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Guest Posts, Free Links and Why it is Bad for your Business

Let's imagine you are emailed by someone asking to add a guest post to your website or blog.

They write the post and then insist that you include a link or two (or more...) in the post to websites that they own / work for by building advertising.

In other words they are looking for free advertising via free links.

While you gain content in this deal, your website ultimately loses because you are giving free links away and it damages the SEO quality of your website.

I don't have to imagine because it happened to me recently.

I posted the guest post, removed any links, and sent her the URL. I also explained that for that particular website it was $60 per link if she wanted any links added.

Her response:

Thanks a ton. Could you please add one clickable link to my site?


Hey Beth!

Certainly. Which link do you want added?

You can pay the $60 fee via PayPal or Interac Email Transfer.

I only want a clickable link to my website in the author bio. I would really appreciate if you do it without a fee. I am currently low on budget and cannot afford to pay for it.

I wrote the article with much of my efforts, I will consider it a kind favor from your side.


Hey Beth!

#1. I am running a business.

In order for my business to be successful I need clients to be able to find my website and contact me.

In order to find my website and contact me I need to ranked highly in Google searches.

If I am not ranked highly in Google then I need to spend more money on advertising.

My Google rank is dependent on having lots of quality links coming into my website and very few going out.

If I add a link leaving my website, my rankings go down and my business suffers financially.

If my rankings go down then I need to spend more money and time on advertising.

If someone pays for a link on my website, I take that money and spend it on advertising.

If I give a free link out, then I actually LOSE money because my business suffers and to fix the problem I have to spend money on advertising. So either way, in that scenario, I lose money.

#2. I am married and my wife has a baby on the way.

If I start running a business that is losing money because I am giving away free links to people, I go into financial ruin, my wife divorces me and I rarely get to see my child in the future. Not a guarantee, but why risk it by wasting time and money giving away free links?

While I like the idea of being nice to people, where are the benefits for me and my family? None. I would be losing money and that is money that should be spent on diapers / baby food / clothes.

#3. I am in the SEO business.

I know how the link business works.

Here is some free SEO advice. You will find it very useful for growing your website:

Pay special attention to the SEO Checklist, as it is particularly important.

If you want free links check out WebRing, StumbleUpon and similar websites for sharing links.

You should also check out online newspaper style publications which allow authors to write articles for them and post links within those articles. eg.

Have a nice day!

So yeah...

In the future when people ask you for free links, send them a copy of this page and hopefully they will understand why they are wasting their time and yours asking.

Also for those who don't know, the character shown below is called "Link". Not Zelda. Zelda is the princess he is trying to rescue. Understand the difference? Good. Stop calling him Zelda. His name is LINK.

Link from Legend of Zelda

Festive and Holiday SEO vs PPC SEM

It is December 1st 2016 and there is only 24 days left til Christmas.

Black Friday, the 2nd busiest shopping day of the year, has already come and gone. The busiest day, Christmas Eve, will soon be upon us.

When it comes to the holiday season and spending your time and money on SEO, you might as well not even bother. Search Engine Optimization is designed for the long haul. It takes months for SEO to take effect. SEO does garner the best results, dollar for dollar - but the effects take time.

So don't bother. SEO simply takes too long and you are trying to advertise last minute. Anything you advertise in December won't see major results until months later. And that will be too late. Good for next year maybe, but not right now.

If you are trying to sell product NOW, during the Christmas rush, then your best bet is actually Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and that means paying Pay Per Click (PPC).

Lets say for example you are trying to sell a computer console game (eg. Skyrim Special Edition for PS4 = awesome game. I am hoping to get it for xmas myself.) and you want to be getting your customers to actually buy the product instead of just browsing, then you need to be focused on getting them to the checkout stage of purchasing.

This means you need to set up a PPC campaign wherein you only pay if the customer:
  • Clicks your ad.
  • Clicks a product for purchase.
  • Goes to the checkout.
Google Adwords is your best bet for getting all of that. And the great thing is that they have to do all three things before you pay a penny.

