Home | Archive | Contact
Previous Entries

Archive for the 'Advertising' Category

How to make a Twitter bot with no coding

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

As usual, lazy-man post overview:

With this post you can learn to make a Twitter bot that will automatically retweet users talking about keywords that you specify. You can achieve this with (just about) no coding whatsoever.

Why would you want to do this? Lots of reasons I guess, ranging from spammy to fairly genuine. Normally giving somebody a ReTweet is enough to make them follow you and it keeps your profile active, so you can semi-automate accounts and use it as an aide for making connections. That or you can spam the sh*t out of Twitter, whatever takes your fancy really.

Here we go.

Step 1: Make your Twitter Bot account
Head over to Twitter.com and create a new account for your bot. Shouldn’t really need much help at this stage.. Try to pick a nice name and cute avatar. Or something.

Step 2: Find conversations you want to Retweet
Okay, we’ve got our Twitter account and we’re going to need to scan twitter for conversations to possibly retweet. To do this, we’re going to use Twitter Search. In this example, we’re going to search for “SEO Tips”, but to stop our bot Retweeting itself you want to add a negative keyword of your botname. So search for SEO Tips -botname, likely this:

Twitter Bot

So my bot is called “DigeratiTestBot”. Hit search now, muffin.

Step 3: Getting the feed
The next thing you need to do is get the feed results, which isn’t quite as simple as you’d think you see. Twitter being a bit of a prude doesn’t like bots and services like Feedburner or Pipes interacting with it, so you’re going to need to repurpose the feed or it’s game over for you.

After you’ve done your search you need to get the feed location (top right) so copy the URL of the “Feed for this query”

Twitter Bot

Store that in a safe place, we’ll need it in a second.

Step 4: Making the feed accessible
Okay, so there’s a teeny-tiny bit of code, but this is all, I promise! You’re going to need to republish the feed so it can be accessed later on, but don’t worry – it’s a piece of cake. All we’re going to do is screen scrape the whole feed results page onto our own server.

Make a file called “myfeed.php” and put this in it:

<?
$url = "http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=seo+tips+-yourbotname";
$ch = curl_init($url);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
$curl_scraped_page = curl_exec($ch);
curl_close($ch);
echo $curl_scraped_page;
?>

The only bit you need to change is:

“$url = “http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=seo+tips+-yourbotname”;”

which needs to be replaced with whatever your Twitter RSS feed that we carefully saved and stored in a safe place earlier. If you’ve already lost that URL, please proceed back to Step 3 and consider yourself a fail.

So, having completed this and uploaded your myfeed.php to your domain, you can now access the real-time Twitter results feed by accessing http://www.yourdomain.com/myfeed.php.

Step 5: Yahoo Pipes!
Now comes the fun bit, we’re going to set up most of the mechanism for our bot in Yahoo Pipes. You’ll need a Yahoo account, so if you don’t have one, get one and login and click “Create a Pipe” at the top of the screen.

This will give you a blank canvas, so let’s MacGyver us up a god damn Twitter Bot!

Add “Fetch Feed” block from “Sources”
Then in the “URL” field, enter the URL of the feed we repurposed, http://www.yourdomain.com/myfeed.php.

Twitter Bot

Add “Filter” block from “Operators”
Leave the settings as “Block” and “all” then add the following rules:
item.title CONTAINS RT.*RT
item.title CONTAINS @
item.twitter:lang DOES NOT CONTAIN EN

(You click the little green + to add more rules). Once you’ve done that drag a line between the bottom of the “Feed Fetch” box and the top of the “Filter” box to connect them. Hey presto.

Twitter Bot

Add “Loop” block from “Operators”

Add a “String Builder” from “String” and drag in ONTO the “Loop” block you just added

In the String Builder block you just put inside the Loop block, add these 3 items:
item.author.uri
item.y:published.year
item.content.content

Check the radio box of “assign results to” and change this to item.title

Great, now drag a connection between your Filter and Loop blocks. Should look like this now:

Twitter Bot

Add “Regex” block from “Operators”
Add these two rules:
item.title REPLACE http://twitter.com/ WITH RT @
item.title REPLACE 2009 WITH (space character)

Extra points for anyone who writes “(space character)” instead of using a space. Also don’t miss the trailing slash from twitter.com/

Drag a connection between Loop Block and Regex Block, then a connection between Regex and Pipe Output blocks.

