Don’t Forget About the Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Last night I uploaded a PPC campaign mainly based on product names for products from one of the CJ data feeds I was using. I added some expansion words like “buy” or “cheap” and then turned the campaign on. I came back today and decided to use the Google keyword tool in Adwords. I used the exact product name as the search term and to my surprise I received a list of keywords with partially really good search volume and almost no competitors bidding on it. In some cases there were keywords with solid search volume and nobody bidding on it at all. That is pretty cool as it allows me to add keywords that will bring me more impressions and hopefully more clicks to my landing pages. So, never under-estimate the power of other tools.

My landing page design seems to be Ok for Google because I received about 90% “great” quality scores with prices going down to $0.04. I will still need to split test the design, but for now it is a good start. This is my first data feed website combined with SpeedPPC software to build my campaigns. I am very excited and hope that is something that works out great. The merchant I am using has a tiered payout structure and so if I can drive enough traffic I can actually make quite some profit. The initial payout is low (below 10%), but once I reach the next level it goes into an area where I should easily turn a profit (so the theory at least). It’s too early yet to see how everything is going. I’ll keep you posted.

CJ Data Feeds for websites and PPC Marketing

The last few days I have been working new stuff for myself. I had signed up for CJs (Commission Junction) data feed access. But now I am gaining access to publisher data feeds which opens a whole different bag of opportunities for me. As mentioned in other postings I had bought SpeedPPC and SpeedPPC comes with a software package that handles data feeds for pay per click advertising. The software loads the data feed into a MySQL database and from there I can call the different products easily and on the fly. So, I am in the process of building streamlined landing pages and then promote the new website via PPC advertising. I will have to test a couple different landing page layouts of course to see which ones work well and where I am losing money. I am also in the process of building good lists of keywords related to the products I am promoting.


I will also design the new sites for SEO so that I can promote the website and get natural traffic to it. Key here is make the content look unique. The pages need to have enough unique content to start ranking in Google, Live, and Yahoo. That is a big piece I will still need to look at and to come up with a good implementation. I probably load another database with topic related information and then dynamically add the content to the website. For me as a not-so-great programmer that is a major task and makes it a slow process, but I need to do it only once and can then rinse and repeat on other websites. The good thing with CJ is that you gain access to any data feed they offer once you pay the $200.00 setup fee (not enough money? Take a loan in online). I initially signed up for 6 different feeds and will develop sites around it. The better I can make the first site technology work, the easier it will be for me on the other websites. Come February/March I should have a good fleet of data feed based websites out there. Hopefully that will open the income stream from affiliate marketing for me. I just feel so limited right now due to having a full-time job. I am so eager to work on this new stuff, but have to hold off until evenings. 

PPC Landing Page Optimization Tactics

If you run PPC marketing campaigns, landing pages are critical to your success. If your landing page sucks, you will waste a lot of money on advertising without seeing any significant conversions. Therefore it is extremely critical to get the landing pages designed properly. DO NOT use one template for all your different offers and campaigns. What works on one offer is a dead end on another. Work with a custom landing page for each and every offer.

Keep it simple, stupid. “KISS” is still working and probably always will. Don’t go overboard on your landing pages. Make sure the visitor can understand what you are offering and does not get confused. Be extremely focused on the topic and don’t waste valuable space on items that have nothing to do with your offer. Make clever use of paragraphs and bullet points. Explain why a visitor should take action.

Speaking of taking action. Offer multiple calls to action. Don’t assume the visitor knows where to go. Your landing page has several functions. One is to explain why the visitor needs your product and once convinced you need to take the visitor’s hand and guide her to the “click me to buy” button.  Use a fair mix of text links and buttons. Flash or animated GIF buttons can help to draw the attention to the “take action now” part.

Let the visitor know where she is. Provide the necessary value to gain trust. Trust is needed to get sold on your offer and to take action. If the landing page does not tell the visitor why she is on your site, she will click back to the search results. Your PPC ads needs to be continued on your landing page. This will create a chain the visitor can follow and understand. Don’t get tricky with your landing page. Don’t hijack the visitor. If the back button frightens you because you lose a visitor, your problems are much bigger than you can anticipate. It is also against most PPC search engine’s Terms of Service.  Using shady tactics to keep a visitor on your page is a big no no.

PPC Madness

I am back in PPC marketing lately, but with much less success then before. I stopped in September after the Google Adwords changes bumped up my pricing by about 20% and my profit margin shrank accordingly. As I was operating on a 30% profit margin the risk of making money or losing money was way too risky. I had all my PPC ads on auto-pilot and in such a case 30% for doing no monitoring whatsoever was a good deal. Those days are gone. I am now trying to break into a much more competitive PPC niche and that is difficult. I am using a couple different software packages to figure outpricing and to spy monitor competitors. The numbers for certain keywords are just crazy and I see people bidding on them day after day after day. I am not sure how long these guys are doing it and so I am watching for now. The interesting thing is when you look at the landing pages (please note: I copy the URLs and DO NOT click on the ads). In some cases I wonder how they can maintain a quality score that is not “Poor”?! There is almost no text on those landing pages and mainly images. I tried that in the past and always came home with a ‘bloody nose’ because Google slapped me hard.

So far I spent about $70.00 on PPC ads and I expect that to increase dramatically over the next few weeks. No conversions yet – I am mainly testing the waters. I also have not yet fully decided on landing page layout and will have a lot of work to do in that area. If the other guys continue to spend money I might try a similar design, but hopefully will be able to get better quality scores assigned and therefore reduce my cost to beat them. 

