Tuesday, 21 November 2006

Search Engine Optimization: A Total Waste of Time and Money?

It is impossible to have a successful website which receives adequate traffic without implementing an active, costly Search Engine Optimization strategy. In particular, during the process of setting up a new website. At least, this is what we have been led to believe by the SEO professionals. But is there any evidence that the techniques used by the SEO's actually work? And are the techniques they implement in contradiction to the search engines guidelines on ethical methods?

Current trends in the SEO industry involve manipulating rankings by creating as many quality inbound links from contextually relevant sites which benefit from a high Google "Page Rank". Along with these quality links, many SEO's will submit to hundreds or even thousands of lesser known search engines, indexes and directories, many of which which do little more than scrape content from the big three search engines and then spam them back. These directories can be found with a simple Google search and cost pennies for inclusion.

Then, the professional SEO will employ some keyword and html tag stuffing which can be done by anyone with basic knowledge of html and the willingness to write page content for an algorithm as opposed to a person. Creative and less scrupulous SEO's may even undertake a bit of tag and ping or create some doorway pages which may put the site being "optimized" at risk of vanishing from the search engines forever!

Of course, an SEO can earn $1000 or more per site for a month, just as a maintenance fee. Given that many of these companies outsource to India where highly competent programmers do the same job for 10% of the price, the SEO business is a good business to be in for the time being. The astute site builder can contract directly through Elance or similar service.

Now, it is not my intention to spoil the party for these SEO gurus. Don't get me wrong. All of the above techniques WILL work and can get good rankings in all the search engines. But they won't necessarily get a guaranteed top ten result for highly competitive terms in many cases. Many corporate sites will hire an SEO just because they think they have to. But for how long will the industry last?

With the major search engines continually developing highly developed algorithms to rank sites in their "rightful" place, the SEO boom will continue for the foreseeable future. The constant battle against content spam, blog spam and all form of ranking manipulation is not over by a long shot. But the bottom line is that all the latest SEO techniques can be found online just by spending a little time on research. The geeks make sure the secrets are out fast! The remaining decision is evaluating whether you have the time and inclination to do it yourself.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Is Affiliate Marketing just another name for MLM?

It is generally accepted that MLM or Multi-Level Marketing is just another term for Network Marketing. But it is less known that Affiliate Marketing is merely a modern offshoot of this tried and tested concept. The huge growth in the Affiliate marketing industry is due in large part to the application of MLM techniques where members are paid commissions on sales and a percentage of the sales earned by members recruited into their downline.

Often MLM companies have gotten bad press. In the past, and even today, there are many instances of Ponzi Schemes, Get Rich Quick scams and other techniques to get honest people to part with their hard-earned cash. The problem is that these scams have tarnished the Network Marketing Industry. Affiliate Marketing must be careful to remain reputable, in particular due to the volatile nature of the Internet.

However not all MLM/Network companies are bad. In fact, I would even tend to say the majority of them are quite the opposite. But the difficulty for the Layman is identifying a company that they would be willing to sacrifice time and in many cases money for.

Many "Network" Marketing Companies are now calling themselves "Net" Marketing companies, which further blurs the traditional business models that have come to be regarded as the norm on the internet.

How can we define the distinction between Network Marketing and Affiliate Marketing? Is there any difference anymore? Strangely enough, it appears that many of the people becoming involved with Affiliate programs are those who would have nothing to do with MLM programs. Even less with any kind of Matrix or Ponzi scheme.

There are several key points to look for when considering whether you will be dealing with a bona-fide organization. The first and most important is this: Will you be paid for selling products/services, or is the commission received only for recruiting new members into the organization?

It is fine to receive commissions on sales, but consider the ethics of promising a huge income to someone only for recruiting them into a shallow dream of constant downline building for profit. If you have to pay to join the organization, make sure that you are getting something in return. Don't be fooled by promises of "Ground Floor Opportunities". Never pay for a position, only products or services.

Look for a company that can provide you with what you need to get started quickly and with no cost to join. Make sure they offer plenty of ready made materials that are free for members. Also ensure they give good and ethical advice about how to develop the business.

Next, what is the potential size of the market of the products or services you will be promoting? Is the market still growing? There are literally millions of products out there needed promoted. On the other hand, many of the markets are flooded. Identify growth areas. Find a niche. And stick with it. Use the tried and tested techniques provided by your upline, whether involved in Affiliate Marketing or MLM.

Promote the products that you use yourself. It is much easier to be enthusiastic about something you use as opposed to something you are merely pushing for profit. Sales will come to you much easier.

Steve Tomassen is a passionate Affiliate marketer with 8 years experience. He runs his own home business website at Affiliatastic.com

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Earning Revenue from Contextual Ads: Some Key Issues

The incredible success of Contextual Advertising over the last few years is nothing of a surprise, given that Google and Yahoo have been involved since near the beginning and have helped to perfect the system.

Google's Adsense system and its Yahoo counterpart are a favorite technique of webmasters to generate extra revenue from their sites and blogs. The idea is simple. Post some content on your site, add a snippet of code to your html and the system posts a contextual advertisement subject relevant to your site. Every month, Google sends out a commission check. What could be simpler?

When it all runs smoothly, nothing. The problem is that the system is open to abuse. In order to generate maximum revenues, many webmasters have jumped on the bandwagon and have created literally millions of "MFA" sites with spam content just to rake in money for nothing.

Made for Adsense has become an increasing pain to many in the industry, in particular to advertisers concerned that their ads are appearing on irrelevant sites. And quite rightly so. MFA produces low quality leads which don't convert and this burns through their advertising budgets. And then there is the problem of Click Fraud, but that's a whole different story.

