My Great Uncle

Disclaimer: This post has absolutely nothing to do with Search marketing or search engine optimization.

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately. My great uncle (93) has recently become unable to walk and care for himself, so I’ve been coming over to his house every day to work. Since I work from home anyway, it’s not a big deal for me to just come over here (about 10 minutes from my house), but it involves a lot of extra work (dressing, cleaning, helping out around the house, etc…).

Since my great uncle is pretty much the greatest man I’ve ever known, I’m putting him first before work, and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into a semi-regular blogging schedule soon.

Maybe it’s time to get some user contributions?

New SEO Questions Answered Section

I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately to share what I’ve learned at the various search marketing conferences that I have attended. I though it would be a lot easier if I could just answer specific questions.

Now, I’m not claiming to be an “Expert SEO”, but I do know a thing or two about search engine optimization. Plus, if I can’t answer a question, it’ll be an excellent opportunity for someone else to showcase their expert SEO skills by answering in the comments.

Also, you can feel free to disagree with me as well. (Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings)

So if anyone has a question about SEO or search marketing in general, check out the details on the SEO Q&A Page.

Selected questions will be answered on right here in this brand new SEO questions answered section of the site.

I look forward to your questions. — Again, for details on submitting SEO questions, see the official SEO Q&A Page.

What Donna Said

I was wondering why my pagerank dropped again, even after I removed all text link ads, and nowfollowed all links I could find that may have been paid.

SEOlogs.com went from a Pagerank 5, down to 3 after the initial round of paid links paid links penalties were dished out. I went to great lengths to remedy the situation, sacrificing a nice chunk of my monthly income in the process.

That seemed to do the trick though, because after the next Pagersnk update, SEOlogs was back up to a PR 5, and even better, a lot of the internal pages were also showing some nice increases in toolbar Pagerank.

It didn’t last long at all though. Seems like about a week later, I got a message from a reader, telling me how sorry he felt for me b/c SEOlogs had lost its Pagerank again.

Luckily, I don’t have to wonder what is going on anymore, b/c Donna has built enough of a reputation in the community that when she speaks, the right people listen (Matt Cutts)

So thanks for that Donna, and Matt Cutts… Some personalized SEO consulting would be great. An email would be just fine. 🙂

5 Celebrities Who Rock at Social Media Marketing

Today on Digg, I saw a video on Digg => Will Ferrell Tries Viral Contest. Offers a Shark For Prize.

Will Ferrell is trying to get people to install a Funny or Die Facebook App to their facebook pages, and I’m thinking. Are you kidding? I mean, there was a session at Pubcon Vegas, which talked about how cutting edge facebook apps were, and here’s Will Ferrell, promoting one for Funny or die. (more…)

How to Survive Digg on a Shared Host

Digg Spike
Getting onto the front page of Digg is quite an honor. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a handful of my sites and articles hit the front page of Digg. It’s not all strawberries and peaches though. If you’re not prepared for it, it can actually be the biggest headache of your life.

After my first experience of getting dugg, having my site go down, struggling to get tech support (who had no clue what Digg even was) to help me, and finally getting back up only to go down again, I decided that I needed to take some action.

(more…)

A Hosting Lesson Learned – The Hard Way

Server Not FoundSome of you may have noticed over the past few days that there have been some major problems here at SEOlogs. Most of them are currently in the tools section, but the blog was also down for a bit.

This is because of a major failure on the part of the site I was hosting with. I’m not going to name any names, because they seem like nice enough guys, but if you’ve been reading the blog, you probably know who.

The reason I switched to this most recent host was because I was having a lot of problems with the prior hosting company (same reason as the time before 🙁 ). There was just way too much down time, and if it wasn’t going down, it was just slowing down to a snail’s pace.

I was stubborn about switching hosts the first time, but after reading some really good reviews about this company, and speaking to some of the guys that work there, I was pretty much sold, and went ahead and made the switch.

Before I go any further, let me just say that moving SEOlogs.com is not easy. It’s actually extremely difficult. First there’s dealing with the size limits of moving the wordpress posts to a the new database. That’s a pain, but it’s nothing compared to getting all the seo tools up and functioning properly again.

Ok. Back to the story.

After making the switch, and getting all the tools working again, the new host was great. The site was loading noticeably faster, I liked the new admin interface, it was all peaches, until about a week later when I went to check something out on the site, and it was down. No long loading delay, just plain straight to the “Server Not Found” screen.

