Buyer Beware

Warning! Websites For Sale On Flippa Fail To Get Return On Investment

As a blogger and the Editor of Inscribd, I am interested in the mechanics of SEO (search engine optimization) and the strategies and marketing efforts of other bloggers than generate success and a big readership.

I’ve done my fair share of research, and while a lot of what generates success is still a mystery to me, I have found patterns and established behaviors that are clear ingredients in what makes a successful blogger.

Successful and established websites for sale that are listed on auction sites such as flippa.com frequently command 6-figure prices.

A buyer may price their bids based on a return of investment after, say 12 to 24 months. But quite often, dollar signs can cloud a buyer’s judgement.

One blog in particular has been on my radar for well over a year, lifed.com

I have watched this website grow to dizzying heights, and subsequently seen traffic crash to the floor.

What happened?

I have gathered information from public sources and requested an interview with the owner, who I emailed some questions. At the time of publication, I have not received a response.

The purpose of this analysis is not to target lifed.com in particular, but rather to use them an as example to discover issues relating to:

  • Search engine traffic for content-based websites,
  • The monetary value of content-based websites,
  • Efforts required to maintain a successful content-based website.

What is Lifed.com ?

Lifed.com is a content-based magazine-style blog. Self-described as “Life hacks, entertainment, health, personal finance, relationships and technology.”

Why Analyze Lifed.com ?

Enough data and public information is available to make a clear assessment, where this kind of information about other websites may be difficult to find.

SEMrush keeps track of search engine traffic flowing to popular websites.

This chart is for lifed.com. The vertical-axis is the estimated number of visitors coming from the first 20 search results per month.

This chart is backed up by independent data from Alexa.

I want to know why and how search engine traffic rose to the enviable peak of 185,000 search engine visitors in October 2012 with Alexa global ranking of 30,063 (ie lifed.com was in the top 30,000 websites in the world, now down to 77,000th).

I want to know why search engine traffic crashed so dramatically 10 months after the peak through to August 2013.

In August 2013, the search engine traffic received by lifed.com is now at the same level it was in December 2011.

1. Can we determine what was done “right” in the lead-up to the peak?

2. Can we determine a cause for the crash?

3. What lessons can we learn from this as content-creators and SEOs?

Let’s take an analytical eye on publicly available information to try answer these questions.

Before The Peak

The story of lifed.com can be split right down the middle with a before and after a certain event. The website was sold on Flippa in December 2012. This event marks the peak of lifed.com’s success.

The founding editor, Jason Bacchetta, grew lifed.com rapidly to a peak in October 2012, before selling in December 2012 for $205,000 while the site was generating $9,000/month revenue and approx $7,000/month profit.

We can infer Jason brought a certain skill set that grew lifed.com while the new management had a different skill set or less motivation than the original owner, ultimately contributing to it’s downfall.

Jason runs his own media company DIGIq and obviously knows his stuff, but what of the new owner? A request for interview with Jason has not been received by publishing deadline.

Perhaps the skill set of a blog owner factors heavily in it’s success. What is that skill set?

If we put the human factor aside, let’s look at some empirical data to determine what other factors could be at play.

Social Media Presence

Lifed.com joined Facebook in April 2011, holding 21,339 likes as of 4th Sept 2013. The first tweet was from August 2011, holding 20,479 followers as of 4th Sept 2013.

The first post on Google+ is from Mar 14, 2012.

It’s fair to say lifed.com has held a prominent social media presence and has gained a respectable number of followers and likes. A twitter audit shows the followers to be real.

For each article published, a tweet/post is pushed to the social media accounts. Reader engagement or conversations are not the prominent activity.

Social media activity has remained unaltered throughout the peak and crash from incoming search engine traffic.

Social Media Spikes

Activity on social media generally produces an initial spike in website traffic and tapers off quickly afterwards.

Obviously, social media and search engine traffic are two different beasts, where the later generally grows over time.

This screenshot from lifed.com analytics was provided by the seller.

We can see a big spike in website traffic in April 2012. This spike marks a milestone in the story of lifed.com as you can see traffic from that point on remained higher than the previous average and continued to grow.

What caused that big spike? It turns out a little bit of luck, a lot of hard work, and a bit of money.

Around mid-April 2012, two well-produced articles were published. Top 100 Funny Quotes and One Liners and Bucket List: 225 Things to Do Before You Die.

Compiling 100 of anything takes a fair bit of effort, so compiling a further 225 items including images took Jason and Michael (the attributed author) a lot of work. Jason said some of his articles took “hundreds, even thousands of dollars to create”.

Jason also said “I purchased a few sponsored tweets, an SEO package, and some Stumbleupon advertising.”

The funny quotes article has over 197,000+ stumbles, 2,600+ Facebook likes, 500+ Pinterest pins and 270+ tweets.

The bucket list article has over 562,000+ stumbles, 13,000+ Facebook likes, 106,000+ Pinterest pins and 1,300+ tweets.

This is the epitome of an article going viral… and they did it twice in a row!

Effects Of A Viral Article

After the initial spike from the two viral articles, website traffic continued to grow. This growth may be attributed in part to the viral articles by retaining a percentage as returning readers or subscribers.

We also see from the SEMrush graph that search engine traffic grew exponentially in May 2012 which corresponds to the time when the viral articles were released.

SEMrush measures traffic from search engines, so any residual stumbles, likes or social media referrals are not measured. Also, direct referrers from links on other blogs/websites are not counted.

This can only mean one thing.

