Here’s a nice little guest post contributed by SEOcracy. I love guest posts that involve some form of creative money making idea.
I hope you have all been paying attention over the past week, because today I am going to build on last weeks database revelations and tell you all how to use database content to make serious money (and build serious traffic) through Google Custom Search.
Now, I have been making decent bank with Google Custom Search for a while now, and having recently amp’d up my efforts in a big way, I feel confident enough to make the claim that you should all be able to make at LEAST Fifty Dollars a day using the techniques I am about to outline.
Google Custom Search came on the scene back in late 2006 and it really didn’t make the splash that I expected it would in the SEO scene. Google Custom Search, in good Web2.0-Mash-Up style, gave me a brand new way to inter-link and cross promote my diverse network of niche sites, and I thought that was pretty cool. In fact, most people thought that was pretty cool, and that was about all we really heard about the launch of GCS.
But let’s stop and examine three things that make GCS especially cool for us SEO’s and Affiliate Marketers, shall we?
1) GCS engines can be highly targeted, returning extremely relevant results. This means that we can create a GCS that will satisfy the search needs of our site’s users based on their specific interests; and a satisfied user is a loyal user.
2) GCS engines allow us to return results only from the websites we choose. This means that we can set up a GCS to promote only those sites within our network. So if we have a mini-network on home development, our GCS can be set to only return those relevant results from sub-sites within our network. For our mini-network on home development our GCS might return results from sub-sites that provide mortgage offers, information on concrete polishing, or how to select granite countertops. This allows us to cross promote the sites within our network instead of having visitors turn to our competitor for more in-depth information.
3) GCS is made to be monetized. You can display your Adsense ads in your search results and thus can profit from the increased impressions when people use your GCS.
From an SEO point of view, GCS is solid gold because it lets you bypass the usual google.com search completely and in so doing, you bypass your competition! Of course, as I’m sure many of you who have played with Google Custom Search have already realized: your search engine is only as good as the number of users you can funnel into it. Meaning, if you have a GCS that only does 10 searches a day then you are really not going to see any tangible benefit to having it setup on your website.
The hardest part about making a profitable custom search is getting traffic to it. Often people add GCS to their website as an afterthought. Maybe they just feel like it is a cheap & easy way to provide search functionality and increased accessibility to their users. That is all well and good, but we aren’t just trying to make our site more accessible, we are trying to make some extra money, and this implementation of a Google search is rarely profitable because only a small percentage of your websites visitors will ever use it.
As of this post, I am running a HUGE amount of different GCS engines. I have a GCS engine for every single niche I am involved in. Every time I start a new niche, one of the first things I do after going online is to create a GCS for it. I constantly maintain and update my GCS’ settings and configuration, adding and removing websites from each niche network. This is a lot of work, but depending on the subject matter for each niche, the profit returned from the GCS alone can rival the profit I make on the niches individual websites themselves.
But still, we face the same problem. My many GCS engines are useless and won’t make a cent unless I am providing them with a sufficient volume of visitors performing searches. I can’t depend on people to use my search engines just by visiting the website and then typing a query into a box. There are too many distractions on a website, too many places to click and things to see. Because of that, you will find that only a very small percentage of your websites visitors ever actually use your GCS.
Rather, what we need is a way to take every one of our users interested in a given niche and funnel their attention directly towards using nothing else other than our niche’s GCS to find the answers they need. This is where things start to get interesting.
The secret here is thinking outside of the box. Sure lots of websites offer inline search functionality, but how about offering a search-based service outside of a proper website? How about getting people to search for answers in your niche without ever even visiting your website, and without ever even knowing your website exists in the first place?
What I am referring to here are desktop widget platforms like Google Desktop or (my favorite) Windows Vista Sidebar. Even web-top widget platforms like Netvibes, Facebook and more. For the sake of this post, I am going to focus solely on Windows Vista Sidebar.
Out of curiosity, I installed Vista on a partition just to take a peek at it, and one of the first things I started messing around with was the sidebar widgets. They have made it incredibly simple for people to create and publish their own widgets to the Windows Live Gallery website for other people to download and use. Also, Windows Vista Sidebar widgets can be very lucrative since not many people are creating them yet! Now is a great time for you all to get a slice of this action before the whole world eventually ports to the Vista OS.
