In Sunny California & Visiting Leo Laporte at the TWiT Brick House
Greetings from beautiful San Jose, California. It really is beautiful. I’ve been coming to San Jose for a long time, to Silicon Valley, I’m very familiar with it and California is just beautiful. Texas, particularly the part of Texas where I live, is pretty flat and dry. California is hilly and green and beautiful this time of year.
I’m looking out my 19th story hotel window here in downtown San Jose and I can see the mountains off in the background, the sun is coming up behind me, and the moon is still up in the West. It’s just a spectacular view out of my hotel window. You can see sleepy San Jose is just starting to get up. I really love it, and I love it even more because the weather in San Jose is always so nice.
It’s a little microclimate; the mountains between here and the Bay protect San Jose from weather coming in off the Bay. In fact, a lot of times when you drive through San Francisco, as I was doing yesterday, you can actually notice the difference in the temperature between San Jose and San Francisco. I was driving through San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, which I love to do. It's a nostalgic big thing that I used to always want to do when I was a little kid was someday see the Golden Gate Bridge, and I’ve done that many times now. I was driving across it on my way to Petaluma, which is sort of at the foot of Sonoma Valley.
Some of you know Michelle MacPhearson, who lives in Petaluma. But the thing that I was going to see in Petaluma was podcasting ground zero. One of my podcasting heroes, Leo Laporte, his studio is there. You probably know Leo as the brains behind TWiT. I’ve been watching and listening to Leo for years. He used to have a cable TV show, he does This Week in Tech, which is what TWiT stands for. He also does the Mac Break Weekly Podcast, which is the one that I really love.
He has geniuses on his show; he has Renee Ritchie for iMore, the Pixel Core guy that used to work at Lucas Films, and he also has one of my favorite people in the whole world, Andy Inako from The Chicago Sun Times who is a long time Mac pundit and generally awesome technology writer. Those guys were all there, some of them were there via Skype video, some of them were live, and of course Leo is there live running this amazing studio. I was actually blown away at the scope of this thing.
I just got to thinking, “Here’s a guy who started out with a small podcast and he has built this amazing multimillion dollar business at TWiT with listeners.” His show is so big that if he mentions your website on his show, your website crashes. We call that “slash dotting a website.” He’s able to really drive a lot of traffic, he has a lot of listeners, and he’s such a nice guy.
The best part of it for me was I was standing there after the show talking to Leo and, some of you wrote to me and said that you heard me on the after show. The studio is always broadcasting live, so somebody wrote me and said, “I recognize that voice. Are you at TWiT?” Yes, that was me.
I was talking to Leo and I dropped Cliff Ravenscraft’s name – a lot of you know Cliff over at Podcast Answer Man – and Leo just lit up, he loves Cliff and he knows Cliff very well since they’ve done some collaborations together. Most recently Cliff was responsible for convincing Leo to go to New Media Expo and give out the Podcast Awards and do some other cool stuff like that. That got to me a whole new level of interest in Leo’s mind, that I was a friend of Cliff. That was pretty cool.
It was an awesome day for me. It really just goes to show you that almost anything is possible. If you’re starting a small business right now or if you’re working on your small business, there’s really no telling what that could turn into. It’s really limited only by your imagination.
I encourage you to look at some of these guys like Leo Laporte, who started from very humble beginnings, and look what a guy has built who is passionate about a topic, cares about what he’s talking about, cares about the people he’s talking to.
Incidentally, his whole business of giving people information about Macs and technology, fundamentally that’s a business about helping people. People watch that show because they have technology interests or problems that they need answers to. Particularly he has some radio shows where people call in and he solves their problems. That kind of service mentality, getting other people what they want so you can get what you want, can allow you to build a business like Leo has built.
I was really excited to be there, for you Brits in the listening audience “I was totally chuffed.” I had a great time, I guess you can probably tell that. I can check that one off my list. If you’re ever in Petaluma, I definitely recommend that you go by the TWiT Brick House.
Corn Sheller Site Update
It’s about time for an update on the CornSheller.net site. Those of you that have been following along know that it has been almost a year ago when Josh Spaulding approached me and wanted me to take a look at Keyword Canine, which totally rocks. I’ve been using it almost every day as part of this Forever Affiliate thing. You can check it out at LateNightIM.com/kc.
