Over-the-Counter Advice for a Healthier Home Page

A double dose of design is not nearly as potent as performance for a site that needs a checkup.

What does design mean to you? Since the goal of this column is to teach website owners, Internet marketers and developers how to design home pages and landing pages that meet business objectives, it’s important that we are on the same page, the same line – the same word – as we explore our latest makeover. So let me just begin this month’s column by defining the term design.

I actually have an issue with the word design. The problem is that most people automatically associate design with art. Too many website owners mistakenly assume that the definition of a well-designed website is one that looks good. Let me set the record straight: A well-designed website is one that performs. Making the site look good is often part of the process of developing a site that performs – but aesthetics are only a piece of the puzzle.

I use the phrase conversion design to describe what I do. I’ve defined conversion design as the deliberate arrangement of elements such as salesmanship, copywriting and visuals to produce an intended outcome. The idea is to encourage users to take a desired action, and the end result is always the same – increased conversions.

That leads me to a second reason for defining design. You may notice that this issue’s makeover isn’t as visually dramatic as previous columns. That’s because we wanted to focus on how simple changes (as opposed to complete visual makeovers) can go a long way toward making your home page more effective. The step-by-step changes we review in this edition of By Design are improvements that any website owner can implement. Now on to the show.

For this issue, we chose to redesign StudentDoc.com, a resource website for medical students that generates the majority of its income from CPA and CPC placements. Naoum Issa started StudentDoc.com shortly after graduating medical school because he recognized a lack of online venues dedicated to helping medical students find the information and resources they need. Naoum has developed a website full of useful resources and is generating a fair amount of traffic and income. Now what? Eventually, every successful website owner wants to take their site to the next level.

Heal Thy Site

StudentDoc.com currently provides salary information, medical test preparation and advice, a medical industry job search and a host of other features that harried med students would find essential. While most of the traffic goes directly to the lower-level pages through organic search, Naoum wants StudentDoc.com to be imprinted in the minds of young medical students. Unfortunately, his current home page just isn’t having that effect. Instead, it functions more like a site map for search engine spiders.

The challenge is to redesign the home page so that it accommodates both the visitor and the search engines. As with any website, the home page should inspire confidence and make the site’s purpose immediately clear. In this case it should also encourage return visitors so that med students who may not have an immediate need for the content offerings will be inspired to return later, like when they need to prepare for their MCAT exam or when they’re ready to look for a job to pay off those student loans.

When we showed the site to our team members, the initial reaction was, “What do they do?” When a group of people looks at your website and has to ask that question, you’re in trouble. At first glance, our group thought the site offered some sort of document services for students. Since the site has no tagline and lacks the imagery to convey that it serves the medical industry, our group assumed that doc was short for documents, not doctors; hence the name StudentDoc.

Next, the site didn’t offer much in terms of encouraging users to come back for a second or third visit. There’s no way to bookmark it, register for updates, send it to a friend or any other tool that might encourage that type of action. Adding these elements will help increase the repeat traffic the site receives.

So let’s get to our step-by-step review of the changes we made:

First, we added a nice photo of medical students. Imagery can quickly set the tone for a website. Since our brains can process images faster than text, the photo makes it clear that the site is targeting medical industry students and recent grads.

Next, we updated the logo by changing the mark. We chose an image that people will readily identify as medically oriented and added a simple, yet clear tagline under the logo: “The Medical Student’s Resource Guide.” These steps solidify the messaging and prevent any confusion about the site’s purpose.

Naoum informed us that his banners weren’t particularly strong income generators. To remedy that issue we pulled them and added text links in the top banner area and forum excerpts in place of the skyscraper (728×90) ad. These text links are a quick way for users to find popular content within the site. The potential downside to this is that it seems to make the site slightly more cluttered. In this case, however, it works because the site is highly targeted so users aren’t as quick to leave. That is a good example of how conversion design chooses performance over looks.

We kept the same general color scheme, but removed the unnecessary traces of red and made the blues a little darker. The lighter, brighter blues gave the site a fun and playful emotion, whereas the new colors give the site a stronger feeling and add to the site’s credibility.

