Shop Codes top keywords

Shop Codes is eighteen months old and below are the top search phrases that have attracted visitors to the site. This post was prompted as a search for “voucher codes” now returns Shop Codes in the middle of page one in Google. This is a promotion as the site has often been in eleventh place.

Shop Codes does not rely on advertising via Pay-Per-Click to generate traffic. Of the eighteen months, the site has been advertised on either Google or Yahoo for parts of nine of those months. The last PPC activity was two months ago on 5th June 2007.
Number one keyword

  1. Feb-Mar 06 – discount codes
  2. Apr-July 06 – tesco+voucher+codes
  3. Aug-Oct 06 – discount codes
  4. Nov-Dec 06 – merchant brand name X
  5. Jan-Mar 07 – discount codes
  6. Apr 07 – voucher codes
  7. May 07- merchant brand name Z
  8. June-Aug 07- voucher codes

Number one keyword discounting any PPC activity

  1. Feb-Jul 06 tesco+voucher+codes
  2. Aug 06 tesco voucher codes
  3. Sep 06 microdirect voucher
  4. Oct 06 tesco voucher codes
  5. Nov-Dec 06 merchant brand name X
  6. Jan 07 – merchant brand name Y
  7. Feb 07 – voucher codes
  8. Mar-May 07- merchant brand name Z
  9. June-Aug 07- voucher codes
    You’ll see that I’ve mentioned ‘Tesco’ and ‘MicroDirect’ but elsewhere I’ve listed “merchant brand name” “X,Y and Z”. I can’t really tell you what merchants they are, as they still feature very highly in the search results and are profitable to me.
    I generated over 100,000 sales for ‘Merchant brand name X’ alone during the two Christmas months.
    What can I tell from this picture?

    Well, when I first launched the site I set out to rank highly for the term “voucher codes”. That has been achieved. It’s only been in more recent months that I’ve focussed on other related keywords and three word phrases.

    Also, the four months where merchant X, Y and Z are listed were my most profitable. And this is one of the reasons why I suspended PPC activity. Rather than chasing visitors that typed in “voucher codes” into Google, I opted to be more direct and find those visitors who actually had a shop or product in mind too.

    If you find that one of your sites merchant pages is the number one result in Google for a keyword or phrase, I recommend you avoid playing about with that content or page too much.

    My “Merchant Brand Name Y” is highly featured as I put some original copy into my pages. If I remove that phrase now, then the page will no longer feature when it’s next indexed.

    So, like me, keep a close eye on what keywords are being used to find your site. You may find some gems.

    And if your top keyword phrase is “tesco voucher codes”. Well done. You can keep it 🙂

Shop Codes subscriber numbers reaches first milestone

There are now over 100 subscribers to the Shop Codes newsletter, which is double the amount of traffic I received from Google organic search listings one day in June.
July was a record month for Shop Codes in terms of traffic and sales but June was a scare after the highs of May when my site was in the top three results for many profitable keyword searches.

Google only sent 52 unique visitors to my site on 21st June. This was a significant blow as the amount of traffic has an impact on the amount of profit.

I had a determination not to spend my May profits on Google Adwords, which does not represent value for money, so I looked at alternative methods of attracting visitors.

I first launched an RSS feed. I’ve opted for manually editing mine rather than just plugging it into a Word Press updated site. The result is that it includes a tailored paragraph that deliberately includes the discount code in the content. My traffic statistics show that this is published on other websites.

The RSS feed is powered by FeedBurner who have since been bought by Google.

I then chose to launch an email newsletter. This has been something I have been deliberating about for many months. I’d not launched one sooner as I wanted the design and content to be exactly right. However with traffic dipping to a low of 225 unique visitors a day I opted for the easiest solution. This was to have FeedBurner send an email based on my RSS content.

The result is each time I update my RSS that includes a new url, an email newsletter is sent out to subscribers. Potentially then an email could be sent daily but by monitoring what urls are included in the RSS I have a pretty good idea of when a newsletter will be published and what will be included.

Today I have 105 subscribers to my newsletter, which is double the amount of visitors Google sent me one day in June. That’s exactly what I set out to achieve two months ago.

“Please remove your site from Google, page one …”

I was shocked to read this email today from a merchant, asking me to stop Google spidering my site. This blog includes posts of how I try to improve my rankings, so why when I get to the top of page one, after 39 days of using legitimate search engine optimisation, would I want anything else?

The email went as such:

“If you type {merchant X} in Google you get your site with the shop code on the first page and from checking my discount record it would appear that more people are using the code than the commission that I pay you. Can you install a robot txt to ensure that Google does not pick up your page for my site?”