He had approached me and wanted me to promote it. I said, “I don’t promote anything that I haven’t tried.” So he said, “I knew you were going to say that,” and he gave me some crazy keywords and said, “Build a site around one of these and tell me what you think.” So I did that.
I didn’t really work too hard on it, I just threw up the site that you see. I ordered a header, put Thesis on there, did a little promotion – I’ve talked about all of this in the past. Lo and behold, traffic started coming to the site just like it’s supposed to, validating the fact that Keyword Canine analysis of the keyword “corn sheller” was indeed correct and I was able to rank quite easily for corn sheller and related keywords.
Of course, monetizing something like corn sheller is kind of tricky. There aren’t a lot of corn sheller affiliate programs. But I figured out that the corn sheller interest was being driven by antique collectors. And where are antiques sold, but of course on eBay.
You guys know this story and you know that the Corn Sheller Site has been doing quite well. But I haven’t reported on it in a couple of months and something interesting has happened that I wanted to let you know about.
Activity on the site starting from back in February of 2012, the number of page views on that site peaked out at about 8,000 in October, then it ducked back down under 4,000 and has been growing steadily since then. Here in February it looks like I will get up to almost 8,000 again. So the traffic has been steady to increasing.
This month, however, I saw something interesting in the earnings. Previously each month the site had earned something on the order of $50 per month, which is kind of cool. You just throw this thing together and money just happens. In fact, if I look at it I can see that last month, for example, there were 796 clicks and the earnings were $45 in the month of January.
But towards the end of the month the earnings went all the way down to zero cents per day. If you look at the little graph, which I’ll put in the show notes, you can see that on January 21st earnings went down to zero even though the number of clicks were still coming in and actually the number of clicks were going up. So I was sending even more traffic to eBay and yet the earnings went to zero. Then around the 27th of January it popped back up and I made a few bucks on the site.
Well, that has happened again in February. Apparently this is a pretty common occurrence. I talked to my friend Loretta who has some eBay websites and she said this happens to her all the time. Typically what happens is during the month her earnings will tank and go down to zero, then in her case she said it’s usually at the end of the month they’ll pop back up and again and recover.
I did some research on this and eBay has had a lot of issues with lack of transparency and how they compute their earnings. You can find a lot of people complaining online about this kind of stuff. The bottom line is they have an algorithm that looks at the quality of the traffic that you’re sending them and they try to make an estimate on what your traffic is worth. If you go awhile without having any eBay participants that are coming from your affiliate link that actually win auctions then your earnings will go to zero until you have somebody win an auction again.
I suspect what is happening is that people that are buying antique corn shellers on eBay are onsies-twosie buyers, this is not a high volume thing. And I suspect my traffic is what I might call a little lumpy and occasionally I get a dry spell where people are perhaps bidding on corn shellers but those people don’t happen to be winning the auction. So I think that is what’s going on with eBay. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks if it recovers, I suspect it will.
In the meantime, I’ve identified I’ve identified a related product on Amazon, it’s some kind of corn shucker. This is a thing on Amazon. I call it a corn shucker, it’s really a corn creamer where you can take a corn cob and you stick in this device and you spin the corn cob around and it rips the kernels off the cob, producing what you need to make creamed corn. And there is some search volume traffic on this cream corn thing and there’s not much competition.
I noticed that one of the top ranking items in Google for this was a YouTube video, so I asked my VA to embed that YouTube video on my page, I will create some content around this corn creamer for the exact keyword and try to rank that page. Underneath the video I’ll advertise the corn creamer that’s shown in the video and link to Amazon.
We’ll see if we can’t get that page to rank, perhaps even outrank the video that’s on Amazon. Maybe I’ll even put my own video up on Amazon if I find the time to do that. Although, I’m not really all that excited about that. In any case, we’ll try to get a page to rank and see if we can get some Amazon commissions coming from the site on a new keyword.
In general this is a really good strategy if you have an affiliate, to add products and content related to products on an ongoing basis, particularly on these long tail keywords related to products. This is one of the things that’s covered quite well in Forever Affiliate, this is the approach that Forever Affiliate focuses on is long tail product keywords.
