Wednesday, January 31, 2007

 

More on my Adsense trial on Galicia Guide

I just checked the adsense account this morning and yesterday’s total was $5.70.

I did add adesense to a couple more pages late last night, but even so I am staggered by my “totally effortless” earnings. It strikes me that I need to seriously reconsider the value of pay per click ads and perhaps even look at the yahoo equivalent (assuming that the overture stuff relates to that). It also pains me to think that I could have had the ads up on the Villa page for the last 3 or 4 months and picked up $500 for my trouble!

GG has around 400 pages, but significantly around 15 plus main city, town or topic pages which I know visitors hit continuously. I am wondering if adopting a similar approach on these pages would up the earnings some more!

I guess that the balance is that whilst the click makes money, it also takes the visitor away from the site which is not a good thing, particularly for the advertisers and affiliates that I have. More thought is definitely needed.
The photo is of one of Galicia's many stunning beaches.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

 

Testing Adsense

I am amazed at the impact of adding adsense to 2 pages on galiciaguide.com.

I am (or to correct myself as of now – “was”) not a big fan of the adsense concept, but today’s results have caused a wholesale change of mind.

As of just after 7.00pm they have made me $2.92 today. This is coming from the villa and property pages and I suspect primarily the Villa page since it has no other visitor content. If that were to be duplicated it would equate to $1100 approx. per year.

Whilst I would like to have adverts for villas on the site, this may be a financially more rewarding alternative and, it would appear, it is what my visitors are interested in clicking on. I have added similar ads to the flight and car hire pages, although these (I think) get less traffic.

I may look at adding adsense elsewhere on the site, particularly to the main town and city index pages.

The photo is a church by the beach in Porto do Son, la Coruna province. There is a great and very helpful tourism office just over the road from it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

 

An increasing interest in Galicia

I have just had my busiest month with GG in terms of visitors, page views and hotel bookings. Quite a surprise given the month being January, but the good serps are no doubt the reason.

I have decided to use adsense to a limited degree on the villa and property main pages. I will monitor the income generated and then evaluate what to do from there.

The villa page is averaging around 24 visitors per day! Not that many you might think, but these are people interested only in renting a Galician villa. I know that no other site will equal that just for this region.

I did contact a couple of villa owners a fortnight ago. One did not reply, the other told me that they had spent the figure that they had agreed on for 2007 marketing already, but would get in touch later this year!!!

I am tempted to do a similar thing with the villas that I have with hotels and bring in an affiliate, but this was never part of the original “organic” person to person contact approach that I had intended. I would have liked to keep it all small scale and personal, but there you go!

An interesting fact is that I get roughly a third to half the number of visitors to the villa's page that I do to the main hotels' page and that makes me and the hotel company a nice little sum of money each month. Even more surprising is the fact that the Property page actually gets more visitors than both of those. Something makes me think that the property page is somewhat undervalued, not by me, but by potential advertisers.

I will try to get a nice pic of somewhere in Galicia for the next upload for anyone who actually reads this!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

 

Second post today

Better late than never!

As is so often the case, I find myself eating my owns words as I discover that the new blogger displays which blogs have received comment on the “edit” page. An excellent facility.

This also allowed me to see that a comment made (I think) in 2005, questioned or observed that, whilst Noia council pay for festivities, the town had lots of litter.

An assumption (or observation) was then made that whilst councils in Britain do not finance festivals (at least not anymore unless they are asian), this money is probably spent on the cleanliness of streets etc and perhaps Noia would be better served by doing the same.

Not knowing if this comment was based on an assumption of the UK having clean streets, or direct experience of some British city, all I can add is that Leeds, my home city, has neither.

It would therefore appear to me (based only on my personal experience) that Noia has the best of both worlds. London incidentally is truly disgusting and always gives the impression that the bin collectors are on strike.

 

A Noia question!

I seem to have spent the last few blogs moaning about something and this one will continue the theme.

I am now using the new blogger – whatever that is!

As far as I can tell only 2 things have changed.

One, I now need to login twice, once to my usual account and then for a second time to google’s account.

Two, whilst there are actually less (not as is claimed more) features to this version, the only other discernable change is in the massive size of the fonts.
My close up vision has actually started to fail over the last 6 months, but even I do not need “baby’” size text.


I have yet to work out what this is all about. Clearly it relates to a desire on google’s part for us all to have a google account, but for what purpose. I guess only time will tell. In any event I had one anyway!


