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How to Monetize Your Blog & Make Money

November 5, 2008 by · 55 Comments 

I planned to write a series of articles based on a formula that in my humble opinion sums up the “secret” of success for any blog. The formula is

Blog Success = Truckloads of Traffic + Good Monetization Technique + Good User Experience

Now when it comes to blogging, I must say that I am not a full time blogger and admittedly, there are other full timers who might have put the formula into practice, whether intentionally or not, and make tons of money out of it.

JohnChow.com comes to mind when we talk about this, the guy who made USD34,350.93 from his blog in October alone.
Well, it goes to show the sky is the limit when it comes to making money from your blog.

In general, this formula works regardless of whether you are trying to make money from blogging, affiliate programs, AdSense, eBay or whatever.

Some of you may recall that a couple of month back I wrote the first article of the series titled “Traffic to your Blog – A Recipe For Success.” A follow up to the first article is long overdue and I think it’s about time for the next one in the series. The second factor that I’d like to talk about is “Good Monetization Technique”.

If you have been blogging for sometime, you may already know that there are many ways to monetize your blog. From AdSense to promoting affiliate programs, and from writing paid reviews to selling direct advertising on your blog, the choices are endless.

Rather than listing all the monetization options available under the sun, I’ll try to discuss how to best monetize your blog in general.
The first question you need to ask yourself is that do you really want to make money from your blog? Perhaps you just want to share you opinion and making money is just a secondary goal.
Or perhaps commercializing your blog will compromise your integrity as an independent blog writer and if that’s the case, then this article is not for you.

The reason I ask is that there has to be a compromise between the quality of your content and how far you are willing to sacrifice user’s experience by having advertising in your blog.

The best way to make money from your own blog would depend on your blog’s niche and the type of visitors it attracts. If I can make money from AdSense, it doesn’t mean that you too will make lots of money from AdSense, although the chances are, you probably will because it’s the most popular way to make money from blogging.

Similarly, if you can make money from paid reviews, I don’t think I can make as much from this blog because I doubt I can churn out paid reviews as fast to generate as much income as you. Not to mention the Google penalty I’m trying to avoid for writing paid reviews in my blog.

 

So What Works Best For You?

The trick is to test to see what works best for you in your situation. If you run a finance blog, an ad that offers tax software might appeal to your readers.
Similarly, if you blog about making money on the Internet, your readers might response to ads related to how to make money online.

Now let’s look into several monetizing options in more detail.

 

Contextual Advertising

Content sites are best monetized with contextual advertising programs such as Google AdSense which is easily the most popular ways for bloggers to monetize they blog.
The ads are targeted and easily integrated with your content.

That said; do not assume right away that AdSense is the best monetization option for you. If your blogs belong in a popular niche such as entertainment or technology it would work great but if you blog about some obscure topics such as Qubit Field Theory, you would probably end up getting lots of Public Service Ads which doesn’t pay you anything when clicked.

In addition, you may want to try other ad network such as Chitika, Yahoo Publisher Network and others.

Like everything else, you need the traffic in order to make money from contextual advertising. It won’t make you rich overnight but it’s a good option to start with.

 

CPM Advertising

CPM advertising is ad programs which pay you for the each ad displayed on your blog. This option is best for blogs or sites that aren’t attracting enough targeted advertisers or the readers are less likely to click on your ads.

CPM (cost per thousands impressions) may pay you around $2 for 1000 impressions for instance but typically the pay out is rather low these days.

The downside of this is advertising option is that you really need a lot of traffic to generate a reasonable amount of income. Once you past the minimum traffic threshold, everything should be rather straight forward.

 

Direct Ad Sales

Direct ad sales is a great way to monetize your blog since there’s no middleman to take some of your profits. You can set you own ad rates and have more control over the advertising and payment options as it increases the amount and type of ads you can sell and let you specify when and how you get paid.

The main disadvantage is that since it’s up to you to find advertisers, you could end up with many unsold inventory especially when you are just starting out.

