Making Link Exchanges Work

Link exchanges have been part of the SEO toolkit for some time now.

In general, link exchanges don’t work they way most people do them. Search engines aren’t crazy about reciprocal site wide links, so putting another blog on your blogroll in exchange for them putting you on their blogroll isn’t going to do either of you very much good, SEO-wise.

The right way to do link exchanges is to find another site in your niche that you would like to have linking to you. Find a single post on that site that has some text you want as anchor text for a link to your site, and then convince the owner to make that text a link to your site. You can offer a link on a relevant post of yours.

Done this way, the link exchange looks natural to search engines, and you both get a boost in search engine results positioning.

How do you find these sites with owners who are willing to exchange links? Contact every suitable site in your niche, and ask. Yeah, that’s a lot of work, which is why most people don’t do it.

Well, while going through all the Site Build It! tools for my series of SBI! review posts, I came across a link exchange marketplace they offer, called the Site Sell Value Exchange.

You register your site with the exchange, and specify the niche for the site by entering the most common keywords you’re targeting, and a description of the site. The exchange then gives you a list of other sites that cover similar topics, and you can contact the site owners and offer to exchange relevant in-post links.

The exchange takes the hard work out of doing link exchanges right, by providing you with a list of sites whose owners are already willing to exchange links and who want you to contact them about it.

I know my SBI! posts lately have started to sound like I’m a big fan, but I am quickly becoming one. The more I see of the SBI! tools, the more it seems like they have everything put together extremely well. The exchange is just one of the publicly available examples.

Click here for more info on the Site Sell Value Exchange.

Site Build It! Day 6

I’m not finished creating content for my Site Build It! powered niche site yet, but have done enough to be able to comment on the tools.

The core of day 6 is the Site Builder tool. This is what allows anyone to create a professional website even if they know nothing about HTML.

Site Builder, like most of the SBI! tools, favors efficiency over glitz. The tool is not a What You See Is What You Get graphical editor of web pages, but a block by block editor. You can drop into your page multiple kinds of blocks, including headlines, text paragraphs, links, images, and more. You can also upload your own HTML if you prefer to write your own pages.

While I’m comfortable with writing HTML, I wanted to use Site Builder the same way a novice would. So I’m sticking with block by block editing.

The first step in Site Builder is to choose your site’s look and feel. There are around 100 prebuilt themes that you can use with a single click. Each can also be customized in various ways to make it your own. You can also use a completely custom theme by uploading the files to Site Builder.

The second step is to write your site’s home page. The home page does not have all the options that other pages in the site do. A home page is basically a headline and a big text block. The goal is to keep the home page simple, and get visitors to click through the various navigation links to other pages in the site. Site Builder does let you easily enter META keywords and description.

Where Site Builder really shines is in the Analyze It! button.

As you’re creating a page, you can click Analyze It! to get an evaluation of your page. It checks the keyword density of the page, the inter-site linking from page to page, the presence of the page’s keyword in key areas, etc. Basically, every SEO trick the Site Build It! team could come up with is programmed into Analyze It!. The result is that you don’t need to know SEO yourself in order to build a nicely optimized page. Just follow all the Analyze It! recommendations.

Some lesser used features that are also built into the tool are the ability to pop under one of your pages when your home page is displayed, and the ability to require a password be entered before a page can be viewed.

Day 6 also involves setting up email for your site. I opted to use Google Apps for the domain, and the SBI! guide has detailed instructions on getting that setup.

The only problem I had with Site Builder is that there’s no “save as draft” feature. So you can’t write a dozen interrelated pages and then publish them all at once. Pages must be ready for visitors when you publish them. This isn’t a problem when you first start building your site, since the search engines don’t know about it yet, but after you’ve started to get some traffic you need to make sure any page you publish is suitable to be seen by real visitors.

I estimate that I’ll have anywhere from 40 to 50 pages in the site when I’m done. The amount of keyword research credits Site Build It! gives you was more than enough for identifying the main keyword for the site, and the keywords for all the tier 2 pages. There won’t be enough, though, for identifying all the tier 3 keywords. And the SBI! keyword research tool is really overkill for tier 3 pages. I plan to use the Google Adwords keyword tool for tier 3 keywords, and save my remaining SBI! credits for researching entirely new niches.

I’d say I’m about 15% done with Day 6. Day 7 is about traffic generation, but I don’t expect I’ll be there for some time yet. Meanwhile, the neglected site on this same niche has been submitted to directories already, and is waiting for traffic to arrive.

Click here for a quick tour that includes some screenshots of Site Builder.

A Better WordPress Ping Plugin

One of my gripes with WordPress’ built in pinging functionality has been that it pings at the wrong times.

If I’m scheduling a post to be published later, it pings when I click Publish, not when the post is actually published. It also pings when I edit a post, not just when I publish. There’s no gain to be had from pinging too often, and pinging when there’s no new content on your site is a bad idea.

