‘Twas The Night Before Affiliate Christmas…

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Night Before Affiliate Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the land
Not an affiliate was stirring, not even their mouse.
The campaigns were finished, managed with care,
In hopes Affiliate Santa would put money there.

Merchants and Networks were all snug in their beds
While visions of Valentines danced in their heads.
And Affiliates in Jim Jams with giant nightcap
Had just settled their brains for a promotional nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
Sleepy affiliates rose to see what was the matter.
Off to their PC’s they flew in a flash.
Tore open windows, threw up Firefox.

The Boxing Day Sales lay glistening like new fallen snow
Reminding affiliates back to work they must go.
The discounts to their wondering eyes did appear
Delivered by minature sleigh and eight reindeer.

And who was the driver, so lively and quick?
They knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
Affiliate Santa, he was back again
After such a short break, they all screamed in pain!

“No Way!” they yelled, with voices loud and clear
“We’ve just slogged our guts out for most of the year!”
Dash away affiliate santa, there’ll be no work today
For Christmas is the day we all rest and play.

And then in a twinkling they heard on the roof
Affiliate Santa taking to the hoof.
They drew in their heads, shut Windows down
Settled in for a break in their dressing gowns.

As Santa sprang to his sleigh, to affiliates he gave a whistle
And off he flew leaving us about workload to grizzle
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

I hope you all have a wonderful break, and indulge in some well deserved festive cheer for at least a day or two!!!!

Kirsty xxxxx

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Affiliate Quick Tips – Removing Encrypted Links From WordPress Footers

Wordpress 6 Comments »
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You’ve found the perfect free theme for your latest WordPress blogging project… But wait!  Its got loads of spammy links in the footer, and they seem to be encrypted by some devious technical genius – what should you do?  Don’t delete that theme too soon… there is an easy solution.

As many of you will know, keeping those links in the footer of a WP blog can cause unpleasant issues, such as draining your hard-won link juice away from your site.

I was surprised to discover today that removing the carefully encrypted footer links is the work of about 2 minutes.  I’ll defer to the greater knowlege of the guys at the “Get Netted” blog, who created a brill tutorial with screenshots and easy to understand instructions.

Thanks to them, my brand new Solar powered products blog is looking just fab.  Cheers guys!

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ARRGGGHHHH!!!!! Affiliate Horror Story!!!

Affiliate Annoyances 18 Comments »
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I know you all think that this post is going to be about Figleaves, but it’s not.  Despite the fact they do seem to have appointed Hannibal Lecter – the affiliate programme serial killer to look after their CPA marketing endeavours, that’s not actually the scariest thing that has happened to me this week.

Yes, hard as it may be to believe something has in fact shaken me more than the wholesale destruction of one of my best performing revenue streams.

Well, I can tell y’all are on the edge of your seats here… so I shall proceed with my sorry tale.

I was sitting working away at my general affiliate endeavours the other day.  Humming a happy little tune, and enjoying the view from my office window….

Office

Now, although you can’t see it in this picture the office window overlooks my front door.  This is dead sneaky as it enables me to surprise parcel delivery men before they have the chance to pop the “Sorry You Were Out” slip underneath my door.  They really, really hate it ;)

As I was sat industriously working away… a movement caught my eye.

They say that humans have a built in survival instinct, and I reckon it’s true… because what I was seeing out of the corner of my eye was this gorgeous wee chappie (or chappess in this case) dangling at face height right outside our front door.

*Caution – Those Of A Nervous Disposition Should Faint Now* – It’ll save you a bit of time later.

Redback

“WOOOAARRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I remarked.

“Oh, for feck sake.  Not this again.”

Said Duncan.

“LOOKIT”

I said.

“WOOOAARRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Said Duncan.

“See, I told you so.”

I quipped, playing the smug wife card for all it was worth.

For those readers not recognising this beauty, it is a Redback Spider and from the same family as the Black Widow.  A wee bite from one of these beauties can see you rushing in a hospital-ward direction if they manage to envenomate you properly.