Finished! Should look something like this:

Twitter Bot

All you need to do now is Save your pipe (name it whatever you like) and Run Pipe (at the top of the screen).

Once you run your pipe, you’ll get an output screen something like this:

Twitter Bot

What you need to do here is save the URL of your pipe’s RSS feed and keep it in a safe place. If you didn’t lose your RSS feed from Step 3, then I’d suggest keeping it in the same place as that.

Step 6: TwitterFeed
Almost there, comrades. All we need to do now is whack our feed into our TwitterBot account, which is made really easy with TwitterFeed.com. Get yourself over there and sign up for an account.

To set up your bot in TwitterFeed:

1) I suggest not using oauth, as it will make it easer to use multiple Twitter accounts. Click the “Having Oauth Problems?” link and enter the username and password for your TwitterBot account and hit test account details.

2) Name your feed whatever you like and then enter the URL of your Yahoo Pipes RSS that we carefully saved earlier, then hit “test feed”.

3) Important: Click “Advanced Settings” we need to change some stuff here:

Post Frequency: Every 30mins
Updates at a time: 5
Post Content: Title Only
Post Link: No (uncheck)

Then hit “Create Feed”

Twitter Bot

All done!

Have fun and please, don’t buy anything from those losers who are peddling $20 “automate this” Twitter scripts. If you really need to do it, just make it yourself or if you don’t know how leave a comment here and I’ll show you how.

Bosh.

Posted in Advertising, Black Hat, Blogging, Grey Hat, Scripting, Social Marketing, White Hat | 115 Comments

SEO For The Uneducated

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

I had written a post analysing this.

I’ve deleted it.

It only dampens the impact.

Google, please institute a “did you mean” correction for this search. You have the chance to educate so many people.

Hats off to all those companies producing products for the mass “Wayne & Waynetta” (see “the great unwashed”) market. No wonder you’re making so much money.

Go on. Digg It.

Posted in Advertising, Google, Research & Analytics | 13 Comments

How To Make Money With An Automated Blog & AutoStumble

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Welcome to another “how to” post. If you follow the recipe here, you’ll be onto Stage 3 = Profit in no time. This ties quite nicely in with the Blackhat SEO Tools post and the AutoStumble post, for those who haven’t read them. It’s a little blackhat, but nothing to lose sleep over (hah, as if!) and this is really, really, reaaallyy easy stuff. Sitting comfortably? Let us begin..

What is the end goal?

The end-game of this post is to have a fully automated blog, which generates shitloads of traffic via StumbleUpon, referrals and Google Blogsearch. In the process, you’ll also gain loads of subscribers and generate some nice easy revenue. Once it’s built, the entire thing is just about hands free.

What you need before you begin…#
To complete this project you will need:

1) Nice clean installation of WordPress

2) The Digerati Blackhat SEO Tool Set

3) A registered copy of AutoStumble

Lets get started
I’m going assume you know the basics of setting up a WordPress blog. If not you can get more detail from Making Money With a Video Blog or if you’re totally new, check out the official WordPress documentation. So yea, if you’re that new, please RTFM.

Once you’ve got your WordPress blog installed and running, do the basics such as setting the permalinks to be the post title, so you get those little extra keywords in the URL. You’ll also need to find yourself a theme. As discussed in Making Money With a Video Blog, the layout is really, really important to get clicks on your ads. You could start with a template like ProSense, although I’ve found the click through ratio to be pretty low, but at least it’s quick. Ideally, have a hunt around so you meet the criteria of showing your content above the fold, centrally and having your ads nicely surrounded and blended in. The key here is to experiment and see what works well for you.

Plugins FTW
There’s a whole crapload of plugins that will make your life a lot easier. We’ll start off with the important one, FeedWordpress, which is part of the Digerati Blackhat SEO Tool Set if you don’t already have it.

