How To Lose $250 Digital Point Style
Avoiding The Google Quality Score Slap
Getting Over The PPC Startup Hurdle

How To Lose $250 Digital Point Style

Digital Point Forums isn’t exactly known for it’s useful information. But every now and then, a numb nut comes along and proves to the world exactly why there will always be a demand for the supermarket cleaner vacancy. Here’s how to waste your money quickly and effectively.

So I was gazing over the usual threads of “how do i get my site 2 rank”, “help me get pr2 guys” and “hi, cpa networks don’t accept me i think im from somalia”. You might criticize me for even wasting my time on DP in the first place. The only reason I browse the forum is on the off-chance that I’ll see a good idea being executed poorly.

Unfortunately, the majority of users are so far buried up their Clickbank asses that it’s a needle in a haystack chore.

Anyway, I was reading over a thread from one particular guy who was looking to promote his colon cleansing offer on a popular health related forum. He’d checked with the forum admins and agreed on a media buy.

48 hours of 468 x 60 banner advertising on the top of EVERY page. He agreed to pay $250 for this exposure.

Bare in mind that $250 to the average Digital Point user is probably a bank loan and stealing from Grandma Jean.

So the forum admins wired him up and he sat back waiting for the targeted traffic to lap up the offer. Who wouldn’t pay $1.95 for a colon cleansing kit on a leukemia related forum, right?

In a tragic and somewhat amusing twist of fate, the affiliate network pulled the offer just HOURS in to his advertising stint. Obviously the retard was sitting there clicking through his stats like some kind of nympho in a porn chain. So it must’ve taken him – oh I don’t know – all of about 15 minutes to realize that his banner traffic was arriving at a dead link.

Yep, he’d direct linked to the offer without sending traffic through his own redirect page.


So while the forum admin cashed the $250 all the way to the bank, Idiot X found himself sat in a bedroom in his underpants (probably) sending desperate private messages asking for his destination link to be changed. Oh, and pleading for advice on Digital Point for how he could redirect a network link to a different offer. Brilliant.

Guys, it’s not difficult to setup a basic PHP redirect.

If you don’t redirect your traffic, you’re adding needless hours of edits on to every landing page or website you ever build. Not to mention the fact that it looks sloppy and unprofessional.

Here, I’ll even supply the PHP code. Place it inside your standard PHP tags.

header('Location: http://www.link-to-the-offer-goes-here.com');

Save the file as an index.php, place it in a folder, link to the folder. Pretty basic stuff – but pretty fundamental to not being a complete affiliate marketing failure.

Avoiding The Google Quality Score Slap

I thought I’d take the chance to reveal some of my AdWords Quality Score research. Take it with a pinch of salt. This is small sample stuff.

I know a lot of people rely on AdWords to send traffic to their CPA offers. It might not be the best service, and it’s certainly not the most liked – but AdWords remains the number one PPC solution in terms of sheer volume at your disposal.

The trouble is, absent of any real competition, Google has long since decided to get picky and bitchy over the types of paid ads that it’ll allow.

Basically, this isn’t 2003 anymore. You can’t throw any old squeeze page on to the web and expect Google to suck it up to your plastic. Neither can you whore thousands of $0.05 clicks to a site that looks scammy, and probably is scammy.

If you’re just getting started with PPC, there’s a fat chance you’ve added an AdWords campaign only to see your Quality Score knocked to 1/10 after a set period of time. You’re probably wondering what’s gone wrong, what’s changed, what’s happening. The answer is nothing. Your campaign was always going to get hit eventually, it just took a few weeks for AdWords’ manual reviewers to pull their fingers out of their asses.

If we look at the exact guidelines, we’ll see this on the black list:

Redirect URLs: Ads that contain URLs that automatically redirect to the parent company.

Bridge Pages: Ads for web pages that act as an intermediary, whose sole purpose is to link or redirect traffic to the parent company.

Framing: Ads for web pages that replicate the look and feel of a parent site. Your site should not mirror (be similar or nearly identical in appearance to) your parent company’s or any other advertiser’s site.

So yeah, sucks to be an affiliate marketer, right? Not quite.

I spent a lot of time setting up different vehicles of promotion to find out what Google deemed to be a “bridge page”. I mean, where is the line drawn? A sales letter? A review page? A fake testimonial?

Well depending on the offer that you’re promoting, it can be extremely difficult to pass ANY of those through the manual account review. But interestingly enough, I ran in to a few strange patterns.