As card playing was working well for me, I then played the “Well, I’m not effing well dealing with it, that’s your department” card and left Duncan to venture out in a front doorward direction whilst I shouted instructions from behind the mesh screens that cover all of our house windows.

After we’d quickly looked up the “Redbacks and their Wily Ways” site we realised getting rid of them from a safe distance isn’t all that easy.  Most insecticides will not work because the unsporting buggers can hold their breath for several hours.  The only sure way to dispatch them is to knock them down, and then squish them.

And That’s Where The Horror Part Of The Story Lies…

In trying to knock it down, my Duncan discovered that Redbacks can move very, very quickly.  In short, it vanished like a little bit of arachnid poop off a teeny, tiny spider sized stick.

So now we know we have a deadly spider living with us…. BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHERE IT IS.

WOOOAARRGGGHHH!!

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I Wish It COULD Be Christmas Every Day. But…

General 9 Comments »
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As always in affiliate marketing, its amazing how much difference a month can make.  Just a hop, skip, and jump of the calendar ago Duncan and I were just back from honeymoon and I was starting to worry that Christmas trade might never arrive. I was longing for all those UK shoppers to lose their sense of reason and melt those credit cards like always.

Realising I had a lot to do if I was going to fully capitalise on the Christmas affiliate joy  when / if it arrived in these credit crunchy, gloomy times I promptly started working furiously.  And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.   I’ve been pulling 12 to 14 hour days since we got home.

I’m pleased to report that I clearly knew what I should do (which I doubted at times after 3 months off) because I’m having my best December ever.

The Festive Affiliate Spirit“Woo  hoo!!!!!!”

Should be how I’m feeling, but like Joe Connor (who can’t “Barsed” with Christmas) and Lee McCoy (who’d really like to get some sleep) my satisfaction at another good year is tempered with a state of total knackerhood.  My own personal condition is also compounded with a distinctive lack of any festive spirit of my own whatsoever.

I have to say this is the first time I’ve ever felt like this.  In previous years, the endorphin rush of all that fabulous money arriving in my affiliate account has had me rocking around the office like a manic Noddy Holder shouting out “iiiitttsss Chhrriiiiissstttmmaaaaaaaasss!!” at random.

However, this year I imagine I’m joining a few other affiliates in wandering around uttering the odd “Bah Humbug!!”. Perhaps its been the stresses and strains of the uncertain sales climate.

I was at our local mall earlier today and Duncan tells me it was hell going to the festive shops with old Scrooge McCubbin here who was in a right old foul mood as soon as she caught sight of all the Christmas shoppers and tinsel.

I have no alternative but to diagnose myself with the dreaded “Affiliate Scrooge Syndrome” which is a little known psychologial disorder which eminates from over-preoccupation with other people’s Christmas shopping.

The Symptoms

  • Total lack of desire to do any kind of Christmas shopping.  Duncan doesn’t know, but he’s getting a gift token for the petrol station this year.
  • I’ve sent no Christmas cards whatsoever.  And I’m not gonna.  So there!
  • I’ve started grinding my teeth in time to Christmas music.
  • There’s a venomous spider in our Christmas tree and I’ve decided to leave it there because it is pleasingly ironic.

The Treatment

  • I’ve been wondering if my lack of festive spirit is related to being in a tropical climate when I should be huddled indoors enjoying 3 hours of proper daylight every day.  So….
  • Tonight I’m shutting all the doors and windows and setting my aircon to “Polar Winter”.
  • I’m then going to build a cheery log fire.  Marshmallows will be roasted and flanelette jim jams will be worn.
  • A double dose of Terry Pratchetts Hogfather Movie will be applied at top volume – Stat!
  • I will operate the animatronic rudolph plushy toy my friends 3 year old gave me for Christmas and revel in its rendition of “Winter Wonderland”.  I will further marvel at the beautiful flashing lights atop each one of his cute little horns.

