Keyword Research Via Spam Comments

Here’s how to get other people to do some keyword research for you.

Step 1: Install a do-follow plugin

This lets people who comment on your blog get a little SEO benefit from doing so.

Step 2: Put your site into a do-follow directory

This lets you be found by the people who use automatic comment submission programs.

Step 3: Use comment moderation

Set it up so that comments are moderated until a person gets one approved comment, then comments from that person bypass the moderation queue.

Step 4: See what keywords people are using

A good percentage of the people commenting, and all the people using automatic commenting programs, will keyword stuff their name in their comment. Presumably, they’ve used that particular keyword because they’ve done some research and decided that there’s a market for it.

Collect a couple dozen keywords this way, and head over to Google’s Keyword Tool to see which ones look like the best ones to create a Neglected Niche Site about. Create the site, promote it a bit, and then do the next.

Blogging – The Path Of Least Resistance?

Progress continues on getting the web site set up for my latest ebook. But slowly.

Every time I start working on the upsell package (a video tutorial series, plus some WordPress goodies), it’s ever so tempting to just come over here and write a blog post instead.

Blogging is easy, and that’s part of what makes it attractive. Who wouldn’t want to make a living writing about what you had for dinner the night before, or what you watched on TV? Writing blog posts is just about the ideal job for anyone who is literate. You don’t have to put too much thought into them, you don’t have to think too far ahead, and you don’t have to spend the entire day at it.

By contrast, Internet Marketing is more time consuming, and harder to put together. The possible returns are greater, but putting the effort into getting there is tough, when the ease of blogging beckons.

Average blogging income is pretty limited, though, which will keep me working on my IM projects. My tests with Adsense on this blog, which gets about 100 unique visitors a day, is that it’ll earn $0.50 a day. Granted, the IM audience isn’t crazy about clicking on ads, but that’s still pretty low.

So, the work continues…

Google Calendar Plugin

I’ve been a bit sidetracked from my IM efforts lately, because of the need to build a web site listing local organic food resources in my area.

As part of that site creation, I needed to display a list of dates in the sidebar. I run an organic food co-op, and members need to know when to order, when to expect delivery, etc. I wanted a solution that did not require any manual updating on my part.

What I found was the Google Calendar WordPress Plugin.

This was really ideal for my needs. I could set up in Google Calendar repeating appointments specifying ordering and delivery dates, so that my only manual updating would be around holidays when the dates shifted slightly. The plugin would then automatically display the next 5 (or however many you specify) dates from the calendar, so that co-op members could hop onto the web site and check the upcoming dates just by looking at the sidebar.

I also embedded the full view of the calendar inside the pages dealing with ordering and delivery, but the sidebar view was far more convenient for members doing a quick check of dates.

If you deal with anything involving displaying recurring appointments, Google Calendar plus the plugin will make it a hands free affair.

Random Commission Checks

I received an unexpected check last week from an affiliate network.

It was unexpected because I hadn’t really promoted anything from that network for six months or more, so I didn’t expect to have made any sales. Yet there was the check. So I went online, logged in to the affiliate network, and ran some reports.

It turns out that the sales were from a blog post I’d made over six months ago. A couple of posts about a particular product I’d tried, and I tossed an affiliate link to the product in it on general principles. The post was on my personal blog, which has very little traffic. I honestly never expected to make a sale from it.

What’s the moral of this story?

That blogging is very much a cumulative effect when you monetize with affiliate links. Think of it as spreading seeds around the Internet, and you never know when one of those seeds may sprout and start generating sales. The more seeds you spread, the better off you are in the long run. But it takes patience, and isn’t a way to get rich quick.

Keep plugging away, though, and eventually you’ll start to get random commission checks out of the blue.

When Planning Fails

Recently, my three year old daughter decided she wanted to go visit her grandparents.

That was fine, we’d recently moved and were only about half an hour away from them. So my wife packed up a few things, and away they went, planning on being home that evening. I get a call that evening from my wife, and my daughter decided to stay the night. Still no problem, that would give me time to get a few things done at home, and they’d have a longer visit.

Fast forward another five days, and they’re still not home. My daughter is having the time of her life, and simply refuses to leave. I managed to get a ride there with someone, and have been back and forth for the last few days, spending some time there and taking care of things at home.

So what’s the point of this personal digression?

No matter how good your plans, something can always come along and send you in a completely different direction. Planning is important, because it enables you to make progress toward goals, to track your progress, and to decide what is and isn’t working. But don’t be so invested in a plan that you can’t adapt to unexpected events.

In blogging, many of these unexpected events come from changes to Google’s algorithm, which make nearly everything you were previously doing useless, or worse. You have to be ready to adapt to the changing rules, and keep your focus on providing value to your readers.

Will my family ever come home? I’m hoping, but I’m not planning on it.

Make Money Promoting Bloggeries

I’m a big fan of the Bloggeries blog forum.

It’s a great place for bloggers to learn from and help each other, and the admin over there, Rob, has built it up from a veritable ghost town to a thriving forum. It’s easy to forget that the forum is only part of what Bloggeries is.

The main part of Bloggeries is a well respected PR6 blog directory. You can submit your blog there for a backlink in a relevant category. Bloggeries is a for-pay directory. You’ll pay about $40 for a permanent entry, and about $50 a year for a featured link.

The regular entry is a great value for a one-time fee, allowing three deep links to posts or pages inside your blog (with anchor text of your choosing), enhancing their SEO value. You won’t get deep links from a free directory. You can also add your RSS feed and have excerpts of your latest posts displayed as part of your entry, which is a terrific feature that might hook someone who would have otherwise passed your entry by. The deep links and RSS feed are both displayed on the blog detail page. Click here for an example.

