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The Bake Radio Blog:

Gearing Up for Christmas 2011

Posted on November 13, 2011
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It’s that time of the year once again as Christmas looms and we are all left wondering where the last few months went. It seems that the summer is barely over and the colder months are already here with shorter days, longer nights and many more reasons for Internet Marketers to get their act together and promote their websites and blogs.

Of course, gearing up for the festive season when people are looking to buy their Christmas gifts online as well as at the brick and mortar stores should already be well under way. So why does everyone leave the important promotion strategy to the last minute, like many shoppers scrabbling to grab those eleventh hour gifts?

Commercial website owners that sell products online that can be bought as gifts for a number of occasions should be actively promoting their sites all year round. That means getting out there and writing guest posts on related blogs, keeping active in forums, even keeping up with the social side of things on Facebook and Twitter if that’s what you like to do. It all helps to raise the brand awareness of your website and get its name known to a greater number of potential future customers.

For the affiliate marketer, this is also something that should be done as an ongoing task, although there will always be those sites that target seasonal customers, their promotional strategy should really be trickled out all year round and perhaps stepped up a gear nearer to the time that sales are expected.

Has the Panda Update Affected Your Site?

Many affiliate marketers will have been affected by Google’s Panda updates, especially if their sites were a little thin on the ground in the content department. There are so many sites out there that are just made up of a bunch of pages promoting affiliate products with a short, often scraped “review” and little else. These are dubbed “gateway sites” and are not liked by Google at all. They represent little value to visitors and have quite rightly been downwardly adjusted in the search results to make way fro more relevant and useful sites.

If you want to rank for terms that will sell your wares these days, you need to have a site that visitors will find useful, informational and provide value in addition to providing that all-important affiliate link to the item you are steering their attention towards. Your site should have a mix of item review pages, information articles and maybe even a regularly updated blog to keep visitor interest and also to keep them on your site for longer before they click away on a profitable link.

The way the current search results look for product items, it may seem an almost impossible task as all the top results seem to be hogged by Amazon and other larger established “shopping” sites as well as those irritating Google ads that hog the top three spots and totally go against what the SERPs are supposed to be all about, which is relevance, usefulness to the surfer and a good surfing experience. When the top three places are occupied by ads for websites that are often NOT any of those three categories, one must wonder how this has been allowed to happen. I’m sure from Google’s viewpoint (and yahoo, Bing et al who are also using this ad model in their indexes) they will argue that these ads are distinguishable from regular organic listings thanks to the pale yellow or violet box they occupy, but that will fool no one with the eyes to see.

The mountain may seem a high one to climb, but it can be scaled by anyone who wants it badly enough to put in the work to create a website worthy of competing with the likes of Amazon for those lucrative high places. Then Christmas may come to more of those who are prepared to work for it.


Bake Radio

Does Google Like Your Website?

Posted on September 23, 2011
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Now here’s a really sticky one to think about. Does Google like your website or blog? if it does, you can easily see that because it will rank it for its main keyword as well as rank it for several longer tail keywords that you are trying to rank for. But if it doesn’t, then you’ll see your site languishing in the nether regions of the index like an abandoned ship adrift in turbulent seas.

If it looks like Google doesn’t like your site for whatever reason, there are some things you can do to help the search engine like it again, or to get back in its good books if something you did caused it to get sent to search index purgatory. But remember that whatever you do, it has to comply with their guidelines and not violate their terms of service in any way. In other words, you are going to have to be totally legit!

Yes you can still do that, and it is actively encouraged even by the previously vilified SEO community. The best way to improve your site’s standing in Google’s eyes is to make it into a site that you would be proud to show you grandmother and be able to sleep at night knowing you hadn’t plagiarized any of its content from anyone else. In other words, you are gonna have to write the content yourself (or pay someone to do it for you) and that content needs to be well written, relevant to your site’s theme or niche, and its going to have to be useful!

Doing this and maybe adding ten or twenty new articles to your site will help it a lot, although there is no telling how quickly you should expect to see any positive changes with regards to rankings. You can and should employ some tried and tested on-site SEO strategies to help things along. By this, I mean you are not going to do anything underhand, but you are actually going to do what Google tells you to do!

For starters, if your current and new articles have titles that have little or nothing to do with the content of the articles, then you need to change them to be relevant. So an article about refurbishing your kitchen needs to have a title that speaks of it, such as: “Kitchen Refurbishment Tips” or something similar like kitchen store, rather than something along the lines of: “What I did Last Sunday”!

That title needs to be placed in heading tags in the page html (WordPress blogs do this for you) and it also has to match the page title in the header section (again, done for yo by WordPress). If you are coding you own static html sites, you will already know what you’re doing and should ensure that the page title and the page H1 tags match. Your article should flow naturally and be informative and useful to the reader, but you can help things along by including related keywords within the content.

A naturally written article often does this by dint of the fact that you are writing on the subject anyway and you would naturally mention many of these keywords as part of the flow. You can go over what you’ve written and add some more in the right places so the text still flows naturally and you will have a well optimized page.

