Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I live and breath bounce rates.

I live and breath bounce rates.

I think that a bounce rate is the single best measure of the effectiveness of a page.

This is because I organize my site as a big sales funnel where each page on the site is like a step in a classic (ie face-to-face) sales call. If you organized your sales process as just one page, it would mean a lot less.

The entry pages are like a salesmen saying, "Hello, would you like to talk a little?"
The next page is like a conversation in which the salesmen and prospect discuss the product. Information is exchanged, trust is built.

The click from this page to get to the service link means that the prospect is intrigued and wants the benefits and features that he's learned about (actually, she....most of my customers are Moms).

And the sign-up page is the page that resolves all the sales inhibitors (ie, do I trust these people? Is the price too high? What if I change my mind?). If I can resolves enough of them, I can get them to enter their credit card and click enter.

Then, the real fun begins.....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Marketing Plans for 2009

Here's what I'm thinking about in terms of strategy...

Fine tune the SEO strategy or keep throwing pages and links at it? Are there overlooked phrases? Do we have phrases that never convert that we should rethink? The answer of course is yes. But, if we really devoted two man months to this project, could we improve our performance enough to make it worthwhile? Or, should I go with my traditional approach of just throwing my pages and links at the problem?

How to reduce my credit card processing fees? I have a whole blog on my questions about merchant accounts.

Improved email marketing. Our best asset might be our lists of people who have asked for my info and our lists of happy satisfied customers. We've finally built the tools to explore and market to these lists. I'm expecting this to be the single largest engine of growth for 2009. To really take advantage of it, I'll need more products and services to market.

Mastery of advertising revenue. I'm planning to get more effective at making money from advertising. This year, we experimented with CPM advertising but not with much success. We got some nice $2-$6 rates but only on about 2% of our inventory. I'm hoping next year (thru maybe Tribal Fusion) to get $2 on some large amounts (50%) of our inventory of above-the-fold wide skyscraper ads.

Product diversification. I'm thinking that while SpellingCity is a good start, the reality is that 80% plus of the costs are programming and less than 20% is content. So, for just a 40% increase, I could probably get the site recreated for French and Spanish. hmmmmmmmmm. Plus there's the long-awaited VocabularyCity.com

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Time4Learning Holiday Party

I'm pleased to report that the 2008 Ft Lauderdale Time4Learning holiday party celebration was, just like 2008 for Time4Learning, a great success.  Key staff all attended and a good time was had by all.

It was held at John and Carmen's house in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.  Jennifer Eaton, Jennifer Zibrin, Suzanne Roberts, Tim Horvath, Ilan Berkner, Spirit Cannon, Jennifer Sullivan, and Leslie Vogel were certainly present.

Jennifer Eaton
Jennifer Eaton
 This is the fifth holiday party for the Vkidz company. The first two were very low key events at John's Pompano Beach house. The first one included some  advisers to a business that was not yet formed. The attendees of the second one at John's Pompano home only included a few staff and contractors including Kenny Brooke and Jennifer Eaton.  The next two parties were held at the Sea Watch Restaurant on AIA between Pompano Beach and Ft Lauderdale.   This was the fifth one and was held at the Coral Ridge home of John and Carmen. The idea is to rotate venues every two years so there should be another party at the home next year!
john edelson
john edelson

Kris Craig


Suzanne Roberts

Leslie Vogel

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Local Search, SEO, Joomla, Revenue

The topic of Local Search, SEO, Joomla, Revenue is pretty confusing. It's a jumble. Welcome to my world. I try to think thru all these problems at once. In any case, here's a plan with some questions. What do you think?

I have a site - spellingcity.com - which is a link magnet. Schools and parents love it. They link to it. They bookmark it. They tell their friends about this great way to prep for spelling tests. I'm lucky to say it's mine. (It's also a money pit but I won't whine on about this since in retrospect, most of these software money pits are essentially due to lack of clear thinking. Which in retrospect, appears really stupid).

SpellingCity has hidden, in it's fertile joomla-php-html body, a home page for each public and private school in the country. Wouldn't it be cool if these pages came up high in the search engines?

School Page Positioning in the Search Engines. There are a few steps: Setting the pages up right, telling Google about them with a Google Site Map, and getting some links.

The Google Sitemap is a bit of a mess of a project. Joomla, you see, has a set of automatic site map generators. But, with our version and implementation of Joomla, none of these seem to work the way that we want them to. So we will probably write our own.

Setting up the Pages Right - We have (I should check if this is true) set up the pages so that the:

H1 Tag - School
H2 Tag - City
H3 tags - zip code, street address, city, state, school name

Content: All of the above plus (still to be optimized).

Somerset Elementary School has this page for it's teachers and students and parents. Any parent or teacher who would like to, can create an account on SpellingCity.com, and save their spelling and vocabulary lists for the use of the students. Many schools to help their students with their homework and studying, link directly to this page.

SpellingCity.com - SpellingCity helps build spelling and vocabulary and reading skills. Anyone can enter their spelling word list and take the tests, use the TeachMe funtion, or play the educational word games. Free! To save lists, you must register and become a member which costs between $19.95 and $39.95 per year.

There are plenty of questions to resolve about page titles, URLs, metatags, metadescriptions, and alt tags. We'll work them.


1. If I want to appear high in the search engine rankings for the school, what is the best use of the Heading tags? Page title? URL? The problem is that since we're using joomla, we have uneven control over these elements. But it would help if we had any sense of what people have already learned about how Google is treating these issues.

2. Over time, I will put up some modest advertisements on these pages. Lets say for instance that we get Huntington Learning Centers as a sponsor. Ideally, we would have some way of providing direct links to the local centers. So, on each page for instance, there could be a generic Huntington advertisment followed by a listing or link to the sites that are closest to the school. I guess this could be done by Zip code. The same concept would work with book stores (BORDERS - want to sponsor SpellingCity?), Kumon, Sylvan Learning Centers, or, if I can't do better, McDonalds health centers or the 7-11 value stores.

One possibility for making a few bucks might be to try and put up google or yahoo local advertising. Questions:
- Does this make more generally than other Google ads?
- If I want local advertising, is this automatic or do I have to do something different?
- I have never really understood what google keys it's adsense from. I doubt many people do. But is it the same mysterious complex array of info including page title, anchor text of incoming links, H tags, and content analysis? I would guess that it's simpler. I would guess that local advertising starts with:
A. The location of the viewer
B. Title tags, Heading tags, and content

Any special insight into these challenges?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tracking and analytics

I thought the state-of-the-art was quantcast. I was just talking to an ad network and they were pushing Compete.com. People still ask about Alexa & Google pagerank. Google analytics feels to me like a standard. Here's a quick list:

Quantcast - gets data from ISP. You can improve data by putting it on your site.
Alexa - gets data from browsers. Easily gamed.
Compete.com - No idea where they get their data.
Google page rank - The green bar is a very simplistic count of how many links in you had some number of months ago.
Google Analytics - Increasingly, this is being generally adopted so they become a uniform way of counting and comparing websites.

