Posts Tagged ‘Directories’

Affiliate Networks Directory

Friday, June 25th, 2010

By Adam Ward

I’ve written previously about using affiliate networks to advertise online. Although running ads through multiple networks can compound problems for advertisers, online publishers have more of an incentive to join multiple networks.

So the question of which networks to join comes up frequently. And that question is often followed by, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a list somewhere of all the affiliate networks out there?” Well, yes it would be great. And I’m working on building that list. Since putting a list like that on this blog would be too static, I’ve built the list on Squidoo. The Affiliate Networks Directory there allows anyone to add a network that isn’t already on the list. My hope is that Squidoo visitors (which are a lot more than this site gets) will help keep the list current.

We first put together an internal list of networks last year. When I was recently adding it to Squidoo, I checked each website to see whether the network was still in existence. I found 34 that weren’t in business anymore. There are probably at least that many new ones that have started up since then, which are not on the Squidoo list.

With such high turnover, it is wise for any advertiser or publisher to do their due diligence before joining a network. Ask around to find out how long they have been in business, whether people on the network have complained about fraud or lack of payments, etc. At the very least, do a Web search for that company name, to see if anything comes up. The last thing you want to deal with is a network owing you money, but shutting down before you have a chance to get any of it.

Promoting Your Blog

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

By Adam Ward

Today I saw a forum thread where a blogger said he learned how to put posts on his blog the first year, monetize his blog the second year, and market it in the third year. At first it seemed flippant, but I realized he was being truthful. The more I thought about it, the more it struck a chord with me. I imagine this is a common path for most bloggers, at least those that are blogging for business reasons.

Starting a blog couldn’t be easier. There are many tools out there people can use to start blogging in minutes. When I started, I recall seeing a “What should I blog about?” question with the advice to just start writing about something. Once you start, you can then catch your stride, as well as take some time to add plugins and other design elements to your blog. I think that’s good advice.

Monetizing a blog is also pretty easy to do once you’ve made a few posts. It costs nothing for a blogger to sign up for an account on one of the many affiliate networks, such as Share a Sale, grab the code for an advertiser’s offer, and put it on the blog. Now, monetizing a site and making money are two completely different things. If nobody reads your blog, nobody will click through your ads, and you won’t make a dime.

That’s where marketing the blog comes in. I realize not every blogger is trying to make money, but those who do it as affiliate marketers do (I saw a forum post once that said, “Why bother blogging if you don’t expect to make any money?”), and business bloggers (myself included) have kind of a dual purpose in wanting to disseminate useful information that others can use, but also do it in the hopes that readers will become familiar with their business or product, have a greater amount of trust in them because of the comfort level built through reading the blog, and possibly become a customer. But even people who blog for fun and don’t ever expect to make a dime want to know that at least someone out there is reading their blogs.

I started this blog about seven months ago. I got busy with our eSilverBullet development for a few months, so didn’t have a chance to blog. But now that I’m back at it I realize I’m at the stage of needing to promote it. I’m not looking to monetize it by putting ads on it, so I can skip that step, but up until now the blog has been mostly hidden, with no readers whatsoever. Since I’ve been cobbling together advice from the far corners of the Internet on how, exactly, I should market this blog, I thought I’d share what I’ve encountered here. If you’re reading this post someday, that means I was at least nominally successful.

Linking to Other Blogs

One way to possibly get noticed, starting from day one of your blog, is to link to someone else’s blog. This doesn’t automatically create a quid pro quo (i.e. they feel obligated to link to your blog), or improve your page rank in the search engines, but it might get that blogger to look at your blog, and possibly leave a comment. If you use WordPress, linking to another WordPress blog in the body of your post will automatically ping the blog you linked out to. That means 1) they’ll be aware you linked to them and 2) a snippet of your blog post right around the link may show up in the comments area of their blog, without you even having to visit their site.

If a blogger allows trackbacks, you can copy the URL of their post (clicking the trackbacks link will show you the correct URL you should copy in your browser’s address field) and paste it in the Trackbacks field just under your content when you are creating a new post. That is similar to linking to another WordPress blog in your post. It essentially alerts the blogger that you’ve written a post and have referenced their post. If the blogger approves it, that snippet will show up along with all the other comments for their post.