Finally, we added a row at the top of the page to house the “get people to come back” links like Bookmark Us, Register for Updates, etc. We also added a more prominent search function. These changes will encourage one-time visitors to become regular visitors and ultimately increase site traffic and sales.

While we did make some minor graphical updates, all of our changes are simple enough for any website owner to implement. These basic elements are important to keep in mind when designing a site because they will build the foundation for further tweaks and improvements. Remember, design doesn’t have to put fashion over form. Conversion design is about bottom- line results.

Would you like to get a free home page or landing page design for your website and see it featured in this column? To be considered, send your name, company, contact information (phone, email, etc.), a brief description of your business and its goals, and, of course, your URL to bydesign@sostreassoc.com. Please put “Revenue’s By Design Makeover” in the subject header.


PEDRO SOSTRE is principal and creative director at Sostre & Associates, an Internet consulting, design and development firm, which also promotes affiliate programs on its network of websites. Pedro is currently working on a book about his new concept of conversion design. For more information, visit SellNowBook.com.

Going Out Is In

Companies are outsourcing affiliate managers to fuel online marketing programs.

Former London-based freelance writer Rob Palmer knew he was on to something when he launched the affiliate program for his FreelanceWorkExchange.com subscription site. For several years he ran the program in-house; revenues were decent, affiliate applications were steady, but “there simply weren’t enough hours in the week for me to manage the program and deal with all the other management issues which required attention,” says Palmer from his new home in Australia. Plus, “the freelance market is massive and growing fast, but most affiliates hadn’t realized this can be a very lucrative source of commissions. I felt there was huge potential in the affiliate sector that we were not making the most of.”

His solution? Like the employers that use his site to outsource writing, programming, design and other freelance functions, he set out to find an external source of his own: an outsourced affiliate manager. Palmer found it with affiliate-turned-OAM Greg Rice.

Outsourcing isn’t new. Companies have done this for years, primarily to – according to a Dun & Bradstreet study – maintain competitive edge, focus on core business and improve service quality.

“But it’s new in comparison to the overall market that we’re in,” says Andy Rodriguez, an OAM and affiliate management consultant who will host a third OAM training conference in Chicago this August. “There just aren’t that many [OAMs] around. In the past, a lot of merchants hired a manager and said, ‘Here’s the affiliate program.’ Then they discovered what they really needed was someone that can lead a virtual salesforce, managing a large group of people by phone, by email and by instant messaging, who has a background in technology and knows how the Web works. That’s why so many merchants are now correcting their mistake of just hiring anyone in-house, and going out and hiring the best [OAM].”

Industry watchers informally estimate there to be a few hundred OAMs – either on their own or as part of an OAM agency – worldwide. And that number seems to be on the rise.

“The demand for OAM is large,” says Linda Woods, former Commission Junction affiliate manager and founder of the six year- old OAM agency PartnerCentric in Santa Barbara, Calif. “Our biggest challenge over the past year has been to find top-quality, experienced AMs.”

Others agree.

“Outsourced affiliate program management is a very new and, hence, an extremely exciting sphere to be working in these days,” Evgenii “Geno” Prussakov, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based OAM who manages programs for such U.S. clients as RussianLegacy.com and FantasyJewelryBox.com, says. “Many online businesses are in need of good affiliate program management, yet the number of experienced [OAMs] around the world is very limited. The competition between [OAM] firms is certainly growing, but the market is still very new and fresh.”

PartnerCentric’s OAMs hail from affiliate teams at Orbitz.com, Gap.com, 1800flowers.com and other “upper echelon” merchants; each having at least one year of full-time AM experience.

Even the term “outsourced affiliate manager” is somewhat nebulous. Few OAMs operate on their own; many have staffs of three or more assisting with new clients. “To find one person with a blend of all the skill sets needed is pretty rare: recruiting, selling ability, keywords, optimization,” says Peter Figueredo, CEO and co-founder of NETexponent, a NYC agency running affiliate programs for NYTimes.com, FinancialTimes.com, PuritansPride.com and others. (He has 13 on staff, and is hiring more “online media managers” to fit the OAM bill.) “We approach it as a team, bringing different people with different skill sets together to work with our client accounts.”

That’s the case with OAM agency PartnerCentric.

