Visitors intentions and correct landing pages

One of the most often-overlooked aspects of search engine marketing is building sites and doing keyword research without first considering the importance of understanding the visitors and giving the right information they seek.

For a successful campaign, there needs to exist a website that is designed with a clear path that leads the visitor to conversion and a direct connection between what the visitor is searching for and what he or she finds on the landing page.

We can organize visitors’ searches by their intention in three main stages: generic or information search, navigational or brand search, and transactional or action search.

We need to have landing pages for each step and each page must have a call to action that tries to lead the visitor to the next step. Most marketers send the visitor to the home page or to the action page disregarding the stage of the mind of the visitor. This is one of the main reason the industry-wide conversion rates are so low.

For example, if we are selling a Dell Latitude D420 and we get a visitor looking for computers, we need to send him to a landing page that talks about the benefits of laptops over computers, with a call to action to take him to the laptops page.

Once there, we will try to persude him to research our particular model, and in the model page, we will try to take him to buy it.

If the user was searching for laptops, we need to send him to the laptops page directly, and if he is looking for our particular model, we will take him there and convince him that we have the best price.

The power of custom built software

One of the key things that helped me move quickly to super affiliate — I started earning 5 figures per month after six months — was the fact that I knew how to create scripts and systems to help me do the repetitive stuff.

I usually did everything manually first, and once I could see that the process was profitable, and that I could automate it, I focused on developing a custom software solution.  This gave me a huge competitive edge.

When I started, it was possible to get high rankings by trading enough links with the right anchor text; search engines are little bit smarter now.  I remember I created a handful of Perl scripts to research and find a lot of links, and an Internet Explorer toolbar to help me with filling the link exchange forms.  Those tools saved me a lot of time!

If you start doing something that is profitable and you think that automating it can help you grow faster; do it.  If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself; hire someone to do it. There are a lot of freelancers that can do it really cheap.

Long tail for PPC?

If you have read a lot about search marketing and specifically pay per click, you have probably heard about the phrase “long tail keywords”.

I was fortunate enough to learn about this early and I was able to exploit it very well in Overture — now Yahoo Search Marketing.

The idea is to try to focus on all of the possible variations of a keyword that people use when searching, specifically phrases with 3 or more words, and not try to compete for the single word or two word keyword, for example “buy nice car in florida” instead of “buy car” or “cars.”  Getting enough long tail keywords can potentially get you the same or close to the same level of traffic, but at a much lower cost, and with more conversions as people that type single word phrases are more in research mode.

When I started doing PPC in Google back in 2002, I immediately tried to use the same techniques I used so successfully in Overture.  Later I realized that it was not necessary. Read more

SEO 2.0 is all about links

Similar to the versioning used for the web (web 1.0, web 2.0, web 3.0), I like to version SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as well.

In SEO 1.0, in order to achieve high rankings, SEOs simply needed to include the phrases they wanted to rank enough times to get to the first positions.  Back then, it was all about keyword density, meta keyword tags, etc… What is commonly known now as on-page optimization.

With the arrival of Google, SEOs had to adapt.  Google is “a large scale hyper-textual search engine.”  This means that the search engine relies heavily on links and the information associated with them. Read more

Converting visitors into customers

One of the most frustrating experiences I have felt is seeing your site get lots of traffic and no conversions.

The reality is that from the start, your website needs to be built to convert.  You need to create pages that build trust and reduce doubt.  Ken Envoy calls this preselling.

We should not try to force our visitors to buy immediately.

I always try to look at my sites from the customer’s perspective.  I even ask friends to tell me why they wouldn’t buy what I offer and I modify the site to improve the odds of people buying.

A professional design, professional copy, and a fast responsive website helps, but ultimately there needs to be a reason for the visitor to buy from you and not from your competitor;  but more importantly to buy from you now, before he forgets about your site.

In the worst case you want to offer a newsletter or RSS subscription to maintain a line of communication that you can use later.

Finding profitable niches

Oftentimes what we would really like to do, will not bring the money we need to survive immediately.

What I really love is writing software and solving problems, yet I had to learn the boring part of business and marketing.  I was very lucky that SEO required a great deal of technical understanding and was really fun to do in the early days.

In order to support myself and fund my software business, I started doing affiliate marketing in highly profitable markets such as on-line pharmacy, finance, travel, etc. These markets are extremely competitive, however with the right knowledge and tools you can thrive.  Take for example one of my old affiliate sites http://www.tripscan.com  which ranks organically in the top 20 (used to be top 5 when I was actively marketing it)  in Yahoo for the highly competitive phrase “vacation package” which has more than 50 million competing sites.

The key is to start small and find keywords that nobody else — or a few smart ones — have thought about.  Most people call this “the long tail” but let me tell you that it is longer than most marketers think. Read more

Measuring your affiliate success

As an affiliate you have many advantages.  You don’t need to keep inventory; manage people, suppliers, banks, etc…

You only need to concentrate on marketing.  Find good and reliable merchants and create content to pre-sell their stuff.

I started as an affiliate 5 years ago and I can attest that it works. You can gradually build a good source of income selling other people stuff.

If you are an entrepreneur as well, your journey should not stop there.  You need to plan for building something of value that you can later sell.

My affiliate years tough me a lot about marketing and business.  As a geek I didn’t have those critical skills.

In order to grow your affiliate business you need to carefully track what is working and what is not, down to the keyword level.  This is an advantage that merchants have over their affiliates:  their analytics software can give them all of this critical information.  These systems are not designed for affiliates.

Let me share a tip:  a technique I used as an affiliate to better track my campaigns. Read more

What?, How? and Work!

One of the first lessons I’ve learned from life, is that many people achieve success by taking completely different routes.

For me, every time I want to pursue a new venture I ask myself:  What is the great opportunity most people are overlooking?  How can I take advantage of it and do it better?

When I have a clear answer to these questions, and believe I can do it and feel passionate about it, I set out to work on it!

Opportunities are everywhere.  You only need to listen to what your potential customers need and how you can efficiently solve their problems.

One thing that I do to come up with new ideas, is to look at the problems my potential customers are having, the solutions my future competitors are giving, and try to find a better, smarter, faster or cheaper way to achieve the same.

Sadly, a lot of smart people know what their goals are and how to achieve them, but are too lazy or too afraid to actually work on them.