In addition, you’ll also open yourself to potential disputes as some buyers might ask for a refund. It’s therefore important to make your terms clear to potential advertisers before they sign up so that any future dispute can be resolved amicably.

If you are planning to offer direct ad sales from your blog, I suggest you check out the advertising script from OIOpublisher that help you manage and control your own ad sales easily. I am currently using this script to manage the direct ad sales in this blog.

 

Promoting Affiliate Programs

Once you get to know your readers closer, you might want to move into promoting affiliate programs. Unlike, AdSense, promoting an affiliate program require more than just plastering banner ads in your blog.

You can potentially make more money from affiliate program but since it requires some action from the readers in addition to a simple click, the conversion rate could be a lower.

I’ve written several articles regarding affiliate program in this blog which you may want to check out

 

Conclusion

It takes time and some effort to make money from your blog. The most important thing is to never give up and continue to focus on the areas of your strength.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket, diversify your income stream as much as possible.
When one method fails to work, at least you have five other sources that are making you money.

How I Make Over USD500 Monthly from MaxBounty

August 20, 2008 by · 54 Comments 

This is a follow up to my previous post regarding the PayPal funds withdrawals with Public Bank Visa Card.

My intention for writing that post was of course to try to discuss if there’s a way to remove the daily withdrawal limit imposed to Malaysian PayPal users. A reply from PayPal clearly states that the limit cannot be lifted for the time being.

But there’s one question that was asked repeatedly in the comments as people are curious how I made that money. I don’t blame them for asking, in fact, I think it’s a good post to share with my readers.

Personally though, I don’t think making around USD500 monthly from one affiliate network is a big deal, that is, if you compare that to what other super affiliates are making in this case from MaxBounty. However, what so good about this income stream for me is that it’s generated almost passively.

I spent nothing on pay-per-click marketing or any other form of advertising to attract targeted traffic that convert those MaxBounty offers. Most of the traffic comes from the organic search engine results – Google in particular. Every commission generated is basically pure profit for me.

I am going to reveal the website where I made the money from and how I made it. The income is generated mostly from one of my oldest websites at AbsolutelyFreebies.com. That website was created in 1997 but the domain name was only purchased in 1999. It offers free stuff, trial offers, sweepstakes, free samples and other pay per lead offers.

I guess I should point out that in addition to MaxBounty, I am also making money from other affiliate networks at AbsolutelyFreebies.com such as from CJ.com, COPEAC, ModernClick.com, AzoogleAds, ValueClick.com, BulletAds, ClickBooth, among others and of course from Google AdSense too. By the way, MaxBounty is not my biggest money maker at AbsolutelyFreebies.com.

This is the amount I am making from MaxBounty for the past several months. Not much, things add up though.

I guess the next question in almost everyone’s mind reading this is that, exactly, how do I make money from AbsolutelyFreebies.com in an auto-pilot mode? There are several factors but none has anything to do with the idea of just build it and they will come.

It’s crucial to identify your goals when you build a website and everything you do must contribute towards achieving those goals. Here are several reasons why the website is profitable.

 

First Page Rankings In Google for Several Competitive Keywords

All pages in AbsolutelyFreebies.com are fully optimized for the organic search engine. Obviously I don’t claim I know everything there is when it comes to getting high rankings in Google given the fact that their ranking algorithm changes almost on the daily basis.

I don’t devote my waking time trying to reverse engineer the search engines. It’s a futile attempt to “uncover” their secret via such method because what you find out today could well be outdated tomorrow. Just leave this to those SEO experts who are doing this for a living. You job is to create good content for your visitors and offer them better experience while browsing your website.

That said, I know enough SEO techniques to help me create pages that are likely to rank high in Google or Yahoo. Let me give you some examples. At the time of this writing, several pages in AbsolutelyFreebies.com are ranked highly for the following keywords

"Freebies" (yes that one word keyword) – currently AbsolutelyFreebies.com is ranked in the top ten in Google US organic search result (it used to be in the top three). In case you don’t know about this, the Google search results are tailored to your geographical location – there’s no such thing as Google global search result at Google.com.

