Technology

Passwords

How To Create An Unhackable Password You’ll Remember

If your password is “password1”, you’re a very silly person – and I’m putting it politely. Passwords serve an important purpose that aren’t merely an annoyance to get past, but they’re meant to protect sensitive information, access to social media, emails, bank accounts, bitcoin wallets and a multitude of other online services.

Choosing a good password is simply not good enough. It needs to be unhackable! Perhaps that’s wishful thinking but we can definitely make our passwords much harder for hackers to crack.

Don’t Use These Passwords

  • Your birthday,
  • Your pet or child’s name,
  • Your street address,
  • Your phone number.

Any one of these passwords can be discovered by a malicious acquaintance, work colleague or the mailman.

Even if you are to choose a password that contains a word from the dictionary such as “aardvark5” or “zebra89”, you’re still in trouble.

Password Dictionary Attacks

A hacker may attempt to login to an online service by trying lots of different passwords. If they already know your email address, half the work is done. To crack your password, there is a process called ‘brute force dictionary attack’ that attempts to login to your account by running through a dictionary of words – often hundreds of thousands.

If your password is a dictionary word, you have no hope of stopping a determined hacker.

“But wait”, I hear you say, “I also have numbers at the end of my password”.

The same brute force attack is smart enough not to just stop at dictionary words. The attack will try, for example, “aardvark”, “aardvark1”, “aardvark2” … “aardvark1234” right through to 99999.

All this is done automatically without any input from the attacker, so the effort on their behalf is minimal.

Letter-by-Letter Password Attacks

Another common method of cracking passwords is to start at “aaa” and increment each letter in sequence, for example “aab”, “aac” … “aaz”, “aa1″… “aa!”.

This attack will also use symbols and numbers for each incremental attempt and may continue for a string of 12 characters. That’s a lot of combinations! Never-the-less, this type of attack will also eventually crack your password.

Making It Harder To Crack A Password

While you can see here that cracking a password may actually be ‘easy’ from a programmatic point of view, in reality, online services would detect these types of attacks and block them very quickly.

But what if you have subscribed to one particular website that doesn’t care about security? You’ve given them the same password that you use across all your online services, right? Whoops.

If a hacker discovers your password via an insecure website, they could just as easily breeze right in to your other online accounts knowing your password. Think this is a fanciful idea? Read how former Gizmodo reporter Mat Honan got hacked big time

To make it harder to crack passwords, ideally, you’d need to have a unique password for EACH website or online service. How could you possibly manage to remember all of them?

Learning To Leetspeak

What is leetspeak? Leetspeak is a form of writing whereby some letters in a word are replaced by a numerical likeness or other letters that create an identical or similar sound.

It’s quite simple. Replace the letter “O” (for Orange) with a “0” (zero). Replace the lowercase letter “l” (for lounge) with a “1” (one). Get creative and also use symbols such as replace “c” with “{“.

  • B = 8
  • b = |o
  • I = !
  • h = 4
  • a = @
  • … and so on

Make your own substitutes using numbers and symbols that you will remember easily. Each substitute doesn’t have to be one for one. For example, the letter “b” can be extended to 2 characters “|o” or capital “F” can be “I=”.

Creating A Unique Password

With your newly acquired taste for leetspeak, you’ll need a unique password for every online account you have and that may number in the dozens. Facebook, twitter, gmail, youtube, linkedin, your bank, local council, your friend’s blog, etc.

The best way to craft a great unique password is to use a short “seed” sentence with the website name in it. Then convert the sentence into Leetspeak.

For example, my seed sentence could be “I rode my Harley to “.

If I wanted to reset my Facebook password, I’d convert “I rode my Harley to Facebook”.

My password becomes “!r0d3my|-|4r13yt0I=4(3b00k”.

Try crack that. Alright, perhaps that’s a bit too complex and a real bugger to type. It could be simplified to “Ir0d3myHarl3yt0F4c3book”.

You get the idea.

Come up with your own seed sentence and Leetspeak substitutions that you are comfortable with.

Password Rules

  • Start with a seed sentence with unique name for each service/software,
  • Convert sentence to Leetspeak,
  • Minimum length of 8 characters,
  • Use both uppercase and lowercase letters,
  • Use symbols and numbers.

