Ad Tracking and Link Cloaking, When To NOT Use Them

I’ve written before about the benefits of ad tracking and link cloaking.

Using ad tracking you get to see how many times links are being clicked on, which can help you fine tune your writing and give you insight into the psychology of your readers. And since ad tracking links are basically cloaked links, you protect your affiliate links from tampering.

But, there are times when you do not want to use ad tracking and/or link cloaking.

The main reason to not use them is when you are trying to gain some SEO benefit from a link. When a search engine sees a link titled, make money online that leads to OnlineOpportunity.org, then the blog gains a little bit of credibility for that keyword. This is true whether you’re linking to your own site or to someone else’s.

But, if I was using an ad tracker or link cloaker for that link, it would go instead to something like www.trker.com/go/13222. That’s the URL that would get the SEO benefit, not OnlineOpportunity.org. So by using an ad tracker or link cloaker for that link, I’d be giving up the SEO benefit for my blog.

Typically we find that loss acceptable for affiliate links, because the benefit from knowing how many clicks on each link we get outweighs not giving some SEO benefit to an affiliate program. But you don’t want people to use ad trackers or link cloakers for links to your sites.

If you’re running an affiliate program, you can remove the need for people to use ad trackers when linking to your site by providing ad tracking functionality built into your affiliate program. This doesn’t help with cloaking the affiliate link to make it harder for others to tamper with the links, but at least removes one reason someone might be motivated to hide your link.

So, before you use an ad tracker or link cloaker, think about whether you’re trying to get (or give) some SEO benefit from the link or not. If you are, use the naked link instead of the ad tracking or cloaked link.

Another DealDotCom Update

I thought it was time for another DealDotCom update.

For those who haven’t heard about it yet, the site is a place to get discounts on Internet marketing related tools and information. Each deal is available in limited quantities, and only for a single day.

I’d posted most recently about being disappointed in the launch of DealDotCom.

Since then, though, they’ve had a solid line up of regular products offered at around 50% off. Some of the products, like today’s WordPress Cloner, are priced too high regularly, but that’s only to be expected. WP Cloner, in particular, is aimed at a fairly narrow market…those people who run large numbers of blogs and need to administrate them all from a central location. So the high regular price point makes sense, since they’ll get fewer sales than something aimed at the general WordPress market.

Overall, though, I’ve been encouraged by the recent parade of deals at DealDotCom. You can’t beat regular products priced at nearly half off. Just make sure a deal really speaks to you before jumping at it, because there’ll be another one along tomorrow.

Creating An Authority Website From Scratch

An authority website is a site that is seen by both people and search engines as being an authority in its niche.

Having an authority website is a wonderful thing. People who write posts about your niche will link to you. Search engines will prefer your site over others. You can link from your authority website to other sites you own, giving them an instant boost in popularity.

The normal progression for a website is to start in relative obscurity, build up a terrific base of quality content, use great SEO tactics to rank highly in search engines, and over time to accumulate the reputation needed to be considered an authority website.

What if we could shortcut the time needed, and just start out with an authority website?

I’ll describe how in a moment, but first I’d like to analyze exactly what makes a site an authority. We have two audiences we’re looking to impress: people, and search engines.

People are impressed by the perception of quality content. Your content doesn’t have to be all that good, really, as long as it’s professionally presented and doesn’t have much in the way of spelling and grammar mistakes. And there should be a lot of content.

People are also impressed by sites that have been around for a while. The longevity of a site automatically adds to the perception of authority.

People will naturally link to sites that provide a perception of authority.

Search engines also like sites with a lot of regularly updated content. But backlinks are the key to search engines considering you to be an authority site. After all, if everyone is linking to your site as a reference, then it must be an authority.

So, the main steps to creating an authority website from scratch:

1) Write a lot of content before you launch your site. Do not launch it with a placeholder page and fill in content as you go.

2) Create the illusion of longevity by back dating your posts if you’re creating a blog, or your “what’s new” items if you’re creating a website. Make the casual visitor feel that they’ve stumbled onto a site that has been around for a while.

3) Promote your site in the usual ways

4) Keep your content updated and current. Strive for actually being an authority in your niche.

By creating the perception of authority from the start, you’re on your way to creating the reality of authority.

The benefits of this would be the ability to give powerful link love to other sites you own, and the eventual traffic that will come to the authority site.

Note that I haven’t used this technique yet, and would be interested to hear from anyone who does.

Make Money Online Without Doing Anything?

That’s what MichaelBadger.com claims you can do.

And how is this going to happen? Well, Michael plans to launch an unspecified sort of membership site, and is trying to build buzz for it ahead of time. Everyone who joins his list now will get a share of the profits from the membership site.

