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Autostumble Source Code Released

Monday, February 1st, 2010

As long time readers will know, I released Autostumble back in April 2008 (wow, yes coming up two years ago). At the time, it absolutely wtfpwned StumbleUpon and our network delivered just under half a million vote swaps.

The program went through a few versions, having various features added on the way and multiple fixes as StumbleUpon desperately tried to keep its pants up. The final (version 4, which was fixed in such a hurry it came out the factory with “v3” still plastered on) was the last incarnation of the application.

Unfortunately, the time taken to monitor the network, answer support e-mails and keep the fixes coming was consuming more time than I ever intended. I worked with another dev to get an online version up, but that never got to a stable launch, so the whole thing basically gathered dust.

So three things:

1) I’ve released the Autostumble source code for download for anyone that wants to have a crack at reverse engineering it.

2) For those that can’t code There is actually a really nice copy of Autostumble which works, that is currently doing pretty well from what I can see. It also has a function to add reviews, which AutoStumble never had. So, if you still want to swap some stumbles, that’s the place to go.

3) I talked to the guy that runs it, and he has arranged this voucher code for old Autostumble users: AutoStumbleOld

Enter that code and you’ll get a pretty nice $20 off.

I’ve been working hard with the development team at the full-time SEO company I work at to develop some really nice apps for the SEO world, which shall be surfacing in Q2 of 2010. It’s really surprising what you can achieve when you have a team of full-time developers to help.

Anyway for now:

Coders can get Autostumble source code.

Marketers can get a working Autostumble type program.

This is all. [insert vague promising of posting more here].

Posted in Black Hat, Digerati News, Social Marketing | 6 Comments

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

Using Twitter To Power Spam

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Good afternoon and a happy square root day to you. (C’mon it’s no more made up than Valentine’s Day).

Despite my initial reservations, I’m actually finding Twitter moderately useful for content and link discovery, the trick is just really following the right people and ditching time wasters. I’m not going to bore you with a lecture on how Twitter is the next big thing, in fact I’m pretty sure we’re fast approaching the point at which Gartner’s Hype Cycles soon predict a crash of interest and disillusionment.

Twitter in the Gartner's Hype Cycle

Well, maybe, maybe not – argue it amongst yourselves, it’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about…

Twitter and Spam
Although I’ve only really talked about parasite hosting indirectly, when looking at ranking factors to do with age and trust, I think it’s a point briefly worth mentioning.

I saw Quadzilla posted today about parasite hosting on twitter. Hopefully, that hasn’t eluded you, aside from other methods of finding places to parasite host all you need to look for are trusted domains that allow you to post content with little moderation. Even a basic search for Viagra shows that the #2 position is essentially a parasite hosted page on the hotfroguk directory (thanks Ryan for your dedication in trawling Viagra results).

As Quadzilla rightly points out, with Twitter being almost totally unmoderated, the sad fact is it’s going to get bombed to hell over the next 12 months by blackhat SEOs and then Google will do something about it and game over.

There are however (slightly) more legitimate uses for Twitter if you’ve got your heart set on some easy rankings.

Twitter and content generation
Content generation can be a tricky game, you can plain scrape it (not really generation :P), scrape it and spin it, you can use synonym replacement, markov chaining, or if you’re really smart – come up with your own way to do it.

There are several problems inherited with content generation, whether it’s duplicate content, poor quality or your algorithm gets skewed by internet random. I’ve seen a lot of people trying to generate websites based on data they can pull from keyword trends or “hot” trends. The problem is that most of the services give you the information you need, after the fact. The news has come, the search spike has been and you’re content generation system has given you a crummy bit of content which now has to compete with established sites with real content. Oh, and the fact nobody cares anymore.

Twitter, on the other hand is instant. It’s not uncommon for me to discover new “hot” things on twitter hours before mainstream news (i.e. authoritative sites) publish it (and days before Seth Godin makes an informed in hindsight) comment.

Without spoon feeding, I put this to you: Why not let tweeting twits find your content for you? There’s many ways you can do this:

1) There are lovely people that get this information for you. For instance: http://twitturly.com/ will give you the most tweeted links. There’s all your early breaking generic news for you, just set your cURL bot to follow those tinyurls and discover the source and scrape away.

2) If you’re in a niche, find everyone who tweets in that niche, use cURL to crawl of the links they tweet, log them to a database, use a little intelligent keyword selection to make sure their relevant, then repost.

Then of course, ping the world with your new content, break some captchas and submit to a list of social sites and drop a few links here and there. Aside from services such as Google Blog Search, which work on an almost exclusively chronological basis, you stand a good chance of getting a healthy amount of visitors since you’re one of the first few to get content up.