Other market leaders?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Statistics - Who Cares? You should!

I've been involved in online marketing and learning SEO for five years now as a practicitioner and I've observed a number of constantly repeated mistakes by the industry. Near the top of this list is their total ignorance regarding statistics.

I often look at great analytical methodologies which are impressive in their approach but which never deal with the problem that they often make major strategic decisions without considering whether their sample size validates a decision or not.

I've yet to see an article or discussion on this topic. I've seen people give talks before thousands of other supposedly industry gurus in which they describe methodology in great detail without mentioning sample size and statistics.

At times, I've asked and probed. The industry gurus look at me puzzled and wonder what I'm going on about.

Am I the only one who took statistics courses in college and business school?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sick of domain parking?

Are you sick of domain parking yet? I am.

I don't like it because it's trying to make money by being clever without adding value. I don't like stumbling across parked domains. I don't like how much time I've wasted trying to figure out this stupid area. I don't like that I haven't made any money domain parking.

A month just ended so I got this email from godaddy. Is it worth doing what they suggest?

We want you to know exactly how your CashParking plan is doing, so each month we email you a monthly account update. Here's where your account stands for November 2008:

November 2008 Revenue Earned*: $34.31
RPM**: $38.86
Approximate Payout Date: January 15, 2009

Total Domain Count: 74
Active Domain Count: 73
Removed Domain Count: 1

Domains Added: 0
Domains Removed: 0

Account Status: Active
Domains within 30 days of expiration: 2
Active domains not pointing to CashParking Name Servers: 1

A parked page that looks like a Web site increases the likelihood of more clicks --
and that means more CA$H! So add a one-of-a-kind page header that's sure to grab attention!

Monday, December 01, 2008

SignUp forms that slide in

I would like to try to see how they work for us. I don't know if they are javascript or what. Here's some examples:
homeschool.com's internal pages (i think after they slide in once, they set a cookie so you don't see it again)

note, some of them are not up all the time.
Many are programmed to only slide in the first time you visit the site (in 30 days).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I like other people's business issues

For reasons that are entirely my fault, my back is hurting again. So, I went into a new local massage place and had a great massage.  The therapist helped me diagnose the problem and took good care of me. Plus, it was 50 minutes for $44 which is a better deal than what I've been paying. ($55 and a haggle each time for 50 minutes).  The massage was better too.

On the way out, I chatted with Sharon who owns the place and was working the front desk and is also a massage therapist (I like her already, she's my sort of hands-on entrepreneur).  There being a recession these days, we started talking business.  And me, being me, I started kibbitzing on her business and her website. Frankly, I really like thinking thru other people's business problems and opportunities.  They're much more fun than mine.

 Pretty soon, I'm suggesting and diagnosing and generally, not minding any of my own business at all.  She already has a great website which gives out the vitals, which we successfully found this morning online, and which allowed us to book a massage for 10am when they open this morning. It's great.  

Kudos. You have one great website.  

But it could be better.  Here's some thoughts.

1.  Get intense about what keywords you want to place well for on the search engines.  Terms that come to mind:

Fort Lauderdale affordable massage
Massage parlor in fort lauderdale
massages, swedish massages, deep tissue massage, etc etc
north fort lauderdale, east fort lauderdale, north east fort lauderdale, coral ridge, the landings
back massage,  massage therapy, back rub, back therapy, 
The point is not to think about these terms as marketing slogans but in terms of whether they would get used by people looking for masssages.  BTW, typos should ultimately be considered too. I get about 25% of my kindergarten traffic from people who spell it kindergarden. It's wrong but I have a page on my site in which I've spelt it wrong.

2. Prioritize the keywords.  Focus on the biggest and best ones first.  Then the others.  There are techniques for analyzing which terms people use when they search.  But, you might do just as well by thinking about it and asking a few people what terms they might search on.

3.  There are a few ways to use the keywords.  
Put them as your page title.
Use them on the page.
Get people, who might link to your site, to use these keyword as anchor text for the links.  Like this.  I just had  a some great  massage therapy from a fort lauderdale spa.  

4. Then go get more links from more people. Pay attention to any local directories that people might use to find massages.   If there are hotels and other services which link to local services as a service to their clients, find them and get linked. (This isn't that different from putting your business card in their lobby, its a low level of business cooperation).

In any case, there's a link and a few ideas.  Food for thought. I think I'll go ice my back some more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

$299 for the Yahoo directory - worth it?

When I started my business four years ago, I paid Yahoo $299 to list my site in their directory. And since then, another $300 per year.

They're now asking me to renew. My reaction this time is:

Why? And how come they don't bother to provide any data to me on why this $299 is a worthwhile expenditure. It's a lot of money. It feels pretty arrogant to me that they don't rationalize it all.

How many views? How many click-thrus? What sort of visibility?

What do you think? Useful? Arrogant?

Dear Yahoo! Directory Submit Client:
We hope your business has enjoyed a fruitful year and that yourlisting in the Yahoo! Directory has contributed to your success.
This is a reminder that the annual renewal date for your site iscoming up on:Dec 6 2008
On the above date, your credit card will be charged the recurringannual fee of:299.00.
Your listing will then be reviewed again by the Yahoo! Directory Submiteditorial team to ensure that your site remains relevant and isproperly categorized.Currently, the URL of your site is:http://www.time4learning.com/

Your site appears in the following category:
Business and Economy/Shopping and Services/Education/Homeschooling/Time4Learning
with this description:
Comprehensive suite of lessons and activities that provides a personalized educational program for preschool through eighth grade children.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Learning about Preschool Homeschool

We are trying to optimize our pages about preschooling. To do this, we have gone thru a learning process involving looking at keyword volumes via Adwords, our traffic and conversions from analytics, our rank in Google, and which landing page it hits. For instance, we have a page where parents can learn about preschool games.

Then, we make decisions and pick some keywords that we want to do better on. In this case, it's homeschool preschool, and preschool online. Then there's the cross of expressions as in preschool activities online.

Of course, our page has to be well-written. And I quote:

Time4Learning is a great answer to many parents search for a safe and easy-to-use program that will enhance learning with appropriate preschool learning games. Time4Learning provides preschool learning games in a system that guides the children from one activity to the next, keeping track of their progress.

Lastly, lets quote some other links to high quality preschool sites such as:

Preschool pyramid.
Preschool Kids Learning games
Preschool Activities

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Insider's Guide to Transferring Domains

I've been purchasing a few domains lately and the last few purchases were from private owners who ended up transferring the domain to my account. The first couple purchases this week were already registered at GoDaddy, which is where I was transferring the domains, so it was a snap. They had great easy to follow instructions on how to get the transfer completed.

Then, it came time to transfer a domain from another registrar. Wow! GoDaddy has a set of instructions for this as well and apparently someone who really likes blue arrows worked very hard to explain all the steps. Unfortunately I was dizzy by the time I got to step 10.

They tried. I think they should keep trying.

Check it out for yourself. Bring your barfbag.