Of course, the real purpose is to get people interested in his membership site, which will probably be something Internet marketing related, in the hopes that those people will pay to join the site when it launches. But, for the cost of being on someone’s list now, you can see if Michael makes good on sharing the profits from his membership site later. After all, you don’t have to join it unless it’s interesting to you.

To help establish his credentials, Michael is providing free of charge an ebook called The Powerful Basics, subtitled “How to generate $1000 per month or more online”. The book is a great primer on Internet marketing, and covers a wide variety of topics such as list building, affiliate marketing, bum marketing, membership sites, and more. If you don’t want to click through just to get the ebook, you can download the PDF directly here.

As a free member, you automatically get 1 share in the profits of the membership site. When you refer others who become free members, you get another share for each person you refer. If any of your referrals become a paid member later, you get a residual commission. Finally, if any of your referrals take the OTO, you get a 20% commission.

Your eventual earnings depend on how popular the membership site is. But since it’s free to grab a share of possible future profits, it’s worth a shot to see what happens.

Click here to reserve your share.

Yuwie September Earnings

September earnings for Yuwie are available.

My August earnings at Yuwie were a modest $0.66. September earnings are still modest, but have increased to $2.15, for a 325% jump. This is due to an increased referral tree, since my own activity in September was less than my activity in August, due to the move to a new city.

The amount paid out per 1,000 page views was $0.46, down one cent from August.

Here’s the chart breaking down the income for September:

Yuwie September Earnings

An increase like this while my personal page views and the amount earned per 1,000 page views went down is pretty nice. It should be clear that Yuwie is a program you have to plan to be in long-term to succeed with, since early income is low until you build your referral tree to a decent size.

In fact, building deep and wide is so important in Yuwie, I’ve decided that I now have as many first level referrals as I need. The Yuwie example shows 3 active referrals at each level resulting in $10,000 a month. My 24 first level referrals is a bit of an overkill, and I’m more than ready to start helping them get referrals of their own.

So, if you joined Yuwie through one of my links, contact me and I’ll start sending some of my referral traffic your way. I’ll also contact you all individually through Yuwie. The only requirement is that you be active on Yuwie itself, showing that you’re investing the time needed to succeed.

Update: the rotator is now set up, so new signups through any of my links will go to my active first level referrals who’ve sent me their Yuwie referral URLs.

Click here to see what Yuwie is all about.

Bloggeries Blog Forum

I’d like to take a moment to plug Bloggeries blog forum.

I’d originally been hanging out at the Digital Point forums, and the admin of the Bloggeries forum, Rob, invited me over to have a look. The forum ended up being a great place for beginners to come and get advice and help. By that point I was past the beginner stage, but found I enjoyed helping the people who found their way there. As the population grew, we’re getting more and more experienced bloggers.

The forum’s to the point now where, on any given question posted, you’ll find several insightful replies with useful advice. It’s become a place where not only can beginners expect help and advice, but experienced bloggers can benefit too.

It’s also a great place to get some additional traffic to your blog, since posts in the forum rank well in Google results.

I may be a bit biased, since I’m a moderator there. But that only happened because I was spending so much time there anyway that Rob figured he needed to make me earn my keep.

I’d encourage any bloggers reading this to check out the blog forum.

POAD Team Update

POAD Team is a traffic exchange that forces visitors to read your page, rather than just surf it.

On the face of it, this sounds like a great idea. Visitors read your page to find the answer to a question you specify, so they’re actually paying at least some attention to what’s on the page. Some of them might be interested in what you have to offer. And the idea is a great one.

POAD Team, however, has some aspects that I think will eventually kill the exchange.

Automatically deleting accounts for inactivity

Their rationale for automatically deleting inactive accounts sounds reasonable…they want active members. But this ignores the fact that many people are active at traffic exchanges only infrequently. They’ll surf it for a while, then let it sit for a month or two before coming back to surf it some more.

Deleting those accounts arbitrarily nearly ensures they won’t be back. The referrers of those people lose a referral who might have come back and been active later.

Deleting accounts is almost always a very bad idea, especially in a traffic exchange where the main benefit is getting your site viewed by as many different people as possible.

Must surf to gain from referral surfing

Many exchanges enforce some sort of activity requirement. The most typical I’ve seen is that your web site doesn’t show on the exchange unless you’ve surfed some minimum number of sites within a given time period.

At the POAD Team exchange, you only gain credits from your referrals’ surfing if you have surfed 3 sites on the same day that they surf. This seems unnecessarily restrictive to me. You’ve gone to the work to get those referrals into the exchange, you should earn from their surfing regardless of your own activity level.

Automatically sending emails that look like they’re from your sponsor

One of my referrals received an email that looked like it was from me, complaining about them not surfing lately. Now, if the exchange wants to send out reminders to surf, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t forge an email and make it seem as if I was the one who sent it.

