Why we Chose E-junkie.com for our Online Store

Eagle eyed followers of this blog might have noticed that yesterday marked two special occasions for Guerrilla Wordfare. The first was obviously the launch of the much anticipated book three in the Rhyn Trilogy “Rhyn’s Redemption”. The second event had much less fanfare but was still significant; we launched our online store on this site.

Since day one a big part of our strategy has been to make Lizzy’s books available to readers across the world including places where Amazon doesn’t reach. India has been and likely always will be one of our biggest reader bases. Several of Lizzy’s readers have requested alternate methods of buying her books and now we have those in place. The system we use also enables Lizzy to start doing something she’s been mulling over for quite a while, an affiliate program. For these reasons and many more Lizzy has been on me to turn our site into an e-commerce site for some time but between my day job and nighttime SEO/webmaster duties it’s always been pushed down on my to-do list. We finally decided to get it out this weekend for the launch of “Rhyn’s Redemption and I’m glad we did.

I wanted a system in place that requires zero effort once setup. I want someone to click a button, buy a book, receive their book and the only notification I want is an email letting me know it happened. I started off by examining several of the different shopping cart options or other methods that we could use to deliver digital content instantly. I did quite a bit of reading and testing and ended up choosing a provider that I felt very comfortable with, E-junkie.com. In addition to low prices, the best options of any provider I found and ease of use, E-junkie.com also comes with the peace of mind of being one of the biggest providers out there. Their Alexa rank is around 3,000 and when I Googled “digital content providers” they came back as the top organic result. I don’t automatically use the biggest provider of a service (otherwise I would use Aweber instead of MailChimp for our mailing list) but it’s nice to know that your cart provider has the scalability and reliability that comes with size. We haven’t had the shop open for 24 hours yet but it’s already handled 235 transactions like a champ. I’ve been programming computers for most of my life but when it comes to keeping payment information secure, I’ll go ahead and use a professional.

There were a few things that I really wanted to make sure that the option we picked had. We’re looking at shopping cart options is not just a matter of of something will work or not it’s a matter of finding something that the buyer will feel comfortable with. There’s been several times in my life that I’ve started to buy something online but really didn’t like the look of the payment system didn’t feel comfortable giving them my info and so I ended up canceling the purchase. There’s also been a few times when I started to buy something and couldn’t complete the checkout process due to a slow loading or buggy payment system. Due to these factors I wanted a cart that kept the visitor on our page as long as possible. Several of the bigger providers like getdpd.com take you offsite every time you check your cart. Neither I nor Lizzy liked that. If you haven’t already take a second to check out our shop and try it out (it’s the “shop” option at the end of the row at the top of this site). You don’t even have to buy anything. When you add an item to the cart it doesn’t take you to an entirely new site, it just shows you what’s in your cart. Only when you go to checkout does it take you to PayPal. There are a lot of other payment options like Google checkout that we haven’t configured yet.

The second feature that I will wasn’t willing to budge on was that the card had to accept PayPal. I know not everyone loves PayPal but nearly everyone uses it. I love it because it acts as a trustworthy middle man between my payment details and the site where I’m shopping. If I’m looking at two sites to purchase something I will always choose the site which has PayPal as an option. I looked at one site (gumroad.com) that had no monthly fees, but also no options and no PayPal option. I would much rather pay a few dollars a month for a system I like than try to work with one that will frustrate me and likely cost us sales.

I only had one previous experience with E-junkie.com, which was when I purchased my Facebook ad coupon several months ago. The process was quick and painless. The more I started to dig into all of the options that becoming an E-junkie.com seller provided, the more I fell in love. Every option I could think of (discount codes with every imaginable option, affiliate programs, link expiration dates etc.) was in there. Adding items to our store was quick and easy but there is one caveat that I mentioned in the video that I must mention here.

A lot of our readers download our content on their mobile devices instead of a computer. Unless you want frustrated buyers (who usually don’t become repeat buyers) then you need to provide downloads for actual .pdf, .mobi and .epub files, not just all three combined into one .zip file. We learned this lesson the hard way. Most providers offer their content delivery services in a monthly fee which entitles you to sell a certain number of products. I originally thought I would go with getdpd.com so I emailed their tech support and asked them if I could associate three files with one product. They replied back the next day and said that I could not and had to use a workout of creating each file type as one product, and then have a fourth product which was a bundle of those three other products. Easy enough to do, but when you realize that the $16 a month 30 product plan will only handle 7 books, it becomes less attractive. As I started to look around I realized that this was a common issue and E-junkie.com is no different. So when you look at the $5 a month 10 product plan, that will only be 2 books if you use the 4 product bundle method. The good news is that the plans on E-junkie.com stay cheap. You can get a 20 product plan for $10 a month or a 40 product plan for $15 a month. I’ve included a YouTube video where I demonstrate how to create a product for each file type and then create a bundle combining all three.

I’m sure that every digital content delivery option system has their pros and cons, but E-junkie.com was a perfect fit for us and I honestly can’t think of anything I would change about it (outside of the 4 product bundle thing common to a lot of providers). I rarely place affiliate links on this site because whenever I go to a “review” site with affiliate links, you always have to question if the reviewer had an undeservedly favorable opinion. For this reason I only place affiliate links to sites that I have no problems with and recommend to my friends. I recommend hostgator.com to someone at work at least once a week. If you have had a good or bad experience with any digital content delivery system please post them here.

How to Make a Squidoo Lens

video showing how to make a squidoo lensSunday I wrote an article talking about using web 2.0 sites such as Squidoo and Hubpages to create your own backlinks to your main site. Below is an 11 minute video showing a Squidoo Lens being created from start to finish.

