2012 Search Engine Algorithm Updates

January 11th

I ran across this great infographic showing the latest Search Engine Updates. It’s a roundup of what happened in 2012 and is it ever telling. Can you map it against your own traffic patterns?

Search Engine Round Up

The 20-Mile March: Lessons From Jim Collins’ New Book

October 18th
One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

Regular readers of this blog or members of AAW who know me through the forums know what a sucker I am for stories of persistence and determination. I don’t have a tatoo, but if I did, it would probably read “Routine will set you free.” I really do believe that the only way to make lasting changes in your life - in your diet, in your workouts, in your work - is to make them a habit, rather than a conscious choice. Conscious choice opens the door for choosing not to do something we know we should, and it’s inherent in our brains to resist change.

Jim Collins is a best-selling business book author and a recent nominee for entrepreneur of the decade.  His most recent book is called “ Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos and Luck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All”.  The title is pretty intriguing given the global unrest we’re all witnessing, no matter where in the world we live.

There are lots of pundits who believe that none of the old rules apply any more, and that the ground is shifting under us too quickly for us to stay the old course.

Collins and his co-author Morten T. Hansen examined 7 companies over a period of 30 years, to see if that theory holds true.

It doesn’t.

In their investigations, companies that stayed the course of persistent work, and didn’t work in fits and starts, achieved long-lasting solid results - results so impressive that in each of the cases they highlight, the companies performed 10 times better than their industry average over the course of 30 years.

The excerpt from the book is long, and you may not be interested in the entire post, but take a minute out of your day to read two parts:  The 20-Mile March and Are you an Amundsen or a Scott? The examples will light a fire under you to plan your work and work your plan.

http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2011/09/30/jim-collins-great-by-choice-exclusive-excerpt/

If you’re having trouble setting a habit, there is a free email service available called Habit Forge (http://www.habitforge.com).  Simply sign up for a free account and tell it what time you’d like a reminder, and what you’d like a reminder about.  You can choose whether to get the ‘accountability’ reminder, where you need to select ‘yes’ or ‘no’ indicating whether or not you did the new habit, or you can just get an email reminder to twig your memory.

Habits take 21 days to make, but as the 20-Mile March shows, setting the right habits can create life-changing results.  Make a habit today that will help you get to where you want to be with your writing and your affiliate marketing business.

Persistence and Determination

September 22nd

Dan and I are often asked what the most likely predictor for success is in Affiliate Article Writers.  People assume for the most part it’s the ‘natural’ writers who do the best and make the most money - the people who have a great way with words and seem to write effortlessly.

It isn’t.

It’s the people who have persistence and determination.

When Dan and I first met, we were surprised to learn that we had both used SBI in the past (a course on how to build websites).  The founder of that course, Dr. Ken Evoy, loves to pepper his manuals with quotes, and the one that always stood out for me was by Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

I read that quote over and over again the first time I saw it.  Was it really possible that it didn’t matter if I made the prettiest website or wrote the pithiest article?

Having been with Dan in this service for 3 years now, I can confirm that Coolidge was exactly right.

Sure, some people write articles that the New Yorker would be proud to publish.

But more often than not, the people who succeed in this course are writing at an average level - consistently.  They research their topic carefully and are more focused on providing good, new, interesting content to their readers than on writing a Pullitzer-prize-worthy single article.

Affiliate article writing has a very low entry threshold - just about anyone with a computer and an internet connection can get started.  But what sets the most successful people apart from the pack is the determination to succeed.

The surest way to success? Set measurable goals.  If you say “I’m going to write lots of articles this week”, how is it possible to know if you’ve succeeded?  If there’s a great show on TV, if there’s a trip to the mall . . . you can easily justify taking the time, because you’ve set a murky goal that even one article a week may satisfy in your mind.  Before you know it, the weeks have slipped by and you’re convinced ‘the program doesn’t work’, and then you’re on your way to the next bright shiny object.

By setting measurable goals, you train yourself - like an athlete - into a culture of improvement and progress.  If your goal is one article a day, it’s very easy to tell at the end of the week whether you met that goal or not.  No excuses.  No wiggle-room.

Like an athlete, it’s important that you start at a reasonable pace for your level of ‘fitness’.  If you haven’t written a word since your last day of school 20 years ago, give yourself time to work up to full speed.  Acknowledge that the first 10 articles will be like your first week at the gym - uncomfortable, stressful . . . and ultimately, just a short period of pain before you get in your groove and start to really grow your muscles and change your life.

