Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Free website builders Hipero and

You can often find good new websites through search engines directly, but that's not the only way. Often a link on one site will direct you to good new sites you'd never heard of before.

Here's an example: I was searching for more information about Lifeyo. One of the results included this site, which was built by a woman who has been trying out a whole host of free website builders.

I already knew of several of these. However two of them were completely new to me. These were Hipero and

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lifeyo looks a lot like Weebly

Just found another drag and drop website builder. It's called Lifeyo. I haven't tried it but it looks very much like Weebly, which is the dominant site in this niche.

Of course there'll be more and more builders like this, since the technology is developing at such a fast rate. To find more sites like Lifeyo, along with a bewildering array of other tools and apps, have a look a this site.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Character blog comments bear SEO fruit, but not in the way intended!

One thing I've found repeatedly is that commenting on other blogs is worth doing because as well as getting a link in the comment thread, it can result in backlinks being given by that blogger, or another blogger who reads the comment thread.

Here's a recent example: As I mentioned below, I've been building and promoting a satirical character blog. The character, Derek Sapphire, is basically a distillation of all the extreme left wing, politically correct and deep green dogma that we are constantly bombarded with and which so many people feel increasingly annoyed by.

I thought a good way of getting him known in the blogosphere was to have him write some comments on some of the more rebellious and provocative right-wing blogs. I knew there was a slight chance that some might be tricked into thinking that he was real (although that was definitely not the intention). But I assumed that most would see that he was a joke and play along with it. Although I wasn't doing this just for backlinks, I thought that maybe some would result from this, which would be a nice bonus.

And yes, that has happened, but it hasn't gone quite as expected! Firstly, posing as Derek, I wrote some comments on this post. The blogger seemed to see it was a joke, and played along with it. So did some of the readers, although I think there was a bit of confusion about whether he was real.

Anyway, one of them posted a guest post that linked back to one of Derek's posts. Playing along with the gag, he facetiously claimed that Derek had made a brilliant sage-like prediction.

I wrote several other comments as Derek, which was a lot of fun. But I think the readers there were starting to tire of him after a while, so I decided to give it a rest. (I will return again, though.)

That seemed to go reasonably well, so I tried it at a few other similar blogs. On one of them, they really thought he was real, and the character got a whole lot of abuse hurled at him in comments. Please note that this blog has some NSFW images before clicking. These are the relevant posts.

As you'll see, some of the readers suspected he was satire, but several didn't. Finally they all came round to the view that it was all a joke.

I almost felt bad about this. I didn't want to fool them. And it's understandable that some people thought he was real. He is actually based on many people I've met. People like him do actually exist, some even more ridiculous and extreme than he is! And even though it says the site is comedy and satire in the meta-description, you don't see that unless you come via search engines.

As well as the links in the comment threads mentioned above, I've just discovered a backlink from another American right-wing, climate skeptic blog. This blogger seems to think the character is genuine, so maybe he saw one of the other comments I'd written as Derek or perhaps read the above mentioned thread very early on? In any case I left a note (as me!) in his comments, because I don't like this idea that people think he's real. Derek Sapphire is a satire, not a hoax.

That said, it still goes to show that comments can result in backlinks. And just to repeat: I wasn't doing this only for backlinks. I wanted to have some fun, give people a laugh and of course promote the character blog. But as you can see it certainly has worked SEO-wise.

Of course the fact that he's such an annoying and colorful character made him stand out. So that's something to remember. It's worth taking some risks when you comment. That will increase the chances of this technique working.

One more thing: By linking to Derek's blog, all those blogs mentioned do also benefit SEO-wise. They're getting one way links from this blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Problem installing Disqus comments into Yola blog

I've recently been pretty busy writing posts on a satirical character blog. The site is built using Yola which is just fantastic. The only downside to Yola blogs is that they don't come with a comment system installed already. They have partnered with Disqus, however.

There are instructions for how to install this comment system on Yola, but people seem to have a lot of trouble with it for some reason. Google the subject and you'll see some queries on the Yola help forum.

I had some issues myself. I thought I was doing everything exactly as described. But it turned out that the the window that contains the code you're supposed to put into your Yola site was quite narrow, and only showed the first two lines. I cut and pasted that alone and of course it didn't work.

It was only when I scrolled down through the actual window that I saw all the code I was missing. Of course when I used that, it all worked fine. So, if you are trying to install the code into Yola (or another platform) then keep an eye out for this problem.

Disqus is a really good system, by the way. What I like about it is that you can do a lot of customization, including listing social media references to your blog posts. A lot of the pre-installed comment systems don't have that facility.

Another one like Disqus that is worth considering is IntenseDebate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yola SEO

I have been working on a humor and satire site that I built with Yola. It has a character blog attached. I've been posting to this blog frequently lately. It definitely gets indexed pretty quickly, though not immediately. I've ben getting some decent search engine traffic to it, mainly from topical keywords.

My blog doesn't yet have oodles of content up there, although it's about a year old now I think. I also haven't done much link building to it.

Considering these factors it seems that Yola has very good all round SEO. So that's another positive to add to what is surely one of the most elegant and customizable free website builders out there.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Social media and its negative effects on society and relationships

I keep reading and hearing about how social media is affecting society. The general feeling is that while much of its influence is positive, the bulk of it is negative. People are worried mostly about its effects on relationships.

This article expresses some common concerns. I like the last line: "Too much comfort is isolating." It's ironic that all these new ways of making contact with people online seem to contribute to less real social interaction.

I haven't really gotten into social media. I just use Twitter a bit. But I am aware of some people who are into it in a big way. It astounds me just how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers they have, and how many messages they write.

It's the sheer size of these networks that cause the problem. Social media addicts can spend half of every day just maintaining contact with scores, if not hundreds, of people all over the world. So they end up having very little time to meet individuals in person. And even when they do and are having real conversations, they sometimes continue to interact online with others via their Blackberries! That's sad - as well as being annoying for the people they're with.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Build backlinks to each website page separately

One mistake that a lot of newbie webmasters make is that they forget that Google ranks individual pages, not sites in general. So they tend to only build links to the main top level domain of their sites and not to the individual pages.

Of course you should probably focus on that main page, since it will sum up your site's content and visitors can reach each page from it with one click. But it should be remembered that each page is another opportunity to snare some nice targeted search engine traffic all on its own. So make an effort to target some good keywords for each (but not too many) and then build backlinks with those in the anchor text (while remembering to vary it quite a bit).

I've been using this technique with my SEO site and I've seen a real difference in the amount of search engine traffic I'm getting to those pages with a few backlinks. Needless to say, they get many more direct visitors than those with no backlinks at all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Higher blog posting frequency increases traffic

I've been posting more often on my rant blog over the last few months. And I've noticed that I'm getting quite a bit more traffic to it. I haven't done any link building. So this effect must be entirely due to the increased frequency of posting.

I suspect part of this is because regular readers to it are returning more often. But I'm also getting more search engine hits - and not just for the new posts.

I haven't looked deeply into this but it seems that regular and frequent blog posting lifts your general rankings a bit. When the frequency drops, the opposite happens.

It's as if Google is detecting my "blog pulse", and rewarding me a little if it is strong.

I've often read this on various forums and blogs. But it's good to see it confirmed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Useful website lists can attract forum backlinks

If you have a look at some of the big social bookmarking sites one thing really stands out: lists are good linkbait. There are countless blog posts and articles that describe such things as the top ten ways to do brush your hair, or the five best movies in a particular genre.

Similarly, people are often interested in lists of websites that are useful. If you assemble one of these related to a particular category and then post it to your blog or site, then you're almost certain to get some backlinks to it eventually. They may be from social bookmarking sites, but they're more likely to come from online forums.

I just had an illustration of this recently. A list of Australian directories that I've accumulated and published on one of my sites has been linked to from an Australian forum.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Choose a low competition niche for your blog if you can

The mistake that many people make when starting a blog nowadays - particularly if they intend to make money off it - is to write about a saturated niche. Blogs about making money from blogs, or internet marketing in general, are popular choices for the newbie. But there are squillions of those kinds of blogs already. You really are in for a lot of work before you begin to see any reasonable traffic with those subjects. If you are a newbie and want to see benefits fairly soon I would advise choosing a low competition niche if possible.

That doesn't mean that you should not write about the subject of internet marketing, say. It just means that you should find something specific within it to focus on. Maybe just write a blog about article marketing alone - or perhaps one about keyword selection. These are still competitive, but certainly not completely saturated. And being more focused content-wise you will crawl up the rankings quicker.

