WP Magic Page for WordPress impressed me in the demo. Now, I’ve tried it and it’s not a good fit for my personal websites. I may include it with some sites that I sell, but — at this point — I doubt it.
It works. That’s not the issue.
Okay, the name of the plugin is a slight misnomer: It creates posts, not pages. And, when I tested it, it puts those posts in their own folder /wpmagicpage/. They’re not part of the regular site hierarchy. That’s fine for a sales page or something, but for my sites, it looks a little weird. Worse, since posts are in a separate folder, they don’t show up on the sitemap.
Then there’s the plain vanilla theme for each post. It doesn’t look like the rest of my website. Again, this could be a plus if you’re using it for a sales page. That’s probably what it was designed for. However, I’d planned to use it for content. I’d expected a page-creator (not a post-creator) that would fit seamlessly into the rest of my website. It doesn’t.
So, I’m disappointed with the product. The good news is, when I realized what I was trying to accomplish with it, I saw how I might be able to do the same thing by hand-coding the tables I want. I’m exploring plugin options, first.
WP Magic Page wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but you might like its features for your website.
Here’s the tutorial video to see what it does, and how to use it:
WP Amaz-One has been updated early in June 2012. I’ve been expecting this update, and Lisa Gergets — who is very ethical about keeping her products updated — is always quick to respond to Amazon’s API changes.
This update fixes broken Amazon banner ads that had failed to load for Amazon.co.uk Associates. That’s specific to UK Amazon Associates. For everyone else, the older Amaz-One version seems to be working fine.
If you’ve bought one of my websites during or after June 2012, the video tutorials are at this YouTube link.
So, if you like a plugin that was included with your website purchase, you’ll need to arrange for updates directly with the plugin retailer.
Frankly, if you’re earning money from your Amazon-related websites, purchasing your own copies of plugins like Amaz-One should be a high priority. That way, you receive notices like this directly, along with a download link for the updated files.
Plugins like Amaz-One are best for people who want to automate much of the work of listing Amazon products, with descriptions. I use Amaz-One on most of my own Amazon websites, to add new product posts when I’m too busy to manually add fresh content. It’s not my only way of listing and promoting Amazon products, but it’s an important one.
When I have time to manually add products and write articles and/or lengthy reviews, I use the free WP plugin, Amazon Product in a Post.
If you’ve bought one or more of my websites with lengthy articles and reviews, WP Amaz-One is ideal to automatically supplement those posts. This postpones (and, for some, prevents) the need to write your own articles or hire someone else to write them for you.
(Note: I never recommend relying entirely on autoblogging. There’s no value there to help your webpages rank well. However, good WordPress plugins can sensibly supplement your manual updates. That’s why I recommend Amaz-One.)
If you’re serious about earning a significant income as an Amazon Associate, WP Amaz-One is among the few Amazon-related plugins I recommend. It’s not vital, but it’s tremendously helpful. That’s why I include it with many of my Shiny Websites, so customers can give Amaz-One a good “test drive” to see its value.
As I’m writing this, we’re quickly moving into the time of year when it’s essential to add content steadily to Amazon-related sites for Halloween and the Christmas holiday season. This means fresh content and product reviews about Halloween costumes, ghost-related books and ghost hunting tools, Halloween party supplies, Halloween decorations, Thanksgiving-related products, Christmas decorations, and holiday gifts.
The simplest way to do that — and still enjoy your summer holidays — is to use a premium plugin like Amaz-One. There are plenty of premium plugins for Amazon products; I own copies of most of them. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about Lisa Gergets’ products: She actually keeps them updated. Many (and perhaps most) premium plugin sellers don’t maintain the integrity of their plugins more than six months after the initial sale.
WordPress security is growing in importance. If you’re not using security measures with your website, you should be. Start right away.
Every day, I receive emails like this one, telling me that yet another person (or robot) tried to access my websites using the login name “Admin.”