It doesn't guarantee that they actually buy the product. Half of them might change their mind and decide to shop elsewhere, but if you are offering a good sale price, free shipping, 1 day or 3 day shipping, then chances are likely they will purchase via your store. This is why you need to calculate how many people are making their way to the checkout and how many actually make a purchase. Once you know the percentage, then you can compare that to your profit margin and figure out how to maximize your returns and how much you can be bidding/spending on each sale.

Hot Tip - If your sale price beats the price of the same product being sold on, and still has a good profit margin, you are basically guaranteed to make money if you are offering comparable shipping to whatever Amazon is offering.

For example if Amazon is selling the same console game for $69 and after Fedex shipping and expenses you are making $35 off every sale at the same price, you can then lower your price to $59 (and be making $25 off every sale) to beat their sales price. You could be spending $1 or even more on paying for clicks, but if half the people who make it to checkout stage change their mind and don't make the purchase, then that doubles your marketing costs to $2 for every sale. But you are still making $23 off every sale.

All you need to do then is calculate how many products you have in stock and how many you want to sell RIGHT AWAY. If you have 1000 units of the game, you could make your daily advertising limit $2000 (which most likely won't end up being used right away, but it could theoretically happen).

If you manage to sell 200 units the first day (for a cost of $400 but a profit of $4600) you are already in the black. Then just lower your daily advertising limit to $1600.

Day 2, another 200 or so units sold.

Day 3, Day 4, Day 5. If you are doing well you sell out of units and might even order more from your distributor. Then you simply suspend your SEM PPC campaign and wait until your next shipment of 1000 units arrives. Also you laugh all the way to the bank because you just made $23,000 in 5 days. (The Fedex people are amused by you sending out 1000 small packages in 5 days, but they might start offering you a business discount in the future.)

And eventually the well runs dry. The Xmas shopping season is over.

So you recalculate your profit margins, change your prices, change your PPC bids, and continue selling products anyway at a smaller volume.

And wait anxiously for next year, trying to calculate which console games will be the big sellers and worth advertising.

Update, Jan. 2017.

I did get Skyrim Special Edition for PS4 for Xmas. Woot. Oh and it is beautiful. The graphics are amazing. Breathtaking. I already had the old PS3 version of the game, but I wanted to play the new one with the updated graphics and all the added mods, expansions, etc. Simply wonderful game to play.

Search Engine Algorithms

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is defined as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search engine results (SERPS).

Generally, the earlier a site gains a position in the search results, or the higher it “ranks,” the more visitors will visit that website. SEO can also target several different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry specific vertical search engines.

Because Google is currently the world’s most popular search engine, webmasters generally concentrate their efforts in getting their website to rank as high as possible in the Google search results, followed by Yahoo search, and MSN (Live Search, Bing, etc).

Webmasters and content providers began optimizing sites for search engines as early as the mid 1990s, as the first search engines were indexing the Internet. Website owners started to recognize the value of having their sites highly ranked and visible in search engine results, creating an opportunity for both white hat and black hat SEO’s. Basic early versions of search engine algorithms usually relied on webmaster provided input such as the keyword meta tags on a web page.

Today SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories:

1 – Techniques that search engines recommend as part of good design.

2 – Techniques of which search engines do not approve.

The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the second as much as possible. The two terms commonly used today to classify these methods are white hat SEO, or black hat SEO.

* Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. Tricking the search engine into ranking a site higher than it actually deserves, often only temporarily.

* White hat SEO is when a webmasters site development and optimization techniques conform to the search engines’ guidelines and involves no deception.

By 1997 search engines had realized webmasters were making efforts to rank higher in their search engines, and some webmasters were actually manipulating their website rankings in the search results by stuffing pages with excessive, hidden, or irrelevant keywords. Early search engines, such as Infoseek, started to adjust their algorithms in an effort to prevent webmasters from manipulating (spamming) rankings.

Two graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed “backrub”, a search engine that relied on a mathematical algorithm to rate the prominence of web pages. Page and Brin later founded Google in 1998. Google attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simplicity. Off page factors (such as PageRank and hyperlink analysis) were considered as well as on-page factors (such as keyword frequency, meta tags, headings, links and site structure) to enable Google to avoid the kind of search result manipulation seen in other search engines that only considered on page factors for their website ranking algorithm.