So I’d downloaded the Smart Update Pinger plugin, and have been using that for months now. That keeps WordPress from pinging when you edit a post or hit Publish on a scheduled post, but still doesn’t fix the problem of not pinging when the scheduled post is finally published.

So for months now I’ve been manually pinging every so often to let services know about my scheduled posts that have been published.

I finally found a plugin that does exactly what I want it to do. It does not ping on editing, or when hitting Publish on a schedule post, but does ping when the scheduled post is actually posted.

The plugin is MaxBlogPress’ Ping Optimizer. It’s available for free, although you do need to sign up to a list to get it. I installed it a few days ago, and have tested it minimally. It seems to ping when it should, and not ping when it shouldn’t.

Note that the plugin does have an incompatibility with version 3.0.2 of the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. I’ve notified the author of the Ping Optimizer plugin, so hopefully he’ll find a way to fix this.

My workaround for the moment is to disable the sitemap plugin until I want to rebuild the sitemap. Then I activate it, rebuild the sitemap, and deactivate it again. The sitemap.xml file it creates stays around even when the plugin is inactive.

Click here for MaxBlog Press’ Ping Optimizer.

The 12 Days of Marketing Christmas

Update: Thanks to mis-scheduled posting, this didn’t actually appear on the day after Thanksgiving…sorry about that, but for the sake of the post, pretend it is, and enjoy the weekend all over again.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States, and it’s traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

It’s also the day when anyone who hasn’t already decorated for Christmas does. So it’s a good time to mention the 12 Days of Christmas Internet Marketing giveaway.

This is something that Mark Hendricks does each year, where he convinces other marketers to give away original ebooks and products. Then for each of the 12 days before Christmas, you can log on and download your gifts for that day. Mark also donates 25% of the profits he makes on the project to charity.

What’s that you say, “How does he make profits if he gives away free gifts?”

Well, along with your free gift in the member’s area, you’ll also get links to special discounted items and other deals. You don’t have to take any of those to get your free gifts, but if you do Mark’ll get a commission. So giving away the free gifts is a way to get people to look at the money making links.

The gifts officially start appearing December 1st. More will appear every other day after that, until Christmas. To get you started, Mark has seeded the member’s area with a free gift of his own, six audio recordings of the Internet Success System Master Mind Teleconferences he runs.

Click here to sign up for the 12 Days of Christmas giveaway.

Online Opportunity Community Toolbar

I’ve been playing around with creating a community toolbar.

I initially started looking into this in order to put together a toolbar that had exactly the feeds and links I used on a daily basis. Then I realized that the capabilities of a community toolbar were much greater than I’d imagined.

Members of the community can send messages that the other members’ toolbars will pick up, or you can have a private chat page for just the people running the toolbar. The radio tuner alone makes it easier to listen to music while you’re surfing.

I’m still working on configuring the toolbar, but figured I’d make it available to readers, too. There’s a link in the sidebar under the feed subscription buttons. Click on it to install it into your web browser. The toolbar is certified virus and spyware free, so no worries there.

And, of course, it comes with a built-in link to Online Opportunity and the associated RSS feed so you’ve never more than a click away.

If you have any resources you’d love to be included into the toolbar, let me know.

Not Receiving Email When Someone Leaves A Comment in WordPress?

A blogging friend mentioned to me the other day that she was no longer getting emails when someone left a comment in her WordPress powered blog.

She was using WordPress 2.3, so my first thought was an incompatibility between a plugin and 2.3. After a bit of digging, it turns out that this problem has existed in earlier versions of WordPress, too. It seems to be an incompatibility between what the web host provides as far as PHP email services, and WordPress.

There’s a relatively simple fix, though.

Go into your web hosting control panel, and create a forwarding email for wordpress@domain, where domain is whatever your domain is. So for this blog, I’d use Have that email forward to your WordPress admin email.

Now you should start getting emails for comments again.

Note that the email you just added is not actually used to email the notifications. Those continue to go to the email you specified in your user profile in WordPress. But the email must exist for WordPress to be able to successfully send emails for comments.

So if you’re seeing this problem in WordPress, try creating that forwarding email.

Smart Business Formula Launches

This is a busy day!

Smart Business Formula has officially launched, about an hour ago. Click the link to see the sales page for the site.

The site sounds a lot like Online Opportunity, in that they’ll buy products and review them for members, so you don’t have to spend the money yourself. Except that by charging a membership fee, they’re able to afford the products more easily than I can!

They also provide a ton of instructional videos, and both short term and long term guides to making money online.

It’s pretty clear that Thomas and Winston are not going to just sit back and let you digest the videos and training material on your own. They also offer website critiques, where they dissect your sales website and give you feedback on what you should be doing differently. These are posted for all the members to learn from, at the rate of one per month.

You also get a free autoresponder with your membership. With most autoresponder services charging a monthly fee, getting this for a one-time payment is very nice.

There’s a members’ only forum, too, so you can get advice from other members.