The top ten search result for a particular keywords produced in Malaysia is often different from that of other countries even though you are searching through Google.com.

To find out the results that you would see as if you were located in a certain country, just append the following code in your search string where “gl” stands for geographic location. It can be set to “UK”, “US”, “CA” and so on.

gl=US

For example to see the organic and paid search results in the US for the keyword “freebies” you would type

http://www.google.com/search?q=freebies&gl=US

Instead of typing this manually though, I am using the Google Global Firefox Extension to perform this task

Alternatively, searching through Google country specific domain such as Google.com.my may show you results that are more relevant to you locally because the results comes from servers hosted in the area.

AbsolutelyFreebies.com is not in the top ten for the keyword “freebies” in Malaysia though which is good because Google is clever enough to know that I am trying to target the US traffic and not the Malaysian traffic.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you enable personalization, the search engines will look at your search history and other preferences and tailor the results specifically for you.

Here are some more keywords:

Wedding sweepstakes – currently number five in the Google US organic search results.

Get free money – currently number two in Google US organic search result. I used to be number one for the phrase “free money”, sadly it had slipped to number 15

There are several other competitive keywords and phrases that the websites are ranked highly for. This ensures continuous arrival of highly targeted visitors to the websie. The only constant in Google is change so those high rankings won’t stay there forever. The good news is, if a keyword ranking drops, another might take its place.

If you are interested, here’s an article I wrote previously to give newbies an introduction to onpage SEO. Here’s another article about linking and off page factors that may affect your rankings.

 

Put Your Visitors First & Make Money Second

On the Internet, the saying “follow your passion and the money will follow” should be everyone’s mantra. When I first created the website, it made little money if any at all but that didn’t stop me from burning the midnight oil working till the wee hours.

Building the site was a joy and not a chore, and it was satisfying to find my visitors actually interacting with the content. Then the money followed, which was not much but it was fun to have when you were a poor student. That was in 1997, today I have someone to help me update the website.

I am aware that the website is far from perfect. While most of the content consists of affiliate links, I find that people do no really bother as long as you give them what they want. There are tons of non affiliate links sprinkled all over the site to ensure a balance content.

Visitors arriving from the organic search engines have a different mindset. Depending on the keywords,  they can be highly motivated and when “lured” with the word free, it could do wonders to your conversion rates.

 

Update Your Content Frequently

My assistant updates the website almost daily with new offers. This will not only encourage visitors to return to see what’s new, many SEO experts believe that Google favours sites with fresh content too.

I admit that, if you search further you may stumble upon some expired offers and links on the site but that’s how things are on the Internet. As long as you are aware of this and replace expire links as soon as you can, then it’s not a big deal. That said offering fresh content doesn’t necessarily mean better ranking in the SERP but it tells the Google crawler that your site is worth check out often.

Little has changed in term of site design and navigation since the site was created. It’s still text heavy instead of graphically intensive as it has always been. The navigation is simple enough to help visitors find their way around easily.

 

Diversify Your Revenue Streams

While AbsolutelyFreebies.com has been making me some money since its early days I don’t depend on it as my main source of income.

It’s important to diversify your online income and as they said do not put all your eggs in one basket. I chuckled when I read someone wrote in a blog post that said I am probably making money doing “phantom blogging” whatever that means 😉

My latest posts here at Sabahan.com often give little clue as to how I make money online besides blogging, I suppose only my regular readers know what I do.

Besides promoting pay per lead programs from websites such as AbsolutelyFreebies.com, as some of you know I am also a part time blogger, an Internet marketer doing Pay Per Click marketing selling my own products as well as other people products and service.

In addition, I’ve started experimenting with direct advertising, starting at Sabahan.com. And who can ignore making money from AdSense – one of the easiest ways to make money online if you do it right. That said, there are still tons of things I’d have to do before I consider myself really successful.

 

Should You Start A Freebie Site Now?

Now I am sure some of you may wonder if you should drop everything and start a freebie site to make money. If you ask me, my answer is no.