Upload the feedwordpress folder, as usual to your wp-content/plugins directory. You’ll need to remove the 2 files from the feedwordpress “Magpie” subfolder, and put these into your “wp-includes” directory, which will overwrite some default WordPress files too. Don’t miss that step…

Once you’re installed and you’ve activated the plugin via your WordPress dashboard, you’ll have a new option on your main navigation.


Just like that. So give that a click and then go into the “Syndication Options” menu. From here you’ll be able to configure FeedWordpress to do your bidding.

You should get an option screen like this:

So lets run through these options.

1) The first thing you want to change is the “Check For New Posts” option. You’ll want to set this to “automatic”. This will go sniff your RSS feeds at an interval you specify to grab new content. You can leave it on every 10 minutes for now.

2) Make sure the next 3 boxes are checked, this will keep your feed information bang up to date.

3) You should set syndicated posts to be published immediately. This will allow you to get your content live ASAP, which is always a plus.

4) Pemalinks. This is basically when somebody clicks on the post, do they go to the original website that you er… Borrowed? The content from, or do they go so a scraped version on your site. For this example (which I’ll give the gonadless among you an ethical loophole for later), set it to “this website”.

5) I always set FeedWordpress to create new categories. I never display categories in the menu, but it gives the post a few more keywords and a bit more relevance for search. So, if someone else has gone to the effort of writing a tag, it would just be wasteful of you not to use it!

Okay, that’s set up… What exactly are we scraping?
To be honest, I’m not a big fan of people scraping content that people have sweated over. However, one thing I don’t mind doing is thieving from thieves.

You’re on the hunt for “disposable” content – generally not text based. Think along the lines of Flash games, funny videos, funny pictures, hypnomagical-optical-illusions – that kind of thing. The Internet is awash with blogs that showcase this stuff. Check out Google blogsearch and try a search like funny pictures blog. There’s hundreds of the leeching bastards showcasing other peoples pictures, videos, games and hypnomagical-optical-illusions for their website. They can hardly call it “their” content. With this ethical pebble tossed aside, we can go and grab some content.

There’s loads of ways you can hunt down potential content. You’re on the lookout for RSS feeds with this rich media. So you could try; Google Blogsearch, Technorati, MyBlogLog – basically any site that lets you search the blogosphere.

Once you’ve got the location of about a dozen or so RSS feeds, you can go to your Syndication menu again and “add a new syndicated site”. Simple matter, paste in the RSS feed location and hit syndicate. Once you’ve added them all, it “update”. Boom, shake the room, you’ve probably got a couple of hundred “new posts”.

New posts, no traffic
You want to of course, set up your WordPress RSS. Something like Feedburner is dead easy to set up and will get Google interested off the bat. Make sure you have a nice big RSS button and offer e-mail subscription (Feedburner does this) for those who don’t have a clue what the hell RSS is.

The cool thing about services like Google Blogsearch is that they’re pretty much chronologically sorted. So as long as you have a steady stream of posts, you’re guaranteed at least a trickle of traffic from long-tail searches.

Hot potato, grab and switch
If you really want to get some serious traffic, you’re going to need some “pillar” posts – content that you know for sure is strong. The easiest way to do this is to keep an eye on sites like Digg and Reddit. Check out on there what is going hot, what’s new and what’s viral. Probably the easiest thing to do is subscribe to the Digg Offbeat / Comedy RSS. This will give you constant updates on what’s upcoming.

Due to the differences in the types of people, there doesn’t tend to be as much overlap between hubs such as Digg, Reddit & StumbleUpon as you might first think. I’ve seen things go viral on Reddit and then take two or three days to make it onto the frontpage of Digg. So, you can grab content that’s going hot from one of these hubs; your proverbial “hot potato” and put in front of the nose of another audience.

Here’s where AutoStumble comes in
This is probably the easiest way to use AutoStumble. Grab your hot potato content from Digg and do a manual post on your blog. Submit this page to StumbleUpon.

AutoStumble costs £20 and is a desktop application, which allows you to automatically pool hundreds of StumbleUpon votes with other users. I.e., this is your quick way of getting your content to go viral on StumbleUpon. If you purchase and download AutoStumble, it is simple a matter of pasting in the URL you want to go viral on StumbleUpon and hitting “AutoStumble”.

