Friday, 6 July 2012

Best Sources of Traffic in 2012

Traffic is the cornerstone, the foundation, to any successful blog or website. No matter which way you look at things, traffic is one of the most essential, key aspects of a blog’s success. And perhaps most importantly, the amount of traffic you get is directly proportional to the amount of money your blog makes!

The good news is that there is, quite literally, a ton of sources of free traffic available out there.

The best source of traffic remains Google and organic traffic. However a lot of SEOs, SEMs, marketers and industry-specialists have stopped relying solely on Google for traffic – mostly because Google has been introducing changes and tweaks to its search engine algorithm, such as the Panda and Penguin updates.

Each update has sent people scrambling to protect their website’s SERP and rankings. Because each update puts your traffic levels, and hence your income at risk – if an algorithm update makes you lose your ranking, there’s very little you can do about it. If Google deems that your backlinks aren’t legit, and as a result you SERPs fall, once again, there’s nothing you can do about it.

And this is precisely what has happened to a lot of blogs and websites out there, blogs which were doing well before the mighty Panda and more importantly, the Penguin struck! If the last year or so has taught us anything, it’s that Google is an unreliable source of traffic.

Besides, it is never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket! Limiting yourself to getting traffic solely from Google (or just one source) is unwise and unadvisable. Given the volatile and unpredictable nature of Google’s updates, no one can really foresee what Google might have in store in the future.

The solution? Diversification! Diversify, broaden and expand your sources of income. This is 2012, and like I said before, there is a ton to choose from! Here are a few free sources of traffic that you can use, in combination with organic traffic, to boost your site’s visibility, SERP and revenues:

1. Facebook

Facebook remains one of the most popular social network out there, boasting an excess of 900 million total users (that’s almost 1/7th of the world’s population!), closing in quickly on the 1 billion mark, and over half of those being active accounts. In human terms, this means that one in every seventh person on the earth is on Facebook, and one in every fourteen person on Earth checks his Facebook at least once a day!

And it doesn’t end there. Facebook is one of the single-largest sources of traffic after Google! People have been able to generate a LOT of referral traffic from Facebook, and there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be doing just that as well.

2. Twitter

The power of Twitter lies in its ‘Retweet’ capabilities – if someone with a large number of followers RT’s your tweet, and that in turn gets RT’ed more times again and again, you have the potential to go viral within a few short minutes! Viral translates to massive traffic, but in most cases, it’s easier said than done.

You’ll need a strong presence on Twitter, with many followers and especially followers who are more likely to share your posts, or those who have a high ‘Social Networking Potential’ (SNP) – individuals (or groups) who have a large area of influence. Anything shared by these individuals/groups will tend to be shared, RT’ed and read by a lot of people. Celebrities and atheletes, for instance, have a very high SNP.

3. Youtube

What most people don’t know, is that Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world, after of course you-know-who. Pretty amazing right, especially when you consider that Youtube is bigger than the likes to Bing and Yahoo!

And the other stats pretty much speak for themselves as well – 800 million unique visitors a month (whoa!), millions of subscriptions happening every day, 30% traffic coming from the US, while a massive 70% coming from outside the US (which means that it has a global appeal), and Youtube had an amazing 1 trillion video views in 2011!

All this means that it is a goldmine as far as traffic is concerned. Make the right video, share it on Youtube, and do all the right things in order to ensure that it goes viral, and you’ll be able to see your traffic skyrocket!

Even if you can’t go viral, anyone and everyone can use Youtube and get free traffic off it. Regardless of which niche you’re in, there almost always something that you can make a video on. Affiliate marketers, for instance, can post video reviews, SEO bloggers and SEMs can post video tutorials and general bloggers and make a video on just about anything in their niche and use Youtube to get a steady stream of traffic for a long time.

4. Email Lists and Subscriptions

Lists and email marketing has to be one of the best sources of free traffic, especially in the unpredictable world of Pandas and Penguins that we live in today.

If you don’t have a list, you’re missing out on a great source of traffic! If you think email marketing is a thing of the past, think again. Starting making a list right now! Encourage your readers, visitors, followers and fans to subscribe to your list. Because according to stats, a good list is worth $1 per subscriber, per month. This means that a list with 500 subscribers will make you $500 every month!

Once you’re able to build a list, people will automatically receive an update from you whenever you post something, and email lists have the highest conversion rates in the industry. This means that with a list, you’re building a steady stream of traffic to your blog, and hence you’re ensuring the long-term stability and traffic of your business.

One of the most popular email marketing tools out there is Aweber. It comes with a whole slew of features, and a wide variety of tools and customization.

Email marketing, therefore, remains on the top of the priority lists for many top marketers and SEOs. Engaging with your list usually yields it’s rewards in terms of traffic as well as revenues.