Never share your password, seed sentence or Leetspeak with anyone.

Also read 38 Things Not To Share On Social Networking Sites

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Tags:  passwordpassword managementpassword managerpasswords

Largest Robbery

The Largest Robbery In History Orchestrated By Criminals

The largest robbery most of us ordinary citizens would endure statistically is credit card fraud, car theft, residential break-ins or the theft of stock off from our shops.

With online retailing, businesses are fleeced of products from unscrupulous individuals using stolen credit cards. The business loses stock, the criminal benefits and the poor sucker whose card was stolen has the hassle of replacing it and combing through their credit card statements checking each transaction.

It’s an unfortunate reality of business that thieves will try to take advantage of us. More often than not, criminals will steal cash or items that can easily be sold for quick cash. Clever thieves will spend months and even years planning their robbery, especially when large amounts of cash are concerned.

The largest robbery from Central Bank of Iraq


According to Iraq law, 100% of the Central Bank of Iraq’s capital stock shall be held by the State and is not transferable.

On the 18th March 2003, US$920 million was transferred from the Central Bank of Iraq into the hands of Qusay Hussein, on the orders of his father Saddam – The President of Iraq at the time.
As well as Saddam Hussein’s son Qusay, other officials supervising the heist from the bank vault included the Finance Minister, Hikmat Ibrahim al-Azzawi.

It was one day before America began its bombing raid on Iraq and Saddam knew something was up. He told his son to present a handwritten note to a teller on his behalf, requesting that the bank account to be purged to the tune of almost $1 billion. Qusay and an unidentified man spent several hours from 4 in the morning loading up hundreds of boxes stuffed with $100 bills.

The sheer volume of the cash was so great that three tractor-trailers were needed to cart it off.

The banknotes amounted to one-quarter of the Central Bank’s foreign currency reserves.

$650 million was later found by US troops in one of Saddam’s sons palaces. The rest of the money is still unaccounted for.

In 2003, Qusay and brother Uday were killed in a firefight with coalition troops. In 2006, Saddam was sentenced to death by hanging, after being found guilty and convicted of crimes against humanity.

U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his opinion that Saddam deserved “the ultimate justice”.

A billion dollars would be a massive windfall for any thieve, but it’s surely out of reach for most. Some thieves merely settle for $100 million or so.

Let’s take a look at some more of the largest robberies and most interesting heists in history.

Kent Securitas Depot, England


US$95.2 million was taken from the Securitas cash management depot in Kent on 26 February 2006. This is known as the largest cash robbery in British history.

The drama started the night before when the manager, his wife and 8 year old son were abducted. First they were taken to a farm, where the manager was threatened with the death of his family if he did not cooperate, and then onto the depot where they found 14 employees bound and surrounded by balaclava wearing robbers.

These gun toting thieves stole £53,116,760 and were well gone before police arrived an hour later and freed the hostages, who were understandably shaken, but unharmed.

Harry Winston Jewellery Store, Paris


It was the 6th December 2008 and the streets of Paris were packed with busy Christmas shoppers.

Suddenly the Pink Panther gang, who were all dressed as women, burst into the store carrying a grenade and a .357 Magnum. Staff and customers were dumbfounded by this brazen theft in broad daylight and watched as the thieves smashed open the displays and took about US$108 million worth of jewellery and precious stones.

The Pink Panther gang, said to have hundreds of members, have continued to carry out many more robberies. Their name comes from the movie The Return of the Pink Panther, as it is reported that they hid a diamond in a jar of face cream, just like in the film.

Antwerp Diamond Centre, Belgium


The DNA from half an uneaten sandwich led investigators to the arrest of Leonardo Notartalo, and his gang, held responsible for the diamond, gold and jewellery heist at the Antwerp Diamond Centre on the 16th February 2003.

Approximately US$100 million of stock was taken during this well planned heist, which many thought could never happen due to substantial security measures which were in place at the time.

A lock with over 100 million combinations, infra-red heat detectors, magnetic fields, a seismic sensor, 24 hour video footage and a private security force were all out maneuvered by the gang who had spent years planning this diamond heist.

