Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to Make a Few Bucks in Just a Few Minutes

Disclaimer: This article contains no secret miracles that will make you rich tomorrow. There is no information here that you can’t find somewhere else. It contains no MSG’s, and no animals were harmed in the making or testing of this article.

What it DOES have, however is a call to action. A call to get busy and do something that only takes a few minutes and make a few bucks. A call to stop being afraid and realize that this is not complicated, nor particularly difficult. It just takes effort.

Here’s what’s going on. I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for a long time. But just recently I’ve been thinking about just how fundamentally simple it is, and how much fun it is. And as simple and as fun as it is, why aren’t more people doing it? When I teach my students, why don’t more of them follow through and do it? I’m not sure.

But here’s the process I’ve been going through, especially lately. I’ve also put the time required next to each step.

  1. Sort through my stuff (30-45 minutes)

The easiest items to sell on eBay are things you have around your house already. I call this “The Electronic Yard Sale”. Everybody has STUFF they’ve got sitting around, and isn’t being used. You could throw it away, you could give it away, or you could make a few coins off of it. The beauty of this stuff is that you don’t have to worry about profit margins. It’s not costing you anything. If you were to sell something from a drop shipper or a supplier, you have to make sure that it sells for more than you paid, or you lose money. With the things you’ve got at home, just find it and sell it!

In my case, I spent a little over a half hour and found some collectors cards and a cell phone, among other things.

  1. research the stuff (15-30 minutes)

I never post an item without first checking to see how much I’m likely to get, or even if it’s likely to sell. Sign in to eBay, do an advanced search of “Completed Listings Only” for the item you’re wanting to sell. You can see how much it’s likely to close for.

You can also use Clickincome’s Auction Analysis Pro for even more detailed research. This program can tell you what day to start and end your auction, what features to choose, and how much you’re likely to get, all based on an in-depth analysis of the last 30 days of eBay history for those items.

The cool part of that is, even with the detail, it’s still only 15-30 minutes.

  1. Choose some things to sell (1 minute)

This is the easy part. Based on your research, you choose to list the items that are most likely to make you the most money! In my case, I found a few cards that could sell for as much as $15 each, and the cell phone might go for as much as $400. Kind of a no-brainer isn’t it?

  1. Get pictures, write text (15-30 minutes)

When you’re preparing a listing, you usually want to gather all of the required information before you do your listing. Write the descriptive text, shoot and crop the pictures, etc… I do know that sometimes this can be more involved, but it’s usually not too bad. In the case of the cell phone, I captured a picture from the manufacturer’s website. The cards? I just scanned those.

  1. Post it on eBay (the same 15-30 minutes)

Creating the eBay postings was simply a matter of logging into eBay and clicking on “Sell”, then filling out the form. You copy and paste in the text, you upload the pictures. Select one picture to be your gallery picture, and save the auction. This time, it really only took me 15-30 minutes because I counted the same 15-30 minutes it took me to gather the pictures and the text. Again, sometimes it could take longer.

  1. Track the auctions (totaling 15 minutes throughout the week)

Tracking the auction means that once or twice a day, I jump over to eBay and look to see how many bids I’ve got. Sometimes, I might have to answer a question or two about the item. On a 7 day auction, I might spend a total of a quarter hour in the tracking process.

  1. Close the auction, collect the money (5 minutes)

For the most part, eBay handles this effort for me. If you use PayPal, and you have a buyer that’s alert and attentive, you can have your money on the way by the time you check the emails letting you know that the auction has ended. True, sometimes there are difficulties, like a non-paying bidder, or some extra communication that has to happen, but I’ve found that to be the exception rather than the rule. The worst that commonly happens is that the buyer didn’t happen to be at their computer the moment the auction closed, and I might have to wait an hour or a day.

  1. Ship the item. (15-30 minutes)

I play it simple here. Even when I’m shipping bigger stuff. I just drive it to a packing and shipping store, hand it to them with the address and pay them to ship it. How tough is that? When I do the cards, however, I might do that myself, because I just have to put them in an envelope with some protective cardboard.

  1. Spend the money (Insert evil laughter here…)

That’s the best part, isn’t it?

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How PPC and Organic Rankings Help Each Other

Left or right. Black or white. Night or day.

Where’s the middle ground?

All too often, I encounter people who approach Search Marketing as an “Either/Or” proposition. They somehow think that they should either do organic listings, or Pay-per-click. They don’t seem to catch the vision that the two can support each other, in an almost yin-yang sorta way.

But before we dive into that, let’s make sure we’re all up on our terms.

