Home | Archive | Contact

Archive for the 'Viral Marketing' Category

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

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

Exploiting Digg To Rank Better

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Yes, I haven’t blogged in a while – apologies. I got burnt out this first part of the year, with long work hours and personal projects so I took a couple of months break doing “non-computer” stuff. Writing a decent post takes a lot of effort, so I figured rather than drag Digerati down with low quality posts, I’d just save a bunch of stuff up for when I had the energy to get it all down. I’ve started catching up on some reading and I’m ready to start you off with a teaser article about using Digg to get yourself ranked better.

What’s the plan?
Okay, the plan is this. We are going to produce an article, get it to the front page of Digg, grab all the links that this gives you and turn them into something valuable for your website. A lot of people try similar methods and fail miserably, never getting off the “upcoming stories” page on Digg. So we’ll be looking at solutions to:

  • How to make a powerful Digg account
  • How to write a “Diggable” article
  • How to guarantee front page coverage
  • How to make your links relevant

With no further fanfare, lets get cracking.

A little about Digg and Digg accounts
The Digg community, much like Wikipedia does not really take kindly to “SEO types” or people trying to promote their own articles or websites. If you’re caught Digging your own stuff, or just spammy crap over and over, you’ll get your account suspended. Building up a “powerful” Digg account is a reliable (but long-term) method of making sure this strategy works well. If you create a new Digg account and Digg a story, your Digg (vote) carry less weight/authority, whatever you want to call it, than say a user who has been registered for 2 years and has Dugg thousands of stories. There is a kind of “trust” game going on with Digg and you need to get in on it. One way Digg looks at your behaviour and measures trust is by which stories you Digg. Do you only vote for the crap stuff? Or are you joining in voting on stories that are really popular? How long have you been around on Digg? When you post a story, how many Diggs does it get?

You essentially want to build a “upstanding citizen” profile on Digg. This will take time, but I mention it now because it will save you the (albeit small) expense that this tactic incurs in the future. So, as a beginning and side note to this strategy, make a point of logging into Digg everyday and doing these things:

  • Look at the first dozen or so top stories and give them a Digg
  • Search for stories posted by powerful Diggers and add these Diggers as your friends
  • Whenever your friends post a story, make sure you Digg it immediately

The last point there is one of the most important. If you have 200 friends and you make sure you Digg their stories when they post, they will, generally without question return the favour to you. When I post a story on Digg I can get 30-40 Diggs within an hour or so just from my friends list which helps me reach the top of the “upcoming” stories list, which is your first milestone.

Bare that in mind and I’ll write the rest of this post for those who do not have powerful Digg accounts.

Choosing a subject and writing a successful article
If you’re not an experienced Digger, I suggest you take a quick trip over to Digg.com and have a look at some of the top voted stories over the last month or so. Try and get a ‘feel’ for what makes a successful story and think about the Digg audience (which is mostly techies, geeks etc…) and look at what kind of stuff interests them. To give you an idea, I’ve noted down some observations I’ve made:

  • Top Tens! Very, very popular. A lot of articles are “Top 10 list of…” or lists of… stuff… To make a story hugely successful, it has to be accessible. A lot of people will be put off if you Digg a 3 page long text heavy story, no matter how funny.
  • Sarcasm, humour, parody. “High brow” kind of jokes, poking fun at corporations, politicians, or simply well photoshopped images go down a storm. You know all those “Fw:Fw:Fw:BRILLIANT JOKEZ!!!11” emails that land in your inbox from loved ones? Think the opposite of this type of humour and you’ll be well away.
  • Retro stuff! Nostalgia is a powerful tool. Think thundercats, transformers, spectrums, amigas, all your base are belong to us.
  • Weird geeky science stuff.. Black holes, UFOs, teleportation, time-travel. In list format where possible. Everybody loves off-the-wall useless facts.
  • Once you’ve got a theme, tie as much is as possible. If you can squeeze some current buzz in like the release of a film and tie it all together with a “thundercats versus the new movie transformers” or such like, you’re onto a winner.
  • Lastly, make sure it hasn’t been done before! (Or do it a hell of a lot better).

Okay, hopefully you’ve started thinking along the right lines now. You want to try and pick a topic that is related to the content of your website. This is probably the hardest part and you might need the help of a friend or two to brainstorm. A good example I saw recently was for a travel insurance company, a list of “the top 10 most dangerous travel destinations” was created, with brilliantly photoshopped images of each country, making it worth Digging just for the photos, let alone the article which was written dripping with sarcasm and good humour. Making a story controversial, may seem risky (don’t worry about that for now), but it is exactly the kind of buzz you’ll need.