Unless you have a highly motivated team behind you and you have money to spend on advertising, I doubt any individual could create a freebie website today that can be profitable solely from the organic search traffic. The competition in this niche is getting tougher by the day and you have to be really creative if you want to stand out from the crowd.

I am actually lucky that I’ve started early because a website age is one of the most important factors used to rank it in the search engines. That’s one reason why my website enjoys good ranking almost naturally.

That’s said, it’s not just the age of the domain that matters, but how long the website “talks” about a specific niche. The logic is simple, if you have been active in a certain niche for a while, you are probably into this for the long term and not one of the fly by night websites and this tells Google that your website is trustworthy and it will award you with some good rankings accordingly.

So there you have it. I hope the question how I make money from MaxBounty has been answered.

Third Ad Slot Sold!

August 15, 2008 by · 6 Comments 

I’d just like to thank Benny of BennyLiew.com for purchasing the third ad slot at Sabahan.com sidebar.

The price of an ad purchase includes a mention in my post to give my advertisers extra visibility and exposure to their website or service. This applies to any ad purchase including slots on the sidebar, top banner or inline.

So here I am recommending the good Benny’s Blog 🙂

While Benny write about many things in his blog, around 60 percent of those are dedicated to photography. So if you are into photography (or perhaps looking for a photographer to capture moments of an event) it’s worth checking out Benny’s blog.

Thanks Benny!

PS: If you are interested to purchase an ad at Sabahan.com, check out this link.

Second Banner Ad Slot Sold!

August 9, 2008 by · 9 Comments 

Barely a day after the first ad slot was approved; another slot was snatched up by Ben of WorldRec.Info. Thanks Ben!

In his blog, Ben writes about the unconventional world records with a twist. Records that according to him are probably not available in the Guinness Book of World Records or Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

For a dose of unconventional stories to beat the office or work boredom I suggest you check out this blog.

So far I’ve made around USD50 – minus the PayPal payment fee of US1.15 for each banner purchase – from direct ad deals.

Ideally, I wish this happened without me lifting a finger but sadly that’s not the case if you consider the work involved in upgrading Sabahan.com template, the cost of the template & plugin purchase as well as all the previous efforts I’ve put into maintaining and establishing trust in this blog.

If you think my rates are expensive, wait until I raise the price hehe. A text link ad in this blog will set you back for around US50 to USD100 per link. A review ordered via ReviewMe.com will cost you at least USD100. So what’s USD25 compare to those rates 🙂 not to mention, it includes a mention in my blog post for free. My aim is to give as much exposure to my advertisers at a nominal cost.

So what’s next? I am aware that I will need to be pro-active when seeking advertisers so here are some of the places where I plan find them.

AdWords advertisers
I’ve seen several blogs advertising on Sabahan.com via AdSense so why not get in touch with them, help them save money buy cutting the middle man? Chances are, they might be interested since they know Sabahan.com traffic is targeted to their own niches.

Regular Sabahan.com readers
Most probably know what Sabahan.com is all about. Enough said 😉

Other advertisers using other advertising platforms besides AdSense
If they are willing to pay to advertise here, why not offer a better deal directly plus better visibility to boot?

Forum & Marketplaces
Forums like DigitalPoint.com and SitePoint Marketplace are good places to find targeted advertisers

Now, I’ve an offer for those who are the first to purchase empty ad slots here at Sabahan.com. If you buy now, you’ll pay the same rate as your first purchase for your next purchase.

As an example, Ben and nyst will only have to pay USD25 for their next purchase even though it’s made several months from now when my ad rates would have been much higher than they are today.

Sabahan.com Is Now Accepting Direct Advertising

August 8, 2008 by · 16 Comments 

The new design for Sabahan.com has been completely rolled out and Sabahan.com is now able to accept direct advertising from interested parties.

With this I am able to determine my own rates, cut the middle man and have more control regarding how and which ads to display… finally!

One ad spot as you may notice has been taken by nyst.wysrt of Xerrascope as the first direct advertiser at Sabahan.com. As a token of appreciation, I wish to thank him for the purchase and I would like to recommend my readers to check out his blog: Xerrascope


What Do You Get For Advertising At Sabahan.com?

