Monetizing Your Website
Every website has a bunch of web pages which get more search traffic than others. These pages are constantly visited daily by new visitors, people who have never seen the site in question before. I call these ‘money pages’ because they are a reliable source of immediate and future income.
But they’re not just ‘money’ because they bring in revenue: they are one of the easiest ways to grow your audience without much work. If you learn how to optimize these money pages (its not hard to do), you’ll really improve your website in so many ways. More revenue, more members, more influence and authority. Doesn’t that sound good?
Money pages are often overlooked by webmasters. We’re always focused on creating new content and getting new visitors to these new pages that we forget about what’s going on in other parts of our website.
This is tailored towards content publishers and bloggers but the main strategies here apply to other site types as well.
How to Optimize Your Money Pages
There are many things you can do to money pages, in order to make them better or more profitable. It’s important to decide the extent of your work according to your goals and resources. How much time do you want to spend and what’s most important to you? Do you want a bigger readership? Or are you just concerned with increasing your daily revenue?
Here are a list of things you can do for your money pages:
- Monetize. The aim here is to get more revenue out of each page. There are various ways to achieve this and they generally involve the placement of ads both around and within content. There is also an indirect future revenue from lead capturing.
- Capture Leads. The money page is optimized to encourage a visitor to subscribe to your mailing list, site feed or register for your website. The main aim is to find a way to continue to reach your visitors after they leave your money page. This helps to grow your site audience and is also a component of revenue generation.
- Improve Relevance. This involves revamping the money page in order to provide up-to-date information or better content in order to accommodate visitor needs. This provides an improved user experience for all and can result a host of benefits like more referral/citation links and greater visitor loyalty/trust. Relevance is also important when your main goal is to capture leads or increase revenue.
- Make it Rank Better. Doing on-site and off-site optmization will help specific money pages to rank better on the search engine result pages, hence driving more traffic back to your site. This increases your site reach and revenue at the same time.
Step 1: Find Your Money Pages
Open up the web analytics program you’re using for your website. There should be a section which reveals which pages have the highest unique views per month. Extract the urls for the top 10 pages and put them somewhere for easy access. Or bookmark them on your browser. If you don’t currently use an analytics tool, I recommend setting up Google Analytics.
How many pages you choose to optimize really depends on your website and preference. If you have a lot of webpages that get solid traffic, you can do more. If you don’t have many pages that get web traffic, then you have a lesser amount to work with. I like to focus on the top 10 because if its a manageable amount of work for an acceptable returns on investment.
My personal guideline is to only work on pages with a minimum of 200 unique views everyday. It’s a basic number that’s good for some decent conversions. Adjust this figure to something you can work with, if your website is new or gets less overall traffic.
The point to remember is that not every page is hot. The goal is not to optimize every single web page you have. There has to be a limit. So learn to prioritize and work only on the pages that are currently receiving the most traffic to your website.
Step 2: Improving Content Relevance
Visitor search queries reveal what people are looking for and what they want to get from your web page. It tells you what information they expect and is a way to understand their desires or needs. Many are ready to pay for a solution or subscribe to get knowledge in their inbox.
Better relevance = better conversions. It’s that simple. By making your website as relevant as possible to search queries, you’re making visitors more likely to stick around, opt-in or buy. Users are going to click away if they find that your web page doesn’t fulfill their info needs. So the first step is closely examine your money pages in relation to search traffic terms.
My goal is to include every search query in my money page. Every question typed into search engines by visitors who access my site must be answered. One very easy and quick way to do this is to add a simple FAQ to the page to address the visitor’s specific needs. Just phrase the same exact search query as a question. Then write an answer which responds to it.
Another method for search query relevance is to create new content and insert it into the money page. It’s important to edit your pages so that it doesn’t display content that is simply outdated or useless. You’re not going to presell anyone with stuff like that. It won’t work.
Either rewrite the entire money page or include update notes specifying new information and linking to other pages on your website with newer content. Whenever new information or changes occur, go back into the money page to make necessary adjustments. This is one reason why I asked you to keep those 10 URLs bookmarked or easily accessible.
Note that by increasing your money page’s relevance and informational value, you are also increasing its linkability: People are more likely to link to it because it is a detailed and useful reference page on the topic. Whenever possible, I try to fashion my money pages on blogs after Wikipedia in terms of comprehensiveness.
Step 3: Monetizing Your Money Page
While you can monetize your money page and capture leads at the same time, I find it better to optimize for one goal instead of trying to achieve both. Because when it comes to monetization, captured leads are usually a good source for long term income anyway.
