Saturday, December 19, 2009

Woman tweets as young son dies from drowning

A woman has been condemned for posting tweets on Twitter as her young son died after falling in the family pool.

While I think it's a little unfair to be harshly critical - particularly since it's happened so recently - it is surprising that someone would have the inclination to do this in the middle of such a traumatic event.

Just goes to show how big a part these social networking sites play in people's lives nowadays.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cries for help on Facebook

As Facebook continues to grow there are more and more stories in the media about how its members are using it to communicate their feelings of desperation. Sadly, sometimes these messages are not heeded, and tragedy results.

But often the message is very clear and the alerted friends take immediate action to help the user. A good example is the case of a Swedish woman who was being held at knifepoint in her apartment. She managed to describe her dire situation on Facebook, and friends who saw the message called the cops. And while she did manage to escape her assailant on her own, he was ultimately arrested. This probably wouldn't have happened had she not managed to alert her friends online.

This story illustrates yet again the centrality of the site in the lives of so many people. But it also reveals just how adept they are at using computers. The woman in question must have been nimble-fingered indeed to type the status update with the man right there in the apartment!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Are keywords in the domain name helpful for SEO?

Though I have been blogging for a while, I haven't given that much thought to domain names. But I have been looking into this subject a bit more in recent months.

One thing that you often read on forums and blogs is people asking whether having keywords in your domain name is good for SEO. As with so many questions related to the subject, there's a lot of difference of opinion.

But from what I can tell from promoting this site and others, using them in your domain definitely does help. Clearly, I haven't used keywords with this site. That's mainly because when I started it I wasn't quite sure of its direction, so I didn't have any particular keywords in mind. I just chose something meaningless but (hopefully) catchy.

While I am gradually pulling in more and more traffic from long tail keyword searches, it has been frustrating. I suspect that this is mainly to do with the fact that there are just so many SEO and marketing blogs out there. Still, I think the lack of keywords doesn't help.

I have two other sites that do have keywords in their domains. They are in competitive niches also, but they have crawled up the rankings more quickly. So I'm pretty sure that this must have something to do with it.

Another Facebook non-fan

When I wrote about how much I disliked Facebook, I thought I was one of only a few. But it seems more and more people are really getting annoyed with it.

Toady, I read an amusing article in the Daily Telegraph. The writer seems to have had a lot more to do with it than I have, but she is similarly unimpressed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Social media burnout a growing phenomenon

I'm not into social media for various reasons. But the main one is that I just don't have the time and energy for it. Keeping up to date with online news, blog commentary and then writing my own blogs is already too much for me. So I just don't understand how people can do all that and participate enthusiastically in sites like Twiiter and Facebook as well.

Maybe it's a generation thing. Perhaps oldies like me (I'm 45) just don't have the mental flexibility that youngsters who grew up in the age of the internet have.

Whatever the reason, it does seem that people are starting to overdose on sites like these. The term "social media burnout" does get a lot of results with those exact keywords in page titles. So clearly more and more people are suffering from this.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ezine Articles directory traffic

Just another thought on article directories: I logged into Ezine Articles and saw that my articles had now been viewed over 3000 times. This level of exposure is several times greater than any of the other major directories I submit to. The site just gets monster traffic.

Then there is the SEO benefit that I've observed. Of course it's hard to tell which directories work best for this, but there always seems to be improvement in the rankings some time after I've submitted to Ezine Articles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mystified by the laziness of blog comment spammers

As your blog gets seen by more and more people, there are some annoying consequences. Not only are you almost certain to get your content scraped by someone lazy and cynical, but you're sure to get a lot of spam comments.

I find it quite depressing, to be honest. You keep seeing these pathetic, lame contributions like: "Great blog. I will return often. Keep up the great work!"

Why do these people even bother?

Of course if it's a robot doing this you can understand. But these are quite often actual people. Surely it's more energy-sapping in the long run to write these lame one and two-liners than it is to write thoughtful comments that actually contribute to the blog? Also, a lot of the spam comments they write don't even stay there, since the blogger swiftly removes them, so they're not getting any benefit anyway. And even if they do remain on the blog, they do a disservice to the URL they're linking back to. To be honest I'm completely mystified by the stupidity and laziness of these people.

So, if you do want to comment on this blog - and I do appreciate and welcome comments - please remember that I will just delete these lazy spam comments. If you have something thoughtful to say that shows you have actually read the post you're commenting on then in all likelihood I'll approve it.

Content scraper site outranking original in search engines

I wrote earlier about a content scraper site that was plagiarizing my content. I sent the webmaster a polite e-mail demanding that he stop doing this, but of course he didn't stop.

I think it's pretty funny that he's still nicking my content, since I put a post in which I listed the actual site name as the culprit. That got scraped also. So his own site includes an admission that it is plagiarized from mine.

But the really annoying thing is that his site is outranking me for some keyword searches. I suspect that this is because he's got a few stronger links pointing back to his domain or something. Or it might be because of some other factors.

I'm not going to spend all my time and energy trying to fix this problem. However I've got a few ideas on what can be done. I'll try them out and see what happens, then sum up the results here.

In the meantime: Have any other bloggers come across this problem. And what did you do to amend it?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weebly website SEO

Just a thought on the free website host Weebly: While the building tools are a dream, I wasn't sure how easily indexed sites built with this particular host actually were. Now, after being with Weebly for a while, and seeing the search engine traffic build slowly but steadily, I can say with confidence that it's definitely "SEO friendly".

Monday, November 9, 2009

Facebook is everywhere!

Usually when you search for a company name in Google News, you'll see a few stories relating to it at most. Usually it's just one at any given time - even if it's a big international company.

But what happens if you do this with the word "Facebook". You'll see pages and pages of article listings, from all over the world, dealing with many different subjects.

It seems that just about everyone on Earth now has a Facebook account, and they spend a lot of their time every day using it. Which is why it reveals so much about the way people live now, and why journalists love to write about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Google Street View provokes complaints and concerns

Google Street View will be updated in Australia in the coming months. Because of complaints by some people who were immortalized by Google last time round, face and number plate blurring technology has been upgraded.

Aside from these sort of complaints, there are concerns about another potential form of abuse: Thieves browsing the images for places that look particularly easy to break into.

This is reminiscent of criminal exploitation of the images supplied by Google Earth.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Article spinning software is redundant

I have been using articles now for a while, and have discovered that they really do work.

Of course, it's better for SEO if you are submitting unique articles to each directory, rather than the same ones over and over again. That's why so many marketers use article spinning software to make unique versions of the same article, thereby maximizing the SEO benefit they get from each.

But frankly I can't see the point of this. If you get a machine to spin an article, then you end up with something that is pretty much gibberish, or at best very awkward to read. If you had any pride at all, you wouldn't submit that to directories to link back to your website.

If you did have some pride in your work, then you would at least rewrite that spun article so that it looks like a human created it! But if you were to do that, then why not rewrite the whole article?

And if you would go to the effort of doing that, then why not just write a whole new article from scratch? It would take about the same amount of effort - probably less, since writing something anew is more enjoyable than just finding a different way to say something you've already said.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How blogging develops good work habits

While social networking sites seem to be all the rage at the moment and are still experiencing huge growth and massive mainstream media exposure, blogging is still a great way to promote yourself and get your message out. I suspect that will always be the case.

And there's another way in which blogging is very powerful: Since a blog requires constant updating, it develops good working habits. That's a boon for writers, who often find it hard to keep themselves at their desks.

If you just write a few posts a week, before you know it you have tens of thousands of words up there. It really is amazing how this builds up.

I discovered this last night. I recently looked at one of my old blogs which has pretty much kicked the bucket and started cutting and pasting the material into a word processing file, just so I had a record of it. I could barely remember writing a lot of this stuff, and it took a long time just to save a portion of it. I did a word count and discovered that there was at least 15000 words. That was about a quarter of the entire blog.

Considering that a novel is 40000 words or more, that meant I had quite a thick book's worth of material there. And that was just one blog. I have written several of them over the years!

