Tips For Affiliate Marketing – Make Money Easy At Home

 
 

It seems these days all the buzz is about the economy and the lack of jobs. With a worldwide recession that has lasted for a couple years now, more and more people are being forced to find new sources of income.

For many the internet is the most obvious solution because there are programs that don’t require a lot of money or technical expertise to get started. One of these programs is called affiliate marketing.

This article will provide some tips for affiliate marketing and how you can make money easy at home.

The beauty with this method is, not only do you NOT need a pocket full of money or to be a computer geek to get started, you don’t need to have your own product either. You simply sell someone else’s product or service and receive a commission for doing so.

You can make some decent money if your willing to do the work. When done properly you can make residual income from your efforts. So you keep getting paid over and over again from work you’ve already done.

When picking a product to sell, choose carefully as there are a ton of products to pick from. The idea is to sell a lot of quantity, so make sure there is a demand for your product. Remember this, people are looking for a product that solves a problem they have.

Bottom line is pick something that has a demand and make sure you have some knowledge about your product. If you aren’t familiar with it, then take the time to learn everything you can about it.

You can market your product several different ways:

Website….. create your own website and have a landing page with your affiliate link on it, or set it up to redirect to your product sales page.

Blog….. You can create a blog with blogger or WordPress. It’s free and will give you a webpage with your link on it and a unique web address.

Email – Newsletter….. If you have a list already, then you can send out a newsletter via e-mail to your list with your affiliate link on it. You could also do an ad broadcast via e-mail as well.

PPC Ad….. Set up an account with Google AdWords along with an ad and bid on some keywords. This is known as paid advertising. I would not recommend this method if you are new to affiliate marketing.

Most folks starting out don’t have a lot of money to throw at their online business. If that’s your situation don’t worry, because you’ll be able to drive traffic to your website, blog, or sales page for free.

Once you have decided on what market or niche to pursue, and determined whether to set up your own website or start with a blog, it’s all about traffic.

In tips for affiliate Marketing and how to make money easy at home we’ll mention a few of the free traffic methods. Again, if you are new to this biz, there is no need to be throwing loads of money into it.

Free Traffic Methods…..

Article Marketing….. simply write some quality content and submit it to some of the article marketing directories. Make sure the content is relevant to the title of your article and be 300 to 500 words in length.

Forums….. Find some forums relevant to your product. You can go to Google, type in your keyword followed by forum, and you’ll have many to choose from. Simply go to these forums and reply to other members threads and leave your affiliate link at the bottom.

Yahoo Answers….. Like the forum method, go to yahoo answers and search for questions members have posted that your product could help. Write good answers to these questions and once again leave your affiliate link.

E-Mail Signatures….. If you e-mail a lot, this is a good method. Here you simply go into your e-mail account and configure your e-mail signature. It could be your name, a link, or even an image. Every time you send an e-mail the recipient could see your signature link at the bottom and potentially click on it.

There are tons of effective traffic methods you can use. My suggestion is to pick 2 maybe 3 you like and stick with them. It’s not possible to use them all!

If you are wondering if it’s to late to get into the internet business world, the answer is NO. The internet is still a baby. At the present time internet traffic doubles every 100 days, so it’s just getting warmed up.

If you are like many people who are being forced to invent new ways of income, marketing online could very well be the answer. I hope these tips for affiliate marketing help you. If you’re willing to do the work, you really can make money easy at home!

Protecting Your Search Engine Rankings

 
 

Your website’s ranking on search engines is a vital element of your overall marketing campaign, and there are ways to improve your link popularity through legitimate methods. Unfortunately, the Internet is populated by bands of dishonest webmasters seeking to improve their link popularity by faking out search engines. The good news is that search engines have figured this out, and are now on guard for “spam” pages and sites that have increased their rankings by artificial methods. When a search engines tracks down such a site, that site is demoted in ranking or completely removed from the search engine’s index.

