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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Will Twitter Get Burned?

FireGoogle recently made a deal with twitter to show twitter content in the Google SERPs. Bing was actually first on this so Google isn’t the innovator here. I’m going to try to keep my tinfoil hat off so bear with me. I believe this signals the possibility of either a total buyout of twitter or a Google based replacement that will soon run competition with Twitter.

I know there are a lot of people that would disagree with the competition thing. I only say this because anything Google wants that Google doesn’t buy outright Google will eventually compete with. Google seems to be displaying the “use them and lose them” mindset in dealing with business partners quite often recently. Some examples then…

Google Adwords and Affiliates

I believe a massive portion of Adwords success was due to affiliates. Larger affiliates easily dumped several million a month into the Adwords system. I know that Adwords and the clean simplicity of the Google search interface is what really drew me into Google so long ago. I am an affiliate marketer and, while I spent nowhere near several million a month in Adwords(or 10 years for that matter), I allowed myself to become an active Google marketing tool through word of mouth. My friends and family have all used Google for years and I was among the first.

Recently Google began cracking down on affiliates. Not just the shady one’s either…read “Are there any types of websites that merit low landing page quality scores?” and note “affiliate sites”.

Read “Google Shuts Down $Million Affiliate Account” to find cases where seeming quality affiliates are getting thrashed.

At the same time Google begins testing its new CPA service which effectively turns Google into a giant affiliate. Google pushes its CPA service above Adwords results (making its Adwords advertisers compete more bitterly for the top spots and thus spend more per click) and even gives itself images and other niceties to further trounce its Adwords advertisers. Read “Is Google About to Become the World’s Biggest Super Affiliate”.

Is this all coincidence?

Google and Firefox

Google gave much to Mozilla but it was a two way street. The agreement was Google would pay if Firefox would use Google as the default. The added advantage for Google is that it could build extra market in search while undermining Microsoft’s hold on the browser market.

Now we have Google chrome and Mozilla finds itself with solid competition from yet another company with unlimited resources. Chrome has a much easier time breaking into the market due to better branding (in part because of Firefox as it gained browser share) and Microsoft’s not so iron grip on the browser market anymore. This looks to me like Google maneuvered Mozilla into running interference with Microsoft until markets lined up to give Google the opportunity for dominance. Interesting to note that a portion of Microsoft’s operating system domination a few years ago was based on Internet Explorer as well. Google is now moving into the operating system arena.

Is this all coincidence? Are the Google business moguls really this smart?

Google Android and Cell Phones

Google released Android to much fanfare and linked up with many phone manufacturers and providers. Many companies bit on the opportunity and, as a result, enjoyed great popularity with their Android based phones. It hasn’t really been that long and Google is releasing it’s own Android based phone as well…turning many of it’s partners into competitors. Read “Google Phone May Rankle Android Partners” for more info on this.

Is this all coincidence as well? How long does it take to plan and execute entering into the cell phone market? Could this have been on Google’s map all along?

What Am I Getting at Anway?

It looks to me like business partnerships with Google tend to result in more competition and severe disadvantage. I wouldn’t be surprised if, while Google is wheeling and dealing to add Twitter to it’s search results, Google has a hoard of engineers and experts working on a piece of software to one up Twitter.

I know it’s just business but in the long run practices like this will hurt innovation. The innovator is going to get tired of getting ripped off by the faceless corporation. Companies with practically endless cash flow can rip off an idea and put unlimited resources into it. I think Twitter will either sell out or get burned.

What do you think?

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Just a thought out of nowhere really. Currently, article spinners and the like really don’t do a good job of rewriting content…thankfully. I’ve seen a few of my articles posted online without any backlink or reference to any of my sites but at the very least the text was horribly mangled. I could take comfort in the fact that Google and other SEs could not possibly be dumb enough to grant sites with that kind of content the rankings they don’t deserve. I was also glad there was no backlink as it would have been nearly worthless anyway and I didn’t want my sites associated with that.

What happens, however, when article spinners come to the place of actual decent grammar. It is closer than I imagined…read a comment by someone on just using something like Google translate to take an article through Spanish and then back to English. This would effectively change the wording of the article. What happens when this method is truly perfected?

What if an article spinner could select a particular personality and even education level to rewrite the articles? They may even be able to literally build a virtual journalist eventually. A bot with a pen name, category settings and some personality settings pulling content from related sites and then rewriting it. Editors would probably be required to add relevant images and videos where necessary and manage comments.

I can see the web being flooded with half-decent, ripped-off content. I’m guessing heavily branded sites and blogs would still fare OK but smaller blogs and sites might get drowned out by a new wave of spammy content that doesn’t look spammy at all. It might even look pretty professional.

Thoughts or comments?

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PenniesA couple of my sites use Adsense as one of the forms of monetization. It was easy enough to add the code and style the goofy looking ad boxes to not look so ugly and gave me a way to test what kinds of traffic I was really getting. “Cool” says I.

After months and wildy fluctuating CTRs there is really only one thing I’m sure of. I’m sure that every month I’ll see a few pennies in Adsense revenue, at the very least, from the cost per 1,000 impressions payout. My overall clickthrough rate is over .4% but only because I get someone actually interested in the ads every once in awhile. Pay per click is actually very decent at least but sometimes I have to wait over a month to get those couple of clicks.

Where does this leave my retirement? Using CNN Money’s When Will You Be a Millionaire calculator I entered my income in at $1 per year (the minimum) and opted out of as much of the tax calculations that I could. Entering 5% as my annual growth and submitting gave me 236 years and 8 months. Must have done something wrong?! That’s definately not right. I’m guessing I would be lucky to hit $300 in 236 years.

