My PubCon Photos on Flickr

Just checked in and registered for pubcon. I have been posting sort of a photo blog on flickr, taking and emailing pics from my phone. if you’d like to follow it, it’s here.

More later.

So for those who have been before, what are the coolest things to see and do while in Vegas?

Headed to PubCon

Vegas ChipI’m heading out this morning for Pubcon Vegas. I should be arriving around 4 PM or so. I’m hoping to get together with a few folks from SEOrefugee forums at some point. I’ll be posting daily updates from my hotel room each night, and whenever else I get a chance to.

Definitely come up and say hello if you recognize me. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people.

2nd Place in MyBlogLog Contest and SEOlogs Winners

MyBlogLog ContestCongratulations to the final 3 winners of our Contest!

allbusinessauctions – $150 Cash via PayPal + 2 Months 125×125 banner on dnScoop.com ($450 value)

muiomuio – $100 Cash via Paypal + 2 Month 125×125 banner on dnScoop.com ($400 value)

tonyfloyd – 3 Months 125×125 banner on dnScoop.com ($450 value)

This was really a fun experience, and I feel like I have learned a lot about networking from it. MyBlogLog is definitely a cool place. I’m sure I’ll write a more detailed post about some of the things I learned from this experience soon.

One More Winner
I have one more announcement for today. I have decided to pick one more winner. This time, I’m not picking randomly like all the others. I have hand picked one MyBlogLog user that I recently met, who I though was deserving of this prize.

mommygetspaid (L.J.) who is currently hosted at mommygetspaid.blogspot.com, is the winner of the new blog, mommygetspaid.com

I have set everything up, and will help L.J. to add a theme to the new blog, and get up to speed with WordPress. I’ll also transfer the domain to L.J., and host it for free of charge indefinitely, or until it gets onto the front page of Digg 🙂 .

So Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who helped us to get to 2nd place. Also, congrats to the winner (not official word from MBL yet) of the MyBlogLog Problogger contest, Feedest. Great Job.

SEOlogs Holiday Gift Guide

Thanksgiving, “Black Friday”, and “Cyber Monday” have all come and gone, and you know what that means…

The Holiday season is officially upon us.

I felt inspired to make this SEO holiday wish list. It’s pretty much a hint for my wife, but you can feel free to pass it on to your significant other as well (or whoever is gifting you this year).
(disclaimer: yes, a lot of the links to these products are affiliate links, but what did you expect?)

Books

Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day
Price: 19.79
This is an excellent book for any SEO, from the total noop to the SEO Guru. It discusses everything from title tags to social bookmarking, and has tons of great little tips.

Aaron Wall’s SEO Book
Price: $79
Want a book about SEO that will always be up to date? The SEObook is a 328 page downloadable ebook with free lifetime updates, so you’ll always be up on the latest SEO tactics.

Magazine Subscriptions

Revenue Magazine
Price: $30/ Year (6 Issues)
I don’t subscribe to this magazine, but I do pick up a copy every time I see on at Barnes and Noble (which is a rarity). Revenue magazine is definitely one of my favorites.


Search Marketing Standard Magazine
Price: $15/ Year (4 Issues)
Search Marketing Standard is another great search marketing magazine. Would be nice if they did more than 4 issues per year, but we’ll take what we can get. I first subscribed to this mag because they featured an article by Donna Fontenot (Dazzlin Donna), and was definitely not disappointed.

Website MagazineWebsite Magazine
Price: Free!
The first issue of webmaster magazine I ever picked up was at Search Engine Strategies in NYC. The company had a booth, and were giving out free zines and subscriptions. Honestly, I was so overloaded with so much other free swag, I didn’t really get to take a good look at the magazine until a few weeks after the conference when I cleaned out my backpack, but it’s definitely a quality read.

Computers and Electronics

Mac Pro
Price: Starts at $2,494.00
The Mac Pro is pretty much the ultimate computer (yes, I’m a huge mac fan). It can handle up to 16GB of ram, and accommodates up to four drives and 3TB of storage. I could probably run my own search engine with a decked out Mac Pro (which depending on the configuration, could cost over $15,000), but I’ll settle for the base configuration.

