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.