How To Get Traffic To Your Website Using Social Media

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Make no mistake about it, social media is a powerful source of online traffic. The best part of it is this is highly targeted traffic, and if you play your cards right, highly engaged traffic. With that said, it seems that the phrase “social media marketing” has been kicked around so much that just like the word “love,” people no longer know what it means. It’s suffering from overuse.

Well, I’m going to give you a refresher on why you should pay attention to social traffic as you try to make money online. Also, hopefully, this guide will help steer you away from common misconceptions regarding this particular type of online traffic.

Social media traffic is really traffic generated when people share a content online using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.

Social traffic is very powerful because when a stranger tells you something, chances are you have your defenses are up. Chances are you are more skeptical and suspicious. Why? You don’t trust that person. You don’t know that person.

Now, if somebody you know tells you something, you’re more likely to listen to that person. At the very least, you would be more willing to pay attention.

This is a tremendous competitive advantage when it comes to advertising messages. You’d like your advertising media to penetrate those social spheres of influence. The more spheres of influence you infiltrate, the more likely people will not just listen to your advertising message but actually evangelize your message. That’s how powerful and potentially rewarding a social traffic is.

Unfortunately, just like with any kind of marketing trend online, it’s very easy to abuse. It’s very easy to pretend you’re doing social media marketing, but in reality, you’re just spamming. Keep the following discussions in mind so you can get on the road to a truly effective social traffic-generation strategy.

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Facebook marketing

Facebook is really the mother load of all social media traffic. Seriously. With over a billion users and hundreds of million active users single month, you would be a fool to overlook Facebook.

The good news with Facebook is that there are paid advertising techniques, and there are free advertising techniques. I’m going to lay out the different advertising opportunities on Facebook in no particular order. My point is to basically just introduce you in the clearest terms possible as to how you can leverage Facebook’s immense traffic volume to your advantage.

Facebook Pages

Facebook Page marketing is probably the most common way people advertise for free on Facebook. It’s pretty straightforward. When you create a Facebook page and people like your page, your updates appear on these people’s news feed.

Well, Facebook would modify the volume and frequency of your messages appearing on people’s news feed depending on certain factors. If enough of your Facebook page members click the like button on your updates, chances are your updates will appear on more of your members’ news feeds. However, if there’s not enough engagement with your content, your content won’t reach very widely. It would stop being shared by Facebook after a certain extent.

The important thing to understand about Facebook pages is that you shouldn’t use tricks to get people to like your page. You shouldn’t use tricks to get people to like your updates. Instead, focus on publishing high-quality content so that when people become truly engaged with your content, they would click the like button naturally.

The more this happens, the more credible your Facebook page becomes, and the higher the likelihood that not only would your updates show up more often on more news feeds, but Facebook itself would promote your Facebook page on its related page feature. When you click “like” on a particular page, Facebook will show related pages. This is not always paid so you get a tremendous traffic boost. The more Facebook will feature your page as a related page.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are essentially interest groups on Facebook that people start based on subjects that they’re interested in. These are not official Facebook groups, but groups started and built by the members themselves. These groups are based on specific subject matter topics.

If used properly, you can get your marketing message in front of the right eyeballs through Facebook groups because it’s highly targeted. Facebook groups are built based on specific subjects. And when the website that you’re promoting targets a specific subject, and there is a close relationship between the subject matter of the Facebook group and your website, chances are high that people would go to your website because of the tight fit.

Unfortunately, too many people abuse Facebook groups. They think that if a Facebook group exists, it’s okay to spam that Facebook group. This is really too bad because if used properly, Facebook groups can be a highly targeted source of niche-specific traffic.

Facebook comments

Did you know that you can get traffic to your Facebook fan page by simply commenting on people’s websites?

If you log in to your Facebook page account and you comment on websites and blogs that use the Facebook commenting system, people can click your avatar and go to your Facebook page. The higher the quality of your Facebook page, the higher the quality of your comment, and the higher the quality of the content on your page; the higher the likelihood that people would like your Facebook page and become a follower of your page. This means that your updates then might show up on their news feed. How awesome is that?

The secret to effective Facebook commenting, of course, is to find websites that are specifically related to the subject matter of your Facebook page. You can’t just spam or blast comments all over the place. That’s just inviting a banning. Be specific regarding the niche of the websites and blogs you are commenting on using your Facebook page account.

Facebook photo tagging

Another very powerful way of getting attention on Facebook is to tag photos. This no longer works as effectively as before, but it still works.

When you tag photos with the names of people, you are friends with, the photo will appear on their wall and their news feed. This is extremely important because you’re basically expanding the reach of a particular photo by tagging people.

The problem with this approach is that it’s very easy to screw up. You only need to tag the wrong person, and you might get banned as a spammer. It’s very important to be very careful regarding who you tag. At the very least, tag only people who expect to be tagged.

Facebook ad services

Facebook has a self-serving ad system, and it is one of the most robust and powerful advertising systems on the planet. It can target Facebook users based on their location, their age, and other demographic data points. You can also pay for Facebook’s ads based on the clicks you get or the amount of impressions you get.

The downside to Facebook’s paid ads is that there’re so many traffic sources on Facebook that is really not worth paying for. And as powerful as the targeting system may seem, at the end of the day, you would probably have to spend a lot of money fine tuning your Facebook advertising campaign before you can even get a positive ROI on your ad spend on Facebook.

The good news is that if you don’t want to learn Facebook’s ad serving system the hard way, you only need to reverse engineer your competition. The best way to do this is to specify for your ads to show up only in the pages of people that have already liked or clicked the ads of your competition. This is a very sneaky way of reverse engineering your way to good traffic to Facebook.

Of course, this doesn’t always work because people often click ads out of curiosity. It’s not like they’re truly interested. They’re just curious. Unfortunately, that kind of traffic probably won’t convert. Still, it’s better than taking shots in the dark, crossing your fingers, and hoping to get lucky.

Twitter

The standard view of Twitter is that it’s a consumer advertising platform. In other words, people advertise on Twitter so they can get consumer traffic. In my opinion, this is completely opposite of how you should use Twitter.

Twitter is popular with influential people. These are people that are either journalists, bloggers, website owners, executives, movers and shakers. These are people that have a lot of influence. They might not generate a lot of traffic. A few people outside of their specific fields of expertise might know them. But guess what? They carry a lot of weight in their particular sphere of influence.

This is why you really have to use Twitter the right way when it comes to marketing. Instead of randomly following people and then blasting them with ads, the best way to use Twitter is to follow only influential people in your niche. Once you follow these people, you send them highly targeted niche-specific content that is quite rare. The more you do this, the clearer it becomes to them that you know what you’re talking about, and you’re probably worth trusting as far as a particular body of information is concerned.

Eventually, when you engage them enough by asking questions, challenging them, asking them for comments, the relationship might mature to a high enough level that they would be willing to share your content. Once you’re able to do this, you basically have these influential people lending their authority and credibility to your content. That should be your goal because it takes a lot of time to achieve a high level of credibility in any kind of field. Once you get such a credible and authority person to lend their brand power to you, your online brand can be taken to the next level.

This is the proper way to use Twitter. You use it to use content as currency to build influence. Later on, once the relationship has matured enough, you can then ask these people to publish your content on their blogs and websites. Not only do you get highly targeted direct traffic, but you also get backlinks from the people that are following these influence leaders.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very specific social media platform that is geared towards job seekers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and other professionals. Unless you’re looking for a job, or you’re looking to hire somebody, LinkedIn is not really a great source of traffic.

I’ve mentioned LinkedIn here primarily because of its brand-building capabilities. Make no mistake about it, you don’t really have a brand if the top dogs in your niche don’t about your brand. For example, you can’t say that you run the top automotive blog on the planet if the CEO of General Motors or Ford hasn’t heard of you.

LinkedIn is a great way to rub digital shoulders with people in your industry. It’s all about getting your brand out there, getting people to mention your brand, and to somehow, someway be perceived of as credible in your industry.