Some Random Income related Numbers

Everyone loves numbers – especially when it comes to how much money one has or makes online. I am only a small fish in the pond when it comes to make money online, but I want to share at least a little bit what can be accomplished even when only working part-time for yourself late at night when you are too tired to be extremely productive. So, here it is – my income from Google Adsense: on average I made $1,050.00 per month from Google Adsense. That again averages out to a little above $34.00 per day from Adsense – every day 365 days in a row. If I would move to a low cost country like India it probably represents a good and decent income. Here in the US however it does not get me too far to cover my cost of living.

Private advertising is slowly on the rise and already made about 25% of my income from Google Adsense. yeah, I like that. However, most of that came in between September and December and so I hope to push that number up by at least 15% so that private ad sales go up to ~40% of my matching income from Google Adsense.

The worst performing Affiliate Network for me was CPAEmpire. I made a total of $15.60 and after my AM left the company the new affiliate manager emailed me asking a few questions and then never responded back ever (yeah, I know I am not a big gun in affiliate marketing, but contacting me and then never responding to my response …). The best performing affiliate network for me was (still) Azoogleads (even though they no longer have an AM assigned to me (yeah, I know, I am a small fish in the pond)). The affiliate program that made me the most money in 2007 was (low 4-digits $$$). The highest single affiliate pay-out for one lead was $400.00 and was made from a web hosting affiliate program. I spend most of my advertising dollars on Google Adwords (roughly $3,500).

I hope to make a similar posting next year around this time with numbers that are a little more impressive. Especially I personally like to see more income number from affiliate marketing.

How to run a better business – Part II

In my mini series of blog posting about how to improve your business operations I wrote about using a journal to keep track of business issues and how it could help your business. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of certain business events. Another important piece is time management. It is too easy to goof off and drift away from doing work to ignore this issue. This is even more important if you are (still) operating your business as a part-time business (like I am (at the time of this writing at least)). I usually start working for myself when the day winds down and most people rather sit on the couch and watch TV or so. My day starts at shortly after 5 AM and I usually go to bed between 11.30 PM and midnight. I do spend 20-30 minutes in the morning to check email and to take of emergencies that happened over night and cannot wait (does not happen often, but …). I check and respond to email during lunch time or when I get home from work. Then I do the family thing and spend time with my wife and my son. I start working for myself after 8 PM. A good cup of instant coffee refreshes me wakes me up again and keeps the engine running. Still those hours until I go to bed wind down fast and so the first 90 minutes of my evening work are the ones where I am most productive.

To use my most productive time best I need to be organized. If I would not be organized up to a certain degree, I would waste a lot time and the business would suffer. During the day I usually plan out what I want to work on at night. Anything that comes to my mind makes it onto my list and I sort it out and shuffle it around until I got the priorities in the right order. Not everything I think off will be worked on, but the critical stuff always gets taken care off. Some things are pushed all the way back to the least productive hours. That usually includes reading SEO or PPC related blogs or to visit some forums. You get the idea.

An important tool for me is Microsoft Outlook. I use the calendaring function A LOT. I set recurring reminders whenever I identify a task that I need to look at more than once. Another thing I do is to send myself emails with reminders, links, notes – pretty much anything I need to look at or want to explore further. I also make it a habit not to hit the “snooze” button in Outlook to remind me later. I’d rather have it pop up and remind me more frequently. Overall I think I am doing pretty Ok in keeping myself under control to get most out of my available time. I know this is a long posting for something rather small, but it might give you an insight in how other people work. Maybe you have a better approach? Please share. I am always open for new ideas.

How to run a better business – Part I

I meant to do this a long time ago and I finally did it. I started an electronic journal that I want to use to keep track of any business related action. Why is this important? Have you ever found yourself struggling to remember what you did at a certain date back in time? Did you forget a conversation you had with a client or business partner? Did you make a PayPal payment without being specific enough about the details? When did you sell a specific website again? It’s stuff like that, that I want to use the journal for. It’s supposed to be like a small diary where I post 2 or 3 sentences about my business actions. Then I can go back in time when needed and check on things as needed. This is especially important when doing SEO work or PPC stuff where timing can be an issue. Another good reason to keep a business journal is for tax purposes. I hope not to be audited by the IRS, but you never know. It’s a good thing to have a good accounting system in place and quick access to all the receipts. But it is even better have a journal that allows you to go back and associate a financial transaction with certain details and to present this to the IRS.

So, how do you keep this journal thing under control and manageable? I use a new WordPress blog for this. A blog is some sort of online diary already. WordPress has a great feature called “post by email” which allows you to post to your blog by sending an email to a specified email account. I installed WordPress into a password protected directory on one of my websites and configured it to accept postings via email. The directory is also excluded from search engine spider activities via Robots.txt. All I have to do now is to send myself an email to my secret email address and the messages get automatically posted to the blog or journal. No need for maintenance. No need to login and write posting. It is so easy nowadays to write a quick email. All I got to do is to pick a good subject line and then write 2 or 3 sentences in the email body. The only time I will ever need to login into my blog is to review an item.

A few things to keep in mind. Make sure your blog does not ping technorati or any other site that a blog usually notifies about updated content. Check on your blog occasionly to make sure your messages get properly posted. Check for SPAM (ASKIMET is your friend). Make sure to activate the postings. Find all necessary instructions here.

Overall I think running a small journal is a great way to work more efficient and to run a better business. If you are not very organized this type of journal does not require much effort or work. There is no SEO or much customization of the blog necessary. Give it a try and let me know what you think.