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From my tracking, 90+% of my traffic does not come from Goto itself, but from the partners (AOL, Netscape, etc... plus all of the meta search sites.)
I know that this will most likely be short-lived... until either all of the terms I bid on are bid upon by others... or Goto.com starts increasing their "match driver" coverage.
It looks like I will be limited to 25,000 keywords with Goto.com... since I have 400+ online now... plus a few hundred submitted today.... Hmmm.... well, I guess I will not run out of work anytime soon!
Hopefully, my conversion rate will be high enough to work with a penny per visit traffic cost.
I have an online mall, so running out of keywords is not a problem... but since I have affiliate programs/links... I have a two step conversion ratio... (how many people who click through to my mall, click to the actual merchant... then of those, how many purchase.)
I am hoping that past performance will repeat itself... since my mall seems to generate 12-15 cents in revenue for every visitor...
If this holds true, I should easily be able to pay for traffic and still do fine... plus, since buying keywords takes less time than SEO (especially with a site of 1400+ pages), I can spend more time on increasing the offerings on my mall, and increase the conversion rate in the process.
How much is your time worth?
Have you every felt that it would have been better this past year to pay for traffic (via PPC SE's) as opposed to chasing "free" traffic by SEO (aka, playing the search engine game)?
Not sure how many of you are a "one man (or woman) band" like I am... but there are only so many hours in a day. Time spent on SEO is time that is not spent on increasing the offerings (i.e. increased sales/profits) on my sites.
You've hit on an idea that is being exploited in growing numbers today - the Mega Mall Affiliate site (shh, starting to play a few cards in that direction myself).
I think your strategy is a good one. If you can sustain the traffic and conversion rates. Time is of course of value. I wouldn't put everything into the Goto card, because if it bombs, you bomb too. A few minutes a day submitting, link exchanging, and optimizing can still go a long way. If you get into the habit of building optimized pages when you build them - vs trying to retro design - the effort requried to do a quality SEO job on a site is minimized. My checklist:
- pages crawlable? Indexable?
- title have good keywords?
- meta description well thought out with keywords and "click me now" value?
- page have some sort of sentence structure that a search engine can index well?
- used a narrow set of keywords in the text?
- is the html close to validating as possible?
If you get into the habit of thinking in SEO terms while building the page, the seo becomes second nature and doesn't get in your way.
With all PPC traffic, I hope to get the visitor to return directly rather than clicking away on a search engine and costing another few cents.
This is a bit off-topic, but what kinds of things can keep a buyer coming back to the mall itself, rather than going directly to the member store's site?
Or is that just the role a mall needs to play -- getting the traffic by any way they can, as long as the numbers work out profitably?
Thing is, I'm big into retention marketing, and GoTo, FindWhat etc are forms of acquisition marketing. That usually costs more than retaining the already-acquired folks.