“Very few [merchants] have the internal expertise to run an affiliate program to the level that it needs to be run today,” says Woods. “It’s incredibly complex now because of all the new issues involved: fraud, spyware, conversion rates, EPC, competition. Two years ago, there were one or two furniture companies with affiliate programs. Now there are 40. Affiliates used to have a few hundred merchants to choose from in a network; now it’s a few thousand. The tracking has become more complex. And there’s even competition for clients from OAMs, especially if a merchant feels one AM can give them more exposure. That’s the kind of complexity we face every day, so managers have to really know what’s going on.”

In April, PartnerCentric acquired AMWSO, a Thailand-based OAM agency led by Bangkok-based Chris Sanderson. “By being able to work with a U.S.-based OAM agency, we can benefit our team here,” says Sanderson, pointing to programs his team already runs for Shopster.com, WesternUnion.com and 18 other international merchants. “That’s the personal touch we wanted.”

PartnerCentric manages affiliate programs for about 50 merchants, including TheCompanyStore.com catalog company, NationalGeographic.com, DigitalRiver.com (a half-billion-dollar e-commerce software company) and recently ClubMom.com. It’s had 300-percent-per-year revenue growth for the past three years, and Woods expects to double its revenue in 2006. PartnerCentric now has 20 on its team, plus eight other staffers; a move Woods says is “definitely moving towards the big boys.”

Some affiliates, however, are often going it alone until they’ve built up enough business to start adding staff.

For instance, the new outsourced program manager for FreelanceWorkExchange.com, Greg Rice, was once a superaffiliate for TigerDirect.com. He’d been an affiliate for seven years running a shopping mall site, and made the switch after going through Rodriguez’s mid-2005 OPM training. Currently, Rice owns CommerceMC.com and manages four programs, including ITHeadhunter.net.

“Working as an affiliate, you have contact with a lot of affiliate managers,” Rice says. “You get to see firsthand what works and what doesn’t work – and you get to see firsthand the opportunities that exist because most AMs don’t have a clue other than putting links up there and walking away from it.”

Another affiliate who’s going the OAM route is Kevin Webster, owner of outsourced B2B affiliate marketing agency OPMWeb.com, near Rochester, NY. For five years he ran a site called CorporateLeverage.com, stocked with his own articles on business-to-business sales and affiliate links to relevant products. In late 2005, he left his day job selling Cingular and Verizon cell phone plans to businesses, sold his affiliate content “for a scant $1,500” and launched OPMWeb.com.

“The rumor is that this industry is underpopulated,” Webster says. “It’s my intent to grow this organization slowly and smartly, ensuring that each new client receives all the focus their program deserves. That’s critically important at the launch of an affiliate program, and never really changes.”

Webster’s first client is SimpleGuardian.com, a notification security and medical alarm company targeting real estate agencies and arenas; two other contracts are in the works, he says.

“Simple Guardian had a very traditional brick-and-mortar sales model before this point,” Webster says. The company is very new to e-commerce, so this is a real test of a lot of things. Our main focus is B2B, which in my opinion has only been done with limited success up until this point. Plus, the merchant uses a content management system where I’m able to log in on the back end to tweak things for those landing pages. They’ve given me access to basically their entire organization – I can pick up the phone or send an email to just about anyone, from their database guy to their graphics department to their sales team. Not all merchants are going to be like that.”

While some OAMs fulfill otherwise-disregarded fundamentals, others are using technology as their edge. From a home office with a DSL connection, AvantLink co-founder Gary Marcoccia works with three other home-based OAMs in the Salt Lake City area to distribute data feeds from 16 merchants to several hundred affiliates. They do it all thanks to an integrated “deep-linking tool center” supported by Web service technology, RSS publication of affiliate ads and content and a simplified management interface. New merchants include ToolKing.com, Altrec.com and CampSaver.com; tools are free for affiliates to use, and merchants pay a flat $1,200 for its “start-up package.”

“Merchants really warm up to the start-up package,” Marcoccia says. “Once they realize that they really do need someone to manage the affiliate channel, it can be somewhat terrifying. Unless someone has deep pockets to justify hiring us as an [OAM] at $3,000 per month, it’s daunting. A start-up package should get them off the ground.”