I never take it personally. That same IP number tried to access a wide range of my sites last night, not just sites readily identified with me. Also, that IP number shows up regularly in these alerts. It might be the hacker’s real IP number, it might be a proxy, or it might be an innocent person’s IP number, “borrowed” by the hackers (or, more correctly, crackers).
In all likelihood, software is cycling through domain names at a high speed, looking for a site with a username of “Admin.” Not long ago, a news report claimed that more than 60% of website owners keep the default username of “admin” to log into their sites. It’s a very bad idea.
Simple WordPress Security Measures
First, always have a current backup of your website. I use (and rave about) WP-Twin for that, but you could use Flip Me Clone (about 1/4 the price), or you can get by with the free WordPress plugin, WP-DB Manager. In the settings for WP-DB Manager, be sure it emails you a full copy of your website’s database (that’s where your articles actually are) weekly, or more often if you update your site more than once a week.
Next, change your WordPress login username if it’s currently “Admin” or if it’s the same as the name that appears on your articles or on your “About” page.
In WordPress, this means:
1. Create a new user (in your WordPress dashboard, at Users > Add New). Make sure to assign that new user the role of Administrator.
2. Then, log out of your WordPress dashboard.
3. Log in with your new username and password.
4. Delete the old user account, and attribute all the old username’s posts & links to your new username. That’s important. Otherwise, you’ll lose all of your old posts, etc.
5. Confirm deletion (as shown in the screenshot, above).
6. Be sure your screen name is NOT the same as your login name. Otherwise, you’re giving crackers 50% of the information they need to hack into your WordPress account. I often use “Admin” or “webmaster” to throw people off, unless I really want my articles associated with another name for PR & marketing reasons. But, that’s still never the same as my login name.
7. Have a guess-proof password for your WordPress login. It shouldn’t be any word someone could find in a normal dictionary. In fact, it’s best if it’s 12+ characters long and includes letters, numbers, and characters. If you need help with this, you’ll find free password generators online. Click here for one of them.
8. Install the free WordPress plugin, Limit Login Attempts. In “Settings,” you might want to choose something more limited. On most of my sites, just one lockout means the IP number is locked out for a minimum of 24 hours, and usually 72 hours. I also ask WordPress to notify me every time there’s a lockout.
9. Install the free WordPress plugin, Secure WordPress. In “Settings,” I usually make sure the error message won’t be seen at login. Then, if someone is trying to hack into the site, they won’t know if they failed to guess the login username, the password, or both.
10. Do NOT panic and throw money at all kinds of security when you start receiving emails telling you that several attempts were made to log into your website. Most of the truly useful security plugins are free and available at WordPress.org. My favorites include Bulletproof Security and WP Firewall 2. (But remember: They only work if you activate them and follow their instructions to set up the security measures.)
As I said earlier, I receive security email alerts every day. It’s just part of maintaining a website; robots will try to access your website. It’s nothing personal and it doesn’t mean you’re under deliberate and focused attack.
You probably wouldn’t leave your home unlocked when you leave for work. You probably wouldn’t leave your keys in your car when you’re out shopping.
Likewise, a few simple security measures can remove yours from the easiest websites to hack.
Stay calm and carry on. This is all in a day’s work if you have a website, and — by taking these WordPress security steps — you don’t have to lose sleep at night.
“Fresh content” is a new buzzword among the loophole crowd. Well, hey, it always seems like people are trying to fool Google with plugins and sneaky website tactics. At the moment, they’re trying to make old articles look fresh and updated, without actually adding relevant new content.
Big yawn. It looks like the Internet version of “mutton, dressed as lamb.”
Seriously, my stomach lurches when I see someone selling something that’s designed specifically to make Google (and other search engines) think one thing is going… when it’s actually just smoke and mirrors. Some of them are simply stupid. Others are downright dangerous for your ranking, as soon as Google spots the ruse.