There are formats for each goal (monetize or lead capture) and you’ll get better results if you either choose to monetize fully or go all out to hook your visitors by making them sign up or subscribe to your website. If you put up too many well blended ads, the visitor can easily click away instead of subscribing to your newsletter, so either pick one goal or balance both.
Let’s talk about monetization first. This is easy if you’re using ad networks like Google Adsense. Go to your money page and insert an additional ad unit, blend it well with your content and make sure that its quite visible while not being too obtrusive.
A well placed Adsense unit can really increase your overall daily income. I’ve seen a jump of more than $20 a day for a site that I own when I took the time to test and optimize a few money pages. While you may have default ads already on every page of your site (sidebars, header etc), these may not be truly optimized for a money page.
Money pages need to be treated differently from the other pages on your website. They’re the ones that bring a lot of visitors (big sample size) so you can really use this opportunity to test the profitability of specific ad schemes. You can even remove the default ads specifically for this page so you have more room to experiment. That’s what I do for some sites.
Other ways to monetize include the use of commission-based affiliate programs which range from digital products to established eCommerce retailers like Amazon.com. Clickbank is a digital product marketplace you can use. Sign up, search through the marketplace for a product, grab your affiliate link, insert it on your money page.
You can also try CPA networks with relevant pay-per-lead or pay-per-sale programs. Commonly used CPA networks are Market Leverage, Max Bounty, NeverBlue, PepperJam, Copeac, Azoogle and Hydra Network, among many others. Affiliate programs can work well but remember to keep them related to your content.
Alternatively, you can promote your own products on your money page by including a short pitch for it and linking to a proper sales page. Or you can try to sell your visitors away from the money page by getting them to first subscribe to an email list. This brings us to the next step.
Step 4: Optimizing to Capture Leads
The goal is to capture not just the email of the visitor but his/her permission to allow you to reach them away from your website. For some of you, you want visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed so they’ll continue to read your content or hopefully participate on your site.
Many set up email lists and auto-responders with the aim of eventually monetizing by selling their own products or recommending those of JV partners. Their aim here is to get users to opt-in to receive newsletters or special offers. The same goes for online retail stores.
Good email marketing providers are Aweber and GetResponse, both of which charge a monthly fee that you should be able to earn back easily. There are free alternatives available but you’ll often lose out in terms of features. If this doesn’t bother you, you could try starting with any of the free email software or plugins available.
To optimize a money page to capture leads, you’ll need to do some offer customization. Look at what content/product is on the page and create a specific offer that’s relevant to it. Provide an incentive for someone to sign up: perhaps a free digital product with related or more in-depth information. Or simply the promise of future discounts or special product offers.
To get into the mind of the visitor and understand what entices them, you’ll need to go back to the search queries you’re getting. If someone is interested in ‘what causes wrinkles’, you’ll know they’ll be interested in an ebook on natural anti-aging remedies. Do up a free guide and offer it to them only if they register as a member or sign up to your email list.
How about lead capture for communities and membership sites? Apart from providing incentives you can use teasers. Restrict visitor actions by only allowing them to view a limited amount of content or interact in a limited fashion. This limit will be removed when a user registers with your community. These are methods commonly practiced by paid membership sites, forums and social media sites to entice signups.
Step 5: Sending Internal Traffic to Your Money Pages
Now that you’ve optimized your money pages for maximum conversions, you can also send over visitors from other pages of your site. You’ve already done the work to make the pages incredibly relevant and usable, they shouldn’t just be seen by search engine visitors.
If your money pages are related, by sure to interlink each one so that each visitor is funneled to another optimized page. This not only improves your bounce rate but makes sure that each visitor is given two opportunities to convert if they aren’t persuaded the first time around.
Another method is to use a script to autolink specific anchor keywords or phrases on your entire site to the specific web page. This helps with SEO and is very easy way to get more eyes on your money page. If you’re using WordPress, try the Internal Link Building plugin or the SEO Smart Links plugin. Both help to auto-link keywords on every page of your blog. There are quite a few similar plugins out there but these two work well for me.
If you’re a blogger producing content daily, endeavor to link to the money pages whenever it’s pertinent to your post because you’re driving traffic to pages that will perform well. Alternate the links to each money page so your audience won’t get sick of seeing them all the time.
There is an alternative way to highlight your money pages: Group the ones about a similar topic together and list them all in a reference page, which will funnel traffic out to different locations. Instead of linking to each individual money page, you can just link or promote the reference page, which will then direct the visitors you get to each money page simultaneously.
