Monitoring Your Search Engine Positions

Since search engines are the first stop for many people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in search results is an important factor.

If your site shows up far down the search results list, the chances of people never finding you increase dramatically. Once you get a high search engine position, 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 engine 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 engine positions.

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. Keep tabs on your top ranking positions or your top pages, and make sure to watch “the market” closely.

Each search engine uses an algorithm (formula) to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this algorithm in any way, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different algorithms, rotating them so that an algorithm doesn’t become overused or outdated. Depending on which algorithm 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 algorithms 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.

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.

If all your search engine positions have plummeted, it may indicate that search engines have found some type of problem with your website. If you have recently changed the code, for instance, the engine may become utterly confused and consequently drop your positions disastrously. If a spider tries to visit 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.

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, Yahoo used to display only results gleaned from Google, but now it has its own spiders and creates its own rankings.

Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation 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 soared.

Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. It 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.

A great way to keep track of how your pages rank in the search engines is by using software. I use Market Samurai, which runs on Windows and Macs. One of its many features is to track the pages of all your websites in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. It produces charts and graphs showing which pages are indexed in which engine, and monitors this over time, so you can easily tell if your sites are getting fully indexed. You can even use it to monitor your competitors’ sites.

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How NOT to Run a Joint Venture

Sometimes you can learn how to do things by watching others do them poorly, then avoiding their mistakes.

Here is a story that illustrates that.

A while back I found out about a giveaway JV and signed up. I’ve built a lot of my list this way, so much so that I created a product based on the idea… so I’ve participated in quite a few of them.

I got my login info and looked for where to submit the details of the product I would be giving away. I didn’t see any obvious place to do that.

Then I noticed the fine print.

It explained that they were using a point system, in which you get points for each new member you refer to the site. When you get enough points, you can apply to be a JV partner.

In other words, you get to send them traffic for nothing, and if enough people you send them sign up, then you get to be a JV partner.

That’s assuming their point-counting software works – how would you know if it doesn’t? There’s no easy way for me to know if someone signed up, unless their system notifies me.

It also assumes they accept your gift once you finally get to submit it.

Oh, you have to send them 100 members to become a JV partner. Yes, one hundred.

Not 100 visitors, but 100 people who sign up on their site (which not everyone who goes there will do).

Until then, you can’t even submit your gift details.

Until then, all the new people signing up on their site won’t see your gift, so you won’t get them on your list.

Wow. What a crock, and what a one-sided arrangement. It’s sort of like having a store at the mall, but the mall owner won’t let you unlock the door to let shoppers in.

A JV is supposed to be a two-way street, benefiting both sides.

(Actually, it should also benefit the customers / subscribers, but it’s too hard for my brain to picture a three-way street.)

Maybe 100 doesn’t sound like many, so let’s look at some numbers.

Let’s say you have a list of 1000 people and send them an email promoting this offer.

Maybe 300 will open your email, if you’re lucky.

Of those 300, maybe 50 will be interested enough to click the link to the site.

Of those 50, maybe 25 will actually sign up.

So that’s 25 of 1000 who signed up for FREE stuff.

Meanwhile, you could have used that email message to tell them about some other product or service, or sent them an article, or whatever.

My problem here is not so much with the number 100. I’m confident I could send them 100 members if I really tried.

But why should I bother, with the apparent attitude of the person running the JV? What he is saying in effect is that unless and until you send him 100 members, he doesn’t even want to look at your gift.

Do you like that attitude in a partner? I don’t.

Is this thing run by some big-name “guru” with the clout to make strict demands? No, it’s somebody I (and probably you) have never heard of before.

I’ve been following the Internet marketing scene for years, so if I’ve never heard of someone, they probably aren’t very big.

Now don’t get me wrong; this person can make whatever rules he wants, as long as they’re legal, since it’s his site and his promotion.

But giveaways don’t work too well if you can’t get others to promote the site!

I wondered if maybe I was having a bad day and thinking too harshly about this one, so I contacted some of my marketing friends for their opinions.
Some of them could send the guy 100 members in a few hours if they wanted to.

They all thought the arrangement stinks and said they would not get involved.

Here’s what I predict will happen: most of those who sign up intending to be JV partners will be newbies or those who don’t read the fine print. They will promote the site, but 90% of them won’t send 100 members, so the guy running this JV will benefit some from their work, but they’ll get nothing for it.

Those with big lists will just laugh at the arrangement and avoid it. These are exactly the people you’d want to work with.

Those who do manage to send 100 members will get a few subscribers, but not many, since I don’t see this thing drawing much traffic in the first place.

Am I going to contact the guy and tell him what he’s doing wrong? No, I’ll let him figure that out for himself, if he can. Some people get upset when you try to point out problems like that.

