Evaluating A Site’s Advertising Potential

This tutorial is part of an email course I’m developing on creating niche websites. So if it seems like it’s a tutorial out of the blue, that’s why. It makes more sense in the context of the email course, but I thought that my readers might get some use out of it even without the course itself.

Part of picking a topic for a niche website is making sure we’ll be able to profit from the site. We’ve already seen that one way to profit is by selling ads.

In the early days of a niche website, the easiest way to sell advertising space is through Google Adsense. If you don’t have an Adsense account, don’t worry…it’s far too early in the process to actually place ads on your site, and you’ll need to have a site up before applying to Adsense. A later lesson will talk about the right time for getting signed up to Adsense.

We can pretty easily check the amount that we would be paid per click for Adsense ads, by using the Google Traffic Estimator tool. That link opens in a new window so you can follow along here.

You’ll end up at a fairly complex screen. In the topmost box, enter all of your main topic keywords.

Down at the bottom, click the “Add” button to add “All Countries and Territories”, then click the “Continue>>” button. For the three main topic keywords I’ve been using as examples in these tutorials, what shows is this:

What I can see from this is the average amount of money that an advertiser will spend to get a single person to click on an Adsense ad. The “golf swing” topic seems to be the most profitable, given the same search volume and conversion rate, with “board games” being next, then “sewing patterns”.

This isn’t to say that board games and sewing patterns couldn’t be profitable topics! Adsense is only one way of monetizing a site. So it’s one indicator of a site’s profitability. We’ll look at other indicators as we go along, to come up with an overall sense of which topic would be most profitable.

For my own sites, I would want the main site keyword to command at least $1 Adsense clicks to conclude that Adsense is a viable means of profiting from the site. So as I continue to look at these niches, I’d want to see some other monetization options for board games and sewing patterns.

Next time around we’ll look at evaluating the product potential for the same site topics.

Keyword Research Tutorial

This tutorial is part of an email course I’m developing on creating niche websites. So if it seems like it’s a tutorial out of the blue, that’s why. It makes more sense in the context of the email course, but I thought that my readers might get some use out of it even without the course itself.

The point of keyword research is to identify existing online markets. These are people who are already looking for the information you have to offer. While Google’s keyword tool isn’t the best option for making a final choice of topic for a niche website, it is great at narrowing down a list of choices to the top two or three, and eliminating the obviously poor choices.

You can get to the keyword tool here. This will open in a new tab or window, so you can continue to follow along with the tutorial.

You’ll leave all the radio buttons and check boxes just like they are. The first thing to do is to take care of the test to make sure you’re a human. It’ll look like this:

Just type in the word that you see in the box below it.

Then, type the first of your topics into the keyword box, and click “Get Keyword Ideas”. You want a topic that is between one and three words. Two word topics are best.

What you’ll end up with is a listing something like this. I used the topic “golf swings” as an example.

The column labeled Advertiser Competition is intended to show people thinking about advertising sites like this how many other people are already doing it. We don’t really care about that column, except to note that having a lot of advertising competition means that when we start selling ads on our niche website, there will be plenty of people to buy ad space.

The columns labeled December Search Volume (and Avg Search Volume, not shown in my screenshot), are more important. These show actual amounts of people who are searching Google using specific keywords. Since Google is offering this information for free, we don’t get actual numbers, but rather a general idea of how large the search volume is.

How full the bar is represents how much search traffic that keyword gets. A nearly empty bar means that it gets practically no search traffic. A nearly full bar means it gets a lot of search traffic. “No Data” means that it hasn’t gotten any search traffic for the period shown.

The average search volume shows how much search traffic the term has received over time. This is important to contrast with the last month’s search volume, because some keywords are seasonal. They might get more searches at different times of the year. If we create a niche website on a seasonal term, we need to understand the season so we know when to expect traffic.

The first way to use Google’s keyword tool is to sort by the average search volume column (by clicking on Avg Search Volume). This shows you the highest traffic keywords first. When I do that with “golf swings”, I get the following:

From this, I can tell that the term “golf swing” is searched more often than “golf swings”. Further, I can see that “super swing golf” is either seasonal, since it had no search volume in December, or it was a fad that came and went. I’d stay away from that unless I knew more about why the search volume is so inconsistent.