Once access to the vault was obtained, they systematically emptied over 123 private security boxes and removed jewels, diamonds and cash. Paramount Pictures have acquired the rights to make a film about this heist.

Steward Gardner Museum, Boston


On the 18th March 1990, the world’s largest art theft in history occurred.

Two fake policemen talked their way into the Steward Gardner museum by saying they were there to check out a disturbance. The two real security guards were tied up and the thieves helped themselves to thirteen irreplaceable works of art by cutting them from their frames.

Although an alarm was set off during this art heist, the police did not attend as it was only an internal alarm. The artworks, which are valued at over $300 million, remain at large, as do the thieves.

The Great Train Robbery


Perhaps the most famous heist of all occurred during the early hours of the 8th August 1963.

Robbers stopped the train, which was carrying mail and money, by using a red signal light that they had tampered with.

Over £2.6 million, mostly in £1 and £5 notes, were taken from the High Value Packages coach of this mail train, which carried postal mail sorters, but no security guards or police officers. Less than £400,000 has been recovered and only eleven of the seventeen robbers served jail time for this heist.

While thefts from our places of work are disheartening and reduce our profit margins, it is amazing to think about the lengths some criminals will go to in order to steal from us. But from a product point of view, we obviously have got it right, as they want what we’ve got!

Customer Product Reviews

26 Reasons Why Customer Product Reviews Increase Sales

The first thing most people do when deciding on a product purchase is to go online. We want to know about various models, pricing and features. But how do we really know which one is best when there are so many options?

As a business owner, it’s easy to put yourself in the customer’s shoes because we are all customers ourselves. Potential customer want to know what other customers think about your business or product and that’s why testimonials work so well.

Potentially even more valuable than hand picked testimonials are customer product reviews written by real people who have used the product. Here are 26 reasons why your online store should allow customer product reviews to increase sales.

1. Reviews are great for product development and researching

When somebody writes a good review of your product, it’s an opportunity to promote it further and make it more widely available, since you are obviously onto a good thing.

2. Reviews impact your SEO

Google is more likely to feature your product page in it’s search results if updated content is added to your product page. Use Rich Snippets as star ratings that feature in Google’s search results.

3. Increase your search ranking

Google places a lot of value on the opinions of real people on your website, more than what you say about your product. When multiple reviews are placed on your product page, Google will rank your website higher because more reviews indicates higher social impact.

4. Introduce other products

A good review can sell other products. Reviews allow the opportunity for your customers to say what other products they purchased or would complement this product.

5. Reduce product returns

When customers read reviews they can determine the exact product that they wish to buy. This reduces the number of returns you need to process, giving your staff more time to focus on making money instead of refunding it.Trolls

Source

6. Resolve small issues before they become big

A review gives you the opportunity to identify any issues that you may have overlooked. You are able to respond to customers and resolve any issues before your product reviews get trolled.

7. Promote your customer service

Reviews are a great way of promoting your customer service. It allows the customer to give honest feedback about their experience purchasing the product or service. If it is a good review, great. If it is negative, it gives you the opportunity to make improvements.

8. Receive instant feedback

You will be able to gain significant insights into what your customers are feeling about your products. This gives you the chance to tweak the product or product description to further meet the needs of your customers.

9. Promote products by word of mouth

Customers are very keen to share their feelings and ideas about products and services they have encountered. A review allows sharing between friends, family and colleagues about your products, increasing your brand name presence.

10. Keep an eye on how your staff are performing

It will be easy to see positive comments that are being made about specific employees, allowing you to reward them. Conversely, you will also be able to see non-performing staff and provide further training where appropriate.

11. Listen to your customers

Customers appreciate being listened to. They will feel that you care about what they think and expect from you. Customers are more willing to purchase from a business that listens to them, than one that does not.customer product reviews

Source

12. Make negative customers happy

A negative review on your website allows you the chance to fix the problem immediately, as well as a chance to make the customer happy. Don’t delete the review. You are able to show them that you care about their feedback making it more likely they will deal with you again in the future.

13. Social influence

Friends influence each other. When you connect your review page to the Facebook accounts of your reviewers, you allow their friends to see what they have posted. It’s called keeping up with the Jones’.