The viral articles were linked to, in such high numbers from external websites, that the articles got a massive SEO boost for direct-match and long-tail keywords.

The bucket list article has 1271 backlinks according to BacklinkWatch and the funny quotes article has 1044 backlinks.

Can a website’s continued growth be attributed to only two viral articles?

Publishing Frequency

Next, I took a look at lifed.com sitemap which has a year’s worth of publishing dates, from Aug 2012 – Aug 2013.

Jason said,
“Up until about six months ago (referring to May 2012), I was only publishing one article per week, yet I still managed to GROW to a million pageviews.”

I plotted the number of articles published per month and compared this to search engine traffic according to SEMrush (image is stretched to fit).

We can’t read too deeply into this data because there would be a delay between publishing an article and for it to be indexed by Google and bring in SE traffic.

So I’m not sure what to make of this, except that the new owners may have seen traffic dropping and published 44 articles in May 2013 as an attempt to counter-act the drop. It didn’t work.

Further, we can practically see the new owner giving up, with only 6 articles published in August 2013.

There are greater forces at work that are influencing traffic numbers that the sheer number of published articles cant overcome.

Google Panda Update

Ah, Google. You’re such a fickle mistress.

There is a correlation between major Google algorithm updates (known as Panda and Penguin) and changes in lifed.com’s search engine referral traffic.

First, we have Panda #20 that rolled out for a week starting 27th Sept 2012.

Next, we see Panda #21 rolled on on 5th Nov 2012, and lifed.com traffic recovers a bit.

This recovery in Nov 2012 is likely due to another viral article published late October 2012 22 Things Happy People Do Differently. If no articles went viral that month, traffic would have continued to drop dramatically.

On 21st Nov, Panda #22 was rolled out, followed by Panda #23 on 21st Dec where traffic is already on a downward trend.

There was a “Phantom” update where the exact nature of this update was unknown, but many sites reported significant traffic loss.

Finally, the nail in the proverbial coffin came with the big Penguin 2.0 update announced on 22 May 2013 which was rolled out during May 2013.

Is it a coincidence that traffic dropped off at the same time as Google rolled out updates?

In May 2013, Google updated their search algorithm, dubbed Penguin 2.0. A lot of websites lost their good rankings, and it seems that lifed.com may have been hit badly.

From lifed.com’s SEMrush chart, we can see May 2013’s SE traffic was 59,613. Then Google Penguin update hit. June 2013’s SE traffic was 14,650 – a loss of 75%!

This was surely a huge kick in the guts of an already troubled site.

Here is Matt Cutts from Google’s webspam team talking about the update.

In a cruel twist, the new owner may be spewing over comments made on Flippa for the sale.

Jason Bacchetta, the seller, said in December 2012:

“SEO isn’t something that “wears off.” Once it’s been done to a site, a site doesn’t regress over time from it’s current rankings for no reason. Search engines may, however, implement new algorithms.”

Jason was not being deceptive with this comment, but rather that was widely held belief at the time. How could he have known Google was about to issue a series of updates that would cause such heartache?

Why Did Lifed.com Get Smashed By Google Panda?

Google said,

“Sites affected by this change might not be easily recognizable as spamming without deep analysis or expertise, but the common thread is that these sites are doing much more than white hat SEO; we believe they are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.”

Some may suggest the two initial and third viral post may have collected links in such a rapid manner that a red flag was set off and Google marked lifed.com to be watched more carefully.

But Google did not penalise lifed.com for producing viral articles and it seems clear that the site was rewarded with large search engine referral traffic for a solid 6 months.

What I Think Happened

It’s my hypothesis that Google’s algorithm diminishes the value of the gained backlinks, subsequently causing the ranking of those viral articles to begin slipping after 6 months.

Upon each subsequent algorithm update, Google dulled the value of the original backlinks even further.

The effects of the viral articles faded away.

An interesting thing to note is the exponential rise in May 2012 due to effects of the viral articles, and the subsequent fall exactly 12 months later in May 2013 when the effect had worn off.

Final Thoughts

The buyer of lifed.com priced the site on a return on investment after approximately 2 years ($205,000 price on ~$8,000/month profit). Ten months after the sale, traffic has dropped up to 98% from the peak! (185,000 in Oct 2012 down to 3400 according to SEMrush).

Revenue surely must have also taken a significant hit, since profit was based on CPM advertising income.

I asked some questions throughout this analysis, which I think I can answer.

1. Can we determine what was done “right” in the lead-up to the peak?

Create fantastic unique content that appeals to a wide audience. Give that content a boost on social media through promoted/paid campaigns.

Jason Bacchetta, the original owner said,

“I usually don’t spend any money at all on advertising. Occasionally, when I know I’ve got a viral article on my hands, I’ll spend $20 on Stumbleupon advertising to give the article an initial push.”

2. Can we determine a cause for the crash?

– The fading effects of viral articles, hit by Google algorithm updates.

– No articles from the new owners that generated as much interest, and/or no similar marketing strategies implemented in order to promote them towards going viral.

3. What lessons can we learn from this as content-creators and SEOs?

The first step is to create awesome unique content.

The second step is the promotion of that content.

Jason says “The formula, as hard as people try to make it seem, is quite simple. Create quality content, and play by Google’s rules.”

4. Perhaps the skill set of a blog owner factors heavily in it’s success. What is that skill set?

Copywriting, creativity, an eye for viral content and motivation to spend money on promotion. Jason has these skills, but the new owner has yet to demonstrate a similar skill set.

