Friday, December 1, 2000
PORTAL PARTNER PRESS December 2000
========December 4, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
A-spidering We Will Go (con't)
Another Partner Success Story
Here's An Idea For You From A Portal Partner
Time to Shop!
A-SPIDERING WE WILL GO
In the Nov. 20th issue of the Portal Partner Press, I mentioned the fact that SK is developing our own spider for the purpose of increasing SK's database faster and being able to offer it to all the partners. We're doing this to better enable us to capitalize on all the changes our competitors are making and put us in a stronger position to become known as a viable alternative to the major search services.
Dan has actually got the spider running. It is in beta and naturally we are experiencing some problems. Out of close to 10,000 sites we spidered, we were only able to add a few hundred. We have some challenges to overcome, mostly in the filtering process. The other big challenge is that we have to find a way to index sites that either don't have any meta tags, (you'd think every site would have them by now), or have meta tags that our spider can't read. We have to stay focused on doing it our way and not fall prey to the temptation to just use someone else's that just doesn't work the way we want it to. I see no advantage in doing the same thing a lot of other people are doing and have already proven that it doesn't work very well.
In order to be able to have the spider work effectively for SK as well as a wide variety of topic specific portals, we have to be able to include a lot of custom features that give as many people as possible as much flexibility as possible. No one has ever built a spider before with our types of services in mind. It ain't easy, but then few things worthy of doing rarely are. We are making very good progress and it won't be long before you can just type in a keyword list and let it run bringing you back hundreds of usable sites that relate to your portal without having to manually sift through all the sites and remove the stuff you don't want.
We see this as an excellent way to make our portals offer extreme value to webmasters and searchers alike. This is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way that we know of to get every portal built up to being a real resource for relevant topic specific information.
Finally, on the subject of portal spiders, we are building this so it can run off your computer as opposed to running off our servers. As most of you know, the problem with the spider your program has now is that it runs off our servers which slows it down way too much. It also forces you to severely limit the number of sites you can spider. By allowing you to run it off your PC, it doesn't slow down the other partners and it gives you much more control over what and how you want to do with it. We fully intend to impress the hell out of you!
ANOTHER PARTNER SUCCESS STORY
How would you like to see your portal featured on the front page of your local newspaper? Well it can happen just like it happened for Red, the owner of www.glendive-mt.com.
I was reading in the forum where Red made a reference to a comment I made about promoting your portal months ago, where I mentioned that the local newspaper is usually not a friend of yours because in effect, you are the paper's direct competitor. Actually, I stand by that statement but I should clarify. I said that most of us could not count on the local paper for support, UNLESS the story was newsworthy. If the story was newsworthy, now you had a good shot at getting some real publicity from your local paper. Also, the smaller the town you live in, the easier it is to make your portal newsworthy. Well, Red has done an excellent job of making her small town paper realize that her hometown portal IS newsworthy and it worked!
Her traffic is going up very nicely and her portal has now been established as THE internet resource for her community. Congratulations Red. We are all very proud of you!
If you would like to follow the story, get involved and learn how she did it, just go to the forums at http://forums.searchking.com. Once there, go to the Free For All, About the Web, SearchKing, And Portals section and click on the subject, "Wish Me Luck". Read, learn, ask questions and you may be the next portal partner I'm congratulating.
HERE'S ANOTHER IDEA FOR YOU FROM A PORTAL PARTNER
Another of our partners has sent me an article I'm very happy to publish. It is a very well-thought-out system for generating income using the tools you have with your portal. I'm not the final authority on this stuff, but after reading it myself, I was impressed enough that I thought sharing it with you all may make the difference for some of our partners who are having a hard time finding ways of making money with their portal.
Thanks to Keith Sager for the valuable input.
HOW TO BUILD TRAFFIC, BUILD YOUR BRAND, AND GET PAID TO DO IT!
Portal Partners, here is an idea that you can use to promote your portal, and get paid to do it. This idea was BORN for use on topic-specific portals. I do not know of this EXACT model in use anywhere else on the 'net. This concept is a traffic-generating, brand-building, money maker. I'm confident that if you brain-storm with this for awhile, you will get quite excited about various ways YOU can implement it to get paid to promote YOUR Portal...
