Incorrect SEO information is one of my pet hates and Go Daddy seems to be pushing some pretty bad advice on their website today.
When you try to register a domain they offer this “helpful” tip:
Why should I register more than one domain name?
- Drive more traffic to your Web site.
- Enjoy more opportunities to market to–and be listed in–search engines.
- Provide customers more ways to find you when searching the Internet.
Using more than one domain is generally a bad idea. Using extra domains to try and get traffic from the search engines is almost always a bad idea. I know Go Daddy are trying to sell more domains but giving people the wrong information isn’t the way to do it.
Sometimes a second domain is a good idea for example if you want to launch a version of your site in another country or if you have a major new product that doesn’t fit your existing site.
You should always try to buy misspellings and country specific versions just so somebody else can’t use them. Just redirect them to your homepage.
Basically the idea is that affiliate sites are more likely to write positive reviews about products that they can make a commission on. If your product is up for review against another product that doesn’t offer an affiliate program it’s clear which one the affiliate site is going to recommend.
Whilst this is great for brand and reputation management the main reason you need an affiliate program is to get links.
With Google cracking down on paid links it is becoming almost impossible for commercial sites to build links outside the normal directory type of sites. If your site has an affiliate program you give sites an incentive to link to you. The best thing about these links is that they are not usually sitewide and often come in the content area of high value pages.
Do affiliate links count?
Yes and no. Some affiliate links will not help you at all. For example if you manage your affiliate program using Commission Junction the links will not pass weight. Google has probably created an algorithm to devalue most affiliate links from major programs such as CJ & Trade Doubler.
The best way to make sure your affiliate links pass weight is to manage your own program and to make sure you set it up in the right way.
For example if the affiliate link uses the format www.mywebsite.com/index.php?affiliate=1234 then it would be quite easy for Google to spot that it is an affiliate link. My suggestion would be to use something like www.mywebsite.com/index.php/1234 and use htaccess to rewrite the page to the first version. I won’t go into detail about how to do the rewrite as it will vary too much from site to site.
The next key issue is to make sure you redirect the www.mywebsite.com/index.php/1234 page to your homepage or whatever landing page you want to use. That way you are building links to the homepage rather than creating a load of extra pages with referral id’s at the end.
Before you redirect to the homepage you would need to set your affiliate cookie otherwise the sales won’t be tracked.
Loads of links
An affiliate program makes it so easy to build links its scary. You can send out emails to people saying “Please link to my site, we will offer x% commission on all products sold via your link” and get almost a 100% success rate if the emails are targeted enough.
Not sure why this isn’t common knowledge but you can set the maximum and minimum prices of the items that show up in your Auction Ads.
For instance I sell a fair few phones and use Auction Ads to monetize a very small amount of spare traffic that isn’t suitable for my normal affiliate programs. In the past a keyword search for phone brought up loads of cheap phone chargers and phone covers but if you set the minimum bid to $50 it gets rid of these items and increases your commission.
The way eBay works is that the bids increase near the end of the auction so if you can send somebody to an auction that’s about to end you will get impulse purchases.
Here is the code:
auctionads_ad_kw = "keyword minprice:50";
Replace minprice with maxprice to set the maximum price.
Did everybody else know this already?
Launching a new website is the hardest task a webmaster has to face. Weeks of sleepless nights culminate in a launch day which might only see a handful of new visitors and a feeling that you’ve wasted your time.
Of course the key is to have several other people beta testing your new site and offering opinions throughout the design process but that still often leaves the promotion of the site down to one person – you.
The first rule of launching a new website is to know your target market. I’ve been involved in internet marketing for a few years now and have become well known on some of the forums and blogs as well as having a few industry contacts who are happy to offer some help on occasion. Unless you can list the top 50 sites in your new niche pretty much off by heart then you are really going to struggle to be able to connect with your target audience.
Of course if you are launching a new website for a bricks and mortar business you might be able to leverage existing relationships with customers, partners, suppliers and even the press to build links and traffic but I didn’t have that luxury.
Phase 1: Cool Content
Building a website is so easy these days that you really need to have remarkable content and linkbait if you are to succeed. On BlogStorm I wanted to have a lot of content to back up the tracker so I sat down and wrote some in depth posts on subjects like Google Analytics. In addition I started keeping a note of my ideas for future blog posts so that if ever the inspiration dried up I would have a list of ideas ready to write some posts.
As it turned out the Google Analytics tutorial was widely read and linked from a lot of popular sites and it really helped kick start the BlogStorm blog.
