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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 »

SEO Job Vacancies (UK)

Monday, March 17th, 2008

As a lot of you know, apart from doing my own sexy thing, I work as the Online Marketing Manager at Further. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a “career” person and I’ve had a pretty diverse set of jobs from bowling alleys to solicitors to network administrating. In my mere 24 (25 soon!) years on this planet, I’ve discovered some things about work and myself:

1) I get tend to get bored with jobs. Fast.

2) Generally speaking, the people who get “promoted” in jobs aren’t the most talented people. They’re the people that kiss the most arse, sell themselves well and generally fuckwit themselves through life.

3) Office politics makes me sick to guts and the way people are managed normally gives rise to different social groups within a company, much like a school playground.

4) Large companies (generally speaking) = beaucracy = nothing ever gets done, the old is recycled and new ideas have the creativity squeezed out of them.

5) Money doesn’t bother me overly. If I thought I’d be happier working on an Emu farm in Nong Pu, I’d probably give it a go.

6) It doesn’t really matter how much you earn – your lifestyle has a scary way of adjusting and eating up and spare notes you might find yourself in possession. I look at extra money as potential free time, not numbers on a screen.

This all sounds quite hippocritical as I work very hard to make money and I’m always talking about making money on the Internet. The fact is, I think the best thing is the process – taking this vast network of people on the end of screens all around the world, working out what they’re looking for, how they do it and building business models around it. All from your own humble computer, creating something that millions of people can read, use, watch and interact with. The money is a bonus, but it’s the process, which is challenging, ever evolving and infinitely rewarding that keeps me doing it.

All of those rather cynical things I’ve said about employment (which I’m sure a psychologist would put down to underlying personality defects), drove me to learn enough to become financially self-supporting if needs be. However, last year I got interested in Further because of what I’d heard about them from people who worked there. Working from home has its benefits, but long term can be very isolated (especially when all your friends are at work during the day!) and can lead to stagnation as you can get trapped into only learning what you need to, rather than a broader holisitic view of the web.

So, I applied and was quite impressed and after a couple of months of e-mailing, I joined the Further team and never looked back.

Here’s some things I enjoy about working at Further:

-> There’s a really nice “open” office environment, which means there aren’t any “no talking” signs or clock watching. This means we get a healthy flow of ideas around the office and a smattering of interesting conversations/debates.

-> The current team/staff/people are great. Everyone is interested in what everyone else is doing and how they do it. Understanding what everyone else in a company is doing helps things run really smoothly and helps everyone develop their skills naturally.

-> New ideas are encouraged and the company is prepared to invest time/resources into internal projects. So if you think you’ve got the next big thing in your grey matter, Further will help you make it a reality.

-> There’s a brilliant balance of company strategy and flexibility. Everyone knows what we’re trying to achieve and how we’re going to get there, but there’s no reason it can’t be fun.

-> There’s great staff packages and free tea and coffee.

-> I’ve learnt more in the past few months from colleagues than I ever would have on my own. Whether it’s them telling me something, watching how the Further chiefs go about business or I’ve been inspired to close a knowledge gap.

As you hopefully guessed by the post title, we’re looking to expand our family and hire some SEO gurus and SEO juniors. It’s an office based role, so you’ll need to be within commuting distance of Norwich – or be prepared to move. (Our latest new induction, Ryan moved all the way from Wales to come and join us!)

So, if this sound like your bag, here’s what’s on offer:

Search Engine Marketing Specialists £20K+ DOE

Working as part of the fast expanding Search Engine Marketing Team, the successful candidates will be responsible for the execution of internal and client marketing campaigns. They will undertake integrated marketing projects, bringing their skills of organic search engine optimisation to the mix.

Currently 2 positions available.

Key skills required:

* 1yr+ Experience in search engine marketing experience with designing search engine friendly infrastructure
* Excellent knowledge of on and off-site optimisation experience and creativity with link building practises
* Track record of achieving good rankings in major search engines Analytical skills and experience using stat tracking packages
* Good understanding of HTML/CSS

Also any experience in the following would be favourable:

* Paid search platforms
* Monetisation strategies & platforms (CPC, CPA, CPM)
* Client/server-side programming (e.g. JavaScript, PHP, .Net)
* Web copywriting experience
* Marketing experience
* Viral / Social Media Optimisation experience
* Sense of humour

Search Engine Marketing Junior – up to £16K

Further is looking to expand its Search Engine Marketing Team with an entry-level search engine marketer. The successful candidate will receive full training in both paid and organic search practises and “hands on” client experience.

Key skills required:

* Basic knowledge of HTML/CSS
* Excellent English
* Good analytical/organisational skills
* Marketing & Business minded
* Creative thinker
* An interest in web technologies & search engines
* Sense of humour

You can see our full vacancies here or pop me an e-mail to: [email protected]

Posted in Black Hat, Digerati News, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Microsoft, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 9 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 »

Elite SEO Tools

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently making a front-end for my own personal SEO tools, so I can finally release them to Digerati subscribers. These tools are special. They are not your normal “pay us $20 and we’ll show you a vague kind of thing how Google probably crawls you site” tools. They are, elite SEO tools.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the frontliners:

Link Backrub – This tool will increase your backlinks massively by scouring the Internet for sites that link to you, that are not indexed in search engines. Any links it finds to your site, which are not indexed by Google, it will get them indexed – almost instantly, thus letting Google see all of your backlinks. This will of course, improve your rankings.

Flashdex – This tool will get ANY page indexed in Google within 1 hour – guaranteed.

Social Storm – This neat little bit of script can get a single page – or multiple pages socially bookmarked on the top 20 social bookmarking and tagging sites over 190 times, automatically, from different IPs at random times over the course of weeks. This can give you massive traffic boosts.

StumbleXchange Automator – StumbleXchange is a great site, but it takes so damn long! This downloadable program will automate the entire process for you! No more hours of stumbling other peoples pages, just click and go to sleep!

Link Buster – My favourite tool – This tool will build you over 100 relevant links per month, to any page requested – and it’s not blackhat!

These tools are all working at the moment, but I require a dozen or so experienced testers for them. I plan the official release on 1st November, when the testing and refinements are complete. Due to the nature of the tools, the sign ups will be limited and I most likely will be charging a little fee to access them.

If you are one of the testers for these tools and give feedback on their development, you will have lifetime free access to them. If you would like to sign up to be a tester, leave a trackback to this post by writing your own blog post about these tools. 20 people will be chosen at random, then after a chat, 10 will be chosen to help me test and refine these tools.

Go! :)

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Community Sites, Digerati News, Google, Grey Hat, Marketing Insights, Microsoft, Search Engine Optimisation, Social Marketing, White Hat, Yahoo | 131 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 »