Turns out it is right…I think. That 5% rate of growth gets pretty powerful after about 100 years. All I need to do to hit millionaire status is hold out for a bit under 240 years. I find that strangely comforting. I’m getting one of those “I’m closer than I thought” moments out of this.

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decisionIt’s easy to get caught up in plopping a bunch of Adwords ads on a site and waiting for the big bucks to roll in. News like Jeremy of Shoemoney.com and his huge Adsense check is inspiring and can lead to a kind of tunnel vision if you’re not careful.

A particular site of mine makes between $100 and $150 a month but only on affiliate income. I’ve put Adsense up and taken it back down, moved it all around, styled it in forty odd ways and the best I’ve managed on it is $8 in a month. Other months it’s just nothing. I’ve begun to consider the possibility that something else may work better.

Looking at my options I see a few…

  1. Replace the ads with another CPC or CPV solution. The site only receives between 1,000 and 1,500 uniques a month though so this may just not work well.
  2. Replace the ads with relevant affiliate products. This might be a good bet as a single sale in a month will probably beat Adsense.
  3. Sell the ad space directly. This is possible with a combination of the other methods but can be hard due to the low traffic.
  4. Create a product to utilize the ad space. A good idea but I lack the time currently.
  5. Use the ad space to build an email subscriber’s list. This is something I need to do “one of these days”. Yeah, I’ll do that…one of these days.

In this particular case I’ve gone with five 125px x 125px sponsored banners in a second right side bar and I’m currently looking for good affiliate products to fit in the content ad space. We shall see what happens. If the site had more traffic I would probably turn it into a good case study. Maybe when it hits a few hundred uniques per day.

One thing that really interested me in a blog post I read on zacjohnson.com is Zac’s use of the Yahoo Publisher Network instead of Adsense. He made very good money and a solid portion of it came from this choice. Which is not to say YPN is better than Adsense but I believe a smart person would consider and test available options.

If I’m not continually testing to find the right combination of monetization methods on my sites, chances are I’m missing out on opportunities to make more money. More money makes my life easier.

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I really like working from home. I have for years and it’s all well and good. Unfortunately, at a certain point in my lazy, vacation taking existence I have come to the conclusion that I need more money. I actually need a lot more money.

To get this “money” of which I speak I look, again, to the internet. Being a geek with not so polished social skill I understand my need to learn from people smarter than me. This reminds me of all the times I’ve missed something important because I wasn’t paying attention. I believe there are people online who know what they are talking about and so I will “pay attention” and see what I can learn.

Industries on the internet are constantly shifting and methods of promotion seem to have a short lifespan now days. This can make things hard for the small affiliate marketer. Many people can’t just throw $5k away to test a new traffic source. Some of us have to take pain killer to cope with parting with a few hundred dollars for promotion.

Much of the headache of making a living online can be effectively dodged by following the guys who can throw $5k at a new traffic source or are close to other industry leaders that know where markets are going. Sometimes it can be similar to riding a roller coaster and the difference between knowing where that next drop or turn will be and being totally clueless. In the second case, depending on how resilient you are, you could lose your lunch!

Pick out some blogs that smart people post to and make sure to follow them continually. Lots of the information on some of these blogs is worth money but they give the information freely. Unless you’re already one of these “smart people” I speak of, you probably can’t afford to not pay attention to these resources.

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I try not to be a paranoid conspiracy theorist but I can’t help myself in this case. I’ve been a solid supporter of Google for years and I still use many…I mean many of their services. I dump money into Adwords and even use Adsense in a couple of places.

They have great services and I can understand some of the data they collect and coordinate. The whole privacy thing seems to be heating up as an issue for many Google users and I can understand that too.

Above the privacy thing though, what scares me more is that it seems like Google is trying to put us all out of business. I know you don’t believe me and people will wine and say “it’s their search engine blah blah blah” but you need to look toward the future. Things that web masters have been lax on concerning Google are already coming back to bite us.

I remember removing paid text link ads on my site way back when because Google said “No!” and threatened the de-index hammer. It was an easy way to monetize a smaller site and helped pay for web hosting and yet I removed it. Reading about this more recently Matt Cutts seems to suggest that we need to mark all paid links with nofollow.

While I understand and agree with the need for transparency this should have been handled by Google’s algorithms. Google created the link spam problem and should just deal with it. Text links are a legitimate way to advertise and, dare I say it, get traffic from sites other than Google. Adding nofollow to text links on your site is often unacceptable to the person paying for the link and will give you yet another problem in competing. If the site is related, relevant and of decent quality there should be no problem.

“You could always say no to Google traffic and do things on your own!” as I’ve heard. The catch here is that Google holds about 70% of the market as far as search engines go. Google has come to a place where a business can hardly be competitive online and ignore it. If Bing or some other search engine like Yahoo even the odds things will probably get easier but for the time being we gave Google the power to re-shape the net and I can’t help but feel that power is being abused.

What scares me most of all is the future. I make income from affiliate marketing among other things and I’ve recently been witness to Google using the search engine built up by us users over years of time and using our content as their index actually going into affiliate marketing themselves. This makes it look like all the years they spent collecting data on our sites…data that shouldn’t be used to compete with us…was indeed part of a plan to work our site monetization plans themselves.

Here’s a post on SeoBook commenting on recent Google search results.

Read this as Google cashes in by sticking big name advertisers up top for a fee with a CPA (cost per action) model, pushing down the natural results that made them what they are, even pushing down some of the Adwords advertisers and giving their ads an unfair advantage in ad display (which can drive down CTR and cause higher CPC BTW making Google more money) and taking those sales to the bank.

Of course there is always balance. If things do get too bad, in theory, everything will probably naturally try to right itself.

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