Posts Tagged ‘affiliate’

Remove Dead Links From Your Blog To Improve User Experience

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

After blogging for a while, you will notice two inevitable trends.  One, other bloggers that you used to link to, or leave comment on your blog with links to their site stop blogging.  And two, some of your advertisers — specifically affiliate advertisers — stop running their program.  In both cases, when your visitors follow these links, they are either going to a dormant web site or a parked domain — both of which contributes to bad user experience.

If you follow these bloggers, or if you get a notice from your advertisers, there are a few things that you should do.  In the case of other bloggers, I don’t generally go through these steps until the blog is completely dead; specifically, I’ll keep the links as long as the site is up.  Here are the steps that I go through:

  • Clean Up Your Blogroll — First, if the blogger is in my blogroll, I’ll remove the blog.  It’s also a good idea to periodically go through your blogroll to see if you are linking to any dead sites.
  • Clean Up Your Posts — Second, I search my posts for the dead blog.  In WordPress admin menu, click on Posts > Edit and do a search — i.e., “”.   Then I go in and either remove the link noting that it’s no longer around, or completely delete any reference to that blog.
  • Clean Up Your Comments — Third, I do a similar search in the comment section, and remove the dead URL from comments.

This used to be tedious, but WordPress 2.7 made this easier with “Quick Edit” function.  Now you may ask if this is worth the effort.  Personally, I think it is.  First, it shows that you care about your blog and your are keeping it current.  Second, your user are not visiting parked domain, or worse, domains that have been turned into spam sites or Made for AdSense sites.  Third, if you are concerned about SEO, it will cut down the number of unnecessary outgoing links.

One of the free tool you can use to detect dead links on your site is Xenu’s Link Sleuth (TM).

Do you go through your blog to clean up dead links?  Do you think it’s worth it?

4 Approaches to Making Money from Blogging

Monday, January 12th, 2009

So, you’ve heard that people can make money from blogging, but you’re wondering “how exactly does that work, and what approach would suit your blog?”.

Text Links

You have a website which has outgoing links, other websites want to rank with search engines, and one of the main measures for page rank is the number and quality of incoming links. So, there is money to be made from selling links on your site, and the advertiser is generally not that bothered if nobody ever clicks on the link.

This can be a reasonable source of income both from aggregators and private sales, but it doesn’t scale that well — after a certain point, you can’t earn more money as your blog grows. The main downside is that it is not at all popular with search engines and you may find your own ranking in searches is lowered as a result.

Ad Networks

You have a website which has visitors who click on links on your website. Other websites are are willing to pay for visitors. There is money to be made from selling advertising space on your website, you either get paid when someone views an ad, or when they click on it.

Making money this way requires a reasonably sized audience, and search engine traffic is considered to click more on adverts than regular readers or subscribers. Ad network income generally scales very well, and it is possible to make this the cornerstone of a money making strategy reliant on a single blog in the right sort of niche. The downside is that unless your website is very large, you’re unlikely to make private sales and will be reliant on an ad aggregator (e.g. Adsense, ). In practice this means that you will give up a fair amount of control over which ads are shown, and there can be restrictive terms and conditions.

Affiliate Links

You have a website where you mention products and services. Other companies are willing to pay commission for leads, inquiries or sales. There is money to be made by linking to the product or service if your visitors are likely to click on the link and follow up with a purchase.

Affiliate links scale well, and there is the potential for using both aggregators and private arrangements. You generally have complete control over which affiliate links are shown on your blog, and existing readers and subscribers are more likely to click on affiliate links than straight advertising. The downside is that making money from affiliate links depends strongly on the niche you are working in. There needs to be an obvious relationship between the topics you write about, and some products or services. So, for example review blogs do very well from affiliate sales, as can blogs related to expensive hobbies, but if you rarely mention specific products or services then you will probably struggle.

Consulting and Sales

You have some skill or product that you wish to sell. Your blog is strongly related to this skill or products. Other people will pay money for your skill or products.

You need to have genuine skills or a product to sell that people are interested in. Your blog needs to be strongly positioned towards making sales, in fact becomes somewhat of a sideline. You need to research any legal issues thoroughly before offering consulting, and ensure that you have back office systems set up for dealing with clients or completing sales. This works very well with business to business internet sales (e.g. selling WordPress themes, or blog consulting services) and fairly well with anything that can be done remotely, it is much harder to do if your skill requires you to be actually present. The biggest downside is that this is not passive income — you’ll actually have to work for the money, as well as blog.

Issues to Consider

You need to have the right set up in order to make money. Some free blog networks like don’t allow their bloggers to run advertising so check your terms and conditions. It is generally easiest to grow your blog’s income with self-hosted web hosting and your own domain name, but other approaches have worked for some people.

It’s possible to use a mix of approaches to making money, but be careful. If you are selling a product or skill then you might not want to use Adsense for example because the ads that come up are likely to be for competitors. As mentioned, selling text links can have a negative impact on your search engine visitors which are the primary source of income for most of the other forms of advertising.

Invariably, making money means paying taxes on the net income. Check out the regulations in your area, but you can usually make deductions for legitimate business expenses like hosting, domain names and Internet access. If you have a tax advisor or accountant already, you should contact them with your plans, often tax departments have phone lines you can call for advice on issues.

Finally, the standing of your blog is always dependent of having good content, and your credibility can be harmed by having a blog design with intrusive advertising. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by letting your desire to make money overcome your common sense.

Best of luck, and here’s to your first million (or at least hundred)!