I've noticed just how competitive the whole internet marketing niche is through writing this blog. I started it quite a while ago now. And I've got a fair amount of content up. The traffic is slowly growing, but it's disappointing considering how much work I've put into it.

I'm not going to give up, since I'm very interested in this niche and am learning a lot. So I'll always have something to write about. But compared to other blogs I've got running, it's moving slowly. I started an arts blog only months ago now, for example. It's already drawing in more traffic than this one!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I blame the internet for my shortening attention span

I've been blogging for several years now, and have finally gotten into social media (Twitter, mainly) in the last several months. In this time I've noticed that my attention spans have shortened. And not just when I'm sitting at the PC.

It also happens when I'm walking along, or having conversations. I just feel this urge to think about something else, look somewhere else, or talk about something else after a few seconds. It's like this little switch going on and off in my head at regular intervals. I don't obey these impulses, however they are definitely there. (And this is not just the normal "ceaseless chatter of the mind". This is something running over the top of that.)

Also, I've noticed that when watching TV I channel surf a lot more than I used to. And I did it quite a bit before the internet came along, too. I think this may be related to the fact that there are so many more channels now. So, to find out what all your options are at any given time, you have to flick through each of them quicker. That said, I do think that the instant gratification offered by search engines has something to do with this as well.

Here are a couple of interesting articles that concur with this assessment.

Thankfully, I have found that if I meditate, my brain does seem to slow down again. That's good to know. (It's also been confirmed by this study.)

I would be interested to read people's views on this subject. Have you discovered a similar effect? If so, what do you do to counter it, if anything?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Opinion articles get fewer bio-box clicks than advice and guides

I've been a member of EzineArticles for a while now, and have quite a range of articles up there. One thing that's really struck me is how the category of the article influences the number of clicks the author bio-box links get.

The articles that have just commentary and opinion get next to no clicks, even when they get a lot of views. Take this article about a media scandal involving supermodel Miranda Kerr. It's been viewed over a thousand times. Yet I have not received even one click from it!

This article about getting paid for writing letters to magazines has only been viewed 175 times, yet I've had 6 clicks from it. That works out to a click-through rate of about 3.5%. Some of my other similar articles have had even less traffic but higher click-through rates.

Clearly, the "how to" guides, and those articles that include lists of tips and techniques about a certain subject get the best results. The reader senses that you can help them somehow, so they are more likely to check out your site to see what other useful insights you're offering.

Blogging about specific companies can bring traffic

I just had another confirmation of why it's worth blogging about specific websites and companies. Last night I wrote a post about ArticlesBase. It turns out that it was mentioned in that directory's Twitter feed, so I've had a nice little burst of hits from it.

I had a similar experience a while ago when I blogged about the website builder Doomby. The post was subsequently stumbled.

Clearly, employees of online companies keep an eye on what's said about them in the blogosphere. If there's something that reflects well on them, there's a good chance they will quote you. (Obviously if you write positive stuff it's more likely to help in this way. But you shouldn't just gush about things in the hope it will. Needless to say being honest and thoughtful in your opinions is always the best policy.)

ArticlesBase can help with SEO, even though it's nofollow

ArticlesBase is a really excellent directory. It gets huge traffic. And the statistics it gives you are awesome, so you get a really good idea about how people are finding your articles. But it cops a bit of flack because it makes the author bio-box links nofollow.

I had read that if bloggers and webmasters use the articles, however, the links then become dofollow. I never looked into this though.

But I just did a backlink check for a site I've been promoting and discovered that one of my articles from ArticlesBase had been republished. Here's the original article, which is about doing stand-up comedy. The republished article is here.

I checked the source code and saw that the bio-box links on the republished article are dofollow. So, what I'd heard about the republished links is true. (Of course, I could have found this out simply by clicking through to the text that you cut and paste when you choose to republish an article. But I just never got around to it! So it was a nice surprise to find it out the way I did.)

It was also surprising to have that article republished because it's only been up there a few days and has had few views. So, maybe I was just a bit lucky with it.

I have done some searching on this subject before and from what I can tell a backlink is still (slightly) beneficial SEO-wise even if it's from a republished article. If this is true then it means there is some indirect SEO benefit from publishing articles at ArticlesBase, since you've got a good chance of having them republished with dofollow backlinks. (Even if there's no such benefit it's still worth it because of the exposure and clicks you get.)

UPDATE: I did some more searching on this subject. I found this forum thread, in which there is some disagreement over the issue of whether backlinks from duplicate content carry SEO weight. However, it does seem that the general feeling is that yes, they do help.

Here's another bit of evidence that I think supports this assertion: If I Google some of the keywords in the article, then I get both locations for it, ArticlesBase and Articles Reloaded. So, even though it's not original, it's still been indexed (and quite quickly). Also, the main URL of this directory has a PR of 0. So it's certainly "on the map" in a search engine sense. Which is why I suspect that it would have to pass on a little bit of "SEO juice".

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Target people searching within article directories

Just another thought on using the newer article directories: As I mentioned, even though they haven't been around that long, some of these directories get really impressive traffic. I believe that you can use this to your advantage by being mindful of people searching within the directory itself (as opposed to coming from outside, via Google and other search engines).

Say you're writing an article about a subject that is not saturated, but then isn't that obscure either. I'm building a new site that's about comedy - stand-up in particular. So that's a good example.

Now if I'm targeting the keyword phrase "stand-up comedy" in, say Ezine Articles, I'm up against a lot of other articles on the subject, many of which have been around for ages, and have even garnered a few backlinks themselves. So I almost certainly won't get anywhere near the top of the results for people doing a custom search of that particular directory.

Sure, I'll get some traffic for long tail searches. And it's still worth doing for a whole host of reasons. But I just won't get on page one for that primary keyword - which would obviously be the best one to get because of its frequency and relevance.

But if I try smaller directories, then it won't be too hard to achieve this goal at all. There are less people searching those directories, but then there is so much less competition as well.

Of course it'd be very very hard - if not impossible - to test this hunch. Very few article directories have comprehensive stats. And even if they do they don't say whether visits to your articles are from Google itself, or from searches within the directory. Still, it's something I think could work well.

Submit to smaller, newer article directories too

I have been looking for some different article directories. While it's important to use the biggest and most established ones, it's also worth submitting to some smaller, newer ones. This does have SEO benefits, since Google does value a great diversity of locations for your backlinks.

And there are a lot of good lesser known article directories out there. They tend not to have high PR, however some of them do get lots of traffic.

Two things to look for when choosing these directories: If they seem to have unique, aesthetically pleasing templates, that is usually a good sign. The reason is that this implies that the owner is taking the project seriously and putting some real work into it. Chances are that even if it's new, without much content and traffic, the directory will still be around for a very long time. If it's just a cookie cutter directory, it's less likely to endure.

Also, check out the number of views for the directory's top articles. If there is a long list of these, and the viewer numbers are high, that's obviously a positive.

And have a look at the latest articles to have gone live. If you go back a week or two you can get a general idea of how many views a typical article gets per day, on average.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How article marketing delivers long term benefits

I've been using article marketing for a while now, and it definitely does work. It's not some instant, all powerful thing though. You just have to keep chipping away at it.

There's no doubt that a lot of people think that it's highly overrated, however. One criticism of the method that I've seen repeated a few times is that soon after you submit your article to a directory it just goes to the bottom of the pile and is not seen again - or seen less and less frequently.

But I know for a fact that this is not true - at least not in quality directories like Ezine Articles. I just looked through my stats in that particular site and chose some articles I'd submitted over a year ago. It didn't matter whether they got a decent amount of traffic or almost none at all. They were still attracting pretty much the same number of views as when I first submitted them. (This is also true of my stats in Articles Base, which I checked a few days ago. This wasn't true for very topical articles, however, and for obvious reasons.)

I didn't look at all my articles, so my conclusions may not be completely accurate. But it does seem that articles just keep on keeping on pretty consistently once you've submitted them.

This may be different for other, smaller article directories but I can't see why that would be. As long as the directory is reasonably well run, it will keep amassing more content and gain more credibility in search engines. Also, if you look at the top articles listed on some of the smaller directories you'll see that some have amassed very high numbers of views over the years.

So, even if you're submitting articles mainly for the clicks to your site rather than for the SEO benefit this is good news. Each article is like a little gift that just keeps on giving. The whole effect is cumulative.