Standing on its own, you’re probably not going to benefit all that much from LinkedIn traffic if your end goal is to get direct traffic or conversions. However, if your focus is on branding within your industry so you can then build that credibility later on through other social media channels, I suggest highly that you throw LinkedIn into the mix.

Instagram

Instagram is a very powerful marketing tool if your online presence is very graphical. For example, if you run a recipe website, Instagram is amazing for that because food sites require high-quality pictures to draw traffic. And when you share those high-quality snapshots of dishes that you feature on your food blog on Instagram, chances are you might get enough mobile traffic from Instagram to increase your overall traffic volume.

The secret to Instagram marketing is proper tagging. You have to pay attention to how your competitors tag their pictures because if you use the wrong tag, you might attract the wrong audience. If it’s the wrong audience, obviously, chances are high they won’t respond favorably to your content.

Moreover, it’s a good idea to reverse engineer your competition as far as tagging is concerned. Because this way, you’re letting them do your homework for you. Instead of you taking shots in the dark regarding which tags would work and which tags would get traffic, you simply need to build on their experience in the traffic they are already generating so you can pump Instagram traffic to your website.

Pinterest

Pinterest is an online pinboard where members can post pictures, and each picture is clickable. As you probably already know, any website on the Internet that allows you to put up something that is clickable, whether it’s a link, a text, or a picture, is a potential traffic source.

Make no mistake about it, Pinterest has millions upon millions of users, and it is continuing to grow. It has primarily a female clientele. So depending on your niche, it may or may not be a good idea to advertise on Pinterest.

Regardless, the best way to use Pinterest is to focus on high-quality graphics. You won’t gain much attraction if you post grainy or badly cropped pictures on Pinterest. That’s not just going to cut it. You have to focus on high-quality images for you to get the best results from Pinterest.

Also, like Instagram, you have to tag your content properly. The good news is that your competition has probably used Pinterest before so you only need to copy what they’re doing and pay attention to the results you’re getting. If certain tags get more traffic, then you need to use those tags more often. However, if certain tags don’t produce traffic, you might want to ditch that and reverse engineer other competitors that use other tags. The whole point of marketing on Pinterest is that it gives you another avenue for drumming up online traffic for your target website.

Social traffic is really all about influence. People are more likely to consume a piece of content if it was shared by them with somebody they trust. This person can either be a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance from school. It doesn’t matter. There’s that level of familiarity that dissolves normal skepticism and suspicion.

When you market on social media platforms, you take advantage of this fact. You leverage the fact that people who know each other give each other the benefit of the doubt as far as content is concerned. So you can then piggyback on this influence to increase the reach of your online brand.

Generating Traffic To Your Business With SEO

Generation Traffic Through SEO

Usually, when people mention the word SEO, there are two distinct reactions. Either people get blown away by a feeling of insecurity because SEO in their minds is mind numbingly complex, or people’s eyes glaze over because they think they are going to deal somebody that would give them the secret to SEO. It’s really unfortunate that SEO has been positioned this way because if you really take the time to understand SEO, it’s not as complicated as it seems. It’s not as arcane as it has been positioned to be.

In fact, it is quite simple. SEO can actually be broken up into on-page elements and off-page elements.

On-page elements are the things that are on the actual web page. These are the texts, the layout, and other items on a particular web page that help impact the ranking of that particular page for certain keyword searches.

The off-page element of SEO involves the number and quality of links from external websites pointing to that particular page. Again, these off-page elements can impact how highly Google will rank that particular web page based on certain keyword queries.

A proper understanding of SEO must take full account of these two elements. If you neglect one element at the expense of the other, you might not get the kind of search engine ranking results that you would like. It is fundamental to proper understanding of SEO to get a healthy balance of these two elements.

Unfortunately, there are many online marketing forums and blogs that really play up one aspect at the expense of another. There are many SEO guides that basically say that you only either need to play up the on-page element or the off-page element, and you’ll be fine. Obviously, this is not true. Your comprehensive SEO strategy must incorporate both these elements because these are fundamental to getting the most traffic from Google and other search engines.

On-page elements

The on-page element of SEO boils down to keywords and layout. This may seem like a simplistic reduction, but that’s really all you’re dealing with. You might think, “Okay, I just need to focus on the right keywords, and I’m good to go.” No. There is more involved than that.

You have to understand why you’re focusing on certain keywords and not on others. Unlike the famous Shakespeare phrase, “A rose by any other name smells just as sweet,” keywords are not interchangeable. They have to be very focused because there is a certain constellation of intent behind each cluster of keywords.

And if you screw up your keyword clusters, and you build your web page behind the wrong keywords; you’re basically barking at the wrong tree. Sure, you might get a conversion here and there, but at the end of the day; the return on effort will be absolutely horrendous. It’s really important to focus on intent when selecting different keywords.

Why does intent matter?

Well, the reason for this is that when people use a search engine, they actually have different mindsets. First, if you’ve just found out that you have pancreatic cancer, when you log into Google, and you do a search, you probably would read everything that has something to do with pancreatic cancer. You’ll basically be a vacuum cleaner of information because you really panicked, you really worried, and you want as much information as possible. There’s very little discrimination in your mind between one website or the other. You just want info on pancreatic cancer.

This is what we call the know stage. These are people that basically just got turned on to a particular concept, and they are looking for information regarding that concept. Either they’re scared because they think they have a particular disease, or they just figured out the name of a celebrity, and they want to know more about that celebrity. The hallmark of the know stage as far as keyword intent is concerned is an all-consuming obsession with information.

The next stage is the like stage. At this stage, a person already knows a little bit about a body of information and is actually more discriminating. The person is actually looking for a specific type of information.

For example, to take the pancreatic cancer example, at this stage the person is looking for particular oncological treatments for pancreatic cancer. Compare this with the original search query which is just pancreatic cancer. At this stage, this person focuses on treatment and survival ability, a completely different subset of a larger frame. So we’re talking about the like subsection of the buying process.

Finally, once this person gains some level of subject matter proficiency and is looking for specific treatment option, this person is at the trust stage. This person now is looking for a specific provider for a specific body of information that would help resolve this person’s issues.

I hope this is clear because if you are just going to approach keyword selection from a purely generalized perspective, you’re going to hit the mark each and every time. Just because somebody entered the keyword in Google doesn’t necessarily mean that person is willing to buy. It doesn’t even mean that person is looking to take the kind of action that you expect that person to take.

What makes keyword selection so crucial as far as SEO is concerned is intent detection. You have to remember that you cannot build a website based on the wrong keywords because people are not just going to convert.

The power of context

Following closely from the concept of intent detection is the task of context placement. For your website to be effective, you have to make sure that the content that your website contains has the proper context. When people look for certain keywords, there is a range of logical inferences that you can follow that create an overall context as to what that person is actually looking for.

If you understand this and you build your website accordingly, you increase the likelihood of you converting that visitor. But if you’re completely clueless regarding this and you just basically throwing in keywords randomly because you know that these keywords get searched a lot on Google, you’re basically just taking shots in the dark. You’re basically taking wild guesses, throwing the dice, crossing your fingers, and hoping to get lucky. That is no way to run an online business. That is no way to run an SEO campaign.

To sum up, your keyword selection is the most fundamental aspect of SEO. Get this wrong and you might as well stop doing SEO. You have to select the right keywords based on intent and context.

Of course, this all ties into whatever it is you’re promoting. If you’re promoting a certain service, figure out where that service would come into play in terms of the buying stags I’ve outlined above.

Layout

Another powerful on-page element that many rookie SEO practitioners completely overlook is the layout. Make no mistake about it, Google is not static. The powerful software driving Google continues to evolve.

It used to be the running joke in SEO circles that Google’s software can be likened to a blind five-year-old.  Well, I’m sorry to break it to those people that it seems that after the most-recent   algorithm updates, Google is not in its teens. That’s how amazing Google is growing in terms of cognitive ability. Play around with Google at your own risk because if you assume that Google is blind or dumb, you go another thing coming.

