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Welcome To The February Experiment !

                           The old Yoga website banner
My challenge this month was to drive traffic to a new website which I launched in January 2006 - and get on with my "normal" work as well!

The website which I launched was a "template" site, which I got through my memberships of "Niche Products Monthly (currently closed to new members). It is a site aimed at people who want to learn Yoga, and it generates income through AdSense ads and the sale of an eBook. You can view it at

Last month (see my January Diary opens in new window), I described my intense flurry of activity, customising and tweaking the new site before uploading it to my web server. The site was launched on Wednesday 11th January 2006, my final acts being a check that Google had accepted my "XML Sitemap" and getting some tracking systems in place.

So, the "February Experiment" actually started on Monday 16th January. Here's what I did in the 6 weeks up to the end of February. My work in this period was not as intensive in the frenetic launch phase. In fact, I did little with the new site in the last two weeks of February. As with the my January diary, I've marked recommendations in this way and my major tasks like this. Note: all links open in a new browser window, so you won't lose this page.

Week 1: (week ending 21 Jan 06)

The immediate challenge is getting the site indexed by Google.

Monday: Checked Google - no sign of the site (to check how many pages in your site are indexed by Google enter into the search box). I haven't got too much confidence the the power of Google sitemaps to hurry up the indexing of a site; and they don't guarantee it. Still, you have to try everything!

Tuesday: Thought I'd try the power of linking from a couple of my well-crawled websites. Google is more likely to index a new site if it finds it linked on another website it crawls regularly. My Marketing Magic website has a Page Rank ("PR") of 5, and was last crawled by Google on 10th January (you can check when a page was last crawled by finding in on a search results page and clicking on the "cached" link). So I added a relevant link top-left of the Marketing Magic home page. I also added an entry to my Marketing Sparks blog, which has a PR of 4 and was last crawled on 12th January (the search engines will crawl a site more frequently if you continually add content). The blog entry had links to this experiments page (which has now got a PR of 3!), to the home page of the Yoga site, and also to the sales page for the eBook. This latter link was possibly significant - see my later notes. (Whenever I add an entry to my blog I always 'ping' the various blog services with one click through Ping-O-Matic).

Thursday: Time to start a bit of reciprocal linking. Signed up for a free account at Link Metro. I haven't used them before, but I thought I'd try them out. Before I did, I set up a reciprocal links page so I could put links to other sites. (Note for NPM members - I took a pre-prepared page, stripped out the content, saved it as "resources.php" and then added a link to this page in the "Google_160x600.php" file in the "Includes" folder). Link Metro lets you list details of your site. You can then search for sites you want to exchange links with and / or wait for invitations to come from other Link Metro members. I exchanged links with 4 members who'd requested an exchange, and invited 4 more. I noticed another Niche Profits Monthly member's site there; had a look at their site and noticed that they'd cut the number of article categories and increased the number of articles in each category. Good idea; seems a bit daft to have loads of categories with only on article in each one. Success with Google index - well, partial success! Got one page in the index! But I'm beginning to have doubts about the home page of the site being a rotating page (a different article page picked at random). Will Mr. Google like it? Tried another strategy and used the Google "submit URL" on Golexa.

Week 2: (week ending 28 Jan 06)

Didn't do much this week. Noticed on Thursday that the Yoga eBook sales page was now in the Google index, but still only one page indexed in the main AdSense article pages. I really am having doubts about the wisdom of a randomly rotating home page. I'm going to change it to a static page with a few welcoming paragraphs. But, interestingly, why is the eBook sales page still indexed. Is it because in my blog entry on 17 Jan I'd included a separate link to this page? Could be. Possible strategy: get inbound links to different pages on your website. Don't take this as a definite "yes", but it's worth trying. On Saturday, exchanged some more links through Link Metro - I've now got 8 reciprocal links, but they're not very high-grade in terms of Page Rank.