Added note for clarity: I’m talking about scraping titles/content from URLs you have followed from tweets – not tweets themselves. The majority of the links to new breaking / interesting stories will come inside a very small window. So if you can post this content up while there is still interest / searches and before someone has link dominance, you should even be able to give the duplicate content penalty the slip, even if you’ve 100% scraped – so you’re on a winner – you could even retweet it (:

Oh, don’t forget to jam it full or ads or something. Who cares? It’s all automated. Think of it at least as a weekend project, but don’t break Twitter, it’s growing on me (:

Posted in Black Hat, Scripting, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs | 5 Comments

Blogs Worth Reading

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I’ve never done a round-up of the blogs I read before, which I guess is a bit selfish. So, in no particular order (and this isn’t a complete list) some of my favourite blogs, if you’re looking for some inspiration.

Dark SEO Programming is run by Harry. As he puts it, “SEO Tools. I make ’em”. A great guy if you need help with coding and somewhat of a captcha guru, with a sense of humour. Definitely worth keeping up with. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy starts making big Google waves in the next few years.

Ask Apache is a blog I absolutely love. Great, detailed tutorials on script optimisation, advanced SEO and mod_rewrite. AskApache’s blog posts are the kind of ones that live in your bookmarks, rather than your RSS Reader.

Andrew Girdwood is a great chap from BigMouthMedia I met last year (although I very much doubt he remembers that). Andrew seems to be a vigilante web bug hunter. What I like about his blog is that he is usually the first to find weird things with Google that are going down. This usually gets my brain rolling in the right direction of my next nefarious plan. ^_^

Blackhat SEO Blog run by busin3ss is always worth checking out. He was even kind enough to give me a pre-release copy of YACG mass installer to review (it’s coming soon – I’m still playing!). Apart from his excellent tools, his blog features the darker side of link building, which of course, interests me greatly.

Kooshy is a blog run by a guy I know, who.. Well I think he wants to remain anonymous (at least a little). He’s just got started again after closing down his last blog and moving Internet personas (doesn’t the mystery just rivet you?). Anyway, get in early, I think we can expect some good stuff from here. He’s already done a cool post on Pimpin’ Duplicate Content For Links.

Jon Waraas is run by.. Can you guess? Jon has something that a lot of even really smart Internet entrepreneurs are missing, good old fashioned elbow grease. This guy is a workaholic and it pays off in a big way. Apart from time saving posts on loads of different ways to monetise your site, build backlinks and flush out your competitors I get quite a lot of inspiration for his constant stream of effort and ideas. I could definitely take a leaf out of his work ethic book.

Blue Hat SEO is becoming one of the usual suspects really. If you’re here, you probably already know about Eli. Being part of my “let’s only do a post every few months club”, I love Eli’s blog because there is absolutely no fluff. He gets straight down to the business of overthrowing Wikipedia, exploiting social media and answering specific SEO questions. You’ll struggle to find higher quality out there.

SEO Book is probably the most “famous” blog I’m going to mention here. Aaron was off at a disadvantage, because to be honest, I thought he was a massive waste of space for quite a while. (I guess that’s what happens when you take your SEO youth on Sitepoint listening to the people with xx,xxx posts on there). I bought his SEO Book and for me, at least, it was way too fluffy. I’m pleased he’s started an SEO training service now as it represents much better value. I’m sure he was making a lot of money from his SEO Book, but perhaps milked it too long (like I probably would have). Anyway, I kept with his blog and I’ve been impressed with his attitude and posts. He’s done some really cool stuff, like the SEO Mindmap and more recently, a keyword strategy flowchart which would be useful for those looking to a more structured search approach. He’s also written about algorithm weightings for different types of keywords and of course has some useful SEO Tools.

Slightly Shady SEO – Great name, great blog. Although XMCP will probably take it as an insult, I’ve always regarded Slightly Shady as the blog most similar to mine on this list. Maybe it’s because I wish I’d written some of the posts he has, before he did, hehe. Again, a no BS approach to effective SEO, whether he’s writing about Google’s User Data Empire, hiding from it or site automation it’s all gravy.

The Google Cache is a great blog for analytical approaches to SEO. There are some awesome posts on Advanced Whitehat SEO and using proxies with search position trackers. I like.

SEOcracy is run by a lovely database overlord called Rob. Rob’s a cool guy, he was kind enough to donate some databases to include in the Digerati Blackbox a while back. Most of his databases are stashed away in his content club now, which is well worth a look in. He’s also done some enlightening posts on keyword research, stuffing website inputs and Google Hacking.

This is all I’ve got time for now, apologies if I’ve missed you. There may be a Part II in the near future.

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Approved Services, Black Hat, Blogging, Digerati News, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs, Viral Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 7 Comments

DoFollow Blogs & Forums

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

My original post for DoFollow blogs was getting a little outdated and crusty, so I’ve spruced it up.

The DoFollow Search Engine, was definitely the way to go – so forget the PDF list. I’ve updated the search engine with about 100 forums which have DoFollow enabled for forums. So you can now use this search engine to search for relevant places to drop links to your sites on blogs or forums.

Also, if you know of any DoFollow blogs or forums that aren’t listed – you can contribute them – let’s build up a good database! (:


Contribute to the Dofollow Search Engine

Or, go straight to the action and try out the DoFollow Search Engine

Posted in Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Splogs | 16 Comments