Say you submit 25 articles that each attract an average of 10 views a week. That's 1000 views a month. Now if you have a click through rate to the site listed in your author bio-box of about 2 percent, which isn't hard to achieve, you've got 20 hits a month from that batch of articles alone for as long as the directories exist.

Okay, that doesn't sound like much. But remember that just keeps on going no matter what. It might wane over a long time, but this would be a very slow process.

And if, in a year, you end up with 100 articles out there getting seen at that same rate (that's an average of 2 articles submitted each week - again pretty easy to achieve) then you'll have 80 hits a month, or close to 1000 hits a year. And that's just from clicks.

Then there's the search engine benefit. Particularly if you're submitting to lots of different directories, those 100 articles will help you a great deal. I'd say that even if you don't do much keyword research your site is sure to hit the first page of some good long tail searches, which will also bring you some solid, targeted long term traffic.

For these reasons I believe that article marketing is still very much worth it - particularly as a long term strategy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Idea Marketers is a good quality article directory

I have been trying out some different article directories lately. I just signed up to Idea Marketers, and posted an article about comedy.

It's good for several reasons. Firstly it has high PR. It's been around for ages and has oodles of content and is thoroughly and regularly indexed by the search engines. (It's a lot like Ezine Articles in this regard.) However it is different to that directory in that your articles go live immediately, like at Go Articles.

There's obviously a huge number of people constantly scouring the site because even though my article hasn't yet been indexed by Google (I only posted it a few hours ago) it has already garnered at least 30 views. And it's not even in a very popular niche.

Also, as well as your author bio-box links, you get one right at the top of each article. I have read that this results in a very high click through rate. I haven't yet got any clicks since my article is so new, but I wouldn't doubt this is the case.

The only negative that I can see is that it doesn't have a rich text editor. While you can use the basic html tags to italicize words, etc, it just doesn't let you do it automatically.

And the stats are pretty basic. They just show how many view you're getting and don't actually list referring search terms and other information like Ezine Articles and Articles Base do.

But all in all Idea Marketers is clearly one of biggest and best article directories out there. I'll definitely be submitting more articles to it in the future.

Posterous blogs getting lots of traffic

Just another note about Posterous. I logged in there recently and noticed that I'd had a great increase in views of the blog I have there. I haven't done any promotion of that particular blog so I can only assume that the site itself is getting a lot more visitors of late.

The traffic I've had there is much greater than at Amplify (although that's respectable). And my Amplify site gets many more hits than my Tumblr blog. So if it's immediate and easy traffic that you're after, then I'd say that Posterous is definitely the go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The names of newsmakers can bring blog traffic

Here are some thoughts on how to use people's names to get some good bursts of search engine traffic, particularly if you have a news related or opinion blog:

The names of those making the news are keywords, just like all the others. However, unless they are already extremely well known (like movie stars or world leaders) chances are there is not that much competition for them. So, if someone has been made instantly famous (or infamous!) by a big story, people will be searching for them. So, keep an eye out for these names, and use them in the titles of your blog posts.

And of course don't just rehash what others have said. Try and add value to your blog posts by including some other interesting related information. Or you could express your opinion about the story, and these people's behaviour. Then these posts will stand out and perhaps attract the odd link back.

But remember to be very careful if you are writing about anyone involved in a court case (particularly the accused!). If it has not yet gone to trial then always remember the magic word "allegedly".

I've used this technique a few times now on various blogs. Sometimes there are way too many other blog posts with the same name keywords, and I end up a few pages down the SERPs. But every now and then I get on page one, and stay there for the entire time the person is in the news. It's quite surprising how much traffic that can bring you. It can last quite a while, too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ArticlesBase has high traffic, good author statistics section

I recently logged in to my account at ArticlesBase after a long hiatus. I got a really nice surprise. My articles had racked up many thousands of views over that time.

I don't have that many articles up on the site. And I didn't do any real keyword research before submitting them. So, this particular directory is clearly very good for SEO, and also gets a lot of traffic.

Also they've got a great statistics section. So you can get a really good idea of how people are finding your articles. (Actually, that's what surprised me. I was ranking for quite a few keyword phrases without really trying.)

The only downside is that the author bio-box links are nofollow. But then I suspect that's part of the reason ArticlesBase is doing so well. It's keeping a lot of its "search engine juice" contained withing the site.

So, when you submit articles there you won't get any direct search engine benefit. But it will certainly be worth doing so for raising your profile, and those direct clicks are sure to add up to something substantial over time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How my reasons for blogging have changed over the years

Earlier today I was looking through some of my old blogs. It gave me quite a shock to realize that I actually started blogging way back in 2002. I've written several of them over the years.

When I started I just saw them as a means to record my humorous observations, which I could then turn into standup comedy monologues later on. I even started a couple of entirely fictional character blogs as a way of developing material that I could perform at some stage.

But I just got so involved in blogging itself that I never got around to doing this! It was just such a buzz to write stuff and know that people were reading it - even if the numbers weren't huge. I knew that even with traffic just trickling in I'd still be getting my thoughts read by more people than would ever see me perform live - unless I had a regular gig on TV or radio, of course.

Anyway, just being funny became less and less important as I continued with blogging. I wanted to actually say something while hopefully getting a few laughs and chuckles along the way.

So now, eight years on, I've got literally thousands of blog posts still out there or backed up on disk and hard drive. I've got to do something with this stuff - hopefully something that earns me some money!

Using them as raw material for a series of books is the obvious option. So, that's the long term goal. But I've got to do it in bits. I think the best approach is to use those posts as the raw material for articles which I'll submit to directories, so I'll get some more exposure and SEO benefit. Then I'll collate and edit these articles into books. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

It's kind of ironic that I've ended up in this situation, considering my reasons for blogging when I started.

Has anyone else had a similar journey? Or one that was completely different? Please let me know in comments.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Focus on writing articles online

Like so many article marketers I love to write. And although it's possible to overdo it, writing articles is usually invigorating. It's a fun process and you finish with a real sense of achievement.

Submitting the articles to directories is the boring bit. Of course you have to do it. But because it's so monotonous, it really saps your energy.

You can pay to have this done for you. But it's hard to know how good the service is. Also, if you end up with too many article bio-box bakclinks too quickly, you may get penalized by the search engines.

Of course it doesn't hurt to have your article at several directories, since it's being seen by so many more people, and you will get some clicks to your website as a result. Still, the search engine benefit wanes considerably (if not completely!) after the fist backlink your article attains, since all copies of it are marked as duplicate content.

For these reasons I believe it's much better to focus on writing articles, rather than submitting them. Sure, you will end up with fewer backlinks. But you'll have more original articles out there, and they will be of better quality. That will confer greater search engine benefit in the long run.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Twitter hash tag is very useful

Another Twitter tip: It's a good idea to really use the hash tag (#). You can put it at the end of a tweet to denote what it was about.

It doesn't take long to get an idea of what the best, and most popular hash tags are. For instance right now with the Australian election result still to be decided, the best hash tags are #hung #auswaits and #ausvotes. All the Aussie political junkies on Twitter are searching these constantly.

Of course, there are many other popular hash tags for any subject under the sun. So if you cut your tweets back to the bear minimum and put two or even three of them at the end of each, you can snag a lot of new followers. If your tweets are good, of course, they are more likely to be retweeted.

And just as you can use the hash tag to help other tweeps find you, the reverse is true. Just do a search of your favourite ones from time to time and you're sure to find people you want to follow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Darren Rowse, problogger, now a Twitter guru

Darren Rowse started blogging in 2002. Yet he was earning a very good income entirely from blogging by 2005.

Now, there are squillions of Darren Rowse wannabes. The market is completely saturated with "make money from your blog" type blogs. I doubt very many of them make a decent income. There's just not that much left to go around!

Of course, Rowse continues to do very well out of Problogger. He's still on top of that niche, and will remain there.

He could easily have been satisfied with his achievements and simply stopped striving. But what's interesting is that he didn't. He's now heavily into Twitter and he has an excellent site full of tips on how to use that social networking site effectively.

You can see why he's done so well for himself. He's worked hard, kept his eyes wide open and kept looking beyond the horizon to see what the next big thing would be.

That's definitely a good lesson for anyone trying to succeed online - or in any medium for that matter.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Keep an eye on your blog comments

A day or two back I got quite a long comment on my rant blog. It seemed a bit odd. It was about the subject that I was referring to in that particular post, but didn't address it specifically.

