DiveIntoThePool.com Blog

The team over at Nmap have been working on improving their Nmap Scripting Engine and decided to map out the internet’s top websites based off overall reach by sizing the websites favicon graphics based off their traffic data provided by Alexa. The full map they made was pretty cool looking http://nmap.org/favicon/ and they are even considering making poster sized prints if the get enough requests. The coolest part for me was that Dive Into The Pool made the cut! Check out DiveIntoThePool.com on Nmap’s Icons of the Web page!

DiveIntoThePool.com doesn’t rank as well as I would like in the SERPs for keyword phrases like “free online dating” so I’m always thinking of what I can do to try and make my site appealing not only to my users but also to the robot crawlers from Google, Yahoo and Bing. I thought about the organization of information on my homepage. I love the main smiling image and basic search form on our website but how did search engines see it? I used the Web Developer plugin for Firefox to disable CSS and start browsing my site. I’m only sad I didn’t check this out sooner.

Homepage with no SEO

Sub-page with no SEO

Horrible! How are search engines going to know what the content of my site is about, it doesn’t even register I have a dating site till half way down the page on the homepage! The sub-page doesn’t fair much better, search engines don’t use OCR tech when crawling to my knowledge, that page doesn’t ever say the title in text form!

So I used some CSS wizardry, a little positioning and I managed to reverse the order of the sign in and search content and the text content that describes my service on the page. For IE6 and IE7 there was a little JavaScript involved but the end result is excellent and much more friendly to the robots.

Homepage with new SEO

The sub-page was an easy fix though, set the image as a background-image for the header and text-indent the H1 text inside for the desired result.

Sub-page with new SEO

When I started DiveIntoThePool.com as a free online dating service I required that every one of it’s users have a real personal photo. The feature that I’ve received the most requests for by far is allowing the creation of profiles without personal photos. Many folks are shy to giving out a personal photo before making a text only introduction. While I personally feel that a photo is a legitimate requirement to increase your changes of meeting that special someone online, I’ve decided to allow the creation of profiles without a personal photo. This gives those more shy online daters an opportunity to browse and contact other DiveIntoThePool members and they will hopefully be persuaded to include a personal photo soon after signing up when they realize there is nothing to fear.

In place of a personal photo when none is given I have provided two silhouettes that will be shown by gender.

Male Thumbnail Female Thumbnail
I will still, as always, aggressively remove any profile pictures that are inappropriate for a safe and friendly dating environment.

I was inspired by a thread The Business of Software – Making a million bucks/year in revenue from a Hacker News submission to figure out just what it would take to make a million bucks a year from my free online dating site. The original thread lists out what revenue per hour or month you would need at what prices to make a million dollars a year. I’m not accounting for taxes or overhead here I am just interested in the gross income.

The numbers are not exact as nothing actually divides up nice and evenly into dollars and cents. To make a million dollars a year you need to make $2739.73 per day. I’m going to calculate out for AdSense revenue only here from my current numbers. No traffic details, CTR or CPC will be posted.

So from April 2010 lets say that my gross revenue per AdSense impression, this is per banner slot not per page view, was $0.0027457700650759. At this stage all those fractions of a cent mean a lot to me so bare with the over-sized number. This means that for my free advertising based site to make a million dollars in a year I would need to get no less than 997,801 AdSense impressions per day. Not to mention I would have to also miraculously keep my revenue per impression no less than $0.0027457700650759 for an entire year.

I happen to only have one banner per page, lets say I keep with that for this theoretical success year that means I’ll need 977,801 page views per day. So to make a million bucks a year from free:

  • 40,742 ad impressions per hour
  • 977,801 ad impressions per day
  • 356,897,365 ad impressions per year

Wow, growth never scales like you want and the graphs never grow forever so it would actually take much more than that per year to make a million bucks.

Now I don’t get much organic traffic much (yet!) so to see those kinds of page views per day it would cost about $14,834.49 per day on AdWords to drive that traffic or around $5,414,590.51 per year. This does not take into account the vast increase of return users per day if I had $14k a day lying around to drop on ads. I’d have to spend a lot more time making ads if that were the case. So those numbers were just for fun I guess.

Anyway, when your product is free you have to get an enormous amount of traffic, more than I’ve seen yet but it’s only a matter of time and focus!