Note

I emailed Jason Bachetta, the original owner and founding editor of lifed.com, but did not receive a response.

I emailed the current contact address at lifed.com, but did not receive a response.

Contact details on lifed.com still shows Jason Bachetta as the founding editor, even 10 months after the sale.

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6 Incredible Options For Your First Blog Post To Excite Readers

When new bloggers first start out, there’s a natural tendency to write a quick test post as the very first blog post. While there’s nothing wrong with that, definitely don’t leave it up online for the world to see. Which begs the question… what should your very first blog post actually be?

Of all the things your first blog post *could* be, don’t waste the opportunity. All new blogs need any advantage they can so providing the right content from the start is important for gaining reader loyalty.

Your first blog post should answer the reader’s question “Why am I here and what’s in it for me?”

1. Introduce Yourself Briefly

Every new website needs an introduction, but most new readers won’t care to read about your life story if they’ve never heard about you before. Harsh, I know. Keep it brief – very brief.

The most important thing to do is tell readers what your brand is about.

If you have a personal blog, mention 2 or 3 highlights of your life that others would find interesting, whether that’s personal or professional in nature.

For magazine-style blogs like Inscribd, give a “7 second pitch” what your brand stand for and what it can help readers achieve.

Picture yourself at a dinner party with some friends and acquaintances. They ask you what you are working on at the moment. You have 7 seconds to excite those listening into visiting your blog.

If you can’t pitch your blog in 7 seconds or less, you need to refine your topic or focus on the most important themes.

This can help you figure out the tagline of your blog – a very brief description in just a few words.

2. Video Post

What better way to get people excited about your new website than by showing people how excited you are through video ?

Readers who can see an authors face and speaking style can develop a real human connection that will lead to reader loyalty and keep them coming back.

Give your “7 second pitch”, introduce yourself as a real breathing human being, and encourage readers to subscribe to your newsletter.

3. Step-by-Step Guide

Do you know something that not many other people know? Do you have knowledge to share that is incredibly valuable?

Why wait until post #2 or #3 to offer your expertise and guidance to readers. Launch right into it and make your first post incredibly valuable and share-worthy.

Step-by-step guides offer tremendous value and you will be rewarded for your efforts. Make the post truly awesome.

4. Expert Q & A

Interview an expert in the field. In fact, why not interview one of your fellow bloggers who are already established. They will not only give you valuable insight into the world of blogging, but will be able to answer key questions that would interest your readers.

Determine the most important questions that your readers want answered and try email several experts in your field.

Remember though, even the nicest people can be time-poor, so you’d like get a better response to 3 or 4 questions rather than 20. Keep your questions brief, focused and on-topic.

Not only will you be providing value to your readers, you will also be making potential strategic connections with influential people in your niche.

5. Case Study

Provide in-depth analysis about an aspect of your niche. This could be a business, product or person. Be thorough and get to the bottom of the problems and solutions available.

Case studies are also share-worthy and generate natural links from other websites. Providing unique analysis that others would find interesting can go a long way to establishing your credibility in the field.

Bonus Idea: Turn your case study into a ‘how to’ guide and offer it as a free eBook for reader to download.

6. All Of The Above

The above 5 ideas are all separate and unique unto themselves, but I started writing this post with the idea of suggesting to do ALL of the first 5 ideas together as one huge, valuable, share-worthy, incredible first post that will firmly put you on the map!

Sounds too extreme? Extreme is good! Extreme is unique. Uniqueness is remarkable and remarkable posts get shared, commented on and linked to.

As a first blog post, putting together all of the above ideas into one single page could be the initial push to make you and your blog the authority figure in your niche and keep readers coming back for more.

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Hunger Games Trilogy

Top 25 Hunger Games Quotes Highlighted By Kindle Readers


Amazon’s Kindle e-reader allows users to highlight and save passages directly from eBooks with The Hunger Games quotes topping the list and giving us an insight into what readers find interesting.

Most of us bloggers are avid writers and some of us have even had dreams of writing bestselling novels like The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Reading mass market books can help us brush up on our writing skills regardless of our own field of expertise and serve as inspiration to get started outlining our own novel or eBook

Amazon says that millions of passages are highlighted with their Kindle e-reader each month, with The Hunger Games quotes taking out 19 out of the top 25 spots overall.

Let’s take a look at these Hunger Games quotes and see why the first movie of the trilogy grossed almost $700 million worldwide along with millions of books sold.

Top 25 Hunger Games Quotes

1.

"Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them."Catching Fire

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2.

"The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins."The Hunger Games

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3.

"It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart."Mockingjay

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4.

"I just want to spend every possible minute of the rest of my life with you."Catching Fire

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5.

"I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever"Catching Fire

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6.

"Life in District 12 isn’t really so different from life in the arena. At some point, you have to stop running and turn around and face whoever wants you dead."Catching Fire

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7.

"Having an eye for beauty isn’t the same thing as a weakness, Peeta points out. Except possibly when it comes to you."Catching Fire

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8.

"I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun."The Hunger Games

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9.

"District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety."The Hunger Games

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10.

"We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction."Mockingjay

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11.

"Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch—this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen."The Hunger Games

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hunger games quotes

12.

"The berries. I realize the answer to who I am lies in that handful of poisonous fruit. If I held them out to save Peeta because I knew I would be shunned if I came back without him, then I am despicable. If I held them out because I loved him, I am still self-centered, although forgivable. But if I held them out to defy the Capitol, I am someone of worth. The trouble is, I don’t know exactly what was going on inside me at that moment."Catching Fire

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13.