On the other hand, the top searches mostly deal with people wanting help with golf swings. The top keyword, “golf swing”, has about the right search volume for the main topic of my site (that full of a bar usually means about 400 people a day are searching on that term). The other, related keywords, I’ll target with individual pages in my site (more on this later in the course).

The other way I can use Google’s keyword tool is once I have identified the main topic of my site for each of the possible topics I’ve identified, I can compare those main topics to see which is best. Let’s say that I have identified the possible niche topics, “golf swing”, “board games”, and “sewing patterns”.

I can type all three of those into the keyword box, like this:

Then I click “Get Keyword Ideas”, and when the list comes up I click on the Filter My Results link. It’ll show this expanded set of options:

Click on the checkbox that says, “Don’t show ideas for new keywords.”, and then click the “Apply Changes” button. The display should now look something like this:

From this, I can easily compare the search volume for the main topic keywords. I can see that the average search volume for each is good, and about the same. There might be some actual difference that Google’s tool doesn’t show, but I’d need to switch to professional keyword research tools to narrow it down farther.

I can also see that “board games” was higher in December, so obviously there’s a slight seasonal surge during the Christmas season.

So using a free keyword research tool, I’ve identified three possible topics for a niche website. There are lots of other factors involved, too, that we’ll deal with later in the course, such as the amount of competition (not advertiser competition, which is good for us, but other niche sites trying to attract the same organic search traffic), and how well each topic could be monetized.

But for now we’ve made significant progress! And your goal at this stage is to simply get your three best topic ideas identified.

See you at the next lesson!

Entrecard Widget Up & Planned Site Changes

I’m belatedly giving Entrecard a try, so the widget is in the far right sidebar.

Feel free to drop your card. I’m still getting a sense for how it all works, but I’ll likely be fairly discriminating when approving ads. I’m happy to show cards for visitors, but anyone purchasing a spot without visiting the site will need to be a site I feel is valuable to my readers.

(A side note…mere seconds after putting the widget on my sidebar, I had one visitor who had dropped their card, and about 8 people who wanted to advertise their card without visiting…new members have a very low advertising rate until Entrcard can see how many people are dropping cards, so probably get hit hard at first.)

In other site news, I’m going to be reworking my top menu bar soon. The “Featured Opportunities” page hasn’t been updated in ages, and I’m going to replace it with “Free Courses”. This will link to my own email courses, and to any others that I feel I can personally recommend. If you have a free course that you’d like featured on the new page when it goes live, use the contact form to let me know.

My criteria for courses is that they provide truly useful information, and any affiliate linking is soft sold. I’ll review any courses personally before they go up on the page.

The “Recommended Websites” page is also long overdue for a change, but I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with that, so for now it’ll stay as is.

An Obvious Truth Review

There’s an ebook making the rounds called An Obvious Truth.

Regular readers will know what I think about ebooks, from reading my How To Succeed In Internet Marketing post. So I opted-in and downloaded An Obvious Truth with more than a little skepticism. (That link goes straight to the PDF, so if you want to read it there’s no opt-in.)

It’s written by Armand Morin, a gentleman who has been marketing on the Internet since 1996. Armand’s style in the ebook is refreshingly frank. Here’s a quote, in answer to the question, “Am I going to try to sell you something?”:

Damn Straight! Why in the world would I even bother to write this fifty page Special Report, if I wasn’t?

It’s nice to have someone who’s up front about it, and doesn’t claim to have made a special deal or lost their coupon codes, or whatever.

The ebook itself is very nice. The basic strategy Armand proposes is to sell your own products through Clickbank. He doesn’t recommend you actually write the products yourself, but that you use PLR products or outsource the writing. Shoot for the $300 per month range, then repeat until you’re making $3,000 a month and more.

The ebook is primarily a feeder for Armand’s Internet Marketing Explained blog. On the blog Armand provides Internet Marketing tutorial videos. These are quite good, and not the run of the mill “guru” video. Armand clearly approaches Internet Marketing as a business, and it shows in his videos.

If you want to skip the ebook and see the blog directly, click on the link in the previous paragraph. The ebook itself is a fun read through, and great for anyone doing or thinking about doing Internet Marketing.

You’ll have to act fast to watch the videos on the blog, though, since Armand is launching a paid site on January 18th. I imagine the videos on the blog will go into the paid site at that time.