I’ve just passed the one year mark with DiveIntoThePool.com, I couldn’t be more thrilled and the first thing I did after a little dance was share my one year post with a couple of social bookmarking sites, you can see the posts I put on Hacker News and Reddit. Hacker News stayed at the initial 1 vote and Reddit actually went down to 0! I also posted it up to my Twitter account but I tracked those click-throughs via bit.ly and only had 7 visitors from there.

Hacker News and Reddit, despite getting no up votes and actually a down vote on Reddit sent over 100 visitors to my blog. This blog doesn’t see 100 visitors a month. So while I was initially disappointed by the response I was in for a plesant surprise when I got home today.

If your submissions don’t get any upvotes, don’t worry, you’ll still get folks clicking and reading!

Wow, how time has flown. DiveIntoThePool.com’s free online dating service has now been going strong for a full year! The sites seen several new features for the users such as the new Share Profile button, new Thumbnail view in the search results and the Larger image sizes thanks to using Amazon S3 for images. The code base has been updated to use Visual Studio 2010, Amazon S3 and also has seen a couple of small bug fixes and the site has also made it into the Yahoo! Directory.

I’ve put a lot of time into my advertising campaigns recently but I’m moving on to adding new site features for this coming year. It feels really good to have kept going for a full year and I’m only excited to see what this next year will bring for the site. With so many stories about startups throwing in the towel after only 3 or 6 months I really feel like I’ve already done something amazing with this free online dating service. I’m even more dedicated now to making it an even better site to meet a partner in the coming year. Our second anniversary is just around the corner so I’d better get to work.

The advertising space changes very often with differences coming from reasons of season, economy or a host of other possibilities I haven’t begun to consider. I wasn’t maxing out my daily AdWords budget for DiveIntoThePool.com and I started looking through the campaign options looking for different settings that might get me more clicks to add up to my budget on the CPC I was willing to pay. Increasing my CPC was the first option I found which wasn’t a good idea at all. I’d end up paying more money per new user and not actually get any more users per day from my ad budget. These are some changes that I’ve made over these past few weeks that have shown great success in lowering my cost-per-conversion rate and using more of my ad budget per day without spending more per click.

Anyway, you’ve got a modest daily budget and what you feel is a good CPC that you’d like to pay but you aren’t spending all of your daily budget. I’ve got a few tips that can get you more clicks per day and some things to consider tweaking after making these changes.

If your running only text ads you’ll want to start by making some image ads, aside from commanding a larger visual space on the page, you’ll also have less ads bumping up against you. Image ads do a better job of increasing brand awareness and even if they don’t get clicked their impressions are still valuable to a point. Make sure you’ve enabled your ads to be displayed on the Content Network.

Make more Ad Groups! If your new like myself you most likely have a good set of keywords all in a single Ad Group. Do some brainstorming to think of niche searches and keywords that users might look for to find your site or product. If you target a national audience for instance, start making Ad Groups for each state and make sure to include at least one text ad per Ad Group that has the state keyword in the text. If your doing a more localized product think about using zip codes in your Ad Group or neighborhoods in your target city. Make sure each AdGroup Ad you create features your target area keywords in the text or image and make sure each keyword phase you use also features those keywords.

Let’s say you’ve added 50 new ads and you’re ready to let them start working for you, you need to go to your Campaign Management settings page and change Ad rotation to “Rotate: Show ads more evenly” so that your new ads get a fair chance. You might not want to keep it this way permanently but check back on your ad performance after a couple weeks and see if you want to change this back after seeing the performance of your ads vary.

If you haven’t setup some conversion tracking yet you’ll want to get that running, you can see some help from the Google page on Conversion Tracking setup. Now you’ll want to go back into your history for AdWords at least 48 hours back and click on the Networks tab, here you can see how much money your spending out and what it costs to get a conversion from any given site. I’ve had some terrible spam sites send nothing but junk traffic that I then excluded from this page to make my dollars work harder for my conversions. Also take a look at how your conversions are doing for the Google Search Partner pages, if you find that you aren’t getting the right CPA for these pages you might want to disabled being shown on those partner pages. If you don’t have page your promoting that has any type of conversions you’ll want to focus on bounce rate and other analytics that I’d go over in another post.

This post turned into quite  a wall of text and anyone not serious about getting the most money from their advertising dollar will surely say tl;dr. I’ve seen great success implementing these changes over the past 2 weeks but these methods require a much higher degree of hands on administration. If you just want to set it and forget it this post won’t help you much. I hope these tips help other advertisers max out their AdWods budget!

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