And just like working out, the best way to ensure you stay the course is to have trainers and support - a buddy system - and you can find that in the forums at AAW.  If you are considering joining us, and you are willing to provide the persistence and determination to succeed, we’ll help you set goals and stick to them.  You’ll find lots of inspirational stories and ‘diaries’ and you may start one yourself to be an inspiration to others in the future.

Just remember, it’s the people in it for the long game that come out on top in affiliate article marketing.

What Is Content Marketing, Anyway?

August 31st

If you’re new to trying to sell things online for a profit, you may be wonder what is content marketing, anyway?  How does it differ from other marketing methods?

In affiliate marketing, there are several ways you can capture market share for products you are promoting.  One is to buy targeted banner ads on websites.

  • You can buy banner ads on websites where your potential customers visit
  • You can buy text ads like Google Adwords, and set them to show up on pages your potential audience may reach
  • You can pay-per-click in shopping engines

As you may have noticed, all of these have a hard cost associated with them, and it can be easy to spend thousands of dollars without any idea if your marketing strategy will work or not.

So what’s a new-to-the-internet person to do? Enter  the elbow grease method of making money online - content marketing!

What is Content Marketing?

When you engage in content marketing, you use several methods to ’spread the word’ - your word, that is!  Popular methods include:

  • Writing articles and submitting them to article directories
  • Writing blog posts and creating an authoritative website with dozens of posts using strategic keywords
  • Publishing reviews of products, both written and in video form
  • Creating lenses or hub pages

What’s the advantage to using this method over other methods?

First, it gives you time to really assess a market without ‘betting the ranch’.  You can see if a sales page converts, if you have the right target audience, if your understanding of the product is thorough, and if you understand what drives customers to buy products that you are marketing.

Second, you are in complete control.  With paid banners and text ads, the cost can spiral while you’re busy looking after other things, and you can find yourself in trouble quickly.  And when the money’s gone, it’s gone.  But with content marketing, you can invest as little or as much time as you have.  And almost without exception, the more you invest and the more you learn, the more return you see for your money.

Third, you can easily create content that changes as the keywords around an opportunity change.  Using a complementary SEO strategy to shape your content is far more effective than just writing blindly.

What is content marketing, really?  A strategy that allows you to learn, grow, and scale your online marketing career at your pace.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Cutting Through the Clutter

July 27th

Everyone thinks making money online is easy - after all, the news is full of stories of mommies who blog for millions while raising six children, and 12-year-old whiz kids who somehow manage to create a game more viral than anything Nintendo could come up with, right?  Well, if you’ve ever tried it you know how hard it really is!  Courses that purport to be aimed at newbies often contain so much information that you’d need to hire a team of experts just to interpret each step.

So if you’ve taken the first step and figured out that there are companies like Amazon, for example, that offer you a commission every time a sale is made from your website, you are probably wondering how to start affiliate marketing.

In the simplest of terms, start by taking a manageable bite of the apple!  You didn’t learn how to spell the first time you saw the alphabet - why would affiliate marketing be any different?

Pick one product and one strategy to promote it, and then stick with that technique until you’re successful.  And hint: successful means that you practiced it and practiced it until you got it right, not that you tried it once.  Be so tough on yourself as to set a sale as the measure of success.

Too often would-be affiliate marketers get caught up in the clutter of online money-making techniques, jumping from one strategy to another, reading everything they can, and then suffering from ‘analysis paralysis’.  In trying to do everything, they end up doing nothing at all.

The only sure-fire way to success isn’t to keep searching for the right guru, the right set of tools, or the right on-sale-for-just-3-hours-longer offer: it’s to execute on one strategy.

At AffiliateArticleWriters.com, we have one strategy that we teach you: writing high-quality content.  When founder Dan Ho was left at home with twin babies and desperately wondering how to start affiliate marketing, he took a product he was passionate about and he started to research, and to write.  He tried lots of styles, lots of sites to publish on, lots of keywords, and he eventually developed  a world-class system that he eventually started to teach other new marketers so that they too would know how to start affiliate marketing - how to start it, how to refine it, and how to sustain it.