Sunday, November 09, 2008

Domain Parking

If you follow this blog, you'll know that I've intermittently gotten excited about making money from parking domains. Mostly it's been a failure. But I had one success that I was very excited about.

At trafficclub (now called domainsponsor), I parked six domains years ago and this year, they sent me a check. One domain made some money. It now appears that it's over. Here's the revenue by month for me from there:

Month - Visitors - Total Revenue
10/2008 - 51 - $21.68
9/2008 - 106 - $83.30
8/2008 - 82 - $101.68
7/2008 - 64 - $63.82
6/2008 - 24 - $20.59
5/2008 - 35 - $17.31
4/2008 - 55 - $25.30
3/2008 - 49 - $22.79
2/2008 - 47 - $25.63
1/2008 - 0 - $0.001
2/2007 - 0 - $0.00

It seems that my one success was also short-lived.
I also have 68 domains parked for money at Godaddy. In Oct, it produced $8.25, Sept was $15.26. I've tried to get help from them with configurations and so far, it doesn't seem to help. BTW, they weren't so helpful.
At NameDrive, I have 15 domains. In Sept, $2.01: in Oct $0.13. At name drive, I have ten domains related to education and 3D (also 3D University) , four related to credit problems and bankruptcy, and one related to online cyber schools (note - I do have a strong portfolio in this area)

I'm officially disinvesting in parking domains. I'll now start shifting my 300 or so domains into some sort of system where they are forwarded one to another with some that have a few pages of content and links and advertisements and then pointing my big domains which are my bread and butter. I'll also start putting more of blogs onto their own domain names.

Recent new blogs:

Previous posts on domain parking (non exhaustive):
There's no such thing as free lunch with domain parking - Sept 2006
Parking domains at GoDaddy
Parking domains for money
Monetizing Parked Domains
Making Money thru Parked Domains.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Teaching google to read

I just sent this is to Google. I'm trying to learn how to teach google what I mean.....

My spelling site is running many ads about wiccah and wizards and magic and such. There's a confusion around the word "spell".

While I personally think it is humorous that google's algorithms confuse magic "spells" with "spelling" (ie vocabulary, phonics) but many of my members, evangelical christians types, seem to find this offensive and are accusing me of all sorts of things.
Can you prompt your algorithms away from magic, mysticism, and wizardry?

BTW - I might be de-emphasizing this blog in favor of a new one about learning seo with me....

Halloween Party

(WOOPS - I Posted this on the wrong blog....For the full post, check out a Black Belt at 50)
Our dojo hosted a halloween party this past Saturday night. Since Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, I dressed like the undead and showed up. Fun Fun. Thanks. Here's a glimpse. Again, I wish I was more diligent about bringing my camera.

And stay tuned, I will be posting this week about my little daughter who is suddenly is in my advanced adult karate class (OK, I've had a long time to see this coming. It didn't exactly creep up on me. But still, for me, this is HUGE). Also, we've been doing some Muy Thai which means learning a different type of roundhouse kick. We've started a new type of kata derived from KungFu and Han Karate (yes, I do need help with my spelling). But today, it's halloween picture day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cash Parking - Setting up GoDaddy

I can't be the only one who is struggling to figure out how to use the GoDaddy cash parking. It's not that I can't get my domains into their system, it's that I have no idea how to use their system to optimize my earnings.

I initially left them on default. But, with 65 parked domains including names like these, how could I be making a few pennies a week?


So I've just been thru a process with their help line of understanding what their default settings are, what my choices are, and of changing and suggesting keywords for these domains. It was a pain. I had to set up folders, pick keywords, select industries and subindustries, and otherwise muck with a whole lot of configurations that I didn't really understand which I am convinced would be better handled algorithmetically.

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on whats a scam, whats legit?

I received this helpful email the other day. Since I had recently registered educational-games.info, I guess they figured I was a good candidate....

Subject: Re: educational-games.net
Hi, educational-games.net will expire within a few days, the previous owner has failed to renew it in time.If you are the previous owner then I am pleased to have brought this to your attention. We offer a no win no fee service whereby we will attempt to acquire this domain for you within less than 1 second of it being released to the general public.There is nothing to pay upfront and if we are not successful then you will not have to pay a penny.

There are 3 levels at which we can try to acquire the domain for you.

Level 1 - We try to register the domain up to 1000 times a second throughout the domains expiry window.We have a 90% (spprox) success rate in acquiring domains with this service. The cost (only if successul is £500 + vat (US$995)

Level 2 - We try to register the domain up to 500 times a second throughout the domains expiry window.We have a 70% (spprox) success rate in acquiring domains with this service.The cost (only if successul is £250 + vat (US$495)

Level 3 - We try to register the domain up to 250 times a second throughout the domains expiry window.We have a 50% (approx) success rate in acquiring domains with this service.The cost (only if successul is £125 + vat (US$250) If you would like us to try to acquire the domain on your behalf or if you have any questions at all, then please get back to me within the next 2 days.You can either reply by email or phone on the numbers below.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Kind Regards Gary

Since I did want the domain, I wasn't too sure what to do. I looked inside my Godaddy account and saw that for $18.95 (I'm a member of their more-than-100-domains-special-pricing-club), I could get them to try to get it for me when it expired. There were no details like Gary's about how many hundreds of times per second but I did like the price. Plus, they answer the phones and I've done A LOT of business with them.

Here it is - a week later - and the educational-games.net domain is now mine. With out paying any number of hundreds of dollars. While I don't think Gary was a scam, he was certainly the most expensive way to get the domain. I am grateful that he pointed it out to me. Thank Gary.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recruiting thru Craigs List

Our curriculum development efforts for our Writing Courses and our course on getting started blogging would get a big jump forward if we had more expertise in Moodle. So I decided to post an advertisement for some help with Moodle. I mostly recruit thru Craigs List which is easy, effective, and used to be free. This time, for some reason, Craig charged me $25.

I was in San Francisco this summer and walked past this office. I thought it was cool to actually stumble upon the office of the little company that serves so many people so efficiently. And which has helped us so much. Thanks, Craigs List.
As a side note, I've heard that the founder, Craig Newmark, is local to us in South Florida. Wikipedia does not confirm it. Craig is the one who keeps Craigs list on its straight and narrow task of being useful, practically free, and not letting bellsnwhistles get in the way of a simple well-executed great idea.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More on the IP domainname SCAM/deal

I'm returning to my question of detecting what's a scam and what's something else.

Spellingcity-Notice Of Internet intellectual property right (To Principal )

was the title of the email. It read:

Dear President/CEO,We are the department which is in charge of registering Internet intellectual property of Asia. I have something need (sic) to confirm with you. We have received an application formally, one company named "QianKun Investment Limited" applies for The Internet Trademark: Spellingcity. The domain names: spellingcity.cn spellingcity.hk spellingcity.biz spellingcity.info spellingcity.com.cn. On Oct 6.2008. After our initial examination, we found that the internet brand applied for registration are the same as your company's name and trademark.These days we will deal with it, hope to get the affirmation from your company. If your company has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these, Please contact us as soon as possible.In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for dissent application is 10 workdays. If your company files no dissent within the time limit,we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by "QianKun Investment Limited.".Best Regards, Brian ----------------- This is a letter for confirmation.If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to appropriate dept. Thanks for your cooperation.