Week 3: (week ending 4 Feb 06)

Tuesday: Started to look very carefully at the quality of reciprocal link invites via Link Metro. Most of them were spammy blogs for pharmeceutical products. Ran a mile from them and rejected them. The quality of a reciprocal link is more important than the number of in-bound links you have - be selective or your ranking could suffer! Bummer - Google has dropped the home page of the site, and is now only indexing the eBook sales page. OK, time for drastic action. Converted the rotating home page to a static page with a few welcoming paragraphs (Note for NPM members: as with the new "resources.php" page, I stripped out the content from a prepared page, added some content and saved it as "index.php"). I also added some ClickBank affiliate ads to the new home page. (Multiple income streams is the name of the game!) It was a real pain because the structure of the site (not built by me) made it impossible to add a neatly formed table with these ads into the home page. I had to mess around with layers which (a) took ages and (b) didn't work with every browser and / or browser window size. If you're designing a site for others to use, make sure that they can change it easily. This was a lesson that I learnt when I built a new website for owners of my Newbies Starter Kit. Whilst I was at it, I thought I might as well design a new banner to differentiate myself from all the other owners of the website. Here's the old and the new:

Old and new banners

Ah, that feels better! I like to be different. Oh, and I changed the file name of the banner. Whilst the search engines can't actually see images, they can read file names. If you're using "template websites" which other people will be using, change the file names of the image files.

Friday: Loads of requests for reciprocal links via Link Metro. They were all rubbish. Rejected them all. I'm going to get increasingly picky.

Week 4: (week ending 11 Feb 06)

Monday: The site's home page is back in the Google index - but still only one page indexed apart from the eBook sales page. Rejected another 9 rubbish link requests via Link Metro. This strategy ain't working!

Friday: Yipee! Google has indexed 85 of my pages! OK, let me qualify this. I checked the site (remember - enter "" in a Google search box) in one of Google's new "Bigdaddy" data centres. Please read the following panel carefully..

The Google "Bigdaddy" Change

Google is currently undergoing a massive upgrade to the way that it indexes and ranks websites. This is nothing like previous re-indexing exercises which have caused webmasters' (and webmistresses') hearts to flutter nervously. It is a deep change in the formulae which it uses to index and rank websites - formulae which are more closely guarded than the Coca Cola recipe! This huge change is known as "Bigdaddy".

The reasons for this change are to try to root out "spammy" websites (sites with duplicate content or content "scraped" from other sites) and websites which try to cheat by showing the search engines one page and human visitors another - and many other "black hat" tricks; generally, Google wants even higher quality search results than it's currently producing

The Bigdaddy changes are being slowly introduced during the early part of 2006 by gradually converting the many Google "data centers" over to the new system. It's difficult to tell whether or not your search results are coming from an old data center or from one which has had the Bigdaddy upgrade. But here's one data center which you can try and which has had the Bigdaddy treatment: If it produces different results from your regular Google search page, then the chances are that your regular search page hasn't had the Bigdaddy treatment.

But this is very hit and miss because each time you use Google, the chances are that you are using a different data center. It can all get very confusing!

Week 5 & 6: (week ending 18 & 25 Feb 06)

Only did a couple of things with my Learning Yoga website. I need to be able to continually add content to the site. So I got hold of about 80 articles on Yoga, added a couple and set my PC desktop timer to remind me once a week to add one of these articles. I also added a section on my new static home page "Articles Recently Added" with links to the new articles, so that the search engines will see that the site is being updated regularly. This will be a 10-minute job every week.

I also worked out my AdWords strategy to drive traffic to the eBook's sales page. Although the website package came with a list of yoga-related keywords, this told me nothing about which ones to target in my AdWords campaign. So I fired up my AdWord Analyzer software and rapidly got a load of keywords, complete with the number of searches for each keyword, the number of pages the search engines returned for each keyword, and how many advertisers were bidding for each keyword. This latter statistic was vital. I'd worked out that if the sales page converted 1 per cent of visitors into customers, and the eBook sells for $27 - about £15 GB Pounds - then I'd break even if each visitor cost me no more than 15 pence. I also knew that my AdWords ad would get onto the first page of the search engine results if I bid the minimum of 5 pence if there were no more than 7 competing advertisers. And I wanted to start off paying no more than 5 - 7 pence per click. So, using AdWord Analyzer, I was able to list the keywords which met this criterion. If you're going to use AdWords, then AdWord Analyzer is indispensible. I use it several times a week. You can get more info on it from here.