Over time Google would downplay the importance of certain factors, like meta tags because it was commonly used to stuff keywords in there that had little to do with the site's content.

By 2007, the major search engines had incorporated a wide range of undisclosed factors in their ranking algorithms to reduce this huge impact that webmaster link manipulation was having on their search result relevancy.

Google says it ranks sites using more than 200 different signals. The three leading search engines, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live Search, do not disclose the algorithms they use to rank website pages. They are essentially trade secrets, and are kept secret so SEO people cannot game the system once they know the most important factors - the really experienced ones know how to game the system regardless. The SEO Checklist on for example shows 115 things people should be doing, but it doesn't cover all 200+ things that Google looks for.

Whether you are new at website design or an old pro you really should study this list of things to do, and not do, when using search engine optimization for high rankings to avoid search engines penalizing your website for search result manipulation. Just follow the rules on the Checklist and you will do well.

Remember SEO is not always an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing and offline strategies can sometimes be much more effective, it all depends on the site operator’s goals. eg. A brand marketing campaign for example might be better suited to have a Social Media aspect.

Implementing the signs of a quality website should vastly improve your chances of being ranked higher in search engines such as MSN’s Live Search, Yahoo, and Google’s search results. If you intend to make a living from working online and are in for the long haul then designing a quality website that adheres to the search engine guidelines is a must.

Offline / Online Synergy Marketing

The "billboard" advertisement shown on the right is an example of Offline / Online Synergy Marketing.

Basically what you do is do something outrageous / funny as a marketing stunt, and then you photograph or film what you did and use it for your online social media campaign.

Your goal essentially is to do smart advertising that is offline, and then use that to ultimately market yourself online.

So for example if I were to do a marketing stunt on the streets of downtown Toronto, and then other people filmed it / photographed it, and then shared what they saw on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites then I have just done two things:

#1. I probably just gained a bunch of new clients / customers who saw the marketing stunt in person.

#2. I just gained word of mouth advertising via social media.

It is a Win-Win as far as advertising goes. The billboard above is for Copenhagen architects, and frankly I have no problem giving them kudos for their smart marketing campaign.

Below is some more examples of smart advertising which also garners social media attention:

Marketing for Clients

Not every client is the same, and thus not every marketing campaign is the same either. It really depends on the methodology that the client wants. Some clients want different things. Below are some examples of different kinds of online marketing.

SEO, Search Engine Optimization (which is arguably the most effective at getting a good return on investment).

SEM (aka PPC), Search Engine Marketing via Pay Per Click.

SMO, Social Media Optimization (basically a form of Branding for the purposes of name recognition on social media).

VM, Viral Marketing - limited to unique, interesting, one time content.

Video Marketing (not to be confused with VM) - the goal is to make videos that useful to visitors to the website / youtube. They do not need to go viral or generate lots of views, the goal is to make useful videos that help clients, and in turn help generate sales.

VVM, Viral Video Marketing - the goal being to make one video go viral, which is unlikely because it is a numbers game and only a small percentage of attempts go viral. However VVM doesn't necessarily generate sales, because most people who end up watching the video are doing so because of amusement and have no interest in buying the product.
Branding, of which the primary purpose is name recognition, traffic is not the biggest concern - sales is.
Affiliate Marketing, requires people to take a commission on sales, which is often less than 0.5% of traffic or lower, depending on how good or shoddy a product is.

Or combinations of the above categories. Some clients may only want the first three things listed above, as having videos, branding or running affiliates is too much work and unnecessary for whatever they are advertising.

Note - I have (more or less) organized the above list in order of the most effective means of advertising down to the least effective means of advertising and building traffic. Some of the categories above may roughly tied in terms of effectiveness.