Step #1 - Build a Specific-Topic Dictionary/Glossary for YOUR PORTAL
Step #2 - SELL sponsorships to each word or phrase definition in your DICTIONARY.
Each word or phrase definition in the dictionary/glossary will be sponsored with a two-line text ad (live link) at the top of the page. You, the Portal Partner will sell that definition sponsorship on a CPM, CPC, or month to month basis. I recommend selling each word definition at 5 to 10 cents per impression. If you cannot find sponsors for a particular word(s), use the spot to link to an affiliate program that you've signed up for (You ARE an AFFILIATE of related eCommerce websites, aren't you?) Again, related sites for related words. A Diamond Retailer would prefer the definition to the word "Diamond" over the word "Citrine." How's THAT for hyper-targeted advertising! It is BECAUSE of this highly targeted, focus advertising that you will be able to command up to $100/1000 impressions.
Step #3 - PAY webmasters of similar-content websites to USE YOUR DICTIONARY!
PAY other webmasters (with related content), to use YOUR DICTIONARY on their site as a service to THEIR visitors. I recommend paying webmasters 5 cents for each unique visit to their Dictionary ALPHABET PAGE ONLY. (The tracking of unique visitors to the "Alphabet" page can easily be accomplished by using readily available affiliate software). Provide a template that includes your "live-linked alphabet" for each webmaster, allowing them to place their logo at the top of the page. Now they have a semi-private-branded dictionary that THEY ARE GIVEN and PAID TO USE (THEY SHOULD BE QUITE HAPPY WITH THIS ARRANGEMENT!)
Now lets review what we have done...
You have YOUR DICTIONARY PAGES accessed on potentially hundreds of related content websites, and each access could be worth 50 cents or more! (as their visitor researches terminology, the sponsored definition income adds up!). EVERY PAGE has a link back to your PORTAL, either your HOMEPAGE or to WORD LIST pages. Every Dictionary ALPHABET PAGE on another related website LINKS TO YOUR DOMAIN, THUS PROVIDING THAT MUCH MORE RELEVANCY, PUSHING YOU HIGHER IN THE RANKINGS IN THE MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES. Every DICTIONARY PAGE VIEW on another site is a potential visitor to your site! Even if they do not click thru to your site, you are building BRAND-AWARENESS. Affiliate links you place in your dictionary will get much more mileage than just placing it on your site only!
HERE IS A CONSERVATIVE EXAMPLE:
50 Dictionaries X 10 users / day = 500 users / day X 5 cents per unique user = YOU PAY $25/day ----------------- 50 Dictionaries X 10 users / day X 4 definition impressions / user = 2000 impressions / day X 5 cents per impression = GET PAID $100/day ----------------- $100 Gross - $25 Expenses = $75 / day NET! X 30 days / month = $2250 / month NET PROCEEDS ($4500 / month @ .10/impression!)
PLUS GREATER RELEVANCY in the SEARCH ENGINES How much is that worth? Have you priced BUYING a higher listing in a search-engine lately? Hiring a SUBMISSION expert or PAY in the pay-per-click search engines is expensive!
PLUS THOUSANDS OF FREE CLICK-THRUS (FREE TRAFFIC!) Remember the link on every page: "This Dictionary Courtesy of www.you.com?" If 15% in the above example click-thru to your site, that is 9000 visitors/month FREE!
PLUS BRAND RECOGNITION Who has 100s of 1000s of Dollars to Pay for brand advertising? Get PAID to do it with your Dictionary/Glossary!
One final thought: The built in functionality in your SearchKing-based Portal could host your Dictionary. Bannermaster could track "Alphabet" pages, and the "branded site" feature of hyperseek could be set up to provide the drill-down functionality of the dictionary pages themselves.