This is especially important when it comes to the layout because most websites use navigation elements that are not graphical. When you go to a website, usually the tabs at the top have text. This is a very powerful SEO component because if you lay out the navigation element of your website, and you have a solid SEO strategy informing your choices; chances are this can result in high rankings for the keywords that your website is targeting. Never underestimate the power of layout.

The good news is that thanks to blogging software like WordPress or Joomla or Drupal; you can rest a little bit easier regarding layout issues. As long as you tag them with the right keywords, you don’t have to worry about layout choices as much as before.

Avoiding Panda penalties

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I would be completely irresponsible and committing online marketing malpractice if I don’t inform you about Panda penalties. In 2011, Google rolled out this software upgrade called Panda. Panda completely blew everybody away because for the longest time, people are assuming that Google didn’t really read web pages. Basically, Google just processes web pages based on keywords, and it would rank them accordingly.

Well, Panda changed all of that. What Panda really is basically a stereotype of generalization of what a “good” or “high-quality” page would look like. And based on these parameters, Panda would actually read the content of web pages and assign certain quality scores to them. If your web page doesn’t make the cut, you get penalized. Some key elements that you might get penalized are duplicate content, repetitive text, too many ads, and other low-quality content-based practices.

Panda is no joke. Panda can really ruin your day as far as rankings are concerned. The worst part of it all is that Panda is still alive. It’s still constantly being updated.

It’s really a good idea to make sure that whatever you choose to put on your website must help you build a solid online brand. At the very least, it must work to improve the credibility and authority level of your content. Otherwise, it’s not worth putting on your website.

Another factor that a lot of SEO professionals are saying that Panda pays attention to is the bounce rate. If somebody clicks on Google’s search result and ends up on a page and almost immediately clicks the back button, this sends a message to Google that the resulting page is of low value. This is a very powerful on-page ranking factor that you need to concentrate on because you might get the business end of Panda if you produce low retention, low value web page content

 Off-page elements

 

The primary form that off-page elements take when it comes to SEO is of course backlinks. It’s easy to see why.

Prior to Google, search engines decided how to rank websites based on the actually content those websites contain. This resulted to a lot of website spam because all you needed to do to rank highly for a particular search query was to simply copy and paste your high-ranking  competitors’ content. Also, content-based ranking systems are very easy to trick. There are all sorts of software tricks and tools you could use to rank highly when your website doesn’t really deserve a high ranking.

Google’s main innovation was it actually counted the amount of backlinks from other websites pointing to a particular site and kept track how those third party websites link to the targBack links et website. It’s like going into a room and asking people, “Where is Sam?” And everybody who knows Sam would then point to Sam.

In the same way, when Google looks at how other websites link to each other; they would count the backlinks as votes of authority or credibility based on anchor text descriptions. So if enough websites linked to your page with the word “tadpole,” chances are your web page, at least as far as Google is concerned, is about tadpoles. Not surprisingly, Google would then increase your ranking for the search term “tadpoles.” That’s how off-page elements work out.

Google has evolved dramatically since the late 1990s, and there’s a lot more to the way Google processes backlinks. You need to be aware of these factors so you can earn backlinks accordingly. Otherwise, if you use old backlink generation techniques, not only would you fail to gain any traffic benefits, but Google might flat out ban you.

Backlink sources

It’s really important to pay attention to the source of your backlinks. It used to be that you just needed to fill out a form, add a directory website or a Web 2.0 website to get a backlink. This no longer works because Google is paying attention to who links to you. And if you get too many links from easy link sources, Google might think that you are spamming it database. Not a good move.

The best backlink sources are, of course, websites that are closely related to the niche of your target website. Also, these websites must be very difficult sources of backlinks. In other words, not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can just go to these websites and fill out a form and get a backlink. At the very least, people should contribute high-quality content and through a fairly elaborate and complicated editorial control system, a link would be generated.

Finally, Google also pays attention to the subject matter of the websites linking to you. For example, if your website is all about Nike Air Jordan shoes, but you get a lot of backlinks from ballet shoe websites, that’s going to look suspicious to Google. It doesn’t make sense.

Similarly, you need to pay attention to link volume. It used to be that you can just fill out a form, blast out your link all over the Internet, and get tons of backlinks in a relatively short period of time. This is a quick way to get a massive boost in Google’s traffic. Not anymore. If you do that, Google might ban you because it’s obviously fake.

Link best practices

I’m spending a lot of time talking about backlinks because, for the most part, this is where the robber meets the road. You really can do so much with off-page elements. Once you dot your eyes and cross your tees, you’re pretty much good to go. You can only beat a dead horse for so long. Optimizing your off-page elements can only take you so far. Most of the action takes place out of your website and depending on how you play the game; it may not result in optimal SEO results. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the following best practices.

Niche-specific links

Your first focus should be getting links from websites that are thematically related to your target page.

For example, if your web page is about Air Jordan shoes, get links from other men’s basketball shoe website. If your website is about Hello Kitty, get links from Japanese culture and Hello Kitty websites.

In other words, there has to be a tight contextual relationship between the external sites linking to you and the subject matter of your site. Niche-specificity is crucial because Google has been handing out penalties lately to people who blatantly disregard this ranking mechanism.

Content-based

As I’ve mentioned earlier, it used to be easy to make thousands of dollars every single month tricking Google. Seriously. You only needed to come up with a badly worded grammatically incorrect article, run it through a piece of software called a spinner so that it would synonymize the words, and technically speaking, you would have thousands of unique articles. The next step is to feed that article’s database into massive article submitters that would submit to thousands of article sites. This process, of course, generates tons of backlinks and people used to rank very highly because of this.

Well, thanks to the Google Penguin update; this is no longer the case. In fact, if this is how you do business, chances are Google will ban you.

The name of the game is high-quality content-based link-building. What this means is that you have to be enough of an expert in your niche subject matter category that when you approach specialty online publications that focus on that niche, they would be willing to publish your contributed content. In exchange, there would be a link in your contributed content that, of course, would go to your website.

Ideally, this should produce a win-win situation. The link source would get free content that’s not going to get published elsewhere, and you win because you get a high-quality backlink from a niche-specific site.

As you can probably already tell, this got abused because people would produce all sorts of low quality guest posts and garbage content that they would then try to pass off to unsuspecting third party websites. This completely poisoned the well. And as of this writing, Google is on the record as being on the war path against sloppy guest posting.

Earned links versus built links

The new philosophy in SEO is no longer link-building. In fact, if you run across a self-proclaimed SEO specialist who mentions the word link-building, chances are high that person doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Chances are high that person doesn’t know SEO at all. Because if you’ve been paying attention to Google, people are no longer “building” links. They are earning links.

This is a fundamental paradigm shift because instead of actively trying to trick Google by building links on your own and putting in the effort to automatically get links. When you earn links, the focus of attention shifts to the editor. That’s right. These third party websites are run by editors and the action shifts to them because you’re earning links from them. It’s their call, whether they link to you or not.

Google hopes that this added layer of editorial control means that only trustworthy and credible pages get linked to. Of course, you and I know that this system is also open to abuse.

Natural links

Another key factor to keep in mind when it comes to backlink-building and off-page elements is that your links must look natural. It is completely unnatural when overnight you get 1,000 backlinks. Unless your name is Kim Kardashian, you’re not going to get that many links overnight. It’s just not going to happen.

Google is always on the lookout for unnatural linking patterns. If you are going to be earning links, make sure that you drip feed your links. Otherwise, if you get too many links in a short period of time, it’s going to look highly unnatural and Google will penalize you.

Other signals

There are many other signals that Google pays attention to in addition to how niche-specific your links are, whether your links are content-based, whether you earned your links, or you build them, and whether your links follow natural patterns. It’s anybody’s guess how much weight Google actually places on these other signals, but it’s a good idea to keep these in mind.

First, Google is now factoring in https pages. Http pages are secured pages. The reason for this is that many hackers are using unsecured pages to basically spread spy ware and all sorts of garbage all over the Internet. Google is joining the fight against unsecured websites by giving web pages built in https an added competitive boost.

