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Unfortunately the domains had zero to do with shopping or products. Consequently, he had over a million people a month downloading his jpegs and information and using them for school projects, literally making pennies a day from those sites.
Traffic doesn't always mean money. That's why it's important to think about cultivating traffic that clicks.
What kind of traffic clicks?
Your mileage may vary, and I'm interested in hearing your experiences.
My most successful sites are those in which people are at some point of a buying cycle.
What kind of traffic does not click
In my experience, forums and how-to sites don't do that well. Makes sense when you think about it. People are generally there for community or information. Shopping is nowhere near on the agenda.
Turning around a how-to site
Nevertheless, that doesn't mean a how-to site must remain a money-loser. Here are some ways I monetized a how-to site:
Tools, Products, and Services
Every How-To Project requires tools. Articles about the tools people need have generated good clicks for me in terms of EPC and CTR. If you want to stimulate AdSense clicks, talk about the tools needed but DON'T talk about the places people can purchase them. Let your AdSense ads do the talking.
If you have a gamer site, what you can do is review graphic cards, monitors, gamer systems, parts for a Mac gamer system (don't forget the niches!), etc.
Talk about the high quality products, then talk about the CHEAP quality products. If you talk about it, they will Clickety Click-Click-Click!
Where to Buy the Tools, Products, and Services
This one is a little tricky and depends on how far to one side or another you tilt your hat. ;) But it has worked well for me. I have had good success in naming places one could purchase the above mentioned tools and products in different towns around the country. Make sure you spell out the state or province name so you show up in those local searches.
Make use of sidebars
This has about 60% to do with SEO and 40% with AdSense. I've had good experience using sidebars to introduce longtail keyword parts into an article page.
For instance, if you have an article about Cheap Flights to Cancun that is discussing ways to hunt down those flights, tips and tricks, you can also place a sidebar listing Major Cities that people would be flying out from to reach Cancun (plus give an excuse for more pages related to those cities or any number of other solutions).
Then you'll get queries from people looking for Cheap Flights to Cancun from [insert major city here] and when they get there the only spot telling them WHERE to get Cheap Flights to Cancun from [insert major city here] is in your AdSense ads. Clickety Click-Click-Click!
What are some of things you do to make sure your EPC and CTR stays high?
[edited by: martinibuster at 10:36 pm (utc) on Nov. 8, 2006]
You too have a "European travel site?" 8-]
Good work MB, directing all new AdSense Wannabeez towards eCommerce.
As you said, YMMV, eCommerce sales conversion is great, but give me loads of traffic of any kind and AdSense earnings will be the least of my worries, even a file upload service, a marriage site or even a forum, I'll take the traffic and monetize it through AdSense, AdBrite, Chitika, Yahoo, CJ .. Plus direct advertisers and sleep better at night.
Masssive Traffic Does not Always Mean Massive $$$
True. but having 500K visitors you only need to average $0.01 per visitor to make $5K/month which isn't chump change. If you can average $0.10 per visitor, hire a butler.
Where to Buy the Tools, Products, and Services
This has been my biggest winner, I used to just have categorized information but the minute I started drilling down the content to location my AdSense went thru the roof.
Lots of local service providers are spending good money competing for those referrals compared to more generic offerings.
I still have more general purpose information, things most of you would say are a waste of time, but if you find someone looking you bring them in on a related topic and then upsell them to a higher paying topic they may also be looking for, very similar to upsell in ecommerce sites.
A very popular but lower paying traffic lead-in can earn it's keep easily if people can also find the other topics they seek on your site so your navigation and information exposure is the key.
I keep pages tightly focussed on a set of keywords, after extensive keyword research, including those long tail keywords. Then I blend in my ads and watch the high-ish CTRs come in.
One addition to the "Tools, Products, and Services". Along with not linking to the product and letting the adsense being the links people are looking for, you much become a master at blending the adsesne into the copy. If you are writing about a graphics card and you can blend the adsense ad perfectly into the copy, your CTR will be through the roof as compared to running them in normal banner positions.
Logically this makes sense. Forums have a lot of traffic but often generated by a small band of contributors who monitor the site constantly.
Or so I always thought. I did some SEO on a friend's hiking forum. Making sure that a lot of links were not visible to bots, making thread URL's use the title keywords etc. I also helped him a bit with AdSense positioning.
Last month he contacted me saying he had $1000s waiting from Google that had not been paid. I thought he was confused and said he probbly hadn't reached the $100 threshold but I took a look at his Google account. Well he was getting around a million ad views per month with just under a 1% CTR and was earning around $800-1000/month. This is on a forum he barely touches and doesn't really know how it works. The threads are pretty well referenced in the search engines and I suspect that people come there and a good percentage click out via the Ads which seem well targetted for gear and such like.
Anyway he pays his hosting charges and turns a handsome profit.
From Ebay to Friends Reunited or even Google these are sites that grew on word of mouth much more than clever seo tactics. I think much has been made of web 2.0 so maybe we should all be thinking of SEO 2.0 and knowing even a number 1 result is not always enough.
Its difficult to create a unique idea as its quickly copied and cultivated but its seems to me the most successfull sites create a community alongside there commercial activities. Sites like eBay and Amazon were pioneers in this (Amazon for reviews incase this leaves you scratching your head).
The future will indeed present tougher challenges for webmarketers and seo's alike and the bottom line will be CONVERSION.
It is not an either/or when it comes to planning a site, and when I say I prefer high traffic, goes without saying that high traffic that converts would be even better, who said that high traffic can only be obtained by SEO tactics or tricks? Yes good ideas work too.