The Difference between Amateurs and Professionals

Saw this ad posted on craigslist a few days ago:
"Web Design Teacher Needed
We are presently looking for Web Design teachers
Be able to teach introduction to web design
Native English speaker/Fluent in English language.
Be able to teach evening and Saturdays
Good knowledge of Dreamweaver, word press"

I sent the following response:

"No self respecting professional website designer would be caught dead using Dreamweaver or Wordpress. Such things are for amateurs.
Any true website designer is hardcoding the site in HTML/javascript.
So basically what you are looking for is someone who is an amateur to teach how to be an amateur website designer. Wow. Good job."

Basically what it comes down to is that any one who is serious about website needs to learn how to hardcode a website from scratch. Any idiot can use Dreamweaver or Word Press - because those are WYSIWYGS (What You See Is What You Get), which are designed to be used by amateurs so that any idiot can design a basic looking website using the templates that are provided. To get a professionally designed website you need to be able to think outside the box, to be creative and design a chic / stylish website that engages the viewer.

It is a bit of question of amateur vs professional... to which I shall now invent a new saying:

"Who do you want as a dentist: An amateur or a professional? The results will be dramatically different."

10 More Things People say to Graphic Designers

Proper Response - "Yes, but it will take time and I will require a deposit in full based on a vague estimate. The total cost may be more than expected because you are only giving me a vague idea of time requirements. Also there may be additions charges if you want any revisions."

Proper Response - "In what way do you want it to POP?"

Proper Response - "Do you have a high quality high resolution image of your logo on your website?"

Proper Response - "Sure, but I will have to start charging by the hour."

Proper Response - "Yes, but it will probably be a complete redo based on what you've given me."

Proper Response - "Sorry, but I have other clients with money and I can't afford to help people who don't have any money."

Proper Response - "Nope. Beyond the initial 2 revisions promised in the agreement, any further revisions will be charged my hourly rate."

Proper Response - "Without any specifics to give a proper estimate, I would need to charge you my hourly rate."

Proper Response - "Yes, but I would need to charge you a consulting fee for any calls before 9 AM or after 5 PM."

Proper Response - "I didn't go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ever heard of the saying 'Creativity is 1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration'?"

See the previous post:

10 Things People say to Graphic Designers

10 Things People Say to Graphic Designers

Proper Response - "That would be like designing a book cover without knowing the size or shape of the book, or even the contents."

Proper Response - "Will it take 5 minutes or less? If not, I will have to charge by the hour."

Proper Response - "It is. Go ahead and edit it if wish to."

Proper Response - "Sure, but I will have to charge you by the hour. How many versions do you want?"

Proper Response - "Depends. What is it you want me to change?"

Proper Response - "Sure, if it takes less than 5 minutes. More than that and I have to charge by the hour."

Proper Response - "You know that is copyright infringement right?"

Proper Response - "Do you own the rights to that image? If not, then no."

Proper Response - "Sorry, my husband/wife wants to go out this evening and see INSERT MOVIE TITLE here. Have you seen it yet? Was it any good?"

Proper Response - "Would you like me to do half the work and give it to you half-finished?"

See also:

Confessions of a Designer

Trolling Business Competitors / Brand Jamming

Deliberately seeking to undermine a competitor is a rather underhanded way of doing business. Trying to make a viral anti-marketing campaign is even worse. Check out the videos below from "Tony is Back", a campaign aimed at mocking the fictional character 'Tony the Tiger' from Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.

The internet campaign advertises, which looks like an actual Kellogg's website and links to the official Kellogg's website, but Kellogg's has since redesigned their website and all the links end up on Special Error Message page that says:

"You have reached this page from a website that is not connected to or endorsed by the Kellogg Company."

Basically Kellogg's is being forced to spend money to adjust their website in order to point out that they are not connected with the fake advertising campaign that is "Tony is Back".

Kellogg's has also shut down their social media accounts temporarily.

There is another term for this kind of anti-marketing campaign - it is called Brand Jamming. Brand Jamming is when someone (often anonymously) tries to tarnish the reputation of a brand.

In the past Brand Jamming was often used by anti-capitalists who feel brand names are too powerful and deliberately poke fun at brands for sheer amusement and to prove a point. However in the above case we can see that the artist Jani Leinonen ( is registered to his name) has invested a substantial amount of money into this Brand Jamming campaign - too much to be paid by just him.