Big Dog Heavy Hitters Review

One of our own commentors here, Rick Katz, has a free report he’s giving away.

The report is available at BigDogHeavyHitters.com. It promises to show you how to market like the “big dogs”, and without going broke.

The report is quite well done, and favors substance over presentation. The report follows the trend of some of the latest Internet Marketing techniques, which basically say to market your primary opportunity only to those who have invested some time already, such as by purchasing a less expensive report or by downloading a free report. Only market your primary opportunity once you’ve built some trust. (As a side note, while this sort of approach is recently a fad in Internet Marketing circles, it’s been the recommended way of doing things all along at SBI!).

The report then also breaks down the qualities needed by any marketing campaign in order to successfully implement the techniques he talks about.

And true to his own advice, Rick offers a solution to all of the above at the end of the report. I’m currently testing out the solution, so will have more to say about it after I’ve seen what results it gives.

In the meantime, head over to BigDogHeavyHitters.com and get your free copy of Rick’s report. It’s good stuff!

Squidoo and Yuwie Earnings Update

It’s that time of the month when both Squidoo and Yuwie show the earnings for December.

Earnings at Yuwie were $3.77 down from $4.36 the in November. The main reason for the decline is that my own personal usage of Yuwie plummeted during December. I had a four week break between semesters, and spent very little of it on the computer. The computer time I did get was spent writing posts for this blog. The amount earned per 1,000 page views also dropped 3 cents, which contributed to the overall drop.

Earnings at Squidoo were $13.43, up from $8.93 in the previous period. My two highest rated lenses earned $6.23 each, and the rest of the amount is from the remaining lenses. The amount earned per lens has increased steadily for months, nearly doubling for the highest rated lenses. And this with my lens maintenance being at about the same level as my Yuwie activity, so all my lenses dropped in the rankings considerably.

It’s interesting to compare the two sites.

Squidoo is a way to write web pages that are then monetized in various ways, and you share in the earnings. Yuwie is a social networking site that shares ad revenue with you.

Squidoo can clearly outperform Yuwie in terms of earnings. Each of my two highest rated lenses at Squidoo earned more than I did in the entire month at Yuwie. And Yuwie earnings depend on getting referrals, while Squidoo earnings depend only on your ability to write quality lenses.

The other site of that argument is that literally anyone can generate page views at Yuwie. After all, it’s just web surfing and socializing. If you can point and click, you can earn something at Yuwie. Squidoo, on the other hand, requires you to write quality content. Junk gets rated low, and makes nothing. Out of nearly 30 lenses I’ve written, only two earn more than a few cents each month.

Both are opportunities to make money online free. Which is right for you?

Using Free Keyword Analysis For Post Titles

The only way to get reliable organic traffic for your blog is to know the basics of search engine optimization.

Today, I want to talk about using free keyword analysis tools when you’re trying to come up with a title for a new post. It’s important that your title contain keywords that have some search volume attached. As far as Google is concerned, the title of your post is one of the most important indicators showing what the post is about.

Let’s use Google’s Keyword Tool as an example. Let’s say I want to write a post about a new camera we just got (the Canon Powershot S2 IS). So maybe my initial thought is to name the post, “My New Canon Camera”.

At Google’s keyword tool, if I type in “canon camera” into the keyword box, and click “Get Keyword Ideas”, I’ll see that there is a good amount of search volume for that phrase. But there’s also quite a bit of advertising competition. That doesn’t necessarily means it’s a bad idea, since we’re not advertising. But if there’s that much advertising competition, there’s probably quite a few websites, too.

Going to Google.com and typing in “canon camera” (with the quotes), I see that there are nearly 3 million websites with that exact phrase. Ranking well for it will be difficult for a blog post.

Okay, back to the keyword tool. If I look down the list, I’ll find that some people are searching for the exact name of my camera, “canon powershot s2 is digital camera”. The search volume isn’t as high as “canon camera”, but there’s far less advertising competition and the keyword is better targeted.

Going to Google and searching on “canon powershot s2 is digital camera” (with the quotes), I see there are only about 25,000 websites with that exact phrase. Much better than 3 million!

So I’d name my post something like “Canon Powershot S2 IS Digital Camera First Impressions”. That tells Google that my post is about that particular camera, and the post will then rank higher for it than it would have for just “canon camera”.

Taking a few minutes before writing your next post can help to ensure more organic traffic in the long-term.

