Blogs and Widgets -By BUMPzee

Expert: Scott Jangro, BUMPzee

#10 of 30

  

About the Expert

Scott Jangro has been in online marketing for more than ten years spending time at at Open Market, Inc., and then Be Free and Commission Junction before going on his own as a full time online marketer. He writes occasionally about affiliate marketing at Jangro.com. His latest effort is a community platform for bloggers, BUMPzee.com

2007 has been called the Year of the Widget. Visitor stats, news headlines, weather, cartoons, and video all pulled in from various sources on the Net are dressing up the sidebars of blogs everywhere like rock posters on the walls of a teenager’s bedroom in a web 2.0 world of user-generated content.

What is a Widget? In the web context, a widget is a small bit of code, usually JavaScript, that a non-technical blog owner can paste into a the template of a blog. This code serves up fresh content delivered from other servers, such as news headlines or product information. Widgets can serve up virtually anything, but what they have in common is that what they display can be controlled and changed at any time by the service that provides the widget. Why would a blog owner give up this control? Because the information provided through that widget is fun, interesting, or useful to their readers. There are many types of widgets:

Fun – You can put a sudoku or a crossword puzzle on your blog, pictures from Flickr, even a retro game of Pong. There are dozens of frivolous widgets you can include in your blog just for the fun of it.

Relevant Content and Information – One of the most popular uses for widgets is to pull in timely and relevant information, such as news headlines or related blogs. You can serve up google news headlines related to any topic, or related blogs from a service like Technorati.

Monetization: Widgets like Chitika’s eMiniMalls display product information to your readers, based on relevance or keywords chosen by the blog owner. Google Adsense, BlogKits, and AuctionAds are essentially widgets that display advertisements. The idea is that these will display information that is useful to the blog reader while providing some revenue to the blog owner.

Community: Widgets that display information and visitors related to a specific interest group can add a social aspect to a website. If you have a widget that displays the most recent visitors, that shows that other people find your blog interesting, lending credibility. And being part of a community can bring extra traffic from related blogs through links served up in widgets. Some examples of community widgets are MyBlogLog and BUMPzee.com.

Where do you find widgets? If you’re looking for widgets for the sake of widgets (for fun or dressing up your website), check out resource sites like WidgetBox.com and Snipperoo.com. Yahoo and Google have their own widget directories as well. Even better, discover widgets through the services that you use or feel that your readers will be interested in. Finally, read up on widgets. Blogs like CostPerNews love widgets and love talking about them.

Test, Test, Test Nothing belongs on your website that doesn’t benefit you and your readers. Try out some widgets and evaluate whether your users are interacting with them. Try out some page tracking tools like CrazyEgg to see if your visitors are clicking on them. Or if your widget is community-related and you’re sending traffic to other related blogs, watch your website stats to see some extra traffic coming your way as well. Finally, keep an eye on performance. Remember, widgets are loaded in real time from other websites which can be overloaded if they become popular. A slow loading widget can cause your page to stop loading while it catches up. This may send your visitors away dissatisfied by the slow load times of your blog. Widgets can be fun, but make sure they’re worth the valuable space that they consume on your website. Go get some widgets, but make them work for you.

Digg Traffic v/s Google Traffic – A Chitika Analysis Report

One of the observations raised at Elite Retreat San Francisco was: Digg Users are lousy ad clickers. So I decided to put this theory to the test using data from the billion+ ads served by Chitika over a 31 day period. For the impatient, here is the take-away message:

Digg Traffic is more than 3 times Less Likely to Click on an Ad than Google Traffic

Background: There’s been a lot of discussion about the value of Digg traffic (Problogger, Neil Patel, etc). This analysis aims to use the data culled from the Chitika logs over a 31 day period to put an actual number to this theory. Since pretty much everyone receives Google traffic, this analysis uses Google as a base to compare against.