A few hundred votes later. Voila. You have traffic.

The value of StumbleUpon traffic
1) The most I’ve had is just over 70,000 unique visitors over a 3 day spike from StumbleUpon. So firstly, you can generate a fairly decent bit of green from your initial CPM ad impressions and clicks on things like Adsense. (StumbleUpon users don’t tend to be as picky about clicking on ads as Diggers).

2) With this volume of traffic, you’ll likely find a few people who really like your content. You’ll get RSS / Email subscribers who will be a permanent addition to your monthly traffic (and revenue).

3) A lot of these social sites are populated with pretty tech savvy people. A lot of these people run their own blogs, forums, websites – or at least add content somewhere themselves on the web. If you get 10,000 visitors from StumbleUpon, you can expect a decent amount of lovely natural links from around the web. Links mean better website authority, better rankings, better traffic and better revenue. The value for me at least, is really long-term.

Making things easy for yourself
You’ll probably want to install some extra plugins such as:

  • WordPress Automatic Update – This will update your WordPress installation as well as plugins. Generally, it will save you a lot of time.
  • Clean Archives Reloaded – I use there on my archive page. It’s a nice way to layout all of your blog posts with clean anchortext to improve relevance with some internal linking.
  • Sitemap Generator – I don’t really bother with Sitemaps, but for those who do – saves you generating one from scratch.

Don’t forget, if you’re going to be switching content onto platforms like Digg or Reddit, make sure you have their native vote button included in the post! You want to make it as easy as possible to grab all of the votes you can. Again, personally – I don’t bother with the generic social bookmarking plugins for WordPress, as I find nobody actually seems to use them.

Oh, and before anyone chirps in trying to be clever saying “(sniffle) won’t duplicate content be an issue?” No! it won’t, fucktard! Get back in your hole. Aside from the dupe content filters being primarily built on shit, you’ll be posting mostly rich media. Google’s not too great at working out the exact content of pictures and videos… Yet. Yes, it will probably change one day in the future, and we’ll all look back on this post and laugh..At the moment, it’s not something they do well, so, well…. Ching..Ching.

Taking it one step further
This whole project should take you less than 30 minutes, from sitting down at your computer to having a fully automated blog posting and promotion system set up. If you like the idea, it would be an idea to package everything I’ve mentioned here together into your own custom install file, so you can deploy new sites in under 15minutes.

If you’re going to do this, you may as well make your cookie cutter solution as good as it can be. Hopefully, if you’re thinking down the right road you can come up with some of your own ideas to improve on these techniques (there are loads).

Why not look at only showing social voting buttons, from sites you know that your visitors actually use? Here’s some code.

Enjoy.

Posted in Adsense, Advertising, Black Hat, Blogging, Google, Grey Hat, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs, Viral Marketing | 33 Comments

Will It Make Money? Top 3 Considerations

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Every single day I probably come up with three or four new ideas for websites. Every single year, I probably come up with three or four good ideas for websites. So how do you separate “good” ideas from “notsogood” ideas? There’s definitely a process, which most experienced developers/marketers do without even realising it. I’m going to try and outline my thought process and some of the tools I use to judge whether ideas make it to the web or to the recycle bin.

Consideration 1: Has it been done before?
Sounds obvious, huh? I really hate pissing on peoples’ parades, but working as a consultant I’m probably approaching triple figures for the amount of times when I’ve been told about the “next big thing”, only to have to show people a Google search result page with a dozen established websites already.

If you’re planning a fairly large project, it really does pay to load up Google and hammer it with everything you can think of which might possibly be related to your idea. Oh, your idea’s been done before? No, biggie – My mantra here is: Do it different, or do it better!

Different? That doesn’t just mean the core idea! For instance, you could do the basic idea but target it at a different audience. A great example of this is Sphinn.

Sphinn versus Digg?

Well, here’s the thing – there’s isn’t really a “Sphinn versus Digg”. Sphinn isn’t very much different from Digg at all, however it is aimed at Internet Marketers, which is a crowd that isn’t always welcomed with open arms over at Digg. It seems obvious now, but what would your first reaction be in a pre-Sphinn world if someone came to you and said “I’ve got this idea for a website, it’s a social site where people vote on news stories and…”? It would have been very easy to scrap the idea without further thought.