Earn More Money With AdSense-Analytics Integration

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Recently Google made AdSense-Analytics integration available for my account.  I only have a few days worth of data, but I am very impressed with the information so far. As I analyze the data, I am beginning to see some potential uses. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you should start with this Inside AdSense’s article: Make a date with data in Google Analytics — make sure you watch the video, which is included below.

Make More Money With AdSense, The Basics

Before I go into more detail about how I am planning to use the data, let’s cover the basics. In short, your AdSense income depends on three key factors:

  1. Clickthrough Rate (CTR) — There are several things you could do to improve clickthrough rate.  This includes experimenting with:
    • Ad size (e.g., Skyscraper, Leaderboard, etc.)
    • Ad type (i.e., text versus image) — In general, I prefer text ads over image ads.
    • Ad placement (i.e., location or locations on the page) — Based on my experience ads below the Post Title perform very well.  Likewise, Skyscraper ad on the left also performs well.
    • Ad format (e.g., color, border, background, etc.) — My general preference is to have title link that matches the color of links on my site, no border, and matching background color.
  2. $ per click (CPC) — This is mainly determined by the topic and keywords of your blog/posts.
  3. Traffic — In general, the more the better.  However, different traffic type can have significant impact on the CTR.  For example, social bookmarking traffic tends to have very low CTR.  On the other hand, traffic via links from mainstream websites and traffic from organic searches tend to have much higher CTR.

    Use Integration Data To Improve Your AdSense Income

    Now that we have the basics covered, I want to go over two specific ideas on how to use the new data.

    High CTR / High $ per click Pages

    The first set of pages prime for optimization are the high CTR / high $ per click pages.  You want to drive more traffic to these pages because they are money makers that just need more traffic.  Here are a few ideas:

    • Link to these pages from your sidebar or from your home page.  For example, you can call these “Featured Articles”.
    • Link to these pages when you are writing new articles.
    • Link to these pages from your high traffic pages.
    • Buy ads that drive traffic to these pages.  This requires some tinkering since you have to figure out how to spend less on the ads than you are earning to keep some profit.

    Low $ per click Pages

    Another idea revolves around low $ per click pages; especially for pages with high traffic and high CTR.  For these pages there are several things you could try:

    • Look at the ads that appear on these pages and try blocking them. Hopefully, this will bring up the $ per click.
    • Tweak the keywords to attract higher paying keywords.
    • Stop showing AdSense and experiment with other types of advertisement — e.g., relevant affiliate ads, CPM ads, etc.  For example, I am doing this with one of my page that has high traffic and high CTR but with $ per click that’s around 5 cents.
    • Another idea is to replace AdSense with links to your other high CTR / high $ per click pages.

      Anyway, this is a relatively new and you may not have statistically significant amount of data to work with. However, it’s worth exploring and sees what you could do to positively impact your earning.  Here’s a good article I found on this topic: 10 Ways To Analyze AdSense Analytics To Make More Money from

      A Better Way To Manage Affiliate Links

      Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

      One of the more lucrative monetization methods for a blog is affiliate marketing (or referral marketing). Basically, you set up your blog with an affiliate link (or referral link) and send traffic to your advertiser. For each visitor that completes an action — i.e., subscribe to a service, buy a product, etc. — you’ll get paid a fixed amount or a percentage of the sale as compensation.

      Three Problems With Affiliate Links

      1. Non-Descriptive

      Non-descriptive affiliate links are the ones that don’t tell the user information about the site it is leading to. This is a common problem with program like Commission Junction where a typical affiliate link looks something like this:

      By the way, that’s the affiliate link for Lunarpages web hosting. However, with all the phishing scams, visitors are less inclined to click on a non-descriptive link because they are not sure where they will end up.

      2. Complicated

      Complicated affiliate links are the excessively long ones. For example, this is an affiliate link for a Garmin Nuvi GPS through

      That’s a pretty long affiliate link.

      3. Hard To Update

      As your blog ages, it could contain hundreds or even thousands of affiliate links. This presents a challenge if one of these links needs to be updated. For example, eBay recently left Commission Junction and started its own affiliate program, forcing publishers to update all eBay affiliate links.

      Using PHP Redirect To Manage Affiliate Links

      The three problems above can be addressed with a simple solution if you know a bit of PHP. We will use the Lunarpages link as an example.

      First, you need to create a PHP file that redirects visitors to the affiliate URL when called — let’s call it lunarpages.php. This is how the file would look like:

      header( ‘Location:’ ) ;

      Note the Lunarpages affiliate link.

      Second, upload the lunarpages.php file to your web server. I keep my PHP redirect files in a folder called go. For example:

      Now, I can simply link to this nicer looking link that tells my visitors that it goes to Lunarpages instead of the ugly “” link. Try it:

      A Better Way To Manage Amazon Affiliate Links

      It would be extremely time consuming to manage Amazon affiliate links using the above method — i.e., one PHP file per product. Fortunately, we can use a PHP variable to solve the problem — this way, one PHP file can handle multiple products.

      First, the PHP file. Let’s call it amazon.php. This is what it would look like.

      $asin = htmlspecialchars($_GET[‘asin’]);
      $link = “” . $asin . “?tag=your-affiliate-ID”;

      Note, be sure to replace your-affiliate-ID with your ID. Again, upload the file to your web server. Now, when I need to link to an amazon product, I can do the following:

      This is the equivalent of the long affiliate link in #2 above. Try it:

      If you ever need to update any of these links, all you have to do is update the PHP file — one change and you’re all set!