Niche Ideas Pop Up All the Time
The other thing was when I was in the mall today, one of the things that I saw that impressed me was e-cigs. This is a typical thing that I see that’s kind of interesting. For you affiliate marketers out there, e-cigarettes are really hot in the affiliate space right now.
They’re just coming to Asia. There’s still a tremendous amount of smoking in Asia, I think e-cigs are going to be huge in Asia. I think there’s a really big affiliate opportunity for them here in Asia. There’s also a big opportunity for them in the United States, although the market is starting to get a little bit crowded.
Check that out if you’re looking for a new affiliate market to penetrate. You might want to look at e-cigs because, like razors, e-cigs have this model where not only do you need the e-cigarette, which is a pretty expensive item to begin with, you also need the refills. There’s lots of opportunities for these flavor refills and lots of follow-on products in this market.
It’s an affiliate marketing podcast, I think e-cigs are an interesting affiliate opportunity, and you might throw that into your Google Keyword planner – or if you use Keyword Canine like I do, you might throw in electronic cigarettes, e-cigs, and some other keywords that come to mind into the Keyword Explorer in Keyword Canine and see what you come up with.
I think you’ll be surprised at how many people are searching for e-cigarettes, it’s really growing quite quickly. In fact, when you do fire up Keyword Canine and you look at the keywords around electronic cigarettes, just the initial search turns up over 400 keywords, the biggest one being of course “electronic cigarettes” with 110,000 exact match searches per month. That’s a good healthy market.
There are other things that I like about e-cigarettes as a niche from an affiliate market standpoint. One of them is that there are lots of keywords and there’s good volume, but the other thing is that there are lots of specific name brands that you could target. If you have particular products that’s where you can find a lot of these keywords with commercial intent, as we’ve talked about before. Keywords like “buy V2 brand electronic cigarettes.” There are also lots of review rich keywords, like “best electronic cigarettes.” So there is lots of opportunity here.
Here’s the big takeaway that I want to have from this. I don’t mean to say that I have done extensive research on e-cigs and you should go out and build a website on e-cigs, but I do mean to say this. You can be walking in the mall and see a kiosk about something that interests you and you can write a note down about that in your iPhone.
Then you can come home that night and do 30 minutes of research using a sophisticated tool like Keyword Canine and make a decision about whether or not it makes sense to attack that niche, and you can identify some keywords to go attack. You can buy a domain name that night, get hosting and WordPress up and running that night, and order content, like we talked about last week, that night. All in the same day.
If you want to test working on something like e-cigs based on some idea you had in a mall, you can do that and tonight you could have a website up and running, content ordered, and some keywords in mind ready to go. Of course, there is going to be a lot of work to do after that. You’re going to need to post the content, you’re going to need to go find an affiliate program, you’re going to need to write more content and build links.
I’m not suggesting that you’re going to work for 30 minutes and make money. I’m just saying if you’re one of those people out there who can’t decide what to do, don’t know where to start, really want to build a website but you’ve never done it before and you just can’t decide what to do because you can’t pick a niche, don’t worry about it. Go find something that you’re interested in, use a tool like Keyword Canine or Long Tail Pro to analyze the keywords, pick something that seems reasonable, and get started.
Getting started is most of the battle. I think the e-cigarette example shows that it’s really to get started, you can find most of the information you need right on the homepage of LateNightIM.com. Of course, if you have questions about getting started with your very first website, you can find me on the Facebook page and post them there, I’ll do my very best to help you.
Rankings Institute: Broken Links Could Be Hurting Your Site Rankings
As I promised, one of the things that I’m going to try to do for the next six or seven weeks is every weeks of the Rankings Institute course, which I’m currently enrolled in, I’m going to pick the most important thing that Andrew and Alex have to say, the most impactful thing that I can reveal to you that doesn’t somehow violate the confidence or relationship that I have with Andrew or give secret parts of the course away.
I don’t want to give you the impression that this course is all about secret magic tricks, it’s not. In fact, most of the stuff that Alex and Andrew talk about is known in pieces in some places – not all of it, but a good deal of it is good solid fundamental white hat SEO stuff that has been known for a long time. The interesting thing about it is Alex has enough data to know which of those things are actually working right now and which aren’t.
One of the things that is important right now with Panda is user experience on sites. We know that and Google has told us that. One of those measures is broken links on your site. You may surprised to find out exactly how many broken links you have on your site. If you have them, it is almost certain that Google is penalizing you in some way for those broken links.
Google’s thinking on this is well maintained, well taken care of sites that provide a good experience for the user don’t have broken links. Why? Because if a user goes to your site and is looking for information, clicks on a link, and that link is broken, that user is going to be disappointed in that experience and ultimately disappointed at Google for sending them to your site.