All web 2.0 sites have different criteria for determining if outbound links count as votes in Google’s eyes (DOFOLLOW) or if they are working links, but links which pass no authority (NOFOLLOW). NOFOLLLOW links are still useful but DOFOLLOW are preferred.

Squidoo makes it really easy to determine if your link is DOFOLLOW. If your Squidoo lens is blue on your dashboard then your lens is “featured” and your links are good. If your Squidoo lens is red on your dashboard then your lens is a “work in progress” and your links are NOFOLLOW.

The algorithm that Squidoo uses to determine if your link can be affected somewhat by visitors, but the main factor is having updated content on your site. With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re making your Squidoo lens.

How to make a Squidoo lens featured

1: Make sure your Squidoo score is 91 after you press publish. Everything except for the “being liked by a giant squid” and “get 20 likes” are 100% within your control and very quick and easy to accomplish.
2: Break your text into separate modules whenever possible.
3: Use modules that will automatically update with no effort on your part. A few of these options are RSS feeds, YouTube feeds and Google News feeds.
4: Check in once a week or so and make sure your lens is featured. If it’s gone red, just go add a small amount of content and it should go back to featured status within 24 hours.

I’m sure a lot of you will think up creative ways to utilize Squidoo pages to help support your web presence. Be sure to post them here as I’d love to check them out.

Creating Your Own Web 2.0 Backlinks

Wholesome Web 2.0 BacklinksI’ve written several articles in the past about the traditional ways to acquire links to your website, which include blog comments, forum posts and link exchanges with other sites within your industry. In my next few posts, I’m going to discuss Web 2.0 backlinks. Creating this kind of backlink is another method to get links to your website to help boost your ranking with Google. This particular method is unlike my previous posts about link exchanges with strangers.  Instead, you will learn how, where, and why to create other mini-sites that link back to your main site. As a reminder: back links are important. A link from a strong site is like a vote of coolness for your website. The stronger the site, the more influence that vote has with Google rankings.

When people first learn about the method Google uses to rank sites in its search results, more than a few probably think “I’ll make several websites, point them at each other, dominate the Google rankings and then dive into my swimming pole of money like Scrooge McDuck.” There are two main problems with this, mainly that it takes a huge investment in time and money.

The time investment is obvious: building and maintaining a decent website can be a grueling process. The money issue comes from the fact that Google is aware that people try this tactic, so they ignore links to a website from other websites hosted by the same IP address. You would have to have a different hosting plan on different servers for each one of your sites in order to make this method work. I’m far too busy and cheap to make either one of these things happen.

The basic concept of making your own backlinks is getting a little bit easier thanks to “web 2.0” sites like Squidoo.com and Hubpages.com . Sites like these make it fairly simple to make a small, single-page “micro site” with content about any topic you want. A lot of SEO professionals call the links created from these sites “Web 2.0 Backlinks“. These types of sites virtually eliminate the two problems addressed above, as they are easy to make (once you get the hang of it) and they are free. With sites such as these, you can create your personal army of tiny micro-sites that can contain a link to your main site. The reason I’m going to do a different post for Squidoo and Hub is because they are not always the most intuitive sites to use. (Just ask Lizzy.) It’s important to understand the different building blocks to make links from the micro-site count as votes in Google’s eyes. In addition, keep in mind these are not one-shot solutions. Micro-sites like these are like house plants and require a little bit of time and periodic fertilizing to keep them alive.

What kind of web 2.0 backlinks are right for you?

If you’re wondering what type of content to write about, write about whatever people could be searching for that you would like to lead them to you. If you write science fiction books, it’s probably not a bad idea to write a few pages about those. Lizzy writes romance ebooks so I made a Squidoo page about… wait for it… Romance eBooks at http://www.squidoo.com/romance-ebooks . Her books are popular with young adult readers so I made a page about young adult authors at http://www.squidoo.com/young-adult-romance-authors . Now there are two sites about topics related to Lizzy with links to Lizzy’s site. Since I keep them up-to-date – and they’re not hosted on our server – Google counts them as votes (not huge votes but votes nonetheless) and all is right with the world. Web 2.0 backlinks at their finest and easiest.

Are web 2.0 backlinks worth the time?

If the question in your mind isn’t “what should I write about?” but rather “are making these worth it?” then the answer for you may likely be no. Most people don’t pay much attention to their search engine rankings and therefore don’t care about things like this. However, if you’re the type of person who monitors their search engine rankings and is tired of trying to negotiate more link exchanges (more sympathetic I could not be), then the idea of being anti-social and creating your own link may sound like the greatest thing ever.

I’ll probably end up doing several more web 2.0 backlinks posts but my first two will be a Squidoo article and video this week (Thursday) and a Hub page article and video next week.  As always, feel free to shoot me any question and you’ll receive my uneducated but honest opinion. 🙂

2011 Year in Review from a Technical Perspective

I know Lizzy is planning on doing a 2011 year-in-review from her perspective, so I thought I would do a quick look back at 2011 from my perspective as the “tech guy” for the site. I’ve been seriously slacking lately on my technical articles, but I promise I have a few new ones coming out soon. Between spending holiday time with Lizzy, working 50+ hours a week, trying to teach myself electronics (seriously) and reading (I’m currently about halfway through the 4th book in the “Game of Thrones” series by George R. Martin) I’ve just let a few things go lately, including my SEO/social media experiments.

We started at the beginning of 2011 with a brand new web address with no site and no visitors. While Lizzy was busy cranking out her first book, I built the site using WordPress, and we were off and running. Our Alexa rank in January was over 13 million, which means we had few-to-no real visitors (aside from us.)