P.S. It’s also important that your post title appear in the URL, so if you’re using WordPress make sure to set up a custom permalink structure.

Top 10 Reasons To Be An SBI! Affiliate

Regular readers of the blog know that I an a huge fan of SBI! for creating niche websites.

I’ve neglected, though, to talk about being an SBI! affiliate, which is also a great opportunity backed by SBI!’s professional support. So here are my top 10 reasons to be an SBI! affiliate, even if you don’t purchase an SBI! site.

#10: It’s Free

Okay, so any decent affiliate program should be free, but some aren’t. And it’s only reason #10.

#9: Track Clicks To Sales

The built in link tracker you can use as an SBI! affiliate tracks clicks to sales, so you’ll know exactly which promotion is converting visitors into sales, and which aren’t. This can be used to target specific landing pages to specific markets, once you figure out which ones work best.

#8: Two-Tiered Earnings

Recruit affiliates, and earn a bit of what they make, too. The amount isn’t much, but it’s something.

#7: Tons of Landing Pages

Most affiliate programs give you one landing page only. SBI! has landing pages tailored to different markets you may want to pursue.

Trying to sell SBI! to work-at-home-moms? Use the WAHM landing page, or the WAHM Master’s Course ebook. Or maybe you’re targeting webmasters, so you’d use the Webmaster Business Course page.

Want to market to college students? Try this landing page. Or this one, for marketing to retirees who want an online business.

And there are others for auction sellers, people who want to sell e-goods, people who want to sell hard goods, people who want to sell real estate, and more.

There are also other ebooks you can give away, pages that educate on some aspect of Internet Marketing, free tools and services, etc, etc. All of which place your cookie on the visitor’s machine, so that if they purchase SBI! after browsing through the website, you get the customer.

#6: The Best Support Forums I’ve Seen Yet

The SBI! forums are simply the best I’ve seen yet, with members helping members and quick responses from SBI! employees, too. There are lots of ideas for promoting SBI! there, including some great offline tactics.

#5: Great Support For Offline Sales

Not only do you get tips for offline sales in the forums, but SBI! has a training package you can download designed to help you make offline sales. There’s also an order form that allows you to take orders offline and enter them yourself from your computer, ensuring you get the credit for the sale.

#4: Name Park It!

NPI! is a tool available to SBI! affiliates. You can purchase a domain name through NPI!, and redirect it to another site (such as one of the SBI! landing pages). But you also get unlimited subdomains that can each be redirected to any URL you choose. Use these to shorten URLs, or to create a unique domain for use in Adwords ads (where a given domain can only appear once in a list of ads, so if someone else is already using sitesell.com, the chances are good your ad won’t even show).

All for the same as the cost of a domain name elsewhere.

#3: Embed Videos On Your Blog That Sell SBI!

They’ve provided a bunch of videos that you can embed on your blog or other site where you promote SBI!. Just like the landing pages, there are videos targeting different markets. Here’s one targeting work at home moms:

URL= “http://wahm.sitesell.com/complete4.html”;

And here’s another targeting people who want to get out of a day job:

URL= “http://workfromhome.sitesell.com/complete4.html”;

Each video sends people at the end to a particular landing page, with your referral link.

#2: Make Money By Helping People Succeed

SBI! is one of the few “opportunities” that is really committed to helping people succeed. You earn a commission, and you help someone start an online business that could transform their lives.

#1: Get Lifetime Commissions

At SBI!, when you get a customer to make a purchase, they’re your customer for life. You not only getting a commission from the initial sale, but every year they renew their site you get ongoing commissions.

And if they ever buy more sites, which many SBI! owners do, you get commissions on those sites, too. The SBI! philosophy is, your customers are yours for life.

Conclusion

So not only am I an SBI! fan, but I think the affiliate program is pretty terrific, too. There are more than 10 reasons, but I couldn’t quite come up with 100, so I stuck with a top 10 list. If I didn’t cover your favorite reason to be an SBI! affiliate, leave a comment and let me know what it is.

If you’re not already an SBI! affiliate, click here to sign up.

How To Get Trained To Write Niche Sites

Okay, so if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’re probably convinced that writing high quality niche sites with original content is a great way to make money online.

But…can you do it? Can you write enough original content on a topic to fill up a website? The more articles you write, the more hooks you have in the water to tempt visitors from search engines. 30 pages would be a minimum number for a viable niche web site, 50 would be better, and even more is best.

