Close
Close

Speedlinking 28 October 2007

A few links from the last day or two for your surfing pleasure:

Has Technorati Stop Indexing Blogs?

Has Technorati stopped indexing blogs?

I just logged in and don’t see any of my favorites having updated in 23 hours. Not only that I can’t see any blogs having updated in 23 hours – even blogs who post heaps – like Engadget. In fact none of the blogs in the popular page have updated for that long.

Here’s the Engadget page:

technorati

I’ve seen this on individual blogs before – but not across the board. Is it just me or did Technorati stop indexing 23 hours ago?

update: seems to be slowly catching up now. Seeing posts from 16 hours ago now….

The Google Page Rank Pendulum Swings…. Again

Google-PendulumAs often happens with updates at Google – today we see another adjustment in Page Ranks of many of the sites hit in the last couple of days. For example both of my blogs have recovered and returned to PR6.

Not all have though – you can see a list of some who have and haven’t at Andy’s blog (by the way Andy has done a great job at following this story).

I’ve had confirmation now from two sources at Google that this latest round of updates was ALL about the selling of text links. You can see Jeremy Twittered the same thing here. Some of those who have had their updates reversed today were falsely penalized for selling links (like ProBlogger which used to do it but stopped months back).

This latest furore has all been about the selling of links and is a warning shot to bloggers and webmasters who engage in the practice. Of course not everyone who sells links has been hit (there’s no way Google will get everyone) but it’s a sign of what Google are continuing to crack down on.

So what Should Bloggers Do?

So what does this mean for bloggers who sell links? I guess it means there is risk associated with it and that the risk is losing page rank (at the least) from selling links. Whether this also leads to a loss of traffic we’re yet to see.

If you have been hit by the penalties and want to recover your ranking in Google’s eyes the way forward is simple. Remove the links and ask for a reconsideration from Google using the tool in Google’s Webmaster Tools. To do this you need to have your site registered in Webmaster tools and log in – you’ll then see a ‘Request Reconsideration’ link on the right hand side of the screen that allows you to report your changes and ask for reconsideration.

Of course many bloggers are not doing this because they haven’t seen any decrease in traffic yet and don’t much care about a PR decrease.

It’s a decision that bloggers need to make for themselves and something that I have mixed feelings on. On the one hand I see why Google wants to stop the practice as it makes their task of ranking sites purely based upon whether the site is seen as an authority more challenging.

On the other hand I see bloggers who struggle to make money using AdSense and other ad networks and who have come to rely upon the text link ads. Many bloggers have seen text links become their #1 income stream. I also see this as being somewhat of a slippery slope for Google to go down as it’s going to change the landscape and force text link sellers further underground (see below). There will also be plenty of inconsistencies in their carrying out of the penalization of text link sales and lots of people pointing them out.

My Main Advice

My main advice to publishers whether they decide to sell or not sell text links hasn’t really changed – Forget about Page Rank and Build a Better Blog. Build a quality site that builds community, attracts readers from as many sources as possible (relying upon Google traffic as a sole source of traffic isn’t a smart move) and build a blog that enhances people’s lives. This way you don’t need to rely upon Google (or any other single site) to send you traffic and keep you profitable.

Will We see More and More BlackMarket Text Link Selling?

The selling of text links has always had a black market kind of feel to it – however I think that what Google has done this last week means that we’ll see more and more of the text link selling go further underground. We’ll see it happen less using systems like TextLinkAds and more happening in less transparent ways.

We’ll also probably see more and more selling of links inside of posts or on single pages and less and less on sidebars/footers etc.

It may even mean that we see text link selling become a more valuable thing to do as the supply of publishers willing to sell links dwindles. I know that even in the last month I’ve been approached on three occasions by individuals wanting to buy links on individual posts on my blogs – and the monetary value of these links was significantly larger than anything I’d heard of being achieved before for single links.

I don’t know where this will all end – but I doubt it’s the end of text links and I can only see both those who are in the business of selling them AND Google becoming more aggressive in this little war.

