Great Stuff on the SiteScout blog

September 4th, 2012 by admin No comments »

If you’re into display advertising, check out the SiteScout blog – there is some great stuff posted there! http://blog.sitescout.com

SiteScout is a real time, self-serve advertising platform for buying banner ads from all the major ad exchanges (now including Google Doubleclick!). Basically, it’s thuper awesome.

Super awesome

Easily Fetch the Top Keywords in any Market with this…

August 21st, 2012 by admin 2 comments »

Konichiwa, bitches.

A few months ago I made myself 2 helper files which help me quickly locate the correct subcategories for both the Google Keyword Tool and the Google Insights for Search Tool … and I figured I’d let you guys use them.

In order to quickly grab a list of top keywords in any market/niche, you simply need to find the correct subcategory that represents the niche/market you wants keywords for, select it and search with a blank keyword. Doing this returns a nice list of top keywords without you having to do any mental thinking whatsoever.

Search using no keywords to get them ALL

The part that is an absolute bitch is finding the correct subcategory to begin with, without stumbling around within the tool itself, so I made 2 helper files to help you with this part…

  1. Category Map: Google Keyword Tool
  2. Category Map: Google Insights for Search
  3. ( both tools have different category structures unfortunately )

Using these helper files, you can use CTRL+F to search the page for keywords and hop from section to section easily. Once you find subcategory you are interested in, take a mental note and then go to the keyword tool and waste no time navigating to that subcategory. As soon as you get the category selected, you got niche specific keywords!

The Google Keyword Tool does allow you to search by keywords in the interface, which is awesome, but I made a category map for it anyways. It’s nice to be able to casually scroll around and look at the entire category structure without clicking anything.

This tool is best used with the information I posted here and the strategy explained here. Wappah!

Interview with Brad Geddes: Affiliate Marketing with Google Adwords

July 30th, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

Brad GeddesGood stuff today everybody! I had the opportunity to interview Brad Geddes of CertifiedKnowledge.org about affiliate marketing on Google Adwords. If you don’t know Brad, he is the author of my all-time favorite PPC book, Advanced Google Adwords.

Brad doesn’t work directly for Google, but he teaches at the official Adwords Seminar for Success program. I chose to interview him because he’s as close as you could get to talking with someone who actually works in the Adwords department, yet still remain being completely open about the questions asked. Hope you enjoy this one!

 

For those who may not know you already, what’s your background and how did you fall into online marketing and PPC?

Years ago, I often call this my ‘preweb’ life; I use to work in the mental health/mental retardation industry helping people to become productive members of society; including transitioning people from institutional life to community living programs. While its a rewarding industry; its also a burnout one as there’s only so many hours you can spend inside an institution. Eventually I quit and had no idea what I was going to do.

I was surfing the web one day and came across ‘affiliate marketing’. It seemed so easy: drive traffic and make money. I already knew site design from creating hobby sites and just playing around online; so I gave it a try and it worked well (and it was easy in the 90s). Then Overture launched (the first PPC platform), and it gave me an opportunity to be on a search page twice, which was great: more real estate – more money. Then AdWords launched, and it gave me an opportunity to be on another search engine multiple times; and I started working on blending SEO and PPC, increasing my conversion rates, and all the fun testing that comes with being a good marketer.

My marketing life spiraled out of control as other companies wanted me to run their accounts so after telling them no for years, I finally created an agency in 2001, then we sold another agency a few years later; and yet more happened, such as working with resellers, consulting for some of the engines, building a company that managed 42,000 PPC accounts and 110,000 SEO clients, published Advanced Google AdWords, etc – and I’ve been happily working on paid search ever since.

What particular skills do you consider to be crucial for PPC success and where do you see newer PPC advertisers going wrong and making mistakes?

This is where PPC marketing can be difficult. You need:

  • Solid foundation in math
  • Excel skills
  • Creative writing skills
  • A bit of technical know-how
  • A willingness to experiment

Most people are good at either math or writing – very few people are really good at both. So a common mistake is to not recognize the shortcoming and fix it. ‘Fixing it’ could be as easy as watching algebra videos or taking a creating writing class; or it could be as complex as splitting up the PPC duties in the company based upon the available skill sets.

Google has been banning affiliates (and other advertisers) for years now. Do you think these people simply didn’t go far enough in creating a good site and providing real value? I think a lot of people are hesitant to put a lot of time and energy into a site just to end up getting their accounts banned anyway for being an affiliate. Are there any things that most people miss and flat-out forget to include that leads to bans?

I have yet to see a ban where there was not some cause. The cause could be a site that just serves as a bridge page and offers no real value. This cause might not be noticed by the affiliate unless they understand Google’s T&Cs. In other cases, affiliates are getting ads approved with one URL and then redirecting the link to another URL (often the merchant) or breaking back buttons, selling something that isn’t legal or is on Google’s banned list, etc.

