Want to be a well-known affiliate blogger? My interview with Murray Newlands

I was able to catch up Murray Newlands, a famous blogger. We were able to have nice about his work in affiliate marketing, and the secret behind site, Murraynewlands.com, an affiliate blog that came from nowhere and is now everywhere in Google and twitter. Not only has he some great content on his blog, but is getting picked up and noted all over the blogosphere. Google Famous Blogger and you will see his name, I even hear he is working on Celebrity Blogger!

Murray, what ideas are interesting to you at the moment?

Chris Brogan’s writing on Trust Agents hit a chord with me. I have been very successful as a blogger since launching my blog earlier this year. My SEO is great, and a large reason for this is the links that people give me. I put this down to the content which people do like, yes, but there is more to it than that. I get lots of links from some great people I know in the industry become they want to help me. I always try to help other and I have found that truly what goes around in the blogosphere comes around. You want to connect with people who will engage with you and you soon learn who can fulfill that need with you and who will not. Once you get a reputation being engaging and helping others, you are soon introduced to more people who will also interact with you. It is a virtues circle of people who help each other, and these people swim in schools.

Who are some bloggers I should be trying to connect with?

Greg Rollett http://www.rockstarlifestyledesign.com

Drew Benskpark.com

Heather Smith boatinginbeautifulbritishcolumbia.com

Joetech Joetech.com

Steve Hall Adrants.com

Shawn Collins blog.affiliatetip.com

Connie brainfoggles.com

Chris Brogan ChrisBrogan.com

Eric Schechter www.ericschechter.com

Missy Ward www.missyward.com

Rax www.raxraxrax.com

 

How does blogging fit in with your affiliate marketing work?

Well, I blog about my work, and writing is a great way to explore ideas and concepts as well as share industry news. It is also a good means of making new contacts within the industry many of whom I now do business with.

What fears do you have with blogging?

When I first started I was worried about what people would say about my blog, my writing, MY SPELLING. Now I am not so worried about that, what I do worry about is the people who I forget to say thank you too and the missed opportunities. There is so much going on and so little time. I also have other projects which are getting more demanding and taking me away from my blog. I am not giving up.

Footnote: Murray knows how to draw positive attention. He ranks on Dennis Yu via just one interview with me.

Ultra Light Startups: Local Edition in NYC

The day before Affiliate Summit East in NYC, last Thursday, I attended a ULS get-together on Local. There were almost 100 people there– perhaps half from start-ups looking to network or pitch their product.  Entry fee was $20, but $10 if you do a 60 second pitch.  I am cheap, so I did the pitch.

After the pitching, there was a round table with Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle– then the CEOs from outside.in, growthspur, and 8coupons.  Clearly, I was there to meet Court, as he is a competitor in the local space.  Panelists agreed that:

  • the local space was a growing share of the $500 billion dollar advertising market
  • the weak economy and low cost to make a website was initiating entrepreneurship on a scale never before seen
  • the traditional media channels (radio, TV, print) are getting hammered, as ad dollars shift to local
  • the cost of producing content is decreasing– we don’t need union writers, as anyone can blog.  Consider the Iranian revolution broke via twitter, not the traditional media

I was overall impressed with the quality of the networking– at the same level as Silicon Valley, with a touch less pretentiousness. The free pizza, provided by Seamless Web, was also a nice touch.

Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting Graham Lawlor, founder of of Ultra Light Startups The concept of being ultra light is that you don’t need venture capital– just a couple folks with a great idea and a lot of resourcefulness. Looking forward to seeing how these informal groups (including TechStars and YCombinator) help young entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

If you’re looking to start your own business, want to network with other startups, or perhaps need a bit of inspiration, I’d recommend that you attend one of these events.

I will do a SEO analysis of your site for FREE!

A few days ago, I offered to perform a SEO analysis on the website of one lucky winner– something at BlitzMetrics that we normally charge between $6k-10k to do.  There were 23 responses and I’m choosing BusSongs.com, which is by Keith Mander, a current Facebook employee and ex-Googler (not to be confused with the other Keith that blogs here).

Let’s first start with an assumed goal of the site– to make money from ads, as there are no products to be found.  Keith is using 4 cleverly-placed Google AdSense units on each page, in addition to serving ads via Google Ad Manager (GAM)– a product that kills OpenAds and will be merged into DART DoubleClick (that’s the subject of another post). Notice how the links on the left blend in well with the orange.

The site has a Google Toolbar PageRank of 4 and a MozRank of 4.58– moderate juice is flowing to the site. The MozRank, as developed by SEOMoz is a more accurate view of link juice that is flowing, as the toolbar PR is rarely updated, plus there’s a huge difference between a low 4 and a high 4.