Which begs the question, who is paying for the high production quality of the videos?

My guess is: Post Foods.

AKA, Post Cereals, the makers Honey Comb, Raisin Bran, Honey Bunches of Oats, Fruity Pebbles, etc.

Who else would stand to gain from Kellogg's having their brand name tarnished?

Regardless, Kellogg's has since taken legal action. A cease and desist order has evidently called a halt to more videos that were supposed to released on a daily basis, but only 3 videos became public. The most controversial video of the 3 (you can guess which one) apparently went over the line of parody and was deliberately tarnishing.

So word to the wise, if you are thinking of using Brand Jamming or otherwise attempting to troll a brand, remember these things:

#1. Lawsuits can shut down your efforts pretty quickly.

#2. Do it anonymously.

#3. Why bother? What if it backfires and you end up just advertising your competitor?

The last one makes a lot of good sense. If you think about it, doesn't this just more firmly ensconce Kellogg's as a high quality brand? They clearly would never endorse cops beating up a woman or a woman responding to her beating by becoming a suicide bomber.

Think before you try Brand Jamming. It is most likely a waste of your time, and potentially hazardous to your bank account if you get sued for millions.

If you've been a target of Brand Jamming, please contact for Online Reputation Management Services in Toronto.

Nothing is Free in the World of Advertising

By C. Moffat, October 2015.

Nothing is free in the world of advertising.

Think about that for a moment.

Even if you do your own advertising, it still costs Time. So Time becomes the unit of measurement for determining the value of the advertising you are doing.

If you hire someone else to do the advertising for you then it costs Money. Cash. Dollars. Moolah. Clams. Bucks. Whatever the kids are calling it these days. Loonies, if you live in Canada.

So the concept of free advertising is really a misnomer, because even if you do it yourself it still costs Time and possibly also Materials and/or Fees.

Lets pretend you are handing out flyers on the street to random people. You will need thousands of flyers, which will need to be printed at a print shop like Staples or Kinkos. So there is the cost of materials right there. You spend Time designing the flyer yourself, you have it printed for a Materials cost, and you spend more Time handing out the flyer on the street.

Another route is you build a website - which you can get for free, but you still have to design the website and write all the content for the website. So that is more Time right there. If you want the website to look professional you will need to buy a domain name for a Fee so you can have a .com or .ca website and you are not using Blogspot / Wordpress / etc. [You will note we have chosen to make this blog very low budget, it doesn't even have its own domain name. Not yet at least. We don't bother to buy a domain name for a blogspot page until it reaches 100 posts. It is not worth the investment in our opinion until a blog reaches 100 posts of content.]

So what do we have here...

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Materials (Money)
  4. Fees (Money)

But let us pretend for a moment you have a Lack of Time. How much advertising can you get when you have a Lack of Time? Not a lot as it turns out. You are basically down to the two basic options:

  • Do it yourself with what little time you have.
  • Use the little time you have to hire someone else to do it for you.

Some people may have noticed the Old Catch-22 in this equation. You have to have money to make money.

It is a very simple concept. You have to invest money in advertising in order for your business to make MORE money.

A few days ago a DJ contacted me via email apparently looking for advertising. What was revealed over time however was that they were looking for free advertising. They wanted someone else to do the work of advertising their DJ career, but they didn't want to pay for the advertising. They apparently expected other people to just advertise their career for free.

Now I should note that this person is not famous. I have never heard of them before. But lets pretend that they were famous - famous people know you have to spend money on advertising if you want extra publicity, otherwise you are really just relying on fans to do the work for you - because in theory fans will provide free advertising - provided you do the basic work of making a product that looks good and you have a loyal fanbase due to years of previous advertising to build up both your fanbase and your career. Which goes back to money again - the people working with the celebrity invested money in promoting their career, they made them a celebrity over time, and then the celebrity reaps the rewards of years of money poured into their careers.

A non-celebrity trying to become a celebrity therefore really needs that extra boost of investment in their career in order to make things happen. People don't develop a fanbase over night by doing zero work.