Question I would like to know the answers to

1. If any of my limited and no doubt spasmodic readers of this blog are from, or live in, Noia, please let me know if “la Parra” is still running. I will be very grateful.

I know that they planned to close it down late last year or early this, but hoped (wishful thinking on my part) that they might have had a change of mind.

2. Also, if anyone can manage to respond to that request, is the daughter of Moncho still at Mama Mias? I Hope that her experience at Mama Mias’ in Noia has sparked her business acumen and that she now owns and runs a highly successful pizzeria somewhere else!

Finally I should have a random Noia picture somewhere in this rant! The convent off the alameda.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

 

New blogger test

I have just upgraded to the “new” version of blogger, so this is little more than a test post.

I intend to make my postings at the usual irregular intervals of anything from one day to a couple of weeks. I will however endeavour to post at least once a week, if possible.

Both hits and page views to GG continue to be at, an increase to, all time highs. One reason for this may be the positions on google which are considerably higher than they were 4 or 5 months ago. The site also appears on more searches as I add more pages.

Staying with GG, I added a separate page counter to the villa rental page. It has now been up a few minutes shy of 7 days and is averaging 24 hits per day. This may not sound many, but that equates to around 750 hits per month and, despite “global villas in Spain” searches, I doubt that any other English language site gets that number of hits specifically and only for Galician rentals. I can also see the hits through “villa” related searches across the site and, whilst I am probably not believed, I have no doubt that our rental page would generate more business than any other related to Galicia for anyone who advertised on it.

Anyway, enough of that – all I really want to do is publish something and make sure that I still have a blog!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

 

La praia de Testal


I was running some searches on Noia the other day and came across some photos of Testal beach. They must have been taken pre 2005 as the beach looked stunning.

This one, above, is one of mine, although it is now duplicated on many other people websites.

Denials apart, the reason for the beaches demise (taking of the sand) have been described here in previous entries. It is interesting to note that, when massive volumes of shale sand were removed from a beach near Cornwall, England (1930’s), it started a local catastrophe. The whole basin area re-levelled itself (not just the local beach) and massive erosion took place. If this were to happen to Testal, what of the mussel beds!

Mini crimes like these should be unforgivable in themselves, but it is the silent majority who allow them to take place without question or reprimand who are in reality the facilitators of these acts.

This is no criticism of Noia, or indeed of Galicia, as these events pass by us all in every developed country of the world. The problem does however arise when someone, let alone a foreigner, makes such observations. The response is always the same, to rally round and defend based on nothing but a distorted view of local pride or nationalism, the real issue subsequently disappearing – exactly as the instigators of it intended.

Anyway, Testal is just one beach, I do not live near it, can happily live without it and obviously should not worry about it since both locals and “local” rental villa owners do not.

Friday, January 19, 2007

 

Hits to GaliciaGuide.com up!

Here, for those critics who are seemingly incapable of reading beyond the first line, is an excerpt from the main page of Galicia Guide.

"This site is not commercially funded or influenced by advertisers or sponsors. All

views, opinions and reviews are solely those of Galicia Guide and express “our take” on a town, monument, regional dish or beach. If you disagree with anything we say, let us know.

We hope that you enjoy our destination guide and that it will inspire you to visit the greener part of the Iberian Peninsula. "

The “let us know” bit means by email to the site, not this blog. If you have an alternative and reasoned view that differs from ours and you make an attempt to put it together reasonably well, we will publish it on the site.

Trite comments like “there are errors, but I will not tell you what they are” do not satisfy this premise and will be dismissed!

Quite how hoping that the guide will “inspire” people “to visit” Galicia can be construed as negative is beyond me and any other reasonable person!

Both visits to the site and page views are at an all time high, so it would appear that our visitors seem to get a good impression of the place.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

 

Noia and accommodation

Fresh from criticisms of how opinionated and negative I am towards Galicia and how darn expensive and unreasonable adverts are on my sites, here are some more opinions re: Noia.

Generally a great town, but definitely not as spotless as it was 4 or 5 years ago (That’s me starting off with a –ve).

Everyone who emails me about Noia likes it, so that must be good and, amazingly, I have had 2 families tell me that they arranged a holiday in Galicia based only on reading my guide to Noia (all 27 pages, I hate the place so much that I never stop writing about it!). I guess it cannot be all that negative after all! At least that is, not unless you refuse to accept any criticism, opinion or expression that is not completely glowing.