Load speed

Another factor Google is on the record considering when it comes to determining how high to rank your website for a particular keyword query is load speed. How fast is your website loading?

A lot of online entrepreneurs consider this an afterthought. They don’t even bother with it. But the reality is it makes a lot of sense. If somebody lands on your website, and it loads as slow as molasses, chances are they’ll just get the hell out and find something else that load much faster. This, of course, impacts the user experience with Google’s results and this makes Google look bad for ranking you so highly. There’s been a lot of chatter online in SEO circles, whether load speeds have been deprecated or not. But make no mistake about it, it’s still in play.

Hilltop content

In 2003, Google rolled out an update called Hilltop. What Hilltop does is that it looks at the links on your page and tries to determine whether you’re linking to highly authoritative and highly credible websites. The thinking behind is that if your website is quality, you would link to other quality sites. The old saying “Bird of a feather flock together” come to mind.

Of course, anybody knows that this is very easy to trick. Everybody knows that you can link to Wikipedia and other high authority websites but at the end of the day, your web page might still be a spam page. Still, this is a documented ranking factor, and you should not overlook it.

Get Your Traffic Flowing With These Paid Sources

As I’ve mentioned earlier, there’s really no such thing as free online traffic. You’re paying in one form or another. Either you’re paying money upfront, or you’re paying in the form of time.

As the old saying goes, time is money. And if you are going to be generating traffic through your sheer effort and account generation and outreach and other techniques, you are still using up time which you could be using to do other things.

You could be getting paid to do other things. This is why there is no such thing as free online traffic.

With that said, here is an in-depth look at the most common forms of paid traffic sources. This list is by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, the only limit really is your imagination. However, I’ve selected the key versions of paid online traffic that would give you enough of an idea as to how they work and how related types of traffic would work.

Keep in mind that this information is presented in broad strokes. A specific method as well as traffic behavior, of course, depends on the specific paid traffic platform that you use. I’ve outlined the treatment of these traffic sources in terms of how they work, their pros, and their cons.

Google AdWords

When you join Google AdWords, you’re basically looking to advertise on Google’s search results based on keywords that you’re targeting. The whole idea behind Google AdWords is contextual advertising. In other words, when somebody types in a specific query, ads that are directly related to that search query would appear. The whole philosophy is that since there is such a close fit between the content of your ad and the idea behind the keyword the Google user entered, chances are the Google user would click on the ad.

For the most part, this model has been validated to the tune of several billion dollars every single year. That’s how powerful Google AdWords is.

 Pros

If you know what you’re doing, Google AdWords is probably one of the most powerful paid traffic sources on the Internet. Hands down.

The reason for this is because you are targeting intent. When people type in certain keywords, they actually have a certain intent behind those keywords. You can tell whether a person is just looking for information, looking to find a solution, or already trusts a specific solution and is looking for a specific provider.

As you can probably already tell from these different stages, there are different commercial consequences of these levels of intent. If you select the right keywords, you can zero on certain types of intent and pay very little money while generating high-value  conversions. It’s not unusual for people who know how to use Google AdWords advertising to turn a click that is worth $0.25 into a conversion that’s worth several hundred dollars.

Cons

The big disadvantage of Google AdWords is that you are at the mercy of ad inventory; more particularly, search volume inventory. It doesn’t matter how much you’re willing to pay for a particular click. If the search volume for that keyword doesn’t exist, you’re basically out of luck.

This is the key limitation of Google AdWords. Google can only sell you traffic that it has. It can’t sell you traffic that doesn’t exist.

Another disadvantage to this form of paid traffic is you are caught in an auction war with other advertisers. It’s not uncommon for keywords that start out at $5 a click to end up costing a hundred dollars per click. It can get ridiculous. Unfortunately, if you’re not paying close attention to your conversion value, you might end up paying too much money for Google AdWords traffic and have very little to show for all your ads spend.

Bing ads

Bing is, of course, Microsoft’s search engine. Unlike Google, Bing has a relatively small market share of the global search market. Be that as it may, Bing still accounts for millions of page views every single day. You should not overlook Bing’s ad inventory if you are serious about your pay-per-click marketing campaigns.

Bing operates in the same exact way as Google. It’s all about contextual keywords and the right ads showing up with the right keywords.

The secret to contextual advertising, of course, is all about intent detection. When you have a keyword that you’re thinking of bidding for, you better make sure that you understand the intent parameter behind that keyword.

You have to remember that to sell anything online, there is a buying process. Either people are just looking for information; people are looking for a specific solution, or people are looking to buy the solution. These are three different intents and your keyword selection as well as your ad’s placement must mirror this reality.

Pros

The same advantages to Google AdWords apply to Bing ads. There’s really not much difference. It’s all about intent detection. It’s all about message specificity.

Cons

The same disadvantages with Google AdWords are present here. It’s very easy to blow your advertising wad on the wrong keywords. It’s very easy to dump your expensive contextual ad traffic to conversion pages that don’t mirror the intent of the visitor.

Facebook ads

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Facebook ads show ads on the right side of Facebook when people log on to Facebook to check out their news feeds, check out Facebook groups, or to play with an app. It’s pretty straightforward in terms of ad rotation and ad display.

What makes Facebook worth riding home about is that it’s extremely powerful in terms of targeting.

There’s a reason why Facebook has been sued many times before for privacy violations. The moment you log in to Facebook, they are tracking you very closely. They pay attention to the ads that you’ve seen. They pay attention to your demographic habits. They pay attention to the content you consume. It’s like your being spied on 24/7 while you’re logged on to Facebook.

This, of course, translates to a high degree of advertising specificity. You can log in to Facebook’s self-service ad system and select the age range of people who get to see your ad. Moreover, you get to select their gender; you get to select their location, and a long list of other factors.

To add to all those amazing features, Facebook also helps you reverse engineer your competition. If your competitor’s ad was clicked by somebody, you can target that person. That is an amazing competitive edge that Facebook gives you that Google AdWords and Bing don’t give you.

Pros

Facebook is heavily targeted. There’s no doubt about that. Facebook can also be very disruptive because your ad can show up on people’s news feed depending on their clicking patterns and their demographics.

Cons

The problem with Facebook is that unlike search engine ads, your ads basically show up based on targeting and there’s really no intent on the part of your prospects as far as your ad is concerned.

Let’s compare the two situations. First, with search engines, your ad will only show up when people are actively looking for what you have to offer. With Facebook, people log onto Facebook to hang out with their friends and as an afterthought, your ad shows on the side.

Which do you think would be more effective? Which do you think is more targeted?

As amazing Facebook’s targeting system may be, that is not targeted enough because it’s not disruptive. It doesn’t really gain the attention enough to convert a click into an actual sale.

LinkedIn ads

LinkedIn is the world’s biggest profession-based social network platform. People who are looking for jobs or company executives and professionals create LinkedIn profiles so they can network with other people in their industry.

LinkedIn is very targeted in terms of industries. This is its strongest point. LinkedIn can show ads based on particular industries, occupational profiles, and job preferences.

Also, there are certain sections of LinkedIn that cater to specific topics. LinkedIn would show contextual ads there.

Pros

The big advantage of advertising with LinkedIn ads is that they are very targeted towards certain groups of people. If you are, for example, looking for a cloud computing programmer, LinkedIn would be a great place to advertise because those people hang out at LinkedIn and are looking for jobs. LinkedIn ad’s main claim to fame is their specificity as far as job applicants are concerned. It’s no surprise that a lot of the top HR firms in Silicon Valley use LinkedIn ads as part of their overall recruitment campaigns.

Cons

The big disadvantage of using LinkedIn is that its focus is very narrow. Unless you’re looking for a job, or you’re looking to hire people or you’re looking for investors, LinkedIn probably won’t be a good fit for product sales or service sales. While there are general interests or specific interest areas in LinkedIn, you might take out contextual ads there. This might be a little too late as far as specificity and return on investments are concerned.

The key analysis for online advertising should focus on return on investment. And if there is a low level of targeting or a mismatch regarding interests, LinkedIn is probably a bad choice for your specific campaign.