I definitely recommend if you have affiliate sites or if you have a blog, think about finding a long tail keyword that completely describes something that you can have an affiliate sale for – product, model numbers are good because those are really unique terms in the search engine – and try to optimize a page for that and talk about the product on that page to see if you can’t get some clicks through to buy that product.
Snoring Solutions Site Update
The other site that I wanted to update you on was the Snoring Solutions site. I never revealed that URL before, but I’m revealing it now because I’m declaring that experiment as failed in the way that it was constructed.
If you’ll recall, I was going to take an autoblogging software, particularly Article Builder, which is awesome sort of automated PLR generating tool. You can find that at LateNightIM.com/ab. I was going to hook that up to a blog and have it spew content in a niche on a site and do a little backlink building and see if I could just organically generate traffic.
To date, there has been very little, if any. There has been some, but it’s been handfuls of traffic. On the Corn Sheller Site we’re talking about 8,000 page views per month. On the snoring site we’re talking about eight page views per month or something like that. It really hasn’t taken off at all.
So I’ve decided to report on that to you and say that spamming the internet with random content that nobody wrote without really doing any work to optimize the site and making it valuable for visitors didn’t do anything.
I’m not surprised. Compare that to the Corn Sheller Site where I actually created some valuable content about corn shellers and had someone go out and actually do some research and add some value, and actually present a little corn sheller store that shows eBay auctions that are for sale. That’s a lore more valuable website than some random collection of pretty weak articles on snoring solutions that I didn’t even write.
Having said that, I’m going to try one more thing. Using on the Corn Sheller Site, I’m going to look for a long tail phrase for an affiliate offer for some snoring solution product, like one of these mouth guards or some kind of snoring solution product that has a long tail keyword that I think I can win. I’m going to optimize a single page on that site and build some backlinks to that and see if I can rank that in the search engines and drive some affiliate sales off of snoring.
So part one of the experiment was a total failure. Still very interesting. That’s how we learn these things, we fail quickly and move on to something else. The something else is instead of just ditching the site, I’m try to rank this one page. As always, I’ll let you know how that goes on the snoring site and I’ll keep you up to date on whether or not we can actually make any money on that.
Between that and the Corn Sheller update that I’ll give you in a couple of weeks, we should be able to see if we can make any of this stuff work.
Forever Affiliate Progress Update
The last thing I wanted to update you on was my plans for executing Forever Affiliate. As you know, I bought a copy of the course and I was able to get into the coaching program. I’ve been participating pretty heavily there inside the forums and I’ve set some pretty aggressive goals.
The coaching program in Forever Affiliate is a six week coaching program where Andrew personally pushes the students to get their first sites up. In my case, I’ve decided that since I’m an experienced affiliate marketer and I understand how all the technical stuff works, I’m just really in here to extract information from Andrew’s massive brain.
My intention is to build 10 sites. Now, I’m going to outsource most of it. I’m going to build the first site this week. I’ve already identified my first niche that I’m targeting and I will very carefully go through Andrew’s program and build the first site, outsourcing as much as I can in great detail in my task management software that I share with my virtual assistant, documenting everything as I go very carefully over this first week. In other words, not going very fast really, but paying very careful attention to the details that Andrew spells out and trying to do everything in exactly the right way, and translating that into instructions for the virtual assistant that I can replicate.
Then once I get that done (hopefully by the end of the weekend) that will have me in position where I have a recipe to build nine more sites during the course of the six weeks. Andrew has a competition going inside the coaching forum for a pretty sizable prize for the person who generates the most revenue over the course of the coaching program. I would very much like to win that just as a matter of personal pride.
Nonetheless, my goal, the thing that I can control, is following the formula exactly and getting 10 Forever Affiliate sites up and running, because once you get them up and running and do some initial promotion on them, according to Andrew’s formula, you need to spend some time to let them germinate and so forth. So I’d like to get through this first phase in the six weeks while I have Andrew at my beck and call in the coaching forum.