My first goal was to make sure that if anybody was looking for Lizzy, that they would find her. That job was simple enough. Placing her profile and books at several locations across the internet vaulted our page to the top of any “Lizzy Ford” queries. With that established, I decided to try to go after people who were looking not specifically for a particular author, but rather certain genres of books. This proved quite a bit more difficult as there are a lot more websites trying to get ranked for “romance ebooks” then there are “Lizzy Ford”.

In order to get our site ranked for more competitive terms I put in A LOT of hours doing link building work. I’ve gotten a lot better at it now and learned some great shortcuts, but it really wasn’t fun at the beginning. The worst part by far trying to negotiate reciprocal link exchanges. I was amazed by both the lack of responses and rejection I got when I tried that path, especially from people who probably would’ve benefitted more by being linked to our site than we would theirs. Reciprocal links were – and are – an important part of link building, but it isn’t fun.

Battling for web traffic really is a war of attrition. Similar to selling books, people seem to randomly explode for no apparent reason, but usually it’s a slow and steady climb up the charts. The first half of the year, the biggest spike in traffic our site was 2,333 visits during the week of February 13th through the 19th when Lizzy launched “Damian’s Assassin”. At the time that spike seemed otherworldly. However, in the second half of the year, 2,333 visits for the week would be the lowest we’ve seen in the past six months.

Our Alexa ranking has gone from around 13 million at the beginning of the year to 164,777 now. That means our site is the 164,777th most visited site on the internet. That may not seem super impressive, but it’s a good ranking and I’m proud of it. I remember looking at sites with rankings in the 200,000s at the beginning of the year and thinking we would never get that high.  As I write this, we’re at the bottom of the first page on Google for the term “romance ebooks”. I would be lying if I said i didn’t do a little dance when we passed up Barnes and Nobel for the #10 spot 🙂

One thing I wish I would have focused on sooner was social media. I encouraged Lizzy to get on Facebook and Twitter from the very beginning and to be active and she did a great job with it. It wasn’t until the end of the year that I started to get a good grasp on a solid methodology to use for Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter methodology I talked about in an October article has boosted Lizzy’s followers to over 2,000. The good part is that they are all targeted for a phrase they mentioned or a person they followed, so it’s not just 2,000 random people but 2,000 people who have an interested in romance ebooks. The bad part is that we didn’t start using the methodology until October! We should be around the 5,000 follower mark a year from now.

On the Facebook side it’s all about using Facebook ads, but we used a really good strategy to go from a few hundred fans to over 1,000 fans in about a week and for not much money. I talked about this experiment in a few different articles. Once again, these people were all laser targeted for a specific term. I’m not interested in thousands and thousands of followers; I’m interested in a solid core of followers who are interested in what Lizzy has to offer.

I didn’t want to get into specifics in this article, because the ‘how’ methodology of the above has been covered in my SEO and social media articles. I just wanted to outline the gains we’ve made this year. If you had a good year with your blog or website I would love to hear about your success and what you did to achieve it.

How to Automate Social Bookmarking for Free

social bookmarking automation screenshot
Earlier, I wrote an article discussing social bookmarking 101 and demonstrating how quick and easy it was to share your new content with four of the major social bookmarking sites. I also said that there were thousands of smaller sites that probably weren’t worth your time unless you could submit your content to several of them in a few seconds worth of work. I promised to share a site with you that would help you accomplish this task and the day to share has come.

After the video I’ll talk a little bit more about the site and list the social bookmarking sites that it uses.

It really doesn’t get much easier than that does it?

Imautomator.com is a free social bookmarking automation website that lets you submit to 15 different social bookmarking sites in a few seconds. The IM in IMAutomator.com stands for internet marketing and that is the targeted audience for the site. The pro version of the site adds extra options but is a little pricey, the free version only let’s you submit to social bookmarking sites but that’s just fine by us.

IMAutomator.com picks 15 sites out of the 38 listed at the bottom of this article to submit your site to. By default, it submits one link per day for the next 15 days. both of these things are to avoid patterns and make the links look as natural as possible.

None of these links will drive much traffic to your site but it will give you 15 new links which will eventually find their way into Google. If you have a newer site and your still trying to build those first links to get started this site can be a great help. One of the biggest things social bookmarking sites can offer is helping new sites get indexed by Google quickly.

Social Bookmarking Sites used by IMAutomator

Aviation Central [PR 2] – http://aviationcentral.net/
Bildu [PR 4] – http://www.bildu.net/
Buzzup UK [PR 2] – http://buzzup.com/uk/
Chicken Monkey Pie Bookmarks [PR 3] – http://www.chickenmonkeypie.com/
Clickets [PR 2] – http://www.clickets.de/
DoFollow 008 [PR 2] – http://www.df008.info/
DgDig [PR 0] – http://www.dgdig.com/
Diigo [PR 7] – http://www.diigo.com/
Dropjack [PR 6] – http://www.dropjack.com/
Flashahead [PR 2] – http://www.flashahead.info/
FoxBizz [PR 2] – http://www.foxbizz.com/
Hillera [PR 1] – http://hillera.com/
Hitmarks [PR 6] – http://hitmarks.com/
iFizzle [PR 2] – http://www.ifizzle.com/
Multiply [PR 7] – http://multiply.com/
NewsVoid [PR 2] – http://newsvoid.com/
Online Social Bookmarking Site [PR 2] – http://www.onlinebookmarkingsite.com/
Orangify [PR 4] – http://orangify.com/
Qofari [PR 0] – http://qofari.com/
Suffil [PR 1] – http://suffil.com/
Tagza [PR 6] – http://tagza.com/
URL.ORGanizer [PR 5] – http://url.org/
Vebsky [PR 2] – http://vebsky.com/
Yemle [PR 3] – http://yemle.com/
Bookmarkdig [PR 1] – http://www.bookmarkdig.com/
CCorpcom [PR 1] – http://www.corpcom.us/
Daily News Hype [PR 1] – http://www.dailynewshype.com/
Ebaum’s World [PR 6] – http://www.ebaumsworld.com/
Fun.marx [PR 2] – http://funmarx.com/
Informica [PR 2] – http://infomica.com/
Jims Free Links [PR 0] – http://www.jimsfreelinks.com/
Link Bookmarker [PR 1] – http://linkbookmarker.com/
My News Marker [PR 1] – http://mynewsmarker.com/
OneView [PR 6] – http://www.oneview.com/
Social-Bookmarking.Net [PR 6] – http://www.social-bookmarking.net/
Trulili [PR 1] – http://www.trulili.com/
V12 Network [PR 3] – http://v12.me/
Youblr [PR 6] – http://youblr.com/