Phase 2: Emailing Bloggers
Once BlogStorm was ready for action and had been seeded with a few popular blogs I sat down and sent out a few emails to bloggers who I thought might be interested. For the first few hours after the emails were sent I didn’t get any replies and started to wonder if my emails were not working. The tracker tool is clearly a cool service but was it cool enough for somebody to actually sit down and write about it on their blog?
Luckily the emails worked and the site was featured on the likes of TechCrunch and ProBlogger in the first couple of days and received lots of other positive press. There is nothing better than having your new site featured on somebody elses blog and I really appreciate those who took the time to write about the site and link to it.
This works in any niche, I’ve launched websites selling party supplies and even gas fires using this technique.
Phase 3: Social Networking
Hopefully your website design included social networking buttons on the relevant pages. It also helps if you were a user of various social networks prior to launching your site so you know how to use them to your advantage. In the case of BlogStorm the only thing I did initially was to give the site a thumbs up on StumbleUpon and vote for the story on Digg after somebody else submitted it. The best thing about having really cool content is that it promotes itself. Sometimes you can go away for a few days and gain thousands of links without even trying.
Phase 4: Using Forums
After the site was already gaining traction I continued to create some good blog posts and started to use the Digital Point forums to drive some traffic. People on webmaster forums are in general the least spam tolerant and most web savvy group you will find so forum marketing has to be approached with care.
In the case of BlogStorm I created a couple of threads stating that I had a cool script/guide that I wanted to give away for free and received around 500 replies and private messages asking for the details.
It should be noted that using forums only works if you can deliver on your promises. If the products I was giving away were low quality or didn’t help people then my reputation would suffer. As it stands I think that most people were impressed and certainly a good number have become readers of the blog.
If you want to check my 10,000 links you can do so at Yahoo. The figure is 10,000 at the moment but it might change at any time. The actual figure doesn’t matter so much as the fact it is quite a lot for just a few weeks.
This post was about the number 3
I had already drafted this post when I saw that Daily Blog Tips were holding a contest for bloggers who posted about the number 3 so this will count as my entry.
Great content is nothing without effective promotion. The key to maximising the effectiveness of your link bait is to make sure it gets seen by as many webmasters & bloggers as possible.
Start off by sending a personal email to a few bloggers who you think might be interested in linking to you. Most people will have a list of people in mind already but if you don’t then you might need to skip this step – there is no point sending emails to people who are not interested in what you have to say. If you really have no idea about which blogs are likely to want to write about your content then you might want to monitor sites like Digg, Netscape & Del.icio.us for a few weeks and subscribe to all the blogs that appear to be related to your site. Once you have a feel for what the popular bloggers in your niche are writing about it is a lot easier to create something cool for them to link to.
The most effective way of promoting your content is to use social networking. Unless you are a well known user at some of the social networking websites such as Digg, Del.icio.us, Netscape and Stumble Upon it is highly unlikely you will be able to publicise your link bait effectively using these channels so you are best either waiting and hoping somebody else finds your content and submits it for you or taking a gamble and submitting it yourself. Don’t bother trying to scam these services, most have very effective filters for spam and will ban you straight away. Emailing a couple of friends and asking them to give your site the thumbs up on something like Stumble Upon and certain other sites is a good idea just don’t go overboard with the emails.
One tactic that works very well is to give your site the thumbs up on Stumble Upon first and then visitors from there will like your site and submit it to some other social networks themselves.
Thanks to John from Digital Production Agency for helping me get started on this.
If you are struggling to gain any traction and your social media campaign is a non starter you should step back and spend a month monitoring the social media sites and submitting content from other peoples websites so you can gain a feel for what people like to read about.
Responding to your link bait
Assuming your link bait takes off and starts attracting some discussion in the blogosphere and in social media sites you need to be prepared to accept comments and criticisms and quickly take appropriate action.
For instance if you realise the script you released had some bugs you would need to fix them and then post a response to alert users to the fact that you are listening and have fixed the problems. Don’t be afraid to make changes to the link bait but remember that controversy is a good thing â€“ don’t start editing blog posts just because somebody didn’t agree with you.
Sometimes the comments made in response to a successful article or tool can inspire you to create something even better and more useful to your readers. My first Google Analytics tutorial raised a number of questions and I was able to create a second post and even a third post answering the questions and hopefully helping some of our readers on the way.
Further reading: Beginners guide to link bait
Update: August 2008, We have moved hosts and this blog is now with Media Temple. The support we received from Burton Hosting during a period of downtime was non-existent so, despite Burton Hosting being very fast, we decided to move hosts.
Last week we transferred the BlogStorm hosting to Burton Hosting after they won the Web 2.0 Hosting Test. Since we transferred the hosting to Burton the uptime has gone from about 90% per day to 99% or 100% every day.