The featured links include 5 deep links to posts or pages inside your blog, rather than the 3 for the regular listing. You also get better placement, including being guaranteed that your entry will be on page 1 of the category for your blog, rather than on page 2 or more.

All in all, an entry there will do good things for your blog. But even better, Rob’s just started up an affiliate program, so you can get paid for recommending a great blog directory to others. You get $20 when someone clicks your link and purchases a directory listing, and $5 when an affiliate you referred makes a sale. Just two primary sales, and your own listing is essentially free. Rob’s being extremely generous with commissions, since he’ll end up making only about $10 from the most commonly purchased listing.

If you write a blog, this affiliate program is pretty well targeted, too. A lot of your readers will be bloggers themselves (especially if you write about blogging), and they all need high quality backlinks.

Click here to signup as a Bloggeries affiliate. It’s free to join.

Writing For Multiple Sites

When you write for just a single web site or blog, you tend to stray a bit over the edges of your niche. After all, you are more than just your niche, and you tend to use the only outlet you have to talk about what’s important to you.

When you write for multiple sites, you really get the point of sticking to a niche.

I’m currently writing for Online Opportunity, doWAHDiddy (the team work at home blog I mentioned in a previous post), the site about role playing games, a site where we feature our family’s healthy recipes, and at the Advisory Panel.

Each site has a different niche. In the case of Online Opportunity and doWAHdiddy, there’s some conceptual overlap. Online Opportunity deals with Internet Marketing and other ways to earn online, doWAHdiddy deals with working at home. Writing for both helps me to keep each more true to their niche than I might otherwise, and gives me an outlet for slightly off-topic posts I might want to make.

For example, I made a post recently at about Keeping High Productivity At Home where I talked about the importance of where your home office is. That post would have been slightly off-topic here, but if I’d only had this blog I could have justified making the post.

I’m a big fan of keeping sites and blogs tightly focused on their niches. You won’t find reviews of the latest episode of a favorite TV show, or random web pictures on any of my sites (unless that’s their niche).

So if you find yourself wanting to write a lot of off-topic posts, consider starting another site around an appropriate niche, and making them there. Your regular readers will appreciate not seeing the off-topic posts, and you just might attract a new set of readers at the new site.

Writers Needed For WAH Blog

Regular readers will remember that I started a team writing blog targeted at WAH Moms & Dads. The blog was started as part of a project over at The Advisory Panel.

One of the original writers has had to drop out due to time constraints, so we’re looking for a replacement. What you’d get out of the deal:

o) You put affiliate links into your posts and keep any income from those
o) You get an equal share of any revenue generated by the site itself (adsense, etc)

What you’d have to do:

o) Write one post a week on a work at home topic
o) Be willing to do some minimal keyword research on blog post topics
o) Join the Advisory Panel (that’s where we manage our work)

If you think you’re interested, give me a link to your existing blog so I can see writing style, quality of writing, etc. If you don’t write on WAH topics, then I’d also want to see a sample article of the sort you think would be appropriate for the blog. You’ll retain all rights to the sample article, and it won’t be used on the blog unless you’re accepted as a writer.

This is a great opportunity especially if you don’t have an existing blog, and want to get started without all the pressure of writing multiple posts each week, technical maintenance of the blog, etc.

WordPress 2.5 Impressions

I’ve used the newest version of WordPress on another blog for long enough to form some definite impressions about it. Like any new release, there are good bits and not-so-good bits.

The Good Bits

Automatic plugin updating — This is my favorite time saving feature. Updating a plugin to the latest version used to take minutes, but now takes seconds.

Image uploading — This was a bit buggy at first, but seems to be working well now. Lots more options for uploading and inserting images into posts.

The Bad Bits

Sidebar management — This is far worse than in 2.3. You only get to see a single sidebar at a time, so you can’t just drag a component from one sidebar to another any more. I loved the 2.3 way of managing sidebars. 2.5 leaves me cold.

Category management — Every new post is set with at least one category…that’s what categories are for. 2.3 recognized this and put categories in a prominent location. Now they’re stuck below the fold in the editing screen, meaning half the time I forget to set a category when I first write the post.

Post management — The 2.3 post management screen had useful actions as separate links. I could view a post from that screen, edit it, or delete it. In 2.5, you can only edit the post there. To view it, you must edit it, and then click View. Two clicks and a wait for the server, instead of just one click to view. A step backward in user interfaces.

Overall Impressions

I’ll use 2.5 for my blogs, but I feel like it’s a step backward from 2.3’s user interface. I’d rather have 2.3’s user interface with 2.5’s useful new features.

Creative Use of WordPress’ More Tag

In WordPress, you have the option to insert a more tag in your post. The effect of this is that anywhere the post appears other than the actual post page, the post content stops at that point with a link along the lines of “Click here to read more”.

I’ve always hated seeing that link. It’s a disservice to your readers to force them to make an extra click to read something. They’re already on your site, just give them the full text of the post. I generally don’t bother to click to read more, I just leave the site.

But, there’s always a way to use any technique that makes it not only useful, but enjoyable as well. I ran across this on a veterinary student’s blog, Nearly-Dr Ferox. That’s a link to his home page, if you scroll down you might see a post titled, X-ray challenge #1. Or not, if it’s scrolled off by now.

I don’t know if the use of the “click here to read more” was intentional in this case, because most of the posts have it, but in the X-ray challenge it works extremely well. He posts an X-ray, asks some questions about it, and then the link to read more. You’re left with the impression of a quiz…you actually want to look at the X-ray and see what you can find, and then you want to click the link to see the answers.

Just showing the answers without the link to read more wouldn’t have the same effect.

So while I’d previously thought I would never use the more tag in WordPress, I now see that using it in a quiz or challenge sort of post enhances the user experience. Now I just have to come up with some quizzes or challenges!