“Pay-Per-Click” refers to the process of buying advertising space on a search engine and it’s related sites. Usually, they are text ads that appear in a column to the far right of the search results, but sometimes it also includes some space above the listings. These are usually marked “sponsored links” or “sponsored listings”.

“Organic Listings” refers to your site’s rankings in the part of the search engines that’s not paid advertising. These are the more “natural” results of creating a good, content-filled, keyword-rich site, with plenty of inbound links.

Another misconception is that buying PPC ads will somehow get you preferential treatment in the organic listings. There are many that suspect a “payola” thing going on.

I, personally, suspect that those that run the search engines are smarter than that. If they were to breach the appearance of “fairness”, the backlash from the ‘netizenry would be swift and brutal. That being said, I do know that there is a lot that can be gained from a PPC campaign and applied to your organic efforts that would end up benefiting them both. And that brings us back to that Yin/Yang thing I was mentioning earlier.

  1. Jump Starting Traffic

Building up organic ranking can take time. It can be weeks before you even get indexed, and months before you creep up the ladder of search engine success. A major factor in Google’s ranking is simply the age of your site. Do you really want to open your doors and wait months for your customers to find you? No.

An effective PPC campaign can get traffic coming into the site immediately. When you set up your account and your ads, they can literally begin appearing on searches moments after you hit the final “Submit” button. Traffic follows.

And, with traffic can come inbound links. As people come to your site and see your quality and informative content, some will be interested in linking back to you. What do links bring? More traffic, and more search engine link popularity.

It’s also much more encouraging as a web site owner to see traffic and response more immediately.

  1. Identifying cool keywords

This is where PPC can really shine. In the process of creating your PPC account, you choose what keywords and keyphrases you want your ad to appear next to. You get to target your ad to particular searches. There are a lot of tools to help you compare the relative quality and strength of words and terms you apply your ads to. These same tools can help you choose what words to include in your site’s content. If it’s a good keyword for a PPC campaign, it’s a good keyword for your organic listing efforts as well.

Once your ads have been running for a while (and that could actually be as little as a week or two), you’ll also have some data that can help as well. You’ll know how many impressions have been placed for a particular keyword (how many times that ad has appeared in connection with that keyword), and how many clickthroughs as well.

The impressions information will show you how much demand there is for that keyword. The more the ad appears, the more people are searching that word or phrase.

The clickthroughs are even more telling. These are the keywords that people are actually responding to. These are the ones that are working. In both of these cases, it would be wise to revise your site so that they are stronger for those words.

It can work the other way as well. Suppose you’re looking at your site’s traffic report, and you’re noticing a recurring search query in your search engine referring URL’s. Not only can you go back to your site and strengthen that keyword’s prominence there, but you can also add it in to your PPC campaign, or raise it’s impact by that keyword’s bid or budget.

  1. Branding

Since Internet advertising has such trackable results, often people will ignore the value of advertising’s untrackable result. That means branding. Even if people don’t click on your ad, if they’ve seen your ad, and it’s well-made, the ad will still register in their mind. The next time they see it, it registers even more. Before they know it, your business is branded in their mind, and when they’re actually interested in buying what you have, they come to you first.

Branding is the underlying premise behind almost all broadcast advertising. When a Pepsi ad comes on the TV, they don’t expect you to jump from your chair, put on your coat, and go buy a Pepsi. But they know that the more you see it, the more likely you’ll be to buy it when you’re at the convenience store or the market.

So, don’t think of PPC and Organic listings as separate concepts. Think of them as to parts to the whole of Search Marketing, and ultimately, a slice of your whole marketing pie.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Top Ten Factors in Your Google Ranking

Over at SEOMoz, someone ran a survey of some of the best-respected SEO experts in the country. They asked them to say what are the most important factors in getting your page to rank well. The answers both surprised me, and didn’t surprise me.

What didn’t surprise me was the items on the list. These are the verses to the song that SEO experts (including myself) have been singing for a very long time. Remember: Second verse, same as the first?

What surprised me was the order that some of the items ranked. Things I had assumed were vital, were not as critical, and things that I had discounted as secondary turned out to be up at the top. But for your entertainment and benefit, here’s the list:

  1. Keyword Use in Title Tag – A major factor in ranking on a given keyword is to have that keyword (or phrase) in the title tag that appears at the top of the web browser when the site is live. This was one of the surprises. I’d known this was valuable, but not #1. So, I’ve gone back and adapted my site.
  1. Overall Inbound Link Popularity of Site – This refers to how many other sites, and how many other important sites link to you. You can’t go wrong with lots of sites linking to you. Your site appears to be valuable and authoritative. You do have to be careful just what other sites link to you and how, though.
  1. Inbound linking text (on other site) – When another site links to you, they put some text into the actual link. What they put there can have a big impact. If the words they use in the link refer to what your site is all about, that helps. If the link text has the keywords other people are searching for, even better. This is difficult to control, since it deals with what other people do. Still, sometimes when you request a link, you can send them the HTML code you’d like to have used for the link.
  1. Link Popularity within the Site's own Internal Link Structure – Pages within your site can link back and forth to each other. Having a text-based navigation bar and small text links on the bottom can help immensely, but more important is to include links to other internal pages within the body text of your other pages.
  1. Age of Site – This is simple. Old pages and older sites rank better. How can you fix that in your site? Simple. Outlast everyone else.
  1. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links To Site – Getting links from everyone and their dog’s websites is not the way to go. Getting inbound links from other relevant sites is the way to the top of the rankings. Pick and choose who you contact for linking. You want lots of links, but quality is more important than quantity.
  1. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community – If you have a niche in your market, a smaller corner of the world, and you’re well-linked in that community, that will go a long way to establishing your authority in that community, and your ranking as well.
  1. Server Uptime – Is your site down when the spiders come out to re-index you? If it happens once in a while, that’s OK, since that’s kinda what happens to all servers. But if it’s consistent, you could get ranked lower, or even dropped from the database.
  1. Keyword Use in Body Text – OK, I was surprised how low on this list this item was. I’d always known that using the right keywords in the right places in your body text was important. And it is. It’s just not so critical as linking and these other factors.
  1. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site – It’s important to have your own site be popular and valued in the linking community. Also, if the sites that are linking to you are themselves well-linked, they benefit your ranking even more.

So, what does all this mean to you and me? Well, there are a few of these things that you can’t immediately impact. Or, at least, that are difficult to impact. There are, however several that you can do right away, like put keywords in your titles, and in your body text. You can easily set up your internal page links, and aggressively seek out links from within your own topical community on the ‘net. With some creativity, you can impact many of the other factors more and more as well.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

How I Built a Landing Page to Maximize PPC

Talk about a paradigm shift…

Today I was reading some blogs, doing research, and I came across this article in the archives of Copyblogger that completely twisted my perceptions of PPC, and how to use it.

For those who might not understand just yet, PPC (Pay Per Click) is a form of advertising used mostly by the search engines like Google and Yahoo to pay their bills. What it means is that a site owner, such as myself, creates an account, creates a text ad, and then chooses a lot of relevant keywords. Then I would place bids on those keywords, like, say, 10c or 50c, or $1.50.

My ad then appears on the search engine (and other sites), and every time someone clicks on my ad, I pay the search engine that much money. The more I bid, the more money I pay. Of course, it’s also displayed more prominently, if I pay more.

But, my initial paradigm was to create a great ad, and to use it to draw traffic to my main page. After reading this article, I realized there’s a stronger, more focused way to spend this money.

Here’s the steps:

  1. Make a Freebie

Think about your site and your audience. Do you have something you can give them for free? It can be anything. It’s better if it’s downloadable information, rather than something tangible that you have to mail out, but even that can work.

  1. Create a “Landing Page”

This was the first part of the paradigm shift. I’m not going to point the ad to the home page of my site, but rather to this landing page. So, I made this page to be very clear, very simple, and very specific to my audience.

  1. The MWR Of That Page Is The Signup, Not The Sale

Remember a while back when we talked about the MWR (the Most Wanted Result)? This is the other paradigm shift. The whole point of this landing page is NOT to get people to buy from you. Instead it’s to entice them to sign up for your mailing list. That way, you can send them newsletters and other ads, and sell to them over and over again.

This means, first, that you’ll have to offer them something free to entice them to sign up. That’s what step one was all about. Second, you’ll have to make it clear in the text of this page that they’re going to be getting email from you. Do that by making it sound like something they’d be excited to get. More info? Sure! I’d love to get more from you!

  1. Make That Page Available, But Not Obvious On Your Site.

In other words, the page will be live as a part of your website, but you don’t have to link from your other pages to it. It will be exclusively for those that respond to your ad.

  1. Create Links From That Page To The Rest Of Your Site.

Once they arrive at your landing page, they might want to check out other parts of your site, other products. Don’t stop them! Make sure there are links into other parts of your site. Don’t make them so obtrusive that they obscure the free offer or the signup!

  1. Automate The Back End As Much As Possible

If you get a lot of signups, that will be great, right? Well, it can mean you could get snowed under sending off a bunch of free reports, or packaging up a free product sample. It also could mean that you’d have to extract the email addresses from each signup and add them to your list. The more you can automate that process, the less hassle you have.