So let this be a lesson: when you try to set up a JV or other business arrangement, make sure there’s something in it for the other people.

Put yourself in their shoes; pretend you are them reading your offer, and ask yourself how eager you would be to accept the offer if it were sent to you.

That should be common sense, but common sense is rare these days.

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Save Hundreds a Year on PayPal Fees

Did you know you can get lower PayPal fees if you do a lot of business there? (This is for people with a premier or business account only- the types that let you accept credit cards.)

If you did more than $3000 in sales in your PayPal account the last calendar month, you can apply for lower fees. (They don’t lower the fees unless you do this.)

Their standard percentage is 2.9%, but when you go over $3000 a month, you can get it cut to 2.5%, at $10,000 a month, it would go down to 2.2%, and at $100,000 a month, it’s 1.9%.

It’s not easy to find the application in your account, so the easiest way to get to it is to login, then paste the following URL in your browser:

https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_merchant-app

(I realize people are leery about PayPal phishing tricks, so that is why I’m suggesting copying and pasting that URL, after you log in directly… or feel free to poke around your account and find the screen yourself. Look for “Merchant Rate pricing”.)

The application only takes a minute or so to fill out, so it’s well worth doing if you qualify. Once you’ve done this, your rate will automatically go down when your volume increases. There is no charge to apply for the fee reduction, and this will save you a minimum of $144 a year (based on going from 2.9% down to 2.5% on $3000/month).

After you apply, if your sales drop below the minimum, your fees will go back to the original rate, but when sales increase, the fees will drop… no need to apply again.

If you haven’t reached the $3000 mark yet, don’t apply, and don’t get discouraged. Just save this article for when you do.

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The Amazing but Simple Secret of Success

I don’t usually post other people’s videos on my blog, but today I have to make an exception. My friend Ryan Magin just put out a video that I think you should watch:

I hope that resonated with you.

He’s essentially saying to take action, and keep doing so. That really is the secret to success, as simple as it sounds.

Oh, by the way, adult language warning on that video.

I’ve known so many people in situations like these:

  • They’ve been going to marketing seminars for years but haven’t made a dime online yet.
  • They’ve been studying Internet marketing for years but haven’t put a single web page online.
  • They’ve been creating a product for years but are nowhere near trying to sell it.
  • They’ve spent more than a year trying to decide what niche to pursue.

Do any of those sound familiar?

Those issues all come down to not taking action, at least not the right kind of action.

He might not have specifically said this in his video, but I think Ryan would agree with me that you have to take the kind of action that can lead to making you money.

There’s nothing wrong with attending seminars, studying marketing courses, and so on, but in and of themselves, those things don’t make you money until you apply what you’ve learned.

Neither do forums, Facebook, and lots of other things people spend lots of time on while not making money.

There are a lot of ways to make money online, but just about all of them come down to selling something. So if you’re doing things unrelated to selling products or services, realize those are the activities that don’t directly make you money.

Start doing more things that can make you money, like putting up web page that sell things, getting people on a list and sending them offers, and so on. It really is that simple.

And keep in mind Ryan’s other main point, that you have to keep taking action. Some of the actions you take, even the right ones, won’t pan out. No one bats 1.000 for very long, and everyone who is a success has had (and continues to have) more than their share of failures along the way.

So thanks to Ryan for making the video and inspiring me to write this post.

We all need a kick in the pants sometime.

I suggest you go watch the video again, then get to work.

If you’d like to listen to an interview I did with Ryan about affiliate marketing, you can do that here.

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That’s No Way to Sell Beer

A few nights ago I went to a sports bar with some friends to watch some preseason football, and I was reminded of what a lousy job of marketing some big companies are capable of.

The Miller Lite girls were there, but kept a low profile. Except for the small Miller Lite patches on their shirts, it wasn’t obvious who they were.

A sports bar should be a great place to promote beer… if it’s being promoted properly.

The ladies did give away some football tickets, but that was about it. I wonder if the people who won them will even remember what brand of beer the tickets came from.

Here’s what I would have done if I had been in charge- I would have had all sorts of stuff with the Miller Lite logo on it and given it away. Stuff like T-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, keychains, coasters, can holders, you name it, that people would have used or worn to spread the logo around.

I would have also given away beer samples, unless there was a good reason why not. And I would have coordinated with the bar to have specials on Miller Lite while the ladies were there. How obvious is that?

None of that is rocket surgery, although it is apparently beyond the grasp of big corporate marketing departments. But then these are the same people who spend millions on untargeted and untrackable advertising.

Other than the drawing for the tickets, there wasn’t much evidence that Miller Lite was even doing a promotion that night. It looked more like two women in football jerseys slowly wandering through the bar.

It’s sad to think that someone actually got paid to plan this pathetic attempt at promoting beer.

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