Also, the comment seemed vaguely familiar. I felt that I had read it somewhere on another blog, or perhaps in a comment thread. So I did a search for a couple of the phrases in the comment and sure enough it was there in other places on the web.

I think the commentator might have been using it to try and lower my rankings for that particular post. Duplicate content in blog comments can hurt you, after all.

Or maybe he was just lazy...

In any case, it's definitely a sign that you should keep an eye on your comments, and delete all those that look spammy and/or duplicated.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Social media does get pages indexed quickly

One thing I keep reading is that the social media sites are a good way to ensure that your blog or website gets indexed by the search engines quickly. I just had a good illustration of that.

Yesterday I discovered that one of the pages of one of my sites wasn't yet indexed by Google. I don't know why that was, because all the other ones were.

Anyway, last night I included the URL of that particular page in a tweet. Sure enough it's now there in Google's list of pages for that site.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Onsugar gets indexed quickly and easily

As well as trying out Posterous and Tumblr, I've also recently started a blog with Onsugar. This is another free blogging tool that is quite similar to Posterous.

And like that site, it does seem to be very Google friendly. I started it very recently, have only added a couple of posts, and have not linked to it from any other site, yet it's already been indexed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Posterous beats Tumblr for SEO

I have been trying out Posterous and Tumblr recently. While Tumblr is a very elegant tool, with great designs, the blogs do seem to take a while to get indexed by Google for some reason.

Posterous blogs are not nearly as pretty, and when you log in the interface is a bit more clunky. However, it's the clear winner when it comes to SEO, in my opinion. I have only recently started a blog there and it is already fully indexed.

Posterous also seems to get a lot more traffic from other users. There is a basic counter that records page views in the dashboard. Even though I've been doing very little link building, it's still racking up more and more hits. I've installed a counter on my Tumblr blog and I haven't had much traffic at all.

That said, Tumblr is still a good tool - particularly if you value aesthetics highly in your blogging.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog stumbled

Recently got a surge of hits from being listed on StumbleUpon. I'm sure there's a way of finding out who had done this through the site but wasn't able to when I looked briefly last night. I'll probably give it another go when I find time.

In any case, thanks to whoever submitted my blog. Very much appreciated.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A local classifieds site with a difference

I have used free online classifieds in the past, and they can work quite well. That's why I've been gradually collating a list of free classifieds sites for Aussies.

These sites seem to pop up pretty regularly, so I do a search for new ones from time to time. I just did another one, and found a site called iNoticeboard. This is a local classifieds site with a difference: You don't see any ads or categories on the main page. Instead, you enter your postcode, then place your ad. It makes for a much simpler interface than traditional classifieds.

I'm not sure if people will find that appealing or not. In any case, it's definitely original. It's only just started so it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Marketers should be cautious with Tumblr blogs

I have been writing the odd post over on my Tumblr blog. It's a really graceful and user friendly tool. However, it's not the best if you are hoping to really jazz up your blog with widgets, etc. There's little space for them.

Also, Tumblr has a strong policy of endorsing pure, expressive blogging as opposed to using a blog to make money. Here's a post by someone who had his account suspended.

Here are some tips on how to avoid this outcome and keep your Tumblr account.

UPDATE: It's not just marketers who should be careful with this blogging platform. They have been known to disable blogs that have been built solely for the purpose of making fun of other bloggers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not addicted, just attached to blogging

There have been reports of people being addicted to blogging. While I doubt that I've actually become a confirmed blogging addict, I have certainly become very attached to my blogs.

And that's why I actually found it quite upsetting to learn that the blog platform I use for my main humor and opinion blog will eventually be closing up shop.

Of course, there's no reason why I can't import all the content to another platform and keep going with it. I might actually do that. Or I might take this as some kind of sign that I need to move on and just finish it for good.

In any case, I can't help but feel sad about it. I know this sounds weird, but writing a blog is kind of like having a friend. Even if you don't get any comments you are still conversing in a way. You are expressing and refining ideas and opinions, getting your voice heard. So, every time you log in and post something you are addressing an imaginary person there on the screen in front of you.

Because each blog has its own theme, subject matter and appearance each of these attachments is quite different. It fulfills different needs. And it could be said that just as we outgrow friendships as our needs change and grow, so we end up eventually leaving our blogs.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Posterous, Onsugar and Soup

I'm getting more and more interested in microblogging. As well as trying out Tumblr, I've also started a Posterous microblog.

There are other sites very much like these that allow you to post different kinds of media, and also have Twitter-like social features.

I've recently found two more. These are Onsugar and Soup. They both look good and as far as I can tell they also have free domain mapping like the sites mentioned above.

UPDATE: Have found the feedback page for Soup, which gives a pretty good idea of what it offers. It's clearly a lot like Tumblr in many ways.

UPDATE: Just found another one: Amplify. It also looks good, with similar features. It doesn't seem to offer domain mapping, however.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blog content scraping is lazy and unethical

I just discovered that someone is scraping content from one of my blogs. I've had this happen before to this blog, and it really annoys me.

I know that a lot of the time content scraping doesn't matter that much. The worst these plagiarists can do in most cases is to steal a little bit of your traffic. And quite often they lose their hosting accounts because of complaints from annoyed bloggers. (I think that happened to the guy who was nicking content from here.) But it's the laziness and dishonesty that I find really galling.

Of course, people who do this rationalize their actions by saying, "Well, there's nothing new under the sun and you can find the same information and ideas all over the internet. The blogger whose content I'm scraping is probably rehashing what he's read elsewhere. He's not being original himself, so why should I? And what right does he have to complain about me?"

There are two arguments against this attitude. One, he might not be rehashing what he's read elsewhere. He might have tried something out repeatedly and is expressing what he learned from actual experience. Doing this takes time and effort and gives the information added credibility.

An if he is rehashing something, he's still writing it in his own unique way, and also probably combining it with other information, which adds a little value and insight. Again, time and effort.

When the blog content scraper simply steals someone's unique writing and takes credit for all that work it's just not right.

Basically, if you are going to use someone else's observations verbatim, that's fine. You should just make it clear you are quoting them, with clear attribution and a link back to where you found them. Then the originator still gets the credit, as well as the SEO benefit from the backlink.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Over reliance on technology causes another traffic accident

People are becoming increasingly reliant on computer technology for navigation, often forgetting to use their own eyes and ears like they used to in the good ol' days before GPS, mobile internet and the like. Take the case of the woman who was run over while following instructions on Google Maps, and then subsequently sued the search giant because it said the route was safe for pedestrians.

I saw a similar event first hand today. I was walking through West Perth on my way to Subiaco. As I approached Thomas Street, I heard the screeching of a car trying to stop. I looked up and saw one car in the midst of a hard right hand turn from the left lane of Thomas street. A car in the right lane was heading towards it at speed. It was desperately trying to stop but failed to do so in time. It hit the turning car, which then headed off in the opposite direction, then turned left down the next street.

I told the unhurt, but shocked driver who'd hit this car where it had gone. He walked down the street and came back some minutes later after having spoken to that driver. Shaking his head, he said the bloke was looking at his TomTom and it told him to make a right turn, so he just obeyed this instruction automatically.

Amazing. He didn't even look to see what was going on behind him! I'm just glad that no one was hurt.

UPDATE: If this story is accurate, then events like the one I witnessed have occurred hundreds of thousands of times in the UK.

Keywords in domain definitely do help

It's often said that putting keywords in the domain name helps for SEO. Well, I'm sure that it's correct. I have seen the benefit several times with sites that I have built.

The most recent example is from my site to help newbies learn SEO. I'm now on the first page of (Australian) Google searches for "SEO tips", "SEO classifieds", "SEO forums" and "SEO directories".

I have done a bit of link building for this site - but not that much really. And I haven't linked to those individual pages, just the main domain. So it's clearly a good idea to put your chosen keywords in the main domain - though don't put too many in, of course!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pay per lead affiliate programs can be a good option

I've been promoting affiliate programs for a while. One thing I would recommend is to choose those programs that you truly believe in and know are good products. Then you can genuinely endorse them with confidence. You don't have to have used the products yourself, but it certainly helps.

I also think you should try and find programs that give you a solid commission per sale. One reason is pretty obvious: more money! There's another motivation: if the commissions are subtantial it will take less time for you to reach your payment threshold. So you'll get your money posted or e-mailed to you sooner. Once you've got this cash in your hot little hand you then know for sure that the merchant is reliable. You then have confidence that all your subsequent efforts will be rewarded.