I called, and immediately reached tech support. Just like when I spoke with sales, this was a real person at the company, not outsourced tech support, and though I was alarmed about the site being down, I was really impressed with the fast response. They had it working again pretty quickly, so I decided to let that one slide.

About 2 weeks later, it happened again, and this time support wasn’t so great, I couldn’t get anyone on the phone. I also couldn’t get anyone via their “24 hour live chat”. The site was down for over an hour this time. This was just not good at all, so at this point, I decided to go ahead and start the process of moving the site to my dedicated machine that I already host dnscoop.com on.

I did everything except for pulling the nameserver entries. I seriously considered it, but I thought I’d give them one more chance.

That chance came last Tuesday when I just happened to check out the tools page, and noticed that I could see the PHP code on the page.
PHP code

There it was. All of the code from my 20 plus SEO tools there on the screen for the taking. I’m not sure how long this was going on for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some new SEO tools sites start to pop up soon. Not to mention, people got to see how sloppy my PHP coding is.

I made the call, and got someone on the phone. He told me that they had upgraded the PHP install on the server, and that they had seen this problem with a few other sites. But unfortunately, the guy who could help wouldn’t be in for another 30 minutes.

That definitely was not the right answer. I redirected all traffic to my personal site, with a message explaining what was happening, then I went ahead and updated the name server entries.

So now, SEOlogs.com lives with his little brother, dnScoop.com on their own private island of dedicated hosting happiness. It’s what I should have done in the first place, but I had my reasons for keeping them separate (It has nothing to do with SEO).

I am seriously considering just doing what Aaron Wall has done, and going open source with most of my tools. That way, maybe some others could help with keeping the code working.

The moral of the story is that good hosting is hard to come by. Just because a host is great for someone else, doesn’t mean that it will be great for you too. The opposite is also true, just because a lot of people say it’s no good, doesn’t mean it’s true.

My Essential Notes from PubCon Vegas 2007

I’ve had several requests over the past week to give up some of the info that I learned at last week’s WebmasterWorld Pubcon Vegas conference.

Well, I’m definitely not going to go over every single session, because:
A) I didn’t attend every session. I only attended about 1/5 of the sessions.
B) It’s already been done. If you’re looking fore complete coverage, then your best bet is over at Search Engine Roundtable: PubCon Day 1, PubCon Day 2, and PubCon Day 3.

I’m going to just share, 3 topics here that I felt were the most important things I heard at PubCon 2007. Basically, 3 things that I’m definitely going to be trying to implement more the months to come.

  1. Social Marketing
    The topic of Social Media Marketing, or at least some aspect of it, seemed to pop up in a lot of the sessions at Pubcon.

    A. Social Marketing is not just Digg.com, Reddit.com, Stumbleupon.com and Del.icio.us.
    There are now scores of active Social Bookmarking sites available. I posted a list of Social Bookmarking Sites last month, which contains over 30 sites, organized by category, that you can submit to.

    B. You don’t need tech blog, or funny pictures/ videos blog, to be popular on sites like Digg.com
    I hear a lot of people say, “But I have a (Fill in the blank) site. It could never be featured on Digg”.

    For those people, I would say that you just need to think more outside the box. I’ve heard so many great ideas for submitting topics that you would never expect to be on Digg. Michael Gray of Wolf-Howl.com gave a great example of what sort of articles that a site that sells paint could create to submit to several big Social sites.

         1. Article targeted for digg.com : “How to paint the digg logo on your wall”
         2. Article targeted for propeller.com: “What does the color of your walls say about your personality?”
         3. Article targeted for lifehacker.com: “How to paint your living room in a weekend”
         4. Article targeted for hugg.com: “how to pick environmental paint”

  2. Multivariate Testing and Conversion Tweaking
    If you’re not doing it, then you’re stupid… Just kidding 🙂

    A. Testing and Improving conversion rates is 100x easier than increasing traffic.
    Rand Fishkin gave a great presentation on testing, and spoke about the SEOmoz Landing Page Contest, which is just a great example of why you should be testing multiple versions of your content. Read it.

    B. Use Google Website Optimizer. It’s free, and is an amazing tool for multivariate testing.
    You may have to do some reading and learning to get started, but it is well worth the time.

    I recently wrote an article on using Google Website Optimizer to improve conversions, which shows a test I did, and the results.