Affiliates can be very successful using AdWords if they follow the rules. For the most part, if the affiliate builds a good site that enhances the search experience (provides value) than they can advertise without a problem on Google. If you look at a site like hotels.com, expedia, etc – they are affiliate sites. They might be big affiliate sites; but every travel agent is just an affiliate.

I work with two affiliates (non-travel space; the more traditional affiliate model) that combined spend more than five million dollars each month. Their marketing spends do not get them special treatment from Google; however, their great landing page experiences and websites along with their spends get them nice rep support. Google supports legitimate companies with good sites and business models. Affiliates can be legitimate companies; just make sure the website and user experience is great and don’t follow the latest ‘get rich quick and spammy advice’ floating around. If you put users first; you can usually have a good experience advertising with AdWords.

I think a lot of people get banned from Adwords because they submit landing pages like this over and over…

review template

While it’s great from a conversion standpoint and works just fine on other traffic sources, I can’t imagine this page passing the Adwords sniff test because it’s pretty flat and ultimately designed to do 1 thing… send visitors to the merchant site… which is a bridge page violation. What kinds of things can an affiliate do to “beef up” this page and improve it so it provides more value? I think adding functionality so real people can rate and comment is pretty huge, and of course increasing the overall navigability of it.

Making a page useful goes beyond just a basic review (especially if the reviews don’t seem legit) to add:

  • Comparison charts
  • Reviews pulled from multiple sources
  • In-depth product reviews and comparisons (this takes some work, but the content is also wonderful on the SEO side)
  • Realtime prices from multiple merchants
  • Videos
  • Use-case scenarios

In the end, its all about making the user experience on the site good enough that a user makes a better decision about what product to buy or service to use because of the affiliates website. If the user is just funneled through a bridge page designed so that the top payout is the top reviewed item and the worst payout is the worst reviewed item – then the reviews aren’t honest and the page is really just funneling someone towards a single experience. If the page instead easily compares product specs, does in-depth reviews of why this product is better than this one, etc – then its helping the user to make better decisions and those pages usually pass a hand review by Google.

It’s no secret that many affiliate offers (especially in the CPA networks) don’t provide any value and are therefore not allowed to run on Google. Do you have any advice when it comes to choosing affiliate offers to promote? What does Google especially hate and what should people know?

Any offer that violates the user’s privacy, had too many loopholes to jump through, bills a user against their knowledge, or isn’t really related to the keywords and ads are usually banned.

For instance, for a while you’d see offers such as ‘win a free iPad’ running on any keyword; and the user had to fill out 20 offers and then get 3 friends to fill out 20 offers and then they would be eligible to win an iPad. The odds of winning were very low, the amount of work was high, and the user didn’t really know what was happening to their information. With a lot of the product supplements, the user wasn’t actually buying a free trial, they were enrolling in an autobill membership where it was almost impossible to cancel. Any offer that is meant to deceive the user is going to be banned.

If you think about this from Google’s perspective, their overall goal is to have someone find relevant results and answers to their search question. They want these sites to help the user so much that the user wants to find their next answer from Google again because Google gave the user a good recommendation. It’s a give and take between websites and Google. Someone has a good experience on a website Google recommended, so they search on Google again to find yet another good experience. If the user searches on Google and keeps having bad experiences, then they are going to start searching on Yahoo or Bing. Google wants to ensure you don’t have such a bad experience that you lose faith in Google’s ability to send you to relevant pages that provide a good experience.

So it’d be accurate to say that Google doesn’t hate affiliates, they just hate crappy affiliates? Besides misleading ads, thin landing pages and crappy offers, is there anything else that Google doesn’t like which people should be aware of? Are there any industries you recommend just avoiding altogether?

I think so. If its a good business model that helps searchers; then Google doesn’t hate it – they just don’t like the stuff that wastes someone’s time or doesn’t add any value.

There are industries that are highly regulated online – either by governments or Google, such as alcohol, gambling, firearms, etc so you’ll want to be careful with those areas. Other areas to avoid are anything that seems ‘too good to be true’. The supplement market has been hit hard by Google (and in some cases, other government organizations), get-rich-quick schemes, high product return areas, high rates of chargebacks or dissatisfied customers, etc – are areas to generally be avoided.

If its a business that you aren’t embarrassed to explain to your grandmother – then you’re often OK. In the end, if you: add value, deliver value, and create happy customers then you’re usually in good shape.

When did PPC really start to click in your mind for you? Is there anything you learned that made all the difference? I know a lot of people try their hand at PPC and fail, but sometimes a certain way of thinking about it makes it all so simple. Are there any basic fundamentals that people should force themselves to always remember?