The newest snake oil involves tools to make articles look fresher than they actually are. After all, talking about April 2012 Google algorithm changes, Matt Cutts said, “We try to promote content that appears to be fresh.”
I predict: Fake “freshness” will be the hot new plugin focus. (I hope it’s a short-lived trend.)
The plugins I’ve seen so far are simply adding blurbs from your recent articles to your older posts. I’m expecting additional plugins that draw “curated” blurbs from other sites, or RSS snippets, etc., and add them to old posts so they might look fresher.
In my opinion, that’s low quality “fresh content.” I heartily recommend against buying any product that’s scraping content or spinning anything so your old posts might look like you updated them.
Google isn’t stupid.
At InsideSearch.blogspot.co.uk, you’ll see exactly what Matt Cutts has said about freshness cues and how they affect an article’s ranking at Google. I recommend browsing that entire article for the April 2012 search engine updates.
Mr. Cutts specifically said, “We have modified a classifier we use to promote fresh content to exclude fresh content identified as particularly low-quality.” (Emphasis added.)
Why spend time and money trying to fool Google? Is it really worth the short-term gains? Have you so little respect for your websites and your website visitors, that you’d try to lure them to an outdated article with fake “fresh” content?
If an article is still relevant, people will find it and link to it. You don’t need to try to deceive search engines.
If an article is outdated, maybe it doesn’t deserve to rank well among fresher articles on the same topic. Either update it with good, unique, fresher content, or accept that some older articles won’t rank as well as fresher, better ones will.
From my viewpoint, if people put as much time into adding meaningful content to their websites as they spend trying to fool Google, they wouldn’t have to fool Google. They’d have a genuinely useful, valuable website that ranks well.
So, before you open your wallet to the next scarcity tactic like “buy this before the price goes up at the Warrior Forum/Clickbank/JVzoo,” pause and decide if you really want to start down that “let’s fool Google” path.
Short-term, it may lead to more visitors and income. Theoretically, if you hop from one loophole product to the next, you can keep this game going for a long time.
Or, one of these loophole tactics or products could send your entire website empire to Google’s outer darkness. Is it worth that risk? For high-rollers with thousands of websites maintained by dozens of sweatshop outsourcers… maybe.
For anyone with integrity, who wants to weather any quality filters Google throws at them…? Not a chance. Quality wins, period and full stop.
If you want an older article to look fresher, update it to include the latest information. That’s authentic. That’s what earns the respect of your visitors, and promotes you to the rank of authority.
I won’t be buying plugins that provide fake “freshness” cues to search engines, and I won’t be selling websites that include those plugins.
My advice is to keep building your high-quality websites the old fashioned way: With useful content, updated to remain useful to repeat and new visitors.
In March 2012, I posted an article, Never Interrupt Plugin Updates. The tips in that article are still important, but — thanks to Hostgator support — I now know what to do if my backup isn’t current, and I’m stuck in Maintenance mode due to a stalled update.
It’s so simple, I’m embarrassed to admit this: All you need to do is delete the .maintenance file you’ll see in File Manager or in your FTP screen. That gets you past the Maintenance roadblock. (Of course, check with your hosting service first, in case they use a different system during site updates.)
Then, you can create a full backup of your current site. (I still recommend WP Twin. I can’t imagine running websites without it.)
Unfortunately, your work is not yet complete. You still need to update your WordPress installation and/or your plugin updates… the same ones that caused the stall in the first place.
Tech support recommended updating from the main plugins screen (not the Update screen), and update the files one-by-one. (This means most remote updates — from a single control panel — may not be a good idea. Don’t abandon the convenience of that, if it’s working for you. However, if your updates stall and you’re stuck in maintenance mode, you may have to update the old-fashioned way, plugin-by-plugin and site-by-site.
You may still hit snags. If you can’t seem to fix the problem, don’t waste time; contact your hosting service immediately. Do not leave your site unprotected!