Welcome to Readers from the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Picture 1-7Welcome to readers of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald who may have found themselves here after today’s article in both papers.

If this is your first time to ProBlogger.net then let me give you a quick tour of my online home. Grab a coffee and make yourself comfortable while I show you around.

Firstly, my name’s Darren (that was me in the picture in the article – although I should say it’s an old one and I don’t use a Ferrari computer – not that there’s anything wrong with that….) and I’m a full time blogger.

ProBlogger.net is a blog that is devoted to helping bloggers improve their blogging and explore ways to earn an income at the same time by writing about topics that they love. More and more bloggers are now making at least a part time income blogging – with some even having gone ‘Pro’ with full time incomes using a variety of income streams.

I write more about the reasons for this blog and my experience as a blogger in my About Page. You might also like to see some of the ways that I make money from my blogs here.

If you’re new to blogging you might find this ‘what is a blog?‘ article and my series on Blogging for Beginners helpful.

If you’re interested in blogging for money here’s one on how bloggers are making money from blogging.

If you like what you read here you can follow my future entries (I write several times per day most days) in two ways – either using our RSS News feed or via email (I send a daily update of our latest posts) by adding your email address here:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The article also mentions a blog network that I co-founded – b5media.com. b5media is a blog network with just under 300 blogs on a wide array of topics – you can learn a little more about that here.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoy your stay at ProBlogger and b5media. If you do have any questions feel free to drop me a note in a comment below or via my contact form.

15 Things I’d Love to See Ad Networks and Affiliate Programs Do to Help Us Earn More Money Blogging

I write quite a lot about what works in the ad networks that I use to make money from my blogs – but sometimes there are some little niggling problems with ad networks and affiliate programs that can be quite annoying.

Today I thought I’d compile a short ‘ProBlogger Wishlist’ of things that I’d love to see specific ad networks and affiliate programs rolling out. I’m not doing this because I don’t like any of the programs mentioned here (in fact most feature in my top earners list) – just because I’d like to see them improve.

Feel free to add your own on these networks (and others) in comments. Hopefully some of them will lead to some positive changes:

1. Direct Deposits for Amazon Associates

AmazonI’d love to see publishers outside of the USA able to be paid via direct deposit. I not only have to wait an extra week or so to get my cheque each month, but because my monthly payments are over $2000 my bank then charges me over $60 to cash them – and they have to send the cheque back to the USA for authentication before they’ll clear the money. This authentication process takes an extra 6 weeks. So if I earn money on the first day of a month it can be around 3 months before I see any money from it. If direct deposits are out of the question payments via PayPal would be another alternative.

2. Direct Deposit Payments at Clickbank

Cb LogoWhile we’re on the subject of payment via cheque – the other group I’d like to see with a direct deposit system (or a PayPal payment) is Clickbank. Come on people – get with the 21st century!

3. Increase Minimum Payouts – Linkshare

Logo-4I don’t even know where I still earn money with Linkshare (I must have promoted something once of theirs and it still earns me a dollar or two a month). The problem is that they send me a cheque for that dollar or two every month or two. Do you know how embaressing it is to go into a bank and try to cash a $2.27 check (considering it’s in US dollars and I have to get it converted I don’t bother any more). It’s time for a minimum amount earned before sending cheques Linkshare.

4. More Customization with ID Tracking at Amazon Associates

AmazonI love the fact that Amazon added the ability to use ‘tracking IDs’ to allow their publishers to track which links are converting best (see how useful this can be in this post analyzing what people buy at Amazon from one post). The problem is that once you add a tracking ID there’s no way to remove it. I have a growing list of them and it’s getting pretty messy. It’s also be great to get more customized reports with tracking IDs that’d allow for more drilling down.