Twitter ads

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Twitter is a very powerful social media platform because it seems that every journalist is using Twitter. It seems that every mover and shaker on the blogosphere is using Twitter. It seems that highly influential in all sorts of industries make it a point to have a Twitter presence.

As you can probably imagine, a lot of people following these individuals hang out in Twitter because they’re looking for content that these people share. This makes for a ripe advertising opportunity because when your ad shows up while somebody’s looking at a particular Twitter feed or a particular Twitter channel, there might be a close enough connection between the value proposition contained in your ad and the specific niche your ad appears in.

Pros

The great thing about Twitter ads is that they’re relatively cheap compared to Facebook’s ads and definitely Google AdWords. That’s probably the only positive thing I can say about Twitter ads because, for the most part, it’s like advertising at a party.

When people go to a party, they want to talk to each other. They want to rub shoulders. They want to know what’s going on amongst each other. They’re not really there to look at the walls and check out the advertising. They’re not really there to scope up the posters.

Sure, you might snag a few eyeballs here and there. But for the most part, people aren’t there to screw around. People are there to look for information. Keep this in mind when looking to advertise through Twitter ads.

The good news is that there is a very powerful workaround to this. I’ve discovered that the best way to advertise on Twitter is not through direct advertising but through influence marketing. That’s right.

Figure out Twitter members who are highly influential in your niche. Engage those people by sharing with them content that they’re interested in.

Once you gain their trust, they will be more than willing to share your own content. When this happens, they’re basically lending your content their credibility and their brand. Their followers would be more than likely to click on your content, and you can either get direct traffic or blog posts regarding your content. Either way, you win. That’s the best way to play Twitter and the best part of it all is that it’s completely free.

Media buys

The term “media buy” is actually quite broad when it comes to the Internet. You can buy video traffic. You can buy banner traffic. You can buy all sorts of advertising media.

The secret to all of these, of course, is effective tracking. As long as you are able to effectively track how your advertising materials are performing, you can fine-tune the conversion rate of your campaigns. This is extremely important because it’s too easy to lose track of all the media buy options out there. It’s just too easy to spend a lot of money and has very little results to show for all that blown cash.

You have to track, and you have to fine-tune your advertising materials based on the response that you are getting. That is the most effective way to do media buy campaigns. If you conduct your media buys in any other way, you are essentially wasting your time.

Pros

The big advantage of using media buys is that everybody and his dog wants you to buy his or her media. Any website on earth from big corporate controlled online brands to mom and pop blogs would love for you to buy media ads.

Diversity as well as inventory: This is the only good news with this type of paid traffic source.

Cons

There are many disadvantages to media buys. First and foremost, you really have to keep your eye on the ball because it’s so easy to blow your hard-earned cash by engaging in media buy campaigns. It’s just too easy to buy advertising spots at many different places and at the end of the day, have very little to show for it. In fact, expect to face a steep learning curve, at least in the beginning. Expect to blow through quite a bit of cash until you get the hang of it.

This is precisely the reason many Internet marketing consultants and in-house marketing staff try to shy away from big media buys. They would first try to do baby steps until they get enough data with which to optimize their conversion rate.

PlentyOfFish ads

Plentyoffish is one of the biggest online dating websites on the planet. Plentyoffish gets a lot of traffic because it actually works.

 Unlike many other online dating websites which are stocked with fake profiles, Plentyoffish is almost 99% real. In other words, if you find a dating profile in Plentyoffish, there’s an actual flesh and blood human being behind that profile. Not surprisingly, Plentyoffish gets a lot of traffic.

Plentyoffish actually has a very robust advertising platform that can target individual members based on a wide range of measures. You can target people based on their location, their gender, their age range, their interests, and other data points.

Pros

The big advantage of Plentyoffish is their targeting system. Their targeting system is so powerful that it’s almost like Facebook. Facebook’s targeting system is really legendary.

However, unlike Facebook, people on Plentyoffish actually view ads because there’s not much else to do except view dating profiles and ads. So this increases the likelihood that somebody would actually click on your link.

Cons

The big disadvantage of Plentyoffish is that it’s still a mixed intent website. What I mean by that is when people go on Plentyoffish, they’re looking for dates. They’re not primarily looking for products or services that they can buy. While they would respond favorable to certain ads, this is not a slam dunk. There’s still that filtering factor posed by the fact that they are there to look for dates. You have to live with this fact if you buy Plentyoffish ads.

Also, you have to put in the time and effort to fine-tune your ads. What I mean by this is that you need to pay attention to how many people click on your ads so you can produce more ads that get clicks. And once you identified the ads that get the most clicks, you then have to fine-tune your conversion page so the actual sales that your conversion page generates increases along with the click-through rates of your ads. If this sounds like a mouthful, it absolutely is.

This is why you would be probably better off hiring an outsourced advertising campaign manager to make this flood. Make no mistake about it, Plentyoffish can definitely deliver a lot of results. However, you need to have the patience, the budget, and the personnel to make it work.

PPV traffic

PPV stands for pay-per-view, and this is really just a fancy term for banner advertising. You remember banner advertising, right? Banner advertising is pretty much shipped with the first version of the Internet. It seems that everybody and his dog knows of banner advertising.

Interestingly enough, the Internet has evolved to such a point that people no longer automatically flock to banner advertising when it comes time to monetize their website. Why?

People grab the clue. They realize that PPV traffic and banner advertising really doesn’t get that many clicks. In fact, for you to convert PPV traffic, you either have to pay really low rates, or you have to get tons of impressions. Either option is not very attractive. It’s like refining several tons of sand just to settle for a few ounces of gold. It doesn’t make any sense.

But I’m describing PPV traffic because people still use it. For some reason or other, people still think that banner work, so I’m offering it as an option. It is by no means a preferred option.

 Cons

The big advantage is, for the most part, it’s one of the cheapest forms of traffic out there. However, as the old saying goes: You get what you pay for. It’s cheap for a reason. It’s cheap precisely because of the fact that it hardly converts.

When you look at PPV traffic, you really have to look at several inverted funnels. At the top end as the incoming views, there’s like a huge amount of views and then the next level is the amount of clicks. And for the people to click, it gets funneled some more until you get a conversion at the end. In many cases, you probably would need to get several hundred thousand views before you can get a conversion. That is extremely lousy.

The good news is that if you are not looking for conversions, but you’re basically just trying to get your brand out there and trying to raise awareness regarding your online brand; PPV brand might work as long as you buy the traffic for a low enough rate.

Another disadvantage to PPV traffic is that it’s easy to develop banner blindness. Once people see the same banner again and again, eventually they reach a point where they no longer see the banner. They automatically assume that’s part of the design and layout of the website, and they don’t even bother to notice, much less to click. Of course, the workaround to this is to swap out your ads every so often, but it really isn’t worth the effort considering the really low conversion rate of PPV traffic as a whole.

Affiliate programs

Usually, affiliate programs are often lumped into free traffic methods because it’s on a pay-per-performance basis. In other words, when the affiliate makes a sale, you pay. That was the only time money change the sands. This has led to the common misconception of affiliate programs as basically free traffic.

It isn’t free traffic because when an affiliate generates a sale, you have to pay that person. That money has to come out of your pocket. So this is not free traffic.

The good news is that it is back loaded. In other words, you only pay when the conversion happens. That takes quite a bit of the sting out of the whole advertising experience, but you still have to pay. However, considering how this traffic generation method is set up, this is the price many online entrepreneurs are more than happy to pay. You pay only per performance.

A good analogy to this would be like inviting people into your office, and you only pay them if they actually do work. Compare this with a typical situation of hiring people and many of those people don’t even bother to show up for work, but you still have to pay them.

Pros

The big advantage of affiliate programs is that it operates purely on a performance basis. If people don’t perform, you don’t pay them.

Also, it’s very versatile. The affiliate can use your affiliate link and do all sorts of things to drive traffic. They can create software. They can write custom content. They can engage in all sorts of traffic exchanges. At the end of the day, you don’t really care as long as there’s traffic flowing through your affiliate link, and the traffic is real. In other words, flesh and blood human beings with credit cards are behind the traffic instead of robot software that uses proxies.