When updates are issued — whether by WordPress or a plugin developer — those updates may fix security problems in older versions. Years ago, I used to recommend waiting until the bugs were worked out of updates, before installing them. Today, by the time the updates are released, it’s almost too late: You may have been at risk for days or longer.
So, I no longer postpone updates on my websites. I urge you to update your sites whenever a security patch is issued, as well.
The worldwide web is constantly changing, and those changes are arriving at a faster pace every day. It’s vital to stay current, and to know answers to the “what if” questions when they occur.
If you’re stuck in that maintenance screen, the answer might be to manually delete the .maintenance file.
If you’ve updated to the latest (Feb 2012) version of WP Amaz-One, you may be surprised by what you don’t see: Content in the main Edit Post screen.
I talked about that in my review of the WP Amazon-One update. (In fact, I haven’t updated the plugin on many of my websites, including several that I’m selling.* The plugin is working fine for me at those sites, and I’m happy to wait for the next update, if it restores the ability to edit the post in the normal Edit Post screen.)
Here’s a tip to make it easier when editing your post in the February 2012 version of WP Amaz-One: You can use basic HTML within the Custom Fields screen.
I recommend the following steps when using the updated plugin.
1. Always choose the 1000 characters option in the settings. This gives you the maximum space to work with. (No matter what you do, your post cannot exceed the limit you selected in the settings.)
2. Then, go to the post you’d like to edit. When you get there, the Edit Post panel will be blank.
3. Scroll down to the Custom Fields section of your screen. If you don’t see it, click on Screen Options.
Then, select Custom Fields.
4. In the Custom Fields section, your post text is in the “amazon description” field. (It will be regular text, without HTML. In my screenshot, I’d already added the HTML to improve the post.)
5. Edit the text to add basic HTML. (In brackets: P for paragraph, I for italics, B for bold, and so on.)
If you do anything except add the basic HTML, be sure to separate your own content from the content fed to your site through Amazon’s API. (If I add comments, I put them first and then say, “Here’s the official product description from Amazon.com,” or something like that.)
Above all, do not change the wording in Amazon’s content. You can break it up with punctuation or line breaks, and/or add your own comments, clearly separated from Amazon’s content, but that’s all.
From my experience, you cannot use LI for line item. Instead, I’m using P (for paragraph) and adding an asterisk for the list item indication.
6. Keep a second tab (or window) open with the Preview version of your post. That way, you can see when you’ve exceeded the character limit of your post.
When you’re happy with your post, click “Update” to save it.
That’s all there is to it.
As I’ve said before, if you’re using Amaz-One for its intended purpose — to automatically update your website with Amazon products in autopilot mode — this update works better than ever. It has lots of very cool bells & whistles.
However, if you’re someone who prefers more control over your posts and you like to edit or enhance them, you’ll use the technique I’ve just showed you to edit the post in your Custom Fields areas.
*If you bought a website from me and it has the old version of Amaz-One, you can continue to use it… or you can ask me to install the Feb 2012 update for you, free of charge. To update the plugin, I will need access to your WP Dashboard. (Not sure if you have the old version of Amaz-One? Click here for more info.)
Ordinarily, I don’t update plugins for customers after the purchase. That’s a service you can add as a client, but with the large number of websites that I sell, I can’t offer free and continuous updates. (If I did, I’d spend all day, every day, updating sites.)
Until the February 2012 update, I managed my Amazon affiliate sites with the WP Amaz-One plugin. It’s not inexpensive and it’s not perfect, but — for anyone with an Amazon affiliate site — it’s been essential. And, even since this early February update, it’s still a very useful plugin.
In February 2012, an important WP Amaz-One plugin update was released. If you had the older version and you’re not sure how to update, click here for my tutorial with screenshots.
My review: Some good, some not-so-good
Here’s my preliminary review of this update:
This update was important for a couple of reasons, including the latest WordPress update and policy changes at some social media sites, regarding automatic posting. The update handles those two issues.