The bad news is that some high quality, completely above-board sites are being mistaken for these web page criminals. Your page may be in danger of being caught up in the “spam” net and tossed from a search engine’s index, even though you have done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment. But there are things you can do – and things you should be sure NOT to do – which will prevent this kind of misperception. Link popularity is mostly based on the quality of sites you are linked to. Google pioneered this criteria for assigning website ranking, and virtually all search engines on the Internet now use it. There are legitimate ways to go about increasing your link popularity, but at the same time, you must be scrupulously careful about which sites you choose to link to. Google frequently imposes penalties on sites that have linked to other sites solely for the purpose of artificially boosting their link popularity. They have actually labeled these links “bad neighborhoods.”

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You can raise a toast to the fact that you cannot be penalized when a bad neighborhood links to your site; penalty happens only when you are the one sending out the link to a bad neighborhood. But you must check, and double-check, all the links that are active on your links page to make sure you haven’t linked to a bad neighborhood. The first thing to check out is whether or not the pages you have linked to have been penalized. The most direct way to do this is to download the Google toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com. You will then see that most pages are given a “Pagerank” which is represented by a sliding green scale on the Google toolbar.

Do not link to any site that shows no green at all on the scale. This is especially important when the scale is completely gray. It is more than likely that these pages have been penalized. If you are linked to these pages, you may catch their penalty, and like the flu, it may be difficult to recover from the infection. There is no need to be afraid of linking to sites whose scale shows only a tiny sliver of green on their scale. These sites have not been penalized, and their links may grow in value and popularity. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kind of links to ascertain that at some point they do not sustain a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.

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Another evil trick that illicit webmasters use to artificially boost their link popularity is the use of hidden text. Search engines usually use the words on web pages as a factor in forming their rankings, which means that if the text on your page contains your keywords, you have more of an opportunity to increase your search engine ranking than a page that does not contain text inclusive of keywords. Some webmasters have gotten around this formula by hiding their keywords in such a way so that they are invisible to any visitors to their site. For example, they have used the keywords but made them the same color as the background color of the page, such as a plethora of white keywords on a white background. You cannot see these words with the human eye – but the eye of search engine spider can spot them easily! A spider is the program search engines use to index web pages, and when it sees these invisible words, it goes back and boosts that page’s link ranking.

Webmasters may be brilliant and sometimes devious, but search engines have figured these tricks out. As soon as a search engine perceive the use of hidden text – splat! the page is penalized. The downside of this is that sometimes the spider is a bit overzealous and will penalize a page by mistake. For example, if the background color of your page is gray, and you have placed gray text inside a black box, the spider will only take note of the gray text and assume you are employing hidden text. To avoid any risk of false penalty, simply direct your webmaster not to assign the same color to text as the background color of the page – ever!

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Another potential problem that can result in a penalty is called “keyword stuffing.” It is important to have your keywords appear in the text on your page, but sometimes you can go a little overboard in your enthusiasm to please those spiders. A search engine uses what is called “Keyphrase Density” to determine if a site is trying to artificially boost their ranking. This is the ratio of keywords to the rest of the words on the page. Search engines assign a limit to the number of times you can use a keyword before it decides you have overdone it and penalizes your site. This ratio is quite high, so it is difficult to surpass without sounding as if you are stuttering – unless your keyword is part of your company name. If this is the case, it is easy for keyword density to soar. So, if your keyword is “renters insurance,” be sure you don’t use this phrase in every sentence. Carefully edit the text on your site so that the copy flows naturally and the keyword is not repeated incessantly. A good rule of thumb is your keyword should never appear in more than half the sentences on the page.

The final potential risk factor is known as “cloaking.” To those of you who are diligent Trekkies, this concept should be easy to understand. For the rest of you, cloaking is when the server directs a visitor to one page and a search engine spider to a different page. The page the spider sees is “cloaked” because it is invisible to regular traffic, and deliberately set-up to raise the site’s search engine ranking. A cloaked page tries to feed the spider everything it needs to rocket that page’s ranking to the top of the list. It is natural that search engines have responded to this act of deception with extreme enmity, imposing steep penalties on these sites. The problem on your end is that sometimes pages are cloaked for legitimate reasons, such as prevention against the theft of code, often referred to as “pagejacking.” This kind of shielding is unnecessary these days due to the use of “off page” elements, such as link popularity, that cannot be stolen.