That’s a lot of free, quick and easy social bookmarking!

Tips for Starting a Website

When people find out that you’re a “computer guy,” they ask you a lot of questions. I think “Which laptop should I buy?” is the current leader. One of the other popular questions is “I want to start a website, what do I do?”. You’re on your own for the laptop question, but I’ll give my thoughts on the website question here. If you already have website, this article may not for you, but feel free to forward to a friend or family member who is thinking about starting one.

The first choice you likely face: should you use a free blogging site (like blogger) or buy your own domain? There are many good reasons why you should buy your own domain, and only one real negative one, which is: you’re going to spend around $80 a year for your domain name and hosting. If that price is acceptable to you, go for it.

A gentle warning: don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll start off with a free blog and transition later to your own domain. While you can copy and paste your articles to your new site and tell your fans where you’re moving, any authority and credibility you’ve built with Google stays with the original blog and is not conveyed to your new website. You do NOT want to split the authority and credibility you’ve established with Google. One website on page one of Google search results gets far more traffic then two separate websites on page 2 or 3.

Ok, I’ve broken down the main steps in creating your website.

Step 1: Choose and buy your domain name (.com)

Go to godaddy.com and start plugging in names you like until you find one that’s available. Me personally, I buy the .com I want, pay a couple of extra bucks for a private registration (to cut down on spam) and that’s it. Godaddy will try to up sell you on EVERYTHING, but don’t fall for it. The links in this article are affiliate links. I get a few cents if you buy extra services from Godaddy, and I’m still telling you just to grab your .com and make it private.

The first thing they will try to do is convince you that you need the other extensions. “Grab the .net & .org before your competitors do!” . “You want your site to be visible on on peoples phones right?? Make sure you buy the .mobi!”. I never buy them, and I tell my friends not to waste their money either.

The next round of upsell is the most devious of all. “You want your site to be visible in search engines? You need our search engine power pack!!” & “You want email right? add on this option”. Don’t fall for it. The stuff they’re offering is free elsewhere. Trust me. The private registration is all I ever pay for. People who consult with me first about their websites end up with a $18-$20 bill from Godaddy a year. Those who talk to me me about their Godaddy experience after they’ve paid have usually paid over $200 for things that Godaddy makes them believe are necessities.

Why even use them at all then? Because they’re cheap, and most importantly, stable. If you buy your .com from ebay or some site you’ve never heard of, there’s a chance that they go out of business or one of 1000 other malicious things happen to your site.  You’re then fighting for control of your own website. Sound far-fetched? I’ve seen it with my own eyes from a cheap domain name registration/web hosting package on ebay. Don’t do it. Give Godaddy their $18-$20 a year and move on to step 2.

Step 2: Web Hosting

The last round of Godaddy up-selling is website hosting. They offer the lure of your website already being there, you might as well host it there. Where to begin with this one….

I’ll start off by saying their web hosting is bare bones. Things that a lot of other web-host’s throw in for free (like email) they don’t, because they try to charge you for it. If that alone doesn’t seem like a deal breaker, check this story out.

When we first started this site, we bought the domain from Godaddy and a hosting package as well. There were a lot of features that good hosts have that Godaddy either didn’t or wanted to charge extra for but nothing that forced us to switch. Our first big day came on January 25th, 2011 when “Damain’s Oracle” hit the front page of getfreeebooks. Our site had 271 visits that day and we were thrilled!! Our baseline after that was around 100 visits a day, but we were just waiting until “Damian’s Assassin” hit getfreeebooks for our next big spike. Our website started to run a lot slower than it should of (Google even flagged our site as flow saying it took around 7 seconds to load) and our site seemed to go down a lot. I contacted Godaddy support and they assured me that they were working on it. I knew I should have switched hosts, but it was already paid for and I didn’t want to deal with the hassle.

The day we had been waiting for came March 14th. “Damian’s Assassin” hit the front page of getfreeebooks and hundreds of people clicked on the cover to download it. What a lot of them found was a website that tried to load for a long time and then failed. We felt like our big break had arrived, and we were wasting it. A few hundred visitors was a ton to us, but nothing close to the amount of traffic it takes to crash a server. I instantly called Godaddy tech support and basically got a yawn in reply. They were working on it, maybe in a week or so. Of course in well under a week, “Damian’s Assassin” would be off the front page of getfreeebooks and our opportunity wasted.

A non-technical podcast that I listened to a few months early had spent half of one episode raving about hostgator and how good their technical support and customer service was. I knew they were one of the biggest and most popular. Based on the podcast’s recommendation and our site (which was down for a day at that point) I got an account from hostgator that afternoon. When I got home from work that evening, our website was still a joke, loading up in about 15 seconds, if it even loaded up. I backed up all of the files for our site and tried to work up the nerve to transfer them to another server. I moved the files, modified some code, and after about a grueling hour I went to load up our site and got an error message. I had been a hostgator customer for only a few hours and it was already time to put their famous customer service to the test.