14. It’s easy and free

Setting up a review page on your website does not require much time, nor will it cost anything if you do it yourself. Then you have a simple platform to receive communication from your customers.

15. Mixed reviews make you seem real

Having negative reviews is not something to stop you setting up a review page. In fact, by having negative reviews you are more likely to seem honest and creates a balance on the review page. No product is 100% perfect all of the time.

16. You can change how customers think of your business

Thank customers for their comments and if any are negative, you can explain the procedures you are putting in place to avoid that situation happening again. People can then write nice things about how you listened to them and fixed the problem.

product reviews

17. Build trust

Having a review page allows your customers to build trust in your products. Customers trust reviews written by other customers.

18. Easy promotion

Instead of having to promote products yourself, allow your customers to promote them for you. It looks great to consumers and it saves you time and money.

19. Change product descriptions

A review can let you know when your product description needs tweaking. You might sell a red shirt on your site, but the photo looks more orange to the customer. A reviewer may point it out so you can edit the photo.

20. Adding to your descriptions

Reviewers can provide more detailed information in layman’s terms, such as explaining your sizing further. They may say your medium is more of a small medium, which can help other customers choosing your products.

21. Help with keyword identification

Customers will use words in their reviews similar to the words they use in search engines. When you know what keywords they are using to search with, you can adapt your SEO accordingly.

22. Help your manufacturers out

Your product manufacturers are able to read reviews about products they supply to you. They can focus directly on what the customers are saying without having to hear it second hand and adapt their product accordingly.

23. Show belief in your product

If you are selling something, you should have trust and belief in what you are selling. So prove this by allowing customers to review products and showing you have nothing to hide.counting money

Source

24. Customers spend more

After reading a review by their friends, family and colleagues, customers are more likely to spend more money buying your products. Especially if reviews suggest they buy a more expensive model that will do the job more effectively.

25. Reviews are searched for

Customers want reviews and they also want products. They will often enter the product name and the word ‘review’ together on a search engine. If you don’t have reviews on your site, you are potentially missing out on customers.

26. Engaged customers stay customers

A customer who has liked your product wants to tell people about it. You engage your customers by allowing them to add their personal opinions and they are more than likely to come back, purchase more products and write more reviews.

Do you have customer product reviews on your online store?

Allow the good and bad reviews on your website. Show your customers that you are a trustworthy and honest business. Customers appreciate when you care about their opinions and allow them to express themselves in a public manner. In the end, reviews help to increase sales and what business would not want that?

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Bubble Wrap Sheet

Why Bubble Wrap Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Why Bubble Wrap Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

HOME → Career

Learn How To Buy & Sell Bitcoins

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Source: Flickr

As a kid, there’s something magical about getting a birthday present sent from the family interstate or overseas. It’s not just the distance the package has traveled or simply the fact that it’s your birthday and you’re getting free stuff.

I’ll readily admit that I was occasionally let down by the random gift of underwear or socks but even those gifts had one redeeming feature. They came in bubble wrap padded bags. Boy, did I love popping hundreds of those air-filled plastic bubblewrap bags!

Don’t ask me why underwear needs bubble wrap, since it’s commonly used to absorb shock and cushion fragile objects from damage. Although… underwear made from bubble wrap? Now that’s protection!

Bubble Wrap Brand Name

Much like the brand name Hoover became synonymous with vacuum cleaners, Bubble Wrap is a registered trademark and brand name – not just the term to describe the bubble plastic air packaging.

For the purpose of this article, I will use the term “bubble wrap” to describe the material, not the brand name.

bubble wrap

Bubble Wrap For Fun

We all know the boring uses for bubble air packaging, so instead let’s take a light-hearted look at some novel ways it is used.

Here’s a much safer adventure than walking on hot coals, but with much of the same exhilaration. Try roll out a bubble sheet for the kids to play in the hall way. This should keep them amused for a while.

Bubble wrap is great for stress relief and keeping your sanity in moments of boredom. Bubble wrap is the gift that keeps on giving.

If you don’t have a heart condition, give this game a minute of your time.

