Funny thing about search engines and the way we as Internet Marketers look at them in terms of their ability to generate targeted traffic to our websites from which we make our income, via affiliate commissions or PPC or whatever other monetization methods we use. For the last decade or so, Google has been the main engine in that it provides the bulk of all search traffic. It’s the Big I Am of search engines and we do what we have to do (using SEO) to get our sites to figure as high in their index as we can to take our slice of that traffic pie.

Google are the biggest mainly because regular surfers prefer it and that’s because it is unfussy and free of all those annoying ads that other search engines seem to plaster everywhere to confuse your search experience. At least that’s how it used to be. Not so these days as more and more advertising is creeping onto that first page of the index. Some are in the form of paid text ads, which have always been there to some degree or other, but lately more of the shopping type of ads that take a slot in the actual website index. For affiliate marketers, these are the kiss of death because regular surfers will click these if they are searching for a product to buy in preference to our websites that also promote the same products.

Was a time when all we had to do was compete with other affiliate websites doing the same thing. Now we have to compete with Google itself. And we a all losing.

But don’t despair, because historically, we can see where their very success will also be their downfall.

Back in the 1990s, when the world wide web was still in its infancy and e-commerce was only just getting going in a big way, Yahoo used to be the Big I Am search engine. They’re above fold search page looked more like an advertiser’s paradise. Nevertheless, the owners of Yahoo made truckloads of money from all this advertising and all was well in their garden.

Internet marketers were few and far between and of course there were no affiliate programs or PPC to make money from in those days at least until Amazon appeared, so marketers made money from selling real stuff to consumers. They soon learned that you could game Yahoo’s index using on-site SEO tactics like spamming your keyword meta tags (amongst other tricks) and your site would rise to the top of the pile. All was well in the e-commerce garden too.

At the end of the decade, Google came along with their simple, almost ad-less engine and everybody started using it cause they liked NOT seeing all those ads. Yahoo’s happy harmonious garden died a slow and painful death as Google’s garden grew. Internet marketers had to learn new tricks to feature their sites high in Google’s index, but they soon figured out how to do that and made truckloads of money, especially the new breed of IMer who was making use of the new affiliate sales technique that Amazon started off. Of course, in order to maintain their supremacy, Google now had to wage war on spammers who were deluging their index with crap sites full of affiliate and other ad links and no content. The “algo”, Google’s search indexing algorithm was born and it has been a constant battle between the algo programmers and the spammers (and also the Internet marketers who don’t use spamming tactics) to keep the index as clean as possible of all the dross. lately, Google’s algo is winning and thin sites are losing the battle to big, authority sites.

Of course, we all know most of this and this was just a little history lesson for those marketers who thing the world is flat and there has only ever been Google. But wait, because there is a new twist to this saga.

Google is fast becoming the New Yahoo.

Why do I say that? Because Google is adding ever more complicating extras to its once simple search index pages. It is also adding more advertising. There has always been the few text ads down the right column, but more recently the top area of the page has contained paid text ads that look similar to the search results. they are designed that way o entice would be surfers to click these ads thinking they are clicking on real websites that have been placed at the top of the search results because they are the most relevant to their keyword search.

In other words, Google is doing exactly the thing it’s algo programmers are trying to stamp out from SEO savvy website owners. Google are gaming their own index by placing paid ads above real websites for surfers to click thinking they are going to go to the most relevant sites, when in fact they are going to sites that have “bought” they way to the very top of the SERPs. A bit like the sites in the big competitive niches that buy links to get to the top, which is a practice frowned upon by Google. Does this sound just a little like the pot calling the kettle black?

But it gets worse. In the last year or so, Google have also been placing “shopping ads” in amongst the top 3 or 4 places in their index. These are accompanied by thumbnail images of the products searched for by the keywords entered by surfers. Again, Google is gaming its own index by allowing these paid shopping ads to outshine real websites in the index, with the result that a lot of affiliate sales are lost to legitimate websites would otherwise garner from their place of trust as the top most relevant sites in the index. But where is all this going to end?

Google is becoming the New Yahoo. I already said that, I know. This is why:

The next unfussy and ad-less search engine to rise to the task will do to Google what Google did to Yahoo. It will happen if there is another company out there with the balls to take the bull by the horns.

And so it goes around and around. Probably.

In the mean-time those of us IM mavericks who the rest of the world will never understand will keep doing this stuff no matter who the Big Dog Engine is or where he cocks his metaphoric leg. We pit our wits against the system and try to make as honest a buck as we can.

If you’re a Brit, then you’ll get this next bit (Google “Swiss Toni” and you’ll get some YouTube vids if you don’t know who he is). Here is what Swiss Toni would probably say on the subject:

Gaming a search engine is much like making love to a beautiful woman. You work out what makes her tick, point your backlinks to the right spot and then SEO her brains out.

Make Money The Honest Way

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Internet marketing and money making traffic generation has taken another beating by Splork as he lifts the lid on traffic generation for making money telling it like it is right here: Sewage Islands in the Stream. I was going to write all this as a comment in his blog, but hey, content is expensive when I write it so I’d rather have it here in my own blog. Splork gets a useful link instead.