A Vista sidebar widget is comprised of simple HTML and an XML file that acts in many ways like a PAD file does in as much as it identifies your widget and its provenance. If you know how to copy-and-paste and some basic HTML, then you can easily create a desktop widget.
So here is what I do:
Finding the proper niche is key to doing large search volume. Be SPECIFIC. For example, one of my most high traffic search engines was one that enabled people to interpret their dreams.
Realizing that people love to know what their dreams mean, I did some brief research and compiled a database of dreams and their meanings. Then I created a website around that database and did all the usual SEO stuff on it, got it indexed and laid in some Adsense ads just for good measure.
Next, I went to my Google account and set up a custom search engine. The setup interface allows you to target your search engine to a pre-defined list of websites or to have to search the entire web. For my purpose, I made the custom search engine return results from ONLY my website that I had made around the dreams database I compiled. That way, not only do I stand to profit from the ads displayed in the SERPs but since all the SERP results are for pages on my site, I am funneling traffic into my site which in turn shows more of my ads.
After going through all the setup steps, Google spat out the code for me to copy-and-paste into the HTML for my Sidebar Search Widget.
I am not going to go into detail on how-to create your widgets as it is extremely easy to do and you will be able to figure it out with just a little research on your part.
So I designed my little search widget with nice clean interface and a snappy title and then I published it to the Windows Live Gallery website. Within one week, over 1000 people had downloaded my widget to their desktop sidebar. Getting that kind of desktop real estate on peoples computer screens is something that most internet marketers would KILL for. My search box is on their screen every day and it continually sends their requests to my website.
The important part is repeating this process on many different subjects. The more subjects you cover, the more search volume you will pull. The beautiful thing here is the sky is really the limit. If you want to pull in that $50/day I’ve been talking about, then you better be prepared to create a GCS for every niche you are in. And you better be prepared to present each of your GCS’ in a different widget for each platform. Ie: Create one widget for Netvibes, one for Vista, one for Google Desktop, etc, etc. Once you get the hang of it, you will find that you can create a simple template for each platform and then just plug in the different GCS code into each one. After a while, you’ll be creating new search widgets at an amazing pace.
Now, remember how I said that this post was going to build on the previous posts about Google Hacking? I wasn’t kidding.
Take a sec to peek through the Free Downloads section of the website and think about how you can build websites around the databases provided there. How about creating a database of Bible verses, and then creating a Bible Study search widget that funnels all searches into that website? How about creating a website of food and drink recipes and making it searchable via a desktop widget?
The databases provided give you an excellent leg-up in creating websites with large amounts of information that are perfectly appropriate for Google Custom Search widgets.
Here are some other ideas to get you started:
* Video Game Cheats Search Widget
* Myspace Layouts Search Widget
* Baby Names Search Widget
* Restuarants Search Widget
* Celebrity Gossip Search Widget
* Product Recalls Search Widget
* Lyrics Search Widget
In parting, here some more food for thought for all your Affiliate Marketers:
Instead of just relying on Adwords for profit, how about a desktop search widget that returns Amazon Books with your Affiliate Link? This is where the real money is.
Before you comment below, I want to make a few things clear: I know that “Make XXX dollars a day” posts tend to be incendiary and/or contentious topics for people. The success of this technique, like every money making technique, depends on how much creativity you employ, and how much volume you push. Further, the number “50″ is completely arbitrary; it makes for a nice round number and a good title for a post. Truth is, if you are smart and play it right, there’s no reason you can’t pull in a lot more than $50.00/day (a lot more). Conversely, if you are half assed about it, like with anything, you probably won’t do nearly as well. So if you are about to bitch and whine about not being able to pull $50/day (which is pretty easy to do) then take a step back and ask yourself if you really are doing everything right and pushing enough volume.
Thanks for the great post Rob. He has some great articles and free stuff at his blog SEOcracy.com so be sure to check it out.