Office Air Pillows

Sleeping at desk

Source

You’re in the office, you’ve run out of coffee and starting to doze off. What do you do? How about a 10 minute power nap? Grab a sheet of bubblewrap and fold it over a few times to make a comfy air pillow. Cover it with a shirt or cloth and duck under the desk for a quick snooze.
 

bubble wrap insulation

Bubble Wrap Insulation

If you’re looking for a cost effective method to insulate windows (and don’t mind the bubbly look), then surprisingly bubble wrap can help.

When placed on a window, the air pillows absorb heat during the day and release heat when the temperature is cooler. This help to keep the rooms inside a more comfortable temperature.

Just lightly spray the window with a fine mist of water before applying your bubble sheet.

Bubble wrap is often used to insulate greenhouses during the winter and also works for windows of irregular shape. Larger bubbles work best to absorb temperature more efficiently.

Bubble Wrap Toys

Cats have a love/hate relationship with bubble wrap. Walking on it is not so pleasant since cats prefer a stable solid surface, but also love ripping it up. If your cat is ripping up your carpet and curtains, give them bubble wrap instead.

Bubble wrap costume For your next Christmas party, Halloween or fancy-dress get together, try out this punching suit – I mean, bubble wrap costume. Hilarious, right? You can actually buy it at Amazon!.

If you’re the type with an obsessive personality or just simply love love love popping bubble wrap, check out this electronic alternative.

Where To Get Free Bubble Wrap

If you are looking for smaller pieces of bubble wrap, you could be in for a treat. Ask your local pharmacy for free bubble wrap bags “for the kids” *wink* as most suppliers send bottles of prescription medicine wrapped in the stuff. Usually it just goes in the bin.

You can also check your local green grocer in fruit and vegetable boxes. Anything that is breakable or perishable could be protected with bubble wrap.

What do you use bubblewrap for?

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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Drunk Party

38 Things Not To Share On Social Networking Sites

A large chunk of my Facebook friends are what I consider to be acquaintances in the real world and that’s probably giving them too much credit. I’m sure they’re great people, but in reality I barely know them.

On the flip-side, I know way too much about an old acquaintance’s sister. No, I’m not some kind of creepy Facebook stalker. She’s my Facebook “friend” who posts statuses about anything and everything. She is the epitome of the social media joke – someone who updates their status on the toilet, on the bus, when they picked their nose. She has no filter for things not to share. She shares too much. I know I can just hide her from my feed or de-friend her, but damn, she’s hot. TMI?

Here’s 38 things not to share on social networking sites

1. Personal conversations – don’t post chunks of private emails, Instant Messages or texts without permission.

2. Open invites to all friends meant only for a few – “who wants to go for a drive?”

3. Social plans – it will make uninvited friends feel left out.

4. Date analysis – if your ex is still a friend or follower, dont talk about the date you just had or will be having.

5. Employer secrets – don’t want to get fired? Keep planned products, expansions or layoffs private until your boss releases information publicly.

6. Photos of your kids publicly – if you don’t restrict access to your profile, family photos are there for everyone to see. Keep your kids safe from dodgy strangers.

7. Your home address and phone number – File this one under security risk.

8. Personal finance information – don’t blab about how much money you make, your bank account size or how much that new car cost. You just look like a douchebag.

9. Your password or password secret hint – seems pretty obvious. If you’ve lost your password, commonly it can be retrieved by answering a security question – often, your first pet’s name, so don’t share it publicly.

10. Remember, the Facebook Comments plugin on other sites posts those comments to your wall.

11. Embarrassing photos of yourself or friends – yes, it may seem funny at the time but not when a potential employer rejects your job application because of what they’ve seen.

12. Pictures of your credit card – people actually do this. Proud of your platinum AMEX card? Whatever. *cough* douche *cough*

13. Pictures of any bodily function – you after a big night out. Your kid during potty training.

14. You’re about to go on vacation – just invite thieves over to steal your stuff while you’re gone.

15. A naked selfie – no explanation required.

16. Facebook game updates – I don’t care about Farmville or BubbleWhatever. Just stop.

17. Pictures of your drunk boss flirting with the girls from HR at the work Christmas party.

18. That you are having an affair or thinking about it.

19. Complaints about your boss or colleagues.

20. Complaints that you hate your job and want to leave. You might get your wish – involuntarily.

21. Post pictures of the party from the night before you called in sick for work.

22. That are you are planning to take a sickie.

23. Try gather personal support when having argument with a friend.

24. Ask for advice or fish for sympathy when having issues with your parents.

25. What you had for breakfast – no-one gives a shit!

26. Reveal your thoughts about a court case when on jury duty.

27. If you use Facebook or Twitter primarily for personal use, don’t constantly promote your business.

28. Reveal extreme views on race, religion or politics.

29. Update Facebook after you’ve escaped from jail.

30. Sexually explicit content – criminal laws related to pornography may come into play. It may also come back to haunt you years down the road.

