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.
Well, maybe, maybe not – argue it amongst yourselves, it’s not what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about…
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 ), 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 (:
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.
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 bughunter. 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. ^_^
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.
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.
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! (:
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:
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.
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 Â£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.
I’m aware this is the longest I’ve been without posting, but, meh. What ya gonna do?
I’ve had a post in drafts for a while, which isn’t quite finished. I’ll most likely be polishing and posting it tomorrow. Some real simple blackhat stuff, how to set up a few automated blogs and socially promote content to get some easy pocket money.
To my dear Elite SEO Tools subscribers. Yes, the service has been canned for now. As those of you “on the inside” saw, I was giving membership subscriptions free for the last few months as we were having problems with Social Storm. Unfortunately, several systems such as Propeller, OnlyWire and a couple of other APIs have significantly changed since launch. Nothing that couldn’t be met with a concerted effort – but something I really don’t have time to continue supporting at the moment.
I was *incredibly* pleased with the feedback from the SEO Tools – with several members signing up for multiple accounts as they were so happy with the results! The most popular tool (as I suspected) was Link Buster: which was a set of methods to automatically generate links. I will most likely look at developing a more extensive version of this in 2008, which will focus on links alone – as it seems to be what most people are having problems with.
As for the social media side – AutoStumble is flying! If you check the site out, I’ve added (at the top – squint) a live counter for the amount of stumbles swapped on the network. We are fast approaching 200,000 votes swapped – which is awesome! Like the SEO Tools, I’ve had excellentfeedback from both direct feedback and forum chatter. Of course, there’s a few moaners (or as Aaron Wall calls them – Wankers), which does happen when you are at the “lower” price point with software – but hey, generally looking great…
With such great support and feedback, I am looking to develop AutoStumble to allow automatic account creation on StumbleUpon (yes, that means beating reCAPTCHA) and posting against multiple URLs…
Anyway, that’s the news – watch out for the post tomorrow.