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Archive for April, 2008

Choosing the right Web Host

by on Apr.14, 2008, under Web Hosting

When it comes to making the choice on the right web hosting provider there are a few considerations you must look at. First being what you can afford, and second being what you need.

Remember YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! I cannot stress that enough! If you’re paying $5/month for hosting, you’re not getting anything good, despite what anyone tries to tell you. Believe me, I’ve been there, done that. (On more then one occasion).

$5/month sounds great, yes. But is it? No! You might be offered Unlimited disk space and Unlimited Bandwidth, and Unlimited everything else… like wow! Unlimited everything for $5/month!? Sounds too good to be true!! (Well, trust your instinct, it is). Sure a $5/month plan is great if you only have myabe 100 or 200 visitors a month and not a lot of files hosted. Because then you aren’t really all that worried about 1 physical server being stuffed with 200% of its physical capacity right?

Shared servers often go over what they know the server itself can handle… because a majority of these customers have websites that don’t do a whole lot. And that’s great if you have a simple site with no traffic… good for you. But if you have someone like me on a shared server, watch out because I’m paying $5/month when I should have paid the $150/month… and guess what, you’re website is offline because all the resources are being given to my website in order to handle the requests! Granted my site will get SHUT DOWN even though I signed up for UNLIMITED! Why? Because it costs them money to actually give me the unlimited data they promised. And guess what, now they’ve kicked me off their servers, kept my money and sold my space to 100 more little guys. And they can. That’s how they make money. They own the servers and can kick you off for any little reason they feel like. It’s written in the (TOS) Terms of Service when you sign up.

There is one shared server company out there that can SCALE up with your needs automatically, and sorry to say they don’t offer unlimited.. because they know they (and no one) “can”.

Having said that, shared hosting is great for the little guy that doesn’t need a lot. If that’s you, go for shared hosting. Try to use the unlimited data and transfer and see what happens ;-)

Other then that, if you need high bandwidth and as much reliability as possible, go Dedicated or Virtual Dedicated. Sure it’s more expensive, but you can guarantee there won’t be any problems associated with another account disrupting your service.

Dedicated Servers are just that. A physical server dedicated solely to you. One whole computer that might cost $6,000 for $150 – $750+ a month. Typically a $150 package or so is all you’ll need. If you need more then that, you’re probably not reading this article. All the system resources are dedicated to you and your needs.

Virtual Dedicated Server (also known as VPS). Similar to the dedicated server except the processing power and RAM are divided in such a way that no other VPS can overlap the resource quota. Each virtual server has a set amount of resources such as CPU and RAM which it cannot exceed. They are separate Operating Systems which can be rebooted individually and act as if it were a dedicated server. Consider it as taking a 3Ghz cup with 4Gigs of ram and making 2 VPS – you would then have 2x 1.5Ghz/2Gig ram servers.

Shared Hosting Servers – just for the sake of comparison similar to above, they are typically 1 server hosting hundreds or thousands of accounts. More often then not, they are stuffed beyond their capabilities. The average load on these servers are from 50-90%, where any spikes cause them to become unreliable, slow and offline. There are only so many resources to go around.

$20/month is “decent” price point to start. Any popular provider that is making millions of dollars as a company is worth it. If you can get a demo of the control panel and features – you should be able to gage the difference.

I myself am hosted with and recommend HaliHost.ca (Halifax Web Hosting).

Initially I was on NightMare Host (you know the one), which totally sucked. I switched to MT for about a year before making the final destination at HaliHost. I must say my experience with them is absolutely fantastic! Everything is easy to use and the customer service is excellent!

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Do Blog Comments Help or Hinder your site?

by on Apr.08, 2008, under SEO

Most people ask the question whether or not enabling blog comments will help or hinder their blog. Meaning will comments help with the overall user experience and increasing more traffic or subscribers? Or will it just ruin everything you’re trying to accomplish?

I personally turn them off. If I wanted a discussion I would have created a message forum. And the time spent weeding out spam is time you could spend writing more useful content.

Statistically there might be 1%-5% of visitors actually contributing by posting a comment. Most people on the web like to lurk around un-noticed and ninja read blogs. (Get in and out without being noticed).