So one of the things Google can do is crawl your entire site, which they do, and they can determine of all the links that you have on your site, either pointing internally or pointing externally, how many of them are broken. As I’ve said, this is not anything new. We’ve known for a long time that Google is paying attention to broken links. One of the ways we know is that if you register your site in Webmaster Tools, which I recommend, then Google will tell you under the Crawl Results section in Google Webmaster Tools how many broken links they have observed.
Why are they tracking those? The evidence seems to indicate they’re tracking them because they’re using in the Panda algorithm or in related algorithms that assign a quality score to your site. Those tell Google that in the event they think your site is a great site with lots of backlinks pointing it and they think that they should return the site in the search results, there are some other things that they’re checking that have to do with the site quality, and one of them is broken links.
My recommendation to you, and my takeaway from Rankings Institute course week two that I can share with you, is you should check the broken links on your site. The first thing you should check are the broken links that are reported in Google Webmaster Tools. That’s just the first place you should check, because it depends on whether or not your site is being crawled well by Google, which is another part of the Rankings Institute course that teaches you all about crawling and how to optimize the part of your site that Google sees for the way that they want it to be seen. Assuming your site is being crawled well, you’ll see most of your broken links. But if it’s not, you might want to use some other tools to check.
There are a couple of tools that I can recommend in addition to the Google Webmaster Tools interface. There’s a really good plugin for WordPress called Broken Link Checker. It’s really easy to find if you go into WordPress and click Add Plugins and type in Broken Link Checker, it’s going to be at the top of the list. This will run in the background as a CRON job and crawl your site periodically and identify broken links and links as they break.
You might think, “I’m pretty careful about my links, I never create broken links.” I’ll tell you what happened, I thought the same thing. I ran some broken link checking on the LateNightIM.com site after Alex pointed this out to me and I found over 400 broken links. They were due to causes that I never even imagined in most cases.
One cause was that when I had migrated the website to the new server to improve the site speed – this is going to get kind of technical here – I changed from the Apache web server to a new more recent web server called EngineX. The implementation that was done with EngineX by my developer there was a small error in the implementation and any URL with the phrase PHP in it was not being served.
So I had all of these URLs and links for PHPbay and PHPauction and all that stuff that I’ve talked about many times, the thing that runs the Corn Sheller site, they were all broken, they weren’t working. That 404 error not only identified broken links that I know Google didn’t like, it also identified broken affiliate links, which is really important, as you might imagine. That was one source of link errors.
The biggest source of link errors by far were user comments, sometimes from years ago, where either someone had left a link to their website in their comment profile or they had made reference to some link in the comments which I had left in because at the time it was a helpful link, and that link was broken. So it wasn’t my content that was broken, it was the user generated content on my site. That was something that I had never really thought about, I certainly didn’t think about managing that. But from Google’s point of view those are just links that are on your site that are pointing to stuff that doesn’t exist, so it’s important to go through those one by one. The Broken Link Checker tool will help you identify those and you can knock them out one by one. Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the WordPress admin interface to get that done because of the way the Broken Link Checker plugin works.
The other thing that I think you should do is in addition to Google Webmaster Tools, in addition to the plugin inside of WordPress, or in the case where you’re not running WordPress, I recommend you use an external plugin to find broken links. There are paid websites that you can use, like LinkTiger.
I don’t like to pay for stuff I don’t have to pay for, probably like a lot of you, so I use an excellent program for the Mac called Integrity. If you’re running a Mac, I definitely recommend that you check out this program called Integrity. There is another program for PCs that is very popular. There’s an open source one on GetHub and there’s also a popular one like Integrity. I can’t remember the name of it and I wasn’t able to find it easily, but I’m sure if you Google around you will either find that program or get upset with your PC and buy a Mac.
(Just kidding, I’m not one of those Mac-zealot people. I do love my Mac, but I’m not going to judge you for using an inferior computer. I’m kidding. Don’t email me, I’m kidding.)
I recommend that you look at Google Webmaster Tools, you use the Broken Link Checker, and you use an external tool like Integrity to analyze your site for broken links. I recommend that you work to remove each and every broken link on your site.
What impact will that have with Google? Well, it will remove one of the problems in a long list of things that Google checks that may cause Google to penalize your site. I am not saying that if you remove broken links that you will immediately shoot up to the top for whatever you’re trying to rank for. I am saying that there is a list of things that Google looks at when they’re trying to decide how to rank your site, you should fix everything in that list of things that Google cares about. Broken links are one of the things that we know they care about, so you should put that on your list of things to do, check it periodically and make sure that you don’t have broken links on your site. You don’t want to give Google any excuses when it comes to pushing your site down in the rankings.
If you like that information and you’re interested in that kind of information, I definitely recommend that you head over to the Rankings Institute website to sign up for the mailing list. When Andrew re-launches that usually he sends out some pretty good helpful information in the form of webinars, reports, and other kinds of stuff that are useful. Even if you don’t buy the Rankings Institute course when it re-releases in the future, my honest opinion is that you’ll benefit from being on Andrew’s list. He doesn’t mail to it that much and those prelaunch lists are usually chock full of helpful information. I definitely recommend that you head over to http://lnim.co/ri and tell him Mark sent you.