So that’s my plan. What I plan to do on the podcast is report to you on the progress. Right now I’m reporting to you that the first of 10 sites is up, the URL is purchased, WordPress is installed. I’m in the process of following Andrew’s very specific site configuration recommendations, including theme, plugins, all this stuff that he recommends very specifically about what needs to be done. I should have the first site up and running and configured with some content, hopefully by the end of the week.
Then once that’s done I’m going to use my software that I have for delegating tasks to my VA, after I find some more niches, and just start launching sites and having her create or buy content from some place, having her create website headers, having her set up the theme, configure the plugins, all this kind of work that needs to be done to set up these sites, and just get her rolling. She works for me eight hours a day and she’s really good at this stuff, so she’ll do a great job for me.
That’s the plan; 10 sites in six weeks. We’ll see how that goes. The current status is site one is partially up and running and I’ll be reporting to you about that on a weekly basis. If you have any questions about that or how things are going, feel free to drop me a line on the Facebook fan page or in the show notes. I’ll be happy to answer any questions that I can.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool Basics
It’s 4:00 in the morning again, actually almost 5:00. I don’t know what’s up with Late Night Internet Marketing turning into morning marketing, but here we are. One of the things that has been bothering me lately, especially as I have been trying to helping – I don’t know if I’m helping – internet marketers in these some of these course like Forever Affiliate, as I hang out in the coaching area and so forth. One of the things that I see is people using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool for the first time and not really understanding exactly what it is that they’re looking at or where the data comes from or what to do with that data.
Since we all use this tool, I thought it would be useful to go back and take a look at what some of this stuff means. When I say we all use it, it’s one of the very few sources for keyword data out there. Even if you’re using Market Samurai, Long Tail Pro, or Keyword Canine, you’re using data from this tool. So I think it’s useful to remember what some of this stuff means.
There are three things in particular that I see people good up all the time, so I thought we’d talk about that a little bit and maybe try and get a sense of where all this stuff comes from.
The first thing is whether or not you’re looking at exact match keyword data, broad match keyword data, or phrase match. A lot of times I see people either not paying attention to this, not recognizing that it is something you can set, or not really understanding what it is that they’re looking at.
If you go into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool there is a little dropdown where you can set what the match type is. Basically the difference between broad, exact, and phrase is the following. Let’s say you had the phrase “blue suede shoes,” one of my favorite SEO examples because I’m a closet Elvis fan.
If you ask the Google Keyword Tool to tell you the number of people searching for blue suede shoes and you’re in exact match keyword mode, it will tell you exactly how many people are searching for exactly that phrase. Not variations of that phrase, not that phrase with stuff on the end or at the beginning, not that phrase with the words all mixed and jumbled up, but exactly the term “blue suede shoes.”
Now, we can have another discussion about the accuracy of this number that you get back, but it’s the intention of the tool that when you ask for exact phrase match it is the number of people that are typing in exactly the phrase “blue suede shoes.”
That is different than the phrase match. The phrase match is the number of people that are typing in a phrase that contains exactly “blue suede shoes.” So big blue suede shoes, or blue suede shoes for sale, or blue suede shoes in Europe, all are phrase matches to the search term blue suede shoes.
Then finally, there is the broad match term. That’s any term that contains all of the words in your search phrase. It’s all of the above, plus blue fuzzy sued shoes, blue suede running shoes, and all of these things where your search phrase terms are interrupted, mixed in, or even out of order are broad match keywords.
The reason that I use exact match keywords is, first of all, they’re most conservative so I don’t get a goofy idea of what exactly I’m going to get when I win a keyword. The second reason is I usually think in terms of optimizing for an exact keyword. This is one of the places it’s sort of useful to understand what’s the ratio between the exact match keyword and the broad match keyword.
If you look at the number of matches for your keyword and you find that the exact match numbers are very similar in size to the broad match numbers, what that means is there aren’t really a lot of other long tail keywords for you to go after. You’re already at the long tail and there aren’t a bunch of keywords related to blue suede shoes that you need to worry about. Sometimes that’s really good to know.
If you see a big delta between the keyword that you’re searching for in exact and broad match results, that tells you that there are a lot of other keywords. One of the things you need to be careful about is to understand whether or not the other broad match keywords are topical for your site. A lot of times you can find, especially in pop culture, that you might have some people that are searching for a phrase that means something in one language and something in another language.