BlogStorm runs cron jobs every minute of every day to analyse all the data and our widgets are displayed on some high traffic sites so we can’t afford to have any downtime or even to run a bit slowly.
Until last week I’d never had a site with Burton Hosting but they are already a company I am happy to recommend. Matthew in the support department answers emails promptly and they have 24 hour telephone support.
As you can see from this speed test the site loads quickly (within a second most of the time) and the main thing slowing it down is Google Analytics.
Hosting plans start at $6 per month for 10GB space and 100GB bandwidth.
Burton Hosting – Oficially the best host for surviving Digg
With thousands of low value web directories available, choosing a decent one to submit to is a hard task. A lot of webmasters decide to submit to 500 free ones but unless you have a lot of natural links to counteract the unnatural directory links you might find yourself with a spammy link profile.
The value in submitting to directories is to gain some high PR links and co-citation. Decent directories have a lot of incoming links and PR so will help your site get more pages indexed. This is of particular importance to affiliate sites as it can be hard to attract natural incoming links.
The key issue is to find a few (less than 10) decent places to get your links from. The first 2 on my list are Yahoo and Business.com. For me they are a great starting link for affiliate and commercial sites. If you are running a blog you can probably get enough natural links to not need to submit to these but for most other new sites they are a must have link in my opinion.
If you do get accepted to the Yahoo directory make sure you use the NOYDIR tag on your web pages otherwise Yahoo might use your directory description in the normal search results pages.
My next favourite directory is the Aviva Directory. The reason this stands out is because the owners have been linkbaiting. 99% of directories don’t have any natural links but Aviva has even been on the front page of Digg a few times so has more trusted links than most of the other directories put together.
I’m not going to discuss any other directories by name as there are plenty of other lists on the web already. The best way to find a few more is to search Google for directories in your niche. Use search terms like “cell phone directory” or “cell phone add link” if your site is about cell phones.
Other good methods include searching for all the places your competitor’s sites are listed. Use Yahoo site explorer to find links to the sites and search Google for all the places their url’s are listed.
A big issue for me with directory submission is knowing when to stop. Once you have been listed in about 10 decent directories there really isn’t any point in getting any more of these types of links.
For more details on how to choose a directory Aaron Wall has some discussion about checking the cache date to see how trusted the pages are. Trusted pages are crawled more frequently than non-trusted ones.
Last Monday TIME magazine released an article titled “25 Sites We Can’t Live Without”. The article was, not surprisingly, widely read and linked from a lot of popular blogs as well as getting over 2500 diggs.
It might come as a surprise then that TIME has now removed the article from their website barely a week after releasing it. The page now redirects (badly) to the TIME homepage. Doing a Google search for the article title brings up an almost identical article from 2006 so clearly TIME has simply recycled old content for this latest version and had no intention of keeping the new one live.
Here is how they do the redirect:
<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0;url=http://www.time.com">
It seems TIME needs to learn how to properly redirect a web page.
Linkbait is the art of creating a piece of content so good that lots of people want to link to it. TIME have clearly achieved this part but in removing the content after only a few days they haven’t maximised the number of links they can get and have damaged their credibility at the same time.
I will be removing the link from my blog as there doesn’t really seem much point in linking to the TIME homepage, they have quite enough links already.
Thanks to Tim from web design agency leeds for the tip!
Seeing thousands of visitors flooding onto your website when it gets featured on a popular social network is the best feeling in blogging.
Thanks to the fast moving nature of Web 2.0 you only have one chance to take full advantage of your moment in the limelight so I’ve produced a quick guide to stop you ending up like the thousands of people whose servers die for 12 hours as soon as they hit the Digg homepage.
Here are the 12 things you need to survive the Web 2.0 effect:
48 hours of your time
Assuming your content is really outstanding you might start getting traffic from sites like Digg, del.icio.us, reddit and StumbleUpon. This won’t all come at once.
If your site is on Digg it will take maybe 20 hours from submission to hit the homepage whereas StumbleUpon can start sending traffic within minutes.
Quite a lot of diggers will bookmark interesting content on del.icio.us when they see it on the Digg homepage so you can get a spike from del.icio.us/popular up to 24 hours after the site hits the digg homepage.
Getting traffic from these sites is a really addictive feeling and to make the most of it you should probably clear 48 hours to spend refreshing your stats and monitoring technorati to see who is writing about you.
If you are to survive the kind of traffic onslaught that sites like Digg and Slashdot can throw at you then the right hosting is a must have.
After reading the result of the Smart Hosting Experiment last week we switched hosts to the winner, Burton Hosting, and the uptime has been pretty much 100% ever since.
Really you should try to find a host with unmetered bandwidth so you don’t have to worry about large spikes but if you are subject to limits there are a few precautions you need to take.