Merry Christmas to affiliates one and all! See, I’m trying :)

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Google Boots Adwords Booze Ban

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In yet another “never a dull moment at Google” development, they’ve decided that they will allow advertisers to promote hard alcohol in the US with plans to roll out to other countries in the coming weeks.  A few weeks ago they loosened the rules on beer also.  Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with their ad revenues being down during these tough times. Not at all.  In fact, when Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land asked Google what was behind the decision he was told its as a result of “advertiser feedback”.

Well, that’s alright then isn’t it? I’m quite relieved really I was just picturing Larry and Sergy down to their last billion, and the staff canteen at Google HQ running out of Fillet Mingnon.  Oh, the humanity!

One Proviso Though…

The new rules don’t allow for the direct promotion of hard alcohol. i.e. “Buy One Get Three Free on Vomitikov Vodka”.  Rather the relaxation allows you to highlight features of the alcohol.  So therefore you can only use Google ads to promote the “branding of alcohol”.

I Don’t Understand The Reasoning

Perhaps I am foolish and uninformed, but I can’t see the point of the half measure (boom boom).  If its the generation of alcoholics that they’re concerned about, alcohol branding will create them just as readily as letting them find a site which will actually sell them a drop of the hard stuff.   And why is beer now considered so much less of a damaging substance than spirits?  They should visit any UK high street at 3am to see exactly how wholesome beer is!!

And Finally…

Its NOT OK to sell spirits, but  It IS OK to sell naughty adult DVDs, access to porongraphic content and all sorts of other exotic goodies.

Which is actually the naughtier of the two?  I reckon that’s how you can tell its a company run by loads of men.

“Alcohol?  Ooohh, no.  We can’t have that.  People might get addicted to it.”

“Porn?  Totally harmless.  Chuck the ads up!!”

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So Where Exactly is Affiliate Santa Leaving His Xmas Revenue Presents?

Affiliate Niches, General 4 Comments »
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So have you been wondering where all the hot affiliate revenue action is this Christmas? Can’t work out where all them smug people on affiliate forums are getting thousands of sales a day from?

Fear Not There Is Still Time…

If your affiliate Mojo has been eluding you this year, or if you’re casting about for yet more amazing revenue opportunities the Christmas Affiliate Sleigh is still very much delivering the goodies to hard working affiliates all over the world.

For reasons I’m unclear about (I’m not a retail analyist, just a humble affiliate doing my best.) Mondays are always very strong during the Christmas season.  In the states last Monday retail analysts reported a 15% jump in online retail spending.  This made it the 2nd biggest online spending day ever behind the $881 million spent on December 10, 2007.  With another big shopping spree being forecast for Monday 8th December as shoppers go online to seek out Christmas discounts offered to keep the spending momentum going… you have the entire weekend to get ready for the onslaught.

There are also another 2 glorious Mondays before those last order dates kick in before the big man in the red suit arrives, and several hundred knackered affiliates finally get some sleep.

Arrgghhhh!!!!!!  But What Should I Promote?

Well, actually lots of retailers give you whopping great clues about the things that people are seeking out online this year.

Stateside, PriceGrabber.com published its top ten most searched for products on “Black Friday”: -

1. Nintendo Wii Console
2. Ugg Australia ‘Classic Short’ Boot
3. Sony BDP-S350 1080p Blu-Ray Disc Player
4. Samsung LN52A650 52″ LCD TV
5. Nintendo Wii Fit
6. Panasonic TH-42PX80U 42″ Plasma TV
7. Sennheiser HD 555 Headphones
8. Canon EOS Rebel XSi Black SLR Digital Camera Kit
9. Acer Aspire One AOA110-1295 Notebook
10. Canon PowerShot A590 IS Black Digital Camera

In the UK, Hitwise published data at the start of November highlighting which gadgets were going to be hot this year based on share of UK searches sending traffic to their Hot Consumer Electronics Custom category and Deloitte have a very informative Christmas retail survey (Page 17 tells you what people want in their stockings this festive season).

