Archive for the ‘Monetization’ Category

PostHeaderIcon An SEO Checklist For Bloggers

For many bloggers, clicking on the Publish button is way too easy. Often, you write a post that seems perfectly appropriate, and two days later you’re lucky to get a handful of hits. The problem usually lies in one of several points that new or overeager bloggers tend to overlook. Here are some of the most common.

Keyword research: It’s not as simple as typing up search terms you would use yourself. Read around to see if people are actually interested in the topic, and then do a few searches to make sure it hasn’t already been answered a thousand times. The more unique your post is, the more it will get around.

The headline: True, it has to be catchy, but it also has to attract search engine robots. You want to work your keyword or key phrase in and put it as close to the beginning as possible, while still sounding casual.

The slug: A post slug is part of the domain that contains the post itself. For example, a post titled “The Best Laptops for Poor College Students” might be assigned a slug that reads “myblog.com/the-best-laptops-for-poor-college-students.” For SEO purposes, what you want is a slug that contains only the important words, such as “myblog.com/best-laptops-college-students.”

Pictures and videos: We all know how much a picture helps liven up a post, but it also serves as an SEO tool. Work keywords into your alt text  and title tag—this will make it easier to turn up on relevant searches. When there’s a relevant video available, add it in—search engines equate that to being a good source of information. You can start making your own videos or embed other people’s, giving due credit.

Subheadings: Breaking up your text into schematic chunks makes it more readable. It also leads search engines down the right path: they scan the HTML tags from H1 onwards for relevant keywords. Use these tags instead of just formatting each level differently.

Linking: Both internal and external links are vital to a post’s rankings. When you’ve built up a good archive, always try to link to older posts whenever it fits—it keeps the search robots on your site a little longer. External links—those that lead to other sites—are less clear-cut on the benefits, but it’s a good way to network with other bloggers and build a good reputation.

Meta descriptions: This is the one- or two-line clip that appears just below your link on a search results page. Google only displays entire descriptions under 155 characters, but it puts keywords in bold so you may want to work them in. Try to lift it from your actual content so people can find it once they click.

The call to action: You don’t want people to just read your work and move on. You want them to buy a product, sign up to a service, or share your post—whatever your business model calls for. A brief sentence urging them to take action can make all the difference.

PostHeaderIcon Getting Your Blog Ready For Prospective Advertisers

Direct ads are one of the most reliable ways to make money off your website, but also one of the most competitive. There are hundreds of interesting blogs out there, but an advertiser will only tie up with a handful. Therefore, it’s all about standing out. It’s a lot harder than it seems, but it’s not impossible. If you’re having trouble holding on to advertisers, here are some ways you can make your site more attractive.

Make information accessible: Interested advertisers are just like any other user: if they don’t find what they need in five seconds, they’re off to the website next door. Put up an “advertise here” page and link to it somewhere visible—at the top of your menu or a prominent spot on your sidebar. On the page, put in everything they need to make up their minds, as well as contact information in case they want to get in touch.

Show, don’t tell: Not everyone knows how big a 125×125 ad is in real life. If you have spare placements, use them as displays for potential advertisers, showing them how big a banner ad is and how it would look on your site. You can also put up house ads—ads for products you sell on that website or another one you own. Offering free ads or a trial period can also increase interest.

Boast your site stats: By the time you’re ready for direct ad sales, your site stats will probably be worth showing off. Use it to attract advertisers. The first thing they usually look for is site visits: more unique hits means that more people will get to see their ad. You can put it up on your sidebar, and go into more detail on your advertiser info page—at the very least, provide data on readers’ gender, age, and location.

Have a niche. Use your site stats to create content that targets your readers. This will not only keep the same readers coming and build a loyal reader base, but also tell advertisers that they’re speaking to the right people. You can go off on a tangent once in a while, but keep the bulk of your content on the same general topic.