The package includes program detail pages that are searchengine- optimized to be crawled and indexed; “buzz” on AvantLink’s AbestWeb.com’s forum; program announcements to AvantLink’s affiliate opt-in list; a few hand-picked “quality affiliates” to start; and, soon, a press release on the merchant’s new program sent through one of the PR news wires.

“We have tools that are pretty advanced,” Marcoccia says. “We’ve identified effective conversion methods, and kind of promise them five quality affiliates that will get going with the program, use the tools effectively and get the program running. That’s a pretty powerful service to offer a company that’s in limbo. We solve that catch-22; these merchants are interested in starting an affiliate program, they have a good niche but they don’t have to pay an in-house AM $10,000 per month to get the program off the ground.”

Technology is also the foundation for San Rafael, Calif.- based WatchDog Affiliate Managers, which runs programs for such merchants as InteriorExpress.com, Yoox.com and MadisonAvenueMall.com.

“Lately, we’ve been writing contracts starting at around $2,100 for the smaller guys that we think have a product that will grow and where the affiliates will be attracted to because the commission is good,” co-founder Christina Lund says. “For that low of a rate though, we would ask for a little bit more in commission; maybe 1 or 2 percent more than the 2 to 5 percent we usually charge.”

This bare-bones package includes all of its full-service offerings: recruitment of program-specific affiliates; newsletter writing and distribution; use of a WatchDog-branded administrative software system that allows advertisers to make changes to creatives that are automatically fed to all of their affiliates in real time; XML-based coupon feed so affiliates automatically get up-to-date offers; plus its “Merchant Express” multilingual data feed software, which uploads up to 2,000 product descriptions and photos and feeds the results in real time to affiliate-tuned storefronts with only the types of products that affiliate wants.

“It’s a whole store in one line of Java script,” says Cory Lund, WatchDog’s vice president of product development. “The whole part of this game is to really nurture these affiliates, and make their job a lot easier. With technology, we can offer everything in the big package, but the hours are shaved a bit ” it may be 20 hours per week for an OAM to manage instead of full time.”

WatchDog has nine freelance OAMs in its fold – spread out in San Francisco; Ventura, Calif.; Minnesota; and Kansas City, Missouri.

With technology being a selling point in the OAM world, it makes sense that some of the networks are jumping on the OAM wagon. Six-year-old affiliate network ShareASale, which is historically a place where merchants run “self-serve” programs, recently started managing the programs for clients. On its OAM to-do list: day-to-day administrative management, including affiliate approval and review; coupon and promotion distribution; newsletter creation and distribution; regular traffic and sales reporting; assistance with product data feeds and basic banner creation and management; and providing unique content, keyword lists and custom merchandised storefronts for the merchant’s top affiliates.

“Management of programs is only a small part of what we offer; ours does require membership in the ShareASale network, and is really more of an ‘add-on’ to our basic service, as opposed to a true outsourced solution,” says Brian Littleton, president and CEO of ShareASale.com. “But for small-to-medium- sized business, where ShareASale concentrates their efforts, [our OAM] services can be extremely helpful in allowing merchants to focus on their best practices, while allowing the [OAM] to assign best practices to the affiliate channel based on their expertise.” Though Littleton won’t divulge the total number of accessible affiliates in ShareASale’s network, Littleton says they’ll “often research categories for merchants who inquire about joining the network in order to give them rough ideas as to what to expect.”

Meanwhile, at LinkShare, “we really go out to market with our account management and client services,” says Liane Dietrich, vice president of merchant services for LinkShare. “Most of our merchants are working with in-house AMs or outsource their program management to LinkShare.”

Still, for Chris Henger at affiliate network Performics, outsourcing is a loaded word. “We prefer to look at it as an extension of the merchant’s marketing team. ” Yes, clients rely on their Performics’ program manager to administer the program, negotiate with affiliates, field inquiries and optimize the program,” Henger says, “but we don’t view our approach as outsourcing. The advertiser maintains control and still has to make critical decisions, particularly in regards to promotions and customer quality.”

The addition of network outsourcing of affiliate program management is an interesting hurdle for OAMs.