If you have high quality images adding up to say 250kb on a blog post that gets 20,000 page views in a day you quickly burn through 5Gb of bandwidth. You need to decide early on whether you want to move the images to an external image host or reduce the quality a bit.
Assuming your images are important I would recommend moving them rather than reducing the quality – first impressions count and you want your images to stand out.
Even with good hosting you can still have trouble if your pages are running several database queries when they load. Sometimes WordPress uses 16 queries just to load a blog page which will crash mysql on a lot of shared hosts if the site gets dugg.
If you run WordPress it’s pretty easy to install caching using the WordPress cache plugin. For other sites I recommend following this basic tutorial or this advanced php caching tutorial to learn how your pages can be cached.
The general principle is that when your page is loaded a copy is saved on your server. The next time the page loads it checks to see how old the cached page is and either loads if from the cache or generates a new cached version.
Quite a lot of social bookmarkers use more than one bookmarking service so you will find visitors from digg wanting to submit your page to reddit and give you the StumbleUpon thumbs up.
To help and encourage this you should make sure you include a few buttons at the bottom of your page. WordPress users have it easy and can just install one of these plugins. Other people might need to either write some code or manually install them.
Remarkable content OR Thick skin
If your site hits the Digg homepage you better hope that your content is really good otherwise some of the comments can be quite harsh.
Luckily digg has ways to make sure only the best content reaches the homepage so it is rare that low quality content makes it and stays there more than a few minutes.
Before you publish your content run the text through Word to check spelling & grammar and maybe include a high quality image to make the page stand out from the crowd.
Remove your adverts
Visitors from social sites such as digg and del.icio.us at best don’t click on ads and at worst won’t even see them thanks to their ad blockers so there is no point in showing them.
Bloggers are also much more likely to link to a site if it is ad free so should consider removing your ads for a week until the web 2.0 effect has died down.
Remove your widgets
Unless your widgets are being loaded using an IFRAME they will probably slow your site down at some point. If your site is being hammered with hundreds of visitors per minute from Digg the chances of a widget slowing your site down shoot up.
Some widgets are backed by large companies with big servers but you really shouldn’t take the risk that a third party application could bring your site down.
Everybody loves duggmirror, apart from the poor webmaster who sees their traffic diverted from the original page and their hard crafted content reproduced elsewhere.
Assuming you use a good host and some kind of caching mechanism your site won’t crash so you won’t need duggmirror.
If you’re really confident about your hosting you can block duggmirror using robots.txt using the code below:
If you aren’t sure about your server handling the load it might be an idea to plan ahead. Implementing a htaccess solution to redirect social network traffic to Coral cache is a good way to take the load off your site if you really can’t hack the traffic.
Another solution is to make a static html version of your page and redirect the traffic to that instead. After a couple of days you can direct the traffic back to the original page again.
Make sure you can implement these solutions quickly should the need arise.
We have all seen blog posts hit the front page of digg with a load of spam in the comments. Some unscrupulous people will watch for upcoming stories and add spammy comments just to get loads of traffic.
Make sure you are moderating comments. Nothing kills a conversation faster than the first comment being about herbal remedies. Also try to moderate real comments quickly to encourage more comments.
Sometimes the comments on sites like Digg are steered in a negative path by arguments or users who are being negative about the thread for some reason.
If you have some friends or readers from your site willing to post positive comments to help steer the conversation back on track you will find you get more diggs and a much more pleasant web 2.0 experience.
A web 2.0 loving family
Unless your family understands web 2.0 they might get a bit upset when you disappear for 24 hours to continually refresh Google Analytics so it helps if you can give them some advance warning and explain to them the importance of getting 20,000 new visitors.
It helps if they are social bookmarkers themselves so they can really appreciate the situation and offer appropriate words of congratulations, otherwise you will be treated to blank stares and comments like “Is that good?” when you excitedly announce how your site is being hammered with 1000 visitors per hour.
Most of you probably read Engadget, the most popular blog on the web. This morning I found a couple of holes in the blog CMS that they use and decided to exploit them while most people in the US were on vacation for a few days.
The CMS allows wildcard sub domains and doesn’t validate the input in any way so you can set up your own pages on Engadget about anything you like. Type some stuff in the form below and have fun!
Feed readers might need to click here to see the form.
Here are some fun ones I made up:
The lesson behind this post is to always validate your inputs.
Linkbait is the act of adding content to a website with the aim of attracting links from other sites. The content can take a variety of different forms from a unique tool or a breaking news story to a well written article or controversial image.
Sometimes linkbait is intentional but quite often the best linkbait is conceived quite by accident. Continue reading »
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