"He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained."The Hunger Games

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14.

"It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love."The Hunger Games

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15.

"Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true Here is the place where I love you."The Hunger Games

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16.

"I watch his hands, his beautiful, capable fingers. Scarred, as mine were before the Capitol erased all marks from my skin, but strong and deft. Hands that have the power to mine coal but the precision to set a delicate snare. Hands I trust."Catching Fire

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17.

"Maybe I’d think that, too, Caesar, says Peeta bitterly, if it weren’t for the baby."Catching Fire

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18.

"Over the course of the last five years, the lake’s remarkably unchanged and I’m almost unrecognizable."Catching Fire

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19.

"Deep in the meadow, hidden far away A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray Forget your woes and let your troubles lay And when again it’s morning, they’ ll wash away. Here it’s safe, here it’s warm Here the daisies guard you from every harm."The Hunger Games

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20.

"That what I need to survive is not Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. So after, when he whispers, *You love me. Real or not real?* I tell him, *Real.*"Mockingjay

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21.

"I remember his words. *Don’t worry. I always channel my emotions into my work. That way I don’t hurt anyone but myself.* …and I’m afraid he has hurt himself beyond repair. The significance of my fiery transformation will not be lost on President Snow."Catching Fire

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22.

"In school, they tell us the Capitol was built in a place once called the Rockies. District 12 was in a region known as Appalachia. Even hundreds of years ago, they mined coal here. Which is why our miners have to dig so deep."The Hunger Games

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23.

"Panem et Circenses translates into ‘Bread and Circuses.’ The writer was saying that in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power."Mockingjay

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24.

"Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war. But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."Mockingjay

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25.

"That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years. But there are much worse games to play."Mockingjay

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Do you read mass market books as inspiration for your own writing?

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Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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How To Get A DMOZ Listing For Some Google SEO Love

DMOZ, the Open Directory Project, has been around since the very early days of the Internet and garners an enormous amount of respect and authority from Google and other search engines. It is widely known in SEO circles that having a DMOZ listing is a major milestone.

If you’ve never heard of DMOZ, it’s a directory curated by humans. That means there is no automatic process going on in the background when you submit your website. Your website is checked by a real-life, breathing human-being before being added to the directory.

"The Open Directory Project is the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors."dmoz.org

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DMOZ submission is free and your DMOZ listing will be permanent once accepted.

DMOZ Listing

Achieving a DMOZ listing is like getting a big thumbs up that your website is legitimate, trustworthy and not illegal or scammy. Google and other search engines are always looking for signals to determine whether your website is trustworthy enough to show up in the search results.

So, when Google sees this ‘thumbs up’ DMOZ listing, your website will get a nice boost in Google rankings. All other search engines also scan DMOZ for new additions and will add them to their own index.

Getting your website listed in the DMOZ directory is a big deal. It’s also quite difficult.

Reasons For DMOZ Directory Rejection

DMOZ is edited by real people. Each person is responsible for a fixed number of categories. For example, an editor who happens to have an interest in gardening could be the editor of the personal gardening category.

Categories are very important to DMOZ and you’ll need to give deep thought to the correct category your website falls into. Failure to pick the correct category will result in frustration and MONTHS of lost time.

Months? What?! Yes, months. After submitting your DMOZ listing, you’ll need to wait at least 2 months for an editor to review your submission.

If the editor rejects your listing, you will NOT be notified and no reason will be given. I’m not taking a swipe at DMOZ or the editors. We just need to accept that’s the way it is.

Common reasons for rejection:

  1. You’ve chosen the wrong category,
  2. Your website is a duplicate or contains duplicate content from another website,
  3. Your website contains illegal content or primarily advertising,
  4. Your website is still “under construction”,
  5. The title submitted is deceptive or does not match the website title,
  6. The description submitted does not accurately describe your website,
  7. You’ve submitted your website too many times in a short period.

What it boils down to is this: be honest with your submission, make your website as complete and professional as possible, and choose the right category.

Picking the correct category should not be taken lightly because this would be hurdle number 1, and arguably the most important.

Choosing DMOZ Listing Category

Let’s start at the homepage.

dmoz listing

You need to drill down into the appropriate category until you have reached the most narrowly focused sub-category to describe your website.

Obviously, I can’t tell you which category your website should be in, but I can give you a few pointers.

1. Locality

If you run a local business or cater to an audience within a specific region, you should choose a regional listing.

Drill down to your country and state level, for example, let’s focus in on Victoria, Australia.

dmoz directory

Then choose the most appropriate category that describes your business or website.

In our example, I’ve chosen to go down the garden path (pardon the pun).

dmoz submission

In this example, we’ve found an appropriate category for a landscape gardener who services the region of Victoria, Australia.

2. Category Focus

If your website does not fall into a regional category and your audience is more worldwide like most of us bloggers, the best thing to do is search DMOZ for similar websites.

See which category your competitors and colleagues are listed. This will give you a good idea where you should be listed too.

Inscribd is listed in the category Business : Small Business : News and Media : Magazines and E-zines

If you want to list your blog, search for weblogs to see more categories that your website may fit into. It largely depends on your blog topic.

DMOZ Submission

So, you’ve found the correct category for your DMOZ listing and you’re ready to submit.

At the top of the category page, click on suggest URL. If this link does not exist, you have not focused your category enough.

Read every word of the submission page and make sure everything you submit is honest and the best way to describe your website.

Remember, it may take at least 2 months for your website to be reviewed by a human editor, so you must be patient.