“A lot of people go directly to the networks because they don’t realize there’s a whole region of independent managers out there that can manage their program independently as well, if not better,” says OAM Shawn Collins, who runs affiliate programs for PaylessShoeSource.com and Snapfish.com. “Yet I get a lot of calls from headhunters wanting affiliate managers to run a program inhouse, and they’re just not around. The in-house talent pool has been moving to the agency side – because they can manage multiple programs which can potentially be more lucrative.”

Which brings up the subject of money. OAM firms usually work on monthly retainers of anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 for only a few products, and up to $35,000 for rollouts of a big-merchant range of affiliate-sold products. Remember, however, that the retainer could be funding the cost of several managers and, in the case of NetExponent, even OAM health benefits.

While the numbers may seem large, merchants are recouping that several times over from affiliate sales. The highest-paid OAMs also often come with the most to offer: “All that money that was spent in the dot-com blowup went toward educating a lot of staff people,” says former BarnesAndNoble.com AM Stephanie Agresta, who’s now an OAM at Commerce360, a Pennsylvania-based agency that guides merchants through the LinkShare platform. “You can’t replicate that just anywhere, for any price. If you live in Kansas, you may be able to find someone who can work for $30,000 per year – but in areas with lower labor cost, there’s more of a chance you won’t be able to find the expertise. At a minimum, we’re talking salaries of $60,000 to $100,000. For that same amount of money you can buy an OAM solution that comes with expertise and relationships.”

For now, costs continue to climb, as the existing OAMs in greatest demand gain more experience and more relationships with super-affiliates that they’ll bring in tow, observers say. In time, costs are likely to level out as more OAMs enter the market.

No need to fear, says Prussakov. “Competition only benefits the industry. It constantly makes OPMs think of new ‘outside the box’ ideas to enhance affiliate performance and draw more quality affiliates to their programs.”

The advent of aggressive outsourced program managers brings certain advantages to affiliates, namely the ability to work directly with managers who’ve once been affiliates themselves.

“It’s absolutely imperative to have affiliate experience,” Rodriguez says. “You cannot help someone build a house unless you’ve built a house before. You can’t help someone ride a bike unless you’ve ridden a bike before. At the same time, in no case should an affiliate manager compete in the same business as their affiliates. They have access to very sensitive information, and this is a trust industry.”

Given recent flap over affiliate managers at the big networks leveraging affiliate strategies to start competing affiliate sites, this is a fair warning. If you’re concerned, simply ask your OAM to add a noncompete clause to your contract. Many already include it. Some avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest by working with only one client in each type of industry. Others count their expertise with multiple, similar programs as their strength. The choice is yours. Meanwhile, the lure of the money that can be made from the OAM price tag is already leading to some problems, as a few OAMs overload their plates and end up shortchanging everyone.

“You need two people full time, or four people half time to fully service one affiliate program,” Figueredo says. “The quality of work required to have a really robust and aggressive program comes out to that amount of work, at least.”

For FreelanceWorkExchange.com, adding one more was the perfect number. “Greg [Rice] has done a great job of taking on all the important tasks that had been neglected in the past, from liaising closely with affiliates and managing bonus schemes, to writing our affiliate newsletter and recruiting new affiliates,” says FreelanceWorkExchange.com’s Palmer. “The hardest part of the process was making the decision to let an outside party handle such an integral part of our business. But once that decision had been made, the only issue was choosing the right consultancy for the job. I didn’t want to find myself paying high fees to a company that just delegated our account to a junior with little experience. We were looking for someone who could deliver high-level expertise at a reasonable cost, and that’s what we found with CommerceMC. In every other respect, it has been pluses all the way – we now have a more professional and more efficient program that is attracting new affiliates daily.”

JENNIFER D. MEACHAM is a freelance writer who has worked for The Seattle Times, The Columbian, Vancouver Business Journal and Emerging Business magazine. She lives in Portland, Ore.

Summer Reading Extravaganza

Forget about what Oprah’s recommending. Put away the latest from Philip Roth and that potboiler from James Patterson. It’s summertime and what’s really sizzling is online marketing. So, now’s the time to catch up on your reading about a variety of hot topics including affiliate marketing, performance marketing, online advertising, search optimization and more. And there’s no shortage of choices. Heck, there are currently more than 200 books for sale on Amazon with the word Google in the title. Here are some books that sound like great reading for the beach, the vacation home or the patio. Don’t forget the sunblock.

Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies


Susannah Gardner (For Dummies) | 360 pages | $24.99


Another entry in the popular and wildly useful “for dummies” series, this one’s specifically on how to get blogs to do the buzz marketing for you. As we all know by now blogs have become an essential part of selling on the Web and this volume helps you get your head around the blog space – such as what a blog is going to do for your product, how it can change the way people think of your product and how the exchange of ideas that is essential to blogging can help you sell.

Newbies also get a pretty good tutorial on blogs – how to set them up, maintain them and what you should say on them. The book also covers, to a lesser degree, the legal issues, design for a better- looking blog and how to get your blog noticed.

Farce to Force:
Building Pro E-Commerce Strategies


Sarah McCue (South-Western Educational Pub) | 240 pages | $27.95


Need an e-commerce strategy? McCue walks you through the best ways to formulate a strategy and even gives you some useful templates to overlay your business model on. She outlines marketing techniques that work well and how to build programs from the ground up. Although the title is a little jokey, the author is well-versed in online marketing.

Go BIG or Go HOME


Wil Schroter (Go BIG Media) | 276 pages | $24.95


Serial entrepreneur Schroter takes a look behind the veil at companies such as Google, Skype and PayPal. He examines what these companies are doing right and what they haven’t done. Having launched nine start-ups makes him a kind of perfect spokesperson for entrepreneurship. He is currently CEO of SwapAlease.com, an auto-leasing marketplace. The companies he started include Blue Diesel, an interactive marketing agency; Kelltech Internet Services, a technology consultancy; and Atomica, a nonprofit arts organization.

Google Advertising Tools:
Cashing in with AdSense, AdWords, and the Google APIs


Harold Davis (O’Reilly Media, Inc.) | 366 Pages | $29.99


Like “Winning Results with Google AdWords” this O’Reilly book takes a stab at making sense (and dollars) from Google’s AdWords. Davis talks about the different associate programs in addition to Google, which provides great context. Topics include how to read AdSense metrics, managing AdWords campaigns, as well as hints on optimization.

Google’s PageRank and Beyond:
The Science of Search Engine Rankings


Amy N. Langville, Carl D. Meyer (Princeton University Press) | 234 pages | $35


This provides a different take on the search dilemma by answering the questions about what goes on behind the Google curtain. This book won’t tell you how to optimize or raise your rankings but will tell you the technical aspects of search. This can be valuable to the geek in us all. The author covers: How do those other Web pages that don’t have your name in them always appear at the top? What creates these powerful rankings?

The reason this book is even on this list is that the early chapters are very accessible and it is only in the later chapters that the hard, mathematical, geeky stuff is discussed. Even so, the authors say there is something for the hardcore audience and the casual one.

Internet Marketing and e-Commerce


Ward Hanson (South-Western College Pub) | 496 pages | $113.95


Even though this is written by an academic, expect ?reworks. “Rigor instead of hype” is how the book wants to be known, illustrating practices that leading companies use, showing how research results can be used to support conclusions and, of course, pointing out the unique qualities of online marketing.

No one is shortchanged here. Hanson looks at Internet marketing from the point of view of large and small business and online startups. It’s a great study in the balance of power that is even now continuing to shift in retail markets as the Web gets more powerful.

The Irresistible Offer:
How to Sell Your Product or Service in 3 Seconds or Less


Mark Joyner (Wiley) | 240 pages | $21.95


Using examples of companies such as FedEx, Columbia House Records and Domino’s Pizza, Joyner explains how to create an “irresistible offer.” As the former CEO of Aesop Marketing Corp., he has seen what kind of marketing works from the trenches. He uses real case studies to make it easy to apply it to your own business. The book is a kind of how-to that shows you how to manipulate your offer so that customers find it more attractive.

Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars: The Top 50 Ways to Grow Your Small Business


Kim T. Gordon (Kaplan Business) | 240 pages | $18.95


While not specifically about Internet marketing, any small-business owner can learn from someone on staff at Entrepreneur magazine. Among Gordon’s advice is how to stay on budget but still use expensive-looking marketing; how to tell which niches are right for you; and how to use technology (email lists, websites, etc.) and traditional marketing venues (trade papers, radio, TV, etc.).