The Best Resource I’ve Found Was…

Good old Amazon.co.uk!  I only just realised recently that they collate the data on people’s wish lists and make it available in an attempt to assist with people’s online Christmas shopping efforts.  

This handy dandy little tool told me that…

People are really, really digging Dawn French’s Autobiography “Dear Fatty”.  It’s the second most wished for book behind JK Rowling’s Tales of the Beedle and The Bard.  Next up is Barak Obama’s tome, which should net him a nice little nestegg to set him up post-presidency.

Hot in Toys This Season is…

The silverlit PicooZ Helicopter!

Bop it Extreme 2

and the Radica 20Q Version 2

Even More Interestingly…

Lots of people are already getting organised and thinking about keeping their computer secure for the whole of next year. Norton Antivirus is the 3rd most wished for software item on their hotlist.

So what are you waiting for affiliates?  Get those revenues maximised and start planning next years mini sites and niche offerings.

Top Of My Christmas Wishlist?

Don’t laugh… but I recently watched it on a flight between Singapore and Brisbane and couldn’t get any sleep afterwards because I got all over-excited.  It was all I could do not to stand on my seat singing and clapping.  Of course, I do have a little bit of a thing for ABBA…

Have outfit will travel.  Who’s having an Abba themed Chrimbo night.  Anyone?  Please? Hello?!

Ho ho ho!!  Merry Christmas!!

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Using Php Echos on Landing Pages – Kirsty’s Affiliate Quick Tips!

Quick Tips 16 Comments »
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Christmas Greetings fellow affiliates and affiliate fans.  I remembered about a little bit of code I formerly used quite frequently to let me dynamically add data on which keywords were converting to sale when using a single landing page for a broad keyword set.

Php Echos in a Nutshell…

Are an incredibly easy and quick to use way to pass a variable (such as a search term) into any part of a webpage you desire.  You can use it to pass data from your url directly into your affiliate link or to make your landing page look instantly relevant to the keyword your visitor searched on.

Clear As Mud?  Don’t Worry, Here’s a Quick Guide!

1. Getting Your Landing Page Ready

It’s very simple to get your landing page ready to work alongside the php code.  Just develop your page as normal and when you’re finished save it with a .php file extension.

2. Inserting Your Code

This is a straightforward cut and paste job.  Our small but perfectly formed insertion is the piece of code below:-

<?php echo $_GET['ref'];?>

All you have to do is paste that wherever you want to be able to dynamically change your page content.  For example, in an affiliate url thusly: -

http://clkuk.tradedoubler.com/click?p=0000&a=000000&g=000000&epi=<?php echo $_GET['ref'];?>

You can also put it in something like a page header element, or in anchor text.

3. Passing The Variable To Your Page

Sounds like the hard bit, but really it isn’t!  All you have to do is add a little bit onto your landing page URL and then stick in whatever data you want to be placed on the page.  Essentially, it enables you to create a unique URL for as many variables as you like whilst only using a single landing page.

Just add the code below to the end of your url:-

?&ref=

This creates a URL that looks something like this: -

http://www.yourlandingpage.com/index.php?&ref=Whatever The Hell You Want

You can see this in action at an old landing page of mine which still miraculously generates the odd commission for me, despite having been abandoned for 2 years: -

http://www.cheapdvdrentals.co.uk/index.php?&ref=HELLO AFFILIATE STUFF FANS

If you hover over any of the “Visit Site” links, you’ll see my affiliate links have whatever is added to the URL after “&ref=”

Use this in combination with my recent thoughts on concatenation, and you’ll be able to create a fully tracked PPC campaign in no time!

NB – There is a way to pass this variable through “cloaked” affiliate links, I found the code on my hard drive earler… it’s just something I never ended up using as I changed the way my business operated.  If anyone wants to add this to the post, please do leave a comment.

Got A Handy Tip You Want To Share?

If you have a time saving tip of any sort related to the wonderful world of computers which you’d like to share, please contact me.  I’ll gladly give anyone who sends something useful in a lovely backlink from the blog to say thanks!