Everyone has something they like to do - some people like to design sites, some people like to measure and test search engine ads.  But those who like to write, who are genuinely curious, and who are willing to put time and effort into researching their topic, becoming an expert, and sharing their knowledge, are sure to find success at AffiliateArticleWriters.com.  If that describes you, join now!

SEO Article Writers: Getting Back in the Game Post-Panda

July 19th

ghostwriterArticle writing was definitely hit hard by Google Panda, but members of our service know that perseverance pays, and some of them have even reported an improvement in their rankings in the post-Panda world.

Affiliate Article Writers founder Dan Ho doesn’t get too excited by these changes. He’s seen several like it in his 10 years in the business, like the famous Caffeine update in 2009. The way to get past them? According to Dan:

“It’s time for eveyone to step up their game, not just here at AAW, but everyone who wants to have their articles accepted at EZA. And the less people who step up, the less comeptition there will be, which is exactly what I expect to happen (which, of course, is a good thing for people who do).”

One of the criteria Google representative Matt Cutts listed as part of the new quality measures is “Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?”

Let’s look at what makes an article magazine- or encyclopedia-worthy.

1. Does your article contain original research or a new angle? Have you taken the time to come up with an interesting parallel or a new way of looking at a commonly-held piece of information that could be interpreted in a novel way to engage the reader? There is a concept often cited by Roy Williams, ‘The Wizard of Ads’, about ‘surprising Broca’. What he means is when you put a new spin on an old piece of information in a way that surprises people, it literally tickles the brain. By tickling the brain, you make a much deeper impression on the reader and you are more likely to get the most wanted response from them.

2. Have you taken time to format your article in a way that online readers can easily skim and scan? Readers skim through headlines, sub-heads, and bullet points, to determine if the article will be of any use to them. Readers scan for keywords (likely the ones they typed into their search engine) searching for a match. SEO article writing relies on using these two techniques to engage the reader and get them to read your article and resource box.

3. Have you established yourself as an expert? Experts show a deep level of understanding of their topic. Their articles are edited, with no spelling or stylistic errors, and it is clear that they have taken the time to proof-read their articles.

Stepping up your game to improve your SEO article writing ultimately means more money in the bank for you. Remember the truism that the harder something is, the fewer the number of people who are willing to work for it, and the sweeter the rewards.

AAW members can get more help with SEO article writing in our private forums.

Google Panda Thoughts

June 19th

Just a short weekend update.

I haven’t made a new blog post for about a week as my parents blew into town and took over my house for a few days…and then after that, I spent too much time in the sun one day and got a case of sun poisoning….basically a rash over a large segment of my body…..thankfully, it’s almost gone.

I learned to not sit in one spot for too long on a 95 degree, humid day for too long! Who knew!

This morning I heard an interesting segment on NPR radio here in the US. NPR stands for National Public Radio. They have a show called On the Media. Today’s show was covering Google and they had a whole bunch of people on giving their take on Google’s recent changes.

People were debating whether the recent changes were positive or negative. I think valid arguments can be made on both sides, but in actuality, the arguments irrelevant to us. The only thing that really matters to us is understanding the changes — even if we can’t do anything about them.

I wanted to recap a bit of what I heard because it was interesting.

Google has begun to personalize their results. This means that instead of everyone seeing the same results in the SERP’s for certain keywords, which used to be how it was done before, results are now becoming increasingly different for everyone!

The first guest summed it up when he stated that search used to be an active process — we had to look for information, then filter through that information, and then refine our search until we found the information we wanted.

With the new changes, search is moving from active to passive. Passive because Google is now filtering the results for you based on it gathering information ABOUT YOU, based on your preferences.

Here’s an example given by one of the guests: he had two friends searching out info about Barack Obama, the US president. One person got an article about him from the NY Times (a news source that is accepted to be left-leaning); the other person got information about him from Fox news (a news source accepted to be right leaning).

In other words, Google had enough information about the biases of both people and filtered the search results based on those biases.

Of course, the downside as it was pointed out by some guests, is that when search was active, people would be exposed to a wider range of information (some of which may have been highly beneficial to them and which their previous biases would have not permitted them to see).

For example, if someone had little to no knowledge about natural supplements, and typed in ‘lowering cholesterol’ Google may filter that person’s results to just show information about conventional pharmaceutical drugs, and not show any results on natural products.