Brian finally quoted me some costs after 6 emails:

domainname.cn 32USD/Per Year
domainname.biz 30USD/Per Year
domainname.hk 76USD/Per Year

domainname.info 30USD/Per Year
domainname.com.cn 32USD/Per Year

The Internet Trademark Keyword: domainname 165USD/Per Year

I'm not sure what an Internet Trademark keyword is so I have an email into Brian to ask him. In the meantime, I went into godaddy and tried to register the .info version of my domain name that Brian offered to get me for $30. It cost me $1.99 at Godaddy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Keyword tools

There is only one good source of info on keywords. It's google. You can use the:

  1. The Adwords keyword tool which gives you gives you average searches for a keyword (I think over the last year), last month’s searches, and the keyword competition.
  2. Google trends which gives volumes of searches for a word or keyphrase for the last five years.
  3. Look at the bottom of a regular search on google where they recommend related searches. For instance, if you search for the word math, at the bottom of the page, Google will suggest: math games - multiplication match - math facts - math test - math formulas - math fractions - pre algebra
  4. The adwords keyword tool also can give you suggested of related terms.

Other tools that I use:

  1. http://seodigger.com/ - you can find out for which keywords your site (and your competitors) rank high enough to be in Google Top 20.you can find out for which keywords your site ranks high enough to be in Google Top 20.
  2. WordPot - It's new to me. It ranks related keywords like the old overture tool. It claims to compare different sources and produce a more refined set of data by filtering out bots and refining exact/near matches. To quote: We collect our data from a combination of the real time searches done on popular meta search engines (like Metacrawler and Dogpile) and results published by Google (zeitgeist), Yahoo and Msn. We are doing this 24/7 and have been collecting data and building our database for a number of years. We then aggregate the results together to come up with the numbers that you see on the site.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who is legit, who is scamming?

Like everyone else, I'm trying to sort through my inbox and decide what's legitimate and what's a scam. Here's two that I received this week, you decide. As background, I run the cool new hit spelling website: SpellingCity.com. I got approached twice this week about. Once by email with someone seeking to help me protect my Intellectual Property, another by a group that gave me an award and wanted me to pay $525. Read the surprising reality....

1. The subject line of the email that I received: Spellingcity-Notice Of Internet intellectual property right (To Principal )

Dear President/CEO,
We are the department which is in charge of registering Internet intellectual property of Asia. I have something need (sic) to confirm with you. We have received an application formally, one company named "QianKun Investment Limited" applies for The Internet Trademark: Spellingcity. The domain names: spellingcity.cn spellingcity.hk spellingcity.biz spellingcity.info spellingcity.com.cn. On Oct 6.2008. After our initial examination, we found that the internet brand applied for registration are the same as your company's name and trademark.These days we will deal with it, hope to get the affirmation from your company. If your company has not authorized the aforesaid company to register these, Please contact us as soon as possible.In addition, we hereby affirm that our time limit for dissent application is 10 workdays. If your company files no dissent within the time limit,we will unconditionally approve the application submitted by "QianKun Investment Limited.".
Best Regards, Brian ----------------- This is a letter for confirmation.If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to appropriate dept. Thanks for your cooperation.

2. I also recieved a large envelope in the mail this week with this Parents Choice Award certificate and a request for $525 to use the Parents Choice seal on my website. The reason that I only scanned half the form is that I did not (as of yet) pay the $525 to use their logo. I had forgotten that I had applied for a Parents Choice award earlier this year. The award and organization are somewhat prestigious. Despite that, their communication to me about the award almost got thrown in the trash by accident.

Bottom line. The "intellectual property" email turns out to be an effort to sell me some domains closely related to mine. Sleezy but not a scam. The award with the $525 offer to buy the sticker is from a nationally recognized prestigious non-profit. Weird.

The Parent's Choice awards are awards given by a well-respected long-standing non-profit foundation.
Established in 1978, Parents’ Choice is the nation's oldest nonprofit guide to quality children's media and toys.

I feel that they are a little clumbsy in their approach to me and a little old-world in their marketing in general. Specifics.

1. Winning an award would feel a lot cooler if someone called me to tell me. Or if theymailed me a letter of congratulations and a copy of a press release. . .It's somehow underwhelming to get a certificate in the mail with just some license agreements and an offer to spend $525. Once I called them up and asked a lot of questions, I found that I had actually applied for this award (a fact that I had forgotten). I also found by talking to them that they had issued a press release and more importantly, were listing SpellingCity.com on their site in a number of great ways. They hadn't thought to mention the release of the listings in their communication to me even though it's great stuff for which I am very grateful. Take a look:

SpellingCity.com award page and Homework Help Language Arts (this is great even though we are halfway down the page. I'd like it more if they built the page with a list of the recommendations at the top linked to the ones down below so I get more visibility.)

2. Their website could do more to show credibility. For instance, they are a "non-profit foundation" but they don't explain if they are a 501(c) 3 or what. They also don't post a copy of the IRS letter certifying their nonprofit status. They also don't list how to find out more information. They also don't post their Form 990. They also don't list a board of directors. Frankly, this is a lot of information that they are NOT posting. They do list two partners who "deliver Parents' Choice recommendations via the latest technology" with links to Satellite Radio and the TivoKidsZone.

3. Frankly, I'm sympathetic to Parents Choice. They are fighting the good fight for kids much the way that they've been doing for decades struggling along with small budgets. For a toy vendor or software vendor to put $525 out to get an impressive seal on their retail box is very sensible and a good strategy. For a free website to dish out $525 to put a seal on their website....the economics are very different. They probably don't know that I get approached daily to put seals on my website. They probably work with some major newspapers and organizations who know them well and so they don't worry about credibility so they don't think to list their board and documents publicly. They don't think about the unwashed masses showing up at their website trying to figure out who they are and what to do. They don't run a blog, they don't work closely with other major fast-moving children's protection groups (http://www.netfamilynews.org/, http://safekids.com/ , http://www.childnet-int.org/, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/). They probably don't even monitor online posts about themselves. I wonder if I should join get involved, join the board, pay them $525, or otherwise engage and contribute? I wonder if I should write this post as if someone were going to read it? Obviously, I'm being a little critical but being hidden in a little corner of the internet, it's like anybody is actually going to read this, right?