In addition to having your ad displayed on all pages, all new advertisers will get a mention in my blog post to ensure that you will get more exposure with maximum returns at nominal cost. Compare that to a review on this blog via ReviewMe.com, which will cost you at least USD100.

Sabahan.com focuses on blogging & WordPress, Internet marketing, SEO, online advertising, technology and more. When you advertise here, you’ll be able to attract traffic targeted to your own niche. All ad spots are located above the fold, in the most visible areas to ensure maximum exposure.

From time to time, I’ll run contests in order to attract more traffic and inevitably some visitors will end up visiting your blogs via your ad.

How Much Does It Costs to Advertise At Sabahan.com?

There are several ad zones that you could purchase from.

125×125 on the sidebar
At the time of this writing, there are three slots left. I charge USD25 with nofollow for a 30 days duration or USD30 without the nofollow tag in your ad. Your ad will not be rotated but it will be displayed on the exact slot you’ve purchased appear randomly in any one of the four slots throughout the ad duration.

Click here to purchase a 125×125 ad on the sidebar


Banner Top 486×60

It costs USD50 for a 30 days duration to advertise on this spot or USD60 without the nofollow tag in place. Like the 125×125 sidebar ad, your ad will not be rotated with other ads. It’ll be served without any adjacent ads to ensure exclusivity.

Click here to purchase a banner 486×60 ad

300×250 Inline Ads
This spot is ideal if you want the best exposure for your message. Your ad will be displayed inline alongside all my posts.

While AdSense ads are still being served, they are there to fill unsold spaces. Once a purchase is confirmed, your ad will replace those inline AdSense ads immediately.

Your ad will be displayed for a 30 days duration at merely USD100 or USD120 without nofollow in place. Note that there will be a maximum of 3 ads rotated in this slot.

Click here to purchase an inline ad


How Do I Pay For My Purchase?

For the time being, I’m only able to accept payments via PayPal. However, if you have accounts with MayBank2u.com.my or CIMBClicks.com.my, I’ll be happy to accept payments via direct transfer in an equivalent Malaysian Ringgit according to the exchange rates at the time of the purchase.

This is an introductory offer. All prices quoted above are valid for a limited time only and the low price won’t last forever. So if you are undecided yet, I’m telling you that the time to order is now before I increase the price 😉

If you have any question at all, please leave it at the comments or contact me directly via the Contact Us page.

Miscellaneous Ramblings of My Pay per Click Marketing Effort

April 4, 2008 by · 16 Comments 

For the past weeks, I barely had time to check my RSS feeds, a daily routine that keeps me up-to-date with the latest trends and happenings around the Internet.

Instead, most of my time was spent reading, listening and learning new things about pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and actually doing it. Some of you may recall that I’ve been working on my PPC campaigns and the goal is to create one new campaign for every two weeks.

While I am not new to PPC marketing, I’ve never put as much effort into this as I am now. Thanks to the business plan that I’ve created earlier, I am frequently reminded that in order for me to advance to the next level, I got to take action and put theories into practice.

Of course, intellectually most people are aware of that. However, procrastination seems like a nice place to be at when we are comfortable with where we are now and that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.

So far the results have been encouraging. It has added an extra USD2000 to my bottom line. To some, that may seem tiny, but it helps me move closer to my goal of reaching the USD10,000 monthly income before the end of this year.

The downside is that, my PPC spending has skyrocketed alongside and sometimes it’s painful to spend over RM1000 in a week or so to test a niche and still fail to make money. Nevertheless I understand that one must be prepared to lose money in order to make money.

The most valuable lesson that I have learned is, since I know what works, I am going to replicate those success in other niches. Successful PPC marketers are not those who have never failed. Instead, they have experienced enough failures to know what works and what doesn’t.

When it comes to keyword research, I typically gravitate towards the free tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Yahoo Search Marketing Keyword Selector Tool (no longer available) and my own research.

But I always knew I needed something extra so I did a research and settle for a tool called KeyCompete.com

instead of the more well known Word Tracker.