The Actual Analysis (for the stats folk):

  1. I started off with the entire log data over a 31 day period from Feb 26th 2007 – March 28th 2007. This comprised over a billion ad impressions and millions of clicks.
  2. I then filtered down the data set to only publishers using the Chitika | RPU product line. Since the RPU is always placed in the exact same position on all publisher sites (i.e. the bottom of the blog post), this had the nice side effect of eliminating any positioning effects (as in: You should never compare an ad unit placed at the top of the page to one at the bottom).
  3. I then filtered down the data set to only those publishers who get Dugg. This way, any publisher who gets a ton of traffic from Google but never gets Dugg does not skew the results.
  4. Lastly, I calculated the impressions and clicks on the ads for traffic from both Digg and Google and calculated the click through rate (CTR)

Results:

  1. Over the 31 days, the google traffic resulted in a CTR of 0.97% on the RPU ads — compared to 0.30% for the Digg traffic.
  2. Digg traffic is more than 3 times less likely to click on an Ad than Google traffic.
  3. Publishers who talk about Diggable topics like Apple, Games, Linux, etc seemed to get Dugg a lot. This indirectly confirms the demographic profile of the classic Digg user (think college-going Internet power user).

 Dealing with Digg Traffic: So what do you do with the Digg traffic ? Is it worth your time to get your post Dugg ? Here are some experts who have delved on this topic:

  1. How to get the most out of digg trafficNeil Patel
  2. How to Build a ‘Digg Culture’ on your BlogProblogger.net
  3. How To Monetize DIGG Traffic ImmediatelyTechSoapBox (via BlogHerald)

Questions ? Thoughts ? Comment below .. Posted by Alden DoRosario (alden [at] chitika [dot] com)

Get More Out of Conferences and Networking Events -By Chris Brogan

Expert: Chris Brogan, Network2.tv

#9 of 30

  

About the Expert

Chris Brogan of Network2.tv, is a Community Developer for the professional conference called Video on the Net, as well as co-founder of PodCamp, a free unconference about new media. He blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]. Chitika is excited to have Chris sharing how to get more out of conferences and networking events.

You’ve shuffled into the convention center, and found your way over to where you pick up your badge. It’s finally here. You’re at the big conference. There’s a big fat guide of topics and speakers, and lots to do. Looking around, there are thousands more just like you. Some are better dressed. Others look like they’re in the wrong place entirely. And which of these are people you should connect with? Who here is a client? Who’s a future partner? Where are your new friends that you’ll keep in touch with in coming years? There’s a strategy for this, and there are tools.

Your Personal Brand When you’re at a conference or a social gathering, you may or may not be representing a corporation or larger organization, but you’re also there as YOU. People seeing you are building an icon for their relationship with your larger organization that focuses on you at that moment. If you’re Sonya from Microsoft, they’re thinking of you as a big company in Redmond. But even if you’re Mohammad from Mohammad Rahman Consulting, you are at once a person and a brand unto yourself.

Before You Attend

  • If you blog, blog about the event. Look for a link to the event in Upcoming.org, and add yourself to the attendance.
  • Post a current picture of yourself on your blog, so that people can identify you at the event.
  • If you find others who are attending via social media sites or by using a service like Technorati or Google Blogsearch, drop them a comment on their blog mentioning that you’re attending as well. It might make for a good early ice-breaker to know others coming to the event.

During the Event During the conference or networking event, there are a few things to consider. If there are lots of people present, it’s important to remember that everyone has a similar mission: meet lots of new people, find friends/clients/partners, discover new information that’s important to their organization. This means you can’t monopolize people’s time.

  • Introduce yourself clearly by name when meeting new people. You decide whether to add your company name to that introduction. “Hi, I’m Chris Brogan from Network2.tv” might come off as too much to swallow, or it might come off as the next conversation to happen.
  • Bring business cards to foster future conversations. You don’t always have to lead with that card exchange, but try to end your brief interaction with a card exchange. It will make the whole process more memorable.
  • A secret trick about business cards: it’s better to get theirs than give yours. Because then YOU control dropping them a line. It puts the power to respond back in your hands.
  • If you don’t remember the person’s name by the end of the conversation, it’s okay to ask it again. And then repeat YOUR name. Leave them with that name in their heads.
  • Remember that brevity rules. People love those who can speak succinctly.
  • People love to talk about themselves, and the magic trick is, they somehow walk away from this experience thinking YOU are a great person.

After the Event Once you get home, do your best to find the most pertinent business cards you collected during the experience and drop a quick, personal email. Remind them in that brief contact about something you both discussed, to connect your email address with the experience. And then, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try some of the following additional bits.