5. Reddit

Reddit is a social bookmarking site that is similar to Digg. They call themselves ‘the front-page of the Internet,’ and it’s hard to argue with that! Reddit gets thousands upon thousands of views each day, visitors looking for fresh content from all over the world. And if you have fresh, excellent-written content to share, Reddit can bring in many visitors to your blog quite easily.

All you have to do is create a profile on Reddit, which takes less than a minute, and submit your links, articles or stories on the website. Alternatively, you can use the Reddit Bookmarklet to submit your content.

The aim is to become a power-user on Reddit by earning karma, the more karma or votes) you’re able to earn, the quicker you’ll be promoted, and then for your stories to be featured on Reddit’s front page. Because once you get to Reddit’s front-page, you will get a lot of exposure!

Fill out your profile fully, and put up a photo. Start submitting your links, and add interesting titles and descriptions to go with them. Make sure that you include your keywords in the title/description, and tag your submissions properly. Above all, make sure that you submit it in the correct sub-Reddit.

However since Reddit is a social community, it is important to participate instead of only using Reddit to promote your content. Be social, post comments on other people’s stories and instead of ONLY sharing your own content, share other interesting stuff from the internet. All your information (including your submissions, and how sociable you are) is public, so make sure you don’t come across as a spammer!

Needless to say, Reddit has a LOT of potential, in terms of traffic and exposure.

Other social bookmarking resources worth checking out would be Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Effective Email Marketing Tips

A large number of people in the industry are writing off email marketing as an effective source of link-building, however the fact remains that email marketing remains an integral part of almost all big SEO campaigns, and is one of the single most effective ways of getting highly targeted traffic.

According to studies and research, people have started to regard ‘spam email’ as emails that they simply don’t want, or are not interested in. In addition, a great quantity of emails also ends up in the spam-folders, which means that a large proportion of your recipients never receive your emails in their inbox in the first place.

This means that the modern email marketers have had to adapt their email marketing campaigns accordingly. The following is a list of things any and every marketer should incorporate into their email marketing campaign to make it much more effective:

1. Ease of Subscription

We start off from the basics: ensuring that it is easy for users to subscribe to your updates. This will be, by far, one of the most important things when it comes to building a list. Make it simple, easy and straightforward for your visitors to subscribe to your emails. Instead of lengthy forms and too many fields, keep it short and simple by just asking for the first name, and email ID. Put this subscription box up on the top of the sidebar of your website so that it is clearly visible to everyone who comes to your page, and make sure that you have a privacy policy which lets your subscribers know that you won’t sell their information.

2. Email Titles/Subject

Your subject line will be the single most important thing when it comes to whether the recipient will open your email or trash it. As a rule of thumb, avoid titles that might be regarded as spam at all costs. Use catchy, captivating and interesting titles that will not only allow your email to make it past the spam filters, they also instantly grab the attention of the reader. For instance it would be a good idea to avoid abbreviations, symbols and/or slang words, or words and phrases that are known to be spammy.  

3. Content And Visuals

The content of your email is one of the most important aspects to its success and failure. Generally speaking, emails with big walls of text will almost always yield poor CTR and CTA rates. My recommendation: use graphics, images and pictures and design a visually-attractive email. Hire a graphic designer for the purpose if you have to. Not too many images though, otherwise it might end up looking cluttered and unorganized. Two important things: (a) optimize any visuals in the email for optimal load-times. Use as less text as possible (less is more!), and (b) make sure that the visuals and easy on the eyes!

4. Address Recipients Using Names

It is also important to address your recipients using their first name. This is especially useful when you want to ask them for a favor (that is do something you want them to do through the email). Personalization is very important! Do this properly and you are sure to receive a reply back from them. Addressing people using their first name looks professional, and ensures that they at least give your email a read. Generic emails which are addressed to no one in particular look spammy, unprofessional and don’t give the recipient any reason to read it. Popular email and list management programs such as Aweber and MailChimp let you store names along with email IDs, and then send out each email with the name attached to it.

5. First Paragraph/Opening Text

The first paragraph is what will eventually make or break your email and it’s CTA, and whether users actually perform the action you wanted them to take or not. You might be doing everything else right – using correct subject, addressing people using names, and sending out some visually-pleasing emails. However if you fail to engage your readers in the very beginning, it all goes down the drain. Therefore, the opening text should be appealing and engaging, and above all, it should be able to convince your reader to read on and take the action(s) you want him/her to take.

6. CTA

Your CTA, the action you want your readers to take, should always be clearly visible and evident. The CTA should always be above-the-fold; users should not be required to scroll down to take an action. Make it crystal clear what action you want your readers to take. Whether its purchasing a widget, availing a special offer or a discount, verifying a user’s account or signing a petition. It should be crystal clear. No ambiguities.

7. Contact

Allow your recipients to be able to contact you easily, and provide them with various methods to do this: telephone, email, etc. A good idea to do this would be to put all your contact information in your signature.