I'm confident each of you will be able to add minor refinements to this concept, specific to your needs and your Portal goals. Just because I am unable to continue with www.JewelrySeeker.com, doesn't mean that this concept couldn't live on to build other great SearchKing Portals. I hope you can see the potential here. With very little modification, ANY PORTAL can take this methodology and make it a profit-generating, traffic-building brand-builder. I invite you to try it, and I solicit your comments.
Keith Sager www.jewelryseeker.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Domain and Portal-Pro 4sale www.jewelryseeker.com $500 I have to pull some "irons out of the fire." www.jewelryseeker.com is one of those "irons." If you are interested in an outstanding head-start on a portal pro, and you love jewelry, please consider buying this domain name and search engine setup. I would be available to share all the great ideas that I had planned for jewelryseeker.com. Thanks. Contact Keith Sager email@example.com 615-459-4317
TIME TO SHOP
Now that Thanksgiving is over, we all know what that means. CHRISTMAS!
As you get ready to do some online shopping, remember to show support for your portal partners and check the directory to see if what you are looking for may be offered by one of your portal partners. It is a very good way of us all showing support for each other.
That's it for this week portal kids. See you next week.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========December 11, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
A-spidering We Will Go (con't)
Speaking of Getting Submissions to Our Databases
We've got all the Affiliate Links Working Right
A-SPIDERING WE WILL GO
Okay, here's an update in the continuing saga of building a spider designed for portal partners. It's not going too good.
We keep running into problems that we weren't expecting that we have to stop and figure out custom solutions to and then go and write the scripts. It's just not as easy as you might think.
There are a lot of spider programs out there so I know we can do it. I'm not comfortable with using anyone else's spider because we have different needs and goals than most of our competitors and trying to modify someone else's solution is simply not going to work. We have to make too many concessions with someone else's program and we are at a point now where SK has the talent available to not have to settle for something that is not what we really need. There was a time very recently where this was not the case. Remember the chat, e-mail and the affiliate programs? Well that was before we had people like Dan and Dave.
In order to help you understand some of the challenges we are facing, I think it's important for me to share some of the things we have learned.
We are all search service owners. We all have the responsibility of providing a relevant, hi-quality database to our visitors. So the question is, where and how do we get that database?
As most of you know, I also own a search engine placement company so a great deal of my time is spent on consulting with clients on the subject of internet marketing. My favorite question to ask potential clients is, "Why would someone come to your site?" "What do you offer that is better, or at least different than your competitors site?" (You'd be amazed on how much money and time people spend on building their business without having an answer to this question).
If you ask yourself the same question, the obvious answer would be that you have a topic specific search service and that the results in your database to any topic specific search are human reviewed and highly relevant to that topic. Good answer! That will work, but again, where do we get that human reviewed relevant database?
Back in the early part of '97 Searchking had only been online a few weeks and our database was sitting in the hundreds of urls. We soon started getting contacted by submission services and we thought, "Here is our answer." So we allowed a couple of those people to add SK to their list of 10,000 engines and sure enough we started getting close to 4,000 submissions a day. It wasn't long before we had over 750,000 urls. A respectable little directory database right? --- WRONG!
We soon realized that the vast majority or those urls were nothing but spam trash. In fact most of those sites would have had to clean up a little just to elevate themselves to spam trash. We had a huge directory of CRAP! Actually, when our hard drives crashed back in February and we lost 80% of our data, it turned out to be a good thing. We have denied those auto submit programs for a long time now and with having to start all over with our database again, we now have close to 20,000 urls which is way too small, BUT the quality of our database is much, much better.
So, as a search service owner, you too are faced with needing to build your database but not just to build it but to build it right. At this point in time, I am convinced that there are no programs that can compare to the quality of results that can be built using the oldest technology of all. Good ole noggins and eyeballs. Human reviewed is simply the best way to get highly targeted, quality, relevant results.
As a portal partner, you have something that no other directory on the planet can compete with. The simple fact that you CARE about what goes into your directory more than anyone else.
There are basically two types of ways that human reviewed can operate. Well, three ways now that we have all made Searchking the largest community of portal owners in the world.
1. Volunteer editors. The Open Directory Project is of course the largest of this type of system. They have over 25,000 volunteer editors.