Better? Surf the web looking for opportunities, just how Danny realised that Digg could be better for search marketers, I could go and find a list of 10 sites now which I could use and say “this really could be better if…” – that’s where these “simple but great” ideas come from. Who 2 years ago thought MySpace would be being dominated by other social network site?

Facebook was not designed as a competitor to MySpace, it began it’s life in the halls of Harvard as a way for students to connect with each other. The idea slowly expanded to more ivy league schools, then universities, then companies, until it has reached its colossal size today. The idea started out with similar premise to MySpace, but again a different audience. It just so turns out it performs the function of MySpace, but in a much better way: Greater connectivity and less spam (for at now at least).

This is one of the reasons we can see MySpace’s brand searches suffer in Google as people leave in their droves and head for Facebook. You can see around 2007 MySpace really began to suffer and has started to decline in search popularity, which spells out a bleak future for them. I don’t want to get into a big MySpace vs. Facebook debate, I want to say: it doesn’t matter how big your competitor is, if you can do something genuinely better, you’ve got a chance.

Consideration 2: Intelligent monetisation

There are a whole bunch of ways you can make money from a website and one of the biggest mistakes I see is people just defaulting to the Adsense crutch. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Adsense fan, but it has its uses and it’s certainly not a silver bullet solution for monetisation.

Before you even get into monetisation, you should ask yourself the question; should you be trying to monetise a site from the kick off anyway? Obvious monetisation can adversely effect the credibility of your site, or worse yet – drive users away as you sell off the traffic that you’ve worked so hard to draw in.

I’ve mentioned before, I don’t use Adsense on this blog – and I think it’s a pretty good example. I don’t do sponsored posts, sell links or show Adsense because all of these things would drive users away from my blog, which I’m writing to get them here in the first place! I want you here to read this information, not con you into coming here for a few vague tips just so I can pawn you off to the highest bidder.

I imagine most of my readers will know about Adsense, so most probably won’t click on it anyway – so I won’t make much money. I guess I could blend it in and maybe get a few misclicks, but what’s the point in that? When I recommend certain products, or schemes I sometimes use an affiliate link, which I mark as (aff) to let people know what it is. This way, I add value to readers, not trying to get them to buy/subscribe/use something that’s not relevant to the post. If they have to look at it anyway, why not use an affiliate link? They would perform that action anyway. Marking the links with (aff) is just my way of communicating to my readers that they have the option of typing in the URL if they really don’t want me to get a commission – that’s their choice at the end of the day.

If you can “build in” a monetisation stream to your site, i.e. make it part of the integral process that 1) does not require the user to do more than they usually would and 2) still sees the user perform the actions you want them to, you’re on a winner.

There are tertiary methods of generating revenue, which can be very lucrative – but will never be core to functionality, such as CPM (cost per thousand impression) banners. If you run a community based website with 1000 uniques per day and an average of 10 page views, there’s a fair bit of money to be had from site-wide CPM advertising. There’s even more money to be had if you can directly sell these banner impressions to interested parties, rather than the sometimes rather low-paying CPM networks.

Do you like banners, though? When was the last time you went to a site and you thought “Wow, I’m really pleased that banner advert is there!” Rarely, probably never. As a rule of thumb people don’t like banners – however, they can pay the bills, so there has to be some kind of balance.

In the above example, we’re talking about building a community site, which is a damn hard thing to do – to reach that “critical mass” of users, where your user count will self-replicate and you don’t have to have your foot on the pedal to keep the thing alive. So, at these tender stages of your website’s life, is it a good idea to expose people to banner adverts? Unlikely.

Monetisation can be a bit of a gamble and there’s loads of examples we could work through, but there’s a few key rules to keep in mind:

1) Can you integrate your monetisation into the core functionality of your site?

2) Should you be using “push” monetisation straight away?

3) How will your users react and interact with different monetisation streams?

4) How do other sites in your niche monetisation their presence?