  1. Set Up The PPC Account

Go to or’s advertising pages, and set up your account. It’s simple to do. Keep in mind that this is a strategy that you’ll have to pay for, so make sure it’s in your budget. The nice thing about it is you can spend as little or as much as you want. Just decide, and put a cap on your ads. The more you can spend, though, the more traffic you’ll generate.

  1. Create The Ad To Be Specific For That Audience And That Freebie Offer

Don’t go on and on about other products. Just focus on your offer and who would be interested in it. Create the text to appeal to that audience. Choose to bid on keywords specific to that offer and that audience. Remember, part of targeted advertising is screening and qualifying your customers!

  1. Watch the Good Times Roll.

If you’ve set up a great landing page, and you’ve set up a killer ad, you should start seeing sign-ups almost immediately. Let it roll, and build up a mailing list. Then, you can start marketing to that list, and bringing in buyers!

As soon as I read this, I dove right into my Clicksitebuilder and set up the page, then jumped to and set up the ad. Let’s watch what happens!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Live Every Day as If It Were Your Last

I’ve heard this saying a million times. It’s a very wonderful, heartfelt, emotional plea. It’s all about recognizing what’s important and not just what’s urgent in life. The problem with it is that it’s totally unrealistic.

Yes, it’s true. I could get hit by a bus when I step out of my office. I could die in a car wreck on the freeway on my commute. I could stress myself into a heart attack. Heck, I could be the random target of a psychotic sniper.

It’s possible…

…But not very likely.

How do I know? Well, I’ve been married for 20 years, according to my upcoming anniversary. Almost every day of that marriage, I’ve gotten up, showered, and gotten in my car. I’ve driven safely to work, did my job, and driven home safely. Nobody ran me over, crashed into me, or shot me. Later that evening, I kissed my wife goodnight and went to sleep, and managed to wake up again the next morning.

So, for those 20 years of my adult life, I’ve managed to get through the day and have it NOT be my last. Out of 7300 days (yes, I did the math), they’ve all led to “a next day”. So far.

Now, here’s my next point. If I were to live each day of my life “as if it were my last”, I sure wouldn’t spend it at work. I’d get my kids out of school and we’d go play. The problem is that I can’t do that every day, unless one of them really does happen to be my last. Because if it doesn’t work out that way, then I still have to pay for the food and shelter I use the following day. And if all I’m doing is playing in the park with my kids, I’m not making any money, and I can’t live.

And then, I guess, we would be living in the streets, and soon would come that day where we would starve or die of exposure, and it would, in fact, be my last.

So, somewhere in between my need to be with my family, and my need to provide for my family lies a balance that I have to find. It’s not an easy balance to get, and even harder to maintain.

But here are some suggestions:

  1. Date Night

Every week, my wife and I go out on a date, without the kids. I once read that the one best thing you can do for your children is to show love to your spouse. I know a lot of people that are too wrapped up in their children’s lives to take a night with their partner, but that weakens the center pole of the family tent. Your marriage is the one thing that everything else in the family hangs on.

But don’t just stay in a bad marriage because leaving it is wrong. If it’s not working, then do what you have to to fix it. Staying miserable doesn’t help.

And trust me, it’s tough to run a business effectively if your spouse isn’t supportive, at the very least, and actively helpful at the most.

  1. Date Night With Each Child

A good friend of mine takes his kids out individually, to do what the child wants to do. Not with the other kids, or friends, just himself and his child. Talk about quality time. Total focus on one child. Each one will have their turn, so it’s OK to spoil them one at a time.

  1. Church and Spirituality

Whatever your belief system, it’s a great idea to do it as a family. If you know that you’re all going to be somewhere reverencing something bigger than yourself, you all draw together.

  1. Yu-Gi-Oh Games

My son loves playing games, and currently his favorites fluctuate between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. He beats me at least once or twice a week. At first I let him win. Now, I try to win and I still get trounced. Do you have to learn to play Pokemon? No, but my advice is to find out what your kids love and get involved in it.

  1. Work Hard, But Monitor Your Hours

Your employer wants as much out of you as he/she can get. That’s OK. That’s what they hired you for. So, get as much done as you can while you’re at work, and then go home. Try not to work more than 40 hours a week, if you can. Everyone’s situation is different, but remember that the urgent task that your boss wants done right away might not be so life critical as spending some time playing with your kids.

  1. Hobbies in the downtime

I’ve learned that, for the most part, I do my hobbies and personal renewal when my family isn’t available. I record my music while the kids are asleep. My wife scrapbooks while the kids are in school.

So, in the final analysis, it’s good to feel the sentiment that you might not live forever, and so you should really focus on the important and not just the urgent. Don’t neglect work for family, but also don’t neglect family for work. Remember that someday will be your last, and you don’t want regrets when that happens.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.