  • If you blog, blog about the event, and drop names. Tell people about the event, but also about the people you met that you found engaging. Sorry, but it’s still true that we love to see our names in print.
  • If you’re a videoblogger, or use a photo service like Flickr, edit and upload your media quickly.
  • Use tags to ensure that people attending the event find your post, and tag the names of the people you mentioned in the post as well. Make it easy to be found.
  • Now, go find other people’s blog posts about the event, and leave comments. If you’ve met them at this event, make sure to drop a comment on their blog and remind them of your your meeting.
  • Build the most important of the business cards into whatever you use as a contact database, and if you can, in the notes/comments section, mention that you met the person at X event. That’ll help when months from now, you get an email from them, or you see an event coming up that might appeal to people you met at X event. Make sense?
  • Look for these new friends on sites like LinkedIN, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, and wherever else is an appropriate social network for the group you’ve found.

Make Your Mantra For Events: “Connect with People” There are lots of moving parts to conferences, and sometimes at networking or social events, things move quickly such that you find yourself at the end of the night without having had much opportunity to have conversations or meet the people who matter to you. Turn conferences and networking events into your opportunity to expand your circle of friends, build your personal brand, and connect with people who might be good to know in the coming months and years. Instead of simply accepting the content, make an opportunity to build your connections to people through the experience you share. It will certainly change the way you approach conferences and social events, and it might change your lot in life going forward.

The alchemy of Blogging -By David Ponce

Expert: David Ponce, OHGIZMO.com

#8 of 30

  

About the Expert

David Ponce is the owner and managing editor of OhGizimo.com, a “deliciously geeky” blog on gadgets, innovation and design. Formerly a computer salesman, he quit his job to devote to full time blogging. David’s articles have been linked from sites including Gizmodo, Engadget, Yahoo’s The 9, Slashdot, Digg and BoingBoing and he has been interviewed for publications such as PC World Magazine and SmartMoney Magazine. David is one of the main speakers at PostieCon ’07 where he will be speaking on how to turn site visits into cash. As a respected authority on this topic, we are pleased to have David share some of those tips in his guest blog post, Blogging Alchemy.

So, let’s say you’ve done everything right, and you managed to build yourself (through sweat, hard work and dedication) a shiny blog, with heaps and heaps of traffic. Congratulations! But, you surely must have noticed something: this blogging thing takes an awful lot of time. And as we all know, time is money. So it would make sense to… compensate yourself for all the hours you put into this. Hell, if you compensate yourself enough, and do things right, you could enter the ever growing ranks of the pro-bloggers, and forever say goodbye to the 9 to 5. In the next few bullets, I’ll try to show you the things I learned while doing just that. One last thing before I start: never underestimate the value of the work you do. If you have traffic, it’s because you are putting a quality product out; your readership is proof that you’re doing something good. Your words, your insight, your research is valuable to yourself, your readers and prospective advertisers. I say this to you as a foundation for the advice that follows: always seek to maximize the worth of each and every visitor to your site. Never settle for “good enough”, because all that time you put into this isn’t worth “good enough”. Advertisers will always try to get you to settle for less. Don’t. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to achieve this. I’ll start by telling you what you can do wrong.

1. Respect your readers. The single worst mistake you can make is to underestimate the importance of this point. Of course, no ads at all is best, but we’re not looking at that option. But there is a balance between too many ads, and too little. So: No one likes flashing ads, pop-ups, pop-unders, interstitials (ads that appear out of nowhere, and obscure the entire page) and a page so full of ads that you have to scroll down before seeing any content. Don’t do it. You’ll lose current readers and wont gain any new ones, so there’s no point in giving in to the extra marginal income.