MacBook
Price: $1,097.91
This is the notebook that I currently own, and do all of my work on. I pretty much never leave home without it. It’s small, light, fast, and packed with lots of great features, including a built in camera and mic that can easily be used for podcasting and video podcasting.

iPhoneiPhone
Price: $399
The iPhone is the ultimate smartphone. Again, this is my opinion, but I haven’t seen anything that even comes close. iPhone’s safari browser isn’t some lamed down weak version of a regular browser. It’s the real thing. Apart from the lack of flash support, iPhone’s Browser does it all, including blogging, commenting, participating in your favorite forums, checking site stats, reading rss feeds, and even digging and sphinning your favorite sites.

gPC computergPC Desktop from Everex
Price: $200
The gPC is a new, environmentally friendly (the g stands for green) desktop from everex that delivers every day computing (email, web browsing, office apps, and multimedia) at dirt-cheap price of $200. It runs gOS, a user friendly linux operating system, and includes lots of great open source software.

Podcasting Starter Kit
Price: $205.46
This package includes everything you need to get started with podcasting; a CO3U Condenser Mic, Cakewalk Sonar LE audio editing software, a desktop mic stand, mic clip, shockmount, USB cable, and a sweet aluminum case.

Search Marketing Conferences

PubConPubcon
Price: $699.00
Pubcon is a search marketing conference that is put on by WebmasterWorld. I haven’t been yet, but am going to be attending Pubcon in Las Vegas next week. From what I’ve heard, it’s less corporate, and more nitty gritty SEO and networking.

Search Engine StrategiesSearch Engine Strategies
Price: $1,745
Search Engine Strategies is a search marketing conference put on by searchenginewatch.com. I attended Search Engine Strategies in NYC in April of this year, and had a great time. It’s a 4 day conference, with sessions ranging from SEO basics to PPC video optimization.

SMX (Search Marketing Expo)
Price: $1,195

BlogWorld Expo
Price: $895
Blogworld Expo was recently held in Vegas, and had lots of great reviews.

WebSites and Domain Names

GoDaddy Gift Card
This gift would be great for pretty much any SEO. It could be a great way to help someone with no experience get started with blogging, or it could allow the more experienced SEO to add a few more domain names/ websites to their portfolio.


Well, that’s it for my wish list. What’s on your SEO wish list?

Road Trip Time

I just wanted to quickly let everyone who entered yesterday’s contest know that due to poor time management on my part, I am having to write this from my phone, on the way to Alabama (of all places) for thanksgiving. Don’t worry, I’m not driving. 🙂 It’s an 8 hour drive from Charleston.

So I won’t be able to announce today’s contest winner until tomorrow. That means there will be 2 winners announced tomorrow.

Don’t forget to enter today for tomorrow’s giveaway!
enter here!

How to Build Traffic to Your Blog … and keep it

Badi asked me how I keep increasing traffic to my website, 14th Colony. So far, unique visits have increased 181%. Repeat visits have increased 143%. And page views are up 246% over last year.

I’d like to say there’s a trick to building traffic for a website but I won’t insult you. Traffic takes work. The good news is generating repeat interest doesn’t take much extra effort. In fact, with the right tools repeat visitors sign themselves up to come back time and time again.

Measure Success
The first thing I look at is the traffic trends. You can use whatever stats program you like that reports these three things: unique visits, return visits and page views. Check out Badi’s overview if you don’t know what these are.

For our purposes unique traffic is an indicator of how your promotion efforts are working. Repeat visits indicate viewer satisfaction (if they hate your site they will not come back!). And page views reveal the value of your site to the viewer. More page views mean more value.

Once I have my tracking in place I set a baseline by putting my stats into a spreadsheet. I add the traffic for each month and divide it by the number of months passed for an average score.

Then I compare where I’m at against the average. My goal each month is to beat the average. And each month the average goes up making this more challenging!

Traffic Building
There are many sources of traffic for a website. Some are free, some are sweat equity and some you pay for. For 14th Colony, I avoid paying for traffic. Paying for traffic is like cheating to me. I’m a marketer. If I can’t entice people to this site without a cash bribe I’m in a lot of trouble! Here are tactics that I’ve used with success:

Search Engine Optimization – About 25% of my traffic comes from search engines. This isn’t very much and I could (should?) step it up. There are three reasons search traffic is one of my favorites:

1. It’s targeted – Most of the people that reach your site through a search engine are looking for something on your site
2. It’s fairly consistent – Sure, rank jumps and drops but as long as you aren’t banned the search engines will continuously send you traffic
3. It’s free – OK, it takes some effort though once your structure is good, the rest becomes automatic (like writing search-friendly content or headlines)

Other Site Referrals aka Links – Links help SEO efforts and they are a great source of regular traffic. One of the best things about links is the webmaster of the site linking to yours does the work to make that link more valuable so that it will send you more traffic!

