Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Web Traffic Generation And Monetization Opportunities For Small Online Independent Publishers

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Robin Good: Best Practices And Tactics For Increasing Web Traffic, Online Exposure and Visibility
while being ethical, effective, and useful to the network at large.

I am an online micro-publisher managing over 10 small and independent news sites and online resources for a total of more than one million page views per month and over 25,000 unique visitors and more than 60,000 page views per day. Only a few of these sites have a direct commercial approach based on contextual advertising and sponsorships.

Source: Hitbox Traffic Analytics

Here some specific numbers: (PR7) is now among the top 8,000 sites monitored by Alexa/Amazon, and it is also present within the Top 300 among the more than 20 million blogs out there. At present this site alone records over 11,000 unique daily visitors and more than 600,000 page views/month. (According to Technorati, among blog sites originating from italy, the second one in terms of link popularity).

At the beginning of 2006 the aggregated revenue from only the three key sites (MasterNewMedia, Kolabora, MasterViews) that I manage and which is made up through Google Adsense ads, Blogads, direct ad sponsorships (on web pages, newsletters and RSS feeds), text links, the sale of a few ebooks and paid subscription access to one online guide, has now reached over $ 20,000/month.

This is for me a record achievement for which I have worked very hard during the last two and half years. I had long dreamed of being able to become a fully independent writer and of not needing to take on short and long projects with customers or organizations I deeply despised for their ethics, ideals and work approaches. I never liked to prostitute my own ideas to the best paying customer, nor to compromise one hundred and a million times on new valid ideas because those in charge had neither the guts nor the vision to do any better.

Many people don't like what I do when it comes to being a successful online entrepreneur and like classify me as having sold myself to ads companies and the like.

My point is: if you want to quit your 9-to-5 job and become completely independent of traditional salary, your company or those customers who gave you a living in exchange for big chunk of your soul, you can't do that on the web by simply writing a blog or focusing on your preferred passion. If you want to be a purist, if you want to write on the spur of the moment, just as true bloggers have often described themselves, that, in my own experience, won't allow you to make a living by itself .

And that is especially true if you, like me, I don't have an advertising agency, a university or a software company behind you, footing the bills for your writing.

You need to monetize and tangibly convert some of your input into revenue streams that are going to make you self-sufficient. Of course it would be wonderful to have all my web pages with no intrusive or interrupting ads at all. Even if they are contextual and well positioned they are undoubtedly an imposed addition, that the reader positively didn't ask for in the first place.

But the path to get to that independence by writing or publishing quality content requires, at least for now, the effective use of contextual ads like Google AdSense or YPN, as well as an additional number of other complementary revenue streams such as the Amazon Associate program, Blogads, Chitika ads, text-links, paid premium content, sponsorships and many more.

I have recently being asked to share some of the tactics I would recommend others to utilize to increase their web traffic as well as their onlive conversion ratios. Here are some suggested solutions and recommended approaches I will use during 2006 to maintain and further increase my online reach as well as tactics I have already successfully used and which I would definitely recommend to any new would-be independent online publishers entering this field.


1) RSS submissions
One of the more effective approaches to use RSS for online marketing is to give your feed maximum exposure and reach by submitting to the largest number of RSS search and directories. I have been maintaining the most comprehensive directory of such search engines and directories as I have needed them for my own work. You can access this super list of over 160 resources, updated weekly, for nothing at all. Just head off to:
The secret here is not to waste time by manually submitting to all of these directories and search engines, but to focus only on the top 30 or so. By themselves, those few will be able to contribute a significant boost to the visibility and reach of your feeds content. So, check out the RSSTop55 Premium (which ranks those very RSS search engines and directories) or use an automated submission tool like:
RSS Submit - $ 25 -
RSS Feeds Submit - $ 29.95 -
Feed Submitter - free -

2) Pings

If you use a blog or an up-to-date content management system you should leverage the pinging ecosystem to automatically let everyone know when new content is available on your site. Increase Visibility in Blog and RSS Directories: XML-RPC Pings. My own RSSTop55 - Best Blog Directory and RSS Submission Sites guide, which I have mentioned before, shows you how to submit your RSS feed to many different blog and RSS directories. But if you're a blogger, your blogging software may have a feature that makes it easy and quick to notify directories when your blog is updated. This feature is often referred to as an XML-RPC ping.

3) Articles submission
While the amount of news and information out there is rapidly surpassing anyone's ability to keep up with everything they are interested in, the amount of quality content that can be found on the web on any one specific topic is still incredibly low. If you exclude all press-releases, technical papers and marketing communications, the amount of good articles and essays that can be leveraged by online news publishers is really quite low. This is why I think that "article submission" to relevant content directories and clearinghouses is definitely worth the effort. Several tools and services available out there to do this in a rapid and efficient fashion. Here is one I have tested and used in the past: Link Popularity Building Via Article Marketing: Explosive Reach

4) Contributing to online news hubs

In this same direction you can also consider becoming part of an existing blog network like Creative Weblogging to further extend your reach and visibility while monetizing immediately your writing efforts. There are many such content hubs and small to medium-sized online publishers that are always seeking for new contributors and writers. Chris Pirillo at used to be a good one but he has just recently changed the rules of the game and I don't find it to be anymore a news outlet to recommend. is for example also another interesting news hub to which anyone can contribute.