The reason why I've neglected the site over the past fortnight is that I've been setting up a new site for owners of my Newbies Starter Kit to get them going with making some money online. Because of the Bigdaddy changes, I've had to make it possible for them to easily customise the site so that each site set up by one of my Newbies is significantly different from all of the others. And what's this got to do with the February "Experiment"? Simple. I learnt a lot from studying the way that my Yoga site was structured. If you're wanting to develop your web building skills, look at how other people have done things. You'll learn a lot this way - I have. Just be careful not to breach copyright. You can have a look at the kind of site I've set up for them -

Tuesday 28 February 2006

So, ,the end of another month of experimenting with the new Learning Yoga site. I spent a bit of time today checking some statistics for the site. Here's the situation as of today:

  • Google Index: Only 24 pages indexed by one data center, but 137 pages indexed by a Bigdaddy datacenter. Sounds promising for the future!
  • MSN Index: 240 pages in this search engine's index!
  • Yahoo Index: Only the home page in the index
  • Google search positions: #3 for "yoga resources site" #19 for "articles on yoga" (out of 24,800). Nowhere to be seen for "learning yoga" or "yoga positions". Still, it's a start.
  • Google Page Rank: PR2 for both the home page and the eBook sales page. Better than I'd expected.
  • Traffic and AdSense income: Some. Not a lot. But it's growing. Over 1,000 page impressions in February.
  • eBook Traffic and sales: Several hundred page views (probably from readers of these pages!). No sales. Probably the same big zero for the cheeky chappie who copied my entire sales page, even down to the same bonuses I'd carefully sourced. Unfortunately for him, he'd also copied my page tracker code!!! Careful, Mr J.C. - the Webmaster is watching you!
  • Overall: About normal for a new website launch without doing a lot. Now that it's got a bit of momentum, there'll be some organic growth. If I just leave it as it is, it'll possibly generate about $100 per month with half an hour's work per month.

Oh, and I also checked the situation of another Yoga website from the same stable - the one I mentioned in Week 1, Thursday (above). This website owner had kept the rotating home page - and still had a good many pages in the site indexed by Google. So my theory that a non-static home page prevented me from getting a lot of pages in the Google index was not valid. Mind you, the site has a zero Page Rank, compared with my PR of 2.

I noticed, incidentally that this guy (or gal) seem to want to remain anonymous. This is not a good idea, especially if you're selling something. Would you buy from someone with a balaclava over their head? No, nor would I!

What I need to do next - and some conclusions

I'll need to implement my AdWords campaign. Shouldn't take long to set it up, although it might need a bit of tweaking from time to time. And I'll need to keep up my short weekly schedule of adding new articles to the site. Oh, and I might spend half an hour building a blog, as I did for my new "Self Improvement" site (the blog is here). It's another useful way to cross-link and drive traffic to the site.

Conclusions? I've probably shown you over the past couple of months that to even get something out of these "instant" template websites, you need to put a bit of work into them. That will be particularly true as Google's Bigdaddy change becomes universal.. and other search engines are also getting picky about duplicate content. OK, dynamic content, such as these websites from Niche Products Monthly, is one way to go, and will probably be effective for a while. Even so, you do need to customise them as much as you can. The more your website is unique, the more successful it is likely to be.

I've got a six month membership at Niche Products Monthly, and I'm aiming to use one of their three monthly websites every month. Customising and launching the Yoga website has been an interesting learning curve for me, and I hope that you've gained some benefit from these rambling diaries (use the feedback form below to tell me what you've gained). I'll certainly be able to rebuild and launch the next site a lot quicker.

I won't be reporting on this website in the March Experiment; I'll move on to another topic. So, if you've come to this page via the NPM forum, and you're not a subscriber to my weekly "Marketing Update" newsletter, I suggest you sign up now. Go to Marketing Magic - you won't be able to miss the sign-up form!

That way you'll be sure to read next month's Marketing Experiment - and a lot more besides.

Although I built these sites using materials available through the Niche Products Monthly membership site (currently not accepting new members), the same principles apply to most sites. There are many systems and software items available which make building content-rich websites a snip. And many resale sights products come with a ready-made sales page - which you need to modify.

So, hopefully, you will have learnt something from this "experiment", , which will help you with your own website development.

Ian Traynor
Professional Webmaster
York, UK
February 2006
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