I don't know what I will do with that material. It was very topical, and so is now out of date. However, I can certainly rewrite a lot of it to make the observations more timeless, or rejig them with contemporary references. I might be able to sell this stuff offline as a book of essays or, more likely, use it as the raw material of articles to submit to directories and build traffic to this site and others.

And one thing's for sure: There's no way I would have amassed all that material had I not been blogging. Logging onto the internet, scouring Google News and other sites for things to write about and then venting via my blog became an almost daily ritual that I couldn't do without (and still can't).

And whatever I ultimately decide to do I'm really glad I amassed that material. It's the first draft for something - even if I'm not quite sure what!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Google page rank updated

Speaking of the awesome power of Google: I noticed that Google has just updated page rank.

I have been waiting for this for a while since I've been building and promoting a new website. I was glad to see that the main page of that particular site is already PR 1. This confirms that I'm heading in the right direction with my content and link building efforts.

I know that it's easy to place too much importance on page rank and that ultimately it doesn't have a huge effect on traffic. Still, it is a valuable measure of how Google perceives your site and shouldn't be forgotten.

Google is the God of the internet

The more I learn about Google, the more awesome it becomes to me. It is pretty much omniscient when it comes to the internet. And it's starting to appear to be omnipotent, as well. It really is like the God of cyberspace. Not surprising, then, that it has its own church!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More good article directories with decent PR

Article marketing is an effective way to increase your search engine traffic. Three of the best article directories are Ezine Articles, Article Dashboard and Go Articles, which all have a PR of 6. I've been using them consistently and they really do help.

Still, it's worth spreading your articles around, since the search engines do like variety. So I've found a few other ones with decent page rank. These are: Article Pool (PR5), Article Click (PR5), Easy Articles (PR4), U Publish (PR3), Article Rich (PR3), Article Buzz (PR3), 365 Articles (PR3) and Post Articles (PR3).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Using blog comments to find blogs to comment on!

Just another thought on how to find good blogs to comment on: Google for some blogs in your niche. I find it helps if you include "keywordluv" or "commentluv" in your search because you know that you can leave your URL in the comment field. Also, a fair proportion of these will be dofollow. (Of course it's not vital that every blog you comment on is dofollow. In fact, you can get much greater benefits in the long run from good nofollow blogs, particularly if the blogger likes what you have written and links to one of your posts. That said, it's nice when a blog is dofollow, since you know that you are getting some direct search engine benefit from the post itself.)

Do this, and you're sure to find some good, busy blogs in your niche, with lots of comments. Isolate the ones with the most recent posts, then click on the individual posts. Logic dictates that the best commenters will also have the best blogs. So, just scroll down and look for the best comments. And click on their blogs!

Then do the same thing all over again with each quality, comment rich blog you find. If you get on a roll with this, it's possible to find dozens of new blogs this way without once having to return to Google to restart your search.

Weebly targets education market

Anyone who has used Weebly will know how simple and straightforward the drag and drop site builder and web host is to use. For anyone who isn't at all geeky it's a dream. It could be said that it's so easy even a child could do it!

I'm sure quite a few kids are already using it for this reason. Now millions more will be, too, as part of their schooling, because Weebly has very craftily targeted the education market in the USA.

This is a huge, untapped resource. I mean, which other web hosting providers have a product specifically designed for children? I'd say Weebly has pretty much cornered the market even before anyone else figured out it was there!

Very, very smart.

Monday, October 12, 2009

All-powerful Google satirized by Mad Magazine

The more you learn about the internet, the more you realize just how powerful Google is. The massive search engine knows all about pretty much everything that is online! It's close to omniscient.

And now, with Google Earth and other big projects, it's covering the real, offline world as well. It can make you seem a little bit paranoid if you think too much about it.

Here's a funny take on Google's immense power from Mad Magazine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Duplicate content in comments can hurt SEO

There's a lot of confusion about duplicate content. For example, people worry that submitting the same article to a few different directories will have negative ramifications for the URL they're linking back to in the author bio-box.

But this is a false concern. The main thing to remember is that you should keep all the content on your domain unique. Then you should be fine.

And you should also keep an eye on comments posted to your blog. This is because if someone posts content that has been lifted verbatim from elsewhere on the web that's duplicate content, and it's now on your domain. This blogger had such a problem and it had a substantially negative effect on his search engine traffic.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Suicide notes on Facebook

Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas's ex-husband Kevin McGee recently hanged himself. Suicide is always sad, of course. But the fact that McGee wrote a note hinting at his intentions on Facebook makes it all the more tragic.

Clearly someone found it jarring enough to write: "That's a bit dark, Kevin." But neither he nor anyone else saw it for what it really was. If they had, maybe they could have stopped McGee from going through with his plans.

And this is not the only case of its kind. At the begining of this year an aspiring model and actor named Paul Zolezzi, also struggling with addiction, wrote a remarkably similar note on the popular social networking site.

It's likely others have done the same already. And we'll certainly be reading about more such tragedies in the future.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Goal setting and the internet

One common piece of advice for anyone seeking to achieve success in some area is to set goals. Then you have something very clear to aim for, and a way of measuring success or failure.

This is very useful in many pursuits. But it can be tricky when applied to internet promotion, particularly traffic building. This is because so much is dependent upon Google and other search engines. And while we can have a reasonable idea about what works and what doesn't, it's very difficult to know just how much work you'll need to do before you see the results you're hoping for.

For example, you might be getting 10 hits a day in October, and decide that you will get 30 hits a day by November. So you work your bum off building links and adding good content, as well as doing all the other SEO stuff that you know works. But your traffic doesn't triple, it only just doubles in that period. That can leave you feeling like you've failed.

That's why I think it's better to aim for high but comfortably achievable goals that you define, as opposed to specific outcomes that only the search engines can deliver. More realistic goals might involve reaching a hundred blog posts, or submitting a certain number of articles linking back to your site to the biggest, best article directories.

Approaching things this way will mean that your traffic will definitely increase - possibly very rapidly - but you won't be running yourself ragged in the process, or feeling frustrated because you didn't quite get what you hoped for.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Google Earth a blessing and a curse for criminals

Google Earth is an amazing tool. You can see just about any part of the entire surface of the Earth. It's almost as if you become god-like.

It really does boggle the mind, and users quickly come up with interesting applications for it. Not surprisingly, some of them think of unethical - even criminal uses.

Take Tom Berge. He knew how valuable lead was, so he used Google Earth to find roofs in London that had tiles made from it. He then set about stealing the material, continuing for 6 months before finally being caught.

But just as it can empower criminals, it can also empower law enforcement. Cops in Switzerland, for instance, detected a marijuana crop while using Google Earth in a drug investigation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Using Google Earth for fun and profit

I just learned about the intriguing story of Nathan Smith, a musician who thinks he has found buried treasure. Using Google Earth he saw what he is convinced is a centuries old Spanish ship, reputed to be carrying a massive load of silver and gold, buried under mud in Texas. The location is on private property, so he's now engaged in a legal battle to be able to dig up the site, and take possession of whatever riches he might find.

This would almost certainly not be happening if he didn't use Google Earth. It's an astonishingly powerful tool, and I'm sure there'll be many more stories like this.

I've actually used it to make a few bob myself. See, I distribute flyers through the suburbs of Sydney to promote various affiliate programs. (It's a surprisingly effective method, by the way, particularly for local, geo-specific programs.) I've also done letterbox drops for various small businesses (though I'm not doing that now).

If what I was promoting with this method was tailored more towards young and single people than older family types, I would focus on apartment blocks as opposed to houses. If I didn't know the area I was going to do already, I would log into Google Earth and have a look at it. It was very easy to find the apartment clusters this way.

Have any readers used Google Earth in a similar way? Or do you have any ideas as to how it could be used?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blog plagiarized

I recently discovered that someone has been lifting the content from this site and publishing it on a blog. I won't link directly to the site because I don't want to give him the benefit, but the URL is "findfreearticlesonline dot com" if you want to have a look.

It's an amazingly cynical thing to do. Apart from the fact that it's morally wrong to just nick people's stuff, it's not even worth it in the long run because the search engines will always index the original first.