Step 6: Improving Your Search Engine Ranking
This is the final step in the process and should always come after you’ve optimized your money pages for maximum results and set up a method to promote it internally on your site. After you’ve done all that, it’s time to look at boosting a major factor for earning more money: your website’s ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
This is an optional step because if you’re getting a lot of visitors, you’re should already be ranking quite well. But if you’re on the second page of Google or not yet in the top 3 queries for a keyword/phrase that is sending you a good amount of traffic, why not bump it up and get even more visitors per day?
You’ve already got your list of top money pages based on search queries. Now you should find what these pages are ranking for, which is something you can easily discover through your stats trackers. If you’re already using it, Google Webmaster Central is a free tool that shows you the top 20 search queries visitors use to reach your site.
Off-Site Search Engine Optimization
SEO is a pretty big topic: its hard to cover everything that needs to be done so I’m going to simplify it into one fool proof method of improving your search engine rank for Google. This is something that is unanimously agreed upon by everyone.
All you need to do is get links from other sites, especially with the specific anchor text you are trying to rank for. But not just from anywhere. You want links from quality, relevant websites.
Let’s see what Google itself says about ranking:
Sites’ positions in our search results are determined based on a number of factors designed to provide end-users with helpful, accurate search results. In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.
One more. From Google’s warning on link schemes:
Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity.
It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest.
Links matter a lot because Google’s algorithm is set up to use the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page’s importance. High quality links boost the trust, relevance and authority of your web page. This is somewhat the same for search engines like Yahoo or Live.
Ideally, the best type of links you can get are from the websites that are already ranking well for the keyword or phrase you are targeting. But these links might not be easy to acquire, since you’re likely to be viewed as a competitor and a threat.
So, what I personally like to do is to do some research on the people ranking for your keyword/phrase on the first two pages. Dig into their backinks by using something like Yahoo Site Explorer and find out who is linking to them. Try to get those same links if possible and even more quality links that your competitors don’t have.
There are many ways to build links, some are blackhat and others are more compliant with search engine guidelines. I favor the strategy of creating valuable services, tools and content in order to attract links from bloggers. It’s stable and works extremely well for every niche out there.
If your money page is optimized for relevance and is high on informational value, it is already a potential link magnet. So here’s something you can do immediately. Send email pitches about your money page to relevant blogs. If you contact 1,000 blogs, you might easily get 50 to 100 extra links (or more), which may be enough for you to outrank other websites. Sometimes all you need to do is to get the word out.
And there are many other ways. Article directories. Blog/web directories. Social bookmarking websites. Social news sites. Social media communities (Flickr, Youtube etc). Contests. Link exchanges. Blog comments and carnivals. Donations/sponsorships. Forums. Press Releases.
On-Site Search Engine Optimization
On top on link building, another aspect of ranking better is on-site search optimization, whereby you make your webpage compatible with search engine requirements and the specific search query you’re targeting. Google’s webmaster guidelines, Yahoo’s Webmaster Resources and Live Search’s Webmaster Center has a list of the most basic stuff you should be doing and ways for you to track your site in their search engines.
Basic pointers for on-site optimization involves having a good site architecture, where pages with similar themes are grouped together with a focus on great navigation and usability for visitors. On site-optimization also involves having your targeted keywords in the title tags and an appealing meta-description, which may affect SERP clickthrough rates. For the WP users out there, you might find this excellent guide to WordPress SEO useful.
Other on-site factors include keyword density, which is the number of times a keyword appears compared to the total number of words in a page. And latent semantic indexing (LSI), which examines a page in relation to groups of associated words/terms used within it.
I wouldn’t worry too much about latent semantic indexing and perhaps even keyword density because a content heavy page is likely to include the associated terms and keywords naturally, because of its depth. The main point to note is to maintain a tight focus on your chosen topic and not divert too much from it in your content.
And then there’s the controversial topic of PageRank Sculpting: using the nofollow tag on internal site links to optimize the strength of specific pages, thereby enabling them to rank better in search engines. Perhaps a useful tactic, although one that isn’t quite necessary. Any possible success here partly depends on how knowledgeable you are with SEO.
On-site optimization isn’t a difficult process, as long as you have a good site architecture set up from the start and follow search-engine guidelines. The hard part is really the task of getting people with relevant/quality websites to link to your money pages.
Time for You to Do Some Work…
These are the fundamental factors involved in optimizing your money pages. After completing the first step of finding your money pages, you don’t need to work on the other steps in a sequence. As I’ve said earlier, it depends on your goals. Personally, I go through all six steps when I’m looking at money pages that receive a substantial amount of daily web traffic.
The good thing about money pages is that once you optimize them, you can just leave them alone for a while. If you’re busy every day, you might want to spend an hour during the weekend on your money pages. Or just assign them to a colleague or a member of your staff. Set aside some time to optimize them and you’ll definitely see the results.