You may be familiar with the concept of artists and musicians being "discovered". That is a false stereotype because what they don't tell you is all the years of training, practice, failure that the artist or musician went through before they became financially successful. They put in the time and effort and their success was result of all that effort.

Here is a little fact for you. Artists typically don't become financially successful until after the age of 40. So lets take for example American painter Jackson Pollock, born 1912, died 1956 at the age of 44.

People like to claim that Pollock became famous because art critic Clement Greenberg "discovered" him, but that is wholly untrue. Pollock was already successful as a painter before Greenberg. Pollock's fame did skyrocket after the Life magazine article in 1949, when he was 37. Thus Pollock managed to become famous before the age of 40, which is very rare, but he was already financially successful.

Oddly enough however his fame didn't add any extra financial success. Once famous Pollock abandoned his drip style of painting and went back to figurative work. His finances never really improved due to the extra fame.

But Pollock never would have reached that point in his career had he not put in the effort. According to people who knew him he was extraordinarily persistent, hard-working and ambitious.

And so the moral of the story for the people out there who want "free advertising" is to go work harder. If you want to become successful, you need to work hard at it. Need advertising? Start working on it yourself or hire someone else to do it if you are unwilling to do the work yourself.

Nothing is free in the world of advertising.

Copyright Infringement and Website Design

“Can you design it exactly like [the competitor’s website]? No, I mean, exactly like it?”

To which the proper response should be: "Do you know the penalty for copyright infringement? Because that is what you are discussing and I want to state now, for the record, in case any lawyers are reading this in the future that I had no part in any copying of a competitor's website or their content."

It is okay for clients to want to emulate a website that they admire. But they can never duplicate a site completely, word for word, code for code. That is grounds for a lawsuit. Copyright infringement in Canada can lead to fines of up to $1,000,000 CDN plus any civil lawsuits from the company which was infringed.

Beyond that the thing to do is ask the client what specific elements of the website they really like. Get examples of things they like and learn exactly what aspects of it they like best.

Also ask them what they would change to make it better.

Once those things are nailed down the next step should be to determine a layout. For this I prefer to used old school pen and paper so that we have a hard copy of what the layout design is.

I also sometimes ask a client to "sign off" on a finished layout by initializing the corner of the draft design that was completed on paper. This way they know they have just agreed to this layout/design and this is the layout/design that will be made. Changes may be made later, but any amendments should be relatively minor.

Any major changes imply a whole new design, possibly starting completely fresh. Which means additional costs in terms of time and money.

People who want free SEO and don't want to pay for it

A few days ago someone emailed me asking for a lengthy list of SEO books that I would recommend for people who want to do their own SEO.

My response was as follows:

"Certainly. How many hours worth of research are you looking for to construct this list of books?

Payment is $30 USD per hour and must be paid in advance via either PayPal or Interac Email Transfer."

They never responded to the email, possibly realizing that constructing a list of SEO books is a time intensive activity and thus would constitute "work".

I was not expecting a response either. The tone of my response was polite, but it implied the concept of "nothing is free" and if you want to do your work for you, then you had best be paying for my efforts.

So here is a handy SEO Tip... Either:




I have a life. I don't have time to waste constructing "lists" for people who are not paying me. If I have books listed on one of my websites, then please go read the website. I am not going to waste my valuable time doing research for someone else for free.

Expecting people to do your work for free may harken back to Tom Sawyer tricking his friends into painting the fence for him, but just because it worked for the fictional Tom Sawyer on his hick friends, doesn't mean that nonsense will work today.


Clueless SEO Clients from H E Double Hockey Sticks

Once in awhile a SEO expert gets hired by someone who knows almost nothing about the internet, how SEO works, or even what a "keyword" is. Such clients are like babies in a crib fumbling around with Alphabet Blocks trying to make something. Are they trying to make a word? Are they trying to build a fortress out of the blocks. Nobody knows because they are so nonsensical.

The clients want something done to bring in extra customers. They heard from somewhere that SEO people are the experts when it comes to advertising, but they don't really know what it is they want beyond that.

Do they want Search Engine Optimization? Probably. That is what SEO stands for, but don't expect the clueless client to know that.

