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What happened to small business networking?

Posted on | October 9, 2007 | No Comments

Contextual ads have a place in life (and on web pages). If you are among the lucky few who drew an actual human being to your web site or blog, you’ve managed to capture their attention in some way.

Contextual ads allow you to place little boxes on your web site in places that you feel that you might not have captured the attention of your visitor, such as search pages. If your visitor has a few moments of attention to spare, they might click on an ad which earns you roughly $0.05 – $0.25 each click. For web sites that have a large amount of visitors, using contextual ads might be a great idea.

For the rest of us, the days of writing well crafted works and hoping to earn money from doing so are over; unless, of course, you retain full control over your advertisements. Contextual ad programs often do not allow you to fully control the ads that your visitors see. How, then, can you hope to cover your hosting bill? What happened to researching products that your visitors would appreciate and striking deals with mom-and-pop merchants who would gladly pay you for every customer that you send them? This takes work, but it pays off. The days of getting rich quick via serving blindless advertisements over keyword injected text are over.

There are a few things that you can do:

  1. Hire writers that write well, for human audiences (not just search engine spiders).
  2. Find small businesses who sell things that your visitors might like. For me its camera bags, laptop cases, multi tools, laser gizmos and other things.
  3. Reduce your banner count to almost nil. Anything loaded via Javascript is blocked by many popular browsers, why bother?
  4. Make neat ads, image/text based which showcase things from your affiliates. Ask them for free text that you can use to promote their stuff, run your own ads. A simple thumb sized image and a link would do.
  5. Keep your ads down to the same dull roar that you were supposed to respect when using contextual ads. Place them in strategic places where you feel that you might be losing your visitors attention.
  6. Stop wording headlines for search engines. RSS is the king now, make headlines human (not bot) friendly.
  7. See if your new small business friends would be willing to loan or give you a few products to try and review. Take some pictures of the item working, write up a short review.

Maybe someone with more time than I have will start up a network to connect bloggers and small e-publishers to small businesses who want to develop relationships. This would be a really handy service.

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