How does one get listed in about.com?
I don't see a link for information about getting listed in about.com. I did see a link about becoming a paid sponsor...
Welcome to WebMasterWorld
About are open to suggestions, Find the category you want to be listed in and send a nice mail to the editor of that category, suggesting why your site would fit in that category. We have had some good results from this in the past.
Is it my imagination, or has About.com gotten very commercial? I looked at one category recently and the site recommendations seemed to be heavily dominated by paid links. The free listings were few in number and were on a subsequent page.
Well I sent an email to the "administrator" of the site that I would like to be listed in...I'll keep you posted if I hear back ;-)
About Guide here -
I'm trying to understand your post, and I think i get it for the most part, but I'm somewhat confused by: "The free listings were few in number and were on a subsequent page." if you can make that a little clearer for me, that would be great -
this is what I think you need answered:
About seems more "commercial" lately because we've undertaken a new initiative to help readers find products related to the topics they're interested in (and, of course, generate some revenue via click-thru deals to a comparison shopping engine)
You probably saw a Guides "Top Picks for X products" - which links to the products of THEIR choosing (editorial control), usually offering the user their choice of where to buy from - so no individual site is paying for a link.
the only "paid" links on About are via Sprinks - and are designated quite clearly as non-editorial content.
but it's not just about the money - it's about what users 'need to know' or want to see. Users seem to be getting the info they want quickly & are responsive to this change so far. it could be a good thing.
Does about have any traffic potential these days?
definitely - i see a lot for my clients & I get great feedback about people getting traffic from my site - it just depends how relevant your site is to an About Guide's users.
If you're talking about editorial links (as opposed to "Sprinks" PPC links), here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) About.com is on an e-commerce kick these days, and many of the "guides" (as the freelance editors of the sites are known) are spending less time on their links directories and more time on product reviews, MySimon.com links, and so on. Others have cut back on their time commitments because pay has been cut drastically for higher-traffic guides (85% or more in some cases).
2) Many sites are now unguided. If you see a site with an "Apply Now" sign instead of a guide name and photo, that means the site isn't being maintained. My former goeurope.about.com site is a case in point: The content hasn't been updated since September. Another site, Women's Investing, has been without a guide for more than a year. If you were to submit a URL to those sites, you'd be wasting your time.
If you find a site that seems to have fresh editorial content (not just e-commerce pages) and still has a guide name and photo on it, click on the guide photo to see a short biography. If that page doesn't have an e-mail address on it, try typing:
On many sites, this will take you to a page of contact information that includes an e-mail address.
P.S.: About.com links are definitely worth having if you can get them, since About.com pages have decent Google pageranks and are spidered regularly by Google.
Thanks for the heads up europeforvisitors!
I think that about.com can only help my client as search engine hits are not a big source of traffic for her - mostly referalls from similar websites.
People are just not using keywords that are anything related to her site - it's for parents of multiples (twins, triplets, etc), though parenting is a big enough keyword.
She is in the major search engines under her domain name and I am trying to get her to show up under particular keywords - good learning process ;-)
I'll post here if I hear back from the guide of the about.com multiples section.
Thanks, skiguide, it was the dominance of the paid listings that got my attention. It seems like everyone has sponsored links these days, but some portals are kind enough to not let the paid links push the free resources onto another page. That was in an education topic. A product category I looked at appeared to be pushing products through some kind of affiliate deal. It seems like all of these things take away from editorial impartiality, which I thought was the original concept of miningco/about - an "expert" guide to help others learn about a topic.
rogerd, i see what you are saying. It is highly dependent on the category I suppose, and the way a particular guide handles their site. Either way, Guides are still in control of products chosen - so personally, I feel I'm choosing what my users are interested in - I think a lot of guides feel the same. Recommending certain products doesn't mean I'm necessarily sacrificing informative content - I'm just supplementing it.
>>It seems like all of these things take away from editorial impartiality, which I thought was the original concept of miningco/about
Maybe, maybe not - i don't disagree with you, but in today's economy, dotcoms have to be flexible and sometimes shift focus to be able to stay alive.
Obviously, About needs revenue to do that and continue to pay guides to run quality sites - in a declining ad market, e-com initatives are helping to sustain revenue.
it's that simple.
I used to work for an online gaming company, doing some SEO, making submissions.
I wanted a listing at about.com.
I got in touch with the guide, told him about our site and how it would improve the results, the benefits... blah blah.
I got a reply after sending some traffic stats, so I set up a test account for the guide so he could enjoy the service....
Couple of days later I had a listing at about.com!
Only.... The link did not point directly to our site. He had setup an affiliate link so he could get commissions out of that listing.
I reported this situation, as it seemed somehow to be unethical. About.com providing results, the guide, getting commissions out of those links.
So I found out, that most of the sites he listed had affiliate links.
I contacted about.com, informed about this situation, but they didnít seem to care.
(edited by: Marcia at 7:24 pm (gmt) on Dec. 19, 2001)
Welcome to WmW, monqui.