You will not be notified if you are rejected or accepted.

After 2 months, search for your website on DMOZ to see if it’s been listed. If not, give it another week and check again. Don’t be impatient.

But if too much time has passed, let’s say 3 months, you can submit again. Try to choose a different category this time but make sure it is still a great fit for your website.

Best of luck! Let us know if you get a DMOZ listing!

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Email Subscriber Cloud

How To Get More Email Subscribers The Stupidly Simple Way

How To Get More Email Subscribers The Stupidly Simple Way

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If you’re not collecting email subscribers to your blog in one way or another, you’re missing out on very real marketing opportunities.

Collecting email subscribers allows you to notify readers when you have posted a new article, thereby bringing a flood of visitors back to your website.

These repeat visitors not only click on your advertising, but also solidify loyalty to your brand name

Getting more email subscribers means you have more affiliate marketing opportunities to sell a product and earn a commission each time you do.

It’s very easy to see the benefits of having an ever increasing number of email subscribers to your blog, but the real problem is getting them

We looked at a case study from Nikki In Stitches who tested out two different forms for allowing visitors to subscribe to her newsletter.

It becomes clear very quickly that using a pop up lightbox is enormously beneficial to increasing subscriber numbers.

Sidebar Email Subscribers Form

email subscribers In her trial, Nikki used a common form in the sidebar of her blog to collect subscribers. It is out of the way and unobtrusive to the visitor.

This form received 643 subscribers during the test period.

Lightbox Popup Email Subscribers Form

lightbox popup As a part of the same trial taking place over the same time period, Nikki also used a pop up lightbox to intrude the visitors view and ask directly for them to subscribe.

While this form may seem obnoxious, it worked exceptionally well!

This pop up form received 7473 subscribers during the same test period!

The pop up lightbox drove a 1375% more subscribers than the sidebar form. AMAZING.

It’s very clear from this case study that using a lightbox such as Popup Domination has an enormous benefit to increasing the number of subscribers to your blog.

If you are not collecting email subscribers yet, you should start immediately. Integrating email services like AWeber, iContact and MailChimp into your pop up form is simple enough with Popup Domination that works as a WordPress plugin.

Email Subscribers Form Placement And Frequency

It’s clear that the placement of your subscriber form has a big impact on the number of subscribers you will receive. A form higher on the page will do better than one lower down.

Using a pop up gives incredible results but can become annoying for frequent visitors to your blog.

Make sure to configure your pop up lightbox to only display X number of pages, or once every 48 hours (or more).

Other Lightbox Pop Up Uses

You don’t have to display only an email subscriber form in your pop up. How about including:

  • Facebook page like button,
  • Twitter follow button,
  • Links to your top-rated blog posts,
  • An introduction video

Do you have a pop up subscriber box on your blog?

Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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Mcdonalds Branding

Why Good Blog Names Unleash The Power Of Branding

Finding good blog names that encapsulate your interests is the very first decision you should make as a blogger.

Branding and the use of symbols in marketing is so powerful in modern society, that I’d be able to flash a yellow M in front of your eyes for a microsecond and you’d instantly know it represented McDonalds. Your subconscious will throw images of burgers and fries into the forefront of your mind, your mouth might start salivating and perhaps your stomach may grumble.

Why would your body react to such a stimulus in this way? That is the power of branding and association.

Good Blog Names Are Brand Names

Although we may not aspire to be multinational giants, we can learn a thing or two from the big name brands when it comes to our own blogs.

The first piece of advice I can give aspiring bloggers is this,

"Start your new blog like you are starting a new business. First, you need something to sell – your topic. Then, you need a brand name. Figure this out before you start."

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In 2011, Matt Cutts from Google’s web spam team (the guys who tweak the search engine results) said,

"We actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low quality sites are over on this side."Matt Cutts

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If you’re not catching on, Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, makes it clearer,

"Brands are the solution, not the problem… brands are how you sort out the cesspool."Eric Schmidt

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To be abundantly clear, Google have said if you want to rank highly in the search results, you must have a unique brand.

Branding Branding Branding!

Let’s Talk Domain Names

If you have read advice from the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) crowd telling you to choose a domain name (your website address, eg inscribd.com) that matches your topic keywords, this advice is OLD. OLD advice is BAD advice.

Now, I don’t think a domain name www.keyword1-keyword2-keyword3.com is a good blog name or brand and Google most likely doesn’t either.

Once you know the name of your blog, you’d need to register a domain name through a registrar like Go Daddy

Reasons Not To Use Keywords In Your Domain

Let’s say you have jumped in and registered a domain dogscatsandalligators.com

You may hit a few problems in your blogging journey and your choice of domain name has shoved you into a corner. What if you don’t want to write about alligators anymore?

Here are 5 quick reasons why it’s better to find good blog names and register a domain with a unique brand over one with keywords.

  1. You can easily change topics and categories if they’re not gaining traction,
  2. You don’t have to register a new domain name if you decide to change course,
  3. Readers and *advertisers* feel your website is more legitimate over ones without a brand name,
  4. Loyal readers can search for your brand name easily in Google, as opposed to remembering the keywords of your domain,
  5. Longterm SEO branding.

If your purpose of blogging is to earn some money through advertising, then a brand name is essential.

"You need to earn an advertiser’s respect before you can earn their dollars."

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How To Choose The Right Brand For Your Blog

In the Internet-age, choosing a brand name goes hand-in-hand with choosing a domain name. If you have a general idea of the topics you will be writing about, you can start by searching available domains using Go Daddy’s console.