A blog is just that. A web log. Or in other words an online diary which you let the world read. If you like the interaction and conversation you get from comments.. by all means keep them on. Some people enjoy the conversation and opinion of others. But some people (like me) prefer to keep my articles as neat and tidy as possible. I know I hate it when I get to a site and the scroll bar on the side is barely big enough to click!

For the most part, all of the articles I write are to help people. Whether it be a “how to”, or just an article explaining my opinion on something. The goal is to either help you do something, validate your point, or spark some thoughts or ideas. I can’t say I’m the best writer in the world, nor am I even remotely close… but I will continue to write.

Blog comments can totally mess with all the hard work you’ve spent writing content! Search engines will pick that stuff up and more often then not will change the mojo of your page. And if you’re running high traffic, you’ll get more comments – which in turn takes more and more of your time to manage. (Bummer).

So it comes down to what you’re trying to do with your blog. If you’re trying to make money on your blog then it might be best to keep them off. Time is always better spent writing content, and comments are not going to help produce any kind of traffic.

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Creating Ad Revenue On Your Website

by on Apr.05, 2008, under The Web

Creating revenue on your website can be relatively simple, yet extraordinarily complicated. For the most part anyone can get started and make some sort of dollar value – but to make thousands per month takes a little bit more knowledge and expertise.

Obviously since you’re reading this article, I’ll make the assumption that you want to generate ad revenue. I’ll strongly suggest against putting advertising on your site if you’re solely devoted to selling a product or service. After all, if you’re selling a product on your website, that’s your money maker. You want all your visitors to be interested in the content you have related to purchasing YOUR product. Not someone else’s.

You should never have a website that costs you money!

That’s more less my general rule of thumb for owning a website. (Although I hadn’t actually followed it religiously until recently). Owning a website has 2 expenses that are always associated with it. One being the cost per year of the domain name itself (usually around $10). And second being the cost for web hosting. (Ranging anywhere from $7-10/month for cheap shared hosting, up to $150-300/month for dedicated high bandwidth servers).

I personally own 1 physical dedicated server (that’s right above me on a shelf) which hosts 3 domains and is connected to a dedicated line. I sold 2 servers which were becoming outdated and purchased an extreme (dv) package at mediatemple.net for a few other domains which needed a better uptime and bandwidth scaling which I currently can’t provide due to technical limitations on my location. Media Temple (mt) is a very professional company with great service and Millions of dollars worth of equipment. Great redundancy and the scalability to start with a low cost package and scale up when your bandwidth requirements become larger. This saves a LOT of time and money as it’s all done seamlessly.

Without any other costs (ie. professional design & customization) a website will run about $150/year starting off. You can find cheaper I’m sure. But be wary using shared servers can be a waste of your time and money. Many companies will oversell their physical limitations and you will be stuck with a slow website that may experience constant downtime. And downtime is time where you’re not making money!

You’re biggest goal in bringing in ad revenue is first off brining in visitors! In most articles I write related to increasing traffic, you’ll constantly hear me telling you to write relevant useful content for your users! Write first for the user, and modify or edit secondly for SE robots.

Using Google Adsense is probably the best way to start making money on your website. It will automatically display ads relating to your content. (Which should be something worth reading). Avoid using this method if you’re selling a product. You are able to stop competitors websites from showing up in the Google Adsense banners, but depending on what it is you’re selling – you cant avoid directly sending your potential consumers to a competitors website!

If you’re primary objective of your website is to sell a product or service, then you should be spending money advertising with Google Adwords and thru other websites by purchasing banner space. And then the visitors coming to your site are looking specifically for your type of product or service… which in turn pays for the advertising and you make money.

I’ll give an example of when to advertise on your site, and when not to advertise on your site.

When to Advertise on Your Website
Your website primarily deals with written content (articles), subscriptions to paid content or newsletters. Generally you’re offering content for free, but may have a subscription service that gives the reader the inside scoop to your unique content offerings that is entirely optional. (But the users come back because you still offer great FREE content).

When NOT to Advertise on Your Website
Your website primarily deals with selling a product or service. Your main goal is to inform people about your product and allow them to make a direct purchase. You don’t want any users to be directed away to any competitor. (Safe to say do not use the Adsense program here).