Do they want SMO? "Maybe. What is SMO?" they ask. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. "Oh yes we want that!" they say because they recognize the brand names and therefore think it must be a good idea (despite the fact SMO has very low Returns On Investment).

Do they want PPC? "Wait, doesn't that cost money?" Yes sir, everything I am listing costs money. "But I would be paying you to do PPC for me, which means I am spending money to have you spend money. Doesn't it?" Yes, technically that is true. But you get more bang for your buck if you hire an expert to optimize your PPC campaigns. "Oh, okay."

And so forth.

Take for example the image below...

In this humourous example of client cluelessness they have removed all text from the website, ignoring the advice of the SEO expert. They have done so without even consulting the SEO expert and then blamed the expert for their sudden reduction in ranking.

 Any SEO expert reading this will go "Yup, I've had something similar happen to me." because they can relate to dealing with clueless clients who ignore instructions.

It would be like if you were teaching someone archery and you ask them to aim higher. They ignore you and shoot, the arrow falling short of the target. Then you ask "Did you aim higher?" And they say they did not. Why? Apparently because some people are stubborn and refuse to listen to the expert - or refusing to admit the expert is right.

This happens all the time. Not just in SEO or teaching fields. It could be a simple matter of tech support.

"Sir, is the caps lock on?"

"Do you think I would have phoned you for tech support if I did not check to see if the caps lock was on?"

"It happens sometimes."

"Well I already checked it..."

A minute later. "Um. Okay, I got it working."

"Great. What was the problem?"


In the above example the person clearly had the caps lock on, but they didn't want to admit that was the problem. Partially because of embarrassment, partially because they didn't want to admit the expert was right in checking the most common causes first.

Back to SEO imagine for example by a client who asks to be in the top ten search rankings for a topic unrelated to their website. A keyword that is extremely popular like S E X. Meanwhile their website is for automotive insurance. You try to explain to them that they are asking for the impossible, to promote a website for such a popular keyword that is totally unrelated. The client explains their logic "If we get just a tiny percentage of traffic from that keyword then we will get way more traffic overall - and a percentage of that traffic will buy automotive insurance." Okay, yes, technically that is logical. But wouldn't it make more sense to focus on promoting the words automotive insurance - because then you are guaranteed to get a higher Return On Investment because that is what people are actually looking for, plus there is no way an automotive insurance website will come up in the top 10 for such a popular and unrelated keyword. It would be a complete waste of money and be "a drop in the bucket" compared to the 325 million+ websites out there containing the word.

It would be like a Toronto divorce lawyer wanting to show up in search results for New York immigration lawyer. Do they have a law practice in New York? No. Are they an immigration lawyer? No. "Oh but there are lots of immigrants in New York who need immigration lawyers and if they get deported they might come to Canada." Right. Twisted logic that depends on the possibility that people might come to Canada from New York, might come to Toronto, and might need a divorce lawyer. That is a lot of mights to be wasting your money on.

To my fellow SEO experts I give my sympathies. We have to deal with these clueless clients far too often. It is a blessing whenever you get a client who at least understands how keywords work and the importance of relevant keywords in SEO.

Who cares if you have a high Clickthru Rate if nobody is buying your product???

When it comes to PPC advertising you have to remember that you are Paying Per Click - not per view, and not per sale.

Pay Per View Advertising means that there is no guarantee that people will even click on your ad.

Pay Per Sale Advertising (commission sales) means the person hosting the advertising has no guarantee that you will even make a sale. Pay Per Sale is basically the Scrooge McDuck way of making money because it means you never spend a dime unless you are guaranteed a profit first.

You might be selling Useless Ugly Widgets (UUWs for short, pronounced EWWs) and frankly if your UUWs are really terrible nobody is going to buy them no matter how much you advertise. If you were selling Useless Cute Widgets you might actually make some sales, or possible Handy Ugly Widgets more sales - and if you were selling Handy Cute Widgets then they would be flying off the shelves due to the overwhelming sales. Paying someone on commission to sell HCWs is a waste of money because they sell themselves anyway. But nobody wants to waste their time trying to sell UUWs because they know it is an extremely difficult sale to make.