If you’ve just headed off over there and been courteous enough to actually come back, then here’s my take on this way of thinking.

With regards to generating traffic and monetizing it, the old adage of “throw enough shit at the walls and some of it will stick” actually works. But Google is just one wall. A big one I will grant you, but there are other walls sitting there right in front of you all but its amazing how many people are ignoring them, while concentrating totally on Google.

Yahoo and Bing are fun to mess with cause they count all those itty bitty nofollow links that Google ignores (most of the time but not all of the time). Bing traffic converts way better than anything else, cause most people that use it do so cause it came pre-loaded with their dinky new netbooks thanks to rich uncle Bill cornering the pre-loaded OS market (okay, mac users… oh who cares, there’s only 2 of them anyway). This is pretty common knowledge anyway.

But Splork went too far. Look what he’s done now, telling his 8 readers about Hubsquid traffic! Dammit now they’ll all go out (at least 5% of them will, anyway) and spam the hubsquids to kingdom come and we’ll all suffer. Damn him for letting the cat out of the bag! Can no one keep their big mouth shut on this Interpleb? Is nothing sacred?

For God’s sake don’t let on about how profitable spending 10 hours a day in the Warriors forum really is or they’ll all veer off in that direction like a shoal of demented minnows. And then they’ll ALL start spending their time making WSOs and Google will hate Slpork for taking all the marketers out of its index and leaving nothing for its algo-tinkerers to do. But the aftershocks will be worse…

There will be wholesale job losses and a flood of brainy people joining the ranks of the unemployed… then they’ll all start reading Warriors and learn how to get rich quick making… WSOs… the self fulfilling prophecy cometh and the world will end in 2012 cause Google will implode and the entire surface of the earth will be dragged into the vortex it created…

Man, drinking too much coffee and writing in blogs is a dangerous mix…

The long and the short of it that you can monetize any traffic, although you’ll have a tougher time squeezing any out of social traffic from the likes of twitter, facebook etc. but you can make a little and if you can generate enough traffic from those sources, a little can turn into a little more. The main source of monetizable traffic remains the targeted organic search traffic that comes mainly from Google but also from Yahoo and Bing as well as the lesser search engines. Social Hubbers and Squidoo folk may follow links in your mini site pages and find your main site and a few of them might even be enticed to click a link or buy an affiliate product, as long as its a real one (I mean something that Amazon et al would sell and not some junk ebook from clickbank).

But that’s as much as I’m saying here, cause I’m not giving away everything I know with regards to making money online. At least not the stuff that works right now. Once it gets to be common knowledge, its effectiveness will have died and then I’ll probably write about it, just like the other clever chappies who drip feed their loyal followers some of what they know every once in a while. It keeps people interested and gives them something to try, then come back for more.

There’s more to all this than meets the eye, that’s for sure.

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When a small WordPress MU free blog host gets de-indexed or taken down by its server for whatever reason, then no one really takes too much notice apart from the people who had created blogs on them. When it happens, you lose any links you may have created on the blog and in the worst case scenario, you completely lose your blog complete with content.

But when a big, stable and popular free blog host that has been around for a while gets taken out of the picture, then a lot of people are going to have their noses put out of joint.

This has happened to blogetery.com, a pretty big free blog host that I personally had several free blogs on and I know there are a huge number of people who did too. Well, it seems that the hosting company, BurstNet, took the server down by order of law enforcement officials who apparently paid them a visit on 9th July. The issue was of sufficient seriousness to cause the host to kill the server immediately and not give any notice to the owner of blogetery, who had been a pretty good customer for several years. When he contacted them, he was told it was a critical matter and he could not have access to the hard drive to retrieve files or the database. That pretty much kills blogetery, at least for the time being.

No one knows for sure why law enforcement have taken this action, but chances are they found some material published on one or more of the free blogs hosted on there that was illegal and sufficiently sensitive to cause them to take the server from the host. It is quite likely that the authorities will need to investigate all the material stored on the hard drive, which means it could be a long time, if ever, that blogetery and all the free blogs hosted on there can be reinstated.

This highlights one of the real risks that we all take when hosting blogs on free platforms. Sure, when you are building a large network of sites, you have little choice but to make use of the free blog hosts to keep costs down and spread the net as wide as possible.

But there really is no sure alternative to hosting your own domains. It is certainly more costly as you have to buy and maintain the domains as well as pay for hosting, but at least you are in control of what is published on them and as long as you create legit websites, you should not have any real problems. That is unless of course you happen to strike a rich vein of traffic and suddenly a domain can outgrow its server’s limitations, but at least you can either upgrade your hosting account to cater for it with only minimal downtime. Plus you are the keeper of your own content. In other words you have your own backup of all your data on your home PC (at least you should have), so if a server gets shut down or crashes, you can be back up and running usually within 24 hours on a different host.

For all the bloggers and network builders who lost blogs on blogetery, its tough luck and this is a tough business that will have it fair share of hard knocks. For all the backlinks you may have lost in the process, they will take time to replace. Your main sites (that were the recipients of those links) may even take a drop in the SERPs until you can get new ones.