This is particularly true in U.S. versus Europe, the King’s English versus U.S. English at it were. We might call it a mobile phone and they call it a handie, we might call it a trunk and they call it a boot. In that case if you have a situation where you’re optimizing for boots and people over in Europe are talking about car trunks, these kinds of situations can arise where there are multiple meanings for that phrase and that can show up when there are big deltas between the broad match and the exact match.
Other cases where that could be the case are there could just be a ton of long tail keywords. That’s important for you to know because your exact match will show you only a few, but the broad will roll up all the long tail keywords that are associated with that. That means you need to go looking for those long tail keywords and add them into your search attack strategy.
That’s broad, phrase, and exact. Again, exact is exactly what the people are typing in. Phrase is exactly what the people are typing in plus modifiers, but not interrupting the keyword order. Then broad is the match where just the words appear in any order with any interruption between them. That can all be very useful to know. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing about the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is this idea of Local versus Global searches. For the same reason we were talking about trunk versus boot and handie versus mobile phone, these localizations can be very important. You need to make sure you think through that and you understand what it is that you’re targeting.
For example, if you’re targeting a particular offer for affiliate marketing and the traffic that your affiliate offer will accept is only U.S. traffic, then if you want to understand what the potential revenue is for that offer you need to think about the local U.S. searches. Local means the searches for the country you specify, or for the location, I think you can specify it down even smaller geographical areas other than country.
Local is the country or countries that you specify in the search. Global is worldwide. So if you’re seeing a big difference between Global and Local that means that there are people searching for this term all over the place and you can decide based on what you’re going to use the search term data for whether or not thinking about the global situation makes sense for you.
Whenever you see big deltas between Global and Local try and think about where your search traffic is coming from and what you’re going to do with it. You will hear, or you will hear next week, an interview with a guy from GoToGeo, which is a service that works on this traffic localization problem for affiliate marketers, in which he talks about the fact that sometimes if you’re driving affiliate traffic, if it’s coming from Country A the affiliate program will pay you and if it’s coming from Country B the affiliate program won’t pay you. You can start to ferret out these kinds of issues by considering the Local versus Global search.
So that’s two of the things that I think people often misunderstand, the match type and Global versus Local. The third thing that I wanted to talk about was competition. I see new marketers mess this up all the time.
There is an ad competition score in there and it’s a very cute looking little bar graph and it tells you what the competition is for the keyword. People who are doing SEO organic search optimization type of stuff, they often times assume that this is the competition to win the keyword in the search engine results. That’s not what this is at all. This is competition for the ads.
It’s important to remember what the Google Adwords Tool is for. It’s actually for people who are doing research in order to buy ads from Google trying to figure out what words to buy. So it’s not really designed for people who are doing organic search engine optimization, like we often talk about on this show, where they’re trying to rank for a particular keyword in Google. That’s not the target customer for this tool, although we use it all the time for that.
What ad competition means is in the Google Adwords system how many people are also trying to buy ads for that keyword, is it many or few. The reason that it’s important to know that is because the Google Adwords ecosystem is a bidding info structure. You bid for placement for keywords, so if you want to have a paid ad show up in the search results for blue suede shoes and you want to be in that top position, you have to bid enough money to win that top position. If there are tens or hundreds of other people also bidding to win that price war, then there will be a lot of competition for that space and the ads will be more expensive. Just like on eBay when there are 47 people trying to win an auction the final price is more expensive, when there are 47 people trying to win that ad spot for blue suede shoes the price is more expensive.
This is neat from a marketing standpoint because this takes all the elasticity out of the market. If I’m selling a product whenever I spend $1.00 on an ad and I can make $1.10, then I’m willing to spend up to $1.00 and I’ll bid as much as I possibly can in order to still make my dime. Whereas if I’m competing against somebody who can only make $0.95, that guy is going to lose because he can’t afford to keep up with me.
So all of the elasticity in the marketplace for Adwords gets taken out because people will keep bidding, eroding their margins, until they’re bidding as much as they possibly can, in the case where there’s a lot of competition, and still make a profit. That’s one of the reasons Google makes so much money on these ads is because they’re self-pricing, people will pay whatever the market will support and it’s self-adjusting. That’s kind of cool from an economic standpoint.