Listener Q&A: Adsense and Affiliate Offers
Speaking of Facebook and the Facebook fan page, I wanted to make an apology to one of the listeners; Paul. Back in January Paul dropped me a note and it got buried in the Facebook stream and I missed it. I apologize, Paul.
He was asking a really good question about affiliate marketing. He’s interested in doing some affiliate marketing in a particular niche that has a really high ad value, a really high price per click, and wants to know if he should do affiliate marketing or Adsense, or both. How do I decide whether to do Adsense or affiliate marketing?
There are no specific rules, but I’ll tell you the way that I usually think about it and explain to people when you’re trying to decide whether to do affiliate marketing or Adsense. Let’s be specific about this, in every case what we’re talking about is creating content, people finding that content in the search engines, and then you converting their visit to your website into a click to a product and a sale or a click to an Adsense ad, that’s what we’re talking about.
In the case of affiliate marketing and trying to decide what to do, I usually recommend that you target products with affiliate marketing if your site is going to be about solving a problem with a particular product. For example, if you’re curing psoriasis or solving someone’s automobile problem with a gadget that you need to sell, if there is something that what’s really in your mind for your ideal visitor is that they will convert to a product to solve a problem, then I recommend that you go ahead and do affiliate marketing for that.
Usually the commissions that you’ll get that you’ll get with the person purchasing the product directly through your affiliate link are going to be higher than the money that you make with Google Adsense. If they first click the Google ad, you get paid, then they go to find some product that they were looking for and buy it. Usually you will be able to make more money if you directly target the keywords and they buy from your site. This is worth testing.
The times that I would use Adsense and almost never use affiliate marketing is when you’re targeting something that is informational. If you’re in a niche and it’s “10 Tips on How to Buy Real Estate,” for example, those aren’t product keywords so Adsense is where you want to go.
The question always comes up of should you mix them? My generally response is no. You should decide what you’re going to do. If you’re going to promote the product, you should build a website around that product, create content that answers people’s questions about that product and drives them back to the product every time. You shouldn’t drive them off your page with Adsense.
I will tell you also that when you create a content website with Adsense your bounce rates will go up, because obviously you’re driving people off the site with the Adsense click as quickly as possible. In fact, that’s your goal. You’re going to put the Adsense ad at the top of the content before they’ve even read the content, you’re not preselling them or anything, you just want that click, so your bounce rates are going to go up. That’s going to make your website harder to rank, because Google as part of their quality scoring is going to see the higher bounce rate. That’s not the only thing they look at, but that doesn’t help.
The only time I like to use Adsense is when it’s just a purely informational site, there’s no real product involved. In particular niches what’s going to matter is details of the particular offer that you’re going after; what’s the conversion rate, does the ad really convert, does it convert better than the Adsense ad, and what’s the conversion rate of the affiliate sales page. There are lots of things that play in here, but typically I don’t recommend that people mix these because all you’re doing is diluting your opportunity to get that better affiliate sale.
Having said that, the caveat is you have to test. The truth of the matter is since I already have an opinion on this I don’t test it very often. What I can tell you though, is that people I know, like, and trust that do this stuff all the time also say the same thing, they say don’t mix these, you’re either doing one or the other, and usually the best thing to do is affiliate marketing.
Now, another caveat to this. This doesn’t sound like what Paul had in mind, but if you’re going to create 100 sites then Adsense can be beneficial because adding Adsense to a site is very straightforward – boom, you’re done. Adding affiliate offers to a site takes more work – you have to register for the affiliate program, find the affiliate link, embed it contextually in your content, at least that’s a best practice that you need to be doing, install banner ads, maybe split test the banner ads.
There’s all this kind of stuff for affiliate marketing that if you do Adsense you don’t have to worry about all that, you just put the Adsense ads up and maybe you might change the ad size or the link color, but most of those things are known what converts the best, so Adsense is easier. If you’re trying to scale 100 sites or 1,000 sites, then Adsense can make sense for that reason.
Paul, I hope that helps you out. I’m sorry that I didn’t get an answer to you more quickly. If you have further questions, you can sure put them in the comments at http://www.latenightim.com/lnim073-broken-links-killing-seo/
Wrapping Things Up…
That about wraps it up for me today. I have a couple more days of meetings here in Kuala Lumpur and then I am on a plane back to Dallas through Taiwan and headed back over the big water. I’ll be back in Dallas next week, looking forward to that, and I’ll have another episode of the podcast for you then and I look forward to talking to you.
Pretty soon here I’m going to be doing a user question episode, a whole episode of user questions. If you have questions, go over to LateNightPodcast.com and you can leave your question there. I’d love to hear from you, I’d love to play your voice on the show, answer your question, plug your website. If you have a question, let me know. You can also leave me a voice mail on the listener feedback hotline at 214-444-8655.
Thank you very much. I’ll talk to you soon.