Now the question comes to mind, "Why would so many people want to devote their time to building up a quality category for a third party without getting paid? What's in it for them?"
Well, one thing that is in it for them is the fact that they have some degree of power over the category they edit. Naturally this means that, if they wanted to, they could take steps to insure that their own site got preferential treatment within that category. I'm not implying that everyone at ODP is only in it so they can get their own sites at the top, I am emphatically saying though that it does happen. This is one of the biggest complaints that the ODP has to deal with virtually every single day. I'm sure that there are some people that really are working very hard to help them build the best directory on the net, but it is certain that some people take advantage and that single fact alone gives you an edge.
Another point to consider is that there are limitations to just how much time and focus a volunteer can devote. At some point the volunteer is going to have to put more focus into putting a pork chop on the plate than in helping someone else for free. I happen to know through several friends and colleagues that ODP has literally thousands of unreviewed submissions on any given day. This illustrates my point. With 25,000 editors and thousands of unreviewed sites, obviously they haven't figured out the "perfect" way either. My point is that regardless of whether an editor is there to get their own site in or there as a hobby, there is just so much they are going to be able or willing to do. With you, it's not a hobby. It's your job, your livelihood, your baby.
#2. Compensated editors. Then you have competitors like Looksmart and Yahoo who pay their editors. This seems to me a much stiffer kind of competition because the guy writing the checks can set standards and levels of acceptable performance which in theory at least, should provide a higher, less questionable database.
The problem this system faces is again, just how much the editor really CARES about what he is adding or rejecting. With any kind of compensated editor system, it's a job. You do it for your income but at 5pm when the whistle blows and you head home the bottom line is that it's not your concern how good or bad that entire directory is. With you, you care just as much at 5pm as you do at 5am. Again, that's your edge.
#3. Owner reviewed I just realized that in all my travels on the net, I have never before heard this term used. Cool! We're developing our own industry specific jargon. Of course that and two nickels is worth just about a dime.
In my opinion, owner reviewed is the ONLY real answer at this time to developing the absolute highest quality, most relevant database. The owner is the only one who can really decide what is relevant to his searchers and then set the policies to ensure that those are the results that are actually displayed. Out of all the options and drawbacks to a human reviewed directory, owner reviewed is the one that makes the most sense with the least drawbacks and that is YOUR EDGE! That is what makes your directory better or at least different and that is the answer to the question why would someone use your directory as opposed to your competitors.
Assuming we can all agree on the points I've just made, then that brings us back to the original question. Where and how do we get that database?
I'm sure each of you reading this would already have thousands of relevant sites in your database except for the challenges that we are trying to deal with now. For you to find even the first relevant site, you may have to look at hundreds or even thousands and there is just not enough time for that. So the challenge is how to let you identify what you are wanting and then get a spider to quickly eliminate what you DON'T want so that you can review what you DO want. Sounds easy huh?
Every portal partner has a spider in the hyperseek program right now and yes it does help, but, it doesn't give you the power and the options you really need. Also, the learning curve is a little too steep and the resources it pulls from the server is too costly, hence -- the rub.
We are faced with two basic options right now. One is to run the spider from Searchking and then let each of you spider Searchking's database, or to give each partner the spider to put on their machine and then Searchking spider each partner's site. Either way has a lot of drawbacks and not the least of which is still going through thousands of sites to get even a few relevant ones.
Also, there is the problem with importing the site once we finally do get one. You'd think that almost every site in the world had metas but they don't and without them getting them into our databases is a problem. We have several options that look doable but no decisions yet as to which option is the best.
What we are looking at now is putting the spider on your machine. Setting up a simple admin panel to allow you to insert a small, focused keyword list into a field. Another field would be for you to assign a url to start the spider from. We don't really HAVE to have it, but we would add a third field for you to be able to list words to filter. Nothing spidered would show up in your directory until after you had reviewed it, but we know that some of our partners find a great deal of material on the net offensive and if I can help them from having to deal with anymore of it than absolutely necessary, I will.