Online Marketing that Works!


Catherine Seda (McGraw-Hill) | 256 pages | $21.95


This book hits the shelves on August 1, 2006 and exuberantly wants to introduce you to “cutting- edge Internet technologies” that mean low-cost, high-performance marketing opportunities for ventures of any size. Seda points out the effective online marketing strategies and shows how to get results for little or no cost. Seda has her own marketing consulting firm and is also the author of Search Engine Advertising

Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing Handbook: Low Cost Strategies to Attracting New Customers
Using Google, Yahoo & Other Search Engines


Boris Mordkovich, Eugene Mordkovich (Lulu Press) | 196 pages | $22.95


The mouthful of a title pretty much says it all. This book attempts to crack open the genie’s bottle on getting new customers through search, and illustrates just how it can be done at a cost of only pennies to you. Along the way the book outlines basic concepts, like how pay-per-click works and why it is effective. It also has some advice on how to design a campaign, how to determine what works and how to maximize your return on investment. It also tells you about must-do’s such as get- ting listed on thousands of websites without paying a penny, targeting a specific local area through search engines and how to prevent click fraud.

The book also offers reviews of over 20 search engines, and includes tips on how to get the most out of each one. Experts in the industry also weigh in with their advice on how you can improve your search engine advertising efforts.

Put Your Business Online: How to create and promote a successful, low-cost Website


Al Kernek (Lulu Press) | 172 pages | $19.95


This book is truly for the newbie who wants to get all the nuts and bolts in one place. What you get is everything you need to know in a step-by-step structure designed to leave you at the end of the day with “a low-cost website and some affordable traffic generators that target your specific audience.” This book is written in very straightforward language and is not overloaded with “tech talk.” The “real world” tips and information can also help those who already have a Web presence.

High Performance Affiliate Marketing


by Jeremy Palmer | $49.95


This e-book is unique because the author – a 2005 Commission Junction Horizon Award Winner – updates it constantly. He covers how to find profitable products and services to promote; strategies for keywords; rankings secrets; and how to spend less money for the most traffic. In addition to the e-book, you get access to an exclusive members’ area with original content. He says all over the website that he made more than $1 million in commissions last year, so he must be doing something right.

search analytics: A Guide to Analyzing and Optimizing Website Search Engines


Hurol Inan (BookSurge Publishing) | 56 pages | $19.99


For those of you who plan a very short beach vacation, this lean and mean e-book can probably be read in just a couple of hours. It “explains how and why people search, provides detailed guidelines on analyzing the behavior of search users, and offers valuable search-related marketing insights.” The author interviewed many industry experts and website managers and presents detailed metrics and the required tools to get you started.

Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Web Site


Mike Moran, Bill Hunt (IBM Press) | 592 pages | $49.99


This heavy tome has just about everything to do with search marketing in it. There are chapters on how search engines work, developing your search marketing program, measuring your website’s success, defining your search market strategy, how to get your site indexed, choosing keywords, how to attract links to your site and other must-have/must-know stuff. In addition, the book tells you about what people are looking for when they search, how best to sell to the kinds of visitors you’ll get and what to avoid in the way of questionable methods to get better rankings.

Search Marketing Strategies:
A Marketer’s Guide to Objective-Driven Success from Search Engines


James Colborn (Butterworth-Heinemann) | 208 pages | $37.95


Concentrating on the strategic and not the procedural approach, this book goes through all the search standbys: paid search, site side optimization and analytics. Then it talks about branding, sales and customer acquisition. The focus is on marketing strategy and not just on optimization.

Winning Results with Google AdWords


Andrew Goodman (McGraw-Hill Osborne Media) | 376 pages | $24.99


This is a title that should really get most readers’ hearts pounding. Goodman outlines some great strategies for “writing successful ads, selecting and grouping specific keywords, increasing conversion rates and maximizing online sales.” He goes over advice such as “ways to expand ad distribution, why testing ad effectiveness is crucial and how to effectively track results.” Goodman is founder of Page Zero Media, provider of search engine marketing services and strategic advice to companies seeking an online presence. He also co-founded Traffick.com.