The Year In Review

At the end of the year, I like to look at what the year brought me, and what I’ve accomplished during the year. I find it helps me to refocus for the next year.

I started Online Opportunity in April of 2007. I’ve stayed true to the original mission of the blog throughout the year, to provide honest reviews of online opportunities and to provide information useful for those just starting out in Internet Marketing. I’ve resisted putting ads on the blog, even though I have enough traffic to profit from them, because I don’t want anyone completely new to Internet Marketing thinking I promote what’s offered in the ads (witness the “Endorsed by John Chow” ad that ran on his site, for a product he did not endorse as an example of this).

For the new year, I think the blog needs to focus a bit, and show more success strategies and less opportunity reviews. I’m not sure what that’ll look like yet, but I’ll be thinking about it in the weeks to come. I also want to provide more support for my readers. Again, I’m not sure what that’ll look like yet, so stay tuned.

Personally, the year was full of huge changes. We moved from a big city to a small village to be close to the college where I teach. My daughter turned two years old in June, and that’s made a huge difference in our daily lives. Keeping up with her is just amazingly enjoyable and incredibly exhausting.

I want to focus more of my time at home on my daughter in the next year, but how that’ll work with maintaining the blog and a handful of niche sites, I don’t know. Lots of things I’d like to do, but never enough time for them all.

I hope you’ve all had a great 2007, and have an even better 2008!

The Best New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the time of the year when we should be thinking about our resolutions for the new year.

It’s almost a cliche to fail in your New Year’s resolutions. But that’s because people make all the wrong resolutions. Things like “I’ll eat healthier this year”, or “I won’t cuss out people who cut me off in traffic”.

The best resolution has two parts:

1) It’s measurable.

2) It has a deadline.


A resolution is measurable if you can, at any given point in time, measure how well you’re doing at following the resolution. Not an all or nothing type of measurement, but a percentage measurement.

The problem with an all or nothing sort of measurement, which most resolutions people make are, is that if you make one single mistake, you’ve failed the resolution. You feel like a failure, and you give up in disgust because you couldn’t even keep a simple New Year’s resolution.

Forget that! Instead, make a resolution that’s measurable, so you know how close you are to following it perfectly. That tells you how much extra effort you need to make to improve your measurement. So instead of giving up, you’re motivated to try harder.

Make resolutions like, “I’ll eat organic food twice a week”, instead of “I’ll eat healthier this year”.


This is the point in time at which you’ll be following your resolution 100%. A deadline is important for a resolution.

The deadline gives you the leeway to not do so well in the beginning. After all, you still have some time, so if you are only following your resolution 50% of the time, you can improve before the deadline.

The deadline also gives you motivation. The scarcity of time as the deadline approaches will encourage you to try harder in order to reach the 100% mark by the deadline.

My Resolutions

My Internet Marketing related resolutions for this year include:

1) Finish my first SBI! niche site by April 1st. This would require creating two new content pages every week, so that’s what I’ll use to track my progress.

2) Focus on the Google PPC training by going through one training section every two weeks, finishing up by April 1st.

Why April 1st as my deadline? My semester at the college ends in April, and my time then will be entirely consumed by end of semester grading and preparations. After the semester is done I’ll make a new set of resolutions for the summer.

What resolutions are you making for the New Year?

How Good Is Your Traffic?

If you go by what you read on various forums and blogs, the quantity of traffic you get is a key way to measure your site’s success.

I’ll disagree with that, and say that it’s the quality of your site’s traffic that’s important. I’ve written on a similar topic before, in my post about Qualifying Your Visitors, where I made the claim that your site will do better if you get less traffic rather than more.

The key is that most traffic is not qualified, or even targeted. I want to look at some of the major sources of traffic for sites, and how that traffic affects your site.

Stumble Upon

This is a big one that’s promoted in various Internet Marketing and blogging forums as being a great way to get traffic to your site. And it’s true, you do get traffic.

What most people don’t follow through with, though, is measuring the effect that traffic has on whatever action you want your visitors to take (click on ads, buy something, etc). When you do that, you discover that most of the Stumble Upon traffic doesn’t really want to do anything to make you money. They want to visit a site for a quick fix, usually a funny graphic or video, and move on.

So getting lots of traffic from Stumble Upon doesn’t really buy you anything, unless you can make money from the traffic itself. If you’re selling ads on a CPM (cost per impression) basis, then extra traffic earns you extra money.

Even the new Pay Per Play service, where you get paid when a visitor watches a 5 second video, if a bit of a gamble. Stumble Upon visitors are likely to leave when they see a video ad playing.


Digg is another service that’s touted as a great way to get tons of traffic.

But Digg users are even worse than Stumble Upon users at clicking on ads, so again the CPM model is your friend with this sort of traffic.