Oh, and back to the "intellectual property" email to buy some domains closely related to mine. It's an effort to sell domains dressed up as Intellectual Property protection. I don't feel that it's a scam, I think it's just a "creative" somewhat sleezy sales campaign. You could view it as a service that they have found some domains that they will offer to me to help me protect myself, making a nice profit in the meantime. It's not that different from the way Godaddy suggests that I take these domains when I signed up for other ones. But the pricing is different. Of course, you could see it as one step from blackmail in that they've taken domains which might get confused with mine and are suggesting that I buy them at ten times their cost or let some foreign group go imitate me with closely related names.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Merchant Account Vendors

I've been learning a lot about something that my business is entirely dependent on. And which constitutes about 3.5% of my costs. Credit Card processing. It's a research project. Credit Cards 101

Websites & Blogs
Credit Cards Online 101 - The newest and best

Visa info on merchant accounts - the center of info
American Express


Google Checkout
- Looking like the best deal in town for those of us who use Adsense. My biggest question is how long will this deal last?

Infomerchant - Many articles on relevant topics.
Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog by Unibul
The Merchant Account Blog is another useful blog by Merchantequip.
Top ten credit card processing reviews - Great site
Lions site has a top vendor review.
100 Best Merchant Accounts

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Making more advertising money

I'm having some success with optimizing advertisements on the vocabulary word game site. It's doing 2x better in revenue than the old approach.

Current adsense/revenue questions:
- URL Channels - Making them work - I just created some new URL channels that I thought encompass an entire domain. For instance: vocabulary.co.il. Yet its volume is smaller than a pre-existing custom channel called vocabulary. Possibilities: Does a URL somehow double count ads? Might we have placed this code from the vocabulary channel on other sites?

- LCPC Adsense Ads - I need to get in there and eliminate the LCPC ads. How does this work?
- Multiple Google adblocks on a page - There's some reason that you want to limit the number of blocks on a page to less than the three that Google allows. Something about improving you CPC.

- I have some space on the page that is not producing much $$$s or even customers for my other business. For instance, the T4W or T4L block on the left. Would another PPC vendor (adbrite?) be a good test there? Should I play with one more affiliates? Would an appropriate Amazon page make make a decent return? Choices:
- make the 125 x 125 ultimate vocabulary add into a skycraper. Maybe get more clicks and sales.
- make the 125 x 250 under it into an affiliate (amazon?) or PPC (adbrite?) spot?

In other news. I can now show you again why non graphic artists with limited control over the tools should NOT be allowed to set up blogs. For the all time ugly blog (which hopefully will soon be fixed), check out my blog on learning fun. It's awful but I can't seem to find out how to put in a proper banner and get rid of the puke green and annoying orange.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Google Rank Checker

I've been looking for a new Google rank checker. In reading 4th Floor Marketing by James, a student in Binghamton NY, I learned about Google Rank Checker which I'll try until I find something better. I sure miss Jim Boykins Cool SEO Tool. Any opinions on whether I should sign up for their suite of free tools?

I don't fully understandone setting on the Google Rank Checker tool. Users get to choose which region they care about. But there isn't a US region, there's just World.

Any one to explain it?

This post was sponsored by the good Rhode Island homeschooling people, thanks!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Adsense channels

Adsense can be confusing. I'm currently confused by channels and how to organize and use and interpret them. Confusions....
1- Do all clicks have to be assigned to a channel? If so, where do the blogger automatically added ads (like the ones on this site) appear?
2- Is there a "trace" tool to figure out where you have placed channels once my own records get screwed up?
3 - Is there some code in each ad (or inside adsense) that allows me to see which custom channel it is assigned to?

When you put adsense on your site, the revenue comes from three types of ads:
- adblocks
- adlinks
- search
The data on adblocks and adlinks can be viewed together or separately. The data on search is apart.

Channels - The channels are used to track the source of adsense revenue. There are two types of channels:

URL Channels - which are set up from within Adsense. You can use URL channels to track individual pages, or to track groups of pages based on the directory structure of your site. You don't have to change the code on your pages. Just login to adsense, Click the Channels link below the AdSense Setup tab, Choose the AdSense for content sub-tab, Click Add new URL channel, and in the resulting text box, and then enter the URL that you would like to track. The URL can be set to follow an entire domain, a subdomain, a folder, or any group of dynamically generated pages that you can write a rule for. Googles channel info.

Custom channels allow you to track the performance of specific ad units. By pasting channel-specific ad code into your pages, you can track a variety of metrics across a range of URLs. Use custom channels to track the performance of different ad formats, for example, or to compare different page topics to one another. To learn how to create and assign custom channels, please read How do I create custom channels? You can also turn any custom channel into an ad placement on which advertisers can choose to place their ads.

Note that since a single adblock can be counted in multiple channels (custom or URL). (Can an ad block be counted in two different custom channels?), the sum of individual set of stats might double count some clicks and revenue.

Monday, October 06, 2008

DMOZ doesn't count...says google...no duh

Remember, you heard it here first. Long ago, I said that all those directories that only seem to get any attention for SEO purposes, are not worth wasting time on. (Lets retire DMOZ and DMOZ Yahoo Link Stupidity and others from further back...)

SEO geek insiders continued to tell me that directories were important. I said no. It's common sense. Google knows that nobody has used DMOZ since 2005, there's no reason that they would take that link seriously....

Google has just said about the same thing....

Google Devaluing DMOZ and Yahoo! Links? Chris Crum Staff Writer

Google is no longer suggesting that you should be listed in relevant directories. In fact, they've even removed the suggestion from their webmaster guidelines, as Brian Ussery noticed. The page used to have a bullet point for:
- Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.

This point is now gone in what would appear to be a slap in the face of directories, but SEO folks are the ones really irritated. Google doesn't appear to see it as a slap in the face so much, but more of simply a non-needed guideline.

I think Google knows that these links and directories primarily exist and service the SEO industry. Their links do not provide any real guidance to Google on the real value of these sites. So they're not really counting them. And removing their old suggestion that people pay attention to them.

1and1 Internet Exchange Mail Server Service

We run a small (8 person) support organization which primarily operates through email. We outsourced the management of the Microsoft exchange server a few years ago to 1and1 internet. The service has been up and down but overall reasonable ....until this weekend.

This weekend. No more email. So our weekend crew calls them up, gives them our info, and is told that the server will be down for five days. What !!?!??? So, our supervisor gets into the discussion on Sunday and the 1and1 support people confirm that it'll be 5 days. So it elevates again and our CTO gets into the act. He manages to work his way up past the first level tech support people. Eventually, he's told that the server will be down for three days. Our CTO tells them this is unacceptable.

Now it's Monday afternoon and I've gotten into the act. I tried to do an end run on their tech support department and called their finance dept to see if they would, under the auspices of their contractual obligation, help us understand how they just take down a server with no prior notice. And when is the email going to be available again?

We learned this weekend that they did try to notify their customers in advance. But, since we only use them for mail service, not hosting, they might have overlooked this class of customer and could be the reason that we were not notified of the planned downtime.

BTW - we do run an entirely separate email system for backup (thru Gmail. Thanks Google) so our customers are still being take care of albeit, with a lot more effort.

I explained to their billing dept what the problem was and he said that he would pass me up to an Ian Morse. I then spent 23 minutes on hold before their system hung up on me.