KeyCompete is an online keyword research tool that identifies the keywords your competitors are using in their pay-per-click campaigns. It basically spies your competitors to help you discover what keywords they are bidding on.

If they have been bidding on certain keywords for a while, you can be sure that those keywords are likely to be profitable. So instead of trying to invent the wheel, you can add those keywords into your existing campaigns to improve your ROI.

The “Watch Report” feature in KeyCompete shows which keywords your competitors’ are adding or removing to their campaign on a daily basis, but I am not certain how accurate this is. So far I find that KeyCompete works well for searches done on established competitiors but new domains do not always return reliable results.

I particularly like the “Long Tail Keyword Report” which could potentially supply me with a larger but cheaper list of keywords in any niche.

So far I am amazed by its ability to discover keywords that I would have never found using any other tools. One gripe I have is the interface is a little too simple for my liking as I like to see more advance options made available. Also, the number of keywords found is often larger than it actually is because of the duplicates that crop up every now and then.

In addition, there’s no option to group keywords based on related terms like what Google AdWords Keyword Tool does. But I think this is a minor complain since it can be done using AdWords Editor’s Keyword Grouper function which breaks up my keyword list into groups of related terms.

Minor gripes aside, I think KeyCompete is an invaluable addition to any serious PPC marketers’ keyword research arsenal.

Obviously, KeyCompete is not cheap. The annual subscription costs up to USD499. I am currently on the USD299 plan. What sealed the deal for me is, I know Amit Metha the millionaire PPC marketer is using this exact tool in his PPC marketing effort and I often heard he recommends KeyCompete each time someone asks what keyword tools he is using.

Check out his blog at SuperAffiliateMindset.com. While you are there, check out this interesting post about a letter from a reader.

How I Get My PageRank Back While Still Serving Text Link Ads

March 17, 2008 by · 19 Comments 

OK, I think a more descriptive and appropriate title would probably be something along the line “Google shouldn’t have given my PageRank back when I’m still selling Text Link Ads!” LOL.

While some claim that the long awaited update took place on March 2nd 2008, it didn’t seem to have any affect on my blog until recently. I first noticed my PageRank value was no longer zero last Friday after I made some changes to my blog.

To make sure that it wasn’t just a normal spike that could happen during a PageRank update, I decided to wait for a couple of days before writing about it. I ran a future PageRank check to see what my PageRank values were across several Google datacenters.

Sure enough, all datacenters agree that Sabahan.com is now a PageRank 3. So what did I do to have my PageRank back while I still serve Text Link Ads on my blog?

To be honest, I don’t claim this method as definitive and I can’t say for sure Google will retain my PageRank once the dust settles. I could end up having my blog slap again once Google catch up with this trick. But for the sake of information sharing, here’s what I did.

I just update the Text Link Ads plugin with the latest version and changed the title of my link ads from “Our Sponsors” to “Sites”. That’s all, nothing fancy.

That said, I am not suddenly retracting my previous stand that selling (or buying) text link ads is not good for your blog especially if the main motivation is to game the search engine rankings.

People just never get tired talking about this PageRank thing don’t they? 🙂

Now let’s hear something from you. Have you tried the changes above? How does the recent PageRank update affect your blog?

More Ads, More Money?

January 29, 2008 by · 23 Comments 

In November last year I’ve decided to place more ads at Sabahan.com as an experiment to see if I could make more money from this blog.

The experiment was conducted in response to a post by Sha of Shamoneymaker.com where he calculated how much a space is dedicated to advertising in a blog.

In the article, Sha asks if ads percentage has some correlation with the amount of profit generated by a blog. I know it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in general more advertising units usually mean more revenue streams if things are done correctly that is.

But if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m not a fan of making my blog looks like a giant billboard for the sake of making money – at least not at my main blog.

It was not surprising to see that Sabahan.com was at the bottom of the list when it came to how much space is allocated to advertising as you can see below.