This Amaz-One plugin update also includes some cool new features, such as the ability to change the post layout, select different Amazon buttons to use, and automatically add product-related videos from YouTube.
However, some of these new features are clearly in development. (That’s fine. The only way a plugin developer knows what works and what doesn’t — after a limited beta release — is to see what happens when all users use the new version.)
Later in this post, and in a later post, I’ll explain what I’m doing to work around the temporary snags.
New buttons, new layout options
I love the new Amazon buttons. The red is definitely my favorite, since it’s been shown that red tends to trigger action. However, yellow (or gold) triggers right-brain activity, so someone may react (and buy) more emotionally with the gold buttons. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)
I like the new layout, but I tend to use the plain vanilla version anyway.
The video option is brilliant, when it works. So far, with a day and a half of testing, it’s only accurate half the time. A “visit England” post featuring a guidebook review… it included a Tanya Roberts video, “Tanya Roberts Outrageous Love…” Umm… not quite what I had in mind.
If you find the wrong video on your post, you can delete it by clicking the Delete button in the Custom Fields section of your WordPress post screen.
If you don’t see the Custom Fields sections on your Post screen, here’s what to do:
1. Click on “Screen Options” at the upper right corner of the dashboard.
Then, a whole list of options will open at the top of your dashboard. Be sure “Custom Fields” is checked. Then, reclick on “Screen Options” and that list will close.
Once you do see the Custom Fields options in your Post screen, continue with these steps.
Here’s a screenshot of the button to click. (I think you can update the keywords and see if you get a better video, but I haven’t tried that yet.)
I can live with that. I mean, it’s a cool option, when the bugs are worked out… if they can be. (People can spam YouTube videos with fake titles and keywords, so I’m not sure that any plugin will always add good, relevant videos.)
Then there’s what happens to posts from the earlier version of Amaz-One. It looks like 95% of them are fine, but — now and then — one of them goes wonky. The price is $0.00 or something weird like that. Again, with automated posting software of any kind, there will be some errors.
One of my posts vanished from the on-screen navigation, but it’s still in the Sitemap. Weird, but — as I said — almost every plugin has glitches. This one isn’t critical. I’m only mentioning it so, if it happens at your website, you don’t panic.
The blank screen
It’s a little unsettling to see the post screen completely blank, so I can’t edit the post or add to it, in that screen. However — in the Feb 2012 update — you can use the Custom Fields options to edit your post. (See that link for screenshots.)
Then, save your edited post as you usually do.
My only problem so far? I’m generally limited to the 250- or 500-character post size that I initially specified. (I’m saying “generally” because once — and only once, so far — I was able to expand the post so it’s longer. I’m still trying to get this sorted out, with the Amaz-One developer.)
In general, this plugin does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it better than before: It automatically posts Amazon products, with reviews (if you want to include them), on a schedule.
So, I’m still using this plugin and including it in sites that I sell at Shiny Websites.
However, at this point, I don’t see any easy, reliable way to expand Amaz-One reviews the way I like to. I’m talking about the kinds of edits I make, described in my articles, Amazon Product Posts – Adding Content, and How to Enhance Your Amazon Product Posts.
I hope that Amaz-One will resolve this issue, soon. The developer assured me on 16 Feb 2012, “We are working on making some changes as per feedback from users. Will soon send updated version where it will be easy to change the content.” (Emphasis added.)
So, fingers crossed, the update will arrive soon.
In addition, I know that most people don’t do the kinds of editing that I do. So, it may not be an issue for you, at all.
My temporary fix for Amazon expanded reviews and posts
Until the new update — the one that once again allows us to change the post text easily — here’s what I’m doing:
First, I’m still using WP Amaz-One. It finds products and adds them as tagged posts, quickly, efficiently, and on a drip-feed schedule. Generally, I’m leaving those posts as-is. So, if you buy one of my Shiny Websites, you’ll still receive that plugin.