8. Unsubscribe

It is extremely important that you allow you subscribers to be able to unsubscribe easily, and at any time. This is extremely important because the cold, hard truth is that there will almost always be someone who would want to unsubscribe and want out. Make this easy for them; allow people an option of one-click unsubscription with every email so that people can remove themselves from your list.

9. The Power of Tuesdays and Wednesdays

According to several studies and researches, it has been concluded that the best days to send out emails to your list are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, because people are apparently the most ‘receptive to communication’ during midweek. More receptive audience means more clicks which could very well mean more sales! Make the most of your email campaign by sending out your emails on these days.

10. Consistency

Consistency is important, both in terms of frequency of your emails, as well as the email’s look and feel. People who have opted-in to your subscription list would expect to hear from you on a regular basis. Send out your emails on regularly, for instance every week. But not too frequently, as you do not want your subscribers to thing you’re spamming them. In addition, be consistent with your email look and feel, especially if it’s an e-magazine. This helps strengthen your brand and image, and increases your CTA.

11. Bonus/Incentive

Offering a bonus or an incentive almost always guarantees you get subscribers. It could be anything – a free eBook, access to a webinar or a training course, a premium theme/plugin, a discount or a rebate.. sky’s the limit! Offer a ‘free eBook on how to get more traffic instantly’, and watch those subscriptions roll in!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Best Blogging Extensions for Google Chrome (and Other Browsers)

Here is a list of the best Google Chrome extensions for all sorts of bloggers out there. Trust me on this: these free extensions will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to blogging tasks on a daily basis.

(Note that most of these extensions are for the Google Chrome browser, but many of the popular ones are also available for other major browsers. If not, there are almost always alternatives available out there for browsers other than Chrome.)

1. Evernote Web Clipper

This little extension has, in all seriousness, been a life-saver for me during my blogging exploits all these years!

Often times, we stumble upon a website, a link, an article or a news item that interests us in one way or the other – but most of the times, it is because we, as bloggers, might want to use it later on as a post idea, or post on it later, or use it as a reference resource when writing our next blog post. That is where Evernote Web Clipper comes in really handy.

This extension allows you to save the link for later use. Saving a link is as simple as dragging-and-dropping the link onto the extension’s icon and voila! Saved for later reference.

2. AddThis

AddThis allows you to share your content on popular social mediums and directories such Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg, Tumblr and Delicious, to name just a few. There are more than 300 websites on the extension’s list!

The extension makes sharing your content on these website easy as anything. You can share not only your own content, but just about anything on the internet through the extension. Furthermore, the extension also lets you bookmark, print and/or translate webpages.

3. Wordpress Stats

In simple terms, this extension does exactly what it claims to do: provide you with Wordpress statistics of all your Wordpress blogs right from inside the browser.

You get detailed information and stats like referrers, top posts and top search queries; all information that is available to you from within Wordpress, but with this, you can access it without the need to log into your blog and going into the dashboard.

4. SEO For Chrome

This is yet another great tool, real handy for checking just about anything and everything related to SEO on your website.

Simply type in your URL and this extension will provide you with a ton of information about your website’s SEO – such as pagerank, traffic levels, and pages indexed by Google and other search engines.

There is a ton of additional information available as well -  such as backlinks, search statistics, social metrics and on-site SEO metrics as well. A must-have extension for any blogger out there!

5. Ruul Screen Ruler

A real handy tool for when you want to measure something on your screen, Ruul Screen Ruler is a virtual foot-ruler that allows you to measure anything on your screen.

You can measure the size of images, the size of the content area of a webpage, or just about anything else on the screen.

6. Sniphr

Simply put, Sniphr allows you to save snippets of text from any webpage or from just about anywhere on the internet. Simply highlight the text, and save it as a snippet. Probably the best time-saving tool out there, and one of the simplest bookmarking extension on Chrome.

7. Diigo

Diigo functions in a way similar to AddThis, except that it allows you to do much more than simply bookmark webpages and articles.

Diigo lets you bookmark anything off the internet, highlight stuff on websites, put up reminders for yourself, pool your findings and if you want, share them. It is the perfect tool for researching for your blog, and all-in-one tool for doing research and getting things done.

8. Ly

A product of the famous service (a famous URL shortening service), Ly lets you shorten your URLs to the smallest, most compact size possible. This means that Ly makes sharing URLs extremely simple and straightforward.

Short URLs are useful when you want to be able to share with them via email, verbally, or over social mediums such as Facebook, or perhaps most importantly, Twitter (due to its 160-character word limit).

The extension therefore makes it easier to shorten the URLs without the need to go through the website.

9. The Ultimate Free Stock Photo Search

Almost all bloggers use images in form or the other on their blogs, and the simple fact of the matter remains that finding the right images takes a lot of time. In addition, finding free-to-use images becomes an issue as well.