I am commenting again because too often we as webmasters forget the real commodity making us money, it is not good looking sites, and not the valuable information on our sites alone, it is traffic we are selling, few well converting might be good for some, high (converting or not) is where I'd feel safe.
If it's an open bar, I'll have both, if it is a matter of selection and preference as MB points out, I am better off with high traffic, for if Google thinks it is not converting well enough, the regional FMCG conglomerate might think it is gold, and of both fold, there are numerous networks to monetize your site.
How is that traffic made? Now that's another thread and another place.
Domains that filter traffic yield clicks that convert. At least that's a rationale inference to be drawn from certain domain traffic and related increasing PPC revenue.
Domains that work, as described above, pay for themselves . . and then some. They also work nicely in other ways. And some day you will realize that all the chatter about "get a brandable domain, not just a generic domain" wasn't the most prescient advice.
Just choose wisely. :) See me in Vegas for further details. Bring beer in hand. ;0)
...too presumptuous that it would work world wide.
Interesting you bring up the issue of worldwide economics. The person I was referring to, who had the million visitors, was targeting an economically underdeveloped country. For many reasons, including the state of credit to the vagaries of their postal system, online purchases weren't going to be happening- and his earnings reflected that.
Yet he still plugged away like a loser at a blackjack table full of faith that the next hand, the next domain he developed for this area was going to validate his strategy.
In terms of cultivating clicks, he totally misjudged. Instead of developing a site around pictures of widgets, he could have developed it around a directory of places people could buy the widgets- and cultivated clicks in that manner. Whether that would have earned him any more money is debatable, but it's arguable that he would have made more money from that than people downloading images of widgets.
[edited by: martinibuster at 2:55 am (utc) on Nov. 9, 2006]
...too presumptuous that it would work world wide.
Interesting you bring up the issue of worldwide economics.
I am not saying that it will not or would not work however to presume that it could take mainstream global shoppers/businesses by storm is totally forgetting the reality of shopping attitudes of the leading economies.
There are specific sectors to which the Internet lends itself extremely well, i.e. known branded, generally low weight products, ticketing etc.
There are many products that are garbage to sell simply because they require an experience:
a) Buyer interreaction such as clothes - Internet buying no different to catalogues
b) Inspection of the product since it has no brand standard
c) Everything else I've forgotten since it's 03.35!
I am not decrying the evolution of the Net however after 15 YEARS of living and breathing it and having a wife and daughters who all know what it's about, why do they prefer the shopping experience for their essentials but use the Net for their known standardised products such as holidays, phones, cars, mortgages etc.
Maybe, just maybe, in the USA there is a small percentage who will allow their lives to be governed totally by Net purchases HOWEVER even I still go out and do many different types of shopping because I want a break from these frigging computers and I can have some fun, apart from excercise!
The US has to appreciate that, and this is specific to the largest economic area in the world, Europe, that most people live within 30 miles (let's say 50 kms), of a major shopping centre (mall).
Only in specific areas of Scandinavia do they have to travel much greater distances.
Right, do I now start with China, India and Japan?
Just because something MAY work in the US does not necessarily guarantee it will work elsewhere in the world simply because the US business model and method of distribution is unique to the US and which may easily fail in other countries.
The business world is littered with such investment escapades.
No offence MB, I live with the following reality all the time:
US enquiry: I need a price for this.
Our response: Which quality do you require?
US enquiry: The best.
Our response: X price.
US enquiry: Too expensive.
Our response: Sorry, we're sold out for months ahead.
US enquiry: I can buy cheaper.
Our response: Please do so, we are the ONLY source for this.
If you think I'm fed-up of US grey suits you have no idea!
Anyway, maybe this will give others the information that the Net business is not all champagne and roses.
I've got multiple sites doing 250,000+ pageviews a day with "okay" CTRs (.5 to 2%) but the end result is pretty pathetic because of what adsense tends to pay now.
I was so incredibly tired of that. decided months ago to move on to new methods of monetization. adsense really wasn't cutting it anymore.
An example might be a page that gives information about a specific vacation spot, but doesn't mention any resorts or hotels in the area by name. You let the distributed advertising do that.
This is the theory that the domainers bank on, a great domain name promises a great site, but usually delivers a parked page or microsite with paid links to legit sites (served by a paid distributed advertising network)that provide the information the end user really wants.
[edited by: Rx_Recruiters at 8:02 am (utc) on Nov. 9, 2006]
The key is to .... over-promise on a page, and under-deliver on content.
there's definitely something in that - it's also my philosophy. in fact, i can't even follow another strategy, because in my field (news site) there is so much content that could be shown to my users, that as a one-man show i have to restrict the content to something specific not everybody is satisfied with.
on the seo side i try to catch as many different but related visitors as possible with my keywords. i show them selected articles which correspond the best to my beliefs what the site should contain and leave out other articles that i know interest many users as well. thereby focussing on quality to assure to not get the worst case audience, to attract respectable advertisers and for me to keep having fun working.
however, you shouldn't overdo the "missing content" strategy, as you eventually attract less visitors and develop a kind of mfa structure by promising everything and keeping nothing. and we all know that mfas are not sustainable.
[edited by: moTi at 2:18 pm (utc) on Nov. 9, 2006]
Another part lists 3rd party products and services that go along with the how to and my own services.
I always included links to the other sites. I thought it would be cheating adsense and the visitor to not show the links.
Since google isn't playing fairly, I've decided to remove all the links. I'll watch the CTR likely double and I won't feel bad about it.