And, I’m still writing expanded reviews and related articles… but separately.
For that, I find the ASIN (or ISBN) for the product, by clicking on the product link (“Read more” or the “buy now” button) in the Amaz-One post.
Then, I look at the URL where I landed. It’ll look like this:
That set of numbers (sometimes letters + numbers) immediately following the /dp/ are the ASIN. (Do not include the % or anything after that.)
I enter that into another, free plugin, Amazon Product in Post.
To install that plugin, here’s what to do.
First, go to Plugins > Add New in your WP dashboard.
Then, use the Search from on the Plugins – Add New page. Type in “Amazon Product.” That’s usually enough to locate the correct plugin.
The next screenshot shows the plugin you’re looking for. Install it and activate it.
Once it’s activated, you’ll need to add your Amazon keys and your Amazon affiliate ID so you receive your affiliate commissions for each product. You’ll do that in the Amazon PIP > Amazon PIP Options screen, on your WP dashboard.
With that set up, I’m writing the kinds of extended reviews I’ve usually included with some of my Amaz-One posts. Then, I enter the ASIN number (as explained above) into the Amazon PIP form, and ask it to post the product links below the post contents.
I can set that post to appear the same day as the related Amaz-One post, or on an earlier or later date.
Why use both plugins?
I know people will ask me why I’m using both plugins. The simplest answer is: Because I can*… but that’s a little too quick an answer, so let me explain.
First, Amaz-One is a good plugin and I’m hoping that another update will make it as useful as it was in the past.
For now, it automatically finds and posts Amazon products for me, on a drip-feed schedule. If I’m too busy to add anything else to my website, it’s still updating on its own, so my website always looks fresh for the search engines. That’s important. It’s also the primary purpose of Amaz-One.
So, it’s worth keeping.
In addition, my new websites will include both Amaz-One and Amazon Product in a Post plugins. Together, these plugins allow me (and you) to have a fresh website, running on autopilot. And, you and I can add the content-rich articles that make these websites stand out, attract more traffic, and earn more money.
Questions? Comments? Use the comment form with this article, so I can reply.
*I tried running both WP-Dollar and Amaz-One, together, but it looks like the database gets confused. I can’t have both activated at the same time. Even with one active and one not, the combination have conflicts. So, though I’m happy to add WP Dollar for clients who prefer that, I can’t recommend having both installed on the same site.
On the other hand, Amazon Product in a Post and Amaz-One can run simultaneously without problems. That’s what I’m using.
Note: This tutorial is outdated. And, at some point, my illustrations vanished from my WP files. This page is too old for me to bother locating one year+ old graphics to restore. The instructions are still good, but the pictures… I may get back to this, later, but not now.
The new (February 2012) WP Amaz-One update is a major update, so — if you were already using WP Amaz-One — you’ll replace the plugin, not simply upgrade it… if you want to update it, that is. I recommend reading all of my reviews and articles about Amaz-One, before making that decision. For many of my sites, I’m continuing to use the old version.
However, most people will want the newest version of Amaz-One.
Here’s how to do that. (You may want to print out these directions, to follow along as you update your WP Amaz-One plugin.)
If you’re not sure if you have the current WP Amaz-One, here’s what to look for:
On the right side of your posts panel, you should see various Amazon “buy now” buttons. They’ll look like the following screenshot.
If you don’t see those, also check in your Amaz-One > Create Campaign screen, just to be sure. First, click on “WP Amaz-One” in your main WP dashboard screen. It’ll look like the screenshot, below. (The name turns red on my dashboard when I hover the cursor over it.)
From there, click on “Create Campaign.” It’s indicated by the arrow in the next screenshot.
If you already have the updated Amaz-One (Feb 2012), your screen should include the Amazon button options, shown in the next screenshot.
