A few months back Threadwatch had a post about Yahoo selling subdomains. Yesterday I stumbled across an AdSense ad for a company selling subdomains that they forward to other sites. I don't believe it is smart to build a big site on someone else's domain, but if you wanted to fling up a bunch of spam or create a single targeted ad page that goes after a competitive phrase why not leech of their authority and let them assume the risks?
There are no search engine guidelines on hosting advertisements for third parties because it is not an idea Google wants people thinking about or talking publicly about, and they can't edit out WSJ.com if they will want the WSJ to spread their public relations messages and business interests.
I also am inserting them in this post so you can see what they look like in a web page
SEO Book Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis Google Gadget
Many of the large web players offer or will soon offer analytics products for free. If you use them they may eventually charge you for the service, or they may keep them free but look for other ways to charge you, and use your own statistics against your best interests, by doing one or more of the following
using your site to help categorize keywords that competitors should bid on (and do SEO for)
compare your direct traffic to search traffic and flag your site for review to potentially reduce your search traffic if it is outside the normal range for your given industry
compare your traffic from their engine to traffic streams from other known clean sources (such as competing engines) and flag your site for review if it falls outside of a certain range
compare your keyword cost and conversion rate relative to other words and reprice accordingly
The General Competitive Trend:
One day you are the top ranked lyrics site making good money pitching ringtones. A few months later the search results are cluttered with YouTube videos, show a Google music vertical result at the top, and sites like Yahoo Music start offering lyrics. Income is down 60% and the trend has just begun.
Are Your Stats a Commodity?
As more of the ad networks become automated and leverage CPA based targeting, advertisers are going to have a better idea of where there is value. Google and your large competitors have access to enough data to capture the large trends, but what happens on the micro-level is what is most relevant to you, and, if your site is not as strong as competing sites, keeping that data private (or, at least as best you can given new affordable competitive analysis services) is required if you want to maintain and grow your business.
Even free services like StatCounter and SiteMeter are not free due to one or more of the following reasons
they usually require a sitewide outbound link
sharing some of your stats with everyone
selling your stats to a third party
limiting your feature set or account size and then charging you to keep all the data they built up about your site over months or years
Think of how much you spent building your brand, your link equity, and your traffic stream. Is it worth giving someone all that data and a sitewide link for something you can get for a one time $30 fee?
Mint is Soooooooo Much Better...
Shawn Inman's Mint (available at HaveaMint.com for $30) is a server based web analytics tool that you can buy licenses to for $30 per site. It tracks traffic trends, referrals, and search trends. In addition it has many extensible peppers which allow you to track things such as
watching specific pages
hottest and coldest page trends
How to Leverage Your Stats
Look for the pages that rank for a wide array of keywords and use the format from those to model your other pages against
Point more link equity at your best performing pages.
If you have a deep section that has little link equity and little to no traffic try promoting it in the site's navigational scheme. If traffic picks up and conversions increase keep promoting that section.
What if I Want to Share My Stats?
If you have an authoritative site and make your money from selling ads you may want to make your stats public, which Mint allows you to do with one click. Doing so does not require you to hassle with logging into multiple Google accounts or having to worry about compromising your other features at sites like Google.
I put my favorite keyword research tools and competitive research tools in a Google Gadget. Thanks to Jay at Widget Waker for making the original version with a sweet design, which I hacked up a bit to add a few more tools at the last minute.
If you use the iGoogle homepage you can add the tool to your homepage by selecting add by URL and then submitting this URL: http://tools.seobook.com/google-gadgets/keywords.xml Creating tools for Google's platform allows Google to suck down even more of my time and attention. Many others are also hooked on iGoogle and the Google feed reader, to the point where they scream and/or unsubscribe if a channel only uses partial feeds. If Google doesn't lose the farm on copyright, the only way someone is going to beat them is if they come up with a way to make it faster and easier for us to consume information and feed our egos. It is going to be hard to create something sustainable and scaled that does that, largely because scale undermines most communities, and no company will be able to collect as much data as Google does right now without running into legal issues.
I am off to fly in a few hours and haven't packed yet. If you are going to the Domain Roundtable I hope to see you there soon.
I just grabbed Quantcast's free rankings of the top 1,000,000 sites. Currently Seobook.com comes in at 112,095, which is 5 spots below PornHater.com, which is apparently a PageRank 3 porn blog stuck in an industry with an endless supply of traffic. Based on some of the SEO sites that were missing from the Quantcast top sites database I don't think you can fully trust their data as being exceptionally accurate, but if you search through it you should be able to come up with at least a few cool ideas, especially if you combine it with other free and cheap data sources.
The last couple days I have been planning a fun project and feel like a kid in a candy store with competitive research and Internet marketing tools. Now hopefully some of the ideas I came up with will work. :)
I recently got a beta account to the upcoming Compete.com Search Analytics tool. I am not sure of their pricing yet, but Jay Meattle, from Compete.com, told me "the price points will be extremely attractive to small business owners."
You can get leading category based keywords, top competitors for a given keyword (exact or broad match), compare competing sites head to head on keywords, and get the breakdown of traffic sent to any website.
How Accurate is Compete.com?
Their model of data collection is going to make their data more accurate for frequent search terms and larger sites, but I tested their keyword data against some of my smaller sites and it was surprisingly accurate.
How to Clone Smaller Competitors
This is yet another way authority sites will pick off smaller competing sites. It is a simple process. If your site is one of the most authoritative sites in your space you can clean up.
Use Google's site targeting ads stats to check what sites are running AdSense and getting a lot of traffic (you don't even need to buy ads on them to do this)
Go to Compete.com to get the top keyword phrases competing sites rank for and create content targeting the same keywords. You can also run the keywords through Google's Traffic Estimator to sort the keywords by Google's value estimates.
Beyond that, you can run Google's site targeted ads or general contextual AdSense placement reports to find out what pages are the most popular on competing sites, and then create content covering the same topics.
Lowbrow webmasters are fast becoming the outsourced market research department for bigger, more technologically advanced, and cash flush companies.
The Effect of Better Competitive Data
All of these analytic services are going to increase the value of domain authority (since it can be easily leveraged for greater profit) and force webmasters to move themselves up the value chain (since models like AdSense give away too much competitive data, especially when combined with Compete.com).
Other Ways to Use Compete.com
Compete can be used to see how strong a brand is in its field. The top keyword in the credit card category is Capital One. Both www.capitalone.com and capitalone.com are also in the top 5 keywords. They are obviously a leader in that space. You can also see what percent of a website's traffic originates from its brand related keywords.
You can search for a broad match phrase to see how established your site is inside a vertical, how consolidated a vertical is, and how much potential upside you have by increasing your share of search traffic.
Compete can also show you the if a competing site is heavily reliant on a few strong keywords or if their traffic distribution is wider. This can be used to see sites worth investing in (especially if you understand search relevancy algorithms) or sites which have a lot of risk and are worth avoiding.
Google's traffic estimator tool by default is set to broad match. If you want to see an estimate of the value of a specific phrase remember to wrap it in [brackets] instead of just submitting the broad matched version of the keyword term. I just reprogrammed my keyword research tool's traffic estimator link to include the broad, phrase, and exact match of each term. Since my tool is driven from Yahoo's it strips the s in some plural phrases, so the link to the traffic estimator tool gives all 3 match types, and links to all 3 match types with an s appended to the end of of the keyword phrase.