And with Digg, you have the extra problem that hitting the front page has brought many servers to their knees by driving too much traffic too quickly. Make sure you have quality hosting and a well optimized blog before getting this sort of traffic.

Click here for a great article on the differences between Digg and Stumble traffic.

Pay Per Click

Pay per click (PPC) traffic is better than Digg or Stumble Upon, in that someone has searched in a search engine for something appropriate to your site. They are looking for something, and if you provide it you can have a far better conversion rate than with Digg or Stumble Upon.

But you’re paying per click, so you need to make sure that you can pay a low enough cost per click that you still make money at whatever your conversion rate turns out to be.


Organic traffic is traffic that results from people typing a keyword into a search engine, and clicking on your site in the search results.

This is the absolute best sort of traffic, since it has a conversion rate similar to PPC, but you don’t have to pay for it.


Referral traffic is traffic you get from other sites which have linked to your site.

This is hit or miss, largely depending on which site has linked to you and how relevant that site is to yours. Get a good match with a high traffic site, and the referral traffic could be very profitable. Get a bad match or a low traffic site, and it’ll be useless.


Hopefully this post encourages you to think not only about your raw traffic numbers, but about the sources of that traffic. If you aren’t measuring your conversion rate so you can evaluate which is the most effective source of traffic for your site, you need to start, now.

My Christmas Gift To You

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Just a short post today, to give you a copy of SBI!’s Affiliate Masters Course.

This PDF is a fairly long treatment of how to successfully use the affiliate model of marketing to monetize your site’s traffic. It does have links to SBI! in it, because the affiliate model is one of the ways that SBI! sites monetize. But I don’t recommend purchasing an SBI! site through the ebook (for reasons that should become clear on January 1st).

Just read it, and start integrating the ideas in it into your existing sites, or into a new one you create. Work to get into the mindset put forth in the ebook.

(Of course, if you read this after January 31st, then by all means go ahead and buy an SBI! site through the ebook if you feel drawn to do so.)

Last Chance To Get Your Free Website

Special SiteSell Promotion

The SBI buy one get one free special is coming to a close at midnight on Christmas day.

If you’d been considering getting an SBI site to try it out, this is the time to do it. The SBI process boils building a website that makes money down to a series of step by step instructions. You don’t need to know SEO, because the tools are programmed with the most effective techniques and will guide you.

There’s also a 30-day refund policy, so if you spend the next few weeks going through the process, and then decide that it’s a load of nonsense, you’ll get all your money back.

To get your two SBI sites for the price of one, click on the banner to the left.

Merry Christmas!

P.S. There will be no post on Christmas day, as I’ll be spending the day enjoying Christmas with my two-year old daughter. I hope you all have a terrific day!

A Traffic Exchange Advertising Co-op

Advertising co-ops are generally pretty good deals, depending on what they promise and how they’re run.

The basic idea is that you band together with a bunch of other people to get more advertising for your dollar than you could alone. When done well, an advertising co-op is a great way to get a lot of exposure for your advertising dollar.

I ran across a relatively new co-op that’s targeted at traffic exchanges. The MTE Ad Co-op pools the monthly membership fee from all the users and buys traffic exchange credits at a wide variety of exchanges.

If you’ve used traffic exchanges before, you’ve probably taken a look at the cost of buying credits. The more credits you buy at one time, the less you pay for each credit, which is where the co-op gets its value.

Those credits are then run through a rotator, which spreads the hits evenly among all the members of the co-op.

The main benefits of this are:

o) You don’t need to surf the exchanges
o) You get more hits than if you spent your $10 a month buying credits directly
o) You get hits from a variety of exchanges, rather than just one

The co-op seems to send about 100 to 150 hits a day to the website you decide to promote. I haven’t been involved long enough to know how well the traffic converts, but it’s coming from traffic exchanges so should do no worse than whatever exchanges you’re currently using, and will be a better value for your money.

Click here for more info on the co-op.

Link Cloaking And Cookie Stuffing

I finally had the time to go through all the gifts currently available at Santa Sal’s giveaway.

Most were the usual run of ebooks and video/audio courses. There was a nice advertising package available at Croc Ads, and another at ViralURL.

But the one that was most interesting to me was a script that provides for link cloaking with pretty URLs, similar to what I provided in my tutorial post. This script, however, also provided for cookie stuffing.

This was a new term to me, which is always fun to come across when it seems that every ebook you read just rehashes the same old techniques. It turned out to be fairly straightforward, but since I hadn’t run across it before I thought some of my readers might also not have heard about it.

