This Week in Tech: Publishers granted greater control by Google

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Monday marked the launch of the  Google News Publisher Center, a new feature of Google News that allows publishers to dictate how Google indexes their site. Most top publishers spend hours generating engaging and relevant content, however that’s not enough to drive traffic to their site. Until Monday, publishers could only hope Google would predict the layout of their site correctly and pick up on any recent formatting changes.

For example, ELLE one of our coveted publishers, categorizes their site by fashion, beauty, accessories, culture, etc. With this new feature ELLE can label the different segments of their site from the Publisher Center, therefore enabling Google to efficiently categorize the content. If ELLE decides to delete the “beauty” category from their site or add a “lifestyle” category, they would subsequently go to the Publisher Center and ensure those changes are made. This will result in more accurate Google News results, which is beneficial for ELLE, Google, and readers.

The Google News Publisher Center can be simply explained as a tool that gives publishers the power to edit Google’s records, thus putting power and responsibility into the hands of publishers. It is now up to them to attentively keep information in their Publisher Center portal up to date, simultaneously relieving pressure from Google Support.

What do you think about the latest advance in Google News?

Written by Hanna Fritzinger

From Fashion Blogger to Fashion Designer

We just heard some amazing news: Shauna Miller, the brain child of budget-fashion blog Penny Chic, will be launching her own line of clothing on Women’s Wear Daily just broke the story and you can read all about it here.

Penny Chic

We’re huge fans of Penny Chic. She’s a model for not just building a strong blogging business (after all, she monetizes with VigLink), but a model for turning your passion into your career.

Here are three lessons any blogger can learn from Shauna Miller:

  1. Find your niche
    Shauna’s niche is fashion on a budget. She proves that you actually can look good without falling victim to the almighty label by shopping stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart. That’s a new, unique, and controversial take on fashion. Most of all, it fills a real need; after all, just because a niche is narrow doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to lots of people.
  2. Go beyond the blog
    Shauna’s taken Penny Chic beyond her blog and extended to other properties, like YouTube. As Shauna tell us, “My blog is great for inspiration and showing my readers how to pull pieces together into a cohesive outfit. It will always be the meat and potatoes behind my brand. But, for some reason, the way products are personified in video (even when I’m simply pulling clothes off of a rack) seems to connect to something deeper in the consumer.” It could be a book, a video series, a pod cast,  or speaking at an event. Or all of the above. The point is to find more and more channels to connect with your audience. The best blogs become more than just a blog, they become a brand.
  3. Don’t go it alone
    Shauna knows that there are others out there who can help broaden her audience (just visit her press page for examples). Of course, having a presence on also helps, and as Shauna says, “[I] am looking to other YouTube channels, other than my own, as a source of support to help push sales for the line.” With a little creativity, partnerships can take everyone further.

Shauna was recently interviewed on “Making it in America” on CNN Headline News (HLN). Here’s that interview:

PennyChic Saves Time with Automated Affiliation Through VigLink

Finding the right monetization methods can be tricky. Knowing how much time and effort to put into earning affiliate marketing dollars (versus spending time on developing great content) can be even more daunting. Finding a balance is key, and that’s where automated affiliation tools come in handy.

VigLink Founder and CEO Oliver Roup participated in a discussion panel at Affiliate Management Days last week in Ft. Lauderdale on the topic of Affiliate Automation Tools. The panel was well rounded. Scott Allan from LinkShare represented the perspective of a large affiliate network. Oliver Roup of VigLink and Ashish Pandey of PopShops spoke about the tools they provide and the problems those tools solve. Finally, Shauna Miller, Founder of budget-friendly fashion blog PennyChic spoke to her experience using automated affiliation tools like PopShops and VigLink.

Our friends at HasOffers caught up with Shauna after the panel. In the video below, she mentions VigLink as one of the automated affiliation tools she uses to monetize PennyChic. Using automated tools like VigLink allow her to focus less on monetization and more on publishing great, budget-friendly fashion advice for the everyday woman. She also talks about how she uses the data provided from automated affiliation tools like VigLink to maximize her earnings.

Thanks to all involved in the panel and to Affiliate Management Days for hosting!


Whitney Smith, VigLink Marketing Communications Manager

Publisher Spotlight Part II: Audizine [Fan Video]

In January we had the pleasure of catching up with Anthony Marino, a graphic artist, avid car enthusiast, and owner of Audizine — the Audi enthusiast community. You can read up on the conversation in our January publisher spotlight here.

We’ve kept in touch since and were excited to see the video below pop into our email box this week after a recent trip to the beautiful Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. In it, Anthony shares why VigLink has proved to be such an excellent monetization partner and how the solution allows him to continue to deliver an incredible end-user experience while still earning significant revenue for the site.