  3. Web 2.0 and User Generatd Content

    A. Widgets
    I know that Pubcon isn’t a Web 2.0 conference by any means, but there were a lot of people attending and speaking (the Forums and Communities: Building Management and Optimization session) who live in the hub of Web 2.0 activity (The San Francisco, Silicon valley area). It was very interesting to get a glimpse of how different things in that world are.

    I think it was Lawrence Coburn who said that there are some Web 2.0 Purists who think that sites like Stumbleupon.com and RateItAll.com shouldn’t even have a website. They should only exist in widgets. Pretty extreme.

    Widgets, even the most simple, like my dnscoop widget (bottom right of this page), are extremely powerful tools. Think about it. You make a widget, and it gets put on a site that gets hundreds, thousands, or even millions of pageviews per day. You can imagine the benefits.

    Facebook Apps is one huge opportunity that is pretty much wide open. Anyone can submit an app, and you immediately be put in front of the entire Facebook community.

    B. User Generated Content
    If you’re using WordPress, or some other blog, that’s a start, but if you are a programmer, and have the skills to build your own web apps, you should take advantage of that. Build a better Digg, craigslist, or mySpace. Or at least try to implement some of the features from these sites into your own site.

    If you are struggling in a competitive niche or market (retail or selling some product that a thousand other people sell), you absolutely must add value to your site to even stand a chance to copete with other sites. User comments and reviews are one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd in a positive way.

—–

If anyone has any specific questions about Pubcon, feel free to shoot me an email via the contact form. Otherwise, start planning right now to go to the next PubCon. I am.

Can you Become a Better Blogger by Watching TV

SimpsonsWatching TV might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of blogging, or being a successful blogger, but my friend Ben over at bloggingexperiment.com has written a great series of articles about becoming a better blogger, which are all based around popular TV shows.

The latest in his series is The Simpsons: Lessons on Blogging. Definitely worth a read, so check it out.

Then go on and check out the rest of the series:

How I Came in 2nd Place in the MyBlogLog Contest

It has now been just over a week since the MyBlogLog Become A Problogger Contest officially ended, and as many of you know, SEOlogs came really close to winning (2nd place), but in the end, I just couldn’t catch up with the leader.
MyBlogLog Contest
For those who don’t know about the contest, here’s a little snippet from the official contest page that explains a little more about it:

… in this contest, community owners will compete against each other to see who can grow their community the most between November 8 – 30.

As is stated above, the MBL contest started on November 8th, but I wasn’t actually aware of the contest until November 14th or 15th, when I logged into MBL, and noticed the contest announcement. I then clicked through to the leader page (top 100) to check out the competition so far. I can’t really remember how many points the leader had at the time, but it didn’t look like it would be terribly hard to at least break into the top 100, so I went ahead and entered SEOlogs into the contest.

At that point, I had already made up my mind that I was really wanted to win this contest, and I knew that I’d have to come up with a good idea to do it.

Starting With (What I Perceived to be) an Advantage
Up until this point, I had enjoyed using MyBlogLog, and had added some of my sites, but never really actively tried to network and gain members. I mainly just liked the idea of being able to see who was visiting my sites, and also really liked the fact that in the statistics part of MBL, you get to see the top 10 links for “What Readers Clicked”
What Readers Clicked

So when I entered the contest, the seologs mbl community only had around 57 members. Now, I know that is a pretty meager number, but I actually think that having very few members from the start of the contest was a big advantage for me. Communities that already had tons of users may have been sort of maxed out, without much room for improvement. With only 57 members in my community, I felt like I had a lot more potential to gain higher numbers of members.

Coming Up With an Idea
I did a little bit of brainstorming, and had a few ideas that I considered using to get members to join, but the idea that I was leaning toward the most, was having my own contest to promote my community and get users to join. This was sort of inspired by the success of Shoemoney.com’s recent contest, which helped his blog to gain thousands of new RSS subscribers.

There was also the 2006 Redscowl Bluesingsky SEO Contest. I remembered just how much fun that was, and also how much SEOlogs.com benefited from the contest, so I decided to go ahead with the contest idea. I decided to go with a format that was really similar to Jeremy’s contest, where I would give away one prize every day until the end of the contest.

Getting the Word Out
A contest can be a very powerful marketing tool, but without some publicity, it’s not going to be very successful.

Started Here:
The initial announcement was from this site (seologs.com).