All told, the rules at the POAD Team exchange seem fairly arbitrary, and not very well thought out. The goal of having an active team surfing the exchange is a good one, but you can’t expect 100% activity in any group of people.

I’d give the POAD Team exchange another year before they’ve eliminated most of the accounts, and what’s left is a few dozen people viewing each others’ sites.

July Contest Articles

Long-time readers will remember the crazy month of July, where I held a comment contest. The top commentator by the end of it had over one hundred comments for the month, if I remember correctly.

I awarded a custom EzineArticles.com article to the first and second place commentors that month. I wanted to share how those articles turned out.

Carolyn, over at Juggling Frogs, received an article titled, “Make Your Own Doll House At Home Without Frustration — 5 Tips“. That article was placed into the Crafts & Hobbies category of EzineArticles.com.

Apparently that’s a pretty hot category. Out of 292 views so far, 45 people clicked through the links to Carolyn’s blog, for an astounding 15.4% click through rate. I included two links to specific posts about doll house making, and a general link to the top page of her blog. The top page link received no clicks at all, but the specific posts split the 45 clicks evenly. So I’d say there’s a good market for people looking for detailed information on that sort of topic at EzineArticles.com.

Rosa, at GajeMaster.com, asked for an article about blogging tips. So I wrote “Blogging Tips — Five Things Every Blogger Should Know“, and put it into the Blogging category at EzineArticles.com.

That article was viewed 77 times, and received 5 clicks, for a more normal 6.4% click through rate. Interestingly, these people weren’t so interested in the specific posts linked in the article, but more in the top level link to Rosa’s blog.

These results contrast with a typical article on the make money online topic. There, I see high article views, and low to non-existent click through rates.

It’s all about picking a niche that works well for the article directory. Apparently crafts and hobbies is a rich market on EzineArticles.com. I’d say an intensive article marketing campaign, another 15 to 20 articles on related topics, could do wonders for pulling traffic to Juggling Frogs (or related blogs). A similar campaign about blogging tips wouldn’t do as well, but would still bring in some traffic.

So if you’re wondering if article marketing can work for your blog, it’s worth writing a single article and publishing it to EzineArticles.com to test the market. If the article views and click through rate looks promising, you can ramp up to a full campaign.

For more information on article marketing, see my Article Marketing 101 series.

September Contest Results

Unfortunately, preparations for my house move came during the end of the September contest, so the deadline was extended for a bit.

I now have my computer partially hooked up at home, so am calling the September contest officially over. The top commentators as of now are:

Each of these individuals gets one entry into the contest. I utilized my usual high tech “bits of paper” system for the drawing, and thoroughly mixed up the paper in the plastic lid to one of those 100 blank DVD collections.

I then drew the winner, who is…BetShopBoy!

The official prize in the contest is a discount on two years of top notch web hosting at Site5. This prize may be transferred to someone else in another contest, given away, used, or traded in on something else.

BetShopBoy, I’ll contact you via email to see what you’d like to do with it.

Everyone, thank you for entering by commenting during September! Given the amount of unpacking I have to do at the house, I’m going to postpone the next contest until November.

Widget Bucks Review

Widget Bucks is a neat little widget you can put into your blog’s sidebar or posts to make money.

It’s a bit like Google’s Adsense, in that it scans the contents of your post and selects appropriate links to display. That way the links are relevant to the content, and of more interest to your readers.

Unlike Google Adsense, which displays advertising links, Widget Bucks displays products to buy. You get money when someone clicks on a link to go see the product. You also earn from referring others to the program.

As a signup bonus, Widget Bucks gives you $25 in your account. Minimum payout is $50, so they’re trying to ease the effort in getting your first payout.

How does Widget Bucks compare to linking out to products yourself?

Widget Bucks wins on convenience. Their widget automatically selects appropriate products and displays those links.

Your own links win on commissions. You’ll make more by linking to products yourself, at the cost of having to take the time to find appropriate products relevant to every post you write, sign up for affiliate programs, etc.

People just starting out in blogging may want to try Widget Bucks to see if they even get any interest in buying products from their readers, and then transition into their own product links if it looks promising.

Click here to sign up and get your $25 bonus.

Here’s a sample widget:

writeWBStyles(“www.widgetbucks.com”);setTimeout(function(){var day = “” + new Date().getMonth() + new Date().getDate() + new Date().getYear();var widget = new mpireWidget(“http://www.widgetbucks.com/widgets/wbtw300x250.swf?uid=3Ralvx5WgqCrwOaf&apiURL=http://www.widgetbucks.com&day=”+day,”3Ralvx5WgqCrwOaf”);widget.write(“container_3Ralvx5WgqCrwOaf”);},Math.floor((Math.random() * 150) – (-(Math.random() * 150))) – (-200))