For 14th Colony I wrote a couple reports about trends just before they broke. These became source material for other webmasters who linked back to my articles to explain their own articles and tools. These articles get stronger in the search engines over time and the links pointing to them bring traffic.

Another favorite tactic I use is encouraging new bloggers by linking to them first. Believe me, new bloggers remember when established bloggers link to them the first time. I remember the first time Stuntdubl linked to something I wrote. Todd’s probably picked up more than 20 links from me because of the one he sent me first. Smart linking builds dividends.

Think of links as fine wine waiting to age. Where can you pick up links today that are easy and cheap (free!) to get that will be worth a lot in a few months or a year? Link-building for traffic is all about long-term thinking.

Community Involvement – 10% of my traffic comes from sig links in forums and profile links on blogs and social sites. If you make smart comments, people want to know more about you.

Social Bookmarking – Social bookmarking sites have their own search engines which drive traffic my way. Digg and del.icio.us are great for this.

On top of that, the few stories I’ve been lucky enough to see go popular have drawn a lot of attention. The temporary super-jump in traffic is fun but not sustainable. After each event, a new platform of return visitors about 20% over the previous average occurs.

Traffic Exchanges – This post is an example of a traffic exchange. Today I’m writing for Badi. In a couple weeks, he’ll write something for me. If you can keep things relevant, it works. You are now exposed to my message. And some of you are dying to read more.

Fan Following – I ask people to guest post at 14th Colony. When guest bloggers write, their regular readers come to see what’s up. Just like you will when Badi makes his appearance.

Bring ‘Em Back
Return visits are key for websites that sell products or services. I’ve read that an average buyer has to visit a website 6 times before they’ll make a purchase! Bring ‘em back marketing is essential to increase conversions as each interaction builds trust with your site.

Community Participation – Being visible at forums and social sites draws blog followers. After all, they like what you say – its part of why they are there! Drawing viewers from social sites is a natural fit.

RSS – Most of the jumps in traffic after going popular with 14th Colony come from RSS subscriptions. I track my feed with FeedBurner which also lets me offer email subscriptions.

Social Tagging – I actually stripped this down with the redesign but making it easy for your users to tag and share their favorite posts helps them remember it. Share This is a great WordPress plugin that lets visitors tag their favorite posts or refer friends via email.

Ctrl+D – When 14th Colony first got started I had a small call to action at the top-right of each page. All it said was “Bookmark this page (Ctrl+D)”. It worked great and AW Stats reports bookmarking still tops 110% which makes no sense but must be a good thing, right?

Keep offering fresh content – The reason people come back is to read more about your topics. A schedule is best though I’ve never been able to maintain one. I keep track of my stats daily and if I see a slide I make it a point to get something new up quickly.

Do something cool every so often – Defining “cool” is tough. Mostly it’s something different from the norm that still fits within your site topics and purpose. This could be a personal post. Or outrage at an industry event. My “Google is evil” posts are almost as popular as my “make money with Adsense” posts. It could also be a new tool or special report. Another cool thing is having a guest blogger or conducting an interview. I think the main thing is to break things up and keep them loose while not losing focus on why your blog exists.

Increasing Page Views
Page views are important if you have an ad-based model for making money. More page views mean more ad impressions and a greater chance of a viewer clicking one of those ads. As mentioned above, high page view numbers also indicate how useful your website is.

Page views are accomplished by two things:

1. Quality of content
2. Design

If your content sucks, the best design won’t keep visitors. Even if your content is great a bad design can turn visitors away. After redesigning 14th Colony to be leaner and cleaner (less cluttered) page views increased an amazing 72%!

Make the design exciting enough to keep the viewer reading but not so loud or cluttered to become a distraction. Great design is like a well-framed painting – when people comment on the frame something is wrong. You want people to comment on the content within the frame.

With the redesign I also added a lot of “additional resources” links. At the end of each post is a “related articles” list. And at the bottom of each page are category headlines plus the most popular stories. On the right I added a couple “teaser” posts. This was all to increase page views and it worked.