Cons

 The big disadvantage of affiliate programs is that there’s really no control. Seriously.

Sure, you get all these people that say that they want to promote you, and they have your affiliate link. They’re blogging. They’re putting up websites. They are participating in online forums and message board. But at the end of the day, it might turn out that all these people suck. It might turn out that most of these people don’t know what they’re doing.

This is precisely what’s happening with most affiliate programs. The old Pareto principle applies: Only 20% of affiliates make 80% of the money. In fact, in many affiliate programs, only 1% account for 90% of the results. How pathetic is that? To make matters even worse, for every 100 people that sign up for your affiliate program, only 10 would send traffic. And of those 10, only 1 actually generates sales. The filtration rate can be horrendous.

While it is chic to play up the advantages of affiliate programs, don’t have any illusions about it, even if you manage to attract hundreds of affiliates, it is no guarantee that you will get the results that you’re looking for because only a small minority of them knows what they’re doing. Only a small minority of them actually produces any real results.

There are many ways to drive traffic online. You have to really watch each of your methods with a high degree of control. You have to be very careful regarding which traffic generation method you invest in. Otherwise, you might end up wasting both time and money.

Analyzing Key Monetization Methods

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There are many ways to make money on the Internet. In fact, the only limit really is your imagination. However, to give you a systematic and methodical breakdown of the most common approaches to making money online, I’ve outlined key monetization methods that you should pay attention to.

This list is by no means an exhaustive list. This is not the end-all and be-all list of the ways you make money online. However, by having a clear idea as to how these general monetization frameworks work; you can go a long way in customizing your own monetization methods so it can yield the most results possible in your particular situation and set of circumstances.

You have to remember that when somebody says to you that there is a “best solution” for your problem, chances are they’re just basically blowing smoke your way. The reality is that what’s best for somebody else might not necessarily be best for another person. In many cases, a solution that is often touted as the “best” might turn out to be quite horrible.

To help you get all the information you need so you can make a truly informed decision regarding the monetization method you should focus on as you try to make money online, I’ve outlined in broad terms the most popular methods below.

Advertising

Advertising is the most common online moneymaking method. Basically, you have traffic and you sell a space on your website, your email updates, or your other online properties to people looking to get their marketing materials in front of the eyeballs of the people that make up your traffic volume. It really is that simple.

It’s all about buying and selling exposure. You have traffic volume, and you’re selling ad exposure to people interested in that traffic volume. Pretty straightforward.The advantages of advertising

The advantage of advertising is that it’s a pretty straightforward business model. As long as you are clear as to the demographic profile of the people that are visiting your online property as well as the technology for rotating ads, advertising is actually a pretty simple way to make money online.

In fact, there are many advertising platforms that will just give you a line of code, you just need to paste this line of code on your website, and they will manage your advertising tracking for you. More importantly, they would manage the recruitment of potential advertisers on your website.

Since, advertising is one of the oldest forms of making money online, there’re so many advertising platforms out there that you’re really not going to run out of potential advertisers looking for your particular ad inventory.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage with advertising is you have to have traffic in the first place. The way the system is set-up is that most advertising platforms are looking for websites that have a high volume of traffic. Since not everybody has high traffic and high-volume websites, this can be a serious problem.

Also, this over-emphasis on traffic volume often overlooks the fact that in many cases, advertisers would pay more money for lower volumes of traffic as long as that low volume of traffic is highly specialized and has a higher likelihood of actually converting into buyers of products or services.

It’s very easy to get stuck with an advertising platform that pays you much less than the value of your traffic. This is the price you pay for basically outsourcing the task of recruiting advertisers for your website.

 Affiliate sales

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Affiliate sales is one of the most powerful ways of monetizing your website. Basically, you join an affiliate program and pick a product or service that you think your traffic would be interested in. You sign up for the program, and you get an affiliate link. You publish the affiliate link with your content or you place it on the ad rotation system of your website. When your website’s visitors click on the ad and they buy, you get a commission. Alternatively, if they click on the affiliate link, and they leave their email address on an email-collection form, you make a commission.

Affiliate marketing is really a more focused version of advertising because instead of you joining an advertising network and running random ads, you are actually deliberately seeking out affiliate offers that are more tightly related to the focus and the subject matter of your website.

The big advantage of affiliate sales

The big advantage of affiliate marketing is that you have a lot more choice as to the products or services that you’re going to advertise to your website’s visitors. Compare this with a typical advertising network that can involve a random collection of ads. Sure, these ads might be targeted to the general category of your website but to really make money online; you need a higher level of targeting. This is precisely what affiliate sales brings to the table. You can get a hold of products and services that you have a high level of confidence in selling to your website users.

Another key advantage of affiliate sales is that it operates on a take it or leave it basis. It’s completely self-served. So you only need to go to an affiliate platform, pick out the offer you’re interested in, plug it into your website, run some tests. If you make some money with certain offers, you stick with that offer. If it doesn’t pan out, you can then swap that out with another code. There’s a lot of flexibility in this type of system.

The disadvantages of affiliate sales

Just like with anything else in life, there is no such thing as a solution that only has advantages. Everything has a disadvantage and affiliate sales is not immune to this fact.

The big disadvantage of affiliate sales is that you’re essentially splitting the value of the product that you’re selling. Even if the producer of the affiliate product is willing to give you 90%, you’re still letting go of the 10% you could be making.

While many people would be more than happy with this kind of split, this actually works to your disadvantage in light of the fact that you assume of all the risk. You have to remember that in an affiliate sales marketing model, the affiliate assumes all the risk. You only get paid when you convert your traffic. You only get paid when you generate a sale. You put up with all the risk.

You pay all the costs, and the specific split that the affiliate program might be giving you might not be big enough to be worth all that risk. This is why it’s always a good idea to constantly shop for bigger and better affiliate offers that can convert your traffic well.

Lead generation

Typically, when people talk about affiliate marketing, they think about publishing a link that leads to a sales page. When a user buys something from that sales page, the affiliate makes a commission. Pretty straightforward.

Lead generation is slightly different. Instead of you earning a commission based on every sale, you earn a commission when your traffic goes to a page and enters their email address. You make money for every lead collected.

Of course, it’s not as simple as this. While there are certain lead generation offers that only ask for one or two pieces of information, the higher-paying lead generation offers actually ask for quite a long list of information. Keep this in mind when thinking of using lead generation as a way to monetize your website.

Advantages

The big advantage of lead generation as a way of making money with your website traffic is that you don’t have to sell anything. People don’t need to whip out their credit cards for you to make a commission. They only need to fill out a form with their information and if that information is confirmed, you get paid a bounty.

Don’t sneeze at this model because certain lead generation programs pay upwards of $50 per completed form. This is not chicken feed.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of lead generation as a monetization model is that the more lucrative lead generation programs ask for a lot of information. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the more fields a particular form has, the more barriers to conversion there are.

Put yourself in the shoes of people visiting your website. When they land a lead sign up page or a squeeze page, chances are they might be intimidated by all the information that you’re asking for. While you probably wouldn’t have a problem getting somebody’s email and name, you probably will run to a lot more resistance if you ask for credit information, credit card information, educational history, so and so forth. The general rule of lead generation is that the more information you ask for, the lower the conversion.

There’s a reason why certain lead generation programs pay a lot of money. It’s because they’re not stupid. They’re not in the business of giving away money. They know how hard it is to generate leads with forms that ask for many pieces of information.

Sell a digital product

Another way you can make money off your existing traffic is to sell digital products. I really like this model because it actually gives you a lot of control. Unlike a physical product which is usually manufactured by somebody else or an affiliate product which is produced by a person or company outside of your control, when you sell digital products, you actually have a lot of control over the final product that you are pushing.

Let’s face it. If you want to make money online, you have to develop a solid online brand. Building a solid online brand that people can trust and is highly credible takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of sacrifice. It takes a lot of patience. You don’t want to flush all that down the toilet by basically products that erode trust, right?