It will be very unlikely that you will find a domain name available that is a single dictionary word. You’ll need to be creative.

Your final choice of domain name should be unique, easy to say out loud and be SHORT. Long domains are more cumbersome so, the shorter the better!

For more tips on domain choice, which effectively inspires your brand name, read our article 7 Tricks To Grabbing The Best Domain Names

Before you register the domain, type the name (without the .com) into Google and see what comes up. If you get no results, you’ve hit upon a purely unique name. Even if there are some results, make sure the name isn’t associated with anything negative.

Branding is a big deal and choosing your domain name should not be taken lightly. If you think of your blog like a business, you would want to give deep thought to your business name.

Give it a while to sink in before making the big effort of starting your blog. Make sure you are happy with the name and you will be able to write about a range of topics under your brand (even though you really should just focus on a narrow set of topics).

Tell us in the comments, how many times have you decided to start from scratch?

Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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Teacher Black Board

Basic Advertising Terminology Explained

If you’ve encountered terms like CPC, PPC, CPM, RPM and a whole host of other online advertising terminology for the first time, it can seem rather confusing.

You’ll find these terms related to paying for advertising, such as through Google Adwords, or when you’re looking at earnings in Google AdSense for ads displayed on your website.

AdWords.

"AdWords is Google’s network that allows advertisers to bid for visitors. Advertisers pay Google every time a visitor clicks on their ad."

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AdSense.

AdSense is Google’s advertising network for publishers (website owners) to allow ads on their site and get paid when visitors click on those ads."

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For many bloggers and small businesses alike, online advertising has become a major source of income or lead generator. But many people still don’t fully understand all the advertising terminology and this lack of knowledge can cost you dearly.

Before monetizing your blog and sticking ads everywhere, it’s very important to ensure you are indexed in Google and receiving a sufficient number of visitors. Install Google Analytics on your website to keep track of visitors and give it at least 2 weeks to see any trends forming.

Pageviews.

"Pageviews is the accumulated number of times any page on your website has been viewed."

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I recommend waiting until you are receiving 100 pageviews per day consistently before even *considering* including ads on your site. In reality, if your website is receiving only 100 visitors per day, you likely will not earn much revenue at all. To see even a few dollars, you’ll need at least 1,000 visitors per day.

Traffic.

"Traffic is a term to describe people visiting your website."

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When Google analyzes your pages for the search index, a page filled with ads will get a lower ranking than one without. Keep that in mind. First focus on increasing your website traffic, then you can think about including advertisements.

CTR.

"Click-Through-Rate (CTR) is calculated as a percentage of visits per ad click."

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The amount of advertising revenue you can generate from your blog largely depends on traffic x Click-Through-Rate. Websites tend to have a click-through-rate of anywhere between 0.05% to 6%, but most commonly at the lower end. To increase revenue, you’d need to increase either website traffic or your click-through-rate or both.

CPC and PPC.

"Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Price-Per-Click (PPC) is the fee an advertiser will pay each time a visitor clicks on their ad."

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The terms Cost-Per-Click and Price-Per-Click are synonymous and is the easiest to understand. Whenever a visitor clicks an ad on your website, you get paid a certain amount.

The amount you get paid varies and it’s important to understand the 2 sides to this CPC coin.

From an advertiser’s perspective, their cost per click may be $1. For example, they pay Google $1. As a publisher, you don’t get the full $1 back from Google because they need to keep some of the advertising revenue. You will get 68% of the cut, and Google keeps the rest.

CPC advertising is the most popular form because it guarantees an advertiser that they will only pay when someone clicks through their ads, regardless of how many times their ad is displayed.

CPM and RPM.

"Cost-Per-Mille (CPM) and Revenue-Per-Mille (RPM) is the revenue generated for showing 1000 ads to your website visitors."

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In Latin, mille means thousand. The second most prominent form of advertising is CPM, which basically allows an advertiser to pay a certain amount for one thousand ad displays.

Under this scheme, it doesn’t matter how many times their ad is clicked, the advertiser will only pay a fixed fee. Likewise, a publisher will only receive a fixed fee for every 1000 ad impressions.

Impressions.

"Impressions is a measure of pageviews multiplied by the number of ad units displayed on a page."

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CPA.

"Cost-Per-Action (CPA) allows advertisers to pay a referring publisher when a visitor has performed a specific task, such as filling out a form."

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Sometimes known as Cost Per Acquisition or Cost Per Action, publisher’s only get paid a fixed fee when they refer to visitor to the advertiser’s website, and only when the visitor subsequently take a specified action, such as submitting their email address, taking a survey or purchasing a product.

Usually, CPA pays higher rates than CPC or CPM ads, but the visitor’s effort is much greater and therefore less likely to finish the task.

Affiliate Advertising.

"Affiliate Advertising allows product owners to pay a commission to referring publisher when a visitor purchases their product."

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Affiliate advertising is similar to CPA advertising, except that the “action” here is a paid sale of a product. Whenever your blog visitor buys that product through your referral link, you earn a commission from that sale.

Also read Affiliate Marketing Basics. Earn Hefty Commissions The Easy Way

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10 Most Profitable Companies Of 2012

The numbers are in and some big companies have made huge profits in 2012 making shareholders very happy indeed. Here is the official list of the most profitable companies in the US for 2012.

Banks and oil companies make the list as well as the most profitable tech companies.

Let’s do this in reverse order.