2. Placement. Where you put ads makes a big difference in how much money they generate. At least, for CPC (cost per click) ads. CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is a different story, and I’ll address that later. Google Adsense is a typical CPC advertiser (Even though they give you an eCPM figure. The “e” is key). Adsense is also the most ubiquitous, so lets look at them. But, before I do, keep in mind that all this applies to Chitika as well, which can be used in addition to, or instead of Adsense. The 300 by 250 unit is arguably the best performing unit. Two spots are best suited for it: Above the fold on the right (or left). In a permalink page, sandwiched between the end of your article and the beginning of the comments. Another great performer is the 728 by 15 Link Unit. Place it below a Leaderboard (728 by 60) unit. Having something graphical right above the link unit dramatically increses its performance. Alternatively, place it below your logo and navigation section at the top of your page. It’s unobstrusive and performs wonderfully. The theme is that the Link Unit does best when placed below something that will attract readers’ attention. Leaderboards (728 by 60) perform reasonably well. Place them at the very top of your page, but leave enough space so that things don’t look cramped. Full Banners and Skyscrapers from Adsense have performed somewhat poorly in my experience. When placing these units, always keep aesthetics in mind. Leave space. Be symmetrical. Be balanced. Be nice to your reader.

3. Layering. Aside from obvious graphical ads, there are many ways that you can layer in more advertisement without crowding out your screen real estate and without annoying your users too much. The “too much” is key. Remember, all ads are annoying to some degree, so it’s important to find the right balance. So, what else can you do to maximise every page view? Text ads. They are a good steady source of income, and they tuck away on your site quite neatly. The advertisers are usually in search of a Page Rank boost. Whether or not this is a good thing is a debate for another day. The best company for text ads is: http://www.text-link-ads.com Dynamic text ads. These are arguably the most annoying ads I’ve ever run on the site, but I found that the impact was less negative than expected. They are the ads that appear when you mouse over certain keywords. The important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to fool your readers, so make sure that the highlighted text looks very different than a regular link on your page. http://www.vibrantmedia.com is the leader in this field. Sponsored posts. You can get paid to write reviews for advertisers, but keep in mind the “not fooling your readers” theme. This is a hot button topic, and I’m quite clear in my guidelines for doing so: Clear, unambiguous disclosure at the top of every single sponsored post. Disclosure should start with “This is a sponsored post”. Don’t, don’t, don’t give in to the temptation to make it any less clear. Never accept to write reviews that dictate tone. Even with disclosure, it’s not right to be told what to say about something, even for money. It’ll make you look bad, no matter what you do. Don’t be afraid to say a product is bad. If it affects your future relationships with the company, so be it; this is the most expendable part of your income, and if you have to choose between your credibility and this stream of cash, the choice should be obvious. If it later comes out that you reviewed something positively, and it turns out to be a total flop, your readers will remember. The two largest companies in this field are http://www.payperpost.com and http://www.reviewme.com

4. CPM ads, fixed monthly ads. Sometimes, advertisers will get so excited about the stuff you put out, they’ll want to strike special deals with you. These can take several forms: Fixed monthly deals. They’ll offer a specific sum to appear on every single one of your pageviews. That’s usually good, but don’t set your price too low. You should aim somewhere in the $7CPM range. That means $7 for every thousand page views. On a site like OhGizmo, with 300,000 page views a month, that means you should ask for at least $2,100 per month. Of course, this number will be negotiated down, but $7CPM is not an ungodly figure to ask for. Straight CPM deals. Sometimes, an advertiser has a set amount of money he wishes to spend on your site. So, it’s up to you to determine how many page views that will buy him.

5. Agencies. Of course, by this point, things are getting a little complicated. You want to write, but you find yourself managing all the ads, buying an ad server so you can split pageviews between advertisers, etc. It’s taking time and becoming counterproductive. So, sometimes it’s better to let someone else do that part of the work, and let them take a cut of your revenue for their effort. The cream of the crop of such agencies, in my experience, is Federated Media. http://www.federatedmedia.net These guys are angels, and they take care of their authors like no one else does. They manage everything for you, so you can focus on your writing. And they get you top rates for your impressions. Of course, getting into Federated Media is not a simple matter of applying. You have to have a special site, with a sharp focus and a strong voice. You have to be respected in your field. If you have this, apply and make your case, but inclusion is not guaranteed. And that’s it really. Well, no, that’s not true. There’s so much more that I could go on for quite some time. But these are some basics. But, if there’s only one point to take away with you, it’s #1. Don’t let greed get the better part of you. And, well… best of luck!