I have disdain for plagiarists and scammers. I also pity them, because they are so lacking in character. Why go to the trouble of doing something so clearly unethical when you can put the same time and energy into creating your own content or promoting a genuine, good quality product or service and ultimately reap greater rewards? Doing what they do is stupid as well as pathetic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MySpace and Twitter's party animals

Recently, details of a party were posted on Twitter, resulting in 150 drunk youths gatecrashing it and ruining the house in which it was held.

This event is reminiscent of the huge party that made Aussie party boy Corey Delaney world famous. That particular shindig was promoted on MySpace.

These events give some idea of the massive reach of these sites. They also doesn't reflect too well on the kind of people who use them.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twitter, Facebook and defamation

Here's a story that illustrates how the rapidly changing face of the internet has ramifications for the law: UK celebrity Jordan made headlines when she claimed that she had been raped by a famous celebrity. Numerous Twitter uses posted tweets naming who they thought the guy was.

These have been deemed defamatory, and the celeb named could win substantial damages. However, it might not be worth it in the end because of the speed with which new tweets are posted.

Another story that involved legal issues and social media occurred earlier this year after the Victorian bushfires. Facebook users posted photos of the main suspect, leaving them up in defiance of a court order.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Friendship" meaningless on Facebook

I know that a lot of people get right into Facebook. But I don't like it at all. I think it's a complete waste of time, to be honest.

One thing that really annoys me is this use of the word "friend". I thought a friend was someone that you actually met regularly in real life, cared about and gave support to. But most Facebook "friends" are anything but. They just add you to their list so that they can get an ego boost, or to promote events, products and other things.

If people want to do that, fine. They just shouldn't use the word "friend". (I know that the users themselves don't choose that word. It's built into the site design. But the fact that so many people seem at ease with its misuse is a bit of a worry.)

The allure of Facebook is that it makes its users feel important, as if they're celebrities. And you only have to look at celebrities to see how dysfunctional their relationships are!

I know some may think I'm a Luddite for saying this, but I'm anything but. I think the internet is a fantastic and revolutionary tool. (Obviously, I'm right into blogging!)

But there's a real problem when people would rather spend hours "poking" each other, posting silly photos of themselves, chatting with six people at once and playing stupid games online instead of actually conversing one on one and face to face. The fact that so many people are addicted to this already is quite depressing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Should website building be methodical or intuitive?

When it comes to website building and promotion, there seem to be two general approaches you can take. One way is to be methodical and detached. You spend hours and hours doing lots of keyword research, exhaustively sussing out your competition. Using this detailed information you choose a traffic pulling domain name, then carefully optimize each of your pages. Building the site itself and then gaining backlinks to it is almost a formality.

The other way is to depend much more on intuition. You just get an idea for a site, then throw down some relevant content as soon as possible. You then let it develop organically, checking your stats as you go, seeing where your traffic is coming from and then building on that. With this approach you are basically making it up as you go along.

So which is the best approach? Of course there are many who would who say the first one is vastly superior. You may spend many hours in preparation, and comparatively little in execution. But this will be worth it in the long run when you are pulling in solid targeted traffic for years on end without having to do much more work.

I prefer the second approach, however. While I do think it's a good idea to give a lot of thought to what you're going to focus on - and you should certainly do some keyword research in choosing a domain name (unless you are using it primarily for branding, as opposed to SEO) - I think you can easily overdo the preparation.

Why? Because the fun of website building is in sharing the information. Just having some good useful content up there is a great feeling. Okay, so it's not optimized yet. But you can always do that later. The search engines will index the changes when completed and you will have done no permanent harm to your site's potential in the long run. It's not set for all time once you press "publish"; it's dynamic and alive and always a work in progress.

The other reason is that you can't predict what your competitors will do. You might spend weeks finding low competition, high traffic keywords to focus on and thereby isolate a juicy little traffic vein. But in a few months there may be six other webmasters who are also onto it, reducing your flood of visitors to a trickle. There's also the possibility that the search engine algorithms change to your disadvantage.

If both, or even just one, of these things were to occur your site's rankings could take quite a hit, and you'd feel very much like you'd gone right back to square one. But if you use the more intuitive and improvisational approach you can take these changes much more in your stride and keep developing your site with enthusiasm.

Psychological benefit of a custom domain

There are many reasons why it's a good idea to publish your blog or website to a custom top level domain. Among other things it's usually shorter than a subdomain, making it easier to remember, and it's also more highly regarded by the search engines.

But there's another less obvious benefit: You become the "master of your own domain" both literally and figuratively. And that gives you a greater sense of ownership and therefore empowerment and focus. It's kind of like moving into an office and putting up a sign out the front which reads "open for business". If you haven't done it yet you'll see when you do - it's really quite a powerful effect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dofollow and Keywordluv plugins and spam

There is still quite a buzz about Dofollow and Keywordluv blogs, with more and more of them popping up all the time. But bloggers are also removing these plugins at a very high rate.

The reason: They attract an awful lot of spam.

All the more reason to write thoughtful comments if and when you do find such blogs.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Choosing a domain name for a business

A couple of days ago I saw a sign that got me thinking about website promotion, and earlier today I saw another one! I was on my way back home to Newtown in Sydney, going through the neighboring suburb of Camperdown, and I saw a manicurist's shop that had a very witty and memorable name: "Manic Cure". The website address was listed also: This got me thinking about domain name choices.

It seems that the business owner, or her online adviser, decided on this name because it was memorable or good for branding. It does seem to be an established business, so word of mouth and years of offline advertising in Sydney would mean that many thousands of people already know of the name and remember it. The site must get quite a few hits from searches for that particular name, "manic+cure". (Actually, if you do type these keywords into Google, the search suggestion drop down menu lists "manic+cure+camperdown", so that is clearly the case.) Given this brand awareness, it seems like a good strategy.

But there's another way the business could have gone in choosing a domain name. That's to ignore the catchy title and just choose keywords that would ultimately pull in traffic regardless of previous awareness of the business. For example, the domain could be something like "" or "".

The success of this strategy would of course depend on how much competition there was for each of the terms used. I didn't check that. However, I did check to see how many local Australian Google searches there were for keywords "camperdown" and "manicure". These were 301000 and 33100 respectively. These are pretty good numbers! There's bound to be a small percentage of searchers who combine those two terms, and you'd be nailing them (no pun intended!) pretty much straightaway. Some link building with these keywords would have to bring in some pretty good search volumes for other, related search terms over time. While some of these searchers would already know about the business, many would be completely unaware, I'd imagine. So that could be a good long term way of getting more exposure and gaining new customers.

It seems to me that the above example has relevance to all businesses in choosing a domain name. That is, do you use the domain for branding, to build upon what you have already done, or do you use it to try and pull in new customers searching for what you offer?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A sign of the rise of free classifieds online

Just about anyone with an internet connection must be aware of the boom in online classifieds sites by now. There are squillions of them, with more popping up almost daily.

It's such a huge shift that it's seen as one of the major causes of the worldwide decline of print media. Before the internet, many newspapers relied heavily on the revenue from classified advertising, particularly the real estate listings. These were often called the "rivers of gold". But with so many people advertising for free or next to nothing online, those rivers have pretty well dried up. And without all that cash flowing through the coffers, there's been less and less left to pay journalists, editors and other staff members.

It's a big change, and you see evidence of it online all the time. And today, I saw its impact offline. I was travelling in a bus through Marrickville, in Sydney's inner west, and I saw a big street sign that said something like "advertise for free". Underneath it was the URL

I'd never seen this particular site before, so I made a mental note of it and had a look when I got home earlier today. I did a backlink check with Yahoo and saw that it had very few backlinks. That's probably why I hadn't seen it in searches. Still, it seems pretty well established, having been around for a few years. Quite a few people are advertising stuff. Obviously that sign has been working very well!

Webmaster moves from Weebly to Webnode

I have posted on the great free website creators Weebly and Webnode before. Here's an illustration of how similar they are: A webmaster who originally used Weebly for his site has moved it to Webnode.