That is where The Ultimate Free Stock Photo Search extension comes in. This extension lets you look up half-a-billion free stock photos from over 200 galleries, saving you an immense amount of time and effort that you would’ve otherwise spent scouring the internet look for these images.

Bloggers who require images for their posts very frequently will absolutely love this extension!


SEO SERP is  w wonderful tool, in the sense that it gives bloggers an insight into their Google ratings, and how exactly their websites are doing in terms of keywords. This means that you can check the position of a single website, or a single website, for a given keyword, and keep  a record of the progress your blog is making.

11. Thesauraptor

This has been, for me, a genuine life-saver throughout the years! As you might (or might not) have guessed, thesauraptor is a thesaurus extension for Google Chrome, that lets you find alternatives to the words you might be looking for, from right within the browser.

The extension is quick and immensely useful when you run out of words, or just want an alternative word for saying what you really want to say. It lets you find replacement words easily and instantly.

12. Live Earnings Checker Google AdSense

As if it wasn’t obvious enough from the name, Live Earnings Checker is a Google Chrome extension, that lets you know the amount of your earnings through Google AdSense. It keeps you updated with AdSense statistics throughout the day, as the extension updates the information every 5 minutes. You can view AdSense earnings by day or month, as well as convert your earnings in different currencies.

Needless to say, this is a great extension for all those bloggers out there that might be using AdSense.

13. Wordcount

This is something that should probably come with browsers as a default. Wordcount, as the name probably gives it away, gives you a count of the words and characters of just about anything that you select on your screen, as simple as that!

14. Google Reader Notifier

If you rely on feeds from many different sources as a part of your blogging routine, I strongly recommend using Google Reader Notifier with your Google Reader.

Google Reader, as we all might know, if a popular Feed reader, and once  this extension has been configured with Google Reader, it will display all your Google Reader unread feeds right in your browser. The extension’s icon (which in Google Chrome, sits next to the URL bar) shows the number of unread feeds, clicking on this icon brings up a preview of all your unread feeds in a popup window.

Pretty simple to use, as well as being immensely useful!

15. YSlow

YSlow extension for Google Chrome analyzes a webpage for speed, and suggests ways in which the speed of the page can be improved and made better.

YSlow uses a certain set of rules and criteria and takes some of the most quick-loading websites out there as benchmark, and puts your website against them. Once it analyses your website, it assigns it a grade based on its performance in terms of speed, and comes up with suggestions on how this can be improved.

A brilliant little extension for your blogs and websites!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

How to Have a Killer Landing Page

As an internet marketer, or a SEM, you website’s landing page is probably the single-most important component of your online portfolio and your presence on the internet.

Online marketers are constantly producing bigger and better offers. Marketers almost always have to produce a new landing page to go with their latest and greatest. This means that creating a new landing page becomes a repetitive exercise.

While there are tons of tools that let you create some brilliant-looking landing pages, little or no emphasis is placed on the optimization of the page – something which would most certainly have an adverse effect on the performance of your page, especially in terms of traffic, leads and revenues.

The following is a list of things that every SEM should consider in order to optimize and improve the performance of their landing pages:

1. The Headline

First and foremost, start off with reassessing your headline. Ideally, your headline should be short and precise (a one-liner, instead of being a paragraph no one’s probably going to read), it should be prominent (make it bold, use a fancy font), and it should stand out. But perhaps above all, your headline should always instantly be able to tell the viewer/reader what your offer’s all about.

Clarity should also be another important aspect of your headline. Ask yourself this: will a potential visitor be clearly able to know what your offer is about, and what benefits would he or she be able to receive from your offer?

Doing all this in just over a couple of words will be a difficult task, and the marketer who is able to nail all these aspects in 10 or so words will ultimately end up with a headline that’s compelling and attractive.

In addition, make sure you use your keyword(s) at least once in your headline as well, essential from an SEO perspective.

2. Text and Clutter

A landing page should NEVER look like a blog post, and should never have large amounts of text on it. Only put the most essential information on it, focusing more on the graphic aspect by adding graphics and images to it, and as less text as possible. Only the essential text should be added. Keep the details and explanations on another page, and link to it from your landing page.

A good substitute for a lot of text is video. This is precisely what have done. Instead of putting up tons of text explaining what Dropbox does, they have a bog video box on their landing page, accompanied with a download button.

Less is more. By keeping it clean, uncluttered and free of text apart from short descriptions, your visitors are instantly able to have an idea about your offer and the value that it provides.

Equally important is to reduce the number of things which might ‘distract’ a visitor from your CTA, which could be anything from a flashy background or a header, to an image or a graphic. You want your visitors to focus on one thing – your call to action. Distractions in form of images or text will prevent them from doing just that.