To be on the safe side, be sure that your webmaster is aware that absolutely no cloaking is acceptable. Make sure the webmaster understands that cloaking of any kind will put your website at great risk. Just as you must be diligent in increasing your link popularity and your ranking, you must be equally diligent to avoid being unfairly penalized. So be sure to monitor your site closely and avoid any appearance of artificially boosting your rankings.

Evaluating Web Site Performance

 
 

Setting up a website is the very first step of an Internet marketing campaign, and the success or failure of your site depends greatly on how specifically you have defined your website goals. If you don’t know what you want your site to accomplish, it will most likely fail to accomplish anything. Without goals to guide you in developing and monitoring your website, all your site will be is an online announcement that you are in business. If you expect your site to stimulate some form of action, whether it is visitors filling out a form so a representative can contact them, or purchasing a product, there are steps you can take to insure that your website is functioning at peak efficiency. One of the first indicators of how well your site is working for you is finding out the number of visitors in a given period of time. A good baseline measurement is a month in which you haven’t been doing any unusual offline promotional activities.

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However, just because hoards of people have passed through your gates does not mean your site is successful. Usually, you want those visitors to actually do something there. It is equally important to monitor the number of visitors to your site who made a purchase. This figure is called the site conversion rate, and it is an essential element of the efficacy of your website. To find the site conversion rate, take the number of visitors per month and figure out the percentage of them that actually performed the action your site is set up for. For example, if you had 2,000 hits to your site, but only 25 of them purchased your product, your site conversion rate equals 1.25%. To get this figure, take your number of visitors and divide that figure by the number of visitors who made a purchase. Then divide that result by 100 (25 ?00 X 100).

If your website is set-up to get visitors to fill out a form, make sure to then figure out what the difference is between your site conversion rate and your sales conversion rate. This is because not everyone who fills out your form will actually become your customer. However, whether your site is set-up to sell a service or product, or to get the visitor to fill out a form, the site conversion rate will measure the success or failure of your website whenever you make changes to the site.

You may find that you need to implement some additional marketing strategies if you find that traffic to your site is extremely low. There are several effective methods to improve the flow of traffic to your website, particularly launching a search engine optimization campaign. This campaign is targeted at increasing your position in search engine results so that consumers can find your pages faster and easier. You can either research the steps you need to take to improve your search engine rankings, or employ a search engine optimization company to do the work for you. In either case, after your have improved your search engine positions, make sure you keep on top of them by regular monitoring and adjusting of your efforts to maintain high positions. Another factor to examine is how easy it is for a visitor to your website to accomplish the action the site is set-up for. For example, if your goal is for the visitor to fill out a form, is this form easily accessible, or does the visitor have to go through four levels to get to it? If it’s too difficult to get to, the customer may just throw in the towel and move on to another site. Make sure your buttons are highly visible, and the path to your form or ordering page quickly accessible.

Finally, have a professional evaluate the copy on your website. The goal is, of course, to get your visitor to make a purchase or fill out your form. Website copy must be specifically geared to your online campaign and not just a cut and paste job from your company brochure. The right copy can make the difference between profit and loss in your online campaign.

Monitoring Search Engine Positions

 
 

Since search engines are the first stop for people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in search results is an important factor. If your URL shows up far down the results list, the chances of the consumer never finding you increase incrementally. Once you achieve a high search engine position, it is essential that you make sure you maintain the high ranking you have worked so hard to achieve. This means you must come up with a strategy to monitor your search engines positions. This strategy is crucial to the success of any marketing campaign. Think of your search engine positions as your online portfolio. Would you let your stock portfolio be ruled by chance and market fluctuations, or would you keep close tabs on your stocks so you could buy and sell when the time is right? This is the way you must consider your search engines positions.