He's clearly achieved a more zany and vivid look with the Webnode template. But I think they are both quite effective.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Weebly, Yola, and Webnode increasingly popular

Curious about the website builder and host Weebly, I just did a news search for it to see if it was making any headlines. What I noticed was that underneath stories about the company itself, there were lots of articles in which Weebly sites were mentioned. The list went for several pages.

I did a similar search for Weebly's main competitor, Yola. It had several mentions, but not nearly as many as Weebly. Webnode had a similar number, with most of its mentions in news outlets from non English speaking nations.

No doubt many of these mentions came as a result of the website owners sending in press releases to the various outlets. Still, it showed just how popular these free website builders have become.

The growth of internet addiction

China's internet addiction clinics have been in the news lately because of the recent deaths of a couple of patients. There are hundreds of these clinics now, developed to cope with the massive of social problem of 10 million online junkies!

Interestingly, no other country has such a big problem. This seems at least in part to be a cultural issue; a consequence of how different countries define addiction. That is, what in one country may be described as mere overuse of the internet is deemed a pathological problem in China.

That said, the Chinese aren't just making the problem up. America has just opened its first internet addiction clinic. It will be interesting to see how many more spring up there and in other parts of the world.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Variety helps content creation

There's a constant mantra that SEO is all about unique content. So you are constantly trying to generate it. You keep worrying that you should be posting more of it as often as possible. Before long you start to run out of ideas, or at least you feel like you are. And you can simply become exhausted.

Needless to say, it's important to have a break every now and then. Of course it's worthwhile to stop blogging completely for a while. But it can also help a lot just to stop blogging and reading about one particular subject.

I've found that when I dump something I've been working too hard on and investigate something else instead I get a burst of energy. I also come up with a whole lot of ideas for blogs and websites related to it. Even though I don't begin building straight away, it's enjoyable just mulling over the possibilities. Then, after having had a bit of break from running projects, I do find it easier to return to them and generate new content.

Then if I start to burn out again, I can go back to those other, new project ideas occasionally. One or more of them will slowly start to gather momentum, and eventually become a reality.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Age of domains an SEO factor

People will be familiar with the exhortation to "begin it now". That's good general advice of course. But I think it's also particularly pertinent to any project on the internet. The reason is that the age of a domain is a factor in SEO. You accrue a small amount of benefit simply for hanging around in cyberspace for a while.

That's why if you have an idea for a website, you should choose a good domain name ASAP. Put some related content up there, even if it's far from perfect and it doesn't look too flash. Then get at least one link back to it so that it gets indexed by Google.

You will have started the ball rolling then, in more ways than one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Anonymous blogger outed, sues Google

Rosemary Port, a blogger who posted abusive rants about model Liskula Cohen, was sued by the model. Now she's biting back, lodging her own lawsuit for being outed by Google, who she believed should have protected her privacy.

I can see why some bloggers in oppressive regimes want to remain anonymous. If they get sprung, they get shot! But this whole furore seems so silly and petty. I don't understand this need for anonymity. If you are going to say something critical, why not put your name to it? Or at least not make outraged demands that your identity remain secret.

That said, the model's reaction to Port's abusive blog was incredibly precious. Why not just shrug it off?

It reveals how ego-driven and bitchy some people are in the fashion world. That's hardly surprising of course! It also shows that despite blogging becoming a substantial force in itself, it's still dwarfed by the power of mainstream media. As the aggrieved blogger Rosemary Port says, hardly anyone even knew about her blog until Liskula Cohen gave it massive media oxygen by filing her lawsuit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why longer blog posts are better than short ones

The more I blog, the more I think about the length of blog posts. I often wonder whether it's better to write lots of short blog posts, or fewer longer ones. (And this question is not related to SEO. I'm thinking more about the effect of blog post length on bloggers' writing style and skill.)

I suppose the blogging medium itself lends itself to short posts. You can make a strong point, then quickly move on. And if you want to communicate a more comprehensive argument or series of points you can do that simply by linking to other blog posts or articles in the one post. Again your post will be short.

While using this technique is useful, I don't think you should overdo it. If you do, you can start to lose the facility to communicate your own thoughts thoroughly and completely. If a blogger tries to write a book, for instance, he won't have the luxury of linking out all the time. He has to include all the information actually within the text he's writing.

That's why making a point of occasionally writing longer posts, without linking out at all, is a good idea. You should also write articles of at least 500 words and submit them to directories. That's a good way to increase your focus and follow through. It's also great for SEO, of course.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The internet's effect on attention spans

There are many arguments about how destructive and corrosive the internet can be. Many people complain about the porn, cyber-bullying, the scams, the viruses and spyware among other things. But to blame the net itself for these things is wrong, I think; a case of shooting the messenger. Sure, the internet makes their transmission so much easier and quicker. But they are separate phenomena.

There is one big negative that I think we can attribute to the workings of the net, however. That's the shortening of attention spans.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't think I'm alone. In the days before the web I could concentrate for a lot longer. I read books and articles one at a time. Now, on the net, I read something for a couple of minutes, then search for something else. I click on a link but quickly get bored with that and do some more searching. If I don't find what I'm looking for, I go back to what I started reading.

It's crazy! Everything is broken up. And it has affected my behavior offline as well. When I read the paper, for instance, I read half an article, then start another, then another. Then I go back to finish the first, second and third! Reading them all the way through one at a time doesn't feel quite right.

I also find it when I'm shopping. I tend to buy stuff in little bursts, rather than getting everything I need in one trip. Maybe this is just a result of my advancing age (I'm 45). But I don't think so. I believe it's got a lot to do with the web.

Has anyone else had this experience?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Make money blogging about things you love

Just a thought on this "make money from blogging" phenomenon: I think a lot of people have the whole thing inverted. They read about how some bloggers are pulling in big bucks writing - somewhat ironically - about how to make money from blogging! They then emulate them. So there are a squillion sites out there with much the same information. They are all spruiking ebooks and courses and work at home business opportunities.

Sure, a lot of people are still doing pretty well out of this. But I suspect most of them make little or no money and then give up sooner or later. The reason for this is that they are not writing about what they have a genuine interest in.

We all need money and it can be a strong motivating factor. Hell, it motivates us to get up every morning to go to work, and stay there until knock-off time! But unless the art of making money itself is a real passion and you are forever learning new techniques, then you'll eventually run out of motivation to write about it. I mean, you can't just keep writing exactly the same stuff over and over. You'll go completely batty.

So the key is to find something you really love doing. Then you'll keep learning new and fascinating things about it which you can share with your readers. You'll build up mountains of content on this particular subject. The search engines will reward you with more and more targeted traffic. You can monetize that with Adsense or affiliate programs, and that's where you'll get an income.

So it's vital to pursue your real interests first and not worry about the money. That's easier said than done. Money is such a big part of all our lives that sometimes it's hard to find things that aren't influenced by the need for it either directly or indirectly! But they are there, of course. And it's those that you should blog about.

It's a real paradox. But I think it's true that the best way to make money from a blog is to start out with no intention to do so. Or put another way: follow your heart and the money will come. (And even if it doesn't, so what? You had a good time on the journey.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Informative blogs make the most money

A general, but crucial point: When people type those keywords into the search engine, they are most often looking for information.

That's pretty obvious. But it took me a long while to realize it. When I started blogging I just wanted to express myself, so I started a couple of rant blogs about anything and everything. Opinion, comment and humor blogs do have an audience, and I built up decent traffic to them. But it's very difficult to sell anything off them because the readers who keep returning are usually looking for nothing more than an amusing or diverting point of view.

But if you offer good, useful information in the form of tips, guides and links to other good sources of information, and you keep it specific to a niche, then you can monetize your blog more effectively in the long term.

Firstly, you'll have a higher click rate on the contextual ads that you are showing, since they'll be more relevant. You'll also develop credibility as an expert in your niche, so you'll have greater success with the affiliate products you sell off your blog. People will think that the product must be worthwhile, since you are endorsing it. (That's why it's also important to find quality products to promote!)