5) Active Commenting
Commenting, with extreme politeness and truly insightful contributions to popular news sites and blogs is also another good way to increase your visibility status and, in some cases, to get a valuable link back from a high-traffic site. To do this well, you need to have something useful to share and not just the desire to snatch some Google Page Rank via this fast shortcut. Provide insight, resources, links to valuable examples and you will be rewarded in more ways than you can think of.

6) Social bookmarks
Social bookmarking services like delicious, digg, FURL and many others, provide a simple means for a multitude of Internet users to tag, archive and vote for sites and content they are interested in. While it won't be easy for you to steer or influence any of these large communities, it is essential for you to become more aware of how these tools operate and how if properly used, they can contribute as well to let others find out about you. A uniquely helpful tool to support this endeavour is Alan Levine's fabulous Multipost Bookmarklet Tool.

7) Newsletter production
Though newsletters are one of the oldest Internet marketing tools they have proven over and over again to be fantastic drivers of quality, targeted visitors to your site. What has been learned along the way is that a few things can break or make a newsletter and that therefore paying attention to these details makes all of the difference in the world. In 2006 I have myself planned to invest extra resources to improve and extend the quality and accessibility of my own newsletters. Legibility, conciseness, printability, easy subscription, availability in multiple formats, easy access to archives, good formatting, spam filter awareness and intelligent use of advertising within them are the ingredients I am going to work on to make them better.

8) Grassroots Participation
The ability to leverage the willingness of hundreds of thousands of individuals to contribute, sing, perform, post, edit, filter, share and select content and ideas that are already out there is probably the greatest business opportunity thread to be surfed next. Leveraging the knowledge and information your users have will also be an extremely powerful tactic that will enable your readers to become active contributors while providing your content site with uniquely rich and valuable information. You put your readers at work by allowing them to contribute links and pointers to relevant news and resources, by allowing them to start new conversations and by providing them with forums where to discuss and receive help on specific topics. Obviously, in some cases, this will require providing enough motivation and reward to users to justify their extra effort.

9) Blog Advertising
If you need to spend money on a marketing campaign that needs to attract eyeballs and qualified buyers on your site, consider seriously advertising on blogs. By using a service like Blogads or Crispads you can easily identify blog sites for the very theme/topic you are interested in, while saving a huge amount of money compared to more traditional advertising venues.

10) Content Filtering and Aggregating
Photo credit: Matthias Gelinski
If you wanted one killer new thing to do to significantly expand your reach, content filtering and aggregation is one to seriously consider. If you have not heard of newsmastering, newsradars and similar buzzwords it is about time you do. There are now a good number of very interesting tools out there that can enable your search and specific know-how expertise ten thousand times. So, if you can understand the power of aggregating, filtering and selecting news content on very specific topics and themes the time has come to leverage this very powerful opportunity. Beware though: this is not about creating automated sites that collect news and RSS feeds on a specific theme unattended while juxtaposing AdSense ads next to them. This is about doing this with your hand, eyes and brain. Becoming a point of reference for others on anyone specific topic is the direction I am pointing at you. Whether you will do it by becoming a lensmaster, a guide at, or by creating your very own news hub, that is all open for you to choose.

Avoid like plague
These are the online marketing tactics I would strongly suggest to avoid:

- Link exchange via automated software - even manually, this is a very hard one to pull off and of the hundreds of people who have used this method to get a link from me none have been successful.

- Pop-ups. While I think that these are now performing much better than they did during the negative apex of their popularity, I still suggest to avoid altogether this approach whenever possible.

- Comment and trackbacks spam. Do not take advantage of popular sites to place explicit marketing and sales messages via comments or trackback pings.

- Azoogle Ads. I picked this up thinking it was going to help my overall income stream. This agency has some nice products, with very well paying commissions, that I wanted to endorse and run promotions for. Unfortunately not only the link this ads come with spin-off nasty full web page ads for other products, but also the customer support online and off, leaves lots and lots to be desired. Steer clear.

- Web marketing and traffic-building programs that invite you to contribute your content for some promised major new ebook or other "super" content package.

- Fully automated blogs and RSS feeds on specific themes and topics, created only for the purpose of generating AdSense revenue through contextual ads placed next an ongoing thematic news stream. It doesn't work. People are not stupid, and unless you provide additional editorial value, by commenting, manually selecting news items, or adding your own opinions to it, you will need to build tens and tens of this to make any significant amount of income.

Readers' Comments    
2006-03-04 08:41:56


Great Advice!

Although I ended up manually entering the RSS feeds. I felt it gave me more control over what I was registereing on - and to some extend "paid my dues".

2006-03-03 02:06:43

Ghazali Ridzwan

Thanks for sharing this great knowledge Robin. The points you shared really cleared my view on Internet marketing.

2006-03-02 17:15:52

Doug Hudiburg

Hi Robin,

I've tried to ping your trackback URL twice now and keep getting an error. I'm using a third-party tool from HaloScan to do it, which may be the issue, but it works with other MT blogs.

Great article. I posted to my blog about it today:

Thanks for sharing such excellent and authentic information.

posted by Robin Good on Thursday, March 2 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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