I went to their website site and there were 3 options: email, chat and 24 hour phone, all of which were 100% free. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, so I picked chat. Within seconds, a rep joined the chat with me. We spent several minutes trying to figure it out, and nothing worked.  What we found was that the hosting wasn’t the problem – I’d done something wrong with my WordPress migration.  What was awesome, though, was how much the customer service rep knew. A LOT of companies wouldn’t have helped me, because their hosting wasn’t the problem. After ten minutes or so, he said he was going to go grab his WordPress expert. A minute later he came back and within two minutes he said ok, the problem is fixed and explained to me what the problem was. I tested our site and it worked great. That was by far the best tech support experience I’ve ever had in my life, and hostgator made me a fan for life. I haven’t used tech support one time since, but I now understand the hype from the commercials.

In addition to the tech support, they are also cheap. Their basic plan, which is all you need, starts at $4 a month, and they offer everything you could imagine, all for free. Email, easy WordPress setup, unlimited bandwidth and storage space, all for $4 a month. Switching to them was the best move I’ve made.

These horror stories weren’t to scare you away from getting a webpage.  These are just things I wish I would have known before I started. Last week my buddy Lee at work told me he wanted to make a webpage. I told him what I’ve told you here. When I walked in the next morning he couldn’t wait to call me over to his desk. He showed me the site he had made the night before. He bought his .com from Godaddy, got his hosting at hostgator and setup WordPress at hostgator (which takes literally about five minutes). He even had two articles on there and had a nice banner and background. His total cost for a year’s domain registration at Godaddy and a year of hosting at hostgator was about $80. It’s not hard and it’s really quick, as long as you make the right decision from the beginning. He will most likely never have a problem on his site like I had.

Another note of caution: if you’re considering trying one of the free web-hosting services, be very, very careful. One thing that Google looks at is the IP address that your site is hosted at, and if you’re hosted in what Google considers a “bad neighborhood,” then your rankings and web traffic will suffer severely. If your website is hosted on the same server as adult content, hate sites or other things that Google frowns upon, then you will find yourself almost invisible on Google. I haven’t experienced this problem yet, but there have been people who’ve poured a ton of time and resources doing SEO work on a site and were unable to figure out why they weren’t seeing an improvement in their rankings. One day they thought to do a scan of other sites on that IP and saw that their web host had been kind enough to host them with several undesirable sites. After moving to a separate server and an “adjustment” period, their rankings rose to the appropriate level.

I really hesitate to spend money on anything related to our internet presence but the $80 or so you’ll end up paying your your .com and a reliable host is money well spent.

I’ll cover step 3, why you should strongly consider WordPress in a separate article.

One last thing, if you’re using something else for your website and you’re happy with it, STICK WITH IT!!! This article is mainly for those starting out and not an encouragement to leave something you’re happy with to go somewhere else.

Fiverr Review: Social Bookmarking Services

fiverr review screenshot
This will actually be two reviews for the price of one: one fiverr service I was less-than-impressed with and one service from someone I saw advertising in a forum that was actually a bit cheaper ($4) and a lot better.   Both services were offering social bookmarking services, as in, they would feed our site link to bookmarking sites.  I wanted to see if this type of service would increase traffic to our site or improve our standing with Google or both.

I’ve been a computer guy my whole life but I still can’t describe how much I’ve learned in 2011. I started focusing on SEO at the start of the year and have recently started to learn more about social media, social bookmarking and internet marketing in general. Writing this review makes me laugh realizing how much more I know now about social bookmarking then I did when I purchased this gig back in September.

Similar to the directory submission gig I purchased in September, I bought this service more to try to learn from the results then to gain a benefit for the website. I’m constantly performing little SEO experiments and this one was no different. The service was provided by alim87 and was for:

I will submit your website MANUALLY to Stumbleupon, Folkd, Delicious, Digg, Mixx, Linkagogo, Excite Bookmarks, Mylinkvault, Secondbrain, Twitter, a for $5

The MANUALLY part appealed to me as I didn’t have a good understanding of social bookmarking and am beyond paranoid about doing anything to anger Google. When I go to SEO forums I read tactics that would make me faint at the thought of trying them but those people have lots of sites, and if one gets banned, they will just make two more. We only have one site and we obviously can’t afford to do anything stupid with it, so I’m very careful with all these experiments I try.

A few days later I got a completed notification with these results as the report:

1. http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/alim874/
2. http://www.folkd.com/user/alim87
3. http://www.delicious.com/ndtara02
4. http://digg.com/sultanmd79
5. http://www.mylinkvault.com/alim87/page-1.htm
6. http://twitter.com/#!/MDSULTAN3
7. http://www.myspace.com/571636139
8. http://blinklist.com/users/raisulislam02
9. http://www.allmyfaves.com/alim8773/
10. http://bookmarks.excite.co.uk/user/alim87
11. http://www.oneview.com/user/samad5124/
12. http://www.delicious.com/nahidmia15
13. http://www.delicious.com/miabelayet58
14. http://www.delicious.com/sakilmd26
15. http://www.delicious.com/ranamd07
16. http://www.delicious.com/hasanmd07
17. http://www.delicious.com/mohonmd35

The seller did what he said he would do, it just wasn’t too terribly much. I still left him a positive review beacuse he delivered what he said he would and it was only $5.