The basic idea is that companies that provide affiliate links to you track sales through a cookie left on the user’s machine. When someone visits a site through your affiliate link, a cookie dropped on their machine tracks that sale, even if they return directly to the company web site later without going through your link again. Most of these cookies are time limited in some way, and many users regularly clear cookies, so it isn’t a fool proof system, but it mostly works.

Cookie stuffing is the technique of dropping cookies without the user needing to visit the company web page.

So let’s say that you use cookie stuffing techniques to drop an Amazon cookie when someone clicks on a link to your product. Later in the day they go to Amazon and buy something, and you get the referral credit because of the cookie (always assuming they haven’t clicked another Amazon affiliate link in the meantime).

Go here for an analysis of cookie stuffing and its effect on merchants.

Cookie stuffing is clearly a black hat technique, since you’re earning commissions you really aren’t due. The normal techniques for cookie stuffing involve using pop ups to show your affiliate page, or using iframes to hide your affiliate page and not really show it. The link cloaking script in the giveaway supposedly avoids these techniques and sets the cookie directly.

I could see some semi-ethical uses for cookie stuffing, in particular when a merchant’s site doesn’t propagate the cookie for different products on the same website (e.g. if they click through your link for product A, and end up buying product B, you don’t get a commission). You could then use cookie stuffing to ensure you’d get credit for whatever product they purchase on the site, after they’ve clicked through to the site using one of your affiliate links. This would work best when the merchant has a limited number of products.

Click here to get the free gifts from Santa Sal’s giveaway, including the link cloaking and cookie stuffing script.

Understanding Google

I’ve read a lot of discussions about search engine optimization, and one comment that pops up pretty regularly is, “You can’t know what Google does unless you work there”.

That’s a bit like saying, “You can’t know how the laws of physics work because you aren’t God”.

While it’s true that we can’t know exactly what Google does, we can observe the effects. We can make changes to what we do, pass them through Google’s black box, and then see what the effect is on our rankings in Google.

This is the same process that has given us flight, and computers, and every other technological advance.

Further, with Google we do know their goals.

Google loved the early days of the web, when people linked to each other because the content was relevant. That’s the environment in which Google was created, and flourished. Google itself changed that landscape, by being successful enough that gaming Google was profitable. But that’s the environment that Google wants to get back to.

Where every link is relevant and in context.

Obviously, not even Google can get rid of paid links and the like. But, they can try to make sure that those sorts of artificial links do not impact a site’s ranking in Google search results.

Understanding that motivation gets us a long way to being able to make educated guesses about what Google might be doing. We can then experiment to see if the results support those educated guesses or not.

So while we can’t know exactly what Google does, we can come to conclusions that are close enough to let us improve our search engine rankings. That’s the whole point of search engine optimization.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Aaron Wall’s SEO Book. Aaron has done a lot of the experimenting and thinking for us, so that we can start out ahead of the SEO game.

Advertising Through Project Wonderful

I ran across Project Wonderful lately.

They’re a service that allows you to advertise on websites. Primarily you’re putting graphic banners or buttons on other websites. They use an auction system, so you bid the amount you want to spend for a particular advertising spot on a particular website, and if you’re the high bidder your ad displays.

You bid on a cost-per-day basis. So if you bid $0.10, that’s for all the impressions that site gets that particular day. You have no guarantee how many that will be, but the site does provide traffic graphs so you can see how many impressions/unique visitors that site has been getting.

In a nice touch, if the website owner hasn’t set a minimum bid, you can actually advertise for free. A $0.01 bid will outbid you, and you can only advertise for free for two days before needing to renew your ad, but it’s still a very niche touch. It’s primarily the lower traffic sites that provide free advertising, but get enough of those showing your ad and you’ve still got a lot of impressions for free.

I’ve done some preliminary testing on some moderate and lower traffic sites, and I seem to be averaging about $0.30 cost-per-thousand impressions, and about $0.02 cost-per-click.

The site allows you to search for websites by tags the website owners use to describe their sites, so you can target your ads pretty well. All in all, the site is very well done and provides a nice advertising service.

On the other side of things, you can use this service to provide hands-free advertising space on your site. If advertisers are getting results, you’ll see the CPD bid up over time.

Click here for more info on Project Wonderful.

Yuwie November Earnings

November earnings for Yuwie are available.

My October earnings at Yuwie were $3.11. November earnings are $4.36.

Page views overall were down, despite an increase in my referral tree. I attribute this to Yuwie’s use of intrusive advertisements driving away some members who had previously been active. Although, it might just be that everyone is busy, too. I know that my personal page views are way down just due to my Real Life schedule.

My overall page views went from 77,705 in September to 126,301 in October to 111,429 in November. Here’s the chart for November:

Yuwie November Earnings

The real gain with Yuwie comes when your tenth level starts to expand, since you earn a far greater percentage on that level than on any other.