Unfortunately, that is the risk you take when you’re selling affiliate products because it only takes a few complaints for people to associate your online brand with bad affiliate products. It only takes a few bad experiences for people to think that you are abusing them by advertising shoddy, substandard, or low quality products on your website.

The biggest advantage of selling your own digital products is you can retain a high level of control over your online brand by ensuring that the quality of the digital products that you’re selling reflects your brand values. Control is crucial when you are trying to preserve your online brand, and this is the biggest advantage of selling digital products on your website.

Another key advantage is you keep all of the profit. Unlike selling an affiliate product or service where you basically have to be content with a percentage of the proceeds, when you sell your own digital product, you get 100% of the revenue.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of selling your own digital product is that you really have to take the time, effort, and energy to truly know what your website visitors are looking for. This can take quite a bit of time. This definitely takes patience.

If you make the wrong guesses, whatever product you sell probably won’t sell at that well. You probably will end up wasting your time. In many cases, it takes several bites at the apple for you to finally get things right. This is the key disadvantage of selling your own digital product because you have to pay for the learning curve.

Another key disadvantage is that you have to pay the costs of developing that product. Unless you’re an excellent writer, you have to hire a writer to produce your digital product. Your cost skyrockets if the product that you are pushing is a software product.

Regardless, in my opinion, the disadvantages of selling your own digital product are greatly outweighed by the advantages selling a digital product brings to the table.

Sell a physical product

One powerful way of making money online is to sell a physical product on your website. This is pretty straightforward. You show a link to a particular physical product. Your website visitor likes the picture, clicks on the link, likes what he or she sees, and buys. The moment they buy, you get a percentage, or you get the full value of the product if you are selling the product directly.

 The advantages of selling a physical product

The big advantage of selling a physical product is like selling a digital product. You get the full value of the product. This is the only advantage. Seriously. If you’ve done your homework, and you offer the physical product that your visitors are clamoring for, this is the key advantage that you get.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage with selling a physical product is that it can easily become a headache. Sure, nine times out of ten, sales for physical products on your website will go through without a glitch. The problem is that 10%. That can cause all sorts of problems. Not only you have to pay for shipping costs; you have to pay for labor costs to handle the claims’ resolution. Also, your brand might get damaged if people feel that you ripped them off. All sorts of unnecessary drama come into play when you sell a physical product.

This is why I suggest highly that you sell only digital products. Not only are digital products easier to scale, there are less headaches and hassles associated with them.

Content subscription

If you already get a lot of traffic to your website, you might want to step things up to a notch by offering premium content to your website visitors. If your website traffic pattern involves a lot of highly loyal visitors, it’s a good idea to consider a membership or subscription-based business model. Basically, you set up a certain section of your website with special content that your visitors will pay a monthly subscription to access.

Advantages

The big advantage of a subscription monetization model for your traffic is that you get recurring income. In many cases, you get passive income. Once people subscribe, you make money month after month from those subscribers. You only need to publish that content once and then every single month; you make money through automatic subscriptions paid by people who want to view that specialized content. This is pretty straightforward.

Another key advantage is that this is completely passive income. You only write the content once and set up the payment wall and you basically make money month after month without lifting a finger because people sign up for a subscription area to your website, and the money comes automatically. As long as the subscription is alive, you make money off content that you worked on once in the past. How amazing is that?

Not only did you work once and make money times over selling that content to different people but every single month they pay you again and again just for the right to access that content. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of a subscription monetization model is that you have to have content that is worth subscribing to. This is easier said than done.

You have to remember that the long-standing category of content that people would willingly subscribe month after month for to access is of course pornography. Other than that, it’s really anybody’s guess, whether people would sign up for your content. Moreover, when they do subscribe, chances are they would unsubscribe after only a couple of months or a few months. It’s really important to focus on offering high-quality content that people would want to sign up for.

The problem with this is that this necessarily explodes your content generation cost. As you probably already know, if you produce content cheaply that your visitors can find anywhere on the internet, chances are they wouldn’t pay for that kind of content. They’re more likely to pay for content that is relatively rare. Unfortunately, relatively rare content also tends to be expensive content.

Donation

Help Us Reach Our Goal Speedometer Fundraiser Support

Have you ever gone to a subway and there’s a great singer there with a guitar? Maybe the singer sings such great songs that you just can’t help but dip into your pocket, whip out a few dollars, and put it in a basket or guitar case.

Well, you can use the same business model for your website. Maybe your content is so great that people wouldn’t mind donating a few bucks here and there.

Don’t sneeze at the donation monetization model because those few extra dollars here and there actually can add up to quite heavy volume of cash. In fact, a lot of the best content websites on the Internet are funded primarily through donations and guess what? The people behind those websites are not exactly starving. In fact, many of them are quite well-off.

Advantages

The advantage of a donation monetization model is that there is no fixed price for what people have to pay. When people are given the option to pay you only based on how well they appreciate your content, you would be surprised to how liberal people would be when it comes to giving you money for your time and effort.

One of the biggest problems content websites run into is when they price their content in such a way that it turns off a large chunk of their viewer ship that these websites end up suffering. By charging for your content but setting the price on a voluntary donation basis, you can actually go a long way in driving revenues. Give people the option to donate on their own terms and on their own schedule. You’d be surprised to how much money you can raise.

Disadvantages

Since the payment for your content is to be done on a purely voluntary basis, you can well imagine that there’s a tremendous amount of pressure put on you in terms of content quality. You can’t just publish crappy content and expect people to donate. It’s not just going to happen that way. People are usually only pushed to donate if they feel that they got their socks knocked off by the amazing quality of your content.

Unfortunately, quality content doesn’t grow on trees. You have to either pay a top dollar for such great content, or you have to spend a lot of time and personal energy coming up with that content. The bottom line is high-quality content that is worth donating money for can cost a pretty penny.

Commission sales

One of the most lucrative ways to make money online with your traffic is to buy and sell websites or digital properties. You make your money through commissions. Just like with real estate sales, any deal that involves a lot of dollars would obviously involve a heavy commission.

The only limit to the things that you can make a commission off of is really your imagination. You buy and sell websites in your niche. You can buy and sell social media accounts. There is really no limit as to the kind of product or service that you can sell for a commission.

Advantages

The big advantage of a commission-based monetization model is flexibility. You basically have a free hand as to the kinds of things you can sell, the way you sell them, the way you position them, so on and so forth. In most cases, when you work on a commission basis, you get a lot more freedom than when you are trying to sell stuff as an affiliate.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of commissions is that you really have to know your traffic well. You might have a great deal as to the kind of product that you want to sell on a commission basis but if your relationship with your website members hasn’t reached a point where they would actually trust you to buy whole websites or whole products from you on a commission basis, it might be hard to pull this off.

The workaround to this is to sell lower value stuff first by joining affiliate program or selling your own digital products. Once you establish a high enough level of trust, then maybe you can scale things up to pricier items.

Coaching

The main reason why people use the Internet is because they have questions that they need answered. They have problems that they need solved. They have needs that they need filled. People are always looking for solutions.

A coaching monetization model focuses on the fact that you may have specialized information that people would want to know. They might want to do what you are doing. They are looking for mentors. They are looking for teachers. You get paid when you teach these people to do what you’re doing to make money online.

Advantages

The big advantage of coaching is that it usually works on a subscription basis. When somebody signs up to be coached by you, they usually pay you several hundred dollars every single month.

So as long as the coaching relationship exists, you can collect the subscription fee month after month. If you are coaching several people, this can translate to several thousand dollars on a monthly recurring basis. In other words, even if they don’t talk to you, or even if they don’t show up for your coaching sessions, as long as you show up, the money continues to roll in. In many cases, coaching can become a passive income stream depending on the work habits of the people that you are coaching.