How long would that take you? Would you run out of ideas before finishing?

The best thing to do is to write the website before you purchase a domain name, buy SBI!, or anything. So you know you’ve got it in you to do all that writing and keep your energy and enthusiasm for the subject.

But come on, who wants to write a 50 page website and not be doing anything with it? And there’s an advantage to having a website grow over time with search engines, too.

So how do you know if you’ll be wasting your time and money the first time you try to write a niche website?

The short answer is, write a niche website for someone else first. Do it for free, and you’re not out anything if you fail.

Realistically, nobody is going to pay you to write a niche website when you’ve never done one before. But there is a website that will let you be the editor of a niche website, and write articles each week to add to it. It’s free, and you don’t get paid anything, but you get a great deal of training and experience in writing articles for a website.

The site is BellaOnline, and its angle is that it’s a site designed for women to visit. Luckily, they allow men to be editors, so we’re not left out in the cold. But the site itself is targeted toward women web surfers.

They have umpteen dozen different niche websites under the BellaOnline banner. Each has an editor who has full control over the content on their website.

Including the ability to use affiliate links to earn income from recommending products.

The requirements to be an editor are that you must write one article each week for your site, maintain a presence in your site’s discussion forum, and be reachable via email for your visitors.

BellaOnline is the absolute best place I’ve found online for a new writer to start out. Your copyright stays with you, and you can at any time request that they remove any or all of your articles from the site. They don’t mind affiliate links, and don’t require that you share any of your earnings with you. They have an extensive training program to help you succeed.

You’re basically getting an existing niche site, complete with traffic, to do with what you want. I’ve just recently become the editor of the Role Playing Games site, which had been idle for a few months. Within hours of posting my first article, over 50 people visited it, and the traffic stats estimate about 5,000 page views a month.

It’s really a win-win arrangement, and by the time you’ve written 30 or 50 pages at BellaOnline, you’ll be confident enough in your ability to write your own niche website to know you wouldn’t be wasting the money by getting an SBI! site. And you’ll probably be able to write that 50 page SBI! site in record time.

Go here for a list of content areas at BellaOnline that are open for editor applications.

Quality Niche Sites versus MFA Sites

In November, the niche site I’d put up over the summer and then completely neglected made a bit over $11, up from $1.63 in October and $.12 in September.

My prediction in my last update on this site was that the November earnings were about the limit for the traffic possible for the site, given that it had basically no original content.

December proved me wrong, with the site making a bit over $21. This could be a seasonal effect. We’ll have to wait for January to see if the earnings return to normal.

Ultimately, I think your time and effort is better spent creating quality niche sites, rather than MFA (made for Adsense) sites. MFA sites are characterized by little original content, while quality sites contain nearly all original content. Put the time and effort into a quality niche site, and your earnings could be in the thousands per month, rather than $21.

So why do so many people use MFA sites?

1) They’re quick and easy to put up, since you need only pull together a few articles from online directories, find some affiliate products to promote, and write say-nothing reviews of those products.

2) Many people feel that they don’t know enough about a niche to create a lot of original content.

3) The theory is that by creating a lot of these sites, you can make the same amount that you would from one quality site.

As for #1, there’s not much to say. MFA sites are quick and easy to put up.

As for #2, my firm belief is that everyone has in them at least 3 quality niche sites based on their own personal experiences. And these are niches that are not about making money online. Stamp collecting, deer hunting, car buying, weaving, quilting, etc. Everyone has several hobbies that other people are also interested in, around which a quality niche site could be built.

As for #3, at $20 a month, I’d need to create 50 MFA sites to equal the income from a moderately successful quality niche site. The argument goes that since the sites are easy enough to create, you could put 50 of them up in no time. That’s true enough, but that argument ignores one critical aspect of MFA sites.

Each MFA site (like each quality niche site) must be built around a keyword concept that has proved itself profitable through extensive keyword research.

Finding these keywords is not particularly easy. You’ll find people online selling keyword lists, but you won’t be the only buyer. Why put up a site only to find yourself competing with a hundred other people for the same niche?

Far better, in my opinion, to do the keyword research for those hobbies you love, find a profitable angle on one or more of those hobbies, and then spend the time to create quality niche sites around those keywords.