5) What actions do you want a user to take on your site and does your monetisation work against these?

6) Have you considered:

> Affiliate deals to monetise content
> Contextual advertising such as Adsense, Adbrite, PeakClick? (CPC)
> Cost per thousand impression (CPM) advertising such as TribalFusion, Casale, BurstMedia
> Having other sites or companies sponsor sections of your website?
> Does your site give to voluntary donations?
> What about subscription based systems?
> Can you monetise RSS or syndicated feeds?
> Can you do sponsored content? (Nofollowed of course!)

What I’m tarting on about is that you can’t make anything without visitors, so put them first. Maybe I should have just written that half an hour ago? (:

Consideration 3: Time vs Profit Ratio

Avid readers of my blog (I love you guys), will know I’m a big fan of “quick buck” ideas. These are ideas which are quick and easy to implement and will earn you a bit of pocket money. When building a web portfolio, diversification is the key factor to income stability. Although I have a few “battleship” sites, I’ve also got a million dingys floating about, so if a few Google bombs go off here and there, I’m still in pretty good shape.

A lot of people ask the question “I want to make money online, should I make one big site, or loads of little ones?” My answer is, both! (and everything between them for that matter). Small sites are a great way of testing ideas, monetisation streams, SEO techniques, designs, you name it. You can increase your overall chance of success by lowering risks early on. If you spend all of your time, money and resources on building your first battleship site and for whatever reason, it sinks – that leaves you in a nasty place. If you can get up and running with a few quick wins, you can use this revenue as a “margin of error” to play with when working on larger projects.

My most successful “dingy” site took about 20 minutes to build, about 20 minutes of promotion and it makes about $300 a month, with no work whatsoever. I’d say that’s a pretty good investment, by whatever yardstick you’re using. So what makes a “dingy” site?

It’s not size that’s for sure. Some of the quickest projects may be database driven sites with a million pages that are built just to catch long-tail queries. I generally class a site by three factors:

1) How long it will take to build, design and develop

2) How many visitors it will take to make the site consistently earn money

3) What ongoing maintenance and time will the site take?

The first is fairly simple and easily written off. If you’re confident you can design and develop the site, you’re onto a winner. A lot of the time, it’s easy to pick up a CMS such as WordPress, Drupel, Joomla or Pligg to smack a site together in no time. A real issue is how many visitors is it going to take to make the site earn money? This depends on our earlier points about monetisation streams, if you’re relying on CPM – it will take a hell of a lot, if you’re relying on single high paying affiliate commissions, probably not so many.

The most important by far for me, is what time, on an ongoing basis will this site eat up? As much as I love community type sites, they take a bastard amount of TLC to get off the ground. With many projects on the go, you really need to do some time planning to make sure you’ve got enough spare (or can outsource), to see these things through. An early mistake I made was building loads of sites and not giving them the attention they needed to grow. You won’t be getting a second chance to impress with a lot of visitors, so make sure you’ve got resources to spare to make it work first time round.

If however, you spend a little more time, you’ll see there are loads of drag and drop projects that you can set up and leave running at no more time expenditure.. Quick wins, like Google navigation queries (:

I hope these seeds give you some solid logic to build on. To be honest, I was going to do a top 5, but I’ve just moved house and I’m on “free city wifi” until I get broadband installed here. Unfortunately “free shitty wifi” would be more accurate as I’m getting about 33.6kbps modem speeds (remember them??). Oh, I’ve also got some dingys to inflate (:

Posted in Adsense, Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Black Hat, Blogging, Community Sites, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Paid Search, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs, Viral Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 7 Comments

Getting Started: Making Money Online

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

This is a jumbo post which I have contributed to Jon Waraas’ Blog so you’ll have to pop over there to read it. It’s a bit of a biggie (about 3,000 words).

I’ve also been working on that as well as the next part of Making Money With An Affiliate Empire series, so with a bit of luck that should be live by the end of the week..

I also have a special announcement later in the week, which you’ll like. That’s going to be first come, first served though :)

Posted in Adsense, Advertising, Affiliate Marketing, Black Hat, Blogging, Community Sites, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Microsoft, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs, Viral Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 6 Comments