5. Better Reporting at AdSense

Logo Main-1Speaking of drilling down in reports – while I think AdSense has one of the best reporting systems, I think it’s time that they took things to the next level and gave us some more useful tools for analyzing our results. While channels can be handy – unless you use a different channel for each post it’s impossible to tell which pages are converting best unless you use a third party application to track clicks on a page by page basis. Another simple wish for AdSense reports is a cost per click figure (something other networks give). I know this is complicated by impression based ads – but it’d be handy to have more information on this. I’d also love to see more ability to combine data from Google Analytics and Google AdSense.

6. Split Testing at AdSense

Logo Main-1A built in mechanism for split testing might be nice too. It’s now possible to rotate different ads in the one ad unit, but there’s no way to track which combination converts best. Split testing tools might be useful (in fact they’d be good at all the ad networks – not just AdSense).

7. Better Referral Reports at WidgetBucks

Logo3-1Time to look at the newest ad network on the block, WidgetBucks. I’m getting good results with this network but I think there’s plenty of room for improvement. For starters I’d love to see more data on referrals. At this point there’s just a total referrals number and the promise of the total amount earned to be given at some point in the first week of next month. Most other networks give significantly more information on this including a daily breakdown (even if it is audited later). Not having these figures takes some of the incentive for promoting the program away from publishers and will slow the growth of the network.

8. Better Referral Reports at AuctionAds

Auctionads-1The other ad network that I’d like to see improve it’s referral reporting is AuctionAds. At the moment I have no idea what of my income comes from the ad units that I run and what comes from referrals. Again – it doesn’t really inspire me to actively promote it if I can’t see what the results of that promotion are.

9. Channel Names at WidgetBucks

Logo3-1Another pet peeve of WidgetBucks for me is that the name you give different widgets appears in both the reports page and on the widget. While I don’t mind being able to customize the widget in this way – it’s frustrating in the reports page as there’s no actual descriptive way of labeling widgets. For example I’d like to be able to have ‘popular digital cameras’ appear on my widget – but in the back end reports would like to be able to call my widget ‘Digital Photography School Footer’. It’s getting more and more confusing the more widgets I add. In fact the whole reports page probably needs to be reworked. Imagine having 100 different widgets across different sites – the page would be a mess.

10. Less US-centric Testing at AdSense

Logo Main-1Regular readers will know about this one already – but there’s nothing more frustrating for a publisher situated outside of the USA than seeing great new ad units released and not being able to test them. AdSense did this recently with their YouTube Video unit.

11. Open Up for International Publishers at YPN

Logo PnSpeaking of US exclusive deals – I’d love to see Yahoo’s Publisher Network (YPN) open up to international publishers with international traffic. The YPN beta launched in August 2005 and did so exclusively for US publishers with predominantly US traffic. It struck me this morning that it’s been over 2 years now (26 months to be exact) and there’s been no movement on that. In fact if anything they tightened things up about a year ago by booting out some publishers who had too much non US traffic.

12. Open up RSS Ads at AdSense

Logo Main-1While a 26 month beta test with no expansion seems pretty bad – AdSense have one of their own which has been going longer. In April 2005 they introduced their RSS Advertising system (AdSense for Feeds). The program is still in a beta test according to their help center page and the beta test is full and they don’t anticipate adding any more publishers too it. Still – publishers are encouraged to keep checking back to that page for updates – I wonder how many have been for the last 30 months.

13. Improved Reports at Chitika

Chitika LogoChitika have made some real improvements over the last year or so – but one area I’d like to see them take to the next level is their reports. One aspect of them that I find frustrating is the channels are and a simple improvement would be to make the channel names in reports live links that take publishers to a report for the last month of that channel alone. Also useful would be the ability to group channels together (like AdSense offer). For example to be able to put the multiple channels that you might have on a single blog into one report so you can get a combined report for the full blog. At present if I want to know a blog’s performance with Chitika (I might have as many as 10 channels on a blog) I need to get the calculator out and look at each channel individually to get their totals.

14. Open up to Smaller Publishers – Chitika

Chitika LogoAnother common complaint that I hear from many publishers about Chitika is that smaller publishers are not eligible to join. While I understand that this ads significantly to the workload of an ad network – most (if not all) other ad networks that I’ve mentioned in this post don’t have a minimum traffic limit for publishers. This frustrates many bloggers and could actually hurt Chitika in the long term because publishers that grow might have been put off by their early rejection from Chitika.