Commenting on Other Blogs

Anytime you leave a comment on someone else’s blog post, you have the option of entering the URL to your blog. If your comment gets approved, people reading your comment can choose to see where you’re coming from. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll come to your site, but it is always a possibility. Although you’ll want to put some thought into the comment you leave, you’ll still be able to leave comments faster than writing new blog posts and referencing that blog using a trackback.

Those Pesky No Follow Backlinks

I’m sure you’re aware that the more links pointing to your site (referred to as backlinks), the higher esteem search engines place on you, right? But before you start spreading comments on every blog you see, be aware that just because a reader may see the backlink, a search engine may not. By default, WordPress sticks a piece of code called No Follow on the URL of each comment left. If you look at the page source (Ctrl+U for Firefox on a PC), if you see a rel=”nofollow” code listed, that means search engines won’t count that as a link, ergo they won’t effect a site’s page ranking.

If you think you’ll be checking source codes often to see whether a site does No Follow or not, you may want to download the NoDoFollow add-on for Firefox, which will color code No Follow links and links that aren’t No Follow (called Do Follow).

To test this out, go to Yahoo’s Site Explorer and type in the URL for your blog. You’ll see which backlinks Yahoo attributes to your site. If you’ve made a comment to a blog and its backlink URL was assigned No Follow, that blog’s site will not show up in the Yahoo search. However, if the blog doesn’t use No Follow, you will see the site show up.

To No Follow or Not to No Follow

If you use WordPress, comments to your blog posts will all include the No Follow attribute. That means nobody who adds a comment to your blog will get a backlink to their site, at least as far as search engines are concerned. If you would like to reward readers (and possibly given them an incentive even) for posting comments, you can choose to turn off the No Follow attribute. To do that, you have to install the WordPress plugin called Do Follow, since there is no WordPress setting that allows you to turn off the No Follow code. If you search plugins for “do follow” you’ll see this plugin at the top of the list. That plugin just removes all rel=”nofollow” code from your comments, rather than replacing those references with rel=”dofollow” code, (the plugin is called Do Follow, but there is actually no code called Do Follow).

If you turn off the No Follow attribute, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get more spam, or that comments will automatically be approved. You still have the discretion of approving all pending comments. I have not noticed an increase in spam since activating the Do Follow plugin, so I’m guessing either my Akismet plugin is catching any increases in spam, or I’m just not getting more.

Digg, Social Sites and Directory Listings

Although the best backlinks are created by other people (who essentially give a third-party endorsement to your blog), there are plenty of sites where you can link to your blog. If you have an account on Digg or Delicious, for example, you can mark blog posts you like, including your own. Before you link to your own blog on these sites, however, check to see whether they are No Follow sites. Digg is a No Follow site, so just because you link to all your blog posts from there doesn’t mean you’ll get credit for that from the search engines. So if you’re just looking for real eyeballs from those links, think about the pros and cons of possibly being the only person “digging” your own posts, from a public-perception standpoint.

There are some directories that list only Do Follow blogs. So if you have installed and enabled the Do Follow plugin, you might want to go to a site like dofollow.info and submit a link to your blog. You’ll have to verify that it is a Do Follow site. If you get listed on these directories, other bloggers looking to leave comments on Do Follow sites can find your site on these directories, and come to your site looking to leave comments.

Will This Work?

I know bloggers often act like the experts on everything. I’m not. Promoting this blog is new territory for me. My hope is that I’ve been able to consolidate some pertinent information on this subject here, which you can then try to utilize. I’m going to start using what I’ve learned right now, and we can both find out whether this works.

Many Advertising Paths to Seller Heaven

Friday, November 6th, 2009

By Adam Ward

If you sell a good or service from a bricks-and-mortar store, you probably already realize there are seemingly endless vehicles with which you can advertise in the physical world. Adding the online world to that mix can create so many advertising opportunities that you might be overwhelmed to the point of not utilizing any of them. But since everyone with a product or service needs to do some form of marketing, I’m hoping this post will help.

Which advertising vehicle you use could be a calculated result of a sophisticated marketing strategy you’ve put together, or it may be as loose as caving to whatever sales person pushed hardest for your business. Whether you are a new advertiser or a veteran, you need to be informed of your options. I’ll try to cover the basics of some options in both the physical and online worlds.

Offline Advertising

Newspapers, radio, television and outdoor are probably the first types of offline advertising that come to mind. Even if you aren’t familiar with their rates and terminology, you at least recognize their media. Because I’ve written about these media here, I’ll leave it at that.