After I learned more about social bookmarking, I learned that it was pretty safe as long as you didn’t do anything too stupid (like blast hundreds of bookmarks to a brand new site) so I decided to try a second social bookmarking gig. I saw a provider who had good feedback and was offering his “50 social bookmarking submissions” service for $4. I decided to give it a whirl and was very pleased with the results. He ended up doing 53 submissions instead of 50 and emailed me an excel report complete with a URL for each submission so I could verify the submission. By far the best report I’ve received from the few providers I tried.

For those of you wanting to try this at home, here are the 53 sites he submitted our site to:

http://www.google.com/reader
http://www.twitter.com
http://www.flickr.com/
http://www.google.com/bookmarks/
http://www.reddit.com
http://delicious.com/
http://www.livejournal.com
http://www.plurk.com
http://www.tumblr.com
http://www.diigo.com
http://www.folkd.com
http://www.oneview.de
http://www.squidoo.com
http://www.stumbleupon.com
http://identi.ca/
http://www.multiply.com
http://www.oknotizie.virgilio.it
http://www.jaiku.com/
http://www.blinklist.com/
http://hotklix.com/
http://www.linkagogo.com
http://segnalo.virgilio.it/
http://faves.com/
http://linkarena.com/
http://clipmarks.com/
http://www.buddymarks.com/
http://www.tagza.com
http://www.url.org
http://amplify.com/
http://www.a1-webmarks.com/login.html
http://www.mylinkvault.com/users/
http://www.sponter.com
http://www.ikeepbookmarks.com
http://www.myhq.com/
http://www.insertcoins.be
http://www.medical-articles.net/
http://www.oyax.com/
http://www.ohter.com
http://www.orangify.com
http://www.jeqq.com
http://www.youreldora.com
http://www.corank.com/
http://www.humsurfer.com
http://www.stumpedia.com
http://www.cadillactight.net/
http://www.webmaster911.com/
http://www.tweako.com/
http://bookmarks.oneindia.in/
http://www.tagbox.de/
http://www.aboogy.com
http://www.murl.com
http://www.sitejot.com/
http://thuhm.com/

Not bad for $4!

If I was to grade the specific providers, I would give the fiverr provider a 2/5 and the mystery forum provider a 5/5. The fiverr provider did exactly what he said he would do, and the emphasis was on the manual aspect rather then the total amount of sites he submitted to. However, after seeing the report from the second provider, it was hard not to be impressed.

I’m also going to give two grades for social bookmarking submission services in general. If you have a site with very few links, I would rate this type of service as a 4/5 with a caveat to be careful and choose a small package first (similar to my first example), so as not to double your site’s links in one shot. Doing so looks unnatural to Google, and you don’t want Google to push you into their Sandbox/penalty box.  If you have an established site and are looking to drive traffic to it, I would rate this as a 1/5. Neither service would’ve brought me one direct visitor, but they did improve my websites internet profile by a small amount.

Social Bookmarking 101

social bookmarking screenshot
I’ve got a few posts scheduled to come out over the next few weeks discussing social bookmarking so I thought it would be a good idea to start off with a short post covering the basics.

Social bookmarking sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg & Delicious are designed to let internet surfers “bookmark” pages they like and share them with other users. If you have a blog or a website this is obviously behavior that you want to encourage. I wrote a few weeks ago about using the ShareThis plugin to make it easy for your site’s visitors to share your site with social bookmarking sites so I won’t talk about that part of the “how to” here.

Advantages of Social Bookmarking

There are a two big advantages to using social bookmarking. The first one is that it can work as intended and bring users to your site. We’ve never never gotten a huge flood of traffic from any social bookmarking site but what traffic we have gotten is well over 90% new visitors. Bringing new eyes to your site is never a bad thing.

The other big advantage of social bookmarking is that when you submit your article to these sites, you’re placing a link on those sites to yours. These aren’t mega valuable links (since there are so many of them) but they’re not bad links either and they will help with your site’s SEO.

Is there a Disadvantage to Social Bookmarking?

Not really but there are a few caveats. The first being that one person sharing your post will probably not bring in a flood of visitors. It’s possible, but usually it takes a few people sharing a post to get it to rise up to where other people see it. When we share our articles they usually don’t catch on, but when we share author interviews they sometimes do since in addition to us sharing it, the authors are sharing it and encouraging their friends to share it too. That’s exactly how social bookmarking was designed to work. Some people try to jump start this process by having multiple accounts on each of the big social bookmarking sites but that brings us to the second caveat, time.

I only set up one account at a few major social bookmarking sites and it was still a pain in the butt. I can’t imagine trying to set up multiple accounts on multiple sites. Even with one account per site social bookmarking can still be a time sink and nothing is more valuable to authors then time. Like most of my SEO and social media activities I try to find out where the point of diminishing returns is and stop there. With social bookmarking so far that has been Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg & Delicious. In the video below I show how quick and easy it is to share your new content on these sites.

Reddit picked that time to make me verify my email account but you got the picture as far as the small amount of time it took. Doing these steps will cover you for the major social bookmarking sites but there are literally thousands of smaller social bookmarking sites on the internet besides these. Are they worth time? The answer is probably no unless you can find a way to do several with only a few seconds worth of work.

These smaller sites are almost guaranteed to not bring you traffic but they can still provide links which can help your site’s SEO a tiny bit. In my usual style I have scoured the internet and found a site which will let you submit your content to over a dozen random smaller social bookmarking sites for absolutely free. The best part is it’s even quicker to do that then it is to do the four I showed in this video. I’ve got the article written, the video made and I’ll be posting it next week.