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Aww… Thanks For The Romantic Gift Gone Digging!!

Prizes and Freebies 1 Comment »
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Awww… love is in the air!  Thanks very much to Jim from Gone Digging, a brand new personalised gifts site, for sending Duncan and I a beautiful romantic personalised calendar.

We particularly liked the month of March, as it bore a very striking similarity to the bed decorations we had in one of the honeymoon hotels we stayed in.

Gone Digging

We thought the calendar was really great quality and it’ll be gracing the kitchen wall for the whole of 2009 and reminding us to think romantic thoughts about each other (don’t want the post-wedding rot setting in, hey?).

You can check out the “Love and Romance” calendars on the Gone Digging site.

Gone Digging launched quite recently and is to be found on the Webgains network.  More info on their affiliate programme here.

All Duncan and I need now is a few more merchants to send us some romantic gifts, and we’ll be set for the rest of next year.  Course, who knows what’ll happen after that… we might actually have to make the effort on our own or something.  *gasp*

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Ask Kirsty – Why Doesn’t Google Love My Site?

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Greetings “Ask Kirsty” fans!  The following is a question I got about a month ago from Chuck.  I thought it was a good  ‘un so I made a mental note to reply when I got back home and got me feet clear.  Here’s what’s getting under his affiliate skin: -

Hi Kirsty,

I have an excruciating headache. Have been reading everything I can find about Google SEO, rankings, indexing, penalties, etc, etc.

My problem is that my main keyword results from Google appear on page 12. Yahoo returns page one results for the same keyphrase. My domain name is my main keyphrase. “VW TDI For Sale” www.vw-tdi-for-sale.com My goal is to rank number one on Google for the key phrase “vw tdi for sale” and of course rank high for as many associated keywords and phrases as possible.

I may have a problem in the way I set up my site. I created categories to get the Revolution Magazine main page to look the way I wanted. The categories are used only for that main page. The site is an ebay site based on the PHPBay plugin.  I used posts for everything. Maybe should have used pages instead of posts. Is it better to use pages rather than posts? I have about 50 keywords so far. Each keyword is presented as a separate post consisting of a .jpg image and a couple sentences describing the keyword. Then each post has a link button to the appropriate ebay sales page. So each keyword is like a very simple landing page with a pushbutton that links to the ebay sales listing appropriate to that keyword phrase.

Google doesn’t like my website. What is very irritating is that a website called http://www.mauigreenenergy.org/dieselsforsale.htm
ranks in the number 1 spot on Google for my keyphrase. That website is about renewable energy. Has nothing to do with selling Volkswagen TDIs except that they have a link to a car dealership. This site has my ranking spot for my main keyword phrase and I want that spot.

As far as I can determine, Google has indexed 3 of my pages and none of them are my keyword posts. I believe my site is invisible to Google. Suggestions appreciated. I am to the point that I’m ready and willing to pay to get this sorted out.

Hey Chuck,

Well, I should start off with some praise of what you have done so far.  Well done on effectively identifying a niche that you can work in and creating a decent looking site to host it.  I know you’re feeling like there’s a bit of a dead end for you, but really you’ve done a lot of the work already.  Things just need a little bit of fine tuning.

So Sit Back, Relax, And Enjoy Kirsty’s Guide To Gettin’ Y’all Some Google Love!!