31. False or untrue statements about someone – you could get sued for defamation but in a more human sense, you can easily hurt someone’s feelings or damage their reputation.

32. Gory pictures – don’t post pictures with blood or any living thing coming to harm.

33. Drug use – don’t be dumb. Keep the bong pictures to yourself – for your own sake.

34. Bullying – the most serious problems in schools today. Vicious treatment and hateful words between students often lead to violence, suicide, depression and discrimination among young people.

35. Precise location check-Ins – like your home address, work address or even favorite cafe. You’re just making it easier for stalkers to track you down.

36. Threaten violence – when authorities are notified about a threat, they have the right to investigate — and they will.

37. Confessions – got something to admit to a loved one? Do it in private first.

38. And for the record…

Bitcoin Cash

How To Use Bitcoin QR Codes

It has become commonplace to see QR Codes on product packaging and advertising. These codes hold a small amount of information, such as a website address or a bitcoin address.

QR Codes can seem like ‘yet another technology to learn about’ but using them are as simple as using any app on your smartphone or tablet.

Nearly every device manufactured in the last few years has a camera built in.

The QR scanning app on your device uses the camera to take a picture of the QR Code and analyses the image to decode the information contained within.

From the user’s perspective, it’s as easy as opening the app, tap ‘scan’, point the camera at the code and viola! That’s it.

What Are Bitcoin QR Codes

A bitcoin address is just data, usually between 27 and 34 characters long.

Scanning a QR code is much easier than typing very long Bitcoin addresses. The QR code can contain other information as well, such as payment information and a note.

I frequently embed QR Codes in my videos. Those QR Codes are a representation of my bitcoin address.

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can take a picture of the QR Code in my videos using their bitcoin wallet app and send me tips!

If you are a content creator, allowing viewers to express their appreciation for your content with a monetary tip is like a great big cyber-hug.

If you are a consumer of online content, recognizing the time, effort and bravery of creators by sending them a tip is a great way of telling them that they’re providing a worthwhile service.

How To Use Bitcoin QR Codes

If you do not have a bitcoin wallet yet, search Google Play or the App Store for “bitcoin wallet” on your smartphone/device.

I like Mycelium, Blockchain, CoinJar or AirBitz wallets. There are other options, but choose one with good reviews and more than 3 or 4 stars.

Now, fire up your bitcoin wallet app.

Due to differences between apps, I need to generalize and make a few assumptions. One assumption is that your wallet is not empty and you have a few bits.

1. SEND BUTTON

When you tap ‘send’, you may have the option to type in a bitcoin address or scan a QR code. Scanning is the easiest and quickest method of populating your wallet with the information it needs to send a payment.

2. RECEIVE BUTTON

If you want to receive bitcoin into your wallet, tapping the ‘receive’ button should give you two crucial bits of information.

First, you should see your bitcoin address which looks like 1BKnJY3Qe6hFSK6XaGXWsSuYcuZxBtkBoQ.

Second, you may have the option to display a QR code that represents your bitcoin address.

How To Know The Payment Went Through

Below is my QR Code. If you scan this code using the ‘SEND’ function in your bitcoin wallet app, you should see my bitcoin address pop up.

1BKnJY3Qe6hFSK6XaGXWsSuYcuZxBtkBoQ

1BKnJY3Qe6hFSK6XaGXWsSuYcuZxBtkBoQ

You can send me a small ‘test’ amount (I appreciate it!) and check whether your payment has gone through at Blockchain.info (a service that let’s you check bitcoin addresses).