So, a good question for money making bloggers to ask before every new post is: Is this informative and useful to people? I think that asking it consistently will help them build a leaner, more readable blog that is ultimately more profitable.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another way to find new forums

For those who want to find new forums to participate in, here's another way to find them: Look for online discussion boards dedicated to forum administration. Most of the members will actually have their own forums, which they list in their signatures.

Some of these boards have sections for the members to show off their sites or submit them for review, too. Here are two examples.

I think this is a good way to find new forums that haven't yet accumulated enough content to rank highly in the search engines, but are nonetheless well managed, and likely to be around for a while.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The power of blogging

We've all read about how lone but persistent bloggers have managed to gather millions of readers by simply tapping away in their bedrooms, and how some of them have managed to upset the mainstream media with their assiduous fact-checking.

Some individuals even wield an amazing amount of political power. Take, for instance, the blogger known as "Cyxymu". Blogging out of Georgia, which was recently in a war with Russia, his posts were deemed so threatening to some immense power that it launched a massive cyber-attack to try and stop him getting his message out across the web. The assault so huge it shut down Twitter for several hours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Addicted to blog statistics

I've been blogging for several years now, but in the beginning I wasn't that interested in the actual craft of it - aside from the writing, of course. I would just post stuff and then forget about it. I used to get traffic, but I really wasn't bothered about how much I was getting, or where my visitors had come from.

But in the last year or so I've become more and more interested in all those aspects. So I've been checking my statistics regularly. But now that habit seems to have become a full blown addiction. I just can't stop myself logging in at least once a day - sometimes more - to check my blog stats!

This seems to be quite a common affliction. One day it might even become a bona fide medical condition, with specific drugs and therapies devoted to curing it!

Does anyone else have this problem?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Forum posts really do add up

I just logged in to one of the forums I've been participating in. I hadn't posted there for ages, and was curious to see how much I'd written. It turned out I had racked up 18 posts on various subjects. I copied all my posts to a file, which showed the word count: 1500 words.

So, that's quite a bit of material, on a range of subjects. And that's just from one forum.

It just goes to show that if you join these communities it's pretty easy to develop a lot of content. As long as you rewrite it substantially to make it unique in the eyes of the search engines you can use it again for articles and blog posts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding new forums with member usernames

If you are looking for new forums to post on, then of course you'll find heaps with a bit of creative Googling. But here's a little trick that uncovers them in a different way:

If you've joined some forums already, you'll notice that there are some members who post a helluva lot. You also start to see their usernames in some other forums you've joined.

Chances are that they've joined still more forums that you don't know about. So if you just Google their username (including the word "forum" if you wish), the search will reveal a whole host of online discussion boards. Chances are they'll be good, active forums, too. Experienced and avid forum users wouldn't be wasting their time on tiny inactive forums, after all.

Here's an example. There's a marketer called "work2bfree" who is a very active forum user. Here's what a search for her username reveals.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Impersonated on Twitter

I was just checking my stats and saw that someone had come via a Twitter page. I checked it out and saw that the member was using my nickname and the page included the blog description above, as well as a link back here.

Odd that someone would do this. Maybe he's using a content scraping tool and creating heaps of false accounts so he can build up followers and traffic. Not really sure, but it's bloody annoying ...

Has anyone else had this done to them?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The importance of persistence in blogging

"Persistence pays off." It's a very old and often used aphorism, but it's definitely true, particularly when applied to the internet.

Take blogging, for instance. If you only write a 200 word post every couple of days consistently for a year, then you'll have over a hundred posts up. That's 20 000 words! Even if you did no link building whatsoever, you would still be drawing in some regular traffic just from that.

But imagine if you combined that blogging rate with a persistent link building campaign, such as one article a month and 5 free directory submissions. After a year you'd have 72 relevant backlinks.

Of course, the level of traffic depends on many other factors as well. But that amount of content with that number of backlinks would certainly bring in a respectable number of hits through search engines. Yet the work required wasn't much. (It would be if you had to do it all in a month or so!) The key is to do a little bit every day, or most days. And keep at it.

But if you work only very occasionally, you'll see little or no benefit. You could easily become disheartened, and give up. The blogosphere is littered with such blog corpses. Sad, because they could still be alive, kicking and very popular if their owners had just kept at it a bit more consistently.

Writing for the internet

The internet has meant that there are many more opportunities for writers. But it also means that they'll make much less money for their efforts. There are just so many people competing with each other - and from all over the world. Subsequently the price writers can charge for services will often be extremely low. If you have a look at some of the freelance forums you can see what people are offering for projects. It's peanuts.

Sure, you might get lucky and work through a content broker who charges big bucks to clients, so it ultimately becomes worth your while. But that would be very unusual. That's why I think it's a better idea to use your own writing for yourself, and monetize it with affiliate programs, etc. You won't make much money up front, but it will grow over time. Also, you'll have mountains of material that you can turn into e-books - or even the old fashioned variety. These products have further earning potential.

It's almost like renting as opposed to buying a house. Renting is always a temporary solution. Sure, you have somewhere to live from week to week. But ultimately you're just making someone else rich. But paying a mortgage means that you are actually amassing wealth. (Needless to say, writing content for others is like renting. Writing it for yourself is like buying.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SEO training often hugely overpriced

Out of curiosity I have been Googling for SEO training, courses and tutors. What amazes me is what some people have the gall to charge for their services. I have seen some sites with so called experts offering one-on-one training and charging several hundred dollars for a few hours. (I won't link to them; don't want to give them the benefit!)

They would of course be spending much of that time teaching the basics, which you can learn in a couple of hours (or even less) from free online tutorials. Maybe these "gurus" might have a few powerful insights they can share. But nothing could be worth what they are charging, surely.

There are cowboys and BS artists in every industry, of course. But I think it's particularly bad in SEO and SEM now because it's such a new industry, and pretty much unregulated.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lists of free advertising forums

Still on the subject of using forums to promote your site: While most forums encourage actual discussion between members, the forum structure is often used as a kind of free classifieds site, where people can just flagrantly post ads to their hearts content.

While I wouldn't go overboard with this they could be of some use, particularly to the newbie webmaster. Why? Basically it's a very easy way of getting links back to your site. Also, I know from personal experience that free directories can work as a way of targeting particular keywords in the anchor text. So free advertising forums should have a similar benefit.

With this in mind I found some lists of these forums. As with discussion forums, see that the forum does have some PR, and check that the links in the posts are dofollow. And if you post ads, vary the wording a bit between submissions. Unique content is always valued more highly by the search engines, even in small, short entries.

Blogging quality vs. quantity

Just a thought on blogging motivation: It seems that once you decide that you'll make money form your blog you realize that you then have to get as much targeted traffic as possible. To do that you have to keep adding lots of relevant content. Of course you can never do enough!

That presents a problem because you can start to feel guilty if you're not adding posts at a high enough frequency. It also means that the quality of what you're adding might drop somewhat, since you're valuing quantity over quality.

That's why I think it's important to keep recalling why you started in the first place (that is, for enjoyment!), ease up a little and just work when you feel like it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things to look for in a discussion forum

As I've written before, participating in online discussion forums is a worthwhile activity for bloggers and webmasters. You can learn lots of new stuff as well as contribute what you have already learned and thereby help others. It's also a great way to develop material that you can rewrite substantially at another time and post to your blog or an article directory. And if the forum allows signatures that are dofollow, then you will be building links to your site with your chosen keywords in them, thereby helping to optimize it for search engines.

If you do want to get SEO benefit for your participation, then obviously it's worth checking a few threads on each forum you've Googled to see if the posts do have dofollow sigs in them. Also check how many posts the signature owners have racked up. Sometimes the forum administrators only allow sigs after a certain number of posts. It might be 10, 25, or sometimes more. (The massive, active forums at Digital Point, for instance, require you to make 10 posts if I remember correctly.)

Also check the page rank. It's not hugely important. But if the forum has been around for a while yet still has no page rank at all that's not such a great sign. It probably won't hurt you to join it, but it won't help much either. A really high PR forum will tend to help your SEO more (although this is not guaranteed, since there may be just so many people posting in it that this factor becomes almost meaningless). Still, it's something to consider.