Making the Leap: Going from the Single Blog to the Blogpire -By Jay Brewer

Expert: Jay Brewer, Blogpire.com

#7 of 30

  

About the Expert

Jay Brewer, the founder of Blogpire Productions and purveyor of Blogpire.com, has created more than a dozen consumer-product oriented blogs on a variety of niche topics from single-serve coffee machines to designer shirts to global positioning satellite (GPS) gear. Blogpire blogs have generated incredible buzz and significant advertising revenue since their inception in 2004. Many bloggers wrestle with the issue of whether to continue focus on their one blog or branch out to an additional blog or blogs. With Jay’s experience in growing a single blog into a Blogpire, we were ecstatic to pick his brain on the decision behind making the leap and the pros and cons he has experienced along the way.

A burning question for many bloggers is whether to continue full force on the one blog they have or to diversify and create a whole host of al niche topics. As owner of Blogpire, with over 18 sites under management, clearly you a perfect resource for this topic.

Q. Tell me the thought process that went into making your decision to branch out beyond the one blog.

A. I started with singleservecoffee.com and it really wasn’t with the idea that I would probably launch more than just one site. Basically I took a topic and I wanted to own a category, try to figure out an emerging category which was single serve coffee, not too glamorous not too amazing but just exhaustively covered the news as that category grew within a month or so we had the only news on the subject and already people with products and advertisers contacting us saying hey we just want our presence on singleservecoffee.com because there is no where else to advertise coffee pods and other single serve products, so I quickly thought, hmm! I could be seeing a lot of other topics like this. Deciding to expand to the second title was a decision of being able to potentially either write for it myself and be interested in the topic or find the perfect person I could partner with to potentially create a second title. The best way I thought to do this was to get someone I know who was interested in the topic that I thought would be popular, someone I could trust and also share the revenue with them equally- That was what the Blogpire was all about, sharing revenue 50/50 and growing titles, out of the gate thats how we initially did it. I also wrote for blogs basically writing for the topics and expanding or to go from one to many, you have to really realize that you are putting in for two blogs not twice the commitment but four or five times the commitment because there is a lot more than just writing to promote each title and thats another thing to think about.

Q. What are some of the benefits and challenges to owning and maintaining multiple blogs

A. One of the challenges will be making sure that you can promote both titles that you can represent and sell advertising for it and to create good partnerships. Also make sure you are maintaining lists of contacts for each of the different sites and all the different products- its really keeping the whole business structure around it. The writers typically write and do a couple of posts a day or more and thats great and there are experts in keeping them insulated from the advertisers and the business point so they could focus but also letting them know from an analytical stand point like hey these are all the top articles and these are all the different things that are going on- to providing each site with the business framework, great editorial and basically giving the author information so that they know what’s working and what’s not working(one has to figure out how to make that scale so that you can add one or more titles). We are a small company but we have figured out a variety of tools to make that happen- to grow the Blogpire without having to make it a strain for each of the different titles.

Q. Owning multiple blogs can yield a network effect and in turn change the way advertisers want to do business with you. Have you experienced this and if so, can you elaborate a bit on what you have experienced?

A. There is a network effect but you will need a successful blog to start. I see a lot of people branch out with a bunch of different titles, but none of the titles were successful, so they didn’t figure out what it takes to make a successful blog to start with so they are duplicating and replicating unsuccessful blogs. Example: we have gpslodge.com , singleservecoffee.com, etc all of those blogs are pretty big blogs generating 10,000 or more pages a day and that you can attract advertisers with, once you can attract advertisers and ad agencies then they can say, we had a great success advertising with you on such and such site, then you can say, by the way we have other food blogs, and we also have other blogs that may be of interest to some of the other clients that you represent. Even if the titles are smaller, you get a network effect with the fact that its cheaper for them to purchase the smaller titles along with the larger titles and you can kind of give them a whole package to pick from versus it just being one title. This also helps out for other advertisers to find out about the other sites. Larger places are a little wearier because its a lot of energy for them to advertise so advertising in a larger way is easier for them and it shows there is a real business behind what they are buying.

Q. One advantage of having a network effect is being able to compare, observe and measure the performance of different types of advertisements on different niche blogs. Please share a few of the observations you have made from this so far.