“We’ve tried several different monetization methods. The most important thing for me of course is the memebers. We don’t want to flash [banners and graphics] in their face to make money. It’s more important that the users have a good experience. We found VigLink and … we couldn’t be happier.”

Anthony Marino, Owner, Audizine

Publisher Spotlight: PCMech

About PCMech

PCMech was founded in the late 1990’s with a singular goal: to make technology understandable to the every-day user.  Its owner, technology enthusiast and professional blogger David Risley, launched the site initially as more of a hobby than anything else. “I enjoyed writing and creating the content,” said David. “But, slowly the site grew and I built out a larger team of writers to manage it.”

Today, the site’s blog and forum receive a combined 300,000 unique visitors and 479,000 page views each month. The site’s forum boasts nearly 55,000 members.

The Challenge: What Else is There?

David tested a multitude of monetization options before settling on a combo of direct advertising deals, AdSense, select affiliate relationships, and paid membership (which provides access to additional content, advanced forum privileges and premium newsletters).

But, like many publishers, he continued to wonder what else he could be doing to maximize the value of his content and community.

The Solution: Content Monetization

In May of 2010 David heard about VigLink and decided to test it. He added VigLink to his site and immediately began to see results.  By the end of the year the site was earning several hundred dollars each month via VigLink.

“What is great about VigLink is two-fold: 1) the solution doesn’t require any time on my team’s side to work as it should, and 2) it opens up opportunities for us to optimize our content and earn even more,” said David. “For a site that is all about making technology easy-to-use and understand, it’s been an ideal approach to monetizing content. VigLink does the heavy lifting and we get to focus on content and audience.”

VigLink gets PCMech paid for clicks from it’s content by automatically affiliating links to eligible online merchants on the site.

“Before VigLink, we had to make a special point of adding affiliate links to the site, so it just didn’t happen on a regular basis,” said David.  “Now, it’s not even something we have to think about. We focus on creating content that attracts readers that are in a buyer’s mindset and VigLink does the rest. It’s opened up a lot of possibilities for the site, in addition to a new revenue stream.”

Publisher Spotlight: Audizine

About Audizine

Audizine was founded a decade ago by Anthony Marino, a graphic artist and avid car enthusiast.  He started the website as a place where he and his close knit group of friends could discuss all things automotive, namely their passion for Audi. 

The site steadily grew and several years ago Anthony decided to focus full-time on building the auto-enthusiast community he started as a hobby.  Today, the site boasts a comprehensive editorial section, photo gallery, video gallery and classifieds section, in addition to the forum component which was the initial draw. 

The site also sees a sizable amount of traffic each month.  Audizine has over 77,000 community members, and nearly 1 million readers visit the site each month, collectively viewing over 5.5 million pages

Anthony driving a rare Audi Sport Quattro (courtesy Audi of America)


The Challenge: Keeping the Focus on Readers

Anthony initially turned to Google AdSense banners and market-related sponsors to cover the costs of the site, but he chose to remain cautious when it came to other monetization methods.

“My number one responsibility is to the experience and safety of our members,” said Anthony. “While I do have costs to cover, I don’t want advertisements to impede on a reader’s ability to use the site effectively. Early on I made it a point to keep the site design clean and muted. I wanted the content to shine, and certainly not be filled with advertisements. I also went into it with the mindset that I didn’t need to be the biggest Audi-enthusiast site, but I did want to be the best.”

In regards to Google AdSense, that meant keeping ads below the site fold.  And in the case of his direct relationships with advertisers, Anthony was careful to check each one out himself to verify a fit for his readers before accepting them onto the site. 

Beyond AdSense and banner ads, Anthony is very careful about other monetization methods. 

The Solution: Unobtrusive Content Monetization

In late 2010, Anthony found VigLink. The solution’s seamless integration with content was appealing, but he was unsure how much revenue it would actually generate for his site.  Because the solution appeared to be so unobtrusive, he decided to sign up and test the solution.

“The VigLink implementation was probably one of the most seamless ones we’ve had,” said Anthony. “And once VigLink was live on the site, I was extremely surprised by the amount of revenue that was coming in, particularly from something that is basically invisible. It’s the proverbial win-win!”

The VigLink service automatically affiliates outbound links to merchants and advertisers on the Audizine site, and also weaves new links into the content when it detects references to products.  When a reader clicks on a link in the site’s content that goes to a qualified online merchant, VigLink ensures the site receives a payment or commission on the resulting sale, easily and automatically.

Today, VigLink comprises around 15% of Audizine’s monthly income.  VigLink helps Anthony to continue focusing on what matters most to him: keeping Audizine a free-to-use and easy-to-navigate website with great content. 