However, there are a lot more offline advertising sources than those. Here are a few.

Yellow pages: Yes, it seems strange to think of phone books in the digital age, but they are still around. In fact, I probably get phone books from four different companies delivered to my door each year. When I was a kid, I remember just a single phone book. The crazy thing is I keep each one until I replace it the following year. Even though yellow pages still get printed, they also have an online presence. It’s just as easy for them to put the information they have online as in print. And when you think about how important accurate data is, the phone books have a built-in reputation that is stronger than a listing site on the Internet that nobody has heard of.

Yellow pages are more akin to search engines than banner ads. Chances are consumers will run across your ad only if they are searching for something you provide. You won’t get any impulse buyers.

Mailers: With the price of postage these days, direct mail is not cheap. But there is some comfort knowing that a consumer will at least look at your mailer and decide whether to toss it or keep it. And if you do it with consistency, consumers know to look for it. For example, I know that if I want anything from Bed, Bath and Beyond, I just need to wait a few weeks for a 20-percent-off coupon in the mail.

You can do mailers a few ways. You can send a stand-alone piece that you’ve produced (like the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons). Or you can mix your ad with other advertisers, like inside a ValuePak envelope, the equivalent of mailed newspaper inserts, or coupon magazines. If you decide to go the ValuPak-type route, you’ll be working with a sales rep from whatever advertising company produces those coupons, inserts or magazines. You pay them, and they’ll handle the mailing costs, and probably do your creative work for you as well.

Other: There are also quite a few non-traditional offline ways to advertise. If your community has a bike-share program, you may be able to sponsor the program by having your company or product show up on all the bikes. You can advertise in playbills for orchestras, plays, dance concerts, etc. You can be a supporter of public radio or television. Your local dry cleaner may let you put your ad on the coat hangers they give out to all their customers. And remember that outdoor media includes sides of buses and bus-stop benches.

Online Advertising

Just like broadcast and newspaper ads come to mind with offline advertising, banner ads are probably the first that come to mind with online advertising. These ads often run through online ad networks, which I’ve written about here.

But online advertising doesn’t stop with banner ads.

Search: If you anticipate people looking for your company or product by going to an Internet search engine, think about the search terms they would most likely enter. Now search for those terms yourself and see what results you get. If you or your product don’t show up anywhere, you may want to pay for those search terms. You can actually buy your way to the top of sponsored search results on Google, Yahoo, etc.

Contextual: If you want your text or banner ad to show up in or around online stories, you can pay for contextual advertising. You can do this through online ad networks or Google. So if you sell snowmobiles and want to advertise on newspaper websites, but only if the story has something to do with outdoor activities, snowmobiling or winter sports, you can pay for those contextual ads.

Directories: Online directories are kind of like yellow pages. It is possible that you are already listed in some online directories, just like you’re listed in phone books, without your having paid to be there. The directory company adds as many businesses as they can for free, because the more accurate content they have, the more people will trust their listings. But if you want to show up more prominently, you’ll have to pay extra. That’s what the yellow pages and online directories hope for.

Although being listed in online directories may be good for you, they may actually be a hindrance. It is much easier for an entrepreneurial person to create a directory online. Once online, that person may then be using search engine optimization (SEO) or paying for keywords that would drive some customers who might have otherwise found your site to their own. For example, if you own a coffee shop, search for “coffee shop” and the name of your city. Chances are you’ll see a number of directories where you and your competitors may or may not be listed. If so, chances are you’ll be getting calls from the owners of those sites asking you to advertise in their directories.

If you just want people to know your address and phone number, showing up on multiple directories might be OK. But if you actually need people to come to your site, realize that you are now not only competing with other coffee shops in your area, but also competing with these online directories that will probably have their own interests above yours.

Social: By now you know you can advertise on Facebook and other social-media sites. Paying Facebook for clicks may or may not be the best use of your money. There are other ways that you can utilize social sites. Although technically you can do them for “free,” there will still be some cost in terms of hiring someone to do it for you, or for spending the time to do it yourself.

Social sites include blogs and forums. If you or someone you hire participate in forums, leave comments on blogs, or leave product reviews on sites that showcase your products, you are in essence engaging in viral marketing. If you have your own blog, potential customers will view you as an expert in your area, develop a level of trust with you, and feel better buying from you.