But It’s not to say you CAN’T advertise, as there are some exceptions which I’ll help explain (So you can decide whether or not to advertise on your site). But advertising on a website dedicated to selling a product or service should be secondary.

Example: Your website offers Web & Graphic Design services. Adding Google Adsense would bring up many links to competitors websites (Which more often then not, will be drastically cheaper than your service). So you want to avoid that. But a smarter thing to do would be to allow other companies of your choice to place a banner ad on your site. Perhaps a company that offers computer & equipment sales. A printing company (unless you outsource and markup). But you get the general idea.

Adsense vs Selling Banner Space
While Adsense can make you quite a bit of money, selling that same ad space to other companies can boost your income even more! You can sell based on a flat monthly rate depending on your number of visitors/page impressions, or CPC (Cost per click). Now if you’re writing articles like me, stick with the Adsense until you reach 500,000 – 1 Million visitors per month. Then think about adding banner advertising channels specific to the articles. You can keep making the same revenue from Google while making the added income from the banner ad you just popped into an article.

One last quick mention would be adding TEXT LINKS. (Similar to the Adsense links, but through other advertisers).

Most of you may be plenty happy making full time wages on top of the full time job you already have. Or even a measly extra $1k a month spending money.

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How to Make Money with your Website or Blog

by on Apr.05, 2008, under The Web

Let’s get straight to the point here. A big reason why I’ve finally decided to start my blog is to make money! This domain has been sitting dormant for way too long; all the while it could have been making me cash. You might ask the following:

Q: How do you plan on making money? Will you be selling anything?

A: I plan to make money solely by TRAFFIC! (Not drug trafficking or anything like that), but plain old simple web traffic. People like you, coming here to read my content. Plain and simple. No products to sell, no services, just providing users with free, useful content.

Sounds easy right? Well, yes and no. Granted you don’t have to be an absolute web expert or know any programming languages… (Which I’m pretty adept with web programming and internet technology. After all I do get paid quite a bit of money by several large firms to do work for them). But you do have to have a basic understanding of blogging, RSS and writing useful content.

Spending most all of my time programming databases and high end php applications, I never actually had time to start a blog. All of my other geeky internet friends had one. Where was mine? It took a few years, but here it is! (yay?!).

Why now? Why not now. Why not before? I’m not in desperate need for cash or anything, but wouldn’t it be nice to largely supplement my income? Umm.. yes. Maybe I could get a 4th car, a 2nd house… who knows. Or maybe it’ll just pay my internet bill.

At the time of writing this article, I have absolutely ZERO traffic! Nothing what so ever! I’m going to spend NO money on any kind of advertising. The only expense I have for this blog is the yearly domain registration and web server. I’ll set myself a somewhat reasonable 6 month goal of lets say anywhere between $300-$500 a month in revenue. (Keep in mind I have a full time job which takes up the majority of my time. So this money making blog is only a part time thing). Which I’m sure most of the people reading this article cannot spare full time hours towards blogging and generating traffic. And for those of you who can put in the full time hours, its possible to make $3,000-$5,000 a month!

Previously mentioned and italicized once or twice is the phrase “useful content“. There is a reason for that. The content on your website or blog is the sole factor for people to visit, subscribe and link to your site! Providing articles and content that interest readers are going to get people to visit! This content will be indexed by Google, Yahoo and other search engines – which in turn should be where a lot of your web traffic comes from.

The key to increasing your web traffic, is to write articles and content that people will be searching for. This article for instance should likely get hits from users searching for ways to increase their web traffic and make money with their website (or blog).

Back on topic with the useful content… You can write a the best article in the world on how to mow your lawn, be ranked #1 in all search engines, have all the right key words… its AWESOME! But., you’re wondering why you aren’t generating a ton of traffic or seeing a huge increase in revenue. Well… it comes down to the usefulness. I haven’t done the research on the amount of people searching on this topic, but I can use my common sense to say it’s not very many.

The above, in my opinion, is the absolute best method for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Granted yes, SEO is a whole field in itself – it’s really not all that hard. With the technology out there now all you have to do is write relevant and useful content. You can strategically plug key phrases you’ve researched for your particular article to help give it a boost, but all in all write something worth reading.