3. Clear Value Proposition

The sole purpose of your landing page is to be able to convert as many visitors as possible. In order to do so, your landing page should be able to communicate the precise value that it provides to its visitors. In other words, what exactly will they get out of what you have on offer? Why would they provide you with their personal details, and why would they be bothered to fill out a form?

Place special importance on the value, not just the product. You might be selling a Wordpress plugin that automatically optimizes images for SEO, but what benefits would your readers get from buying your plugin?

Make your value proposition worth your readers’ time and worthy of them providing you with their email IDs and other personal information. Because when you do, you will have convinced them to fill out the form or do whatever your CTA wants them to do.

4. Above The Fold

Your Call-To-Action should almost always be above-the-fold. This means that visitors shouldn’t be required to scroll down too much to redeem/avail your offer, or scroll down a lot in order to fill a form, or click on the buy-now button.

If this is the case, it would be a good idea to move it up and make it more prominent, making it easier for people to be able to find it. No one wants to scroll up and down a page, just to fill out a form or click on a button. It is your responsibility to make your CTA as easy as possible, e.g. filling out a form.

5. Forms

Forms should ideally be as short, precise, concise and to-the-point as possible. Because the simple fact of the matter is that the more fields your form has, the less likely that people will actually fill it out. Because lets be perfectly honest, no one likes to fill out lengthy forms that ask for irrelevant information or info that is not even required.

Shorter forms will allow you to generate maximum leads. Everyone can easily space a minute or two to fill out a form that has a couple of essential fields. However no many will be willing to fill your form out if it asks for 10 different fields to be completed. The fewer the fields, the more the people willing to complete the form, it’s as simple as that.

6. Submit Button

According to studies, tweaking and changing your submit button might also be a good idea, because, apparently ‘pages with a submit button have lower conversion rates than pages that used a substitute/alternative word.  The difference between the two was 4% - with buttons that used alternate words getting as much as 17% more conversion rates, as compared to the 14.5% conversion for buttons with submit.

In addition, make your submit button stand out, but using a different color scheme, or perhaps a different shade or contrast of the color. Make it more prominent by making it large in size. Most landing pages use this tactic to great effect, as often times, the largest single thing on the page is a ‘Buy,’ ‘Download,’ ‘Products and Pricing,’ ‘Get Started’ button or a similar one.

7. Social Integration

Social integration remains an important aspect of blogs and websites around the world – and your landing page is no exception.

If you allow people to be able to easily share your page on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you can get a lot of exposure and expand the reach of your page to many different circles and potential customers who might be interested in what you have on offer.

If your offer is good enough, people will want to share it with others people in their networks. Why not make this process as easy as possible, by adding a Share/Like on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter and +1 on Google Plus icon on your page. Depending on the platform that you’re using, this can be as simple as adding the necessary widget, placing them wherever you want to, and that’s it.

In addition, offer your visitors with an incentive to Like, RT or +1 your page. For instance anyone who Likes your page stands to receive a 10% discount on all your products and service, or anyone who Tweets your offer and your page on their Twitter is eligible to a free bonus download with $30!

8. CTA

A lot has already been said about the CTA – it should be clear, it should be valuable-enough, and it should be simple and straightforward. In addition, there should always be a single CTA on your blog. You want your visitors to take one, single, clear action, instead of confusing them with multiple different ones.

Every good landing page always has one, single CTA. The example of comes up once again; they have a big, blue button which makes it crystal clear to the visitor what he needs to do, once he lands on their page.

Monday, 2 July 2012

What to Look for In a Good Affiliate Program

Affiliate marketing remains one of the most attractive and lucrative industry for many bloggers, SEMs and marketers out there. While the industry is still dominated by some of the bigger, more well-known players like Amazon and ClickBank, a rather large number of new merchants have also joined in. As an affiliate, there’s a lot to choose from, and choice and the ability to choose is always a good thing.

Here are a few things to consider before choosing an affiliate program:

1. Product

Extremely important to start off on the right foot, that is start with a product that you’re interested in marketing. In all likelihood, you will be spending a lot of time talking about the product and promoting it on online, therefore it is imperative that it is something that interests you and something that you feel passionate about.

Choose a product that appeals to a wide group of people out there, one that a lot of people will be interested in. Doing basic marketing research is essential and something that every smart affiliate marketer would do.

Using Google AdWords Keyword Tool would be a good place to start, as it would give you a good idea of which products get looked up most frequently, as well as the competition for those products. The winning formula would be choosing a product with a high search volume and low competition.

Above all, it should be a quality product, because much like your own self, people like quality and value, and if they think that their best shot at getting both these things is through you, they will not only give you the sale but become returning customers.

Key Takeaways: (a) choose a product that interests you, (b) ensure that there is a reasonable demand for it, (c) ensure that it is a quality product, and (d) ensure that it is a product that allows you to compete.