Be aware that at first, after you have launched your search engine campaign and done all the right things to increase your rankings, you will most likely see a continual upward climb. What you need to be on the lookout for is the moment that upward climb reaches a plateau. When this happens, your search engine position campaign moves into stage two, the monitoring and protecting stage. In stage two, do not be concerned about the short-term fluctuations in your positions. These are similar to the subtle rising and falling of stocks in a portfolio. Short-term movement is an integral part of the whole process. It’s the long-term changes that you must watch for and prepare to act on immediately.

Analyzing the long-term trends of search engines positions is imperative. The way in which search engines rank websites may change at the drop of hat. If you are unaware of these changes – many of which are subtle yet can be deadly to your ranking – your position may drop to the bottom of the list before you can get your bearings. To prevent this kind of precipitous drop, you must create a system to monitor your positions on a monthly basis. Devise a chart to keep tabs on your top ranking positions or your top pages, and make sure to watch “the market” closely. Each search engine uses a formula to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this formula in any way, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different formulas, rotating them so that a formula doesn’t become overused or outdated. Depending on which formula is being applied, your search engine position may suddenly drop or rise in rank significantly. Therefore, you must check your positions frequently in order to catch when a search engine changes formulas and what effect it has on your positions.

You must also deal with your competition – a crucial factor you must always be vigilant about. Your competitor’s position may suddenly rise, automatically lowering your position. Or their position may drop, pushing your position higher. Each month, expect position changes due to the continual changes that are occurring in your competitor’s position, and be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to compensate for decreased rankings. Monitoring these fluctuations will also give you vital information about how to improve your website to increase your position in search results. Of course, you must discern what the most popular search engines are in order for your monitoring efforts to be effective. Right now, there are ten popular search engines that direct most of Internet traffic to your sites. The challenge you face is that these top ten may change from month to month.

This means that your must not only monitor your search engine positions, but you must also keep track of the ranking popularity of the search engines you are monitoring. Find out which search engines people use most frequently every month and be sure to live in the present! People are fickle about their favorite search engines, and it takes constant vigilance to follow their dalliances. The search engines they loved when you first launched your campaign may be old news in the next few months. You must adjust your list of engines according to the whims of the Internet users. Check out http://www.searchenginewatch.com/reports/netratings.html for a current list of website favorites. Another factor to monitor carefully is a sudden drop of your positions in all search engines. This is not the same as monthly fluctuations – this is a neon red warning sign! It could mean a number of different things.

It all your search engine positions have plummeted, it may indicate that search engines spiders – those sneaky programs that seek out your site and rank their positions – have found some type of problem with your website. If you have recently changed the code, for instance, the spider may become utterly confused and consequently drop your positions disastrously. If a spider creeps up on your website when it is down for adjustments or changes, you may actually disappear from a search engine index entirely. Or a search engine may drastically change its formula, and suddenly all of your website come up as irrelevant. If that search engine is a current favorite, it may create a domino effect, causing all of your position to drop in all search engines. Some search engines rely on the results from other search engines, and it is vital that you know which engines these are and keep track of all the engines they influence. The biggest problem here is that search engines will sometimes change affiliations, and this can create a major shift in the geography of the Internet. For example, recently Yahoo decided to display only results gleaned from Google. So you must not only monitor your own positions, but you must keep abreast of seismic shifts in the landscape of the Internet as a whole.

Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation bricks of the entire search engine system, and they demand individual scrutiny in your monitoring efforts. If you have found that a number of your positions have plummeted, it may mean that a page of your website has become invisible or inaccessible to search engine spiders. Or the competition for that particular keyword or phrase has recently rocketed into outer space. In either case, you must act quickly and efficiently to regain lost ground. Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. If costs you time and money on a continual basis. Protect this investment as diligently as you would your financial portfolio. In the same way, track your positions from an objective perspective, and monitor your positions on a regular basis. Make sure your time and effort reap rewards by keeping your eye on the big picture – your long-term marketing campaign.