Other online media seems to be following the same path. I believe Facebook was mentioned as example as well. One of the guests who I believe was politically left leaning friended people on the right to expose himself to a wider variety of opinion….but based on his actual actions (viewing the information of his friends who were more left learning, those people’s updates and information would show up in his friend feed much more prominently).

So, now that we live in a world of automatic filtering as Google, Facebook, and other companies try to ‘read’ into our biases and show us more of what we want, what do we do?

Well, to start, we just do more of what we were already doing. Because we’ll still be able to reach a wide audience of people who are biased to what we’re selling.

For example, someone typing up cholesterol and omega 3 fats…or best fish oil….or natural ways to lower cholesterol…..is a good candidate to come across our content whether we have a blog, a web site, or an article….because we are catering to that person’s biases.

Because natural products are a big industry, there’s a large built in demand we can always go after.

The other thing we can do (and I don’t have the answers yet on this) is to follow the changes as they are continually being rolled out and figure out ways to adapt to them and market to our target audience.

One of the examples on the radio show was given by a guest who said there was a family whose members were overweight (I don’t know how this information was gained, but somehow thru their actions, Google or whatever company was reading into it made this conclusion). After enough of this data was “known,” when members of this family were using the internet the advertising that tended to appear for them had to do with weight loss products and services.

Again, I personally am not making a judgment here… is that good or bad, I don’t know. I think personalized has a drastic potential downside…the only question is, is it offset by the upside. Only time will tell.

However, from a marketing point of view, there may come a time in the future where marketers can someone find out people’s biases and get their products and services in front of them.

In fact, in the offline world, before online marketing started to dominate, this is exactly what marketers did. For example, in direct response marketing, people knew that people who bought similar products to the ones they sold were much more likely to buy their products.

So, for example, if you sold nutritional supplements, you’d rent out a list of say, 20,000 people who had in the past purchased nutritional supplements, and then target and craft a direct mailing campaign for those people. You were, in essence, filtering out people rationally based on their biases and marketing directly to them with a related product.

In any event, because personalization is a radically new shift in online search, it’s something I will be following closely and when I find strategies that allow us to bend with it favorably, I will report on them in the private forum.

An Online Business Success Story

May 16th

I love success stories. But I especially love anti-hype success stories. What is an anti-hype success story? Well, let me say that, in my view, it’s a story that details the success of someone without trying to make it sound miraculous, easy, quick, and so on and so forth.

Most people unfortunately are attracted by notions of “effortless success,” or “overnight success.” If you look at the testimonials of many internet marketing training systems they’ll tend to zero in on of the one person in a 1,000 who went from 0 dollars to 10,000 in 30 days, while ignoring the other 999 people.

In any event, I read a really good success story that I want to share here. It doesn’t have to do with AffiliateArticleWriters.com or even article marketing, but it is a story of online business success.

What I really liked about this story is how the person who finally achieved success discussed how long it took, how difficult it was, and that she would have definitely given up had it not been for her mentor (who is the person interviewing her).

What’s also noteworthy is that once she got over the really difficult hump, things began to pick up. I don’t believe she uses the word momentum but that’s exactly what it is.

I once read a book by Donald Trump in which he devoted an entire chapter to Momentum in business (and life). He noted that momentum was critical, and yet, oddly, it’s almost never discussed in any business book, ever.

Momentum is just as vital in article marketing or AffiliateArticleWriters.com

When it comes to this lady, you’ll note that it took her a long time and a great deal of work to get to the first 500 unique visitors a day to her website, but that from 500 to 3,000 happened much quicker.

Oh, I should also mention, I got this story from long time member and fellow star of AffiliateArticleWriters Henri, aka Purplebeans.

I advise you to sign up for Henri’s free blog/newsletter at www.wakeupcloud.com

It’s been a pleasure of mine to watch Henri grow since he came into AffiliateArticleWriters. He busted his hump, created basically a 1,000 dollar a month passive income with us through Xtend-Life and then started reached a wider audience with passion through a blog he created, www.wakeupcloud.com

As everyone knows, rarely do I ever promote anything in AAW. How many times have you seen me endorse another training service or an ebook or anything? I don’t do that. It’s not my style.

And of course I’m not getting a nickle for plugging Henri. His newsletter is free. But he is a rare voice of authenticity and I think the Internet needs more of that.