  • Chanlilian.net – 15.15%
  • AdesBlog.com – 14.75%
  • LiewCF.com – 13.98%
  • ShaMoneyMaker.com – 8.52
  • Gbalakrishnan.com – 7.64%
  • xiaxue.blogspot.com – 4.77%
  • Sabahan.com 1.94%

 

So let’s review how this blog is doing so far. I’ve added AdBrite, WidgetBucks and Kontera to increase the advertising space percentage of Sabahan.com. In the short span this experiment is running, I have generated the following amount from each program:

Kontera
November: $6.53
December: $9.80
January: $6.36

WidgetBucks
December: $0.68
January: $0.99

AdSense
September: $323.36
October: $144.36
November: $95
December: $56.01
January (until 29 Jan): $59.64

Nuffnang
Revenue since 18 Nov: RM29.95

AdBrite
Negligible

I know the amount is virtually negligible. I could have removed all those advertising units (except AdSense) and it won’t affect my overall Internet income in anyway.

But since nobody is complaining about the extra ad units, I might just as well continue serving them here and make US24.36 + RM29.95 extra without lifting a finger. With a little bit of work in attracting more traffic and optimizing the placement, I should be able to make more money from them.

Coincidently, last month was a very slow month for this blog when updates were infrequent due to the holiday so that might also explains the less than exciting revenue amount.

Other than that, WidgetBucks has to go. The amount it generates is so small, it doesn’t justify its placement other than taking up space that could have been used for a more profitable ad units.

Additionally, notice the drastic drop in Sabahan.com’s AdSense income from US323.36 in September to US56.01 in December. That happens after my PageRank was dropped from PR5 to PR3 and now PR0. Oh well, at least my AdSense appears to be on the rebound

It’s good that my main motivation for writing this blog is not only to make money but also to share my experience in how I make money online in general with my other Internet business. Otherwise I won’t be motivated enough to continue writing when the reward is small financially.

Why Google Hates Paid Reviews

December 2, 2007 by · 14 Comments 

I haven’t been able to post anything for over a week because something came up and I needed to take care of it right away. Anyway, since I’ll be away from the computer again tomorrow I guess it’s best to spend sometime writing to let you guys know that I am still alive and kicking 🙂

While browsing my RSS feed on a lazy Sunday afternoon looking for something to write about, I saw a post by Matt Cutts which I thought you should know especially if you are doing paid reviews.

I’ve written several times in this blog that selling and buying links that pass PageRank is frown upon by Google. In the post Matt gives an example, a serious one at that, of paid posts to illustrate his points how some paid posts writer couldn’t careless about the accuracy about their reviews. Inaccurate information is not only bad as far as the users experience is concern but it can potentially be a matter of life or death for the readers in certain situation.

To illustrate his point, he uses brain tumors paid reviews, and ask you to put yourself in the reader’s shoe. Matt’s main concern is that most of the reviewers knew nothing about the treatment before getting paid to post about it. As a result, the reviews were often inaccurate or uninformed. In the end of the day, the one who suffers are the end users who believe the reviews are accurate.

Now if using brain tumor treatment as an example is a little too serious for you, ask yourself if paid reviews actually offer good users experience and how it could unfairly affect the search engine rankings in the long run. If you think that it’s unfair for Google to stop people from selling/buying links as it closes the opportunity for small website publishers to advertise their websites at a low cost, imagine when all the big companies with million dollar budget join the party.

If Google were to allow buying and selling links to continue, I won’t be surprise to see one day that acquiring top search engine rankings is a matter of spending the most money to buy paid links and reviews. Gone were the days where the Internet was a level playing field, at least as far as SEO is concern. Surely nobody wants that to happen, not me, not Google and definitely not you, right?

I’ve posted a comment in the post and I hope Matt will answer my questions

I agree with everything about this article but I wonder if your algorithm is able to determine whether a paid post is well written/well research. What if someone writing a paid review about brain tumors and was able to write an amazingly accurate and honest article about it? Do you still demote their page rank just because they are writing paid review about brain tumors?

My guess is that, such thing might require a manual review. Take JohnChow.com for example, he’s ignoring everything Google says about not doing paid review or selling text link ads and he still have PageRank 4. Google is giving mixed message here for not demoting his page to 0. Perhaps Google realises that his readers actually find some of his paid reviews useful and that’s how he can get away with it. Is that an accurate assumption?

