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Preferred Advertising Networks
Ezoic (Ad Optimization / Revenue Lift): If you use AdSense, you should try Ezoic. They offer an optimization platform that is designed to increase a site’s revenue (50% – 250%) while improving your user experience via better layouts. Their platform uses automated testing to test combinations of ads on a page, customizing the results for a specific visitor. Their platform has several other benefits: free global CDN coverage (faster page loads, which helps SEO) and a powerful analytics package that helps identify effective content. We’re currently using them on our larger websites. Click here to sign up a free trial.
Media.net (Alternative Ad Network): A solid alternative to AdSense, offering a mix of text link boxes and brand advertising units. You can run their units alongside AdSense and they are more liberal on ad placement. They are my first choice for sites which don’t fit Google. There is a special offer of a 10% bonus for the first 3 months. Click here to claim it.
Hosting & Domains
Webfaction (Hosting): We picked these guys eight years ago and never regretted it. They have an excellent reputation within the Python community and offer a very “technically flexible” hosting platform which can run anything from a WordPress blog to custom coded Python apps. Another feature we love is the free SSL certificate management platform with LetsEncrypt; this automated tool makes it easy to set up new websites for HTTPS (SEO best practice) and saves us about $25 per year per site. Click here to sign up for a trial.
NameCheap (Domains / Hosting): Included for convenience. No-frills provider of domain names (given the cumulative nature of credibility on the web, we recommend you own and control the domains you are using). They also have access to various specialty domains (tech, creative) that you can use for branding. Click here if you need to buy a domain.
Content Development / SEO Tools
SEMrush (Search Engine Analytics): Our first SEO package and a key contributor to our success… This tool is pure money when it comes to finding and capturing low hanging fruit in Google’s search results. SEMrush has been the core of our analytics platform for years. Literally supports “dialing for dollars”. Some of the things we use it for:
- Organic search analysis – what does a competitor rank for? Have they found any hidden gems (low competition keywords) which we should also be pursuing?
- Competitive Intelligence: If you have a 75% bounce rate and an average of 1.5 pages per visit, how does that stack up against competitors? Are they doing better? How do people find their site? What is the mix of devices? (another money item)
- Search Engine Rank Tracking: Not unique, but it is a nice daily dashboard
- SEO Content Template: Workflow tool, helps you figure out what to write about
CanIRank (SEO Optimization): Google rankings work in mysterious ways; CanIRank is an analytics platform that peels back the curtain and identifies the specific factors which separate that top ranking sites in a keyword from everyone else. There are two ways to use this tool to increase your average return on investing in content:
- For topics where you can rank, it provides a specific list of areas to improve
- It can show you where to stop wasting money (low odds of ranking)
This product is a massive machine learning project aimed at figuring out the ranking logic behind Google search. There are a couple of other useful features as well:
- Link Building analytics using similar math (not our thing but a well designed tool)
- Good Keyword Difficulty Score (about double the accuracy of major competitors)
Sign up here to try their service for free. We upgraded to a Pro plan ($79 / month) and recently bumped it up to the Agency version after we saw growth at the sites we tested.