Fiverr Review – Directory Submission Service

fiverr review directory submission

Click to view full size

The first fiverr gig I purchased was a “submit your site to 40 internet directories” offer from seller softtouch66. Since it was the first fiverr gig I purchased it might as well be our site’s first fiverr review. Let me first state that I don’t know softtouch66 and I’m not saying he provides the best service in this area. He is just who I choose to try for my first fiverr experience back in early September.

I ordered the service and was told that the expected delivery date was in three days. I did indeed get a “your order has been completed” notification three days later but there was an error stating that the attachment had been corrupted. I choose the “reject sellers work” button and asked for a re-upload of the attachment. Within five minutes the seller re-uploaded the report and I immediately accepted the work and left positive feedback. If you want to see what the report looked like I’ve included a picture of it in this post.

The report has the name of the directory, the Pagerank of the site, whether the submission was only submitted or instantly listed (only five were instantly listed) and the URL for the five that were listed. One important note is that the Pagerank is for the site itself and not for the page which your link will be on. A lot of people will advertise your link on a site with a PR of 5, but then bury your link on a page of the site with a PR of 0 or 1. This isn’t a big issue, just something to keep in mind.

I didn’t think that this gig would make a huge difference in my search engine but I was curious to see which 40 sites the provider would submit my site to. I know that DMOZ and Yahoo are the two biggest directories but I thought that maybe I would discover one or two other good ones. The 40 the seller used are listed below with the sites Pagerank.

40 sites from this service

Sr Directory
Name
PR
1 flashthief.com 3
2 httprevealer.com 3
3 filmington.com 4
4 help-on.net 4
5 jam2007.com 2
6 oxenoxen.com 3
7 williamsburgwarriors.org 4
8 pbhelp.com 3
9 onemission.com 5
10 freewebsitedirectory.com 3
11 geeez.com 3
12 ladder97.com 2
13 nju-jp.com 4
14 rankbl.com 2
15 yourjoker.com 4
16 piyy.com 3
17 freeprwebdirectory.com 6
18 busybits.com 5
19 seagrance.net 4
20 kiwidir.com 5
21 somuch.com 5
22 skoobe.biz 5
23 marketingwebdirectory.com 3
24 submissionwebdirectory.com 4
25 sitepromotiondirectory.com 4
26 hydeparkbooks.com 4
27 acsprf-ar.org 4
28 africancouncilcomed.org 4
29 auhana.com 4
30 cultuurtechnologie.net 5
31 imadec.com 4
32 kacsca.com 4
33 permacharge.com 4
34 rdarestructuring.com 4
35 secondwavesystems.com 4
36 pxdaj.com 4
37 nuoret.org 4
38 linkaddurl.com 4
39 9sites.net 4
40 webnetclick.com 3

I just checked the five submissions that were listed and four of the five URLs still have a link to my site. For the other 35 you’re basically taking the sellers word that they submitted your site to them. You could always check back in a few weeks but I never did. A bit on the lazy side, but hey, that’s why I’m using fiverr in the first place 🙂 I just check a few of the 35 and didn’t see our site there. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t submit them or that they’re not there, I just didn’t see them.

Fiverr Review Results

This particular service isn’t necessary but it’s not a bad idea or a waste of $5. The effect of having a site listed in minor directories is debatable but SEO firms still do it so it’s definitely not a bad idea. With these links you could do it yourself, but it wouldn’t be quick or fun. I would rate the general “directory submission” concept as a 4/5 but this particular seller as a 3/5. The 3/5 may be totally unfair but it’s hard to give any higher with 35/40 on the report having no URL and a quick glance at a few of them not showing up when I search. I’m also not going to give any lower grade because the report was well laid out and I don’t doubt that he submitted my URL to all 40 sites.

I would probably try a different seller next time just to compare results but that’s a reflection of my curiosity rather than his results. And remember, that’s the main joy of Fiverr, it’s only five bucks!!! I hope you enjoyed my first Fiverr review. I’ve got several more planned and if people like them I’ll keep reviewing them.

Fiverr Tips

fiverr tips

The Things People Do For $5

For those who haven’t tried it yet, Fiverr.com is a site where people from all over the world post things that they are willing to do for $5. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing articles about my experiences with specific fiverr gigs.  This article will just be some general fiverr tips. Fiverr ends up keeping $1 for playing the middle man and the service provider gets $4. Using Paypal makes the process extremely fast and simple. The first question that probably popped into your mind when you first heard about Fiverr was “Is there anything on there that I would want or could help me?” The answer is probably yes, but you have to sift through a lot of other stuff to find them. I’m going to give a few fiverr tips on finding quality services and avoiding services which can do more harm than good.

A quick glance at the front page of fiverr shows that your hard earned $5 can buy you a video of a stuffed monkey saying your message, a physic reading and an attractive female who will claim to be your girlfriend on Facebook for a month. I’m not sure how Lizzy would feel about that last one. 🙂 The first of the Fiverr tips I will give is that instead of looking for a life changing service, you should look for things that you could do yourself but would rather not due to time involved (with things like directory submissions) or due to lack of skill (like me with graphic design). A lot of people write off fiverr as a lot of junk, the same way I used to hear people make the same claim about eBay 13 years ago. I think that they are completely missing the point.

If you start working on your site’s SEO and decide that you want your site submitted to 30 different internet directories, you can do it yourself or pay someone on Fiverr to do it for you. If you decide that the task is going to take you two hours to do, and you decide you would rather pay someone $2.50 an hour to do it for you, then you can find a well reviewed service provider to do it for you. That’s another big fiverr tip: make sure you check the providers reviews. Reviews aren’t a guarantee, as there are groups who provide fake fiverr reviews just like any other site on the internet.  However, if someone has a lot of positive reviews, then you should feel relatively safe. I also make sure to read the negative reviews for any hidden “gotcha’s” that aren’t discussed in the listing’s description. The good part is that – worst case with a service like this – you’re out 5 bucks. We’re going to talk about a few other bad scenarios in a bit.