Just remember, no free blog host is completely safe. You may think WordPress or even Blogger are practically bullet proof, but they’re not and if something gets hosted on their servers that law officials do not like, they can be taken down at the drop of a hat pending an investigation. The bottom line is to have all your stuff backed up! At least that way, if the worst happens, you still have a copy of the content you may have spent several hours writing.

Make Money The Honest Way Blog

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Or How to Cut Off Your Own Nose to Spite Your Face?

There are rumblings and rumours scurrying around the place that a few of the MMO marketing set are aware of, but not too many, I believe. A few niche marketers such as myself are also getting wind of this, but its early days and would probably attract some unwelcome criticism from the SEO know it alls in any case, so I’m hedging my bets here.

Its all to do with the way a lot of marketers are going about getting those all important backlinks to their money making websites and blogs. With the new wave of article spinning software available at very affordable prices – MAR being one (yes, I’m unashamedly promoting it in my sidebar) and Ledger’s Best Article Spinner another – it has become way too easy to take a PLR or similar article on any subject you like, spin the crap out of it and the submit it to hundreds of article directories at the touch of a button. Voila! Instant backlinks, right?

Well, technically that is right. But that kind of technique is not what is known as “white hat”, or plainly speaking, legit. In fact it resembles the darker path that is otherwise known as “black hat” and that has always been how people get themselves into trouble. Okay, it works for now, but for how much longer?

Google are well known for tinkering with the way their algo counts those precious backlinks. The ones we all crave and desire to rank our sites in the index in order to get organic, targeted visitors who will, we hope, click our affiliate or PPC links and make us money. The thinkers and techies at Google like nothing more than to scope out where backlinks are being generated from and then taking a big stick to those places they view as black hat.

Don’t quote me on this, because it is purely my own opinion based on what I have seen happen historically and what I can see happening now. But I have a sneaky suspicion that Google will (if they haven’t already) figure out that they can alter their algo to discount links coming from article directories that are publishing “obviously” spun articles.

Now that’s not to say that originally written articles will get tarred with the same brush. I don’t see that happening because it takes time and effort as well as some research and knowledge on a subject to sit down and write a 500 word article that is worth reading and is informative. A backlink placed in that kind of article deserves to be counted, simply because the writer took the time and trouble to create a worthwhile addition to the web and provide a useful addition to Google’s index. After all, that is exactly what Google wants to see in its index – worthwhile, informative, readable, entertaining etc content that is original – and not that which is copied and spun into something that often closely resembles double dutch.

Ok, you don’t see too many spun articles littering the index, at least not in the high pages, but some get through and they are a major annoyance for anyone looking for something worthwhile to read. That’s not the issue here – but more for the fact that these spun articles do get indexed and that means the link(s) placed in them also count.

More annoying is the fact that legit sites are climbing the SERPs thanks to the ton of backlinks occupying tons of crap spun articles. How long do you think this will last before some bright spark at Google realizes that they can stop it happening by getting down and dirty with the algo – and we all know that the techies love to be able to work algorithmically rather than waste human resources checking all that badly spun bullshit. Shouldn’t be too hard to simply NOT index crap spun articles that are posted in the multitude of unregulated and clearly unedited article directories and the links in them would simply not be counted.

Hell, if I worked at Google and on their algo, I’d be laughing my ass off while I tweaked away until all those smug so-called SEO experts who have been dumping reams of worthless crap into article directories for months woke up one morning to find all their sites had taken a serious SERP hit because 90% of all their spin-generated backlinks had suddenly been ignored. The pleasure would be indescribable! Oh yeah!

What would that leave us with, I wonder?

It would leave us with those legit websites and blogs that got their backlinks the hard, but honest way! Yep, by writing good, original articles or by getting links from other site owners who liked what we wrote on our own sites so much, they thought it worthy of linking to. Which is how the algo and the SERPs ranking structure is supposed to work in an ideal world.

There will always be those who trade links and guest post in other people’s blogs. I don’t see anything wrong in that as a guest post must also be original and worthwhile – after all, who would accept crap spun articles on their personal, carefully tended and nurtured blogs? I certainly wouldn’t! Even more so if I believed it would be detrimental to my blog, in SERPs ranking or in visitor dissatisfaction, depending on what I expected from my blog. Yeah, I fully expect someone to come here and comment that I shouldn’t be so naive about the function of blogs. Sure I know what really goes on – I’ve been around long enough to know, so save your breath. This is mainly about my opinion on the probable future of spun articles and baclinks, in any case. Those of you that know me will know what I am really saying…

Also, such a change would pave the way for some more regulated and edited article directories such as ezinearticles.com – places where only legit, original content is welcome and there is a limit on the number and type of backlinks allowed. If its of any interest, ezinearticles.com make a fortune from the ads they place on your articles there, which is the trade-off for a backlink that is worth something. It could happen and I would welcome the change.

Pipe dream or wishful thinking? Both, but realities come from ideas and ideas come from wishful thinking that gets put into action.

Make Money The Honest Way Blog

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