In very competitive industries a good portion of the revenue is derived through affiliate links, just as is the case with personals sites, for example.
Highly competitive, high-traffic categories would also be very busy and a lot of work to maintain, and ethically speaking it's my personal belief that to expect about.com or any of the guides to provide highly lucrative listings without some revenue sharing would be tantamount to asking that the sites themselves operate on a non-profit basis rather than as ecommerce sites, which would be highly unlikely to happen.
I'm looking at it from a purly theoretical point of view, but AFAIK, about.com has never made any claims to being a volunteer-based non-profit site, so if indeed there's affiliate commission it's no less valuable to the site listed than any other such link, in fact it's probably one of the most valuable there is.
Quite frankly, if I had such a site and got a listing like that I'd be grateful for the traffic and be more than willing to pay out a commission for the increased revenue I'd see from it.
Here's the crux of the issue, from the post by skiguide just before yours:
|Obviously, About needs revenue to do that and continue to pay guides to run quality sites - in a declining ad market, e-com initatives are helping to sustain revenue. it's that simple. |
>>>Does about have any traffic potential these days?
Perhaps in certain cats it does...I wouldn't sweat over a listing there.
Thanks for the reply Marcia.
Obviously, About needs revenue to do that and continue to pay guides to run quality sites - in a declining ad market, e-com initatives are helping to sustain revenue. it's that simple.
I agree, but in this case, the fact is that About.com is not getting any revenue out of those affiliate links. Besides the sites listed are not exactly quality sites, they are xyz merchants offering good commissions for sign-ups.
Quite frankly, if I had such a site and got a listing like that I'd be grateful for the traffic and be more than willing to pay out a commission for the increased revenue I'd see from it.
I agree; I would not have any problems setting up affiliate links for about.com and sending monthly checks to the company. In fact, Looksmart was one of our top affiliates back then. The idea was simple: We got a succesfull affiliate program, looksmart becomes an affiliate, they send traffic and signups, we send monthly checks.... but not to the editor who approved the listing.
>but not to the editor who approved the listing
monqui, not being a guide I don't know, but it may be part of the compensation package that about.com offers in exchange for the guides running those sites like they do. If that's the case they won't necessarily be inclined to reveal it (they wouldn't be required to anyway) and imho it would still be worth it because it would be only by the time and effort of that particular guide that I'd be receiving the benefit and income from the link.
Why would I care who gets the commission, as long as I'm making money from it? I wouldn't. I'd just be happy for the link and head for the bank to deposit the checks.
If a guide is including affiliate links in what is clearly presented as editorial content, then he/she is acting no different than a search engine that tries to include Overture links without disclosing that it's paid advertising.
If the guide and/or About is recieving revenue from it, then it should be presented in such a way as to make it clear.
I used to be a big-time user of About/Minning Co. sites, but the excessive monetization push has made it fall off my favorite places to visit. All the pop-unders and the off-site framing have made it a much less user-friendly site.
Guides definitely aren't supposed to have affiliate links, just because the checks would go to the guide and About.com wouldn't get its cut of 70% or more.
So I'm sure that About does "care" about guides having affiliate links, if only for economic reasons. It just doesn't have the resources to monitor guidesites effectively after multiple rounds of staff layoffs. Quality obviously isn't "job 1" at About these days--not when some sites haven't been guided in months and the blurb for the Air Travel site's lead story reads:
"Airbus A300 Seat Map
The facts are still coming in. Learn more about the plane that went down in New York."
(Yep, that's the lead story--a seat map from the site's archives, with no accompanying text!)
Still, I'd hate for anyone to get the impression that more than a handful of guides are earning money under the table or neglecting their sites. The guides who remain at About.com are mostly trying to do the best they can in spite of drastic pay cuts, sharply reduced staff support, and pressure to focus on the "About 3.0" e-commerce initiative at the expense of editorial content.
As for paid links, maybe you're confusing traditional editorial links with the clearly identified MySimon.com price-comparison links (which are under the guide's control and earn money for the guide) and "Sprinks" sponsored links (which are pay-per-lead listings marketed by the Sprinks advertising staff). Traditional links to third-party sites--the kind of annotated links that you find on "Subject" pages or in articles at About.com--are NOT paid listings or affiliate links.
>>I used to be a big-time user of About/Minning Co. sites, but the excessive monetization push has made it fall off my favorite places to visit. All the pop-unders and the off-site framing have made it a much less user-friendly site.<<
Stale sites without guides aren't helping matters, either. Example: The Investing for Women site hasn't been guided for more than a year, but it's still live with an "Apply Now" sign on it. Such disregard for quality isn't just bad for users; it also harms the reputation and morale of current guides (who deserve better than to have their living sites displayed alongside the dead).
you don't get listed. that is the bottom line.