Competition specifically does not mean how hard it is for you to rank on page one for the keyword. That’s really important for people to understand.
The other thing that is often misunderstood is that the approximate CPC (cost per click) is the cost per click that you might pay if you were to buy this keyword and have an ad displayed for it. That is not the amount that Google will pay you if you have Adsense ads on your site. In fact, Google will take their cut and this is also the value averaged across all ad positions, so you have to figure that in.
My experience is that often times for the Content Network, which is where you’re putting Adsense ads on your blog, you can expect to be paid something on the order of 30-40%, and this can vary in a larger range because the market is changing out from under you. But you can expect to get paid 30-40% of this number if you are sending clicks to Google using Adsense.
The other thing that’s in there that I think people should pay attention to is the Google Insights Tool that’s integrated in, there’s a little bar graph that shows the trends. I think it’s always important to understand that. If you’re building an affiliate site on lawnmowers it’s important to understand what the trends are in that so that you can figure that into your strategy.
Obviously, lawnmower traffic is going to be down in January in certain parts of the world and way up in March and April, and probably falling off by August because everyone who has needed lawnmower for summertime to mow their grass bought that back in the Spring and by the time August gets here they’re done. Lawnmowers are already off the shelves at the local hardware store and they’ve replaced it with Christmas trees or decorations for whatever your celebration of choice is. So lawnmower sales down in the Fall and probably zero in the Winter, and so are searches for those.
It’s important to understand that. It also can be useful to understand, if you’re in affiliate marketing, the longer term trend and not just the seasonal trend which is shown there. You can click through into Google Insights and get the longer term trend for a keyword. If you’re targeting some new product as an affiliate marketer, some new weight loss berry or some new muscle building cream, whatever it is, and the company is new but they’re pouring millions and millions of dollars into TV advertising, you can see that trend rising. If you can catch those at the beginning of the trend and anticipate that they’re going to be really popular, then you can make a lot of money.
For example, if you had known about acai berry prior to it being mentioned on Dr. Oz or Oprah or whatever, you would have seen that the trend was growing and then it got to such popularity that it just went supernova. If you can get in on the beginning of those tails as an affiliate marketer you stand to make a lot of money doing that.
I hope that helps you use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. As always, it’s important to recognize that as a search engine optimization guy or gal, trying to rank in Google’s search engine, you are not their customer. Google’s customers are the people that are paying them money to place ads. This tool is targeted at those people. Yes, we get a lot of use out of it, but this tool is targeted at those people.
One other note about the Google Adwords Keyword Tool is there is a lot of discussion about accuracy. It’s really hard to determine exactly where their data comes from, because you can see a lot of times they won’t report keywords that I know there is search traffic for because I’m getting search traffic on my blog and they’re showing it as zero, or I can see the search terms in Google Suggests, which is the typing completion list that drops down whenever you’re in Google and you start typing something. That drop down is often referred to as Google Suggest, you can see a version of this on steroids at UberSuggest.
You’ll see that all of those keywords aren’t in the Keyword Tool and you’ll also see the search volumes are off. All I can tell you is my feeling, although I don’t actually know this for sure, is that Google is relying more heavily on data from the Adwords sales system where people are actually buying keywords and they’re counting clicks out of that, they’re relying on that data more heavily than they’re relying on the actual organic search data they’re tracking in tools like Google Analytics where they have a different sample.
So they have two sets of data that they can rely on. They have the data from people who are running Adwords ads and buying ads that they can count clicks on that traffic and know how many people are searching for what, because after all every time you type a search into Google they’re keeping track of it. You’ll notice that the numbers in the Google Keyword Tool are always round numbers like 1,900. I think they’re using that Adwords data more heavily than they’re relying on data from Analytics. That’s just my impression, I don’t actually know that. You would have to ask Matt Cutts – maybe we’ll get him on the show one day and ask him that.
If you have more questions about the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment on the show notes or feel free to give me a call on the feedback hotline at 214-444-8655.
We’ll talk to you soon. That wraps it up for this week. Thank you so much for joining me.
Thank you for listening to the Late Night Internet Marketing Podcast…