The other main factors to look for relate to how large and "alive" the forum is. The problem is that a lot of forums are too small, inactive, dying or dead already! Needless to say, you want to avoid these.

So check the forum home page and look for the numbers of posts and threads. The more the merrier, of course. But also take note of the proportion of threads to replies. If the ratio is close to 1:1, then it's an inactive forum. But if it's something like 1:7 then it's buzzing. Also check the dates of the most recent posts. If there are lots of threads with "today", "yesterday" and recent dates listed, with posts by many different members, then that's another very good sign.

You should also check for pharmaceutical or adult related spam. Some forums are just saturated with the stuff. If there is just a little bit there - even in an otherwise fairly active forum - it probably means that it's already dying, or that the administrators are bit lazy. Either way, its best days are probably behind it and it should be avoided.

Of course you would inevitably learn these things a little while after joining each forum even if you didn't look for them. But by keeping an eye out for them beforehand you can save quite a bit of time in the long run.

Why you can learn too much about SEO

In any field the more you learn about something, the better you get at it. That's satisfying, of course, and enjoyable. But there is a downside: Knowing too much about something can make it seem like hard work!

Here's an example: In the past, when I started blogging I just did it solely because it was fun. I didn't have much of a clue as to whether my approach to it was right or wrong. Thankfully, I was doing two things in particular that were beneficial: writing often and commenting on other blogs. So before too long I had accumulated quite a bit of content on my first blog and a few good backlinks here and there. (These were mostly from the bloggers who had seen me commenting repeatedly and had put a permalink to my blog in the sidebar.)

I just kept chipping away at it, and gradually became curious about the nuts and bolts of blogging. I'm no Darren Rowse, of course. But I have amassed quite a bit of knowledge now. That means that when I post I'm mindful of SEO aspects - keywords in titles, for instance. (That's not something I spend much time investigating; I'm just aware of it so that it might help draw more traffic.) What I've found is that this awareness has complicated the experience and therefore diminished the enjoyment a little.

The process is a bit like what happens to a film buff who becomes a writer/director. In the beginning, he just loves watching movies. He gets caught up in the world on the screen and has a great time. Then he decides he wants to write and direct films himself. So he gets comprehensive training, making several films in his course. After that he can never look at a film in the way he used to because he keeps seeing the craft. It doesn't mean that he can't enjoy them at all; he's just lost his innocence (for want of a better word). The simplicity, or purity of his original experience has gone.

That may not be the best analogy to use when talking about the journey bloggers go through since they were writing from the start as opposed to reading them, then writing them! But they do go through a similar journey, I believe.

Basically, bloggers run the risk of becoming too constantly aware of what they're doing, rather than just doing it! That's why I think it's worth taking a break from learning about (and consciously applying) various blogging techniques and simply writing about your passion. By doing this you can let the stuff you have learned become second nature, while still enjoying the process.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Article and forum marketing vs. blog commenting

As just about everyone who's got a blog or website learns pretty early on, three of the best ways to get those all important backlinks to your site are via article bio-boxes, forum promotion (with dofollow signatures) and commenting on dofollow blogs.

From what I can tell, articles will give the best SEO value per backlink. Not sure which comes next out of the other two. I think it's probably the blog comments. In any case, I do prefer the forum marketing.

This is because blog commenting can be more time consuming than participating in forums. Firstly you have to find the blog, then find the post that you sincerely want to contribute to. Finally you write your comment.

Also, blogs are usually written by just one person, so many of them are only updated occasionally. You can return again and again to a quality blog and not find a post you can comment thoughtfully on for weeks!

On the other hand the content in forums is contributed by hundreds, sometimes thousands of people. So if you find a nice big active forum, you can keep coming back and there'll almost always be lots of new stuff there to comment on and contribute to. You just go to the relevant section and scroll down through the list of threads to see what catches your eye. Because of this, you can build backlinks far more quickly.

There's another advantage that forum promotion (and article marketing for that matter) has over blog commenting: You can go back to what you've written and edit it, including the links back to your site. You can't do this with blog comments. Once you've posted your comment on someone else's blog, that's it!

This may not seem like a big advantage. But it definitely comes in useful if you want to launch a new website or blog. If you've got dozens of posts up there are you've got a very useful instant SEO tool. You just log into the forum, go to your account, then add the new link to your signature. Same with your article bio-boxes. While some of the big article directories allow a maximum of two bio-box links, many of them allow three. If you haven't used all these then you can just put the new one in for each of your previously submitted articles. If you have used them all then you can just replace one of the other backlinks with the new one.

If you have a really large number of these up already then it's probably not a great idea to do them all at once since Google might not approve! But if you spread them out a bit, particularly if you've done some other incremental link building in the past, then it shouldn't be a problem. And it will definitely help with SEO.

Beware blogger burnout!

Every now and then articles about how people burn out while blogging pop up in the media. It seems odd that something people do in their own time, and on their own terms, can cause them so much stress. I mean, burnout is usually associated with people working too hard in "real" jobs.

While I don't think I'm even near that point, I do understand why such a thing occurs. It's simply that with blogging there are no set limits. There's no point at which you - or some separate authority - says, "that's enough; you've achieved what's required". In other words, there's no "knock off" time, and no bell to tell you it's arrived.

When you start blogging for fun, it's enjoyable just to post regardless of anyone else's reaction. So you just keep at it with no real goal in mind. But eventually you see that the more you write the more traffic you get. (Of course there are other factors, but this is certainly one of the main ones.) You like the attention, so you keep posting more frequently. You get to the point where your blog is drawing a few hundred hits a day, say. You don't want your traffic to wane, and you don't want to lose your regular readers. So you make sure that you keep up that pace. But eventually even that's not enough. Your traffic is a source of some pride, but it's nothing compared to the readerships of bloggers you admire. So you keep trying to up the ante.

If you're making money off the blog the same motivation applies. You start with a few bucks here and there, which is a nice surprise. It slowly increases, but never fast enough. So you post even more. And more, and more ...

In both cases there are no upper limits. The more you get the more you want. So your blog becomes like this huge magnet that keeps demanding your time and effort. Before you know it you haven't slept or showered for a week, and can barely say your name!

Needless to say, it's a good idea to take a break from blogging occasionally and just "smell the roses" as they say. Blogging is great fun, and can be a good source of income for some. But it's certainly not worth sacrificing your health for.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update on page rank update!

Earlier I wrote about how the PR for one of my other blogs had dropped from 3 to 1. Well, it has gone back to 3 again.

I doubt there was even a page rank update at all. I think the last one was a month or so ago, and it will be at least a another month before there's another. So I suspect that the fall was merely due to some little glitch in my browser.

So I haven't offended the Google God after all! That's a relief ...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The importance of insight

There's that saying "there's nothing new under the sun". That's true generally. And it's particularly true on the internet. There are just so many blogs about internet marketing, for instance. They all have the same or very very similar information: how to get traffic, how to build backlinks for free, etc.

So it seems that to distinguish yourself from the pack you have to do one of two things (or both of them together): Be the very first to post the new information. Or you have to write uniquely insightful posts about your niche.

That's not an easy thing to do. And it's very hard to do consistently.

Friday, July 17, 2009

SEO benefit of forum signatures

While I've long known that building dofollow backlinks through forum participation benefits site SEO, I just didn't know how much. But this blogger has managed to quantify it somewhat by running an experiment.

His results show it's clearly worth doing, even if the forums you participate in are not related to your site.

Personally, I like participating - particularly on some of the bigger forums - because there's almost always something to provoke a response. So you're not just sitting there looking at a blank screen trying to come up with something new and interesting to say. The process of writing is pleasurable, and you're link building without thinking about it. Also, the forum posts you write can be used again as the basis for articles or blog posts. As long as they are rewritten substantially, they will be unique content.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Social media for SEO

Up to now I've been very slack about joining social networking sites. I'm time poor and just never get around to it.

Still, I've heard that they can be fantastic for traffic generation, and good for SEO too. For instance, simply signing up to many of these sites will get you a backlink that counts for SEO. Here's a good list of them.

Google Profiles is not on the above list, but is worth joining for the same reasons.