I forgot to mention the multiple pop-unders in my original post about over-commercialization. I know everyone is doing it, but the overall feel of the about.com sites I visited was one of someone using every possible resource to turn a buck, with very little current, useful, free content. If a major news site slips me a pop-under, I accept it as something that helps pay for all the free content I can access. But at about.com, the popunders are just part of the assault, that also includes ads, sponsored links, affiliate links, etc.
Unfortunately, I think that about.com will go the same way as the search engines that fail to produce useful results. People will be disappointed when they can't find what they are looking for, and not come back. Nobody would watch television if 90% of the airtime was composed of 30 and 60 second commercials - the networks have found the "optimal" point (from their standpoint) that maximizes ad revenue but doesn't drive viewers away. About.com needs to emulate them and find the right balance.
how exactly can you tell whether a category within About is live or not ? I've submitted a site to a category with a named editor, but not had any response for months. I've not noticed any recent updates. Is there any last updated info anywhere?
>>I forgot to mention the multiple pop-unders in my original post about over-commercialization. I know everyone is doing it, but the overall feel of the about.com sites I visited was one of someone using every possible resource to turn a buck, with very little current, useful, free content.<<
The latest incarnation of About.com, "About 3.0," emphasizes e-commerce over editorial content. More specifically, guides are being told to write short, USA TODAY-style articles and to use product-review and product-comparison templates that include links to MySimon.com. Combine these changes with a decline in guide income, and you have a situation where most guides can't justify spending as much time on traditional editorial content (including link creation and maintenance) as they did in the past.
Even before the debut of About 3.0, the company had shifted away from a search-directory model. Guides were being encouraged to focus on original content, which wasn't surprising with the advent of Sprinks (sponsored links). It obviously made sense to de-emphasize free directory links when PPC links were becoming the company's bread and butter. This doesn't mean that guides can't provide free links to third-party sites--they most definitely can--but their performance as guides is no longer being judged by the quantity or quality of their links. As a result, some guides may continue to process link submissions, but others may ignore them or put them at the bottom of their personal "to do" lists.
>>how exactly can you tell whether a category within About is live or not ? I've submitted a site to a category with a named editor, but not had any response for months. I've not noticed any recent updates. Is there any last updated info anywhere<<
This should take you to a chronological (in reverse order) index of this year's articles on the guidesite. If you see recent articles listed, you'll know the site is still active. (Conversely, if you don't see any recent articles listed, it *may* mean the the guide is AWOL--but it could simply mean that the guide isn't bothering to update the chronological articles index, which has been de-emphasized in recent months.)
As I stated above, About.com is no longer positioning itself as a Web directory a la Yahoo, LookSmart, or the ODP. So even if a guide is active, the guide may be busy reviewing products for e-commerce pages, writing articles, or doing other tasks that don't involve URL additions and maintenance.
Bottom line: There's no harm in submitting your URL to an About.com guidesite, but whether you'll get a response depends on the individual guide.
the about guide on the site i'm most interested in is very active but hasnt listed the site we want to put in there. a major competitor is listed there though.
would adding an affiliate program to our site improve the chances of getting listed in about.com?
>>would adding an affiliate program to our site improve the chances of getting listed in about.com?<<
No. The affiliate program is completely separate from the editorial side of About.com's operations. Guides don't know or care if a site is part of the About.com affiliate program. In fact, many guides have very little use for the affiliate program, which hasn't referred users to guidesites in quite a while. (FWIW, the affiliate program just changed to an advertiser-referral program: Affiliates are no longer paid for traffic; instead, they get US $25 if they succeed in getting an advertiser to buy "Sprinks" PPC ads.)
In a nutshell, you won't get listed on About.com unless:
1) The guide is still reviewing submitted Web sites now that About's focus has shifted to e-commerce; and...
2) The guide chooses to list your site.
Side note: The number of About.com guidesites dropped by approximately 50% in 2001, and many observers (including a number of current guides) are expecting further reductions or a network shutdown in the near future. The most likely scenario would be for the company, which is now owned by Primedia, to shed its independent guidesites and keep only those guidesites that have been integrated with Primedia's consumer and business-to-business magazines. Under that scenario, About.com would become an Internet application service provider and hosting service for Primedia's magazines, and the "non-integrated" guidesites would be either closed down or sold off (as the adult sites were sold off last year). So it may not be worth obsessing over getting a link from About.com unless your site involves babies and parenting, weddings, hunting and fishing, or one of the other guidesite topics that have been integrated with Primedia's magazines.
excellent post, europe.
here's an interesting little tidbit - the hunting integration only lasted about one month & i believe it's also going by the wayside with fishing..but some are actively moving forward and get this, even paying fair market value to keep some guides on to maintain content.
I just had a little site added last week, it was just about within a day. But that particular section has an active guide, and there's a submit form to request inclusion right on a page. It's not in the section with categories and descriptions, it's just a long list of URL links. Still lnot complaining, it was quick and there was a nice informative little email response sent, which I assume was automatic.
Thanks for the insight, europeforvisitors!