  • Your Posts – You’ve done the right thing creating pages around search terms.  However, you’ve probably done a few too many of them.  For example, Your Diesel TDI and VW Diesel TDI pages could actually form a single post.  The terms are similar enough that one page will cover both.  I suggest you go through and see which of your pages you can “aggregate”.
  • Your Internal Link Structure – is quite weak.  I assume the intention is that the posts mentioned above are where you intend the real revenue generation to be at.  You need to make your posts appear pivotal to the site content so that Google knows they are relevant.  I suggest you make sure these posts are linked to from every page.
  • Cross Linkage Generally – is weak over the whole site.  You might want to consider using a plugin that will stop your pages being buried a few levels deep because of WordPress’ weak cross linkage between posts.
  • You Need Way More Content – as you already know your pages built around those search terms are very weak.  You need to write more useful content about the car models.  I wrote a general article about coming up with content ideas a while back, perhaps reading it will help give you some ideas. More specifically in your case, look at writing 300 words on each of your post pages.  Talk about specifications, fuel consumption, colours available, interiors, anything you think someone looking to buy one of these cars might possibly want to know.
  • Optimise Your Selling Pages Around Buying Terms - Well jeez, that’s an obvious one Kirsts!  But to really monetise your site you’re gonna want to be attracting the type of traffic that might just be in danger of registering on e-bay with a view to putting in a bit of a bid!  With that in mind, i’d put my efforts into “Buying search terms” “buy volkswagen”  “tdi for sale” etc.
  • Be Careful Not To Over Optimise - Looking at your home page, I’d say you’ve gone way overboard with mentions of VW search terms. The popular searches list down the side does verge towards keyword stuffing.  Adopt a natural writing style, and don’t labour to get mentions of search terms in there.  Just let them happen naturally. If in any doubt, read your copy aloud to yourself.  If it sounds repetitive you probably need to pare back a little on the search term count!!
  • Get Yourself a Little Link Love - Although I can see your indexing has improved since your original question, your rankings will improve if you can get some relevant sites to link to you.  If you provide some decent, useful content this shouldn’t be an impossible task.
  • Keep On Churning Out The Content – I can see you’ve already written a few articles of Vee Dub interest.  Keep at it.  The more ways you find to talk about your subject, the more chances there are to rank for some niche terms and get some traffic in.  Why not consider expanding and covering VW TDI Spares or maintenance tips?  There’s bound to be bags of potential content there!

I think I’ve covered some good basics there… I could say more, but I’ve just given you one hell of a “to do” list.  The main thing about creating any site is that there are no shortcuts.  If you work to make a site useful and relevant and have a reasonably SEO friendly structure… you should get that traffic.

Good luck Chuck!!

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Affiliate Quick Tips – Microsoft Excel Concatenation

Quick Tips 10 Comments »
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Bit of a new feature in the blog.  I’ve been meaning to do something about all the various wee tips and tricks that help me manage all my day to day tasks more quickly.  Every time I’ve thought about it, I couldn’t quite work out how to structure the post – it’d be mahoosive.

I’ve solved this issue by deciding to split it into a series of mini posts.  First up is the saviour of all affiliates…

The Concatenation Feature in Excel

For those of you who do not know, Excel has a feature that allows you to take the content of cells within any row, stick them together in any order, and pop them in a single cell all nice and stuck together. I personally use this feature to create large keyword lists around set search term variations, to create urls, and also for tasks such as creating large lists of links to be pasted into websites.

To help out, I’ve popped some screenshots below to illustrate what I’m talking about!!

OK, so we start with the contents of some adjacent cells we’d like to have all living in a single cell together to form a phrase: -

Concatenation

To make this happen, all I have to do is create a very simple formula in excel in an adjacent cell:-

Popping in =concatenate( will automatically cue Excel to allow you to use your cursor to select which cells you want included. These can be anywhere on your spreadsheet and in any order.  Simply use the arrow keys to select your cells, placing a comma between them.

To create the appropriate spaces between words or even to add in additional words and symbols you need to place the following between each field selection:-

You can put just about any text or symbol in between those commas, except “-” which does rather confuse the formula function!

The finished formula looks like this: -

Simply press enter and….

All your cells are magically put together!

At this stage, the formula will still be there if you copy the cell content rather than the information you are looking to compile.  To paste the info you want into the spreadsheet, simply copy the contents of the column in which your formula is contained, right click, and select “Paste Special” then “Values”.  This will remove the formula and leave you with your key phrase.

And That’s It!!

You can use this great function to create all sorts of lists of just about every kind. For me personally, it is one of my biggest time saving devices in the often repetitive world of affiliate marketing.

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