10. Berkshire Hathaway

Profit: $14.8 Billion

Buffett-Obama

Only CEO Warren Buffett could be disappointed with $14 billion dollars profit, while the rest of us can’t imagine such a pile of cash. Buffet described Berkshire Hathaway’s 2012 results as “subpar”.

9. IBM

Profit: $16.6 Billion

ibm-logo

Despite a dip in sales, IBM’s profit rose in 2012 through higher-margin software and services. Big Blue has indicated job cuts could be on the card if sales continue to slide.

8. Microsoft

Profit: $16.9 Billion

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Last year, Microsoft wrote down $6.2 billion for aQuantive, the online ad business acquired in 2007. Whoops! Something went terribly wrong there, although you’d have to forgive shareholder for not minding too much when Microsoft is still able to rake in almost $17 billion in profit.

7. Walmart

Profit: $17 Billion

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The world’s largest retailer’s net profit rose by 8% in 2012 but warned of slower consumer spending and sluggish sales for 2013.

6. Fannie Mae

Profit: $17.2 Billion

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With $116 billion to pay back the US government for bailing out the bank, the mortgage “too big to fail” financier posted record profits for 2012. That’s quite the turnaround.

5. Wells Fargo

Profit: $18.9 Billion

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Providing a third of all U.S. mortgages and posting a record profit in 2012, Wells Fargo warned that the housing boom might end soon.

4. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

Profit: $21.2 Billion

Source
Source

Even with a huge trading loss of $6.2 billion due to risky bets, J.P. Morgan Chase still managed to break it’s own annual profit records in 2012. The so called “London Whale” scandal saw CEO Jamie Dimon’s pay cut by 50%. Poor Jamie will have to struggle this year with a reduced compensation of $11.5 million. 🙁

3. Chevron

Profit: $26.1 Billion

Source
Source

Profits at Chevron’s U.S. operations increased by 30% due to larger supply of domestic energy at it’s refineries.

2. Apple

Profit: $41.7 Billion

Source
Source

That’s a lot of iDevices. In its first year without Steve Jobs, Apple’s profits were largely driven by the iPhone. Sales growth is dropping though, along with smartphone market share with Samsung leading the way.

1. Exxon Mobil

Profit: $44.8 Billion

Source
Source

Exxon Mobil almost set a world record for profits in 2012. The last world record was set by… well, Exxon Mobil in 2008. Come on, Apple. You can do it! It was Exxon’s refineries that boosted profits by having cheaper domestic supplies of fuel, which helped boost profits.

Credit Card

Why You Should Cut Your Business Credit Cards In Half

Multiple business credit cards are widely used to fund project start-up costs, pay bills, pay debt and fund day to day expenses. On average, two business credit cards are used by small businesses, often with co-owners having access to one each. Cut that in half!

Having multiple credit cards may suit very large businesses. For the rest of us, we would be prudent to think about having only one card.

When a business owner is asked why they have several cards, they will usually give the standard answers that they are building a good credit score, earning different types of rewards or making it easy to purchase items for the business.

But are those reasons good enough? No, they are actually reasons why you should only have one credit card for your business.

Still need convincing? Let’s go into more detail.

Lower That Red Flag

When you apply for different credit cards, a red flag is raised on your credit report.

It can look suspicious to some creditors, causing them to think you may be in financial difficulty and need to borrow your way out of it or that you are going to commit fraud.

It is recommended to check your credit report frequently to make sure your credit history doesn’t throw up any red flags that could negatively affect your chances of obtaining credit or loans (both business or personal).

While neither of these may be the case, when you make inquiries about obtaining multiple credit cards, your credit and financial history is looked at more closely than you might realize, which could lead to a reduction in your credit rating.

With one card only in your possession, you are keeping things nice and simple for the credit companies and they are less likely to seek out the deepest darkest secrets in your past.

Annual Fees

Almost every credit card known to man has an annual fee attached to it. The annual fee is charged regardless of whether you use the card or not.

Some fees can be over $100 depending on the type of card you choose. Credit cards which offer rewards generally have a higher yearly fee to help offset the cost of giving away freebies.

Cards which are not rewards based have a smaller annual fee. When you have only one business credit card, you are already saving money by only having to pay one annual fee.

Maximise Rewards

Some credit cards offer a points based rewards system where the more you spend, the more points you earn.

These points can be ‘cashed in’ for a variety of rewards such as travel, goods and services.

By having multiple credit cards you are spreading your point building ability thinly, increasing the time you will have to wait before you can claim any rewards. Using only one card enables you to increase your points balance and get rewards quickly.

Reduce Theft

Credit cards are a form of cash advance. You are buying without having to part with the cash until later.

But like money, they too can be stolen. Having multiple cards which you have to keep tabs on, increases the likelihood of credit card theft occurring.

This could be physical theft of the card, somebody retaining a copy of the card number for illegal uses or unauthorized purchases where one of your staff members uses a work credit card for personal use.

Former Congresswoman Melissa Bean said,

“Credit card numbers aren’t just data. In the wrong hands they can wipe out someone’s life savings, wreck their credit and cause financial ruin.”

Having one card puts you in a better position to know the exact physical location of the card and who has it.

It is easy to check purchases too as you only need to check one monthly statement.

Fuss Free Record Keeping

Credit card billing statements are a wonderful way of keeping track of all your business expenses. This is because card statements give a paper trail of when, where and how much was spent during a transaction.

Having multiple cards makes this a tricky process, especially if cards are used to pay off other cards by ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.