You would send the spider to the location you wanted to start with and then the spider would look for those keywords in the tables we set up. The obvious things of course would be url, title, description, meta keyword tag, text and link titles. It would then find those appropriate sites and put them into a file. We would limit the size of the file to say 25 urls. In other words, when it found 25 potentially acceptable sites, the spider would stop,(this is to keep you from having 12,000 sites to review).
You would then go to this file and you would have to either accept, (move to your database), or delete the results. This solves the storage of millions of unwanted urls problem. Once you had moved or deleted the 25, you could start the spider where it left off or start somewhere new.
Keep in mind that none of this I'm discussing has been made into any kind of procedure. There is no point writing me or going to the forums and saying it won't work. We have decided nothing. I'm just sharing this with you to show the effort this is going to take and to ask for your input, not criticism. Anyway, I'll keep you posted.
SPEAKING OF GETTING SUBMISSIONS INTO OUR DATABASES
Jim Wilson of Virtual Promote www.virtualpromote.com has long been a good friend of Searchking's. Jim runs one of the biggest and most respected marketing sites on the net. He also publishes the Gazzette, a marketing and internet news e-zine with over 250,000 weekly readers, again, making his e-zine one of the biggest and most respected on the net.
Last week he sent me an e-mail which I posted in the forums, but it's important enough that I want to mention here in the Portal Partner Press as well. I urge you all to take advantage of his very generous offer to help not only me and Searchking, but each of you who cares enough about your site to take the time to capitalize on this opportunity. Here's the letter:
If you suggest to your portal operators that they should submit to the1000.com I'll make sure they get in and get a flow of submissions.
The 1000.com is a list of directories that Jim recommends his members submit to. It can really make your job a lot easier.
WE'VE GOT ALL THE AFFILIATE LINKS WORKING RIGHT
Since we made the change from Searchkingportal4u.com to free-web-hostingplus.com, our new portal partner sign ups have gone up dramatically. While this is very good, we had some problems getting the affiliate links moved and this was not so good.
We've taken care of that. You can now go to www.free-webhosting-plus.com/affiliate.htm or to www.searchkingportal4u.com/affiliate.htm
Ok, that's about it for this week portal kids. I want to remind all of you that this holiday season gives you a chance to take a look at what your partners are offering. You gotta shop anyway, why not at least try to spread some of those shopping dollars around to your portal partners. When you start looking for the hot new whiz bang this year, why not look for it first at the Searchking portal directory?
Also, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas in your hearts. Get out and smile at the people you see. Try to find joy in the smiles on the faces of others. Take heart in the laughter of the children. It's a wonderful world out there and I would like to see all of you enjoy it as much as I do.
Happy Holidays to You and Yours.
Publisher -- Bob Massa
========December 18, 2000========
IN THIS ISSUE:
Banner Advertising is NOT Dead
What I Want for Christmas
BANNER ADVERTISING IS NOT DEAD
The stock market seems to be predicting the death of banner advertising on the net. A lot of dot com companies whose business model included generating revenue from ad sales have seen their stock drop from the hundreds of dollars a share to pennies in some cases. We've all seen banner ads that used to sell for as much as $90 a thousand impressions now going for $1 and less. For those of you who make money displaying banners for Commission Junction, Click 2 Net, Value Click and others, you've seen your impressions drop from as much as $3.50 per thousand to as little as .50 per thousand now, and that's if you're not getting dropped because you can't deliver 100,000 page views a day. Everything seems to point to the death of banners.
Now, let's all get a grip on ourselves and stop over-reacting to the hype that has led the internet for far too long. Let's get realistic and ask ourselves a question.
Do we really think that as long as there is a text driven net there will come a time when there will NOT be banner advertising? Maybe there won't be ads as we know them now, but trust me, there are going to be ads.
One of the biggest problems with banner advertising at the present is the simple fact that the vast majority of them are not targeted. There are far too many link exchanges, web rings, free-for-all pages and "drive 50,000 hits to your site" sites that are focusing on hits instead of sales. Everything, everywhere is hits, hits, hits. It seems no one is saying sales, sales, sales. To me this has always been ridiculous. How did we ever start putting the value of a hit above the value of a sale?