Publisher Spotlight: Bestofmedia (Tom’s Hardware & Tom’s Guide)

About Bestofmedia & Tom’s Guide

Bestofmedia’s portfolio of sites feature some of the biggest and best names in publishing, including Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s Guide.

The organization is the fourth largest tech publisher in the United States and has a team of over 80 full-time editors. The family of sites receives more than 10 million unique monthly visitors in the United States (38 million worldwide) and 177 million monthly page views (472 million worldwide).

Each of the sites cater to a different technology enthusiast. Tom’s Hardware focuses on computer hardware and components, while Tom’s Guide focuses on consumer electronics.

The Challenge: Selecting the Right Partners

“I get emails every day from prospective monetization partners,” said François Hutter, Director of Advertising Solutions & Partnerships at Bestofmedia.  “But, what some might not realize is how careful we need to be when evaluating partnerships.”

The process of selecting a monetization partner requires not only a thorough review of the solution by the organization’s product team, but also careful consideration of the Bestofmedia audience.

“We are fortunate in that our audience is fairly sophisticated when it comes to online business, and they understand the need to monetize,” said François. “However, they are also quick to notice changes and will voice their concern if there is a monetization method they don’t like.”

As a result, François is diligent when selecting new monetization partners to ensure partners generate revenue and don’t negatively impact traffic.

The Solution: A Partnership that Scales

In 2009 Bestofmedia found VigLink: a partner that would introduce a new revenue stream for the Company by automatically and seamlessly monetizing the sites’ outbound links to products, services and merchants. The straight forward installation (adding a code snippet to the footer of their site), allowed the product team to easily measure whether VigLink was positively impacting the site’s RPM (a calculation of revenue per page), without negatively impacting traffic.

“After activating VigLink, we immediately saw an increase in RPM,” said François. “And VigLink is so unobtrusive that there was no impact on user experience.  It’s great that VigLink doesn’t replace anything we are currently doing for website monetization– the revenue the service generates is purely incremental.”

But the most critical benefit, according to François, comes from the relationships VigLink maintains on behalf of Bestofmedia.

“It’s difficult and time consuming to build relationships with great merchants and advertisers,” said François. “VigLink does this on our behalf — and we benefit from their scale and ability to secure higher commissions than we could earn by ourselves.”

Publisher Spotlight: How to Earn More via VigLink’s Referral Program

During a single day Sara Young, author of Marketing with Sara, generated over 20 referrals via VigLink’s publisher referral program — on top of the 15 referrals she’d already secured within her account. For each of these referrals, Sara will earn a 10% bonus commission on their first year of revenue, substantially increasing her revenue.

We caught up with Sara to ask her how she promotes the program, and get a few pointers on how you too can earn additional revenue via the VigLink Referral Program.

About Sara Young

Sara’s story is a fun one.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, but as she finished her degree her first child was born.  Rather than enter into the electrical engineering field, she decided to work at home. At first that meant building web sites for clients, but she quickly began to build her own sites and to earn revenue via affiliate marketing.

Overtime, she saw a great deal of success. Two years ago, she began to blog about it and help others interested in entering the field.

Today, she is a stay-at-home mom to 7 kids (yep — you read that right), and continues to work online.

Why She Recommends VigLink

“It can be difficult and time consuming to gain acceptance to some affiliate programs,” said Sara. “So I recommend VigLink to my students as a way to quickly expand the number of merchants they receive affiliate commissions from.”

When Sara recommends VigLink, she shares her unique referral URL to ensure if an account is created she’ll earn a 10% commission on the referee’s first year of sales.

Her Tips to Increase your Referral Revenue

After recommending VigLink to individual students here and there, she decided to share the service across the board.

“I use VigLink and I really like the concept,” said Sara. “And I knew my students could benefit from the service as well, so it made sense to share it with them.”

Here, she shares her tips for earning additional revenue via the Referral Program. (For information on how the VigLink referral program works, click here)

Tip 1: Select Several Promotion Channels

Sara decided to share her VigLink referral URL on her blog and via email.  Her recommendation for publishers interested in earning revenue via referrals is to select more than one channel to promote their URL, and select ones where they feel they have the most influence.

Possible channels can include:

  • a blog
  • a forum thread
  • direct email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Other social media channels

Tip 2: Stress at Least One Benefit

“Don’t just ask friends and colleagues to sign-up, stress what they will be getting by signing-up,” says Sara.

Maybe that’s ease-of-use, or the additional revenue, or even the ability to access affiliate programs you couldn’t otherwise.

Tell those you are referring why VigLink is valuable and what they’ll be getting out of it if they sign-up.