Now, I'm pissed. I just rechecked with my CTO who said that what he learned this weekend is that this was a planned server upgrade. They planned for it to take "no more than 72 hours". And as far as the support people were concerned, there was no plan to tell the customers in advance that their mail servers were down.

I find 1and1 Internet and other vendors who behave like this to be hateful.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Google sitelinks not found and broken

I put my 9 year old son to work today testing SpellingCity.com. The rationale was that we made some site optimizations this week to improve performance ...so just to be sure, lets test to see if the site still works....

First thing my son D tried was to google the site to find it. I almost told him not to waste his time. I'm glad that I didn't. In Google, in addition to the main site link, there are a number of (what I just learned) are called: "Google Sitelinks". I've never paid much attention to them before (pictured above). But, son D clicked on one that produced a 404 error. hmmmm. So I started researching and learned from a Google forum that:

Sitelinks are created algorithmically to help users quickly navigate to the information they need on your site. To display sitelinks, Google must basically determine: 1) a relevant structure for your site conducive to sitelinks, and 2) that sitelinks will be helpful for the user's query.

What should I do if my sitelinks are not useful or, as in my case, going nowhere? BTW, I know the reason. One of our optimizations this week was to remove joomla's SEO-friendly feature since it turns out not to be high-performance-friendly. sigh.

The official google webmaster blog (quoted above) continues:
For your verified site in Webmaster Tools, you can view your available sitelinks.

But I can't seem to find this anywhere in my webmaster tools. More specifically, when I click thru to the option where it's supposed to list my sitelinks and allow me block any sitelinks, I get a message that no sitelinks exist (see the picture). Great. So I've asked google on their official blog for help. I admit that I have very low expectations for an answer but, we'll see. Stay tuned, maybe tomorrow, I might have answers on how to find and fix them..... Also, how to get a decent Jooma 404 page-not-found page up....See you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Best free seo tools

Google, as I've written before, is the best free SEO tool (analytics, webmaster tools, adwords, search etc). The second best is yahoo. And the plugins to Firefox are amazing. In terms of third party websites:

SEO Tools - Specifically:
Search Analytics Tools - establish your marketing goals and establish a baseline for where you are at right now.
Keyword Research Tools - discover the keywords your customers are searching for right now.
Competitive Research Tools - see what keywords your competitors are targeting.
PPC Tools - buy important keywords and track the results to understand how well they convert,which helps you focus you organic SEO strategy on the most profitable keywords. Save money using these free Yahoo! Search Marketing & Microsoft adCenter Coupons.
Link Analysis Tools - start building your link profile and track your progress compared to competing websites.
Search Engine Ranking Checkers - determine how effective your marketing is by watching your search engine rankings improve.

SEO Digger - Provides great info but you really need a premium account to go to work.

SEOAnalytic.com -

Free Wordtracker - This is much like the old Yahoo/overture tool that we all liked - - I wonder where they get their data? Answer is from dogpile and metacrawler which accounts for .63% of the searches. But, their searches are not by typical or mainstream users. A big problem. I mean like what sort of person in 2008 uses dogpile? If you met someone who used dogpile to search with, what sort of person do you think it would be? Would it be someone like Joe Sixpack? Or someone really weird and fringy...Maybe from Hawaii or Alaska...

BTW - there is a decent thread on this at digitalpoint.com

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

adsense & advertising nitty gritty questions

Here's a few adsense questions that I'd love answered:

1 - When I use blogger to set up a blog and I click "add adsense", as I did on this blog, google automatically finds my adsense account and sets up the appropriate ads. Which is what I did when I went to the new blogger on this website. That's cool. But what channel does it put it under? I can't find an "other"category so I'm a little confused.

2 - If I have two google ads on the same page, as I do on this blog, and someone views a page, so that both ads are viewed, does that count as one or two page views? I've been told that it counts as one by adsense but I can't seem to find this info documented anywhere. ANSWER: It counts page impressions, not ad block impressions. But if you want ad block impressions, or even individual ad impressions, you can find this in adsense advanced settings.

3 - If a page has two or three types of adsense ads; such as adblock ads, menu ads, and a search function; will adsense count that page impression multiple times. I believe it counts it once per type of ad on the page, but I'm not sure.

The implication is that you need to be careful when you compare $ per thousand of adsense vs advertising statistics. My advertising statistics are kept as $ per thousand page impressions. A page with two ads would count each ad impression separately. So a single page impression produces two ad impressions. But, if google is counting page impressions (not per ad impression), then I need to adjust my calculations accordingly.

I can't be the only one struggling to understand these nitty gritty number issues. Am I?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Advertising sophistication

I was trying to set up business with a medium size CPM advertising network and in a phone conversation, he asked me: "Tell me about the demographics of your users."

I candidly and stupidly replied. I don't know much about them, I think they're mostly kids.

BONG. Wrong answer.

You should pretend to know something about your users to have some credibility. It's not really checkable information so there's really no wrong answer. And, grown-up users are more valuable than kids. So I got zero out of two on that little test.

But how would I know about my user demographics? One, if your site is registered with a service, just repeat their information. It might be nonsence but it sure sounds good. So, for instance, for my SpellingCity.com site, I could say:

My site is 62% female, 49% over the age of 18, and 50% of the users are regulars. I get all this information directly from the Quantcast website. I'm not sure I believe it but this sort of info is the standard medium of advertising.

I'm also trying to understand how comscore with media metrix provides info so that I can better understand and characterize my site, and find appropriate advertisers. I was just reading through one of comScores PDFs which explains how to characterize your site and it baffled me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High Volume Websites

The high volume sites that I run are:
1. Time4Learning.com - some flash animations & PDF downloads but most of the heavy multimedia work is done by Compass...
2. Building Vocabulary Fun - lots of Flash files and a database but relatively stable volumes and so it's easily managed...
3. SpellingCity.com - a beautiful new high volume site which has more than doubled in usage over the last month and which is architected to consume bandwidth and CPU at a very high rate. It couldn't be a bigger pig if it was designed by the hosting companies themselves.

Early this summer, we put SpellingCity.com on a dedicated server at Layered Tech
(Fast Servers). Earlier this month, we added an extra GB of memory (for $25/month more) and now, we're probably deciding to add a second server (maybe segmenting off the database work from the webserving?). BTW, we're very happy with FastServers and their support and service.

I can see now why nobody tried to do a site like SpellingCity before.

Making money thru domain parking...sigh

This MTD (and we're in the last weeks), here's my revenues for parking 75 domains:
NameDrive $1.84
TrafficClub (now called domainsponsor.com) $73.49 (95% from one domain)
DoDaddy's Parking service $11.31

This is from ~75 parked domain, some with very worthwhile names such as http://www.gifted-student.com, Credit Cards online, and SKILLSFORTOMORROW.COM.

I'm pretty well done with trying to make money on parking domains and so I'm returning to focus on combinations of content with google ads. My new effort is to explore a topic near and dear to my heart: collecting funds online. The domain name: credit cards online 101.