Write long articles, because the longer they are the more chances you will have to naturally include more long tail keywords that will be picked up by the googlebot when it spiders your page. If your articles were all 400 words long before, make your new ones longer, say 600 words to 1000 words. And you can even go back and add some more useful and relevant info to those shorter articles to make them more beneficial to visitors to your site.

These are simple things but so important to boosting the usefulness of your site, which will convert into a higher ranking by Google. This is because Google wants to see useful, relevant websites in its index and it will place those that it believes are the most relevant and most useful nearest the top of the index. You still have to have back links from other sites, but you will find that as your content becomes more informative and attractive, you will start attracting more natural links from other sites that will be happy to link to your articles as a reference for their own.

Another thing you can do to help your site’s situation if it is full of affiliate reviews and links to Amazon and other affiliate commission sites is to add more articles that do not contain any affiliate ads or external links. Use those articles to build internal links to other relevant articles on your site, with occasional internal links to the pages that do have your affiliate ads and reviews. If those review pages have several affiliate links to the same site, then par them down to just two per page. Google does not like affiliate marketers and it appears to be actively demoting sites that are full of affiliate links.

Re engineer your sites to look more natural and include more useful information while cutting back on the percentage of affiliate pages and you will be giving Google more reasons to like your site again. After all, Google likes sites that regular visitors like, because they get a positive buzz from visitors who land on the most relevant sites from their index. So make yours the most relevant and most useful and you will eventually have Google like your site the most because of it!


Bake Radio

Ranking Affiliate Marketing Sites in Search Engines

Posted on August 8, 2011
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While there can be a lot of money to be made in affiliate marketing of real products that are on sale that people want to buy, getting a dedicated site to rank high in the search engines has been something of a roller coaster ride of late.

To be more specific, I’m talking about Google as they still manage more than 60% of all search traffic. If you want to rank to make money, you need to rank in Google. But their recent algorithm changes as well as the increase in manual site inspection has made ranking your affiliate site much harder.

In fact, there is plenty of evidence of a great many marketers having a big chunk of their online income wiped out because their once high ranking affiliate sites suddenly took a drop in ranking for a variety of reasons. I’ll take a look at the more obvious ones so you can try and avoid them if possible.

All Ads and Little Real Content

This is a real killer of thin sites as far as ranking goes. Google have figured out how to spot these sites a mile off and are systematically demoting them in their index. Why? Because they want a better user experience from search. Sites that do little more than siphon traffic to places like Amazon and other online vendors that run affiliate programs are not good user experiences because they simply send the visitor off someplace else and get paid if the visitor buys something. How do you fix this problem?

Make User Friendly Sites

By building out your sites with lots of relevant content you create a better user experience. I don’t mean filling your site up with second rate crap outsourced to a non-native English speaker in the Philippines or someplace similar where they’ll work for a dollar an article. Research and write something interesting, informative and enlightening regarding the niche your site occupies and make it something that you would be proud to let your mother read!

Affiliate Link Density

This is another ranking killer that needs to be addressed. Many affiliate websites tend to write short reviews with two or more affiliate links in the article. There is usually one attached to the big image of the product. Another in the title or sub title. And probably another near the end of the article in a call to action “buy now” button or image. There may well be additional affiliate links in the sidebar to related products and what you have is a page that is chock full of affiliate links in ratio to the real content.

Change that ratio and your articles will start ranking again. The current school of thought is to build yoru reviews out to 400 -500 words or more if you can, with only one or two affiliate links on the page. Then intersperse those review articles with real informative articles with NO affiliate links in them. By all means use those articles to link to your review pages to boost the site’s on-site SEO. But make sure you have rather more real content pages than review pages and your site will return in the rankings, assuming you have sufficient backlinks.

Backlinks Still Rule

Getting back onto the subject of backlinks, they still make up the lion’s share of the way Google rates your site. But its the quality of those links that are counting more nowadays. Its no good spamming a ton of comment links or paying someone to create a thousand or so forum profiles, or blasting crap spun articles all over the web. Links contained in these are no longer considered of nay real value. They may give your site an initial lift in the rankings, but it will be short lived and could even set you up with a penalty.

Get quality links to your site. By that I mean broker link exchanges with legit sites and blogs, write guest posts on other people’s blogs and all the old fashioned ways of getting links before all this automated spamming crap came along. You might even find that if you write really good articles that people actually get a lot out of for reading, they might even give you a natural link for your trouble. Get enough of those and your site will soon grow to be an authority in its niche.

Site Authority

The last thing here is about getting yourself a real authority site in your niche. This is where affiliate marketing is heading. Building an authority site is really the best long term strategy. You don’t get that by outsourcing cheap articles because no one wants to read them and other website owners certainly won’t offer to link to articles they don’t like. But with really good articles that have been properly researched and provide a lot of answers to the visitor’s questions, you may just start attracting natural links. Its not guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is that if you don’t write good articles, you won’t get any natural links!

It all comes down to how much work you want to put into your site. If you are willing to work on it and write a lot of top quality content (or pay top dollar and have a professional write it for you), then you will be building a site that you can be proud of and one that the search engines will like. When Google likes a site, it will rank it and it will be a good long term money earner because it will be reasonably immune to minor algo changes in the future. Isn’t that worth putting in that extra effort and going that extra mile?


Bake Radio

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