Moved on to Forums
I had the advantage of actually running a fairly active webmaster forum, dnScoop Webmaster Forums, so I started there. I made an announcement on the forum, and then sent out an email to all of the members of the dnScoop forum.

Next, I went to all of the other forums that I am active in. I modified my signature on each forum, so that they linked to the contest page, and invited members to join.

I started threads these forums as well (in the appropriate categories) , announcing the contest, and inviting members to enter, and I made sure to actively participate in those threads.

Networking With and Messaging MyBlogLog Members
MyBlogLog allows you to send messages to individual members, or to all your community members at once. My dnScoop MBL community already had around 250 members, so I sent one public message announcing the contest, and inviting everyone to join and support SEOlogs. I also sent a public message to all SEOlogs MBL community members, asking them to share the contest with their friends. Since these messages were public, and displayed on the public profile pages of all of these members, they ended up being seen by a lot more than just the members I sent them to.

I also joined a lot of new MBL user communities that were related to SEO and Search Marketing and made thoughtful comments on their profile pages. Not just “hey, join my community”, but would check out their sites, maybe give some relevant comments or feedback, and then invite them to check out SEOlogs.

Submitted My Contest to Contest Blogs
Here’s a list of contest blogs that accept submissions of blog contests. I submitted to a lot of these.

MySpace
I’m not really sure how effective this one was, but have 2 myspace accounts,here and here (how’s that for anchor text), with a few hundred friends, and I posted bulletins announcing the contest there a couple of times. I tried to keep those announcements simple, since most of my friends on MySpace.com probably have no idea that I even have a blog, let alone what myBlogLog is, but I figured it was worth a shot.

A Lot of Help and Support From Friends
The contest was definitely working, and was a great tool for getting new members to join, but I really don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did without the help of a few good friends. So being active in several communities was definitely helpful, and I was lucky to have some friends who were in a position to help me out.

The Payoff
There were a lot of prizes for the first place winner ( A great competitor, and really nice guy ), but there was no official prize for 2nd place.

Since I was at Pubcon Vegas though, I had the opportunity to meet Ian Kennedy, the MyBlogLog Product Manager, and a few other folks from Yahoo. I think he felt a little bit sorry for me, so he gave me a sort of unofficial 2nd place prize ( some sweet poker sized playing cards from Caesars Palace).

Ian also invited me out to dinner that night at the Bellagio Buffet, with him and some other folks from Yahoo, including Jerri Gillean of RightMedia. Just really really cool people. I really had a great time (Thanks again!)

Thoughts on PubCon So Far

Well, PubCon is just about over. Tomorrow is going to be the last day, and it’s going to basically be a networking event (the original pubcon)

I must say that I was a little worried about having to go to this conference alone, but it turned out to not be an issue at all. I was able to meet up with Reuben Yau (a friend from seorefugee) on the first day. This was great for lots of reasons, including having someone to swap notes when we attended different sessions.

Speaking of the sessions, for the most part they have been excellent, with a nice variety of topics to choose from for each time slot.

I must admit that other than lurking, I’ve never been active at webmasterworld forums, and other than being impressed with his cutting edge robots.txt blog, I was never really familiar with Brett Tabke.

After hearing Brett’s story and the history of WMW and PubCon during one of the sessions this week, and also getting an opportunity to meet Brett today, I now understand a little bit more why PubCon is so cool. It wasn’t just an “oh hey, nice to meet you.. bye”. He was extremely approachable, and seemed to be genuinely interested in who I was.

That was true of many other attendees and speakers, and I had lots of chances to pass out my homemade inkjet business cards. (didn’t have a chance to get cards made)

A couple of months ago, Rand Fishkin posted that he would have “some really cool SWAG to give away” at PubCon.

Well, last night, he definitely delivered. Rand and SEOmoz hosted an event (actually a game) called Werewolf (Search Spam). It started at 8PM, and I really had no idea what to expect, but when I walked in the door and saw Rand standing up on a chair, shouting at a group of about 12 participants of the game, I knew that I was in for a good time.

I played for a couple of hours, and then helped to moderate for another hour, which was just a ton of fun.

The whole conference has just been a really fun, and I’ve met so many great people.

You can check out my PubCon Photos if you haven’t had a chance to yet. I’ve been updating them daily, as I take them.

I was hoping to have more time to blog while here, but unfortunately, the only place I have a secure internet connection in my hotel room, and I haven’t had much downtime here (that’s a good thing), but I’ll definitely post more as I get time. Especially about the sessions.