If each merchant were to send me the same request and I did that, then I may as well stick to my nine-to-five.
Shop Codes is currently receiving record levels of traffic yet despite that, this particular merchant’s page is rarely visited.

It has only been viewed a total of 33 times by 25 unique visitors in the last 30 days, peaking with 5 views on 14th July 2007.

In the last 30 days, there have only been 15 visits from people searching with the keyword {merchant X}.

It appears the real issue is that people are using my site as a resource and I am not receiving commission for every person that goes on to purchase. I am fine with that as long as the majority of people still click the affiliate links. Many code sites have gone down the route of hiding the codes or framing the merchants sites. Going down this route just makes the code one further click away. Then, when the user clicks to reveal, the merchants site opens up in a new browser window. This may make me more money by having more cookies installed but I am satisfied with my current revenues, not to have to use this approach.

But to tell Google to ignore my site would be business suicide. Only last month all my pages were stuck in the Supplemental index or on page 37 and that was not a good place to be in.

39 days without Google love

It’s just after midnight on 10th July 2007. I’ve another two hours before I go to bed as there’s something stopping me. It’s the new site visitors hungry for discount codes. I’ve not seen activity like this for 39 days.
I’d consider June a “quiet” month for Shop Codes. During May my traffic was climbing each day and daily sales were surpassing December figures consistently. Then this graph shows the sudden decline I experienced from 31st May 11:30pm.

So June dipped a lot but it was only a huge blow because I was used to better times. However, this happened to be a little wake up call. Now that the audience wasn’t there I knew I could “tinker” with the site and basically have nothing to lose.

Google didn’t stop delivering traffic to my site. It just didn’t link to many “shop” pages, instead it was just happy to send me people to my home page.

So the traffic is back (maybe another 30 days?) and one or more of these beliefs and actions helped it along the way …

FIX 1: Add a search box to the home page.

Before I could please the search engines I had to take care of the visitors. I previously didn’t have a search on my site as I want people to navigate past related items, click links and not go for the easy option. With a search they may not see related offers.

FIX 2: Change page titles.

I’d already gotten into the habit of producing dynamic page titles dependant on the content. If I didn’t have a code say for Argos, I wouldn’t say I had in the titles or other meta data. Each time I add a new offer to the page, the page title reflects the new offer. And if the search engine is saying that my site is offering a June offer but it’s now July’s offer. That’s a bad reflection on their part and not my site. They just need to come and spider a bit more frequently.

FIX 3. Re-write all urls.

I re-wrote all my urls so that they were consistent. I used to serve the same pages at different urls so the keywords within them would be highlighted in the search result pages. This resulted in duplicate content and unintentional spidering and lots of pages going straight into the supplemental index.

FIX 4. Remove distractions.

I had a WordPress version of my site which was only a few months old. It was effectively a duplicate copy but without the heavy images and a better url structure. When my Shop Codes traffic dipped, it wasn’t a surprise to see that one of my major competitor sites, happened to be myself. So rather go with that one, I killed it, albeit not totally intentionally.

FIX 5. Grab that tail
Once my site was taking its shape it was time to look at the content on the pages. I’ve decided to target three keyword phrases for each merchant I promote. As an example for Petmeds, I am explicitly looking to tap the market of users searching for “Petmeds Coupon Code”.

FIX 6. Use the meta tools to be descriptive
My targeted keywords were moved to the front of the page titles and repeated in the description. I’m a firm believer that sites that stuff their descriptions with repeated keywords will soon fall from grace. Look again at the Petmeds example above. The page title and description say exactly what is on the page. OK, I may not receive visitors searching for “Petmeds voucher code” but don’t bet against it. Simplicity wins. On that note, one of my next tasks is to make sure all pages include no more than five keywords.

FIX 7. Diversify.

I’ve now got an RSS feed and a newsletter that goes out every other day with 50 subscribers. That’s approximately one new sign-up per day. In both cases the content is being pushed to different audiences. My codes are syndicated on other sites and with email, subscribers can browse at their leisure.

FIX 8. Add more distractions.

Knowing that my WordPress blog was doing well for itself on another domain, I brought it ‘inside’. Some of these new pages were quickly indexed and started ranking higher than the ‘originals’ which were in the Supplemental.

FIX 9. Truly believe content is king.

With unique content or a unique spin on the same content, a site will stand out. So I continued to press for new exclusive codes and continued to update the regular offers long into the night, despite knowing not so many people would get to see the information. Once the content is not updated then the search engines have a right not to visit.

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