If you don’t see those buttons, you have an older version of Amaz-One. The February 2012 update adds those buttons, a video option, and more.
Here are the steps to take to install your update:
First, in your WordPress dashboard, go to your Plugins panel. Deactivate and delete the old Amaz-One.
Then, go to Plugins > Add New .
Choose “Upload” in the next screen.
In the upload form, search your hard drive for the new Amaz-One zipped file. (Remember: All plugins must be in .zip format, before you can upload them.)
In the next screen, click to activate it.
Don’t worry! All the settings and posts should remain from the previous Amaz-One installation.
Finally, be sure to watch the new videos about this update.
You’ll find the tutorials links from your WordPress dashboard. First, click on “WP Amaz-One.” Then, click on “Tutorials.”
The next screenshot shows the list of video tutorials. Click on any one to watch it. There are lots of changes and improvements in this new version of Amaz-One, so be sure to watch the videos.
The most important one is Video #4, Creating a Campaign. Pay close attention around the 13 minute mark. That’s where you’ll discover why your posts look blank in the Visual/HTML screens, and how to edit your posts… if you want to.
If you click on that tutorial video link, you may see this. (It’s a screenshot from 15 Feb 2012.)
Don’t panic. At least as I’m writing this, you can still see the video at YouTube. (Link: http://youtu.be/qrMT8XlJOVU ) Either click on that link, or go to YouTube and search for “Lisa Gergets.” She has a series of how-to videos there.
Have a question or comment? Please leave them as comments. If you have questions, others will too. So, I’ll answer them here — in comments or as a new article — so everyone can discover the answers.
The issue of comments is part of a larger discussion about conversion rates. So, let’s talk about that.
“Conversion rate” means how many people — what percentage — do what you’d like them to do. The phrase is used in terms of how many people sign up for your mailing list, land at the money page, or actually click on (or buy) whatever-it-is.
When you create a website, even if it’s not a commercial site, you have at least one goal and possibly more. Your goals might include:
- Visitors like you.
- Visitors respect you as an information source, and live better lives by following your advice. (That’s my goal for this site.)
- Visitors sign up for your mailing list.
- Visitors subscribe to your site via RSS.
- Visitors sign up as clients or customers.
- Visitors link to your site via social media or their own websites/blogs.
- Visitors bookmark your site so they can return to it often.
- Visitors leave comments.
Deciding those goals (and prioritizing them) is important so you know what to put on your website and what not to:
- Affiliate links.
- Affiliate ads.
- AdSense ads.
- Commission Junction ads, etc.
- Clickbank ads, etc.
- A sign-up form for your email list.
- Button/s so people can easily “like” or recommend you via social media.
- A click-to-call option, if you (or your staff) will talk with customers.
- A forum.
- A chance to leave comments.
(As a website owner, are you overwhelmed yet? I am.)
However, you might read this and wonder, “Why not offer people every possible choice… especially if all of them benefit me, too?”
Well, at a certain point, choices become overwhelming and people become paralyzed in indecision. The following TED video touches on what happens.
So, it’s important to give your website visitors simple (and perhaps subtly directed) choices.
Directing visitors with website content
Here are some ways website owners can direct (or downright manipulate) visitors:
1. Offer good enough content so you rank well at Google, etc., but be sure that content is bad enough that people want to click on your AdSense ad or affiliate links, hoping that will be what they were really looking for. This leads to badly-written (and spun) articles that include the right mix (and percentage) of target keywords. I don’t do that, but plenty of successful marketers do.
2. Offer something valuable, but require something in return. (Yes, this is the definition of a purchase.) I’m talking about website content that’s hidden until the visitor “likes” or tweets about the site to their friends. Or, a free report or small product that’s offered in return for the person signing up for your mailing list. Many marketers feel this is a winning tactic, since both sides get something valuable.