Last Thoughts
Technorati and Hittail are great ways to see how much buzz and referral traffic your blog gets. I also like Icerocket as a backup stats program because it is nearly real-time and gives the basics without too much extra garbage.

Whatever you want to do with your site make sure you have a way to track success. That’s the only way you’ll really know what works and what doesn’t.

Stay in action! Just keep throwing things at your site until something sticks. A blog that just sits there is losing ground. A blog in action will always catch some attention.

My New Whip

That’s right. I got a 1991 Cutlass Supreme. Jealous!?

My wife and I have been living back in Charleston for over 3 months now, and we finally got a second car. (Well, actually, I got a second car. I don’t think she would be caught dead driving this beauty)

We’ve been sharing one car for a while now, and it’s been fine since I work from home and rarely need to go out during the day (this was especially true when we lived in MA), but since we moved back to SC (more family and friends), we’ve found that we both need to use the car more, so we decided we should probably get a second car.

So why did I get this vintage beauty as opposed to a nice new car? Yeah, I’m sure a shiny new BMW 6 series would have looked a lot nicer, and made me look more like the successful internet entrepreneur guy, but I’ve learned from experience that at this stage, my money is best put to use in assets that are going to make more money.

I could probably afford a lot nicer car, but at this point, it would be a huge liability, and would seriously limit my options.

So for now, I’m cruisin’ in the 91 Cutlass… Supreme Style!

SEOlogs Needs Your Help

MyBlogLog ContestI have entered SEOlogs into the MyBlogLog.com ProBlogger Contest, and I’d really appreciate it if you would join the seologs community to help us win: http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/community/seologs

The community that gains the most new users by November 30, 2007 wins.

The winner will be announced live from the floor of PubCon in Las Vegas, which I’ll be attending, so it would be great if SEOlogs wins.

If you’re not a member of mybloglog.com yet, join, and then join the SEOlogs community.

Help Us Win: Join Here => http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/community/seologs
Thanks for the support.

Hits, Page Views, and Visits: Get Them Straight

MetricsHits:
The term hit is probably one of the most misused terms when it comes to describing website traffic.

I’ve heard many times, something like, “My site got over 1000 hits today!”.

Well, if that person knew what a hit was, he would know that 1000 hits really isn’t impressive at all.
Simply put, a “hit” is a request for a single file from the web server. That’s it. It could be any file, including: html, txt, jpg, gif, pdf, js, etc.

For most websites, one page usually contains image, javascript, and css tags, which have a src url pointing to separate files. So when that 1 page is loaded, it could potentially result in over 100 hits or more. (or over 100 requests for other file resources)

If it were up to me, the word “hit” would be completely stricken from the web analytics/ measurement vocabulary. I would instead suggest that the word “request” be used instead.

Pageviews:
Page views are a lot easier to understand, because the 2 words “page” and “view” basically describe what it means.

A Pageview is total number of times any page is viewed. For example, if someone lands on page A, goes to page B, then back to page A, that counts as 3 pageviews because there were 3 page loads.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Cookie Based Measurements
The following measurements are cookie based, and will vary depending on which analytics program you use.

Unique Page Views:
This is a term that I first heard from Google Analytics. It is based on a session or a single visit to a site. So unlike a normal pageview, a unique pageview only counts once per visit.

For example, if a person goes to page A, then to page B, then back to page A, that would count for 2 unique pageviews, because the person only looked at 2 pages.

Visit:
A visit is also known as a session, starts when a user enters a site, and ends when a user exits a site. A visit consists of one or more pageviews. If someone visits a site for 10 minutes, then leaves, but returns 2 hours later, that is usually counted as 2 visits. (note: 2 hours isn’t a standard, the minimum time between visits can vary depending on the analytics software)

Unique Visit:
A unique visit is like a regular visit, but each visitor is only counted once in any given time frame. So the example above would only count as 1 unique visit.

Of all the cookie based measurements, unique visits is definitely the potential to be least accurate. Though some programs use IP address as well a unique cookie in the users browser to identify them, there are still lots of scenarios where things can go wrong. Just to name a few:
– IP’s are rarely static
– visitors can switch browsers
– visitors can clear cookies
– visitors can have more than one computer accessing the web, like a school or library
– visitors use proxy switchers