However, by only having one business credit card you will make your monthly bookkeeping easier and quicker to complete. You could even end up saving money on accountant’s fees as they would not need to search for information from different sources.

Control Spending

Using multiple credit cards for business expenses can be very costly.

Are you sure you are not paying more than you need to? Having multiple cards makes it harder to keep track of what is being spent, especially if different staff members have their own cards.

Who is to stop duplicate items being purchased, bills being paid twice or more business lunches being eaten than necessary?

Having one card with one responsible person reduces the amount of wasteful or unnecessary spending. They will be able to keep tabs on who has it and what they are using it for.

Unless you have a very large business or are willing to take unnecessary financial risks, it is wise to only have one credit card for your business to use and check or repair your credit history once or twice a year.

After all, everything that is purchased using a credit card needs to be paid back and nobody wants to hand over hard earned money if it could have been avoided.

Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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Cloud Computing

6 Cloud Hosting Benefits In Layman's Terms


Cloud hosting benefits can often be hard to grasp, even for the most technical among us. Understanding all the terminology like virtualization and parallel processing can make your head spin.

While I don’t want to patronize any readers by comparing cloud hosting benefits to something wishy-washy, I’ll try tell it like it is.

→ This article is sponsored by BlueHost – Unlimited Cloud Hosting from just $4.95/month ←

Cloud Hosting Basics

First, we should get the term ‘cloud’ out of the way. It conjures the image of an amorphous blob that has no real boundaries.

‘The cloud’ is just a set of computer servers networked together in a different way than they were before. It is a new method of utilizing server and network hardware with the help of software.

Servers usually operate like lone soldiers, crunching data without the help of other servers.

In a different type of network to cloud hosting, those lone soldiers could be lined up with each other to share the workload. This form of load balancing is done with physical equipment that sits between the servers, telling them what to do, like a Captain.

If one server has too much work to do, it could pass the workload to another server. This passing back and forth doesn’t scale very well technically and economically, and data crunching has a diminishing return on investment.

Benefits Of Cloud Hosting

Instead of having a couple of servers hand the workload off to each other, what cloud hosting does differently is distribute the work across dozens (if not thousands) of servers. While this description sounds similar to load balancing using hardware, in fact the balancing act is taken care of by software.

This software is what is known as the virtualization layer. It is installed on each physical server like an operating system would be, however this software digs it’s claws far deeper into the server’s CPU and RAM than an operating system.

The virtualization layer is the captain that controls the server hardware and distributes workload between other captains and servers.

What this allows is a distribution of work, a distribution of data (and duplication of data in many cases) and a much higher tolerance to faults.

Advantage #1. Fault Tolerance

In the old days when your server’s harddrive crashed, your website would be offline until a new drive can be installed and the data recovered. Quite often, this took days and that’s only when backups were actually available.

New cloud hosting technology allows for any server in the network to die and all other servers just pick up the slack. The load is balanced and the data recovered automatically from network drives or other servers. In most cases, website visitors wouldn’t know a server in your network died.

Advantage #2. Flexibility

In the old days, if you needed more harddrive capacity or RAM or CPU power, you’d need to replace server components or get a whole new server. Not anymore with cloud hosting technology.

Due to the way virtualization can split up and distribute work, it does this by segmenting off RAM and CPU specifically for your website or dedicated portion of the cloud hosting network.

That means, you can simply tell the virtualization layer to allocate more resources for you. You don’t need to upgrade any components. The software allocates it to you in a matter of seconds.

Advantage #3. Better Use Of Resources

In the old days, for most of the time, your server would have some harddrive space left over, unused RAM and low CPU usage. You’ve paid for these resources, so why are they being left to waste?

Cloud hosting’s flexibility allows for the most efficient use of all server’s resources. This saves datacentres and server owners a lot of money by getting the most out of their hardware.

When the network becomes too busy, just add another server to lighten the load. This achieves greater economies of scale.

Advantage #4. Back Ups and Disaster Recovery

We touched on this before. If your server dies, all your data dies along with it – if you have no backups.

Always backup your data! If you use WordPress, I recommend BackupBuddy to email the database to you and save the full installation in the cloud.

When disaster strikes – and it inevitably does – the cloud can save you in many ways.

Data is distributed through out the cloud hosting network, across NAS (Network Array Storage) drives, so if something goes wrong, your data is still *somewhere*.

Saving your website to the cloud is also a good idea to ensure you are covered even if your house burns down along with your laptop and USB backups.

Advantage #5. Apps In The Cloud

So far we’ve talking about cloud hosting benefits from a hardware perspective, but there are also huge advantages for the end user being able to use software running in the cloud.

Data hungry applications can be run on cloud hosting networks to deliver results much faster than they would running the same application on a local PC.

Not only would this save users from downloading huge programs, or setting their CPU’s on fire from data processing, but it also allows for applications to be accessed from any computer, anywhere in the world.

Apps in the cloud are usually accessed through a web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari and lots more have native apps on smartphones.

Advantage #6. Reduced Cost To End Users

Due to the better use of resources and distribution of workload and data, the end result for companies deploying cloud hosting networks is a reduction in overall costs at larger scale.

This reduction in operating costs are usually passed on to customers, who benefit greatly for receiving cheaper cloud web hosting, higher resource allocations and more peace of mind in cases of disaster recovery.

→ This article is sponsored by BlueHost – Unlimited Cloud Hosting from just $4.95/month ←

Disclaimer: Links to 3rd party sites included within this article denoted with /go/ in the URL may result in commission being earned if you decide to make a purchase.

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