The best points are the alameda area and the whole of the old town. It has plenty of shops, tons of bars, the best cake shops and generally some very very nice people – including the owner of Mama Mias.

Back to a negative and one that really pains me. Noia did have just about the best local beach in the world (Testal), but that has been (deliberately I am told by locals) allowed to become nothing short of a mess. It relates to the using of part of the beach area for a bypass and also concerns that sunbathers are stealing the valuable shellfish. The reality is that the patrollers (who are supposed to protect them) do most of the stealing, but only on dull days when there are no sun bathers (and yes I have video evidence of this). Also, where did all the sand go? (and yes, my comments about this in an earlier blog have now been confirmed).

Despite Testal’s demise, there are plenty of other great beaches just minutes away from Noia and I will include details and photos of some of these in Galicia Guide when I find the time to upload them. Dare I admit it, these will be yet more complementary pages about Galicia – this must take the total up to……. well hundreds!

Back to more good things about Noia:
A new boardwalk around the bay area and an amazing amount of street refurbishment in 2006, all around the medieval area and Noia is ideally located to explore the rias and close to Santiago de Compostela and Pontevedra.

Accommodation in and near Noia.

There is a good hotel, I think called something like the “Ria Park de Noia”, (and no, it is not one that I advertise or profit from). There is also a boarding house style hotel a km or so away that looks OK. It appears to be a small manor house, but that is all I know.

Villa/casa wise there are two that I know about and I do not recommend either. One is in Noia and the photos that I have seen make it look less than the typical holiday villa. The other is around the Noia - Muros bay area near Outes and I think (i.e.” MY OPINION”) that it is very over priced.

The best advice, if you wish to visit Noia, is probably to stay in a hotel in or close to Santiago and drive to Noia. It is only about 45 minutes away. And, going back on my words of late, here is a link to a great selection of over 140 quality hotels in Galicia – all with star and visitor ratings. www.galiciaguide.com/Hotels.html

To the real estate company in Galicia with panoramic views who removed their link to GG on Tuesday. Thanks for that, I have now also removed the link that I gave you. Somehow I think that you will be the bigger loser.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

 

Responding to comments re: GALICIA

I have just added a new batch of personal and opinionated reviews to Galicia guide and, spurred on by recent comments, I have amended them to ensure that the subjective nature of the guides is now at the fore.

Contrary to their intention, the critical comments of late have made me realise that, rather than being objective in pointing out both the good and bad, I have focussed exclusively on positives. This is unfair and unrealistic and I will not allow it to happen again. Galicia Guide is not intended to glorify Galicia (turgalicia get paid to do this), but to let holiday makers and property buyers obtain a balanced guide to the region from a “foreigners” perspective.

Thanks again to those who prompted this review of my approach. It just goes to show that comments are read and acted upon (although not necessarily in the way in which their authors intended).

Following on from my last entry (and the comments that prompted it) I have decided:

1. Not to reply directly to posted comments in the blog itself, I will reply with a further comment. Any and all comments posted are appreciated, but if a dialogue is wanted or anticipated, there is an active email that can be used to contact me. Otherwise, please assume that your comments will be read by me, but left without a response in this blog. This should still enable you to get things out of your system if nothing else.

2. To explain what may perhaps seem an odd attitude by Galicia Guide (GG) to commercial content etc. (this is incidentally not prompted by recent comments from “claimed” potential advertisers!)

History

I started putting GG together in 2004 as a free site (see http://www.noiagalicia.angelsities.com/) and at that time it was about Noia and no where else.

The site had not (and never has been) intended as a commercial venture and the purpose of “that” site was to have some English language content on the internet about Noia. Most of the articles, editorials and other matter about Noia that you are now likely to encounter on the internet originated from me, although many sources have now removed that credit. They were submitted to article sites etc.

Due to emails requesting info about other areas in Galicia I extended the original 4 or 5 page site to the size it is on the link above. In 2005 I decided to put the site on a dot com and continued to add to its content with “personal and subjective” views on the places that we visit when in Galicia.

This is what the site is about and this is what its target audience – English speaking potential vacationers and property buyers want. If you do not like the site, then I would make a 99.9% guess that you do not fall into this category and as such, the site is not designed for your needs or entertainment. (God help my critics if they ever choose to read Rough guides.)