Allegedly, Google are lowering the amount payed out in Adsense revenues to certain sites due to their profiteering nature. This is due in large part to the MFA problem. It should also be pointed out that many of these web publisher have their Adsense accounts cancelled.

Ok, so the system is flawed in certain respects, but if the search engines make money and there are plenty happy advertisers out there what's the problem? The major issue is for those webmasters looking for something that will generate a consistent, guaranteed revenue over the longer term, with potential for growth.

The pay-per-click model will, I feel, evolve towards a pay-per-sale model. This is nothing new - it's just another term for affiliate marketing. So ideally, an affiliate program should provide contextual content for a vast array of products and have potential to develop revenue exponentially along with higher levels of traffic.

There is one such system which I have just discovered. It allows webmasters to leverage the selling power of info-products through Text Ads. It is called BetterTextAds.com. It is free to join and comes with a full selection of webmaster promotional tools that can help you to develop multiple streams of income for your online business.

Net Marketing: Covergence of Buying and Selling

One of the most fascinating changes is happening around us. The way we search for information has had a staggering impact on the way we shop. But why is this so interesting? Simple. The changes that are happening, are happening so fast that most of us aren't even noticing.

Quite uncannily, in 1996, a man named Robert Poe predicted this revolution in his best seller book "Wave 3: The New Era in Network Marketing". (This book is available for about 1 cent on Amazon, if you're interested!)

He stated, quite confidently, that technology - and the internet in particular - would change the way many of us shop and earn our livings through the convergence of buying and selling patterns. Specifically, that it would be possible for marketers to earn commissions by referring sales and for consumers to gain discounts as members, or affiliates if you prefer, of this new breed of cutting edge company.

In fact, although the book was written with network marketing in mind - and let me go on even if you think "Oh no, here we go again!!!" - the curious fact of the matter is that the imperceptible change towards what Poe called "Wave 3" has been adopted by literally thousands of the biggest corporations in the world.

The proof is in the pudding! How many times have you seen promotions that offer you $10 off your next purchase of a book if you refer a friend, or $5 credit in your DVD-rental account or whatever? This form of referral marketing has become the norm and it is now possible for the astute person to make a very good living from this new wave.

What was once an industry renowned for scams and crooked deals - ever meet anyone with a garage full of water-filters they couldn't sell ;) ??? - has now become a dynamic industry with literally masses of legitimate organisations catching the "Wave" predicted by Richard Poe.

But what are the guises of this industry? Easy! Affiliate Marketing and Cashback shopping schemes have replaced the old-school MLM industry. "I know, I know, I hear you cry! - I'm getting spammed with this crap all the time but where to turn next to make a decent living?" Well, that's the difficult part. There are so many options out there that it's easy to be blinded by the deals offered by each one.

It is interesting to consider is to realize is that Cashback schemes, Affiliate Marketing and Network Marketing are all using common techniques which help shift massive amounts of products and services.

Network Marketing has become inreasing like Affiliate Marketing and - although most Affiliate Marketing companies don't like to admit it, they are increasing using tried and tested selling methods that were pioneered by MLM systems decades ago.

Additionally, online shopping systems such as Better Universe are using referral techniques as a means of giving customers the chance to make cash - or even a fat wad of cold hard cash - by promoting their goods. Also they offer fantastic cashback schemes in partnership with over 1200 online retailers.

Richard Poe was right about Wave 3, Wave 4 and beyond. But what does this really mean? Well, essentially, it's pretty obvious. Net Marketing in whatever form it takes is here to stay. Do you want a piece of the action before it's too late?

After so much research I nearly went crazy, I came across the system that I use to generate revenue through the internet from the comfort of my own home. It's a turnkey system with everything you need to get involved right now - including a free website to get started. It's called Home-Income-Team.com. Check it out!
Hi and welcome to my blog!

My name is Steve Tomassen and I am a web marketer based in London, UK. I have been involved in the web industry on and off for years through my professional career which was in Mobile Telecoms but I am now spending more and more time with web marketing as my various sites takes off and I am starting to see some real return on investment.

The internet and the blogosphere in general is filled with various techniques of how to build successful online businesses and it is pretty tough to cut through the bullshit to find out what techniques work and which should best be avoided.

My aim was initially to dig deep below the surface of loads of so called cutting edge systems and techniques used by the best internet marketers, or so called 'Gurus', which are designed to make cash on the internet, and find out if any of them actually do themselves any justice.

When considering any direction in webmarketing (and believe me there are many!), the most important questions to ask are quite obviously in the first instance:

- Is it worth spending time on this system?
- Is there any real money to be made or is this all just hot air?
- How long is this technique or opportunity going to last?
- Is this really a no risk strategy or am I going to get burned?

but also,

- Can I afford not to get involved?
- What if this is really a solid new business to work with?
- Are the guys running the company providing top technical and motivational support?

Essentially, the bottom line is this - Is it a genuine opportunity or just another waste of time and money?

Growing numbers of people connecting to the internet and the increase in online sales of products and services is at an all-time high and this growth is set to continue as more and more people connect via broadband, as well as the massive potential of the growth in the sector in emerging markets. These factors will ensure that there will be more and more opportunities appearing and almost as many disappearing, thus making things even more difficult for the budding entrepreneur to get a foothold in what has already become a very competitive industry.

However there is hope! As technology progresses, systems become more and more advanced due to the tools being developed by top programmers and designers. Less time is needed for messing around with html and mind boggling php scripts, cron jobs, htaccess regular expressions and all the other things that seem to invade the day. This leaves us marketers more time to spend actually using the tools to make our businesses grow and leaves more time for leisure and doing what we really want to do with our not-so-hard-earned cash ;-)