Latest page rank update

I know that people tend to obsess a bit too much over page rank. It's only one factor in Google's estimation of your site, after all.

Still, it's hard not to be chuffed when your PR goes up, and miffed when it goes down. I'm feeling pretty miffed now, because the PR on my humor and opinion blog has just dropped two notches! It was PR 3, and it's now down to 1! And about 6 months ago it was PR 4. I don't know what I've done to provoke this fall. Maybe nothing; perhaps it's all due to algorithm changes ...

In any case I definitely don't want it to slide any further. I think I'll submit a few articles at various directories linking back to that blog URL. Hopefully it will help.

Thankfully my daily traffic hasn't fallen at all. So it seems PR has little or nothing to do with that.

This blog remains steady at PR2, however. Not bad considering that it's still pretty young, without much content.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Newly discovered dofollow forums

Participating in online forums can be a good exercize. Needless to say, you can learn quite a bit. You should be cautious, however, since a lot of the information can be less than reliable. There are a lot of newbies on these forums who know next to nothing, yet still think that they know it all! That said, you eventually learn to sort the wheat from the chaff pretty quickly.

A major benefit is that you can promote your website or blog as you participate. You just place a link to your site in the "signature" that appears at the bottom of all your posts. You'll get some clicks directly and if the signature link is dofollow it will help a little with SEO.

My advice would be to join quite a few forums, and participate every now and then. While forum signature links are not as valuable as article bio-box links, they are worth something. And having them coming from a range of sites is helpful (the search engines do like variety in link building, remember).

There are a few lists of these dofollow forums floating around the internet. They include a lot of common sites, though. Of course, it's not to hard to find some new forums yourself with a bit of creative Googling.

Here are some I found just recently: Marketers Space Forum, Net Affiliate Talk, Web Hosting Forum.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Patience required when link building

I have been building backlinks to this site and others lately, mainly through commenting on blogs and forum posts. It can be very frustrating, because the search engines index these links in their own good time. So you can add a couple of dozen links and you don't see any benefit at all for weeks, if not months.

It's the same slow process when you add unique content to a blog or website. But at least you can see it there. So you do have a bit of sense of achievement about it.

Off site optimization through link building is very important, though. So you should do as much as possible - without letting it make you go crazy with frustration!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dofollow blog list's high attrition rate

Many months ago, when I first learned about dofollow blogs and the SEO benefit that commenting on them confers, I did quite a bit of searching for them. I amassed quite a substantial list and did comment on a few here and there. I then gave it up for quite a while.

I just returned to it recently, intending to write a few more comments. What surprised me was how many of the blogs had "died". And quite a few of them that were previously dofollow had been switched back to nofollow, presumably because the bloggers had become sick of all the spammy comments.

It just confirmed my view that while dofollow blogs are definitely worth commenting thoughtfully on if you find them, you can waste quite a bit of time and energy with this particular method of link building. I think that the best approach is simply to find blogs you like, return to them from time to time, and comment when you feel like it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Advanced operators for keyword selection

Just a thought on keyword selection: An effective way of checking how much competition there is for a certain keyword is to use Google's advanced operators. There are quite a few of these, but three of the best are "inurl", "inanchor" and "intitle".

If you just use these on keywords you're interested in optimizing a page for, you'll get some very valuable information. Basically, if there are heaps of results coming back when each operator is applied, then it might be very hard (or impossible) to compete for that keyword. But if there aren't so many, you should start ranking highly for them quite easily.

Of course it's hard to tell exactly what the threshold number is, but I found from experience of using one keyword on a site that even though there were tens of thousands of results for each operator search for it, I still ended up on page one in the SERPs. I think that the reason was that the keyword was in my url, the title and in my link building campaign (that is, frequently in the anchor text of the links I'd placed on other sites). These had a cumulative effect, I believe.

So, my advice is to choose some keywords that you really want to use, check that they have reasonable search volume, then apply these operators. Then just optimize for the ones with the lowest competition, making sure to have it in the URL, the title and in the anchor text of your backlinks to your page.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adwords, Clicksor, Bidvertiser, Adtoll

I have been using various contextual ad networks to promote one of my sites. It's difficult to judge results accurately, since if you're getting search engine traffic as well as paying for clicks you don't know exactly where most of your leads are coming from. That said, you can see some trends emerging, and make reasonable conclusions from them.

So, from what I can tell, Clicksor seems to be one of the better ones. Bidvertiser works okay. Adtoll is a smaller network, and delivers hits much more slowly. But it seems to deliver good traffic. I will use all of these sites again.

I have used "run of network" ads with Adengage, but the clicks were delivered super fast and I didn't get many signups from them at all. I won't use this site again.

I've just started with Adwords. That's more involved and I'm still getting my head around it but it appears to be working very well. However, to get clicks you have to pay quite a bit more than you do with the other networks I've mentioned. But those clicks do seem to be much more likely to convert than all the others. So, definitely worth it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sauropol and DevHub

Just found two more free web hosts that appear to have very effective website building tools that require no specific training or knowledge. They are Sauropol and DevHub.

The way things are going, there'll be a lot of highly paid web designers (and promoters) who'll be out of work by year's end!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Inconsistent results

I've been promoting an Australian property investment affiliate program lately. It requires that the affiliate brings visitors to a page that offers a free DVD. Once the visitor orders a DVD, he or she is associated with that particular affiliate. The affiliate receives a cut of any services that lead might buy in the future.

Lately, I've been promoting it through flyers. I've found that to be a very effective method of lead generation, since it certainly brings in geo-targeted traffic.

A couple of weeks ago I distributed a few hundred of these flyers in what was a working class area in Sydney's inner west. Soon afterward I checked my stats and saw that I'd got four new leads.

I was enthused by this, so recently I have been distributing many more flyers. This time I chose areas that were a bit more upmarket, since I figured people living there would be more likely to get into property investment. I must have done at least 1500 over this period. While I have received some clicks to the site itself, none of them have yet converted into leads.

I haven't a clue why this has happened. I thought it might have been the stats program itself. Maybe there was a glitch? But I doubt it, because I checked by typing in the URL myself in an internet lounge. Sure enough, that click subsequently appeared in the stats.

I think it's got something to do with the weather. We have had many miserable, wet days lately. And even when it's been clear here in Sydney, it's been extremely cold. Perhaps this just makes people more withdrawn; less likely to investigate new things? Or perhaps it's just that I was exceedingly lucky before? I'm not sure.

Just goes to show that you can never be certain about these things. You can't second guess the public. They'll just do what they want to do!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Affordable SEO certification

I have been looking for sites that offer some form of certification for those intending to work as search engine optimizers. There are a few around, and they look very good. However, most cost several hundred dollars US at the very least. There are two that are much more affordable, however, and they can be found at Expert Rating, and SEO Certification.

I know a lot of the more experienced webmasters and bloggers would look down on these qualifications as meaningless. It's easy to read a few lessons, then regurgitate them in an online test, after all. The real test of someone's knowledge and skill comes when they have to get a site to the top of the SERPs. And only a lot of experience promoting websites and blogs will prepare someone for that.

That said, I believe that qualifications can't do any harm. It's always good to have gone through some sort of structured course, however basic and brief. And having such qualifications definitely inspires confidence in prospective customers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Benefits of guest blogging

One of the better ways to promote a blog or website is to write guest posts for other blogs. It's a bit like article marketing. However, I think it could be more effective.

Firstly, if you write for a high page rank blog, you'll receive a lot of link juice from your link back. And if it's a high traffic blog as well you'll get many clicks directly, and very soon. (Articles confer both benefits, of course. However your article is buried amongst thousands of others, so obviously the link juice is a lot less concentrated, even for a very well regarded directory like Ezine Articles. Similarly, clicks to your bio-box link are less frequent since there are so many other articles you're competing with.)

With this in mind I've been looking for blogs that want guest posts. Just found this list, which other bloggers might find quite useful.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two more free "drag and drop" website builders

A few months ago I posted about three easy-to-use free web hosts that use "drag and drop" website building tools. I believe that Weebly, Webnode and Yola (formerly Synthasite) are fantastically liberating, since they enable you to build impressive looking websites quickly without any technical knowledge. While they won't put professional web designers out of business, they must be causing them a bit of consternation.