Analyzing Website Traffic

 
 

Analyzing your web traffic statistics can be an invaluable tool for a number of different reasons. But before you can make full use of this tool, you need to understand how to interpret the data. Most web hosting companies will provide you with basic web traffic information that you then have to interpret and make pertinent use of. However, the data you receive from your host company can be overwhelming if you don’t understand how to apply it to your particular business and website. Let’s start by examining the most basic data – the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

These figures are the most accurate measure of your website’s activity. It would appear on the surface that the more traffic you see recorded, the better you can assume your website is doing, but this is an inaccurate perception. You must also look at the behavior of your visitors once they come to your website to accurately gauge the effectiveness of your site. There is often a great misconception about what is commonly known as “hits” and what is really effective, quality traffic to your site. Hits simply means the number of information requests received by the server. If you think about the fact that a hit can simply equate to the number of graphics per page, you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can be. For example, if your homepage has 15 graphics on it, the server records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talking about a single visitor checking out a single page on your site. As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your website traffic.

The more visitors that come to your website, the more accurate your interpretation will become. The greater the traffic is to your website, the more precise your analysis will be of overall trends in visitor behavior. The smaller the number of visitors, the more a few anomalous visitors can distort the analysis. The aim is to use the web traffic statistics to figure out how well or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. One way to determine this is to find out how long on average your visitors spend on your site. If the time spent is relatively brief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. Then the challenge is to figure out what that problem is.

It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type of visitors to your website, or that your graphics are confusing or intimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use the knowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site to pinpoint specific problems, and after you fix those problems, continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fix has been.

Additionally, web traffic stats can help you determine effective and ineffective areas of your website. If you have a page that you believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, that page needs attention. You could, for example, consider improving the link to this page by making the link more noticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of the page or the ease that your visitors can access the necessary information on that page. If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending a lot of time on pages that you think are less important, you might consider moving some of your sales copy and marketing focus to that particular page. As you can see, these statistics will reveal vital information about the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habits and motivation. This is essential information to any successful Internet marketing campaign.

Your website undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final order or contact form. This is a page you can expect your visitor to exit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is going to find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics may show you a number of different exit pages. This is normal unless you notice a exit trend on a particular page that is not intended as an exit page. In the case that a significant percentage of visitors are exiting your website on a page not designed for that purpose, you must closely examine that particular page to discern what the problem is. Once you pinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor modifications in content or graphic may have a significant impact on the keeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting at the wrong page.

After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, it’s time to turn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywords are directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The more targeted the visitor – meaning that they find what they are looking for on your site, and even better, fill out your contact form or make a purchase – the more valuable that keyword is. However, if you find a large number of visitors are being directed – or should I say misdirected – to your site by a particular keyword or phrase, that keyword demands adjustment. Keywords are vital to bringing quality visitors to your site who are ready to do business with you. Close analysis of the keywords your visitors are using to find your site will give you a vital understanding of your visitor’s needs and motivations.

Finally, if you notice that users are finding your website by typing in your company name, break open the champagne! It means you have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, and this is a sure sign of burgeoning success.

Paid URL Inclusion

 
 

There are many ways to promote your website and one of the most efficient ways is to use search engines. Search engines are the first stop for most people trying to find information, services, and products online. Because of this, it is essential that your website appears quickly in search results. The Internet contains numerous search engines, some of which offer what is known as “paid inclusion.” This means that you pay the specific search engine an annual fee for your web page to be included in their index.

Of course, every search engine already has an automated program commonly called a “spider” that indexes all the web pages it locates online, and it does this for free. So whether you pay or not, your web page will eventually be indexed by all Internet search engines, as long as the spider can follow a link to your page. The major issue is, then, how quickly your page is indexed. A search engine that offers a paid URL inclusion uses an extra spider that is programmed to index the particular pages that have been paid for. The difference between the spider that indexes pages for free and the spider that indexes only pages for a fee is speed. If you have paid for inclusion, the additional search engine spider will index your page immediately.