Then what happen if JohnChow.com suddenly writes a paid review about a brain tumor treatment and the information is not entirely accurate. Will he get a 0 PageRank then?
Perhaps even with PR4, JohnChow.com has lost its ability to pass along Google Juice so Google couldn’t care less about what he writes?

What about someone promoting an affiliate program related to brain tumors treatment? And let say the link was able to pass Google Juice along. Are you going to do anything about that?

What do you think?

By the way, I know I am selling text link ads here so some readers might perceive that I’m contradicting myself by not doing what I write. Actually, I didn’t escape the wrath of Google when my PageRank was reduced to 3 from 5. Hey they could be gone soon and I might start selling banner ads as an alternative.

New Advertising Units at Sabahan.com

November 16, 2007 by · 23 Comments 

As you may have noticed, I’ve started adding a couple of new advertising units on Sabahan.com. Obviously one that’s making a come back is Kontera.

I tried signing up with Nuffnang but stopped short of completing the form when I was asked for my IC number. May be I am used to giving out only basic personal information during any online sign up and when more is required, I’ll feel a little hesitant to proceed.

I once tried registering with one of the forums for one of the popular reality TV program at Astro.com.my but never did so when they asked for my handphone number, occupation, age, IC and every personal detail that you would prefer to keep private. And they made everything compulsory.

Having a privacy policy did little to alleviate my concern. I wasn’t trying to buy products and services that worth thousands of dollars which may justify the need for such information. I was just trying to be a member of their free, highly moderated forum and that’s a price I wasn’t willing to pay.

Then there’s this download site called Skali, a company based in Malaysia. I was trying to register as a developer and submit my software to their download site. You would expect they offered a simple sign up form, but that wasn’t the case. I think it’s one of the most privacy intrusive registration form among the online download sites. I hope things have changed for the better today.

Regardless, I think I’ll sign up with Nuffnang anyway. At least their form isn’t as bad as that of Astro or Skali as they made some info optional. Update: It appears that the website is currently being upgraded and I wasn’t able to register. Do they actually ask you to validate your email DURING the registration process even before you submit the form? I kept on receving the error: "You have not validated your email" huh? OK will try again later.

From today, you’ll start seeing more ad units from different companies here. If you find some of them a bit too much, I hope you bear with me while I run this “experiment”. 🙂 I might start selling ad inventories directly soon if there’s a demand, let see how it goes.

A few days ago I was trying to sign up with WidgetBucks via the affiliate link supplied by one of my users. Strangely, I found that my email was already registered. Then I recalled an email from Jim Kukral who told me that I and a few other bloggers were preregistered into the program during the prelaunch.

I never did find the time to promote the program, otherwise would be paid $5 per signup during the prelaunch period! So sorry Ahmad, I guess I am unable to register under your link.

Yesterday someone from Google gave me a call. Initially, I thought I was selected to be part of some kind of special program, or they decided to increase my AdSense payout percentage… I wish lol.

Sadly it was none of those. They called to ask if I have received the email about a bug in Google Website Optimizer and reminded me to implement the fix as soon as possible.

It was a surprise to find that Google is willing to take the time to call each user of Website Optimizer individually to get their message across. If you are one of their users, you should have received the following email:

On November 7 (PST), we became aware of a bug in Website Optimizer that makes your experiment pages vulnerable to tampering. We have now identified the problem and created a fix (information below). However, to correct this problem you must modify the control scripts on all of your experiment pages. The control script is the Javascript you added to the top of your experiment pages. This script must be changed on all pages involved in past and present experiments. This will eliminate the risk of tampering from this bug.

For a detailed explanation of how to modify your control scripts, please visit this page: https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=80544.
We apologize for the inconvenience that this likely will cause. Please let us assure you that Google takes the security of our users and our advertisers very seriously. Keeping you informed and providing timely fixes is our number one priority.

Again, we urge you to implement this fix for your control scripts as soon as possible.

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