Henri not only achieved a 4 figure a month passive income with the AAW system but is rising the ranks through a lot of HARD WORK via his excellent blog www.wakeupcloud.com and building a well deserved following for offering real, introspective insights.

He also details his earnings on some posts from other sources, such as his blog, and shows how through hard work one can create a several thousand dollar a month income online starting from nothing, and achieve the “internet lifestyle” without being some sort of guru.

By the way, I found the inspirational article from Henri via facebook. If you do use facebook, you can find me at:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682382948

I should advise you that my facebook account is not really about business, although I sometimes discuss things about it there. It’s a combination of whatever I feel like saying, which is often little irrelevant personal stuff. I also don’t use facebook too often, but feel free to friend me if you use it.

To read the article I am discussing, just visit:

http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/2798/fran-kerr/

I hope it motivates you to succeed in AffiliateArticleWriters. Every principle discussed in that article
is applicable to what we do as well.

Bring It On

January 21st

Are you game?

Are you game?

Maybe it was the sugar high, maybe it was that last glass of eggnog. . . regardless, over the holidays a few members of my family were talking a good game about article writing, and how good they’d be at it.

Of course, it’s mid-January now and not a soul has written a word, so I decided we’d better make it a challenge if we were going to see at least one of our New Year’s Resolutions through! So we set a little wager for 100 articles, starting Monday . . .

Telling Dan about it yesterday brought about a chuckle from him, and a suggestion that I might want to expand the challenge out to a few of you hardy souls.

So here it is, the 10 Weeks to 100 Articles Challenge.

That’s right, for 10 weeks, you’ll keep up with the keyword delivery pace set by AAW. Every week, you’ll write at least 10 articles. Know you have a school play to attend next week? Ping me and I’ll send your keywords out early.

To sweeten the pot a little (since I can’t buy all of you dinner if I don’t make it to 100!), here’s how the prize structure will work at AAW:

If you sign up for the challenge, you get a little bling for your forum account, to mark you as a contender.

Each week you complete 10 articles, you’ll get a little more bling for your forum account.

If you make it to 100 articles, you’ll get a free article from us.

And if you have the most articles after 10 weeks, you’ll win five free articles from us.

Are you in? Click here to go to your dedicated forum for complete details and to sign up for the challenge.

Do What Works

January 4th

Today’s message: do what works. It’s amazing, but we humans think we’re so intelligent. Yet we do amazingly stupid things all the time. Don’t think I exempt myself, either!

One of the dumbest things we do in life (and this certainly applies to business related activities) is we ignore the principle: “Do What Works”.

A couple of weeks ago I was playing poker at a neighbor’s house and one of the people there I was chewing the fat with runs a very successful retail business. What kind it is doesn’t matter. What’s important is this person started a real estate retail business as well. Which didn’t go so well and eventually he told me he closed it up. So a couple of years wasted, and god knows how much money.

This is because business one was working and even though it wasn’t at all related to business two, it was a matter of wanting to do something new, because he was bored with business one.

His conclusion to me was that he is now sticking to what he’s good at.

Wow. Simple and profound. How much more income would he have generated, how much more stress would he have avoided, how much in financial pain did he incur simply because he didn’t stick to what works.

We all know this is true in the internet marketing works, too. We find something that works, and rather than scaling it, we run off and chase another bright, shiny object. Again, we humans are an amazing species. We’re the only species that is smart enough to be that stupid, if that makes any sense.

I have committed this error in the past as well.

By the way, please don’t take this to mean that once you find something that works, you should never try anything different. There are some nuances here. But if you have been SEARCHING for something that works and you finally find it, what I would suggest is to at LEAST scale it to the point where you are totally happy with the results you are getting from that one activity. After all, if it works, it will work even better if you scale it.

Then, once you are at least satisfied with the results, you can try new things if you wish. But what do most of us do? Well, if we are lucky enough to find something that starts to work, we immediately start looking for other things and quickly bite off more than we can chew. And, unfortunately, a lot of those other things do NOT work, so now we are taking away time, energy, and focus from the thing that was working, which diminishes the results we were getting from that and we lose time, effort and money on the things that weren’t even proven yet.

So, I don’t care if it comes to dieting, or income producing, or anything else in your life. Make a vow that when you find what works for you, stick with it until you are least somewhat satisfied with your results before even considering anything else!