2. Merchant’s Online Presence

As the next step, it is recommended to have a look at how your merchant’s website looks like. Ideally, the website should be user-friendly, should explain the process of becoming an affiliate comprehensively and in easy terms, and perhaps above all, the products should be shown in the best way possible so that visitors know exactly what they’re buying.

Also check for ‘leaks’ – links out of the website, such as on the checkout page, that lead to non-commissionable website, and will hence not earn you any money or help you close down a sale.

Key Takeaways: It is always a good idea to stick with reputable and well-known affiliates.

3. Commission

This is, with a shadow of a doubt, one of the most important aspects for any affiliate marketer when choosing the merchant, and in all probability, the first thing that an affiliate will look at is the payout rate, aka. the commission. Often times, this is the deciding factor when choosing a merchant and people tend to go for merchants which have the highest payout rates. While this is not an advisable approach to take, payout rate remains one of the most important factors when choosing an affiliate.

Calculating the payout rate is pretty simple and straightforward – the merchant defines an amount and the affiliate earns that amount whenever a sale is made through his or her marketing efforts. It could be anywhere – from 0.1% to 50%. For example if a merchant offers a commission of 20%, it means that whenever a sale is made through your affiliate marketing efforts, you will earn a commission of 20%  - if the sale was worth $100, you earn $20.

Key takeaways: Pretty obvious. Better commission or payout rates are better, but should not be the only consideration when choosing an affiliate program.

4. Conversion Rates

In simple terms, conversions refer to the number of people, who respond to your CTA or complete an action you intended them to complete, out of a total of 100 visitors. For instance if your website gets a 100 visitors during any given point of time, and 5 of them complete an action you wanted them to complete (such as buy a plugin or any product), you have a conversion rate of 5%.

Conversion rates are important because if your merchant’s website has low conversion rates, you will almost never be able to make any money with your promotion and affiliate efforts.

So what sort of conversion rates should you be looking at when choosing an affiliate? While conversion rates of 1% are considered to be the industry average, my recommendation would be to find an affiliate which boasts at least 2-3% conversion statistics.

Conversion rates are strongly connected with commission rates. Let’s suppose that a merchant pays 5% commission, and has a conversion rate of 1%. This means that if you drive 100 visitors to their website, and out of those 100, one person makes a purchase of $100 dollars (as their conversion rate is 1%), you’ll make 5 bucks. If the conversion rate was 3%, you’ll be making 15 bucks off the same $100 worth of sales. Therefore the higher the conversion, the more you’re earning.

Key takeaways: higher conversions equal more money in your pocket.

5. Average Order Value/Order Size

Another key performance indicator when it comes to affiliate marketing, especially when combined with commission and conversion rates. Average order size (AOS) or average order value (AOV) is calculated by dividing revenue from the number of transactions.

Let’s take a look at this example: If merchant 1 pays 10% commission and merchant 2 pays 15% commission, you will be inclined to choose the first one based solely on those numbers. However merchant 1’s AOV is $300, while merchant B’s AOV is just $50, which means that 10% of 300 will make you $30 per sale, while 15% of $50 will make you a measly $7.5.

Even if you factor in conversion rates, for instance if Merchant 1 has a 1% conversion rate and merchant 2 has a higher conversion of 2%, it means that you payout will be $30 with merchant 1, but just $15 with merchant 2.

In which case the merchant with the higher AOV (despite having lower commission and conversion rates), it still the obvious winner.

Key takeaways: AOV/AOS is an important consideration and an important KPI, and should be used in tandem with other metrics.

6. Earnings Per Click

Quite simply, EPC is calculated by dividing overall commission by the number of clicks (or visitors). For instance if you are able to make 20 bucks after sending a 100 clicks (or visitors) to the merchant, you EPC is $0.20/click – which essentially means that you earn 20 cents per click, or you make a dollar for every 5 clicks/visitors that you send to the merchant.

EPC then gives you a fair idea of your performance as an affiliate, and allows you to gauge your performance based on how much money you make per visitor.

In addition, EPC is also a good gauge of measuring a merchant’s performance and their program’s earning potential based on the affiliates who are already a part of the program. Some merchants make this information publicly available while others do not.

Key takeaways: EPC is a good gauge of how successful a certain program is doing, as well as a good way to measure your own personal performance.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Youtube Videos and SEO

If there were to be an eighth wonder of the world, surely it’d be Youtube, right?

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world right now, after Google. It is a brilliant tool and a great social networking tool that gives access to a plethora of information and resources to people in the form of videos. Tons of data moves through Youtube’s servers on a daily basis, and millions of people looking for information on the internet do so through Youtube.

Youtube, like many of its other social networking counterparts, is also a great tool for generating referral traffic back to your blog, and getting some valuable backlinks. If your video is seen by a large group of people, any links that you put in the description also stand the chance to be seen by an equally large number of people.