Another key advantage of coaching as a monetization model for your website is that you’re not really doing anything new. You are basically just teaching people what you already know. As long as your communication skills are relatively good, you can make quite a bit of money with coaching because you’re not researching new stuff. You’re not retraining. You’re not using specialized equipment. You’re basically just telling people what you know because they want to do what you are doing.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of coaching is that people have to view you as credible and authoritative enough to be a coach. In other words, they must look at you as an expert. And it takes a while to become an expert. It takes a while to be regarded as an expert. It doesn’t happen overnight.

The workaround to this is that you can generate high-quality content that you can share with your website visitors and really walk them through the process of buying professional coaching services from you by offering free samples. By coaching people for free in the beginning, the word might spread that you’re this amazing online marketing guru who eventually people would line up to pay you premium dollars for one-on-one coaching.

Freemium

One of the most popular ways to make money off website content is the freemium model. You basically lay out content that your website visitors find useful. They keep viewing this content, and they build a lot of trust around that content. Finally, they reach a point where they can’t get enough of the content you’re offering that they’re actually willing to pay for a premium version of your content. In other words, you’re going to be spilling secret information or value added information, and they’re willing to pay you on a monthly basis a premium fee to access such material.

If this sounds like the membership content model described above, you are absolutely right. However, freemium goes beyond content. You can actually offer software as a service and leave out certain features as a freemium feature.

For example, if you are offering an online grammar checking service, people can use most of the features of that software for free. But if they want certain features like duplicate checking or engagement level analysis, they have to pay extra. That’s where the freemium model kicks in. You don’t charge anything for most of the features, but these features should develop enough interest that it pushes people to pay for additional features. That’s how the freemium model works.

Advantages

The big advantage of a freemium monetization model is you basically demonstrate the value of your product or content to your target users before they spend a red cent. This is tremendous because there are too many software services available online where people are expected to pay upfront. That turns off people. That turns off potential buyers.

By giving people a free taste test, you increase the likelihood that they need the freemium service and most importantly; the freemium service is worthy paying extra for.

Another advantage of the freemium model is that it’s scalable. You basically use the positive experience of people using the free features to spread the word about your content or your service software website through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This saves you a lot of money on marketing costs. Instead of you having to master SEO or pay a pretty penny for Facebook advertising, people who are happy with the free features of your website would gladly spread the word about your website.

This is why many websites that use a freemium business monetization model actually have hundreds of thousands of users. Make no mistake about it, a certain percentage of those free users convert to free members. In fact, if you structure your monthly subscription rates properly, you don’t need to convert a high percentage to generate a huge amount of income from your software-driven website or content membership website.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage with a freemium monetization model is that it takes a long time to develop a critical mass where you can convert the huge base of free users into monthly recurring subscribers. In many cases, you have to wait several years for you to get that critical mass.

CPM

CPM advertising monetization model is called cost per mill or cost per thousand. This monetization model pays you money every time a banner ad or some sort of advertising placed on your website shows up 1,000 times. It’s a volume-driven monetization model.

You get a code. You paste it on your website’s HTML code. When an ad shows up enough times, you get the agreed-upon amount.

This used to be the primary way businesses advertise online. Not anymore.

Advantages

The big advantage of CPM is that it’s a lazy man’s way of making money online. Seriously. You just get a piece of code, plug it into your website, and it would show an ad. Every time the ad shows up 1,000 times, you get paid the CPM designated amount.

While most CPM rates are quite low – we’re talking about less than $10 per 1,000 views – there are highly lucrative CPM deals for specialty niche markets like debt consolidation, financial services, and stock rating accounts. In such cases, the CPM rate might be $50 or higher.

The best part of this all is that it’s a completely lazy business model. You just kick back and wait for the traffic to load up all these ad viewings and you make your money.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage of the CPM model is that you have to have traffic in the first place. If you have a website that has a low traffic volume, you’re not going to make money off CPM.

Also, another serious disadvantage to CPM model is that most CPM niches pay really little. We’re talking about $1 to $5 per 1,000 views. This is because niches these ads target might not be good fit with your niche. You’re basically hoping to sell your junk traffic to somebody that’s willing to pay a small amount of money for it.

Finally, another serious disadvantage to CPM is that you are at the mercy of ad networks. Most ad networks won’t pay a high amount per 1,000 views.

Worst of all, they would cap the amount of money they pay you by counting the advertising view a certain way. In an ideal world, you get paid the CPM rate if the ad shows up a thousand times. This can involve one person just loading the page 1,000 times. However, many advertising platforms no longer allow that so in many cases, they require 1,000 unique views. In other words, 1,000 unique people loading the ads. This is a death sentence for websites that have very low traffic volumes.

PPC

Pay-per-click is one of the most popular ways to monetize websites. The biggest example of this is of course Google AdSense.

A pay-per-click ad is pretty straightforward. You have content on your website and the text ad would try to determine the context of your content and show relevant ads. This increases the likelihood that somebody would click on the ad. When the website visitor clicks on the ad, you make money. Similarly, the PPC network might show certain picture ads with your content depending on the categorization of your content. Again, when a site visitor clicks on the ad, you make money.

Advantages

The big advantage with PPC is that it’s basically a lazy way of making money online. You only need to put up a snippet of code, and the ad software would do everything else. It would find the advertisers. It would find the context. It would find the category. You just need to sit back, relax, and collect our money.

Sounds awesome, right? Well, read the disadvantage section below.

Disadvantages

The big disadvantage with PPC is that it’s all niche-driven. Not all clicks pay the same amount of money. If your niche is not very lucrative, for example, the pay-per-click rate in your niche is a few cents, that’s how much money you will be making off your traffic. That’s pathetic.

The sad reality is that for an ad to get a click, you have to show the ad many times to get that click. And to show an ad many times, it means you have to have a large amount of traffic.

It’s very easy to waste a lot of time, effort, and energy with PPC ads because you spend all these resources pumping up your traffic but at the end of the day, only a few clicks and those clicks are worth a few pennies each. Talk about a waste of time.

You have to be focused on the right niches for PPC ads to be worth the bother.

CPA

CPA is shorthand for cost per action. A CPA model is basically a catch-all model for all sorts of affiliate systems that pay you for a wide range of actions that your traffic performs.

The most common CPA action that advertisers will pay for is a sale. So if you show an ad and somebody visits your website, clicks on the ad, and buys whatever it is the sales page is selling, you make a commission.

There are other CPA models out there. They can enter an email into a form, or they can enter a zip code or they can download a software. Whenever the person visiting your web page performs an action, you get paid.

Advantages

The big advantage of a CPA model is that you get a lot of freedom regarding picking out offers that you think would work best with your particular traffic. For example, if you own a website that focuses on baby shoes, you can find CPA offers that focus on promoting baby shoe products. Since there’s a tight correlation between the topic your website or blog specializes in and the CPA product that you are pushing, chances are high that people would click the CPA ad, and you can make money.

Also, CPA ads can be swapped out at any time so you have a lot of freedom. You have a lot of flexibility.

Disadvantages

The disadvantage with CPA is that in many cases, you might be in a niche that is not an exact match for a particular CPA advertiser. This can be a problem because in many cases, you can only really convert your traffic if it is tightly related to the CPA offer. If it is only partially related or somewhat tangentially related, that might not be enough. As a result, you might end up wasting a lot of time, effort, and energy driving all that traffic but at the end of the day, have very little dollars to show for all your effort.

Group buy

One powerful monetization model you can employ is a group buying method. You can partner with Groupon and other group discount buying platforms and you can gain a commission by recruiting people to engage in group buying activities.

This is pretty straightforward. Basically, you show an ad and when people click on the ad, they see the details on how the group buying system works. The more people sign up, the more money you make.

Advantages

The big advantage with group buying systems is that they work best with niche websites that teach people about certain niche products. When people interested in these niche products want to save money, they would be more likely to join a group buying network.

Disadvantages

There’s really one major disadvantage with group buying and in most cases, it’s a deal killer. The big disadvantage is that there might not be an advertiser for the particular range of products and services that the visitors to your website are looking for. In other words, there’s really nothing to buy on a group buying platform because your website is too niche-specific.

Keep this in mind. There are certain niches that are so specialized that the group buying platform doesn’t really work.

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