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  1. #1
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    Am I becoming a conspiracy theorist..?
    Hi all,

    I run a decent-traffic, decent-sales informative site (recommending products, etc).. and 6 wks ago, I decided to launch a new page listing latest store promotions. Not earth-shattering, easy to maintain.. 'cept I got lazy. Didn't cloak my links (using my own php code). Sales dried up for 4 weeks. Barely a one... really noticable... up until then, I was happily trickling along...

    Convinced it was bad traffic or bad time of year for sales, I started making changes... dropped AdWords for MSN (AdWords was ridiculous, I'm on page 1 of natural search results for keywords they said weren't relevant), and tried to figure out the problem.

    10 days ago, it occurred to me that the new "store promotions" page (albeit not my most popular page) was full of exposed links. I cleaned it all up as a precaution.

    Now.. in the last week, I've had 10 sales. Everything back to "normal".

    Could the exposed links have been the problem..? Bad traffic may have been to blame, sure, but the sources of traffic were the same for months prior.

    Does anyone have a view on this..??? I may be turning into a conspiracy theorist, but there was such an obvious dip in sales... and then increase in sales..

  2. #2
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    Can't tell you anything because you haven't really told us anything.

    What merchants, what kind of traffic, how many clicks before and after, conversion rate etc. Needs to be a little more detailed before somebody can even try to give you any type of real answer.

    Exposed links? Maybe. Some have posted that helping, cloaking your links. I've tried and didn't notice anything myself. But if you try it and it helps and you feel that was the issue, continue with what you think is helping. But some more details would still help.

  3. #3
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    Sorry, should be more specific. Conversion rate dropped like a stone. Clicks remained largely unchanged, traffic as well, so it wasn't an obvious traffic issue. Now quality of traffic.. that may have been it (if Adwords was less effective than it used to be)

    The site has a lower than normal conversion rate as it offers free advice. It attracts plenty of readers, but the stream of buyers has been small & steady.

    I think I may just go with the theory that cloaking my links works in this case.. but I'm also curious if others feel it makes a significant difference.

  4. #4
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    There's a couple of things there.

    Quality traffic? Don't know how much of it was coming from the Google content network, that's usually lower quality. With Google I either opt out completely from their content network and severely lower my bids. And with anything, you have to test and find what works for you. With one ad, I was actually getting some good traffic from a content site because the content site was a major authority site and they were giving reviews of products and my ad was there. With others, the traffic was garbage from garbage sites.

    Your site is a free advice type of site. Like you said, not one where you would expect high conversions since people I'm guessing are finding your site looking for "free" and "advice" which advice alone is usually free and not sales type stuff, more informational.

    So if you think it's cloaking, it could be it. If you really want to know for sure, you can rotate that page out and watch the stats and then come back and post them here. I think it would be an interesting little test.

  5. #5
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    it's a common experience. when you hit something that works, it will work for a while, then drop like stone. even with the same amount or quality of traffic.

    there are of course, plenty of usual suspects.

  6. #6
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    It's an experience I think most have had themselves, I have. But I've also had the opposite. My favorite merchants are ones that have converted month in, month out for years. Steady sales, steady conversion rate. And then I've had some where they seem to work out great at the start and then hits a wall with no sales or a decrease. Drop and move with those. Not a blanket kind of deal.

  7. #7
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    of course it can't be a blanket kind of deal.

    parasites, rogue merchants, rogue affiliates, rogue whatever, don't exactly attack everything.

    you may still have a few sales here and there.

  8. #8
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    You forgot thunderstorms and garden knomes.

  9. #9
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    Thanks so much for the feedback! The free advice concept has really helped me build traffic on the site, and I think I'm ok with a lower conversion rate..

    The buyers have been milling about, and natural search results are fantastic, so it's going in the right direction.

    I like the idea of testing the page.. that could make for interesting results. It's def time to reassess merchant performance.. and from what you've said re: Adwords, I suspect the quality had declined as well.. never a dull moment in this business!

    I was also contacted by one of those "points" companies who suggested my readers would be interested in their toolbar. Thought that was a pretty gutsy move...

  10. #10
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    Yeah, don't go there with the toolbar

    With Adwords, again I have no idea what percentage of your traffic was coming from the search network vs. the content network and even if that's the problem. Could be something else entirely, could be "that's just affiliate marketing" I've started some ads where I had both enabled to start and some would be 90%+ search network then another could be 90%+ coming from the content network. And then some of the traffic from the content network was actually good overall for me but most of it not so good.

    But what you're doing is working now it looks like so just roll with it. And then you can always test it out if you want too.

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