That said, it can be hard to actually make sales with programs like this for various reasons. Maybe it's a very small proportion of leads that you refer that actually converts. Or perhaps the market has changed, and something that used to convert like crazy doesn't do so any more.

I've found that this last scenario applies to a couple of programs I've been promoting. That's why I'm now getting into pay per lead affiliate programs. In these, you just have to get people to sign up for information, or join the free version of the site without actually upgrading. That's a much lower bar, of course.

Not surprisingly the commissions are much smaller. Still, there are some programs out there that reward you well. Clix Galore, Commission Monster and Check My Stats have some good pay per lead programs with generous payments. They are definitely worth checking out if you are an affiliate marketer who gets lots of Australian traffic.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Make your tweets unique - and informative in their own right

Everyone uses Twitter in different ways. Some people seem to use it like e-mail, or even instant messaging. They are forever sending little messages back and forth to each other. When you look at their sites it's hard to find out what they're really about - unless you scroll down quite a way and find an actual observation, suggestion, or opinion that makes sense in its own right.

It can be like watching a conversation across a room at a party. You hear snippets of it, and think you might want to contribute, but feel that doing so might be a little rude. You feel a little excluded, and decide there would be no point in doing so.

I think a better way to use Twitter is to really apply the definition microblogging. That is, you should eschew the social aspects of it a bit, and instead try to make each tweet pithy, informative and self contained in itself.

Of course, you should include a link to another blog post, site or article. But it's advisable to jam as much information and insight into those 140 characters as you can.

Two things happen. Firstly, people will be in no doubt about what you are about and you'll get followers whose interests and opinions are more like yours. They're also a bit more likely to retweet your tweets.

After a while you'll also amass quite a lot of good, concentrated and unique keyword rich content. That's great raw material for articles and longer blog posts. (Also, I'd imagine it's also a lot better for your Twitter site's SEO. If you are just linking to articles and automatically importing their headlines, or just retweeting others' tweets, then your site will have a lot of the dreaded dupe content.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A quick way to find suitable tweeps to follow on Twitter

It's not that difficult getting Twitter followers. They just gradually accumulate if you keep logging in and tweeting occasionally. But what I've found is that most of these people are either in another niche, or are just sort of mucking around wanting to get popular (like on Facebook). So they'll just follow you without knowing what you're about in the hope that you'll follow them back.

Of course it's better to follow those who are interested in the same things you are. So, how do you find them? Well, search for a keyword you're interested in. You're bound to find some tweeps with large numbers of followers. If you click on their icons and photos you're sure to find a few others you'd like to follow. But that can take a while, since a high proportion of these people will be like those described above.

A better way is to search for a keyword, find a prolific and well-established tweep who shares your interests then look for the lists he or she is on. That's where you'll find a much higher percentage of followable tweeps, because the lists are clearly categorized. Also, the tweeps listed on them tend to be well established, so if you go to their sites you'll see that they're on other lists as well - and quite long ones, too. So you can just hop from list to list, finding a large number of suitable people to follow pretty quickly.

Also, you'll find that a high percentage of them will follow you back. And here's a clue to know in advance if this is likely to be the case: Just look at the proportion of followers to followed. If it's close to 1 to 1, then chances are they'll follow. If it's not then they're very choosy. If you're just starting and haven't racked up that many tweets (and followers) then it's highly unlikely they'll reciprocate.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Study shows Facebook use magnifies jealousy

I just found some more information about how Facebook is straining relationships: A Canadian study came to the conclusion that the more you use the site, the more likely you are to become jealous.

It's hardly surprising. The whole essence of social networking is that it makes visible online what are mostly invisible offline: people's social connections with others.

So if your wife innocently talks to a male workmate at a party, you might feel a twinge of jealousy while you see the interchange occur. But you'll probably forget about it pretty soon afterward. And you'll never see the numerous other chats that the two have at the water cooler simply because you're not there.

However, if you notice some communication occurring between the two online on Facebook, it's there in black and white. And it's probably all there, too! If you had any suspicions at all these could easily be magnified by the visibility of this relationship. No wonder many people end up thinking the worst about their partners' feelings for their Facebook friends, and why they often remain so steadfast in their delusions.

It's yet another reason to treat Facebook with caution, and to get away from it occasionally if you're using it alot.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Regular blog posting helps your main site too

Obviously, if you keep updating your blog it will help draw in more traffic. You are putting more and more content out there, which means it's increasingly likely that your blog posts will appear in search engine results. Even if you don't optimize your posts for any keywords at all, merely keeping at it will result in the blog ranking for a few long tail searches eventually.

But there's another benefit if your blog is attached to a main site. Regular (and preferably frequent) posting seems to confer search engine benefits on the TLD as well.

I have seen this occur on one of my websites recently. I've been posting to the site's blog almost daily for a couple of weeks now and I'm getting a noticeably greater number of search engine hits to the main domain. (I could be mistaken, of course. There could be some other reason I'm seeing this improved traffic, and I just don't know what it is. But I don't think so.)

The benefit makes sense. Of course Google would prefer to show live, active sites in its results. If you update your site, tweaking the content from time to time, then you are telling Google that it has a pulse. And if you add a blog and keep posting to it, then you are showing that it's alive and kicking.

So I think it's a good idea to look at your blog as a kind of winch that's attached to your main site. Every blog post is like a turn of the winch, gradually lifting the main domain a little bit higher in search engine results.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google building Facebook competitor

Not so long ago Facebook knocked Google off its perch as the most visited site on the web. Clearly, Google wasn't too happy about that.

It's now building from scratch a direct competitor to Facebook (and one modeled on it) called Google Me.

It will be very interesting to see what happens.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Keyrow is a great free keyword tool

Anyone who is into article marketing is of course interested in keyword research. Some marketers spend a huge amount of time doing this. They painstakingly isolate previously undiscovered niche keywords, and work out ways to corner that particular market. The actual article writing is like a mere formality.

I don't like this approach. Frankly I think it's a much better policy to just write about subjects you know and love, while being mindful of the SEO aspects like keyword selection and density. If you do that the process remains enjoyable as well as effective.

That said, I am starting to see just how fascinating - and potentially addictive! - the whole subject of keywords is. And I've found some great free tools related to it recently. One particularly good one is Keyrow.

It's great because it gives you some really valuable information about where your website or blog is heading keyword-wise. For instance, you can type in your URL and it will list the most popular search terms your site is ranking for, and your position in the SERPs.

This is very useful because you might not have received any actual traffic from these searches yet because you are on page 3, say. So you wouldn't have known about this if not for the tool.

But once you've found out this info, you can then focus on those particular keywords, writing lots of relevant content on your site or blog as well as in articles that you place elsewhere, and thereby slowly climb up to the first page for these search terms and increase you traffic considerably.

And that's just one of the ways you can use it. Smartbloggerz has a more informative post on the tool.

The importance of head shots in marketing

The more I get into online marketing, the more I appreciate the importance of branding and recognition. The vast majority of businesses have a website and/or blog nowadays - and if they don't they should have! Then there is the huge boom in marketing via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. All these promotional methods work a lot better with the addition of photos. So you might as well get good ones done.

(This is quite an interesting development actually. In the past, only actors and musicians and the like would need quality photographs of themselves to improve their careers, but now it's almost everyone!)

With this in mind I got some done some months ago when I was still in Sydney. I went to the Head Shot Studio.

Years ago, when I was getting acting work in Melbourne, I had similar work done from time to time by various photographers. None of them were anywhere near as professional as the Head Shot Studio.

I even went back and got some more photographs taken of a comic character that I perform live, and have a website for. I would have had more work done (for other characters that I have) but was preparing to move back to Perth, where I now live, so I couldn't find the time.

Needless to say I was really pleased with the work they did, and recommend them to anyone in Sydney needing a good head shot.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Online scammers getting more inventive

Quite often when I hear about how people are duped by online scammers from overseas I can hardly believe that they let it happen. I mean, surely everyone in the entire world with an internet connection has received at least a dozen dodgy e-mails from Nigeria by now! How could anyone possibly not be wise to their tactics?

Still, people believe what they want to believe, I suppose...

And the scammers do seem to be changing their tactics. Rather than promising untold wealth, some are now using fear of the law and guilt about sex to dupe people into emptying their pockets.

