» It’s Not Just About Sales Anymore!
If you rely solely on sales to measure your site’s success, you’re missing opportunities that will significantly increase the revenue derived from that site. Nothing fancy and certainly nothing illicit. Just straightforward best practices that will juice up your returns and get you that much closer to an early retirement.
They’re so ubiquitous we hardly notice them anymore. But every company from Coke to Reebok would be happy to pay you for that premium screen space. It’s valuable real estate.
Even bloggers have jumped on the banner bandwagon because it generates $$$ — something most bloggers really need.
However, a note of caution is in order. If you do opt to allow banners on your site, make sure they’re somehow related to your products or services. If your site sells term life insurance to the elderly, you’re not going to have the credibility you want with a big, honkin’ Mountain Dew banner flying above the fold.
Tasteful and relevant is nice.
Another thing to consider: clicking on a banner ad takes the visitor away from your site. Now, metrics reveal that fewer than 1% of visitors to your site will actually click on a banner ad. These adverts aren’t intended to generate traffic, so much, as they are to increase awareness of the product, aka branding.
Banner ads are sold on the anticipated number of ‘impressions’ or viewings the ad will receive. There’s not usually a pay per click (PPC) bonus with banner ads.
Google Contextual Links
You see these links all of the time, usually with an ‘Ads by Google’ caveat in place. Contextual ads are a great way to generate additional cash through your site. Here’s how they work.
Let’s say you have a site that sells oenophile accessories — stuff for serious wine drinkers like fancy corkscrews and high-tech chilling buckets. When you sign on with Google, they’ll place wine-related links on the pages of your site. Then, each time a visitor to your site clicks on a Google contextual ad, you get paid. That’s the pay-per-click (PPC) revenue model.
The really nice thing about these links is that they really are helpful to your visitors. And they can be extremely helpful to your bottom line.
Another potential PPC revenue stream, text links appear in the main text of your site, usually in that easily recognizable ‘link blue’. The links are always related to the information contained in the main body.
So, sticking with our example of a site for wine connoisseurs, you might mention several monthly magazines targeted at wine lovers in the resources section of your site. Highlight the names of the periodicals, create the hyperlinks and ker-ching! Every visitor who clicks through your website generates cash. So you want a lot of text links.
Links are like currency on the web. You can buy them, sell them, swap them, bid on them — all because they have value — financial value.
If you’re a regular web browser, you’ve seen these traditional links thousands of times. They’re great because, if you don’t find what you’re looking for on site A, just click on a link to check out site B.
However, note well that search engines frown on links that don’t further the visitor’s search for information. So, if you have a link to a site that sells racing bikes on your wine connoisseurs’ website, that link isn’t helpful to someone looking for information on wine and you lose points.
To avoid the problem, simply keep your outbound links relevant to your site’s purpose and content. Then, you see, you’re actually providing a service to visitors, helping them along the way on their search for the perfect merlot.
Traditional links are always a PPC arrangement. You get paid for every click-thru from your site. And again, as long as the linked sites are relevant, you’re helping your visitors find just what they’re looking for.
So, with banner ads you’re paid by number of impressions. With Google contextual ads, text and traditional links, it’s PPC all the way. But there are still other ways to generate revenue from your site.
Sell a Monthly Newsletter or Ezine
You can find experts on just about anything on sites like Elance.com and guru.com. These writing pros can bang out a monthly newsletter for as little as $100 a month.
Topics like insider investment information and strategies, topics on family and health, money-savings tips, etc. are valuable. It’s information people are willing to pay for — and you don’t even have to write it.
Become an Affiliate
Depending on what you’re selling, you can make some very nice revenue as an affiliate for other companies.
Let’s say you run an on-line interior design site, providing decorating tips and news on the latest trends. You’re in an ideal position to become an affiliate.
Think about it. You display links to large paint companies, window treatment companies, carpet and furniture retailers — the list is endless.
As a registered affiliate, you receive cash (sometimes significant cash) whenever one of your referrals buys something — usually a percentage. And, when that buyer logs on and buys something a week later, you get a chunk of that sale, as well.
And now, the usual words of caution. Choose your affiliations with care. It doesn’t make sense to become an affiliate of Jiffy Lube if you’re selling knitting supplies. You won’t generate many click-thrus and you’ll be wasting valuable pixels on an under-producing link.
There are literally hundreds of companies, large and small, looking for affiliate sites to drive traffic their way. To get your started, visit commissionjunction.com for a list of links to the affiliate programs of everyone from eBay ($40 for every sign-up through your site) to Mother’s Homemade Ginger Snaps (dotcom).
By becoming an affiliate, you leverage your cyber turf by developing numerous revenue models to supplement your actual site sales.
Talk to a Pro
Before you undertake any of these suggestions, talk to a professional site design firm or an SEO/SEM professional. There are certainly hazards to some of these income opportunities — everything from a loss of visitor trust to a freefall in Google’s SERPs.
So, to cover yourself, consult with an SEM professional to stretch your site dollars further and to generate cash without any additional effort on your part.
It’s a winning combination — quality site design and maxed out profit potential. If you do it right, retirement could be right around the corner.