I don't think this is entirely a bad thing, since there are many web designers who take advantage of people's lack of knowledge for financial gain. Some of them charge huge money to build pages that aren't that great. And since websites inevitably grow and evolve over time (particularly business-related ones) they often receive ongoing payments for simple site tweaking and editing. Personally, I don't think this is fair.

Simple "drag and drop" tools make the whole site building process available to anyone, and are therefore hugely empowering. A business person, say, who wants to build a site now has complete control of the whole process - as well as it being far less expensive.

No wonder the above mentioned sites are so popular. And there are others that have similar functionality. Two I found recently are 350 Pages and Spruz.

I'm sure others will pop up up before too long. I'll post links to them when they do.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Best article directories

There are thousands of article directories out there. The problem is, which ones do you submit your articles to?

High page rank is a very important factor. While it's not the be all and end all, it certainly means that Google thinks the site is an authoritative one. A bio-box backlink from one of these sites will definitely help quite a bit. That's why I always try to submit to a high page rank article directory first before submitting it to others. Google will most likely index it there first which will mean more link juice. (That is, if you submit to a lower page rank directory, then a high page rank one later, chances are it will index the lower page rank one first, meaning that your backlink will have a bit less value.)

Three of my favourite article directories are Ezine Articles, Article Dashboard and Go Articles. They all have high page rank and heaps of traffic.

Go Articles is the most straightforward. Your article goes live straight away. Article Dashboard usually takes several days before approval. At first, Ezine Articles takes ages. However, once you've had ten articles accepted, things speed up considerably.

From what I can tell so far, Ezine Articles delivers the best SEO benefits. So I suggest that writers submit their article there first, wait for it to be approved, then give it a few days before using the other directories.

Artcles Base is another good article directory. However, the downside is that the bio-box links are nofollow.

There are many, many others worth submitting to, of course. Here are two good lists which include both page rank and Alexa rating.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Too many dofollow blog lists!

Just another thought on dofollow: There's still a real buzz about it. And there are a lot of lists being posted on various blogs and forums. There are also quite a few people selling large lists of them!

People are clearly hungry for this information. But it's very easy to bite off more than you can chew.

I mean, if you buy a list of thousands of dofollow blogs, this may make you feel like you've done something really useful. But how many of those will you ever even look at, let alone comment on?

Of course you should keep an eye out for these blogs. But the main thing is to just look for informative blogs in your niche. Then the commenting will flow naturally, and you'll do more of it. Dofollow links will come as a result, either directly or indirectly.

Another good backlink checker

I just found another good free link analysis tool. It gives you lots of information, including the page rank of sites linking to you, and the anchor text in the links.

Definitely useful.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dofollow comment campaigns a bit overrated

Anyone who is remotely interested in internet marketing would have heard about "dofollow" blogs. There are more and more of these out there now, and there are quite a few custom search engines and directories dedicated to them.

While it's nice to get search engine juice from writing comments on these blogs - and I would never say that you shouldn't try and do a few from time to time - I do think that it's easy to get fixated on finding them, and this can waste quite a bit of time.

Remember that a proportion of the people who make their blogs dofollow eventually get sick of all the comment spam and change their blogs back to nofollow. So if you've accumulated a dofollow blog list it will inevitably dwindle over time.

In any case a good comment (or 3) on a nofollow blog can reap greater SEO rewards. If you can find high traffic, quality blogs in your niche and write interesting, informative comments on them you'll get some clicks coming off the links anyway, and eventually pick up a few regular readers. But there's a good chance you'll also get the interest of the person on whose blog you've commented. He or she may may well write a post about your site with a link back, and possibly even put you on their blogroll. Needless to say, these are usually dofollow backlinks. (And blogroll or panel links are sitewide, which are even more powerful.)

So, the best comment strategy is to focus on finding good, relevant blogs, then write good relevant comments on them! Can't go wrong with that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Excellent SEO book

I've been looking around for a comprehensive, up to date reference about SEO. This book, co-authored by Australian search engine guru Bruce Clay, certainly seems to fit the bill.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Articles vs. forums vs. directories

I have been using several different techniques to promote my sites lately. These include forum promotion, free directory submission and article marketing. I've been trying to work out what's most beneficial for SEO.

Of course it's not easy to do this. The effect of link building only kicks in after a while, so if you've used several different techniques over, say, a few months, the subsequent increase in search engine traffic could have been caused by any one or two of those techniques, or by all equally. That said, I think I've worked out the answer from recent link building efforts.

Several months ago I was doing a lot of forum signature promotion as well as free directory submissions. These helped, of course. They are also a quick method to get lots of links happening. I do think the free directories were better than the forums generally, because they are usually more category specific.

The reason: In a forum your signature may not be related to the subject being discussed in the thread. Actually, it's quite likely for it not to be. But you're always putting your link in the right category and sub-category in the free online directories. You're also altering your anchor text and targeting different keywords each time. I've seen traffic coming in related to some of the unusual keywords I've been using in these directory submissions, so these must have been the cause.

Lately, though, I've been focusing on article marketing. And the traffic rose noticeably a few weeks after a burst of submissions. Sure, each link takes a lot more work to get. But all that relevant content that you are associating with it is much more valuable in Google's eyes, it seems.

I think the lesson from this is to keep doing all these things. It's always best to vary your efforts, and not put all your SEO eggs in the one basket. But really focus on the article marketing if you have the time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thoughts on affiliate programs

I've been marketing affiliate programs for quite a while now. I have had success with a few programs. But it is tricky finding the ones that sell well. You just have to go through a process of elimination, unfortunately.

Unless you're getting squillions of highly targeted hits, my advice would be to look for programs that have wide appeal and substantial payouts. Then you only have to make a few sales before you get your first payment. Needless to say, that's a great confidence booster.

Also, try to find programs related to niches that you have genuine enthusiasm for. You'll find it very hard to build sites or blog about stuff you're not really interested in.

It's also important that you believe in the quality of the product. Even if you make good money out of something, you'll start to feel dirty if you know that it's substandard, or even a scam.

Free directories

I've been doing a lot of forum surfing of late. I keep reading posts about how using free directories for SEO just isn't worth it anymore.

I beg to differ. I've been using them on and off for several months for different websites and blogs and they certainly help quite a bit. Sure, they may not be as beneficial to SEO as they used to be. But they're still worth the effort.

You've got to have a good, frequently updated list that tells you about lots of new ones, however. (Many of the old directories are backed up with thousands of submissions, or have simply expired.) This is the best one I've found.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Specificity for SEO

I recently posted about how swiftly Google indexes Blogger blogs. Makes Blogger a good choice for anyone who wants to get search engine traffic as soon as possible.

Another thought on how to speed up the process: be specific with posts. For instance, company and brand names are often searched, sometimes in clusters. I have received quite a few hits now from Google searches for "Weebly+Synthasite+Webnode" or variations thereof. If you can, put these kinds of words in the title of your post, listing two or three if it's appropriate.

Also, there's something I noticed while looking at the stats for my main site: people will often include a preferred location (city or suburb) in searches. Be mindful of this when optimizing your site.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The rise of SEO

One thing I've noticed as I surf the web and blogosphere is the growth of SEO. There are so many SEO related websites, forums and blogs it's incredible!

I suspect it's one of the few industries that will continue to expand during these harsh economic times. After all, if it's done well it has to be one of the most cost effective advertising methods available. Once you gain a top ranking for your chosen keywords you can reap huge benefits for a long, long time.

The recent experience of at least one SEO company seems to confirm this.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Google loves Blogger

My main site does get search engine traffic. But it took quite a while (and lots of link building) for it to start coming in.

I've only had this blog for a short time - less than two weeks. I've got a couple of baklinks up so far, but I'm already getting search engine traffic to it.

Just shows the advantages of getting a blog in general, and a Blogger blog in particular. Google owns Blogger, and so it indexes its blogs quickly.