The technique involves targeting people who have sold electronic goods overseas, then telling them that porn was found on these items. A fine must be paid for the seller to clear his name and stop legal action being taken.

It's a truly rotten thing to do, but undeniably clever. And I can see how many well-meaning and intelligent people who would not be fooled by the usual Nigerian e-mail tactic could be tricked by this technique. No wonder Australians have lost $70 million this way so far.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Free classifieds do work. Gumtree is a good example

One of the big developments on the internet over recent years has been the massive rise in the number of online free classified sites. There does seem to be a strong perception that the market is saturated, and they just don't work.

While I think the first point is true, the second isn't. You just have to find the right ones. (Or just place your ads on so many of them that you eventually hit the bullseye by accident!)

I have used them in the past to sell stuff and had some success. And recently I got a very good illustration of their effectiveness.

Having just moved back from Sydney to Perth, I was looking for a place to live. I scoured the newspapers of course, and also the big Real Estate site and found some places to look at. I also looked at the Perth Gumtree site. I saw an ad that looked good and called the contact number listed and arranged to see the place.

When I showed up there were at least 3 other people there. I had a look and saw it wasn't to my liking so I left pretty quickly. But there could well have been other people showing up subsequently.

Maybe the ad was also placed in the newspaper but I don't think so. I'd looked very thoroughly through the latest issue and I'm pretty sure it wasn't there. I also can't recall seeing it on the Real Estate site - and anyway it was a private listing, and all or most of the ads there are placed through agents.

So I suspect that Gumtree was possibly the only place it was listed. And if it was placed somewhere else, it was probably another online classified site.

So there is no doubt in my mind that this method of advertising works. As well as Gumtree, Cracker also has a good reputation. And of course there's Craigslist, the king of online classifieds.

If you placed an ad at some or all of these sites you'd be sure to have some success. Then of course there are all those other lesser known ones as well. Some are bound to be very effective.

Monday, June 14, 2010

YouBundle has a good concept behind it

One thing I've noticed lately is this increase in the number of sites that offer how to information and guides. They are like article directories in a way, but a bit more specific.

I just found another site that's kind of in that category. It's called YouBundle. The concept is very clear. You bundle together some of your knowledge and expertise.

The very concept immediately suggests ideas. For instance I could bundle together my favourite blogs ... or the funniest comedians in Australia ... or the best cafes in Perth, etc.

It definitely seems to be worth joining and contributing to.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Indexing of Tumblr blogs

I started a little blog on Tumblr a while ago now. This was mainly to try it out, and also to keep a record of unusual, interesting articles that I found on the web.

While it is an elegant tool, and very user friendly, it certainly takes a long while to get indexed. I thought it might happen automatically, since this does seem to happen with other platforms. (That is, when someone creates a site, there often seems to be some sort of automatic listing of it on the main site, and that qualifies as a backlink.) But this process (or something like it) seems not to have happened here.

In any case I did create a backlink weeks ago on one of my blogs. It still hasn't kicked in. So, this does seem to be a bit of an issue.

And this experience does seem to concur with other assessments of Tumblr. I have read repeatedly that it is not easily and quickly indexed by search engines. Here's an example.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ways to tell if links are nofollow or dofollow

You can certainly go overboard looking for forums and blogs that can give you dofollow links back to your site. Still, it is useful to know this information.

This used to be very easy a while ago if you had Mozilla Firefox, since you could just mouse over a link on a page, scroll down to "Properties" and it would tell you. This particular facility seems to be gone from the more recent versions of that browser. Or at least it's not so easy to access.

That said, you can still download a nifty add-on called NoDoFollow which highlights the different kinds of links with different colours.

Also, there are various free detector tools that will tell you what kind of links a page has when you type in the URL. Here's an example.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thoughts on Qondio

Just a few quick thoughts on Qondio: There are a couple of things that make it stand out from other sites in its niche.

Firstly, you have to pay a five dollar lifetime joining fee. Obviously this would be off-putting to a lot of people. But I suspect that the reason they require this (aside from making a few bob!) is to weed out people who are not serious or who are just going to spam the site with duplicate or shoddy content.

And the site is definitely rigorous about members only submitting original content. The terms and conditions make it very clear that if you do submit stuff you've placed elsewhere they'll just ban you from the site.

So, they're clearly focusing on this particular aspect of SEO. They know that if they only have original stuff there then the whole site will rank a lot better a lot quicker. And those SEO benefits will subsequently trickle down to every member who writes for it.

Also, they know that those submitting their work are doing it primarily for SEO purposes and they definitely want to attract more members on that understanding. The Qondio front page makes a point of saying that it's a great place to build backlinks, which is not something you see on other sites like it.

So, taking these factors into account, does it deliver? Well, I've only submitted one bit of "intel" so far. I just did a backlink check for the site I was linking back to from it and found that that particular bit of content already ranked high on the list. So it does seem that the search engines do regard Qondio quite highly. And their zero tolerance for dupe content policy does seem to be paying off.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pedestrian sues Google for accident

This is a bizarre and intriguing story: A woman was following directions on her Blackberry using Google Maps. She ended up on a busy street and was subsequently run over by a car. So she is now suing Google for damages, since the program said it was safe to walk on that road.

Sounds like a very long bow to draw, even for American lawyers. Maybe they think they've got a better chance of winning since it's probably the first claim of its kind? And Google certainly has very deep pockets ...

Whatever the reason, I doubt it will be the last claim of its kind!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Infobarrel, Qondio, Bukisa

There are some really good article directories out there that are well worth submitting to. There are sites that are quite similar, but are more focused on guides and how to type information.

Three of the better ones appear to be Infobarrel, Qondio and Bukisa. I've just signed up to all of them, so I'll gradually get to know my way around each and will certainly post some thoughts on them here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tool for finding similar sites

One website I have been using a bit lately is Similar Sites. It's useful because when you search for a well known site, you'll get a list of others like it. Then you can do the same search for one of those individually. Of course there is some overlap in the next list that comes up, but you'll get some new sites in it as well. You can keep going for a while like this and turn up some great websites that you probably wouldn't have found via search engines.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twitter followers coming by keyword searches

Just another thought on Twitter: I've been tweeting about various subjects, and it's clear by the followers I'm getting that they often come via searches for certain keywords.

For instance, early on I tweeted about UFOs, and sure enough got a follower whose site was dedicated to the subject of sightings of alien space ships. Recently I mentioned the term "dating sites" in a tweet, and soon had a follower who was tweeting about these and nothing else. Of course, there's no point in following these guys. And they'll unfollow me in time anyway, when they realize I'm not in their niche.

My Twitter page is really eclectic, so this is going to happen from time to time. Still, through this process I'll eventually bring in followers who are interested in the same range of subjects I am. So, it's a good lesson. Just as with blogging, it's always worth including popular search terms and keywords.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Twitter terminology

As a newbie to Twitter, I have found the terminology a bit baffling. So I went in search of some relevant information and found this useful site.

Godaddy customer service

Just a thought on Godaddy's customer service: I have a few domains with them, and have had to contact them from time to time about various issues. They always got back to me very quickly, and answered my questions fully. This is refreshing, because you don't tend to get such good customer service from other big online companies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Source Bottle

Via Twitter I just found an interesting site called Source Bottle. It would be of interest to anyone in Australia who works in media, or who wants media attention. It works by listing media call outs for sources for stories, as well as requests for media attention from public relations people, event managers and the like.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Finding Twitter followers who share your political views

I joined Twitter recently and I'm gradually getting into it. I'm just tweeting randomly, mostly about news, media, politics and entertainment. It's not an SEO, blogging or marketing related Twitter page - although I might start one of those in time.

Anyway, the first thing you want to do upon joining is get more followers. Many just start following as many other "tweeple" as possible, knowing that a certain proportion of them will follow them back. But I think this is a bad strategy. It's kind of like traffic exchanges. The only reason people look at your site is so that you will look at theirs!

In the long run it's best to find people to follow who have a genuine interest in what you're tweeting about. Then you'll enjoy their updates, and there's a better chance that they'll follow you back. That takes a bit of time, of course.

One good way to do this is to search for some specific keywords and see what comes up. So it's kind of like Googling, except in real time (the tweets get indexed instantly).

If you are into something that tends to be quite polarized, like politics, then you'll want to find people who see the world as you see it. That's a bit trickier, since keyword searches might reveal people who are tweeting about what you are passionate about, but they might not have any particular interest in it.