I might edit this particular article from time to time to help increase it’s search engine friendliness. But to be honest I’d probably edit it for an easier read by the user. (Which in turn would probably make it more search engine friendly). So if you haven’t picked up on it by now, write the content for your users! Can’t stress that enough.

And it’s highly likely (as it’s sort of my plan), to branch this one article into several others. By that I mean I will be writing separate articles on Increasing Web Traffic, How to Optimize your website for SEO, Creating Ad Revenue on your Website and a few other related yet more in depth specific articles.

While I do touch base on many of the aforementioned topics in this article, a lot of specifics are left out. In this article I’m trying to give the readers a basic understanding and model to follow. And these new articles will generate traffic which I would otherwise not have gotten. I’ll create a little web linking the articles to one another, provide my users with some very useful and relevant content. And increasing my overall traffic, which in turn will provide higher ad revenue.

If the information is useful enough, and people found it helpful, it’s highly likely they will link to your site! This is great news, as you just gained another channel which directs traffic directly to your bank account. Most people won’t mind linking to a site that was so helpful to them. (Even if they know you’re making money). As they’re also trying to provide their users with useful content and links – and stealing or copying the information from another website will actually hinder your SEO. Google and other search engines know when something is copied or plagiarized to an extent, and will actually demote the search engine ranking of the second site.

But don’t rely 100% on search engines, another thing you might want to do is submit your url to many other blog sites, syndications, web portals and directories. Most of these will be free. You can spend several hours or several days going around submitting your links. (Make sure you’re not spamming! Again as mentioned, enter useful and relevant information!).

So now you have a basic understanding of how things work, the keys to increasing traffic, and a general idea of what you need to do. Next you probably want to know:

How Do I Implement a PPC or Advertising Revenue Channel To My Blog

Ok, now that we have all this wonderful traffic coming to our website, we need to actually get paid for it. You’re not going to pay yourself, so a 3rd party is the key to getting paid. I’ll quickly talk about Google and their Adsense program. (The one I use).

It’s very easy to set up and get started, they have their own instructions on how to do so. But you’ll need to know how to display it on your blog.

There are 2 ways to do this. One is easiest for people with little to no programming knowledge, the other is for people that can open up a php page and insert some code.

Method 1 (Your own webspace): once you have a Google Adsense program setup and you’ve went thru the banner creation process, it will come up with a text box that has some code in it. Copy and paste this code to a new text file that you’ll keep on your desktop. When you write a post in your blog, simply go to the HTML tab, and paste that code at the top, middle or bottom of your article. (Only post it once, because multiple times wont make you any more money, and can actually hurt your income!). You’ll be getting paid on the ratio of views vs clicks. If you show 10 ads to one person, and they only click once, the ratio is way down! Comparatively showing one set of ads to the same 1 person, who clicks once… the CTR (click thru ratio) is now higher! (I’ll get in depth with this in a later article and link it here).

Method 2 (Your own webspace): (The method I use). Open up the .php file of your desired ad location (whether it be the index.php, footer.php or comments.php). Find the desired location and post the ad code! Simple as that, no more need to worry. Every time you post to your blog, it’ll be there.

Alternative Method (Blogger.com): If you use a pre-made blog website such as blogger.com. There are options to implement your own Google Adsense in their layouts. Quickly and Easily!

Now all you need to do is sit back and watch the revenue come in. (It’ll be slow at first, but once your content gets indexed you should notice the traffic and money increase). You should also be able to tell after posting certain articles how much your revenue is boosted! Pay close attention to this kind of stuff, as it will help you to write better and more relevant articles to what people are searching for.

Once you start getting a lot of web traffic, you can then venture further out and add other paid advertising to your site. Many companies are willing to pay lots of money to put their ads up on relevant and useful content. (Hey theres that phrase again).

Please subscribe if you’d like to keep up to date on my progress or be notified of new articles and content. As mentioned the time of writing this article I have absolutely no traffic, lets see where I get to.

It took me about an hour, maybe a bit longer to write this entire article from start to finish. It started with the title and just went from there. So really, its not that hard to write content. And for a part time blogger like me, an hour a day or even ever other day should be enough to start generating some decent income.

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