Most of these sites, even the ones that claim to "target" their ads, seem only interested in one more impression, one more click thru, one more hit. To most of the companies that I've dealt with, which include some of the most highly respected on the net, their idea of targeting seems to mean that they don't display porn ads unless you specifically ask for them. That's not targeting!
Let me ask you another question. How many hits does it take to make a sale?
The answer is ---- 1
That's right. If you show one banner and get one sale, you just made more money than the guy who had a million hits and no sales. Is that really such a weird concept?
I've been in the search engine placement business for over 5 years now and putting modesty aside for a while, I'm one of the very best at it. Few people know and understand how and why a search engine or directory does what it does better than yours truly. I'm amazed at the amount of potential clients that call me everyday wanting hits. In fact, I can't recall a single one of them that ever called me asking how to get sales, just hits. The majority of my time is spent in trying to get clients to realize that sales are what can justify my fees and not hits. In all my years in business, this little quirk is by far the strangest thing about doing business I've ever seen.
What would you think if I told you that as a portal partner, you have the ability to get as much as $500 per thousand impressions? Well, that's what I'm telling you.
There was recently a post in the SK forums, (which if you're not visiting everyday, you're only depriving yourself of very valuable information that could help you make money!), about one of our partners who had a great idea. He put up a lost pet site. He contacted a few local vets and got a very receptive response. He is already getting traffic to his lost pet site and by getting the local vets to put up posters or pass out cards with the url of the site, he will soon be getting hits to the page.
Now once you are getting traffic to a page like this, don't you think a vet might want to use this page to put up a "get your pet vaccinated this month and save 50%" banner? If this site only gets 100 visitors a month, those are the vet's target market and I can guarantee that at least one vet in the area would gladly pay $50 a month to sponsor that page. $50 per month for 10 months is $500. 100 impressions per month for 10 months and that's a thousand impressions. Viola! $500 per thousand impressions.
What if you put up a page about where to get fast food delivered and linked it from your front page. After a few weeks, it starts getting 100 visitors a month. I guarantee there will be some restaurant that will want those 100 visitors to think of them first and will be willing to pay you $50 a month for top listing, (nothing more than a text banner). Same deal as above.
Now, what if you can get that restaurant to have an online coupon where by using it you got one dinner free with the purchase of another? Now you can put on your front page, business cards, flyers and posters something about your hometown's ONLY online discount restaurant guide. Now you start getting 500 visitors a month. Now how many restaurants would be willing to pay that $50 bucks a month?
Grocery stores, clothing stores, doctors, lawyers, office supplies, the list goes on and on. This little strategy can be used in so many ways there is no way for me to sit here and think of all of them. My point is simply this. Banner ads are not dead. There are plenty of people who are willing to pay for advertising. The trick is to provide information that allows you to TARGET the audience.
Stop following the pack and doing what somebody else is doing just because you aren't sure enough of your own ideas. Start thinking outside the box. There has never before been a community of topic specific portal owners and THAT IS WHERE YOUR OPPORTUNITY LIES! Take advantage of it. Start thinking, start doing and start making some money!
WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
From my wife: I just want you. Everything good the world has to offer, I already have and that is mostly because of you. Everything I am, I owe to you. While there are many people in my life, what you and I share is different, special. The time we shared together yesterday and the time we will share tomorrow, means much more to me than anything you could buy.
From my Mother: I want you to be here with me and know how much I love you.
From my children: I know how hard you have to work for your money. I don't need any more after shave or neckties. The only thing I want around my neck this Christmas is your arms. I want you to hug my neck. I want you to hug my neck with your stomachs and your pockets full.
From my family: I want you to think of me and know that I love you and wish only the best for you and your children.
From my friends: I want you to remember all the good times we've shared and remember why we're friends in the first place.
From my partners: I want your commitment to be the best you can be.
Merry Christmas to you all and God Bless.
Publisher -- Bob Massa