Say you're a climate change activist, and you want to find others to network with. You search for those two keywords in the tweets. There will be an ocean of results, since it's such a big issue now. But most of them will be from people who have no specific interest in the subject. They are just posting about it because it keeps coming up in the media. They might be worried about it, but feel they are powerless to do anything to stop it. Or maybe they don't believe it's real at all and couldn't care less! Clearly, following them would be a waste of time in the long run.

So here's a better strategy: If you type in the name of a columnist, public figure or even media outlet renowned for espousing a particular view related to your political passion you'll find a lot of twits who are very clearly for or against. (In the case of climate change these might be search terms like "Al Gore", "Christopher Monckton" or "Fox News".)

You'll still have to wade through the tweets to find those on your side. But it's pretty quick because they will generally be passionate and therefore unequivocal.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why Facebook causes relationship problems

I'm sure that the vast majority of Facebook users have a good experience. But there's definitely a dark side! There have been a lot of horror stories in the media lately. Numerous people have been stalked and harassed through the site. And there have even been several murders that had some kind of Facebook link.

These cases are extreme, of course. But I'm sure there's a lot of much milder conflict that goes on as a result of people joining the site that doesn't get reported. I think it's got something to with the fact that Facebook is like another world that has its own culture, rules, regulations and etiquette. Some people get right into it and feel very comfortable. Others don't, and that's where the problem starts.

For instance, say one partner in a couple loves Facebook and starts telling his Facebook friends about what's going on in the relationship. He doesn't see there's anything wrong with this, since he's just doing online what he does offline in conversation. (And his partner has joined also, so he assumes that she doesn't have a problem with it - even if she logs in only occasionally.)

But of course on Facebook this gossip is not mere spoken words that are not recorded. It's all there in black and white. And it gets shared all over the place! Even if what's being said is benign, even positive, that's an invasion of privacy. It's pretty obvious why that could enrage someone.

So ultimately it's all about privacy. I think that's the fundamental problem with it. And here's a much more specific look at how and why Facebook can harm people's romantic relationships. While the problems included in the post relate to dating, it's easy to see how variations of them could affect platonic friendships as well.

Because of these pitfalls, I'm going to be careful when I get back into Facebook. I won't use it much for personal interaction with people. Rather, I'll use it in a more professional way as a means to promote my expertise.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thoughts on Tumblr

I have been looking into social networking and bookmarking sites. Tumblr kept appearing in lists and posts about the subject. So I joined it to try it out.

It is excellent. Even though it's known as a "micro-blogging" site (similar to Twitter) it's actually a lot more versatile than the label implies. Unlike Twitter, you're not limited to very short posts. And it actually has as much functionality as most other blogging platforms, if not more.

It is similar to Twitter in that you can follow other members of the site, and have your posts "re-blogged" which is like having them "re-tweeted". So, if you've got a knack for writing stuff that attracts this kind of treatment you could end up with a lot of traffic pretty quickly.

The various site templates you can use are much more unique and creative than those you'll find elsewhere. Which is why there seem to be a lot of arty types (as opposed to newsy, pundit types) using the site.

One attractive aspect is that you can use your own custom domain for your site at no charge as well. Not many blogging platforms offer that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Versatility of Wordpress

I haven't ever used Wordpress, but one thing that I keep reading about it is that not only is it a great blogging platform - it's also a good all round content management system.

And here's evidence of that: A free classifieds site built using Wordpress.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Page rank variation at Ezine Articles

I was looking through my stats for Ezine Articles and I noticed something interesting. The articles that I'd submitted related to internet marketing generally hadn't accrued page rank themselves. But some of those that went into other categories like "pure opinion" and "movies and TV" had. And this wasn't just those I'd submitted a long time ago; they'd only been up there a couple of weeks.

I suspect that this is mainly due to the numbers. That is, the internet marketing and seo niche is pretty well saturated with articles, since every money-making webmaster and his dog is busily building backlinks with them. But those other niches are simply less full, and so the average page rank for each article is higher.

Whatever the reason, it's something to remember. You should tend to get better SEO results from your author bio-box links if you submit to the less saturated niches at Ezine Articles - and probably other article directories as well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Twitter becoming first choice for public announcements

Twitter just keeps on growing. Here are a couple of examples of its vast reach:

Recently Malcolm Turnbull first announced his resignation from politics via Twitter. Also, Jim Carrey and Jennifer McCarthy announced their amicable breakup on the social networking site.

Clearly Twitter is a big part of these people's lives, since it was the first mode of communication they thought of after deciding to make these announcements.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Add This is a great way into social media

Up until now I really haven't looked into social media much. I've been flat out blogging, writing articles, and basically making a living in my "real" job. But lately, I have finally started getting into social media. I can now really see the benefits.

One tool that is a great way to get into it is Add This. It's basically a button that you can add to your blogs, sites and posts which facilitates their addition to a whole host of social bookmarking, networking, blogging and micro-blogging sites. (You can see the button below and also in the right panel.)

Apart from anything else, just the list of these sites on Add This is a great resource. There are hundreds of them! This aspect of internet promotion is fascinating, and I regret having neglected it for so long.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Company and product names in blog post titles

Just another thought about choice of keywords: I have found that it's worth putting the names of organizations, companies (and even specific products) in the titles of the posts that you write about them.

The reason is not just because people search for these keywords when trying to get honest, unbiased information about them. But those representing these entities will sometimes search for them as well, usually seeking out positive comment. (And of course their critics will do the same, looking for negative blog posts. So it cuts both ways! You don't always need to write nice things. Still, it pays to be fair and balanced, even if you are being critical.)

As a result of this tactic, you might get the odd link back from one of these company blogs or sites, or even have your post submitted to various social bookmarking sites.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Find forums in which many subjects are discussed

While there are lots of online forums, it's best to try and get ones that are already big and active, since they are most likely to stay around for a long time. Also, they tend to have a lot of different categories including general or "lounge" sections in which you can post about pretty much anything. This is important, because after a while you do tend to get a bit bored writing comments about just one or two subjects.

Of course the SEO value of backlinks from these miscellaneous sections is probably even less than from from other parts of the forum. Still, a link is a link (although, of course that's not the only reason to post, of course!) and they really do add up over time.

As well as this you are helping the forum keep up steam by adding your thoughts. The more content that the forum has, the higher it ranks in the search engines. And the more likely it is that new people will join. So the cycle continues. (Also, you are generating some content that you can develop into articles or blog posts to use later on.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Active forums disappearing

Just another thought on forum marketing: I haven't done any posting on forums for a few months now, but decided to get back and do some more recently. Sadly, a couple of the forums I'd been participating in had gone belly up. And they weren't small or dying ones when I last visited; they were actually quite large and active.

It's a bit disappointing, because I had maybe 30 or 40 posts on these forums that I was intending to paste to a file and use as raw material for blog posts and articles. But they've all just disappeared now!

So, it's worth remembering that there is a high attrition rate with these forums. And you should save what you've written as you go along if you want to use it somewhere else.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Online life trumps real one

It's a bit of a cliche that people are spending so much time on the internet these days that they are actually ignoring reality. However, there's quite a bit of truth to it.

Internet addiction is a huge problem in some countries, with numerous clinics being built to address the problem. And there are more and more stories of people ignoring their responsibilities offline. One of the most tragic is the case of a South Korean couple who were so involved with raising an online virtual baby that they let their real child die of neglect.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

LimeDomains looks good for Wordpress

There are a lot of free website hosts and builders out there now. But many of them are substandard. There are a few that stand out from the pack, of course, like Yola, Weebly and Webnode.

Here's another one that looks good: LimeDomains. Actually, it's more of a domain registrar. But if you buy a domain through them, you can get a free website. The deal is not like the above mentioned sites, which have easy to use builders. But it does have a lot of applications that you can easily install. This includes Wordpress.

I haven't tried it yet but this seeems like a very good deal. If you want to get the most out of a Wordpress blog and put ads on it you have to host it yourself. That will cost you at least a few bucks a month with reliable hosting companies. But with LimeDomains, you get the hosting free. And of course you can upgrade as your traffic builds.

I've Googled for reviews about LimeDomains and they seem generally positive. So, definitely an option to consider.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crazy Domains advertisement controversy

If you live in Australia there is a television ad that you've almost certainly seen, since it's shown pretty regularly. It's the one for Crazy Domains and it stars Pamela Anderson. Lately it's fallen foul of the censors.

