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A Great Tool Just For You

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Well, it’s a pretty great end of the week for me. Firstly, I get to go in a few hours and pick my girlfriend up from the airport who’s been travelling for the last 3 months and secondly (close second), I can very proudly annouce the release of a new tool…


I’d like to introduce you to AutoStumble! Which is a reet smart little application. In a nutshell, it is a 100% automated stumble exchange app. That’s right, no more staring at your screen for hours going through endless lists of sites to swap stumbles, only to be banned for reciprocal voting. This baby even camoflagues your activity by voting on random URLs and hot URLs within Stumble.

Let’s have quick overview of the features:

-> As I said – 100% automated. Bung in your details, hit AutoStumble then it minimizes to the tray and works like a dog.

-> With the unique “credit” system and camoflagued random voting, this thing is just about undetectable to reciprocal voting detection algorithms.

-> Making your page go viral on StumbleUpon will draw you thousands of visitors per day

-> All those extra visitors are very likely to mean more links – which means you’ll rank better in Google

-> The program has customisable delay between Stumbles to emulate human behaviour

-> The tool is free to Elite SEO Tools subscribers

During this primary launch I’m selling this tool for the bargain basement price of ?10. This will go up soon! So if you want it cheap, get in now.

How does this work you say?
Basically, you pop your URL into the program and this is put into a “pool” of URLs of other users. The program will grab this list and Stumble other peoples’ sites (with random stumbles between). For every site you Stumble you gain a “credit”, which is applied to your account. Your URL will be made available for other users to Stumble, for as many “credits” as you have earned. This system ensures there is not total reciprocal voting – and everyone is doing different sets of URLs.

There’s loads more information on the site about the tool, so go check it out –

It’s the bee’s fucking knees (:

Posted in Black Hat, Social Marketing | 12 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 »

Interview with a Digg power user

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

We’re lucky enough today to talk to Muhammed Saleem, a respected social media strategist and Digg power user.

Digg has always been a powerful social hub, with wide ranging benefits in terms of exposure, links and reputation who those who are creative enough to use it in a positive way. With recent Digg algorithm changes, I think it’s important to look at how top Digg users are interacting with Digg and how we can all get the most from it.

Hello, Muhammad. Thanks for doing this interview. Can you just kick us off with how you discovered Digg and how you started using it?

I discovered Digg through the site’s podcast, Diggnation. I started off using it fairly irregularly and in fact, in the beginning got little or no traction on my stories. After participating more regularly, I saw that the more I participated, the more people took note of my profile and my activity and consequently I got hooked.

Can you give new users to Digg any advice on how to successfully start good accounts, in terms of what they should be doing in submitting stories, commenting and looking at what others have submitted?

Sure. To give new users a sense of how to participate in the beginning, and how to evolve this participation as you get used to the social news environment, I wrote the following manual.

What is your opinion of the Digg “shout” system, help or harm?

The Digg shout system is a good concept, but it is often abused because it is so easy to abuse and because most people have no incentive to use it properly. But if you use it properly it can be a very powerful and useful tool.

Do you think the importance of Diggs received from friends or people you’ve shouted is reduced?

Yes, the influence is reduced, but it has less to do with wether they are your ‘friend’ or not, and it has more to do with how
regularly they vote on your submissions. Someone could not list you as a friend but as long as they follow most of your content, their influence is reduced.

How much of a factor do you think that; age of the account, ratio of popular stories, thumbs up/down to your comments has on your Digg vote authority?

It’s very difficult to know for sure because the Digg algorithm is not open and it’s not very straightforward. However, we can speculate on what factors are important, and all the factors you mention, could very well play an important role.

Do you think Digg discounts the importance of votes when users land directly on Digg stories, rather than searching through Digg?

One of the things that Kevin and Jay told us was that when they speak about diversity, they are looking at where and how people discover stories in Digg. This could mean that when someone shares a link directly with you, that could have less influence compared to if you find the link through the upcoming queue, one of the many digg visualization tools, or through search.

What is your opinion of the recent Digg algorithm changes?

The algorithm appears to have changed back to normal. However, for a while there, the algorithm was the cause of concern for many Digg users because it appeared to penalize more popular users and put the spotlight on the lack of transparency at Digg.

Have the algorithm changes effect how you interact with Digg? If so, how?

For a while there I was wondering wether it was even useful to participate on Digg anymore if no one was going to see the stories I was submitting. Now that the algorithm has adjusted, I don’t see any

Do you think its plausable that Digg will one day be replaced, or users will migrate to other social news sites?

I don’t think any social news site replaces another. It’s not a zero-sum game. Each of these sites provides unique value that another doesn’t, and so regardless of what happens, there will always be room for multiple social news sites to exist and flourish together.

Can you give us non-power users some advice on Digg submissions and how to get more Diggs?

The best way to get Diggs is to submit quality content and to network with other users.

How do you see Digg evolving over the next few months and years?

One of the main things that I’m extremely excited about is Digg’s upcoming recommendation engine. Once that is in place, I think the overall Digg experience will be much better.

Some brilliant stuff there, I recommend you read through all of the articles Muhammad has linked too and think about how he interacts with Digg, compared to yourself. You can view his Digg profile here with his impressive 33% popular ratio, from 3,826 stories!

Posted in Social Marketing | 9 Comments »

New Digerati Tool: Stumble Crawler

Monday, January 21st, 2008

It’s a busy time here at the Digerati Labs. There’s lots of sweat, coding and shackled up monkeys working around the clock to bring you some sweet stuff.

In final testing, to be released this week for the Elite SEO Tool Subscribers, I present:

Stumble Crawler

What does the new kid on the block, do?
If you’re running a website with loads of user generated content, viral content or disposable stuff you need this app. Or perhaps you just have too many sites to keep under control? I hate having to click “stumble” and review all of my posts individually, it takes bloody ages.

So, whack in your websites URL and this lovely app will crawl through your website and return as many pages as you so wish. Bung in your Stumble login details and it will set to work, stumbling your pages/posts at random intervals that you specify parameters for. Got a 500 post blog? Give it an hour while you drink tea and watch Adsense earnings go up and it will get the lot Stumbled for you.

It works with newly discovered and adult pages, too. Boom.

Posted in Digerati News, Grey Hat, Social Marketing | 17 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 »