GoDaddy is now set so that my new domain registrations automatically get parked. With that level of convenience, I'll keep doing it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

LCPC - Low cost per click ads

Today, I have my publisher hat on and I'm focused in improving the revenue flow from the google ads on my websites. One way to get more is get rid of the LCPC - low cost per click advertisers. Basically, you find the list and then in your adsense account, filter the low paying ads.

Why does Google have people paying less? It has something to do with being a Google-preferred advertiser who has a high quality score (relevance of ads, clickthrus) and size of adsense budget.

How do you find these low-paying advertisers? You google the web. Here's a few sites:
adsblacklist.com - a whole site and forum dedicated to identifying LCPC. Sign Up, put in your URL and keyword, click generate. You will then get an extensive list of 200 sites to block in your AdSense competitive ad filter. BUT, while I can find posts on this topic on problogger and elsewhere, they all point back to adsblacklist.com.

Filtering/blocking lcpc ads - Copy the list generated at Ads Black List and open your adsense account. Then Adsense Setup > Competitive Adsense Filter and paste that list.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monetizing websites - CPM focus

Standard sources of revenue (when volumes get big)
- Sites with small amounts of traffic always start with google adsense. It works at low volumes. CPM vendors require sites to have certain levels of traffic. Will wrote a great article on ProBlogger about CPM marketing where he lists the minimum page views that different vendors require. They range at the high end to Advertising.com (2 million pageviews per month) to the low end where AdsDaq and Ad Dynamix have no minimums.

- Most site owners with large volumes of traffic (again, what is large?) prefer the reliability and predictability of CPM over CPC or CPA. They know what they'll make.

- Definitions for you beginners: CPM - a dollar amount, often $3, per thousand impressions. An impression is a page view. One visitor might have 8 page views. CPC is cost per click (Google adsense, AdBrite), CPA is cost per action, as in affiliate programs.

- Top CPM network vendors: Tribalfusion, Burst media, - I found some good starting materials, an advertising focused website, an article on CPM Vendors, and a freaktitude article. Hotchalk is focused on our market so they are of interest to me

- CPM vendors have to be above the fold

- You can have multiple CPM vendors on the same page so long as they are above the fold. I know where exactly the cut-off is on my computer with my toolbars and my resolution. But, is there a standard definition of how many pixels down is above the fold?

- CPM network vendors do not ask for exclusives so you can mix and match in the same spot. For instance, with one leaderboard, you might set up an adserver such as Open X which alternates between your own ads, tribalfusion, burst media, and google ads (when there is no demand from the others).
- google ads go lower on the page as an additional revenue enhancer
- affiliates are a time drain, highly unreliable, and mostly don't work. With great skill in some niches, you can work an affiliate successfully but it's an uphill battle
- if you have very valuable traffic, google ads are a good way to go
- very valuable niche traffic might best be monetized with affiliates and adsense.

Some details. I was just looking at TribalFusion's Publisher agreement which says:
- they need at least 2K unique visitors per day
- They must be the only 468x60 banner above the fold!
- All banners are 468x60 pixels.
BTW - TribalFusion's Publisher agreement should be updated in terms of ad size since their website says the standard unit sizes are: 468x60, 728x90, 300x250, 336x280, 120x600, 160x600, and Pop-Under

Data Sources
Advertisers like standard sources of date more than your own web stats. Examples:
- Quantcast - Currently the best since they pull data from the ISPs
- Alexa - An old favorite but biased by the percentage of people that install their toolbar
- Compete - New to me but very user-friendly
- Comscore - Subscription-based

Current hot sizes for CPM Vendors:

728 x 90 - leaderboard
160 x 60
300 x 250 - preferred
I had thought the banner (468 x 60) was the standard but it's apparently a has-been.

What's hot in our market in terms of demographics?
- teachers & parents
- what's not in demand: kids
So printable worksheets and our parents forum are hotter than sites for kids for advertising



Friday, September 12, 2008

Warriors Collide

This blog is not about MMA (mixed martial arts), its about the web and how the marketing online world works. Here's a lesson. Market around events.

Example: I have a blog on my training and from where I train, there's alot of interest in the local amateur fights since our training partners will be there. People want to know more. So I try to pull together info for them and apparently, people really like it.

So, if you want the latest info on Warriors Collide or Warriors Collide 6, go to the Black Belt at 50 blog.

If you go to conventions or conferences, they are a great subject. Talk about why you are going. Talk about what you hope to accomplish there and who you hope to meet and why. Use it as a way to focus your own thoughts and set your own goals. Perhaps use it as a way to communicate with others. AT the conference, take a few minutes a few times a day and jot down how it's going. If you are quick, you could be one of the first blogs to hit the search engine on certain topics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Chrome Browser - Almost like an OS

Google's chrome includes some features that help the web generally and google specifically. As background, Google is releasing it's own web browser called Chrome. Chrome will compete with other browsers (all free) such as Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari, and Firefox's Mozilla. Chrome has a collection of cool new features:

  1. A more powerful efficient java engine to execute complex web applications
  2. Efficient memory management with protected memory for different applications.
  3. An open source approach
  4. Multithreaded multitasking programming

What struck me when I read this (and other more complete lists) about Chrome is that it starts to sound like a description of an operating system. Remember, Google has just released Android which is their open source OS for mobile phones. Is Chrome a big step towards providing an OS for some desktop-type device, like a future network-centric PC or web station?

Returning to my business news:
I have about 75 parked domains at: TrafficClub, GoDaddy, and NameDrive. I am looking for some way to compare the results at them but since no two domains are identical and in most cases, the visits and clicks are paltry, it's hard to do meaningful statistical comparison.

SpellingCity.com is a definite hit. You can check out it's traffic at Quantcast. I'm examining a number of ways to monetize it from building it out to a full subscription site, to having my own spelling ebooks, to using it to promote my own sites (and parked domains), to putting up advertising, or even to selling it (7 figures!).



Sunday, September 07, 2008

Looking for wisdom....and some good consultants

Here are the questions that are important to my business for which I would be willing to pay money to get sage advice from someone who inspires my confidence....

My site's position on Google has slipped slightly on a few hundred words over the last two to three months. The traffic seems down (corrected for seasonality) and my Google PR rating went from 7 to 6. Could this be because I eliminated the google adsense ads on my site? There were making money but I felt, were distracting my visitors and not contributing to the quality of my site. They were making some money for me.

Parking domains. I've been looking at Sedo, Godaddy, trafficclub, and even the google adsense parking service. The google one seems to require someone to qualify my holding lots of quality domains. Google's funny in this area since on one hand, most parking services run a lot of google ads on them. But Google seems to be experimenting with allowing adwords advertisers who allow their ads on content sites to block parked sites. And google seems to be selectively offering a parking service for domain owners. Here's my question: whats the best parking service?

Credit card gateway services. A chunk of my revenue every month goes to the credit card services. Is it too much? Could I get lower rates? Are their better services? I'm looking for info in these areas. So far, I've found credit cards online 101, credit card vendor, and some ezine credit card articles.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Hurricane Song

I grew up singing these songs.