The thing I love about fiverr is that I’ve been wanting to dabble in outsourcing for about a year, but it seemed little daunting to get started. Fiverr lets you take advantage of outsourcing without lengthy searches and without any commitments. There are a lot of “full service” businesses that charge a high fee and then hire multiple “sub-contractors” on fiverr. If you know reliable providers, it’s a great idea. For most of us that’s overkill though. We only have a few tasks that we don’t feel comfortable doing or don’t have the time to do. I’m going to talk about a few types of services that are a good idea and a few that are not so good.

Fiverr Tips : Good things to outsource

Graphics work – For me, this is the biggest no brainier on Fiverr. I use Photoshop or GIMP several times a week but I have no artistic ability whatsoever. I would much rather pay a few dollars to someone like Dafeenah and get something that looks great rather than spend an hour or two myself and end up with something that looks like a first graders art project.

Website / RSS directory submissions – These aren’t hard to do at all, but they can be time consuming. If you decide that you these things done you can spend some time or pay someone $5 while you read Lizzy’s books. 🙂

Press Release / Article submissions – The effectiveness of the press releases and article directories has plummeted since the Google update “Panda” earlier this year. They still MAY be worth doing, but they are extremely time consuming. If you can find someone to send your press release to 30 services for $5, that would save you some time.

Fiverr Tips : Bad things to outsource

Twitter followers – Anybody who has read me series of Twitter articles has no need for these services since I showed how to get targeted fans for free. 🙂 Still, there are a lot of people offering this service, so there must be a lot of people buying it. Long story short: the followers you get are going to be garbage. Regardless of what sellers say, the followers are likely not real people but rather fake accounts generated by automated bots. Even if they were real they would be random people rather than the specifically targeted people you can easily acquire yourself for free.

Facebook likes – These are tempting! Twitter followers are easy to get but Facebook likes take a lot of time and usually money. The lure of 1,000 new likes that somebody SWEARS are real people for only $5 seems like a no lose scenario. Every negative we discussed with Twitter applies to Facebook with a few extra bonus dangers at no additional charge. I said in the Twitter that the followers you got were likely real people. The scary part is that fake accounts are the better of the two alternatives! If they aren’t fake accounts, they are indeed going to be real people, real people whose accounts were tricked or hacked into following your account. When they notice that they are mysteriously following you when they never asked to, they aren’t going to be real happy.

When I decided to write this article, I spent some time in the seedy underbelly of the internet where people deal in things like Facebook likes to discover the methods. The “industry” standard was to provide about 90% fake accounts and 10% real people whose accounts would be hijacked with malicious code and made to like specific targets. Scary stuff which you should stay clear of.

Fiverr Tips : Dangerous things to outsource

Google +1 clicks – Trying to game Google is never a good idea, as the penalty for getting caught might be getting de-indexed in Google which is the internet equivalent of the death penalty. I read a post last week where a person bought 50 +1 clicks on his page from fiverr. The problem is that the 50 clicks came in a two hour period and all from IP addresses in India. His site was subsequently removed from Google. How’s this for the king of all fiverr tips: don’t do anything that may get your page removed from Google.

Anything that requires you giving someone Admin access to your site – This is a tricky one. About two months ago I discovered a WordPress plugin that I thought was worth buying. The plugin cost $20 to buy for your site or for $30 you could buy a “developer” license which let you install it on “client” sites. Since $5 is cheaper than $20 I decided to go to fiverr to try and find someone who had bought the developer license who could legally put it on our site.

I found two people on Fiverr who were advertising the plugin. I emailed the first seller and asked him if he had a legitimate developer license or if he was using a hacked version. He admitted that he was indeed using a hacked version so I thanked him for his honesty and went onto the next. The second seller stated that he had a legitimate developer license. The only caveat was that he needed temporary admin access to install the plugin on our site. The guy seemed legit but had no fiverr feedback and no website to point me to. Once someone has admin access to your site, they can modify any code they want, insert anything they want, etc. I decided that I just couldn’t risk giving someone access to our site’s backend just to save a few dollars.

I ended up buying the developers license of the plugin myself so I could install it on a friends site too. If I decide to try to install it as a fiverr service I’ll have to try to convince people that I can be trusted to go to their site, perform the installation and then leave without doing anything else. That would probably be worth its own article. 🙂 The morale of this story is if they need any type of access to perform the service, be VERY careful.

Links – buying back-links to your site is the trickiest fiverr service of them all to cover. I’ve talked about the dangers of buying links before so I won’t go into too much detail here.

A fiverr gig from a well reviewed seller that offers 10 links to your site that are manually acquired is probably safe. They aren’t likely to be relevant links so they probably won’t do too much to increase your site’s search engine visibility but they also probably won’t get you kicked out of Google.

On the opposite side of the link spectrum are the services which offer literally thousands of links to your site for $5. Some of these even claim (laughably) to be manually acquired. These can be every bit as dangerous as the +1 clicks we talked about earlier. If your site is an older and well established site that gets good traffic and natural links, then you may be able to survive a link bomb of this size. If however you have a new site or a site without a lot of traffic or links, there’s a much better chance Google will notice your newfound link bonanza and reward you with the dreaded “Google slap”.

I could easily find 100 website owners who have bought these services and had no ill effects, but I’m far too paranoid to try with our site.

This was intended to just be a general overview of fiverr tips for what’s safe and what’s not. Over the next few weeks I will be buying several fiverr services and posting my experiences here. If you’ve got any that you’ve had a good experience with feel free to post them here!!