However there is a lot of competition on Google at the moment, similar to what we see on Google’s SERP. The following set of tips should be useful for optimizing your Youtube videos in order to have them rank higher on Youtube’s search results, and maybe even have them appear on Google’s SERP for their keywords.

1. We start off from the basics – choosing the right filename. Keeping in mind some of the best practices when it comes to optimizing images on your blog, ensure that your video’s filename always gives the viewer a clear idea of what the video is about. For instance if it’s a video of a Bugatti Veyron breaking the land-speed record, make sure it’s titled ‘veyron-breaks-speed-record.mpg’ instead of untitled.mpg or MOV5478.mpg. Youtube will almost always check filenames for keywords in order to rank your videos.

2. The keywords you want your video to rank for should ALWAYS be the first keywords in the video’s title, description and tags. All other keywords, such as your company name, brand name etc. should come after the main keyword(s). Try to structure all required meta information in this manner. For example if it’s a video of a game that you attended last night, make sure the names of the teams, or the tournament that they were playing in, comes in the beginning. 

3. Give interesting titles to your video that attracts people to click on it and watch it. An attention-grabbing title would quite obviously have a higher clickthrough rate.

4. Being regular with Youtube videos is also quite beneficial, in the same sense as putting up regular posts on your blog is good for traffic. Uploading videos on a regular basis or regular intervals will ensure that you rank well on Youtube and Google, and your channel gets many subscribers and views as well. A regularly updated channel will bring you a steady stream of traffic, subscribers and quite possibly, inbound traffic to your blog.  

5. If your video is some sort of a tutorial, walkthrough, a guide or something similar and has a voiceover, include your keyword as frequently as possible by saying it throughout the video. Youtube, apart from the text-based clues that you provide to it, also ‘listens’ to your videos (using speech-to-text algorithms) and picks up important key terms from your videos. It then ranks you for these key terms, so it is important to use these keywords during the voice over. The best way to do this is write a script of the video, which includes your main keyword(s), and then use this script during your narrative.

6. In addition to point number 4 above, Youtube also lets users upload a transcript file for all videos, and Youtube then indexes these captions, scans the information and picks up keywords that have been used in the file, ranking the video for these keywords. I personally recommend uploading your own caption transcript, as opposed to Google transcribing your video instead. It allows you to control which captions appear in your video.

7. Be active and sociable on Youtube, just like you would on other social mediums. From what I’ve seen, replying to each and every comment is a sure-shot way of getting more comments on your own videos, which means more views and possibly, more subscribers as well. For instance one of the people I’m subscribed to on Youtube makes it’s a point to reply to all comments on his videos and his channel, and even tell his viewers that he does so in each of his videos. Understandably, he gets a LOT of comments! P.S. It is also important to be prompt with your comments and replies.

8. Off-site backlinks, especially from authority and high-PR sources, will be immense. Just like how backlinks are important to blogs, websites and webpages, your Youtube video will rank better in Youtube search, as well as on Google’s SERP if you can get some valuable link-juice. For this purpose, share your website on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, other social mediums, and submit it to social bookmarking sites and directories such as Reddit and StumbleUpon.

9. Lastly, encourage people to ‘thumbs up,’ ‘favourite,’ and like you video and post video and text responses. The more, the merrier. This is precisely why just about everyone with a channel on Youtube makes it a point to ask their viewers to like, subscribe, thumbs-up their videos.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

6 Things to Do to Have a Successful Blog (and Increase Traffic)

Building a blog is one of the easiest, simplest things in the world. Building a blog that gets a good amount of traffic on a consistent basis is the tough part.

However there are countless blogs out there doing just this: getting some truly amazing levels of traffic consistently, at times even thousands each month!

What these blogs have been able to do is plan, carry out and successfully execute a set of actions, through which they have seen their traffic levels rise to metronomic levels in a relatively short amount of time.

And let’s be honest here, the single most important and essential thing to your blog is it’s ability to drive traffic to it. For traffic, it is important that you focus all your efforts on aspects that work, rather than wasting time on stuff that doesn’t.

1. Build an Email List

Why: Email lists are a great way of bringing consistent traffic to your blog as well as drive in repeat visitors. If you’re successfully able to build even a reasonably-sized email-list, you have the potential to drive in a lot of targeted traffic, of people that actually want to hear from you (that is why they gave you their email ID in the first place!), and hence rely less on external sources of traffic.

How: I personally recommend using an email marketing tool such as Aweber or MailChimp. Both are paid-for services, however the latter provides a free service as well, which of course comes with certain limitations. Put up a email subscription form on your blog that lets people subscribe to your updates. In order to encourage people to subscribe to your blog, you could even offer them some kind of an incentive.