Now you should be set to go. Happy bitcoining! (No, that’s not a word)

Link Building Google

Why Keyword Anchor Text Links Got Smashed By Google

 

When building links to our website, the commonly held notion throughout the SEO industry is that our very first step is to select a targeted keyword phrase to be used for anchor text links. Usually, the keyword phrase describes the website’s contents.

For example, a pet store might choose the keyword phrase “Pet Shop in Chicago” or “Chicago Pet Supplies” and optimize their on-site content around those keywords.

That’s all fine and good, but we start to get into murky waters when going through the exercise of off-site link building. Be careful with your anchor text when using automated software like Backlink Beast to build backlinks.

Let’s take the example of using article directories like ezinearticles to build links to our website. Article directories allow authors to include a resource box where they can promote their website. Commonly, the author will include a sentence with two links containing their target keywords as the anchor text. The purpose is to build their website’s authority for that keyword and therefore rank higher in search as a result.

Google recently blasted that technique out of the water and declared war on manipulating search results using keyword stuffed anchor text links. Article directories were hit hard and so too were author’s websites who may have over-optimized their links.

Off Page SEO Anchor Text Links Are Untrustworthy

Anchor Text Links
This really got me thinking. Do I, or do I not build links with article directories? How will Google see these links in the future?

PageRank (PR) is the sweet name for Google’s mathematical algorithm that it uses to calculate a page’s authority.

To think this through, we also need to consider the value of Google PageRank. What does it mean for my website if it has PR 1 or PR 6? We know that the number of links pointing to a website page is a signal Google uses to calculate that page’s PageRank. When a page has a higher PR, Google has determined it to be more trustworthy than a page with lesser PR.

A common misconception is that Google ranks websites or domain names. Not true. Google ranks individual pages on their own merit. Google ranks pages determined by their content and authority

Let me say that again. Content and authority

The theory underlying this link building strategy is the more links your website gains with the keyword, for example “blue widgets”, the higher your website will rank in Google when someone searches for that phrase. So, this is one part of the authority side of the equation. But Google is smart enough to detect when a website owner is trying to manipulate it’s authority. The result is a penalty towards your authority because you appear to be engaging in deceptive or manipulative practices. I believe that’s the very definition of irony!

High PageRank Does Not Guarantee Website traffic

Google pagerank

OK, so if PR is a measure of a page’s authority, then WHY oh WHY doesn’t a high PR guarantee traffic?

I have a domain name (that I will not disclose) that is over 10 years old. It used to get a lot of traffic and we sold music CDs (legally) through an e-commerce shop. The site gathered a lot of inbound links and it’s PR rose to 5 at the height of it’s popularity. That was a long time ago now and the main page has dropped down to PR 4. There is still a fully functional website sitting on the domain and all pages are still indexed in Google. But the website has not been updated for years and years. We just use it to funnel PR to our other websites.

But there’s the rub, you see. The website’s main page has a PR 4 and subsequent pages have PR 1-3. Yet, the site gets a trickle of traffic. No more than 5 unique visitors per day. That is it. Shit, right?

Then I have another 2 year old website that has PR 1 and gets 20-30 unique visitors per day.

So I’m asking myself, should we care about our page’s PageRank? It doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to and I have seen it’s importance decline in front of my own eyes.

Why Does PageRank Still Matter Then?

PageRank does matter when you are competing for a first page rank in the search engine results. Let’s say you have lots of competitors who sell blue widgets. When a searcher types in “blue widgets” the results will list the pages Google believes would provide the most value.

Now let says for the sake of this example that 2 competitors website pages are #1 and #2 in the results. Both #1 and #2 pages objectively have the same ‘content’ value and Google could easily have swapped each competitors position – let’s just pretend the page’s ‘content’ value is identical. If that’s the case, who gets to be #1 ?

Well, the answer is the page with the higher PageRank. Also, let’s not forget that just because we are used to seeing PageRank talked about as a whole number, eg 4 or 5, it’s fairly obvious that Google measures PR to a large number of decimal places, eg 5.034592018410373916540124…

Why Anchor Text Keywords Do Not Matter As Much Anymore

Ship

Source

Continuing with the example, now let’s say there is almost no competition for “blue widgets” but a fair amount of competition for “cyan widgets”. Your page has PR 3 and ranks #1 when people search for “blue widgets”. But when people search for “cyan widgets”, a competitor’s page with PR 1 is ranked higher than you.