Advertising on GG

In February 2006 I was contacted by a hotel booking company wishing to promote their hotels through GG and I declined. I was however contacted by them (in a non badgering way) numerous times over the next 3 months to see if a way could be found to change my stance.

As a result of one, the efforts that they made to accommodate me and the site, and two, to satisfy reader requests (since I was continually getting asked to suggest hotel sites), I agreed to add the hotel section.

At this time I redesigned the site to cater for other holiday/property services although I made no attempt to sell or promote advertising.

All advertisers to date are “organic” – i.e. they contacted me not the other way around.

If GG can make more money through further commercial content, then I will be more than happy, however I will not compromise the content to accommodate this. Those posting comments to this effect are wasting their time.

I will also not be drawn into any attempted promotion of the site’s potential to advertisers on this blog. There are stats pages etc on GG that provide this info to anyone interested. I actually only mention GG on this site when I am either struggling for a blog entry, or irritated by something connected with the site.

And finally, without any further ado, two concluding points:

1. Whilst I genuinely appreciate comments, especially constructive ones (+ or -), writers who choose to hide behind anonymity and wish to make unsubstantiated criticisms do not warrant a response, hence this will be the last one that they will get.

2. It might also be worth considering that, anonymous or not, “comments” are there for all to see. Those that are unreasonable, or posses a tone that is intolerant to any view but their own, will be attributed to the Galician population, irrespective of any claims to the contrary. If you feel that such comments benefit the image of Galicia, please make them.

If you made the comments referred to and are “English”, run a business connected with wine, (have a mutual friend with me) and you mentioned our advertising costs, it should be worth bearing in mind that I as good as offered you free advertising last year and got a sarcastic response in return.



And before I forget, many thanks for giving my “opinionated self” something to write about.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

 

Galicia Guide and what it is about

Thanks to “Joe bloggs” for his comments and here is my “hopefully” considered response.

Please bear in mind that this blog and the comments I place on it are not on Galicia Guide.

Firstly, if there is any inaccurate information on Galicia Guide please tell me what and where it is and I will correct it. (Opinions and personal views are not information.)

Re: Galicia Guide’s content

It is a personal guide to Galicia and the purpose of it is to provide our view (with our subjective comments- this is stated on the main page). There are plenty of factual guides out there offering paid promotions of every hotel, restaurant and location – we are not attempting to do this – we do not get paid to do it - nor do we ever intend to!

Out of around 400 pages, only three or four contain any serious negative views. If that offends those from Galicia, or those with a business connected with it (which includes me), that is something I will have to live with. Needless to say I try, if humanly possible, to write positively about the region, but I will not lie and I will not say that Galicia is perfect because it is not.

As far as criticisms of Ryanair are concerned, I suspect that the opening of flights from 2 new UK airports, both of which are publicised (free of charge to Ryan air) on numerous pages of Galicia Guide, confirms that they are doing pretty well.

Are they a good airline? You use them and decide. Personally, whilst they operate at very cheap rates, I do think that their service is poor and I make this assessment by comparing them with EasyJet and Jet2 who I have used regularly. That said I will probably still use them again this year because they are cheap and fly direct to Santiago. If I do, I will also state this on Galicia Guide.

(I corrected this paragraph on 17.01.2007)
The restaurant criticism applies (I am sure) to just 2 restaurants, both in Noia. In the case of one the food was nothing short of disgusting, the service atrocious and, if my comments save a single individual a similar culinary nightmare, I will have provided a service. If they were to request and advertisement on Galicia Guide, at whatever price, they would be turned down. The other, where service was a problem, have had a (no doubt unbeknown to them) free page advert for 2 years!

Incidentally, all the numerous bar/restaurant recommendations (of which there must be 30 or so in total) are all there for free. They appear because the food and service that we received was good – none of them are paid adverts, none of them knew who we were or gave us any kind of discount - how many other sites do that.

As far as advertising rates are concerned, it is hard to make a comment since I am not an advertiser. Certainly the rates for estate agents and tours/holiday services are a tiny fraction of those on every other site. Quite literally (up to yesterday), I have never attempted to sell a single advertising space on Galicia Guide. Every advert, promotion or programme on the site is there at the instigation of (and contact from) the advertising company themselves. What more can I say. It suggests that the prices cannot be all that bad and that our advertisers must think that the adverts pay for themselves!