Pay Per Click Advertising is the happy middle ground between these two types of advertising, wherein the advertising host (publisher, search engine, etc) is still getting paid based on the number of clicks - and the advertiser is guaranteed traffic based on the number of clicks purchased.

However one of the problems I have noticed is that people place too much emphasis on attaining a higher Clickthru Rate (CTR), which for those who don't know is a measurement of how many people saw your ad and what percentage of people clicked the ad.

So for example if 1000 people viewed your ad and 25 people clicked it, your CTR would be 2.5%.

However let us pretend for a moment that you used false advertising to encourage people to click your ad. You jazzed it up and made it sexy. But when they went to your website they saw you were selling UUWs, exclaimed "Yuck! Who would buy that ugly thing!" and then left the page.

Which means zero sales.

[Note: I am going to be mentioning some statistics soon. If you want to learn more about these statistics please read Search Engine Click Thru Rates.]

Let us pretend for a moment you are selling real estate in Toronto and you are spending a LOT of money on PPC advertising. As a real estate agent your goal is to sell houses that are worth over $500,000 (or more) and you get 5% of every sale you make - which is $25,000.

But in order to make that $25,000 you might be spending upwards of $1,000 (or more) in advertising each individual house. If you are spending that on PPC and perhaps spending $5 per click (real estate advertising is very expensive and there is a lot of competition). That $5 per click only gets you 200 people to your website. Most of them will browse around and leave in the first 30 seconds. What you are after however are the people who spend 5 to 10 minutes on your website and then contact you asking for help in purchasing the house in question.

Now ask yourself, when it comes to house sales (or selling widgets) how important is the clickthru rate on the advertising?

Let us say for example you had a very high clickthru rate of 10%, would that be a guarantee that the people would browse around and actually contact you to buy your house?

The answer is nope. It has no bearing on sales whatsoever.

Having a High CTR is really just bragging rights.

Business Owner - "Oh look, people are clicking my ad quite often!"

Colleague - "Are they buying anything?"

Business Owner - "Err... Nope. Not yet. What am I doing wrong?"

Ideally what you want is a product that sells really easily, and then a high CTR would actually be useful because people would be acting like Fry from Futurama ("Shut up and take my money!"), but if you are not selling Handy Cute Widgets then having a high CTR doesn't actually mean you will be making sales.

And sales is what matters most when you are running a business and advertising it.

People tend to get distracted easily by shiny objects or bragging rights. Having a high CTR is really meaningless if you don't have the accompanying sales.

For example if your ad was shown to 1000 people, 25 people clicked it (2.5% CTR) and then all 25 people purchased your product, well then you've got yourself a hot ticket item that everyone will want to purchase. But that doesn't really happen however. Much more likely you will have a CTR that is too high and a Purchasing Rate that is too low.

For example did you know that the Purchasing Rate goes up after midnight in your time zone? Between 12 AM and 5 PM people are more likely to purchase things because they are tired, low on cognitive power, and more likely to buy foolish things. That is why middle-of-the-night infomercials are so profitable. People buy it because their cognitive powers are reduced and they are easily tricked into buying widgets they think are useful (and often turn out to be annoying to clean).

So your goal instead should be to advertise between the hours of 12 AM and 5 AM because that is the time period when people are more likely to whip out their credit card and make a purchase. With PPC you can actually choose to limit your advertising to a specific region in the world (your time zone, your city, or even specific neighbourhoods) and to limit the advertising to specific times of day when people are most likely to make a purchase.

Let us all pretend for a moment you are trying to sell Expensive Fancy Widgets (EFWs) then you might also decide you only want to advertise to people who live in rich Toronto neighbourhoods like Rosedale, Leaside, Bridle Path, etc.

Basically you explore every option available to you in an effort to increase the Purchasing Rate of your target audience.

Clickthru Rate Vs Purchasing Rate Conclusions?

Stop worrying about the clickthru rate and worry about how many people are visiting your website and what percentage of sales you are making. If you are getting 1000 visitors and 10 people buying your products that is better than getting 10,000 visitors and only 1 person buying a product.
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