This nice level of juice flows through the rest of the site nicely, allowing 3,130 pages to be reported indexed by Google, such that even lower level pages are getting crawled and are ranking.  Site that have a low homepage PR peter out quickly– there’s not enough juice left by the time the bot gets to the pages that are 3-4 links away from the homepage, so they don’t get indexed. To validate, just go to one of the lower level pages, grab a paragraph of text (maybe 15-20 words) and paste the whole thing right into the search box.  That will let you know what’s being indexed.

Also try some of the terms the site wants to rank on.  In this case, I searched on “99 bottles of pop on the wall” and see his site taking the first position.

Of course, search on just the domain and you see him first– if you’re not first on your own name, something is quite wrong or you have a generic name.

Not only does Keith rank #1 on his name, but he has 8 sitelinks, the maximum number of sitelinks you can have. While you can’t choose which links are sitelinks, it’s great to have them anyway.  You have to be in the #1 spot for a search and also have enough “authority”.

I’d guess that Keith wants to rank on “children’s songs”, as that is the first searchphrase in his home page title.  He’s #2 from my search here in the US, and the #1 result is PR5.  Let’s go to SEOmoz’s LinkScape tool (requires a subscription, but well worth it) to dig deeper….

The #1 result has a higher domain mozRank (5.18 vs 4.31) and higher mozTrust (5.58 vs 4.49).  They have 4,354 inbound links versus 848 on bussongs.com.  It’s true that quality is more important than quantity of links. In this case, the guy above Keith also has higher trust (more juice garnered from high-trust sites), so Keith’s better content doesn’t win the day.  Rand Fishkin, CEO of seoMOZ, noted that he could create a crappy entry on wikipedia and an amazingly helpful article on a new domain– and the next day the wikipedia article will win. Not fair, but says something about the power of inbound links.You can still beat guys that have more juice than you overall by selectively picking terms you want to rank on.  If you search on “nursery rhymes”, you’ll see a completely different set of results than for “children’s songs”.

While some SEO pundits like to wax on about LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) and how search engine theming can help you rank on terms that you don’t even have on your page– the more practical reality is that you want to have these terms on your page and for anchor text in sites that link to you.  Note that in the above seoMOZ LinkScape report, that the #1 anchor text is “bus songs”.  No surprise there, but “nursery rhymes” is #2 and “children’s songs” isn’t until #10, passing a piddly amount of juice from only a few domains.

Thus, Keith will have to decide whether it’s more important to go from #2 to to #1 on “children’s song” or try to get to the first page on “nursery rhymes”. It’s a question of big dwarf or little giant– which is bigger? Let’s find out how much volume is available:

For every 19 searches on “children’s songs”, there are 68 searches on “nursery rhymes”. Further, for every 19 searches on “children’s song”, there are 100 searches on “nursery songs”– the term you’d want to own if it were no extra effort.  Note that Google’s Insights for Search tool doesn’t tell you the exact number of searches on each term– rather, they give you a relative figure, with the most popular term being indexed at 100 and every other term scaled against that term.

So how do you decide what term to go after?  Let’s say that I was ranked #8 on “nursery rhymes” and #2 on “children’s songs”– good rankings on a highly popular term and great rankings on an okay term.  Moving from #8 to #3 on the popular term would produce about as much increase as going from #2 to #1 on the okay term.  As you get towards the top of the page, your CTR will go way up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if moving from #2 to #1 yielded a 3x increase in clicks.

Of course, you wouldn’t do this in a spammy way, where overnight all your inbound links suddenly have identical anchor text of “children’s songs”. But you could kindly ask the 70 sites who gave you 81 links with anchor of “bus songs” to switch to something else. If you add “bus songs” to the list in Google Insights for Search, you’ll see it has a paltry 4 versus the 100 for “nursery songs”.  I doubt you’d lose the #1 ranking on your name, largely because you get a boost from that being your domain, it’s not that competitive, and so many folks have already linked to you on that phrase.

Oh, and there are 26 inbound links that have BLANK anchor text– probably want to do something about that.

Finally, let’s take a look at bussongs.com through the eyes of a search engine spider, which reads text, not images.  It looks like this:

  • The 32% text to code ratio is excellent— we like to see over 25%.
  • The 301 redirects from the www homepage and index.php to non-www is smart— it solves the most common SEO problem, called the canonical domain issue. Most people redirect to www, but as long as you choose one, it doesn’t matter.
  • missing meta information— you should at least have the meta description, since you’ll want to persuade the engines to use your description when your results show up in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).  Don’t worry about other meta tags– keywords, gaming H1 tags, and so forth.
  • The alt text on images does very little, but while you’re at it, you should put your domain name at the END versus the beginning– change:
“BusSongs.com – Lyrics & Words for Children’s Nursery Rymes & Songs”
to
“Lyrics & Words for Children’s Nursery Rymes & Songs | BusSongs.com”

One word of caution, a few months ago, Google started changing search results to biased by whether you’re logged in, where you are geographically, and what you’ve searched on before.  Thus, check your rankings when you’re NOT logged in and also via proxies.  Every is getting different search results, so you don’t want to be led down the garden path.