Putting your article up
If it’s your first attempt, it might be worth getting a friend or two to cast an eye over it, to get their thoughts and make sure you’ve hit the nail on the head. Once you’re happy with your article, things get a bit more sneaky. Create an orphan page on the domain you want to boost and put your article here. An orphan page is once that is not linked from your site (or sitemap) or linked back to your site. This will reduce any negative impact if you’ve written a particularly controversial article and throw people off the scent of what you are trying to do. If you’ve written an excellent article that really sits well with the rest of your sites content, then by all means, put a link with anchor text of your choosing at the bottom of your story to your website. Lastly, you’ll want to add a “Digg this” and at a later stage perhaps a “Reddit” (or social network of your choosing) button to your page. This will encourage more people to Digg your story, who land on it from other sources. Now. login to Digg and post your story and give it an exciting title (this doesn’t mean CAPS!), and a taster intro. This bit isn’t too hard. If you’ve already got some friends they will hopefully Digg it for you.

Nobody is Digging my story!
Okay, if you want to make the front page of Digg, there are people that can help you. If you head over to www.subvertandprofit.com, you’ll find an entire network designed to giving your Digg stories than initial “boost” they need to go viral. In a nutshell (I’ll let you read through the site), you pay $1 per Digg you wish to buy and users on the site who have Digg accounts are paid to Digg your story for you. Now, if you’ve written an okayish article, you’ll only need to buy about 50 Diggs (so $50/£25) worth to get you front page. The rate at which you receive Diggs (and the previously mentioned “power” of a Digg have a lot more to do with your stories position than the total amount of Diggs. Once you’re story has reached this critical mass, it tends to snowball.

Wait! Wait! $50?! Does it work? Is it worth it?
I’ve used this tactic half a dozen times now, with what I would consider “okay” articles and I’ve hit the front page every time giving me thousands of visitors and more importantly, thousands of links. Yes it works, yes it damn well is worth your fifty bucks (sorry my fellow English readers, but $ is the currency of the net, deal with it). So, buy your initial Diggs, sit back and make sure you have well hell of a server! The first time I did this, I crashed my server due to the visitor load!

What’s the point of all of this? Explain!
Right, your getting thousands of visitors to an orphan page, what the hell use is that? Okay, cool your jets. What we’re really gaining here is links, lots of natural, beautiful website citations! If you’ve chosen your topic well (such as travel insurance: travel destinations) a lot of your incoming anchor text will also be relevant to your main site content. As mentioned in a previous article, you’ll be giving your website a massive shot in the arm when it comes to link velocity, which will help your rankings across the board. Having a #1 Digg story will give you the so called “long tail Digg effect”, which will see you get a whole bunch of links over the next couple of months, after the first massive influx.

What good are links to an orphan page?
A contested point, which I have experimented on (in the most controlled way possible – nothing’s perfect). Google has a “trust/authority” scoring for your domain as a whole, not just individual page strength. If you get a few thousand links to any page on your domain, Google knows the page is part of that domain and will raise your domain’s authority as a whole. Using this method, I have simultaneously jumped rankings over a dozen or more keyterms (usually going to 30-40 places in SERPs), using no other method. So it definitely works and let the nay-sayers do as they wish. Having more links to your domain, from a variety of good sources, with relative anchor text will give Google a clearer indication of your site’s content and authority, thus improving rankings.

A few tail notes
To put the last nail in the competitions’ coffin, a few months down the line when your article isn’t receiving many links anymore, remove the page and 301 it to an internal page of your choosing. This will give a specific page on your site a shot in the arm and increase rankings for that specific page. I generally just go for my main homepage, as the anchor text will be fairly mixed and you want to keep individual pages very targeted in terms of incoming anchor text.

A closing note, don’t bother putting Adsense/ads etc on your Digg article to try and squeeze some extra bucks out of it. Digg users are notoriously savvy and you’ll get the lowest click-through rates you’ve ever seen in your life and may well damage the popularity of your article.

There we go, a nice and easy way to gain a few thousand decent links! This was a taster article to get you guys (and me) back into the swing of things. I’m sitting on a massive 4 part guide to building a network of affiliate sites and automating the whole process. I’m not quite sure what to keep/remove from these next articles yet, but I’ll be posting on roughly a weekly basis for a while, so there’s a lot more to come. As always, good luck, let me know how you get on and drop me a line if you want to be my Digg friend!

Posted in Grey Hat, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, Viral Marketing | 20 Comments