a lot
friend: i remember you saying on the phone that after you reached a low point from circumstances in your life, your outlook was changed for the better
me: i still am bitter mean and evil often
friend: you remind me of one of my best friends. he too is kinda outspoken and ruff around the edges. but, underneath it all, i know what he is all about. You are the same way
I didn't leave that last part in there to pump myself up or pat myself on the back, but more to show the emotional bond.
The guy I was speaking with I spoke to on the phone for about 10 minutes about a year ago and have emailed a few times, and yet he feels he knows and understands me. He may or may not (I sure don't!), but either way it is a good deal for me.
People with emotions create algorithms by which search engines function, but their job is so grand in scale that it is hard for them to care about ones and twos.
As search algorithms advance in some fields it will become easier to manipulate other webmasters and web users than it is to try to manipulate the algorithms directly.
It is the same reason there are so many 50 page sales letters, because like selling stuff, ultimately selling the idea of people giving you quality inbound links or recommending you is one person and one conversion at a time.
I am not saying that everything you do should have manipulation in mind, but it is easier to do well if people want to help you, and it is easier to win over 1 person at a time than it is to fake relevancy across all the major engines, at least if you are hoping to have a longterm business model.
Marcia also mentions identifiable link networks, staying below radar, and how many directories appear as link farms:
There are some that are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, visibly identifiable as being part of linking "networks" - either networks of likeminded directories interlinked and cross-linked with the same business model in mind, or quite visibly as SEO networks.
Unfortunately, trying to emulate BH techniques without following the basic rule of BH, which is to stay off the radar, isn't what so many of them are doing. Publicizing and soliciting business for them right at SEO forums, right where search engineers can and do read, is exactly the opposite - it's putting them right on the radar and it's only been a matter of time before the ships either float or sink.
A good, substantial, vertical directory that's well established and gets inbound traffic for the relevant keyword set will do that, but those are a far cry from many of the little directories being thrown out there daily, both independently and as part of networks, that hope to monetize by selling text adverts or footer sitewides, even though, as pointed out, in many cases they're literally undistuishable from scraper sites
For a while I tried to help promote some of the directories, but almost all of them have turned out to be quick buck operations, and I will not be sad to see that business model erode.
What have you seen of Google and directories? Are they becoming less effective?
Most successful sites do not need to practice SEO, but is it worth doing low risk SEO stuff? If you are not going to be agressive about it why even do SEO at all? How do you define the line between what is risky and what is not? What is SEO and what is not? In the thread Jill Whalen made it sound like marking up page structure is not SEO. What is? Research papers dating back at least to 1998 show code structure is used to help determine relevancy (Marcia added the link to the SEW thread).
So a while ago I was really bad at making uber literal content. Being literal and easy to understand is a good thing as it makes it easy for people understand what you are doing, but if you are too literal you miss the fact that conversion is driven from emotion more than logic and your copy may convert like crap.
I just rewrote a bunch of page titles and meta tags for a client (I did not write the original ones, but the original titles looked like something I would have wrote a couple years ago). In the past I would do things like create a page about SEO Book FAQs. I would then title the page SEO Book FAQs. Much more commonly people would search for things like Best SEO Book or SEO Book Reviews.
When people are new to SEO with limited marketing experience it is easy to be too literal, focusing on arbitrary stuff like keyword density or keyword repition, and miss out on the end goal of the page. Because there is so much search volume, and maybe only a few billion pages in most of the major search indexes pages will come up frequently so long as you are writing about a popular subject and build a few links into your site.
A big problem with the web is that stuff spreads quickly and success is self reinforcing. A website can be uber sloppy and generally messed up and still make a living.
When you are new to the web it takes a bit of time and effort to figure stuff out, but after you gain a bit of experience it is not that hard to make boat loads of cash, since on the whole the marketplace is not that competitive and most websites are garbage.
As you read more marketing books, sales letters, and web pages learning how to write better sales copy just kinda comes naturally.
Search engines are still a bit stupid. You don't want to write for them and forget your visitors. It is easy to write a bit more naturally and conversion oriented, and then just build a few more links to boost your relevancy.
Some search algorithms may eventually look at conversion metrics to help determine relevancy (ie: Google Wallet, Google buying Urchin, Overure & Google offering free conversion tracking). Things that convert are also more likely to be things that are recommended or cited frequently. Even if more people try your stuff and hate it that means that there will still be more people talking about you, linking to you, and giving you feedback on how to improve your products or services.
I guess the point of this post is don't be too literal, as I think it is a problem I had for an extended period of time. I still probably do it to a bit, but nowhere near as bad as I once did.
Personal experience and a wide variety of friends have helped me conclude that most hosts are garbage, so a bad host in and of itself is not a big story. ________, on the other hand allegedly sent out an email offering affiliates a $100 bonus for knocking Cemper's site out of the top 10 rankings.
They could have contacted Christoph directly and tried to fix their problems, or they also could have reranked the search results a bit more discretely. What is even worse about how they sent out that email is that one of their affiliates posted it to the page which talks negatively about their service, which shows how they aim to slience it. Talk about not breeding trust in a service!
Christopher could also build a ton of links from almost anyone burned by a bad __________ hosting experiece by creating an image button and asking them to use it to link to his page about them.
Any time you use shady techiques to manipulate the search results (which most all SEOs - including me - are guilty of), and also use mass communication tools to do so (most smart SEOs do not do that unless they are creating crash and burn sites) you raise your risk profile and the chances that your technique will backfire.
Update: ServerPronto has been harrassing me with phone calls, likely about this post. After weeks of waking me up on the phone they still call and call. For doing that I think they are _________. I took their name out of this post, so hopefully that will be enough for them to leave me alone.