Time Taken: 20 minutes

2. Social Media Integration

Why: Not only social mediums, such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus bringing in massive amount of referral traffic, they are also a great way to be able to share your content online. Facebook, for instance, is getting to that magical 1 billion total users figure, with more than half of them active users. In addition, according to statistics, people on average spend close to 20-30 minutes on Facebook every day. Youtube and Twitter boast similar stats as well. All of which means that there is massive marketing potential, as well as the ability to drive traffic to your content through these mediums.

How: Integrate all major social media platforms to your blog. Add buttons for Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest and the like. Add a like, +1 and RT button on all your posts. How you go about doing this actually depends on the platform you’re using. For instance Wordpress and Blogger make it as easy as looking up and installing the necessary plugins. Doing so will allow people to share your content on these social mediums, and if your content is good enough, it might even spread like wildfire and go viral!

Time Taken: 30-60 mins

3. Facebook Fanpage

Why: Speaking of social media, it would be a good idea to start a Facebook page for your blog. Facebook pages are, quite simply, superb! They allow people to become fans of your blog, and receive updates on a regular basis. You, as the page administrator, have the ability to send out updates as often as possible to your fans and interact with them. It’s easy to create a page and maintain it. Above all, it keeps your personal profile separate for your business one.

Couple this with the face that Facebook has a massive user base (as explained above), and gets tons of daily active users, not having a Facebook page would be a massive missed opportunity. Some of the biggest blogs in the world boast a strong presence on Facebook, often having thousands of fans.

And of course, you fanpage could be a brilliant method of generating referral traffic to your blog. Simply post an update with a link to your blog and watch those visitors roll in!

How: Go to and create a new page for your blog. Fill out complete information of your page, put your blog’s logo up as the profile picture, and get creative with the cover picture. Cover pic provides you with a massive opportunity, for instance you could put an image of your latest special offer, or a new arrival, or a picture from an event, depending on what sort of a blog (and Facebook page) you have.
Above all, post regular updates, without spamming your page.

Time Taken: 20 mins

4. Target Audience Most Likely to Share

Why: Apart from getting traffic from Google, your social profiles and other sources, you are relying on your audience and visitors’ ability to help spread the word about your content. In order to do so, you need to target the audience that will most likely share your content. For instance if you have a blog on weight loss, targeting those people interested in weight loss will obviously yield its results. Similarly, if your content aims to let the reader know about how he can get the best mileage out of your vehicle, you need to target petrol-heads and automobile enthusiasts.

How: Identify groups which have large numbers of people in your niche. Taking the automobile example, it would be a good idea to hit some forums and blog where automobile enthusiasts come together on a daily basis to speak on such matters. Be a part of the discussion, leave some constructive comments and put a link to your blog in your signature. Hit Facebook groups and pages, Google+ Hangouts, and look at Twitter trends, and look for other places online where people are sharing content that is similar to yours, and speaking of similar things as well.

Time Take: 30 mins

5. SEO

Why: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important in the sense that it allows you to be able to drive in traffic to your blog from search engines on autopilot. Google, one of the biggest sources of referral traffic out there, generates more than 60% of the total referral traffic in the world, alone! Search engines, therefore, are a massive source of traffic.

Unfortunately, many bloggers (and unsurprisingly those whose blogs don’t do particularly well) choose to ignore this source of traffic for a variety of reason, most notable of which is that SEO is too hard/complicated/difficult to grasp. The simple fact remains that they’re missing out, as Google gets an enormous 3 billion (yes that’s billion with a ‘b’!) unique search queries every day, a number which is only growing.

How: While SEO can take years to master, learning the basics is always a good thing, and while the list of things everyone should know would prove to be too exhaustive for this write-up, a simple Google search on ‘SEO basics’ will bring up a ton of results. Read up on some basic SEO best-practices, and try implementing them with your blog.

Time Taken: 1-2 hours

6. Guest Posts

Why: Guest posts can be an outstanding way of getting the word out about your blog, as well as building some valuable backlinks to your blog. When the link to your website goes on an authority blog, it can open up a great avenue to direct highly-targeted traffic back to your blog, as well as get you visitors from your own niche. If it’s a high-PR website, getting traffic from such a source will be of immense help to your own PR.

If you have people guest posting on your blog, it can be a great source of getting fresh content on your blog on a regular basis.

How: The importance of guest posts usually goes amiss with a lot of bloggers out there. And to be fair, especially when you start off, convincing other authority bloggers to write on their bloggers, or getting people to write on yours can be difficult. What you can do at this stage is leverage your personal contacts and friendships, people who you know and people who can write for you, or would be willing to let you write on their blogs. Furthermore, approach people on your social networks (Twitter, Facebook), and don’t be discouraged if someone replies with a no. If someone is willing to do a guest post for you (and I believe there will be people), make it as easy for them to write as possible by allowing them freedom to write however they like and whatever they like (related to the content of your blog of course).

Time Taken: 60 mins (if you are writing a guest post)