My background is in Psychology; so when I put myself into a searcher’s shoes – PPC just makes sense. A good PPC marketer just makes it easy for a searcher to connect the dots. The searcher has a need expressed in a search query, and the marketer has to guess that query (keywords) and connect them to what they need (landing page) and show them how to solve their need (copy/call to action), and then the checkout process has to be easy (path of least resistance). I wrote about what I call the Psychology of Search several years ago, and I still believe in this concept today.

Do you have any tips on compliance, specifically for people who run affiliate campaigns? I know in my particular market, and it took me quite a long time to really understand this, is that Google really wants transparency. Are their any mistakes you see people making frequently?

I think the most common mistake is people buying an ebook about how to make lots of money on the web, or buying some pre-built website template that is guaranteed to work and then then assume its all easy without actually understanding what they are doing. There’s a lot of advice on the web, not all of it is good or even accurate. Understanding the affiliate business model, the AdWords model, and customer’s needs and wants essential to doing well in this space. If you can build a nice connection point between the three three points, then you’ll usually do well.

Thanks so much for allowing me to interview ya, Brad! Lastly, for people who don’t know, what kinds of things do you offer at Certified Knowledge for PPC marketers? Tell us a bit about your book, Advanced Google Adwords.

Certified Knowledge is a combination of PPC tools, video training, and a community site. The videos are designed for beginners to experts to learn how to do better with AdWords. The tools are designed to save you time. The community is there for support with unique issues that arise.

Advanced Google AdWords, now in its second edition, is one of the best selling books on everything you need to know to succeed with AdWords. It is geared towards an intermediate to advanced audience who already has a basic understanding of AdWords. Most people call it the next step in training after you’ve gotten everything you can out of the free AdWords learning center videos.

My overall goal is to make sure everyone has access to excellent PPC content so they can improve their PPC success regardless of their learning style. If you like videos on demand, there’s Certified Knowledge. If you prefer to read, there’s Advanced Google AdWords. If you prefer in-person seminars, I provide those as well through AdWords Seminars for Success (officially supported by Google) and Advanced AdWords Workshops, which is a partnership with SMX.

Awesome stuff! Thanks Brad! Make sure to read and subscribe to the CertifiedKnowledge.org blog!

The Absolute Biggest Mistake That New Affiliates Make

June 21st, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

…is writing adcopy off the top of their head when they come to the ad creation screen in their traffic source. In other words, totally wingin’ it!

Don’t throw hail mary’s when you start campaigns

Adcopy is the most part of your campaign and should be your #1 priority in getting right. If you just make something up with no real thought behind it, chances are you won’t produce something powerful and compelling enough that will actually perform. Once you have a good control ad you can start testing more spur-of-the-moment ideas.

I suggest getting organized and writing as much copy as you can before you even launch a campaign. It will make split testing easier (and more fun) since you know what you are going to test next and will keep you from spinning your tires!

Keyword Modifiers for ROI

June 14th, 2012 by admin 2 comments »

Here’s a list of keyword modifiers (ie trigger words) that I’ve been collecting for awhile that you can apply to your keyword-based campaigns (I’ve uploaded it in .txt format here). If you have any to add, please leave a comment!

Looking to Buy a Product

beginner
book
course
dvd
ebook
guide
handbook
kit
lessons
manual
need
product
professional
program
report
resource
strategy
training
trial
tutorials
walkthrough

Classic Buy Words

affordable
bargains
budget
buy
cheap
company
coupon
cost
deals
discount
join
order
packages
pay
purchase
price
register
sale
save
services
shop
sign up
specials
store
used

Comparison Words

___ vs ___ (product a vs product b)
alternative
best
better/better than
compare
complaints
favorite
genuine
popular
quality
rating
recommend(ed)
replacement
review(s)
scam
score
similar
top
which

Action oriented

boost
calculate
calculator
change
create
cure
decrease
delete
download
eliminate
find
fix
get
get rid
how to
improve
increase
learn
locate
lookup
lose
prevent
reduce
remedy
remove
repair
replace
stop
study
tool
treatment
where to

Urgency

quick
fast
next day
same day

Misc

custom
easy
free
list/list of
new

Great Tip on Writing Adcopy

May 14th, 2012 by admin No comments »

After reading Mike Geary’s Super Affiliate newsletter, I thought he put the topic of writing effective adcopy into really simple English so I figured I’d cite it here for everyone!

Why Ad Wording is so Important

To explain why the wording of your ad is so important to whether you’ll make any money as an affiliate, let’s look at the psychology of the web surfer who is clicking on your ad…

First, let’s look at a generic type of ad for the Truth about Abs product.