Finally, and this is not intended to sound condescending, advice can never be impartial since it is based on knowledge, practical experience or both, all of which are subjective. Experiences, which is what we are talking about in the context of holidays and visiting attractions, simply cannot be described in any other way than - “yes I liked and enjoyed this place”, or “no I did not - and here are the reasons why”. Excluding these views stops a guide being a guide and simply turns it into an itinerary or list.

In summary, all I can add is that the suggestion, repeated again and again throughout Galicia guide, takes the form of “this is a great place to visit or live”! What more can you ask for.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

Galicia, Noia, web traffic

Blogger, blogspot, or whoever they are ,seem insistent on applying pressure to get me to switch to their new system – but I have no intention of doing so!

Re: Galicia

There seems to be an upturn in web traffic for Galicia related searches compared with this time last year, perhaps more people are now considering it as a holiday destination.

I have also noticed an ever increasing number of people putting in searches for property in the region, no doubt as second homes or places to retire to.

I came across an internet article on one of the official town/city websites earlier this week describing la playa de Testal as Noia’s best beach! Perhaps they should take another look – it was dirty and vile last summer and I have added a note to Galicia Guide to that effect.

Website wise, all 3 of my Galicia related websites are riding high in the searches at the moment (although that can always change), and my primary site is getting 2000 plus daily page views. In order to attempt to capitalise on this I intend to send out some promotional emails to a small number of estate agents to see if they are interested in advertising on the site. The lack of any villas/casas is also frustrating, especially since a number of these are advertised on several other sites that get a fraction of my traffic.

I also still have some new town guides to upload to GG, which I must get around to doing at some point.

Monday, January 08, 2007

 

My continued irritation

This is the briefest of entries and is simply here to keep things ticking over.

Christmas was poor (for reasons that I will not go into) and the New Year has started little better.

We will try to decide when our visit (or visits) to Galicia will take place over the next few weeks and we will then have the benefit (or otherwise) of booking/flying from Liverpool to Santiago with the wonderful Ryanair!

I continue to contemplate the addition of further commercial content to Galicia Guide in the wake of the 2 month “payment holiday” that a realtor decided to award themselves. In the meantime both the exchange rate and currency conversion charges worked against me resulting in the meagre sum being reduced by a further £15 or so. I am still seething, especially since a single conversion will net them thousands of Euros. I will reject their advert next year.

That is all from a bitter me.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

 

Making a website commercial

This is far from a cautionary tale, but it is something to consider if you have a website and are contemplating adding commercial (i.e. where you get some remuneration) content.

I started Galiciaguide.com without any serious intention of making money from the site - something that every webmaster will tell you that you should do. I did however get drawn into this. Firstly, because of emails requesting info on hotels, car hire and the like, and secondly because I was contacted by a hotel chain with the suggestion of an affiliate agreement.

Before I go any further, I should state that offering these services can benefit everyone from your visitors to yourself, but make rules and stick with them. Don’t do favours and always get your money – your site is now a business.

Affiliates can be good, in fact my hotel affiliate is excellent and not only gives me commission (which is not added to the visitors booking charges), but also gives me detailed stats and now actually draws up my invoices for me. Other affiliates are however not so good and some leave you with the distinct impression that whilst you are giving them business you have no way of proving it! If you decide to use affiliates monitor them carefully and make sure that you can leave them at a moments notice.

Selling ad space is another way of generating income and this can become more complex than you might think. My first ads were with companies and individuals that I knew, or knew of, and I was confident of payment. That however changed when I was contacted by a Spanish company wishing to advertise on the site. I generated an ad in good faith and although they were happy with it, it took 2 months to get paid. Furthermore, this required not just an invoice, but a contract with terms and conditions - all in Spanish (extra time and cost). It was more trouble than it was worth and given hindsight I would have turned the request down.

A further thought to consider is your content. Commercial content does change your real content. Here is an example re: galiciaguide.com.

I really do not like the city of Ferrol or the town of Finisterre. Neither are offensive places, but equally they should not be considered as tourist haunts, they are unattractive and bland and this is a point that galiciaguide.com has always made. In 2006 however, I was updating reviews of both locations when I noticed that my hotel affiliate offered accommodation in both localities, i.e. business for them and commission for me – what should I do?

In truth I retained my less than favourable view of both towns, but also managed to find something positive to say about each, even if it was simply the convenient location of Ferrol for visiting other places. Editor freedom, or the constraints of commercialism – you decide, either way my advertisers did influence my content, even if only slightly.

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