And a few non-SEO items

  • Funny that the #9 song is the Diarrhea Song— Kids…. what a sense of humor.
  • If kids (and parents) like the site so much, where is your email auto-responder and newsletter subscription box?
  • You should do the same on your Facebook page, which has 550 fans (of which I am one).  Use the Facebook static HTML plug-in to put in that email box, a poll, and other interactive stuff.
  • Maybe even install Facebook connect and Facebook Fan boxes– you do work at Facebook now, right? 😉
  • Leaderboards are a powerful concept– People are driven to do silly things in the name of popularity.  Why not allow folks to submit songs, earn points as part of a community (provided they are old enough), and have “name that tune” games?  On your top visited page, you show pageviews per day.  If you shown total cumulative pageviews, the numbers would appear a lot more impressive.
  • If I can nit-pick, you have some typos.  “Angles” should be “Angels” here in the page title and text.  By the way, I did that as an excuse to give you another PR5 link from my blog.

Keith, I hope you have enjoyed our SEO review today– congratulations on winning!  You have a great site, as we’d expect from a former Google employee.

Readers, I’m considering making this a weekly review, so if you’re interested in seeing more of this, let me know by posting to my Facebook fan page at facebook.com/dennisyu.

Target Facebook users on their birthdays!

Facebook keeps releasing new features to their self-serve PPC platform. It feels like Google from 2003– are you keeping up?

Did you see that you can target people on their birthdays, in addition to your existing fans, as well as being able to select multiple countries?

  • If you’re selling gifts of any type— this is your chance to do something.  Cards, flowers, T-shirts, silly items… Doesn’t even have to be birthday related– you could even promote a little cosmetic surgery to older women– Imagine this ad:
  • If you’re a brand, you can pay to hit your fans when they’re elsewhere on Facebook– think of this like the old days of Paid Inclusion on Yahoo! or perhaps like today’s brand bidding.  The point is there is some level of cannibalization to pay for people that you already “have” as fans.  Yet if this drives incremental traffic, you can price in that overlap to make sure it backs out.  And if you have less than 100 fans, who cares.  But if you’re a brand like WWE and have over 250,000 fans, it would be a great way to drive marginal revenue. Now it’s too bad you can’t target OTHER people’s brands and fan pages.  That would be like Coke bidding on Pepsi.  What would you pay to be able to target your competitors?  Oh, wait– I forgot.  You can do that all day long on PPC.
  • If you just want to be a pimp: Some people just don’t have a good reason to market.  But maybe if you get to 100 fans on your page, you can then register your page’s vanity url here.  Even if you have no fans to start with, if you’re paying 30 cents a fan, it’s only $30 to get to 100 fans, and then you can grab a name like facebook.com/toiletpaper or whatever you fancy. Many generic names are still free.

If you’re making profits via these new tactics, however small, it’s time to scale them up. If you are a non-spammy advertiser, then I welcome you to sign up for our automated Facebook ad posting platform, which automatically multiples variations of ad creatives and landing pages, then reports back with the best performers.  If you’re selling weight loss, get rich quick scams (also euphemistically called “BizOpps”) or products that auto-renew at insane rates (called “negative option”), then don’t bother, since your ads won’t get approved by us or by Facebook.

But maybe you’re a stay at home dad filming how to home school videos or perhaps reviewing top 10 kids movies, in preparation for the upcoming Christmas shopping season.  Don’t laugh– if you’re an affiliate and you aren’t starting now, you’re late to the game.  Then it makes sense to start promoting your wares.

I’m presenting on Facebook advertising at Affiliate Summit East in 2 weeks, and again, at HostingCon 2 days later.  Come join me!

Famous or Infamous? Shoemoney and strip clubs

A couple weeks ago, Jeremy Shoemoneycame to visit BlitzMetrics and we headed to a Denver strip club with Scott Richter and other folks in tow.  Here’s the shot we took outside the club which you can also see in today’s shoemoney.com post.  Tell me, is that a good or a bad thing to be seen outside a strip club, even though we’re there to play the awesome beer pong, for which they have tournaments on Tuesday and Thursday nights?

Will this help or hurt our image with our Fortune 500 clients or professional service firms looking for small business advertising or social ad serving on Facebook?