15. Better Conversion at AdSense Referrals

Logo Main-1I’ve asked ProBlogger readers a number of times if they’ve had any success with AdSense Referrals – the response was an overwhelming ‘NO’. The exception is those who promote the ‘Google product’s – but outside that I’ve only found a few that have had any luck with it. I’ve actually chatted with a couple of people at AdSense about it and know that they have challenges that they are working on – but I’d really love to see the Referrals program taken up to the next level in the coming 12 months. PS: Jen shares her AdSense Referrals wishlist here with some more good suggestions.

As I mentioned above – I’m certain that there are many other improvements that all of these ad networks and affiliate programs could make. I’d invite you to add your own points to the wish list.

My hope with this post is that it doesn’t become a ‘bitching session’ but a more constructive conversation that might help the ad networks concerned to improve what they have on offer.

OSX – Leopard Installed

Leopardavailable 20071026I bought Apple Mac OS X Version 10.5 aka Leopard today and am in updating mode. I’ve got it up and running reasonably smoothly – although it’s going to take a little while to get used to it all.

Two issues/problems have surfaced so far:

1. Mail.app isn’t working on my PowerPC. Consistently getting error messages when trying to launch it. Mail is working on my MacBook Pro – just not on the desktop.

2. I went to see if there was an update yet that might fix it and got another error – ‘The file “index-leopard.merged-1.sucatalog” couldn’t be found on the server “swscan.apple.com”.’ Interestingly I got the same error on my MacBook Pro when I tried to do a software update on that too. A quick search for the error in Google and I find others with the same glitch. Looks like Apply might need to get onto that one. update: looks like they’ve fixed this problem – software update is now working fine.

Other than these – things are running well.

At first things were a little slow – but I think that was spotlight indexing the computer. Now things are working much faster. Spaces rocks (I can see it being incredibly handy), Stacks is hand and will help declutter my destop, the changes in Finder are all nice, what I see in Mail with the new ‘notes’ and updated to-do features look good and Time Machine is going to be very handy when I get myself a bigger external hard drive tomorrow.

Lots more features to play with tomorrow.

WidgetBucks Update – Speeds Up Loading Time, Removes Backlink and Removes Non English Sites From Network

Logo3-1WidgetBucks today emailed publishers using their system with a note to let them know that they’ve been working on loading times for WidgetBucks ad units. This has been one of the major complaints of publishers about the system.

The upside is that they’ve found a way to decrease loading times for publishers – the downside is that you need to update the code on your blog for the changes to come into effect (see below for instructions).

The other benefit of the update that they didn’t actually mention in the email is that the new code no longer has a backlink to WidgetBucks in it (something that has been criticized by many). Andy Beard has more on these changes and makes some suggestions on other changes they need to make.

Here’s how they said to make the update:

You will need to update code of your existing widgets for the speedier load times to take affect on your site, blog or network. Know that changing the code will not impact earnings for any of your widgets.

Here are the two steps you’ll need to follow:

1. Sign-in to http://widgetbucks.com and go to My Widgets

2. For each active widget, simply edit and re-copy the code block into your site or blog (the same steps you went through when you created the widgets originally)

Update to WidgetBucks Policies Regarding Non English Sites

Also announced today by WidgetBucks is that they’ve updated their Policies to exclude Non English sites in their program.

They explain:

“As we’ve continued to evaluate impression, click and conversion data during WidgetBucks’ first 3+ weeks, we’ve observed that a majority of non-English language sites are delivering a consistently low conversion rate. With our merchants and advertisers predominantly based in the U.S., this is not a surprising phenomenon. And as an advertising network, we have a responsibility to our merchants to deliver quality traffic that has the highest likelihood of conversion to sale.”