A. This is true, we end up having a testing ground that you can’t really rival, you get all these different verticals. singleservecoffee.com people are totally different from gpslodge.com people. We’ve been able to try out different ad integrations across all the sites from using Chitika to using amazon programs to Google ads to direct advertisers. Some of our titles have worked great for direct advertisers and some of them haven’t so we also know that not every title we make will convert over to someone who would advertise with us directly. You also can learn a lot from different types of ads, the fact that different ad programs have different graphics or link styles or different ways that you can integrate them or search boxes for, Chitika has Shop Clouds$ and ShopLincs, we try out those different things and see what our readers and the people who come to the site organically or on a daily basis want, you really have to try out a program for a period of time thats measurable like 2weeks or 3weeks or a month and say what did i do last month and what did i do this month now that I’ve changed in the program. You’ve got to be able to take that financial risk with changing something that you think might work to see if something works better for a period of time and measure them against each other and you also have to figure out if people like to buy products because they read the reviews that they find in the ad or do people like to buy products because we provide them related prices or other places where they could purchase it or they’re not really interested in buying the products but they’re interested in just finding out more information on the topic and what kind of ad will be relevant for that.

I think you really gotta get into the clicking in the mind of the reader to figure out what is going to be good for the reader, the other thing is you don’t want to have a whole bunch of ads that don’t do anything for the site and drives the reader away. Ads could be a very helpful thing but they don’t necessarily have to be a thing where they’re seen as “ Oh they’re advertising so they must not be standing behind their content, we really try to pick ads we think are good and we also try to tell our readers about deals and places to go shop where they’re not going to have their credit card stolen and everything will be good. There’s more to that whole thing than just looking at the site and not really putting a lot of effort in your advertising, it’s equal amount of effort for that as it is for spinning off with a great content because it’s either going to work or it’s not going to work and especially having different sites and their network as you could basically really try out different types of readers and to say if we are launching other GPS or electronic sites, I guess we know something that will work versus trying from scratch. That’s been a big help.

Crunching Numbers For Blog Success -By Tim Flight

Expert: Tim Flight, GPSReview.net

#6 of 30

  

About the Expert

Tim Flight is the owner of GPSReview.net, a blog devoted to reviewing GPS devices and providing the latest news about them. Tim is a website developer, blogger, mac guru, and an aviation guy from Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Tim is a passionate, devoted and influential authority on GPS devices. One of the cornerstone’s of this blogger’s success has been his ability to crunch numbers and do analysis as to what works and what doesn’t on his blog. In his guest blog post, Tim, in his usual fashion, enlights and informs readers on doing some number crunching for success on their own blogs.

There are two types of people in this world, those who enjoy crunching numbers, and those who don’t. Regardless of the camp you reside in, crunching numbers is an important part of success. To effectively use crunch data you need to understand exactly what the numbers represent, and then plan for what you can do with the data.. Try to only track data that is actionable. It might be fun to track what day of the week you have the highest CTR, but is there much you can do about it? Would you really make a change to your site on certain days of the week to change the CTR on those days? Tracking only actionable data can apply both to the type of data collected and the frequency which you track that data. Is it worth it to track CPC on a daily basis? Probably not. CPC fluctuations from many of the most popular advertising systems are common these days. Therefore looking at CTR on a daily basis is probably too frequent, whereas looking at it from month to month will have much more meaning. Do you track page views on a daily basis? Is it actionable? If your page views drop one day by 15% over the previous day, is there really much you can do the very next day to increase page views? Maybe, but those changes wouldn’t likely be something that would remain long-term. Therefore it might not make sense to track page views on a monthly basis. Are there changes you could make that might increase page views on a monthly basis, looking more long term? This is far more likely. For me, beyond total revenue the most important item to track is revenue per unique visitor. This gives me the most consistent figure that weeds out “exceptions”. Some days you might get ads that result in a high CTR but low CPC, but the revenue per unique visitor would remain relatively the same.

