Saturday, 10 October 2009

The New FTC guidelines for bloggers and internet marketers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the American consumer protection body which has federal authority to police anticompetitive behaviour and to protect consumers. It was originally formed in 1914 to take down the robber-barons that dominated US commerce, and since then has branched off to regulate other aspects of modern commerce.

Now they are looking at the internet. In particular they are worried about the dubious claims being made for products that are sold with the consumer expecting a certain result - e.g. the make money scams which start "I was bankrupt and two months later I was a millionaire" type thing. Consumers are vulnerable to this sort of thing because they want to make money online fast. As I explained in my post on how long it takes to make money online, there is nothing quick or easy about internet marketing. But a lot of people have been tricked into buying courses that claim it is.

Now the FTC has stepped in with some new guidelines. In the past they allowed testimonials from people claiming all sorts of things, as long as there was a disclaimer saying "Results not typical". Now they are only allowing typical results to be claimed in online testimonials. So if you are claiming that everyone using your course becomes a millionaire in two months, you had better be able to prove this is typical or end up getting sued by the FTC with a fine up to $11,000.

Some marketers might think they can get round this by simply not having any testimonials at all. But they now want you to disclose within your text the results that the typical consumer might expect. So if the typical consumer won't make any money at all from your product, or won't lose weight etc etc, then you have to say that! As Frank Kern points out in his blog post about the FTC decision, this is going to take a lot of competition out of the market. Which is good for the legitimate internet marketers.

And what of internet marketers outside the USA? In my personal opinion, I think this ruling affects them too. The net is global - which means that some of the people reading your material and buying from your site are from countries not your own. If you have potential American customers, you are affected. So comply with the ruling, don't try to trick your customers, keep everything abovge board and legit, and you won't go far wrong. Don't be tempted to take short-cuts, it's just not worth it.

Case Studies on this blog

Sometimes the only way to learn a technique is to look at individual case studies. Here's a list of case studies on this blog:

Case study on internal dynamic linking

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The value of internal dynamic linking - case study

I thought I'd use a case study to demonstrate the value of internal dynamic linking.

If you google the keyword "make money online" (a major keyword that gets 246,000 searches a month according to Google's External Keyword Tool set on "exact" match), you will find a page from ranking second (see the image above - click to enlarge it).

Here's the page url:

But how has it managed to rank in the way it has for such a competitive keyword?

If you check Yahoo's Site Explorer for backlinks, the page has only 3536 backlinks of which only 1269 are external to the domain - some of the competitors for this keyword have over 10,000 backlinks, and some over 20,000 backlinks. The real secret to it's ranking is from the 2267 internal links.

For instance, one of the internal links, anchored on the term "make money online", is

And exploring the backlinks to that url shows that it has a staggering 95357 backlinks (see the image below - click to enlarge it), including a link from the home page,, which is pagerank 8 and has a staggering 3,171,374 backlinks (of which only 378,493 are external links).

What has done is create a giant site full of content, and has cleverly anchor-linked all the internal pages so strength flows from page to page. They always use anchor text when hyperlinking, and the repeated use of certain anchors make pages hyperlinked on those anchors surge upwards the search rankings.

Wikipedia ranks in the SERPs for a similar reason.

The thing is, you too can use internal linking to get certain pages to rank in the SERPs. Of course to have an effect, you will need a lot of content - but in smaller niches, some 1500 to 2000 pages are sufficient to get you to the top if you link internally in an intelligent and persistant way. Make certain pages powerful, and then use them to send links to your money pages so that you rank for them

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Estimating Google website traffic

Position #1 in the SERPS gets a 42% clickthrough rate - is this true?

Everywhere you look online you see the assertion that the number 1 position in the SERPs gets 42% of all the search traffic for that keyword.

A whole industry has been built around this - for instance in Market Samurai's tool, they pull in monthly search data from Google's External Keyword tool for any given keyword, divide by 30 to get a daily number, and then calculate an "SEOT" number (the amount of traffic the top position would get) - and they calculate SEOT by applying a straight 42% to the total daily search number.

But where does this magical 42% number come from?

It goes back to August 2006, when AOL accidently leaked it's search figures. And because AOL's engine is actually powered by Google, people used this as a proxy for what happens on Google. Someone on a forum crunched the numbers for a single keyword, and published it and thus publicised it (it got replicated all over the net). Here's the numbers:

Total Searches:9,038,794
Total Clicks: 4,926,623

Click Rank1: 2,075,765
Click Rank2: 586,100
Click Rank3: 418,643
Click Rank4: 298,532
Click Rank5: 242,169
Click Rank6: 199,541
Click Rank7: 168,080
Click Rank8: 148,489
Click Rank9: 140,356
Click Rank10: 147,551

As you can see the number 1 position doesn't get 42% of the searches, they get 42% of the clicks. Not everyone who searches clicks - sometimes they scan the snippets under the links and decide that it's not what they were looking for, and sometimes the searches are done by internet marketing software checking rankings, so there was never any intention of clicking.

Based on the above data, the number of clicks the top position gets as a percentage of the searches done is 23%. That ties in with my experience - where I'm number 1, I seem to get between 20% and 25% of the number of searches quoted in Google's tool. So if you are looking at the monthly search figures in Google's Keyword Tool, apply 23% to work out the traffic the top position gets, not 42%. It goes to show how important it is to rank for many keywords, especially the long tail, in order to ensure you get sufficient traffic.