The hurricane song is very timely and too great.
Thanks Time4Learning for keeping this alive.
And thanks to Todays Learners for helping me find it.



Thursday, September 04, 2008

Monetizing website traffic

I'm searching for ideas and specifics and industry norms on monetizing traffic. Is $.01 per visitor good or bad? Put otherwise, can I earn $10 per CPM? What combo of approaches should I try?

  1. Just park it. I have one parked domain that is now producing over $1 per click and close to .7 clicks per visitor. It is amazing. Should I just use my highly trafficed sites to send traffic to my parked domains hoping that the high $/click will pay-off? Seems simple and effective to me.
  2. Do, as SEOProNews suggest, the right thing to monetize your traffic : Marketers will closely examinetheir traffic and then take steps to monetize it. It mayinvolve producing their own products or services to offerto these visitors. It may be using an affiliate program to offer a product...Domination of the main keywords in your market or niche willspell monetary success even for webmasters whose main goalmay not be making money from their sites… these strangecreatures do exist I am told!
    Aggressive marketers will take a different route, especiallyif they have gained domination in a niche area; many approachother businesses in their niche with offers of partnershipsand independent deals… they supply the leads or customersto these businesses in return for a percentage of the sale.
    I personally go for “residual income deals” where I get apercentage of the revenues generated for the life of theclients I refer. Large multinational companies in yourtargeted niches probably won’t give you the time of day,but smaller, lesser known companies will give you lucrativedeals if it is a “win-win situation” for both parties.This is my number ONE way to monetize my traffic.
  3. I have tried adsense which produces steady income. I have tried affiliates and for the 20 programs that I've tried, I've found only one that consistently makes money. I have looked to build & buy my own products but so far, other than my original product line, I'm a one-trick pony.
  4. What are decent monetization rates? Is $.01 per visitor good or bad? I see $5 per CPM impressions thrown around as a standard rate. But is it real and what does it mean? Is that the rate for each banner on the page or for the total advertising on a page? Does that mean that for every visitor, assuming each visitor views four pages and there are two banners on each page, that a visitor = 8 impressions paying 8/1000 of $5. Which equals 40/1000 or 1/25 or $.04 per visitor?



Data Conflicts: Analytics vs Adwords data

Am I the only one who cares about integrity of data? I search the web and I can't seem to find anyone else who cares about the statistical validity of data for decision making of adwords campaigns. Or about reconciling different data from adwords and analytics.

For instance, for the month of August, my google analytics report shows 50 new customers from the Google Adwords campaign. For the same time period, the Adwords internally generated report show 100 (yes, I'm not giving out my real data).

My belief is that Adwords is a cookie-based system so as long as the visitor converts into a customer on the same computer that they first clicked thru from google on, they count as an Adwords customer.

Analytics, I theorize, is session based. So if the customer first came to my site from an Adwords click but then bookmarked the site and closed his browser. Then he came back to my site by either using the bookmark or googling (natural search) my name, he would count in Analytics as either direct or natural search customer respectively.




Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What is an original work?

I run an online educational service. I'd like to be focused day-in-and-day-out on education and how software and methodology can help kids learn. I'd like to focus on helping to redefining learning. But, I run a company so I actually spend most of my days on issues like credit cards, people management, on marketing, and on my least favorite days, on intellectual property issues.

I'm in the software business and so, we create and use "original works" which can be software programs, images, music, and writing. Much of this is in the public domain in some sense. Some of it is proprietary and belongs to someone and it would be wrong to use.

Being a small company, I avoid spending money on lawyers because....well, it's my money and I'd like to keep it. So this post is an effort to gather my thoughts and maybe some input on what is an original proprietary list.

Ultimately, this is an incredibly grey area which can only be decided on a case-by-case basis by the courts.

Let's start with some items that cannot belong to someone followed in some cases by a caveat:
  • Facts, like the population of the US. But this is limited since some info, like the daily stock market feed, does "belong" to someone.
  • Ideas, like the idea that the planets revolve around the sun and rotate. But some ideas can be patented
  • Original works such as songs, book and poetry. A complete curriculum. A photograph

So could a word list be considered proprietary? I would think not. But then, a dictionary with it's definitions is proprietary as would be a complete vocabulary curriculum. But a list of few hundred words for vocabulary or spelling, could that be considered proprietary? I would think not.

The online world, with google constantly indexing everyone's proprietary sites, providing photos of everyone's houses from above and from the front door (have you seen StreetView on google, it's so amazing!!!!), indexing all the printed books, and generally making information accessible is certainly increasing the focus on these intellectual property issues.



Saturday, August 30, 2008

Computer Security - Human implementation

In the recent month, due to the Georgia - Russia cyberwar (we think), we have had a lot of trojan attacks. And we're worried about the SQL injection problems. As part of this, we tightened our passwords and put security on 100% of the computers that our staff uses.

But, there is always the question of implementation and the human element. Below is an actual email from the president of the company (me) to the head of engineering. (names changed). I wrote it a week after the CTO had reported that all the computers in the office were safe and secure with software on them for protection. It illustrated how there could be "many a slip twixt the cup and the lip" or, how hard real implementation can be unless you really focus and follow-up.

* * * * * * * *

I review the BitDefender logfile on my computer every morning to see that my computer is safe. There's a list of deleted files, quarantined files, and a few residual problems usually consisting of password protected files that couldn't be deleted or scanned.

I wondered why nobody else in the office seems to have issues. I walked over to Tom's computer and asked to see his log.

It reported that there was nothing found in the last week on his computer. I was happy! :->
I then checked if his software was updated and found that it updated last night: more smiles :->

Then, just to be thorough, I checked to see when the last scan was run.....August 20th! Over a week ago. Grrrr. His security software is Trend Micro which has a default setting to run once a month. :-<>

One of the staff who was listening then asked me: How does the security software run at night if I turn my computer off at night? (which she has been doing?). Obviously, it does not. Apparently, the security software on her computer has never actually been run.

Joan, a third staff member, then asked ---- I just close the report that is up on my screen when I come in every morning....am I supposed to look at it?

In short, the software that we had implemented was NOT providing effective security due to the human element.

Here's the plan.
Sally will visit each person/computer every morning for a while. She will verify in conjunction with the person who sits at the desk:
- that the scan ran the previous night
- that the software updated itself on the previous night
- that the scan that ran is a good one (ie deep scan) and that the settings ensure that all emails and downloads are being scanned.
- that the log report is healthy. If it's not, she'll get you to look at it with her. Soon, she should get good at reading it.

As part of this, we will have to do some purchasing since many of the packages that we installed are on 30 day trials.

This week, Sally, can you make a list as you visit each computer of:
- the security software on each computer
- whether it is purchased or a trial
- when the trial expires

Come back next week to find out whether the plan to off-load the daily review of each scan to Sally from the IT heavyweight is successful. And whether we have stopped the inflow of trojans onto our websites (we've had two contaminated in the last month).