Let’s say you have a graph of total revenue for each day. One day you get a news scoop and have a sudden surge in traffic. If you just graph revenue, you will have a spike in your graph for that day. When looking back at that graph a week later you will want to explain that spike, and you will need to look at other data to figure out why. However a graph of revenue per unique visitor will probably not show a spike for that day. Therefore this figure becomes a better figure to gauge the daily “health” of your site. Another example is tracking eCPM. You decide one day to double the amount of advertisements on each page. Even if you slightly increase your revenue, your eCPM will go down! Therefore comparing eCPM before and after you change the number of advertisements on a page is almost meaningless. However if the change was effective you would notice a change in revenue per unique visitor. When looking at the different type of data you track, make sure you understand the differences between data that can receive growth over time as well as data that should have a more level trend. For example we all strive to constantly build traffic. Therefore we hope the number of daily unique visitors continues to grow. When graphed, we expect that line to trend up. On the other side of the spectrum there are figures like CPC and CTR. It is nice when these figures grow, but that is not the expectation. Doubling your traffic will not double your CTR. Therefore when looking at graphs of data, try to keep figures that are expected to change over time together, and keep figures that are expected to remain level over time together. As practice exercises, frequently take a look at your data, spot some idiosyncrasies, and try to figure out why the data changed at that point. You do this by understanding what makes up that data point. Did your eCPM drop? Then you either added to the number of ads on the page, your CTR dropped, or your CPC dropped. If you added to the number of ads on the page, then there is the explanation. If the CTR dropped, check to see if you recently altered any ad placements or styles. If your CPC dropped… well, not much you can do about that except experiment with a different type of ad.

Another important tip to remember is that bigger isn’t always better. Do you always want to be increasing your CTR (click through rate)? Probably not. I know of steps I could take today which would double my CTR tomorrow, but they would probably not be healthy to the long-term success of my site. Often, I’ve found myself wanting to decrease a figure like CTR. Most people generally want people coming back to their sites. If you over-optimize a site then people might never see what a great site you have. You might make some short-term money, your long-term prognosis for growth probably isn’t that good. Finally, you have to apply what you know about your site when interpreting the data. For example let’s say you have one site that averages 1.5 page views per unique visitor and another site that averages 5 page views per unique visitor? Which site is doing a better job? You can’t really tell. It could be that the people on the first site are getting deep linked into the site, finding exactly what they want, and then moving on. Or it could be that they were turned off by the site and moved on. With the second site it could be that your internal navigation is a mess and people are frequently clicking around trying to find what they came there fore. So analysis of data isn’t always a left-brained activity. You will need to use your intuition to understand the data. Tracking data can be lots of fun, and it can yield lots of critical information about your site. However in order not to become too obsessed with stats and to allow more time for writing content, try to only track data that is actionable, and produces useful information.

Dare to Be Eccentric -By Manolo

Expert: Manolo, shoeblogs.com

#5 of 30

  

About the Expert

The Manolo, is publisher of Manolo’s Shoe Blog as well as a host of other blogs focused on topics ranging from Prada to designer shoes to wedding dresses to food. In addition, you can catch the Manolo’s weekly shoe advice column in ReadExpress, a publication of The Washington Post. While the Manolo’s identity remains a mystery to the world, the unconventional humor, style and personality conveyed in this master blogger’s posts attracts and engages readers worldwide. It is Chitika’s pleasure to host this unique blogger’s perspectives in the guest blog post, Dare to Be Eccentric.

Manolo says, over the past two-and-the-half years, since the Manolo started his humble shoe blog, many other professional bloggers have asked the Manolo, “Manolo, how can we be more like you, the God of BlogMarketing, the Six Figure Blogger, who has been mentioned in the publications as diverse as the Vogue, the Times of London, and the Sydney Morning Herald, and who has his own weekly newspaper column, and will soon have the very amusing pamphlet and the autobiographical book coming out?” To which the blushing Manolo replies, you cannot be more like the Manolo. You can only be you, just as the Manolo can only be the Manolo. The good news, however, is that in being you there is opportunity, and the secret to this opportunity is in being extremely you. You must be you to the point of perhaps being eccentric, indeed you must dare to be eccentric. You may think, Mr. Arturo G. Bloggerman, that your grand mission is to enlighten the unwashed masses, to whom you declaim the unpleasant truth from your exalted perch at declaimingloudly.blogspot.com. But in the point of fact, if the unwashed masses do not find your loud declamations entertaining they will quickly move down the street to the Cuteoverload to look at the pictures of the squirrel babies. So, what must you do to compete with the squirrel babies? First learn to write the good, lively, entertaining prose, and then, second, do not be afraid of giving your readers the odd combination of the topics, or the peculiar view of the world, or the different way of approaching your subject.