My testing involved setting up 12 almost identical campaigns across 12 different AdWords accounts. The only difference was the local country of the account. I ran my campaign through the USA AdWords, the UK version, the Canadian version…and so on…

To my surprise, there were some distinct variations in how the quality checks were performed based on the account reps doing the checking. My America-based campaigns were shot down in a matter of days rather than weeks. Here’s how it averaged out after some extended testing.

USA AdWords – QS dropped after 12 days.
UK AdWords – QS dropped after 15 days.
Canada AdWords – QS dropped after 27 days.
South Africa AdWords – QS dropped after 56 days.

Now I’m not saying placing your cheap ass campaigns on a local South Africa based AdWords account is going to save the day. As you can see, they got to it eventually. But it got me thinking, and hopefully it gets you thinking too.

I’m based in the UK so my main AdWords account is managed by UK reps. I decided to run a couple of identical campaigns and tweak them so that they were only active between 6pm and 7am. Why this time period? Well, common sense says the working day for most office employees is 9am-5pm.

If the manual review team are asleep in their beds, my ad is going to slip under the radar. Baring in mind that I have no clue how Google operates internally, this was all just pure speculation. I thought it was worth a shot.

Sure enough, the campaign avoided a Google slap for more than the original average of 15 days. It’s still running today – over 3 months after I carried out the research. I just pause it during the hours when I’d imagine a manual reviewer to be actively trolling accounts.

And hey, if you want to know what time was “peak” for getting the slap – every single one of my UK based campaigns was slapped between 11am and 3pm on Friday afternoon.

Could it be pure coincidence? I’m not gonna lie, it probably is. But then, I don’t particularly care.

A campaign that risks getting the Google slap is absolutely no interest to me. I like long term stability – and the only reason I run with a quick squeeze page is to split test an offer, or to test the profitability of a new niche.

If you want to truly succeed in avoiding the Google slap, you’re going to need to offer value for content. A fake testimonial or a non-discrete review blog will both draw the wrong kind of attention under the gaze of a manual review.

But there are techniques out there that work. I’m not going to reveal my most effective method – because it’s massively underused and I’m reaping the profit from it. The ultimate goal is to create a page that looks as if it’s going to give the reader an unbiased opinion. I’ll drop a hint in saying that two-way communication is the best place to start.

I know a lot of guys have success with cloaking, but that’s not something that I dabble in.

If you try everything and still can’t sustain a long term profitable campaign on AdWords, maybe you need to start looking elsewhere. Both Yahoo and MSN AdCenter provide excellent platforms for PPC advertising. They’re also slightly cheaper and vastly different in the markets that they reach. I’ll have a separate post on that later. Until then, happy getting slapped.

Getting Over The PPC Startup Hurdle

I’ve been speaking to a few friends about the benefits of getting in to affiliate marketing, and it’s pretty hard for me to explain to them how I’ve managed to get to where I am. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for anybody looking to get in to PPC affiliate marketing is the initial startup investment.

There’s a reason millions upon millions of third world kids spend 14 hours a day scratching around on Digital Point for SEO advice. SEO is “free”. You can build a potentially vast empire of riches without spending a single penny of your own money.

For anybody who’s brand new to these terms, I’ll give a quick overview.

You can pretty much divide affiliate marketing in to two main categories; PPC and SEO.

SEO: Stands for Search Engine Optimization, it epitomizes the constant struggle between webmasters to get their sites ranked higher up in the search engine results. Being ranked higher means more traffic, and more traffic generally leads to more revenue. A good SEO expert will know how to build a website that’s compliant with the ten commandment bullshit that Google likes to boss the web with. He’ll also know how to get his site linked to on the web. Basically, the main purpose of SEO is to get traffic for free.

I spent four years doing this. I didn’t make much money but that was partly down to the fact that I find manual SEO work ball-numbingly boring. I could sit a donkey at my computer desk and I’m pretty sure I could have him practicing good SEO before some of these retards get their sites indexed. You might like it. It’s free and it’s a good place to start if you’re wanting to sample the affiliate marketing waters without blowing a fortune up the wall on Google advertising.

PPC: Stands for Pay-Per-Click. It is as it sounds. Instead of whittling away the hours trying to claw your way up the search engine results, you sign up to Google AdWords and buy exposure in the “Sponsored Links”. The obvious disadvantage of this is that you’re gonna have to pay some money to get some bang for your buck. How much you spend will vary dramatically depending on how competitive the search terms are that you’re bidding for.