All in all, what you get is a great value for the one-time payment of $19.95. This is an introductory price, though, designed to get a large influx of members quickly. Any membership site like this needs a critical mass of members to become self-sustaining, so their gimmick for getting that membership early is the introductory price.

That price expires at 9:00am, November 30th. It looks like it’ll go up to a one-time price of $37 after that, which will still be a good deal.

Click here for the full list of what you get with Smart Business Formula.

Another Swypefile Update

Well, I went to log onto swypefile this morning, and found this message:

Unfortunately, swypefile has been shut down for the time being. Things weren’t going as planned, and we are re-thinking the swypefile concept. Thanks to everyone who supported what we were trying to do!

This was without an email to members telling them anything would be happening, or any community discussion about why things weren’t going as planned. And the last email we’d received from them has said they were willing to go in whatever direction the community wanted, so what was the “plan” anyway?

This is a great example of how to alienate your members. If you start a community site, you must expect that site to be community driven, and be willing to go where the community wants it to go.

There are business realities on a site like this, of course. You must make enough money to cover your investment, your hosting costs, and your time involved in administering the site.

The only decent reason for arbitrarily shutting a site down without any community discussion is that it’s leaking money like a sieve, and you need to stop it before you go broke. I find it hard to believe that swypefile was in that position.

It’s unfortunate, because of all the blog promotion ideas that have come and gone this year, swypefile was actually working. Sure, you made some Adsense revenue, too, but you weren’t going to get rich from that. The real payoff was from the traffic your blog received, and how targeted that traffic was.

In that respect, swypefile drove more traffic, and more targeted traffic, to this blog than any of the other similar sites.

Site Build It! Day 5

Site Build It! day 5 is a relatively short day, but an important one.

This day is where you decide what sort of voice your site will have, what it’s spin will be. What makes your site different from any generic site out there in your niche?

The importance of having a personality online, of having a voice, cannot be stressed enough. You must be someone to your visitors. They take action not based on your flawless logic or perfectly researched information, but based on how you come across, who they feel that you are. The most successful bloggers know this, and develop an online personality. John Chow, for example, cultivates his reputation for being “evil”, even though most of what he does is old news to people who have been in Internet Marketing for a while.

Day 5 is also the day you choose your domain name. Normal Internet Marketing wisdom would have you pick a keyword based domain name for a niche site. So if you were writing a site with board game reviews, you’d try to get Common wisdom is to avoid dashes, because it’s a pain to try and tell someone the URL in person.

The Site Build It! guide also recommends a keyword based domain name, but from there diverges a bit from common wisdom. They suggest adding on to the domain name a word or two that reflects the spin your website puts on the niche. They also suggest using hyphens, especially if you do the vast majority of your business online. A hyphenated domain name is just as easy to click as a non-hyphenated one, search engines don’t care, and the hyphens help people reading the link online easily parse the words embedded in the link.

So the board game site might use, when following SBI!’s advice, The advantage of using hyphens is that those names might still be available, where might not be (especially if it’s a good niche keyword). Adding in your unique spin also helps you to use the keyword based name you want even if it’s taken, by adding in a word or two. For example, if you create an online personality named Sam who is writing all the reviews, you might use

It’s an interesting approach to domain names, and it’s hard to argue with the numerous success stories linked to throughout the guide.

The Search It! tool makes it convenient to check to see if anyone has a trademark registered for your domain name. Legally, you can be forced to give up a domain name that is registered as a trademark to someone else, so this is an important step that’s easy to skip. SBI! makes it easy to check.

Domain name registration is included with your Site Build It! fee, and is automatically renewed for you every year at no extra charge. Registration is quick and easy and done entirely through your SBI! membership area.

Day 6 is about using their Site Builder! tool to create the site. I’m pretty excited about some of the Web2.0 functionality the tool has, but don’t expect to use that initially. I expect creating the first pass of the site will take a far longer “day” than day 5 did, so will report back when I’m far enough along to get a feel for the tools.

I’ve been talking about the process that the SBI! action guide takes you through in these review posts. I recently discovered that there’s a public version of the action guide, so you can read through it yourself to get a more in-depth feel for the SBI! process.

Smart Business Forumula Intro Video

Update: Now that the site has launched, to get the video you must fill out the form about halfway down the page to get it. It’s still free, they just don’t have it on the main page anymore.

Smart Business Formula is a new site that’s opening up November 27th.

The site’s hype is that you pay a one-time fee to get access to a process that builds online income using only freely available Internet resources. The tag line is, “We promise you’ll NEVER have to pay for another How-To-Make-Money product again!”

Since the site hasn’t launched yet, I can’t do a review of it. But the site’s founders, Thomas Choo and Winston Yap, have uploaded an introductory video covering some of the basics of selling online. The video is about 20 minutes, and is great for anyone who hasn’t made anything online yet.

The video covers finding a product, identifying a target audience, and getting the word out about the product to that audience. The focus in the video is getting sales in 24 hours.

There’s also a form you can fill out to get on their announcement list for more videos and, presumably, a notification when they’ve launched.

Click here for the video.