Ok, here’s the main problem with this ad, and why it won’t result in as many sales as a more strategically worded ad…

For one, it looks too much like an ad, and many surfers will click on it out of curiosity, but are already on the defensive of being “sold” something. Another problem is that it simply looks exactly like what everybody else is saying.

Now let’s look at a type of ad wording that will get a much higher response rate, possibly even tripling the amount of sales you get from it.

So why in the world does this type of ad wording result in me tripling my money, whereas the other ad hardly gets any sales at all even for the exact same keywords?

The reason is that this type of ad wording has piqued the readers curiosity by mentioning something about 1 specific secret. Do you see what this is going to do when they click-through?

They’re going to hit the sales letter and be searching the page for this one specific secret that the ad mentioned, so they have a much higher chance of actually getting into reading the sales letter, and letting the sales letter do it’s work in converting them to a sale!

——————–

Full article here.

Well said!

Truth About Abs is a monster offer – you should definitely test it out. Mike also did a really awesome interview on Tim Ferris’ blog awhile back that is definitely worth reading. Good stuff!

Best Direct Response Infomercial Ever

May 8th, 2012 by admin No comments »

:D

Did you know the company behind Brazil Butt Lift, BeachBody LLC, has done over $2 Billion in sales?

Here’s A Campaign You Can Run With…

May 3rd, 2012 by admin No comments »

This is a campaign that I’m not going to pursue because I’m trying to focus on my main projects at the moment. The idea occurred to me when I was actually using the product. The offer is called Lumosity, which is a website that allows you to play brain games that improve your memory and focus.

When I was using it, I couldn’t believe how much it woke me up! A few minutes of doing the brain exercises seriously works better than coffee does. The next time you wake up in the morning and you’re slogging, play a few of the games and see how awake you feel afterwards. The games really turn your brain on.

After realizing this, I thought to myself “Hey, this is a great solution to a problem.” The problem, of course, is feeling mentally tired. There is a huge market for this because we all know how well those “5 hour energy” and other energy drinks sell :D

So that’s the campaign. Your audience is people who feel tired all the time, and you pitch them Lumosity. You frame it as a solution to feeling tired.

No doubt you will have to split test a number of ads and landing pages, but I’m confident this campaign could work great once dialed in. The offer can be found on CJ.com ($12/trial) and at W4 ($1.25 per free registration).

If you aren’t signed up to W4 yet, you definitely should by signing up here. Tons of CPA networks these days just broker all their offers from other networks. W4 on the other hand has a ton of quality offers that you can’t find on other networks. They also credit you with leads that were undertracked at the end of the month which helps the bottom-line of your campaigns.

Hopefully one of you can blast this one out of the park.

Campaigns Almost Never Work the First Time

April 10th, 2012 by admin 2 comments »

In my affiliate career, I can only count a couple campaigns that were “near perfect” out of the gate. I ALWAYS ALWAYS have to tweak things around before a campaign starts performing.

I usually have to split test a few different offers (even same offer, different network).
I usually have to re-write my landing page copy a few times.
I always have to test a bunch of ads when I’m buying traffic.

Ya know, it’s pretty disappointing when you put a ton of research into your campaigns and they don’t perform well initially. But that’s the thing… people just aren’t willing to tweak things around until they work. They scrap campaigns when they don’t immediately deliver a 100% ROI.

Here’s a quick example of how dramatic the difference can be. I had a site that was getting a lot of organic traffic, and was getting 1 or 2 conversions per month on my “first try”. I had to split test FOUR different offers before I found the right one, and I had to rewrite the opening paragraph on my lander a few times before the thing finally started converting. That dumbass site went from $100/month to $40 per day. A pretty substantial improvement indeed.

I wish campaigns would work on the first try, but they rarely do. It would definitely make our lives easier. But on the other hand, that’s where you have a huge competitive advantage. Most people simply are too lazy to split test their way to profitability. Like Diorex says, testing is for the rich!

129 Big Money Niches and Markets

February 5th, 2012 by admin 2 comments »

Recently, Aaron Wall of SEOBook.com posted a list of 129 big money niches on his Google+ profile. The keywords were taken from a calculation of search volume x adwords cpc.

You can’t go wrong if you decide to build sites/campaigns in any of those markets.

Then once you have a market in mind, the next step is to put together a strong keyword list. Awhile ago, I wrote a post called Highest Volume Keywords by Category, which is about using Google Insights for Search to locate popular keywords by niche. When I wrote that, the Google keyword tool was not returning results when you searched in the same fashion (using no keyword), but today it is.

A pic of the Google Keyword Tool

Side note: On Thanksgiving, when asked was I was thankful for, I said the Google Keyword tool :D

Check out Aaron’s list here to find markets, then use the category selection on the keyword tool to find the top keywords in that market. Simple.