3. Create a mystery. Make something interesting… so interesting, people will take action, just to find out what’s behind door number 3, or whatever. This includes things like a “peeling corner” graphic on a webpage, or — as mentioned before — hidden content on websites.
3. Limit options and firmly steer people toward the one or two that most benefit you. This is why some websites have AdSense ads or affiliate links… but not both. Or, they don’t include the option to comment. It’s an added choice that may have lesser value.
Comments… why bother?
So, you might wonder why you’d include comments at all. After all, there’s no money in comments… is there?
There’s no direct income from them. However, allowing comments encourages a sense of connection and interaction between you and your visitors. In an apparently soulless web, that human connection can be important.
Comments help you understand your visitors’ interests. You can use that to improve your website content, and fine-tune your sales pages.
Comments lead to off-site SEO… if a flame war breaks out on your site, it’s likely someone will link to it at Facebook or some other social site.
One of my most popular articles is one I wrote about seven years ago. I was fed up with a friend’s TV show getting unfair criticism, and defended the show. That article was controversial then and it still is. It’s not quite a seven-year flame war, but the discussion has been heated and still continues… while backlinks earn me a top-three ranking in a very competitive niche.
Also, we’re not sure how much (if at all) Google, etc., look at comments — how many, how current, and how much on-topic — as part of the ranking algorithm.
If you’re going to allow comments, should you CommentLuv?
You’ll control comment options in your WordPress dashboard. It’s in Settings > Discussion.
Generally, I set my sites so I approve all comments. That spares me the embarrassment of a vulgar comment that might include a spammy or toxic link. However, many people leave the default so that anyone with an approved comment can comment freely, after the initial approval. (Note: Spammers have learned this and make use of it.)
CommentLuv is a free WordPress plugin. When someone leaves a comment and they’ve indicated their website URL, CommentLuv automatically includes a link to that website’s latest post.
Good arguments exist in favor of — and opposed to — CommentLuv. They range from increased spam to lost “link juice,” and from an increased sense of connection with visitors to stronger comment threads.
I use CommentLuv on many of my websites, including this one. My settings include no registration option, but comments include “do follow” links.
The other extreme: No comments.
On some sites I disable comments altogether. The sites are informational and/or are for affiliate sales, and that’s all. I don’t update them. I don’t have time to monitor or respond to comments. Those sites earn money whether I pour time & energy into them or utterly neglect them.
I think every long-time Internet marketer has a site or two like that. They’re those “ugly little websites” — often a single page — that, weirdly, generate lots of AdSense clicks or affiliate sales.
Sure, I could expand those sites and maybe make more money from them. On the other hand, I don’t want to fix something that’s not broken. From my viewpoint, it’s better to leave success alone.
Whether or not to include comments in your website… that’s something you’ll decide on a site-by-site basis.
For more than five years, I’ve been enthusiastic about E-Junkie. They’re great for people who’d like to sell digital or physical products through a website.
Though some people prefer sites such as Clickbank or Nanacast, or specialized software for secure downloads, I love E-Junkie.
For just $5 a month, they store my digital products, process the payments through PayPal (or other payment options), deliver the product to my customers, and maintain my customer mailing list.
They’ll also manage an affiliate program for my products, when I’m ready for that. (I’ve used E-Junkie for my affiliate programs in the past, and I was very happy with how easy this was.)
If you’ve thought about selling your own products online, but the mechanics of it seemed confusing, give E-Junkie a try. (See my review, originally written in 2007.)
To make this even easier, you can use the WP plugin for your E-Junkie shopping cart. It’s free, and you’ll find it at the E-Junkie website, linked on their Resources page.
As I’m setting up my readymade websites site and my PLR site, I’ll be using E-Junkie for my shopping cart, payment, and delivery system.
After I’ve tried it, I’ll let you know how well the free WP plugin works with the current version of WordPress. (The date on the plugin is July 2010.)
Meanwhile, I can definitely recommend E-Junkie if you’re selling products from your website.