Do not be afraid to be seen as different, or even eccentric. Indeed, to be eccentric in this crowded market is the strength. For the example, there are five hundred thousand gadget blogs, but how many these write from the point of view of the technology shunning Amish? Eh? Think about it. Well, perhaps that’s not the best example, but you understand what the Manolo means. And if this hypothetical Amishman wrote in the lively and entertaining manner you would read him everyday. Next, do not take yourself too seriously. You are blogging, you are not carving the wisdom of the ages into the stone tablets. Of the course, this does not mean that everything is the big joke, but only that you should lighten up sometimes. No one wishes to be pummeled with the unrelenting seriousness of the world. It is boring. To be alive is to wish to experience joy, to wish to experience happiness. Provide some. Finally, the Manolo would tell you do all these things and to post faithfully everyday, and then to be generous with your readers, and with your links, and even with those you believe are your competitors. Be kind and do good, be funny and entertain. If you do all of these things, your audience will find you soon enough and you will be successful.

Create.Promote.Track.Optimize -By Allen Stern

Expert: Allen Stern, CenterNetworks.com

#4 of 30

  

About the Expert

Allen Stern is the editor of CenterNetworks, a site with a focus on “new” Internet such as social networking, Web 2.0 and social lending. As a consultant and resource to his clients and readers, Allen has worked with companies such as IBM, Georgia-Pacific, Wimbledon and Citibank to focus on strategy, optimization, analytics and social media solutions. CenterNetworks provides site reviews, news, insight, interviews and conference coverage all with the focus of helping its readers to create better business-focused web applications. With Allen’s vast experience in this realm, Chitika is excited to host his advice on how to Create, Promote, Track and Optimize.

Several people over the last few months have asked me what I do to increase CenterNetworks traffic and user loyalty. I started drawing on my whiteboard and after drawing and erasing, I was able to distil my process to four words: Create.Promote.Track.Optimize.

Create Naturally creation is the key. If you create poor content, the other parts won’t matter. So how do you create good content? I think it begins with reading blogs inside and outside your niche. See what types of content works. Yes, having a great title is important but the meat is equally as important. What entry lengths work? What level of vocabulary is used to reach the audience? These are all questions you should ask yourself as you craft your content style.

Promote This is an area where bloggers can sometimes go down the wrong path. How do you promote your best articles? There are the easy ways like Digg, Reddit, Netscape, and StumbleUpon. But some other ways might be worth considering as well. First, make every single post you craft search engine friendly. Doing it from the beginning is much easier than going back a year later to do it. At a minimum use a good title tag, description and keywords. There have been some recent tests which prove that even just these three things can make over a 15% difference to the traffic to your posts. Second, when you write a post that references a company or person, let them know! Don’t expect them to find it themselves. A simple email can work wonders as they may link back to your post. Third, head out to conferences and meetups. Hand out a card that has your blog address and contact information. This has worked very well for me so far. People will forget you after a week-long conference. But when they pull out your card, you instantly draw them to your blog. Finally, add Microformats to your site. Microformats are basically an extension of HTML which allow peoples names and addresses (vCards), and reviews (hReviews) to be tagged for future reference.

Track The most important part of this chain is analytics and it’s the area most bloggers ignore. Creating and promoting content is important. Knowing what’s working and what isn’t — priceless. There are hundreds of great tracking applications out there (some are free). I have reviewed many on CenterNetworks. Let’s say you know that Tuesday is your best traffic day. Use that to your advantage by posting your important stories on Tuesday. What I have learned on CenterNetworks is that 4-7am in the Eastern time zone produces the lowest numbers of users and so I think about that as I post my content. Of course this is just scratching the surface of what can be done. No matter what you use, use something.

Optimize Take everything you have learned from the previous effort to make the next post better. The key is to keep improving as it is a continual process. As you continue to optimize you will see your traffic — and more importantly — your user loyalty grow. Now get out there and go, go, go!

The Race for the Wii!

Desperate times call for desperate measures, sorta. The actual race for the Wii started when Dan, our Customer Support Czar, was the third in line at Toys R’ US 7am Saturday morning for the Nintendo Wii for one lucky winner! Winner announced April 20th, here on the blog.  

In case you haven’t heard, we are giving away a Wii. How do you win it? Play our Match Game here or click the game image below to enter into the race for the Wii. Good Luck!