I've seen it many times, and I never thought it was offensive. Actually, I got the impression that the makers of the commercial went out of their way to make Anderson and her equally sexy sidekick seem empowered and businesslike in much of the ad - while also taking advantage of their abundant sex appeal in the geek's daydream sequence. Because of this "bob each way" approach it always struck me as being overly politically correct, if anything. Clearly, the Advertising Standards Board doesn't see it that way.

A side note: The ad was filmed in Los Angeles - and of course stars a major US celebrity. It must have cost a packet! Crazy Domains is doing pretty well for a Perth-based company.

That state does seem to becoming something of a mecca for internet related businesses. The popular ISP iiNet started there as well.

Doomby, a French Weebly

I just found another free website builder that looks pretty good. It's called Doomby and the company is based in France.

It looks a lot like Weebly, with similar tools included, and an option to upgrade. The name is derived from the Pulaar (a language used in Senegal) word for "mice". It is kind of catchy - and also apt, since you would be using your mouse to build a site. However, I do think it might have negative associations for English speakers because of the inclusion of the word "doom". I suspect some people might be turned off using it for that reason.

Still, it looks like a useful tool for the newbie webmaster.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Facebook horror story

Negative stories related to Facebook are appearing frequently. And here's another one: A bloke murdered his ex-lover after seeing photos on Facebook of her with another man.

Of course, jealous men killing their ex-partners is nothing new, unfortunately. But in the past, these men had to follow them around to learn about their new relationships! Facebook makes the discovery much easier because pretty much anyone can log in and see how another person's personal life is developing.

And with Facebook now becoming so huge it's overtaken Yahoo to become the second most popular site on the web, horrific events like this will happen even more often.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ezine Articles review process

One of the major criticisms of Ezine Articles is that they take so long to review and accept your articles. This is definitely true at the start, when it can take a week or more to see your article go live. But the process speeds up a lot after they've accepted 10 articles from you. It usually takes a couple of days, maybe a bit more once you've reached that number.

And what I've found is that when you've written quite a few more than that, the process speeds up even more. I've got over 30 articles on the site and most of the ones I've been submitting lately are being accepted within 24-48 hours. I might just have been lucky lately, but I don't think so. I suspect that there is a bit of fast-tracking for people who have that many up or more.

So, my advice is: Only submit good articles that are grammatically correct and have been thoroughly spell-checked. Also, be careful to observe their link rules (see the site for details). Then be patient and cooperative. And just keep submitting your best work to them.

This is worth doing because articles there do get a lot of views, and deliver strong SEO benefits to sites they link back to in the author bio-box.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The names of the famous can be good keywords

People often search for information and opinions about well known celebrities and political leaders, so putting their names in the titles of blog posts is often a good tactic. Of course, you can't compete for the really big names like "Beyonce" and "Obama". But you might be able to corner the odd long tail search for names like theirs if your title includes other often searched for terms, including the names of other famous people.

And if you lower your sights a little, you can quite easily rank as number one (or at least very high up) for searches for minor celebrities and political figures - or even just everyday folks who have made the headlines for whatever reason.

If these people are from your country or area, you can pull in some good local traffic, too. So it's a good idea to read the papers and look for people who are not hugely famous, but repeatedly appear in your city's newspapers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Affiliate links ranking highly in search engines

It's widely accepted that Google will penalize you somewhat if you have too many affiliate links and banners on your blogs and sites. I doubt that the effect is very great, though. Many of the big dogs of blogging, who continue to receive monster search engine traffic, have a lot of ads on their blogs.

In any case there are advantages in doing this. Obviously, you'll eventually make some sales with this method. Also, in some cases, your unique affiliate link can start to appear in the search engines. If it's ranking for a reasonably popular search term, you can get a nice flood of signups and sales that goes for quite some time, until it eventually slides off the first page. This has occurred occasionally with a few of the programs I've been promoting. As far as I can tell it resulted from having those unique affiliate links on blogs with good page rank.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blogging, social networking and age

Age seems to be a crucial factor in one's choice of online medium. Older people prefer blogging, while younger people are deserting that medium for social networking sites like Facebook.

Makes sense. You tend to get more thoughtful as you get older. And you've got more to say. So a medium in which you can express yourself at greater length would have greater appeal.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Yola versus Weebly battle hots up

Of the many free website builders and hosts on the market there are two that stand out from the pack: Weebly and Yola. They are clearly the most popular and user-friendly.

Up until now, Weebly has been leading the field. But Yola is making a major challenge. It has tripled its user numbers recently, now boasting 3 million, and has had a massive injection of venture funding.

I have sites with both of them, and I think they're both great. Weebly does seem a little more user-friendly, though.

One advantage that Yola has over Weebly is that its upgrade option delivers more value for money. For about 50 bucks a year Yola gives you 25 sites, whereas a Weebly Pro user gets 10.

It will be interesting to see how this competition plays out, and whether other companies become major players as well.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Woman tweets while in labour

Here's yet another example of the all-pervasiveness of social networking: A Geelong woman posted updates on Twitter while giving birth.

I have to agree with the writer of this article about the event, who says that she couldn't help feeling it was a case of "too much information"".

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blog posts really add up over time

Just some more thoughts on persistence in blogging: This blog has been going for a little over a year now. I certainly haven't busted my gut over it; just kept chipping away when I found time. I've now racked up just over 100 posts. I did a word count and there's close to 19000 words there, which is half the length of an average sized book.

Of course I couldn't put it into a book form as is. But there is quite a bit of good information in this blog - much of it stuff that I have learned from experience as opposed to ideas that I picked up and rehashed from other websites and blogs.

Still, the search engine traffic has been disappointing. At first I suspected that was due to the content scraper who was preying on this blog. But I don't think this was the main reason (and in any case his site has been taken offline - probably because of complaints by other bloggers he was plagiarizing). I think it's mainly to do with the fact that I'm in a highly saturated niche and the keywords I've been focusing on have been fought over for years.

I suspect that if I'd chosen a less competitive niche I would be bringing in solid traffic by now. Still, the traffic to this one has been slowly increasing. So it's definitely worth continuing with.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New forums appearing in search engine results

I have done quite a bit of forum marketing in the past. But I did overdose on it a bit, so I haven't looked at any forums - let alone search for them - for the last few weeks.

But back then, while I was doing it, I found it quite difficult to find good new forums. (That's not the case with blogs, of course. There are just squillions of them on any subject you can think of.) I concluded that the reason for this is that forums do take a long time to get up and running, and a lot of them fall by the wayside before reaching critical mass. The big, established ones have managed to get past that point, of course, so they tend to stay at the top of the rankings.

For this reason I thought things wouldn't have changed much since I last did a search. But earlier today I Googled and Binged for new forums using terms like "seo forum" and "marketing forum". While the results hadn't altered hugely, they did contain a few good new ones that I'd never seen before.

So, the list is dynamic after all. If you are looking for new forums, you just have to give it a bit more time to let things change.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Karmic justice for content thief?

Not long ago I was annoyed to discover that some sack o' suds had been scraping my RSS feeds to get content for his site. While I did send him an e-mail demanding that he stop doing this - which he ignored, of course - I didn't pursue it any further. I was very busy and just didn't have the time.

Curious as to whether he was still stealing my content, I typed the URL of his site into my browser and was taken to an "account suspended" page. So, it seems likely that someone else he'd been plagiarizing was a bit more assiduous than me, and sent an official complaint to his web host.

Shark attack described on Twitter

Recently a woman was lambasted for posting tweets while her son died from drowning. And now a South African man has tweeted immediately after watching a man being killed by a "dinosaur huge" shark.

Regardless of the moral ramifications of using Twitter at such times, these events certainly illustrate the massive reach of the micro-blogging site. No matter what happens nowadays, there's almost certain to be a Twitter user close by ready to tweet about it in real time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Massive rise in eBook sales

For a long while it seemed that while ebooks could be a profitable option for writers, particularly when they were writing about niche subjects, the medium was still struggling to crack a really large audience and become "mainstream". But it looks like that barrier has been broken now. For the first time ebooks have out-sold traditional books at Amazon, with Kindles being purchased in huge numbers.

Of course this doesn't necessarily mean that the same thing will happen across all book retailing sites. However, it is highly significant. And I suspect it won't be long before the sight of people using e-readers will be as common as the sight of those listening to their beloved iPods.