Tip 3: “If I Can Do It, So Can You”

“With all my students, I tell them: If I can do it (a stay-at-home mom to 7), so can you,” said Sara. “Don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t immediately work!”

What are your tips for earning revenue via the VigLink Referral Program? Share them with us via email! And follow along with Sara’s marketing blog here.

Publisher Spotlight: Sax on the Web

About Sax On the Web

Sax on the Web is a 40,000 member online community dedicated to saxophone players. The site was launched over 15 years ago by Harri Rautiainen, a currently retired computer professional and self-proclaimed “advanced-amateur” sax player, in an effort to organize saxophone related links. Later, pick-up tips from fellow players became an important element as well.

The site quickly grew and today receives an estimated 500k visits and 4 million page views per month.

The Challenge:

Preserving the End-User Experience

While the site sprung from Harri’s passion for the saxophone, it quickly began to consume both time and monetary resources. In addition to donations by satisfied users, Harri turned to AdSense and banner ads as a means to monetize. However, it was important to him that the site not become “overrun” visually with advertisements.

“I’ve come across a great deal of music-focused sites that exist to simply promote other sites,” said Harri. “They are clogged with advertising and it looks overly commercial. As a user myself I know it isn’t fun to scroll through a lot of banners to get to the actual content on a page.”

As a result, he chose to limit the space he dedicated to advertisements and augment banner advertisements with less obtrusive monetization options.

The Solution:

Seamless Content Monetization

One year ago, Harri found VigLink and decided to implement the content monetization solution on his site.

VigLink leverages the actual content on a site to help a publisher earn revenue, rather than delivering advertising in the white space surrounding a site’s content. The service recognizes when content compels readers to leave a website seeking a product or service and gets site owners paid for each action its readers take.

“The results of using VigLink surprised me,” according to Harri. “I knew what I was making with AdSense and I expected something in that range, but it was actually a great deal more.”

VigLink now comprises 50% of the site’s revenue — while still allowing Harri to keep his focus on the end-users. “If I were to offer a single piece of advice to publishers just starting out, it would be keep your readers in mind,” says Harri. “If you deliver a great experience to them they will come back, and also tell their friends.”

Publisher Spotlight: FerrariChat

About FerrariChat

FerrariChat was founded in 2000 by Rob Lay (also the owner of  He had recently purchased a Ferrari and was looking for a place where he could ask questions of other Ferrari owners and share his experiences as a new owner — but he found very few resources on the web.  So, Rob launched shortly thereafter as a place where Ferrari enthusiasts could interact and share information on everything from how to work on their Ferrari to the latest in designer watches.

Today, the community boasts a total of 93,000 registered users, and nearly 1,000 new members join the site each month.  The site receives 6 million page views each month and 20,000 unique visits each day from a combination of both registered and guest users.  FerrariChat now has close to 20 competitors, but the site enjoys 9 times the combined traffic of it’s 20 competitor sites.

Rob with his wife Jennie, at the Ferrari Dealership in Brisbane, Australia

The Challenge: Finding the Time to Monetize

Rob works with a variety of consultants to keep the site running smoothly, but is the only individual focused on FerrariChat full-time.  As a result, he has limited time to focus on revenue generation.

FerrariChat’s revenue stream is comprised of a combination of direct ad sales and indirect ad sales (e.g. Google AdSense), as well as paid subscriptions.  Direct ad sales in particular are quite lucrative for Rob  (comprising about 70% of his income), but they are also the most time consuming, requiring that he build and manage a high number of relationships with vendors and advertisers.  And while FerrariChat’s high site traffic, unique visitor demographics, and engaged user-base results in a steady-stream of direct requests to advertise on the site, Rob doesn’t always feel as though he is maximizing the full potential of the site’s content.

The Solution: Automated Augmentation

Rob decided to implement VigLink two years ago as a way to augment the revenue he generated from direct ad sales, indirect ad sales, and paid subscriptions. It’s a decision he is glad he made.

“VigLink quickly exceeded my expectations because it wasn’t replacing anything I was doing previously,” says Rob.  “It was a completely different concept that I hadn’t been taking advantage of — and one that didn’t require any of my time to manage.”

VigLink automatically affiliates eligible outbound links to online merchants sites, and compensates Rob when his site propels a visitor to check out another website or make a purchase elsewhere.  The service has resulted in an increase of more than 10% in monthly revenue and allowed Rob to access a group of advertisers he wasn’t previously partnered with.

“Because I installed VigLink, I discovered that I was driving a great deal of traffic to eBay and Amazon,” says Rob.  “I am now being compensated for that traffic and planning on finding ways to drive additional traffic to those sites.  I’ve really only seen upside since using the service.”