Look professional. Free blog templates are a good start, but if you can afford it, hire a web designer to make your site look professional. This builds credibility both from your readers and your advertisers. Readers want to know that you know what you’re doing, and advertisers want to know that you have a good relationship with your readers. It takes time and a bit of money, but good design is well worth it.

PostHeaderIcon Why Learn Affiliate Marketing?

There’s no shortage of opportunities to make money online—in fact, it’s pretty safe to assume that new methods are being invented as we speak. But some things in the market are still worth learning, even if they’ve been around for years. One of them is affiliate marketing: promoting a company’s product or service on your website in exchange for a cut on the visits or sales you generate.

Many successful entrepreneurs got their start in affiliate marketing. For some of them, it continues to be a major source of revenue, but for most, it taught them the marketing principles they needed to build their own institutions. Affiliate marketing puts you in a good position to learn: you can start small and minimize your risk, while still being exposed to the challenges of getting noticed on the Web. When it’s time to market your own products, you have all the skills you need to get it right. Think of it as learning from more established companies until you’re good enough to be their competitor.

You can learn affiliate marketing on your own—there are lots of free or inexpensive resources online—or sign up for actual classroom courses. Each one has its pros and cons, and at the end of the day it comes down to your availability and learning style. Whatever you choose, make sure to look into the company’s history: since the industry’s boom a few years ago, a lot of self-appointed gurus have sprung up and began charging hundreds for a service that took them five minutes to put together. Look for reviews, contact former customers, and call them up for information and a look at their syllabus.

To do that, you’ll have to know the skills you need and see if the company offers them. Some of the key skills are list building, designing squeeze pages, and tracking and managing website information. It’s about as much tech-savvy as it is about marketing flair. The best affiliate marketers are good at both. If you’re struggling with one area, knowing at least the basics can get you a long way.

As we’ve mentioned, not all affiliate marketers stay in the trade for long, but that’s the best part. Whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience in online business, affiliate marketing can open new opportunities or even reopen old ones—and no matter what field you’re in, the skills you take away will be useful for yeas to come.

PostHeaderIcon How To Get Advertisers for Your Website

There are dozens of ways to monetize a website, but few have as much professional backing as direct advertising. It’s relatively hard to get right, but when successful, it offers a stable flow of revenue and a good dose of credibility. In other words, it opens up opportunities for even more monetization.

It all starts with a good website with regular traffic: you don’t get advertisers at your door for a blog that’s only five days old. Although there’s no official number, most people agree that a website becomes “marketable” when it gets at least 1,000 unique visitors per day. If you’re not quite at that point yet, don’t worry: there are other factors that can push you up, such as your Google PageRank or Alexa rank and the number of subscribers you have on RSS.

To get that kind of traffic, your content needs to be tailored. This means that you have to speak to a particular group of people, just as potential advertisers will be targeting a specific market. Diversity is okay—you can talk about food one day and spray-painting the next. But you have to be sure that they’re of interest to the same group of people. The market is at a point where you can never be too specific; as far as advertisers are concerned, the narrower your focus is, the better.

Next, you need an intelligently designed page. You may know how to get advertisers for your website, but how to attract them is another matter. There are two good reasons to invest in good design: first, advertisers want to associate themselves with professional (or at least professional-looking) hosts, and second, they want to have good visibility on your website. Obviously, you’ll need a good idea of what kind of advertising you will sell–banners, text links, sidebar ads—and design your site around it, making sure to keep your own content on center stage. And don’t forget to throw in a page for interested sponsors: an easy-to-find “Advertise Here” link with detailed information can go a long way.

Finally, you need an ad server software. This is a program that puts ads on your website and tracks statistics for specific ad types and areas. Some of them come with blogging platforms (WordPress’ WP-Ads is one of the most popular) and others are independent, with lots of variation in features. If you’re just trying things out, it might be a good idea to start with the former, and then move on to more advanced solutions as you get more advertisers.