This is going to hurt for non english sites and already I’ve heard complaints – understandably so. Some have complained that they’ve seen good conversions on their non english sites. My response would be that by ‘conversion’ I suspect WidgetBucks is not talking about the ads getting clicked – but about the ads converting for advertisers. I suspect that the reason for this change is that advertisers complained that they were paying out for traffic that didn’t actually buy from them.

It’s a pity that WidgetBucks didn’t foresee this problem and learn from the pain of other ad networks who had the same issue.

PS: I’d be interested to hear whether others are noticing faster loading times. My initial feelings are that it’s marginally faster – but still slower than I’d like. I wondered whether it’s my location impacting speed and have put in an email to WidgetBucks to see.

Competition: Create a Slogan for Bloggers Hit by the Page Rank Slam of October 07

Lets lighten the mood around here a little and have a little fun with this whole Page Rank Update – it’s time for a competition.

The winner gets a 3 month subscription to Brian’s new Teaching Sells program – worth $97. If you’ve already bought it then you get a refund.

The competition is simple – design a slogan for bloggers hit by the PageRank hit that Google dished out yesterday. Submissions will be received in the comments of this post for the next 24 hours.

  • Entries can be in any form you want – image, video or text (perhaps a little banner ad that bloggers can put on their blogs might work?). Get as creative as you like.
  • One entry per person.
  • Brian and I will select a winner tomorrow.

Here’s one I quickly whipped up – I’m sure a lot of you can do much better though!

Page-Rank-Competition

Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Update

The Sydney Morning Herald just published an article about the page rank shenanigans of the last 48 hours. You can read it at WWW spooked by Google algorithm tweak.

PS: it’s an old picture and not my computer – I didn’t trade in my MacBook Pro :-)

Update: I’ve closed comments on this as the 24 hour deadline is up. Thanks for everyone for entering! Now Brian and I need to sort through them all to find a winner – give us a day or two, there’s a lot here!

Rolling with the Punches and Looking for Positives in the Negatives

Keep-PunchingIt was a little over 24 hours ago that everything hit the fan around the blogosphere with Google’s Re-Ranking of hundreds of blogs. It’s been an interesting day since I first posted about it with a number of interesting experiences coming along with it including:

  • Calls from 3 journalists (one Australian and two US) wanting to get comments on the story
  • Emails and IM chats with numerous SEOs sharing their ‘theories’ and ‘inside gossip’ from the Googleplex

Ironically the whole controversy has also had two other results:

Firstly traffic was up today by around 40% – the story has caused a lot of people to check out the ‘de-ranked’ blogs

Secondly and very ironically the controversy has caused a lot (hundreds) of extra in bound links to ProBlogger (and I pressume many of the other penalized blogs and sites).

What we’re being penalized and/or made an example for I don’t really know (Google’s not great at explaining these sorts of things) but the net effect has been that many of the sites being ‘hit’ could well come out of this better off than they went in – with new readers and perhaps even a better search engine ranking in the long run.

I guess there’s a few lessons here:

  • Don’t Get Depressed Get Motivated - every person that I’ve ever met that makes a full time living from web publishing has a story to tell about periods where things didn’t go their way (or where they completely fell apart). Those that succeed find ways to push through these times, learn from them and come out stronger.
  • Leverage Leverage Leverage – yesterday when I saw my slumped page rank I had a few options before me. I could have ignored it, I could have gotten down and despondent and wallowed and done very little work as a result or I could have found a way to leverage it. I decided to write a post about it and to see what would happen. The result was that today was one of the most productive days that I’ve had for a long time.
  • Network – there are days when blogging feels very lonely. The reality is that you’re not alone in the challenges that you face as a blogger – not matter what the issue is, there’s someone else who has, is or will face the same thing. The key is to reach out, find these people, debrief with them, learn from them and work together on solutions.

I know I know – I’m one of those annoyingly optimistic people (it drives my wife nuts). I’m sorry, I can’t help it.

The problem is that it’s actually days like today that make or break bloggers. Not only is it days like today that many bloggers give up – it’s days where many miss great opportunities. Keep Punching!