I like PPC because it gets the job done quick. I really don’t have the time in my day to go begging other webmasters to link to me. You can whack an advert online in ten minutes and be seeing a profit within the hour. That is, of course, assuming you know what the hell you’re doing. Anybody who claims to be good at PPC should have a firm grasp of tracking (that is, watching closely to see what works and what doesn’t), and he or she should also have either creative sales writing skills or the know-how to outsource that shit to somebody who does.

When somebody asks me how they can get in to affiliate marketing and be successful, I generally tell them to go and read about PPC. But the trouble with paying for your web traffic is that 95% of us are going to need to see a return on that investment pretty quickly to be able to maintain the cashflow.

I’m at the point now where it’s routine for me to spend a few hundred dollars a day on a single campaign. You try telling your mates that they only need to pay Google $500 a day to be able to give up their day jobs and they’ll probably laugh in your face. The fact that it takes about 5 to 6 weeks in the time that you start affiliate marketing until the time that you get the first pay cheque and you’re looking at a cashflow problem which can cause quite a few headaches.

If you’re lucky enough to be sitting there with $5000 in the bank, congratulations, you’ve got a better starting block than the large majority of us had. I started my Google AdWords campaigns on free vouchers. It took me about $350 worth of AdWords freebies to be able to nail my first $1000 in revenue. That revenue was 100% profit seeing how the voucher money was never mine. I waited for my cheque and then I invested all of it, every last penny, in to campaigns that I knew were profitable.

Eventually, I had a nice pot of money to fund some serious investment and I’ve gone on from there. But for most people, that startup hurdle remains a huge issue. Here are your options.

1. Build up an investment pot with SEO.

When I said SEO was free, I lied. SEO is never free, and it’s often more costly than PPC. What most people seem to forget when they announce SEO as the cheap budget alternative is that everybody has to have an hourly rate. You might be using marketing techniques that are free, but the time that it takes you to do them has to be compensated in the form of money that you’d expect for your time.

If you spend 8 hours a day doing SEO, and your hourly rate is $30, that’s $240 you’ve not earned because of SEO. So is it free? Of course it isn’t. You wouldn’t expect an SEO specialist to work for you for free, would you? So remember that the same cost covering applies to yourself.

However, if you need to raise money to fund PPC, you’re going to need to commit to this whole working for free business model. Either for a few weeks or a few months depending on how quickly you produce conversions. Save the money you make and put it towards your PPC starting pot.

The benefit of doing things this way is that your SEO websites will continue to earn you money even when you’ve stopped working on them. In fact, most affiliates return to natural SEO once they’ve exploited PPC and used it to become more business-efficient. It’s the only strategy for viable long-term growth.

2. Become a coupon whore.

When I realized that I’d blown the little money I made with SEO on trips to America and widescreen televisions, I didn’t have the patience to go back over the same tracks. I started collecting free PPC advertising coupons.

Over here in the UK, they supply a free £30 AdWords voucher with every edition of .Net magazine. I grabbed a couple and searched the web for other freebie offers. They’re out there by the plenty. I just about managed to accumulate enough free credit, combined with my own small investment, to generate a big enough return to grow my business and get it on it’s own two legs.

The good thing about starting on coupons is that your risk attachment is non-existent. I knew that if a campaign bailed, I hadn’t lost any money. And I never did.

The challenge is operating on extremely tight resources (£20 a day is NOT a lot in PPC). You have to pinpoint the most profitable campaigns and nail them from the get-go if you want to grow your business using a bunch of coupons.

3. Take on debt.

Something I was never, ever brave enough to do.

If you’re serious about PPC and you’ve done your research, you might be tempted to place a little flutter on a loan or a credit card. I don’t personally recommend taking this route, for two obvious reasons.

Firstly, you’re taking on a big financial burden. You’re borrowing money and throwing it at a business model that might never make you a single penny. That’s pretty brave.

Secondly, the money you make in return has to be enough to cover not only your investment but the interest on it as well. Profit margins are everything in PPC. You’re at an immediate handicap if you have an artificially raised ROI to match.

But the fact remains that many affiliates are ready and willing to take on personal debt to fund their campaigns. I’ve spoken to a couple of guys who were five figures in the red before turning it around to be well on their way to six figures in the bank. All within the space of a year.

Whatever method you choose to fund your PPC, don’t be a retard. Track every last detail of your income and outgoings. The horror stories of spiraling debt are only applicable to the dumb shits who know no better.

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