The debate over paid URL inclusion centers around the annual fee. Since the regular spider of these search engines would eventually get around to indexing your web page anyway, why is a renewal fee necessary? The fee is necessary to keep your pages in the search engine’s index. If you go the route of paid inclusion, you should be aware that at the end of the pay period, on some search engines, your page will be removed from their index for a certain amount of time. It’s easy to get confused about whether you would benefit from paid inclusion since the spider of any search engine will eventually index your page without the additional cost. There are both advantages and disadvantages to paid URL inclusion, and it is only by weighing your pros and cons that you will be able to decide whether to spring for the extra cash or not.

The advantages are obvious: rapid inclusion and rapid re-indexing. Paid inclusion means that your pages will be indexed quickly and added to search results in a very short time after you have paid the fee. The time difference between when the regular spider will index your pages and when the paid spider will is a matter of months. The spider for paid inclusion usually indexes your pages in a day or two. Be aware that if you have no incoming links to your pages, the regular spider will never locate them at all.

Additionally, paid inclusion spiders will go back to your pages often, sometimes even daily. The advantage of this is that you can update your pages constantly to improve the ranking in which they appear in search engines, and the paid URL inclusion spider will show that result in a matter of days. First and foremost, the disadvantage is the cost. For a ten page website, the costs of paid URL inclusion range from $170 for Fast/Lycos to $600 for Altavista, and you have to pay each engine their annual fee. How relevant the cost factor is will depend on your company.

Another, and perhaps more important, disadvantage is the limited reach of paid URL inclusions. The largest search engines, Google, Yahoo, and AOL, do not offer paid URL inclusion. That means that the search engines you choose to pay an inclusion fee will amount to a small fraction of the traffic to your site on a daily basis. Google usually updates its index every month, and there is no way you can speed up this process. You will have to wait for the Google spider to index your new pages no matter how many other search engines you have paid to update their index daily. Be aware that it is only after Google updates their index that your pages will show up in Google, Yahoo, or AOL results.

One way to figure out whether paid URL inclusion is a good deal for your company is to consider some common factors. First, find out if search engines have already indexed your pages. To do this, you may have to enter a number of different keywords, but the quickest way to find out is to enter your URL address in quotes. If your pages appear when you enter the URL address but do not appear when you enter keywords, using paid inclusion will not be beneficial. This is because your pages have already been indexed and ranked by the regular spider. If this is the case, your money would be better spent by updating your pages to improve your ranking in search results. Once you accomplish this, you can then consider using paid inclusion if you want to speed up the time it will take for the regular spider to revisit your pages.

The most important factor in deciding whether to use paid URL inclusion is to decide if it’s a good investment. To figure this out, you have to look at the overall picture: what kind of product or service are you selling and how much traffic are you dependent on to see a profit? If your company sells an inexpensive product that requires a large volume of traffic to your site, paid inclusion may not be the best investment for you; the biggest search engines do not offer it, and they are the engines that will bring you the majority of hits. On the other hand, if you have a business that offers an expensive service or product and requires a certain quality of traffic to your site, a paid URL inclusion is most likely an excellent investment.

Another factor is whether or not your pages are updated frequently. If the content changes on a daily or weekly basis, paid inclusion will insure that your new pages are indexed often and quickly. The new content is indexed by the paid spider and then appears when new relevant keywords are entered in the search engines. Using paid inclusion in this case will guarantee that your pages are being indexed in a timely manner. You should also base your decision on whether or not your pages are dynamically generated. These types of pages are often difficult for regular spiders to locate and index. Paying to include the most important pages of a dynamically generated website will insure that the paid spider will index them.

Sometimes a regular spider will drop pages from its search engine, although these pages usually reappear in a few months. There are a number of reasons why this can happen, but by using paid URL inclusion, you will avoid the possibility. Paid URL inclusion guarantees that your pages are indexed, and if they are inadvertently dropped, the search engine will be on the lookout to locate them immediately. As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider when it comes to paid URL inclusion. It can be a valuable investment depending on your situation. Evaluate your business needs and your website to determine if paid URL inclusion is a wise investment for your business goals.