Is this because your competitor optimized anchor text keywords for “cyan widgets” more than you did?

No.

The reason the competitor would rank higher is because they have utilized the keyword “cyan widgets” in that individual page ON THEIR OWN WEBSITE more times or in a better way than you did (if you used the keyword at all).

The keywords that Google can determine from YOUR OWN PAGE – that you have full control over – is a much bigger factor to ranking in search results than from anchor text on external websites.

Keyword Research For Content

Researching and utilizing keywords within your website content is extremely important for ranking higher – don’t get me wrong.

Market Samurai is my favorite piece of software for doing keyword research and determining how much competition I’d have for a particular keyword phrase so that I can make an educated guess where I’d rank in the Google results page. Finding the right keyword phrase (2 or more words) with little competition and big potential can mean the difference between receiving a few visitors per day and a tsunami.

I always research keywords before writing blog articles or creating website pages. There is a free trial of Market Samurai for 14 days through the link above. Please note that I refer a lot to Market Samurai because I use it frequently and find it a valuable asset to my business.

Content Is King

Do any of us think we’re smarter than Google? Come on, seriously! Using off page SEO techniques such as link building is going to become far less important at ranking your website in the search results than the CONTENT Google analyzes from your website.

Just to be clear – using keywords in the content of your own website is the right place for them and where you should focus your efforts. If you want to rank for “blue widgets”, use that keyword phrase in your title tag, in the description and within the content of your website page a few times.

A Link From An External Website Is A Thumbs Up For Your Page

I predict in the near future, the anchor text in links from external websites will have zero influence towards your PageRank. The link itself will still count as a +1 thumbs up for your website, but the anchor text won’t matter.

Did you know that an external page with numerous links to your page is only counted as ONE inbound link (ie, one thumbs up) – not several? That is – multiple links to the same URL on one page equals one inbound link, no matter how many times the URL is shown on the page.

Have you been penalized from over-stuffing keyword anchor text links?

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.

Tags:  anchor text linkarticle directoriesbuilding backlinkslink buildingoff page seoseoseo anchor linkstext link building

google-image-search

Image Search Causes Huge Upswing In Website Traffic

Often for new and old websites, search traffic can be hard to come by. The problem might be that your website doesn’t have enough backlinks or you’ve got a bad selection of keywords. Commonly, webmasters are making SEO mistakes that can damage their Google ranking.

Traffic to your website can come from many sources, such as social media, mailing list blasts, direct hits and of course from search. However, not many webmasters are taking advantage of image search and you could be missing out on a lot of traffic to your website.

There is the argument that you shouldn’t have your images indexed, either to protect your copyrights or to reduce bandwidth usage through your web hosting. There is also the argument saying that a user searching for an image can view it on Google’s image page and never visit your website at all. Yes, that is certainly true, but I have proof that image search can result in real traffic and click-throughs to your website.

If you haven’t done so already, I recommend signing up for Google Webmaster Tools (it’s free), linking up your website and start collecting stats. For new additions, you’ll need to wait a few weeks for data to be collected. These stats are different from the type of statistics you’ll find in Google Analytics.

Once you’re in Google Webmaster Tools and looking at your domain, go to Traffic > Search Queries. I want to show you this graph:


This graph depicts the number of impressions one of my test website’s content is getting, whether it’s images or links in the ‘normal’ results pages. An impression means my website has come up in results, but not necessarily been clicked on.

You can see that in a matter of days, impressions shot up from nothing to 40,000 per day. I’m guessing the reason clicks are less than 10 is the because these results are largely from image search and not from ‘normal’ search engine clicks. But the real click through rate can be determined through Google Analytics. Here is a screenshot of the same period.

Google Analytics screenshot

NOTE: When I first noticed traffic increasing on Jan 25, I decided to tweak the website and try leverage this incoming traffic. I inadvertently killed my Analytics code, so you can see a dip on the next day. I only fixed it the day after when I realized my mistake :(

Image Search Can Increase Website Traffic

So what’s going on here? First we should realize that image search is wildly popular and generates a lot of impressions. My results here is from ONE image. Just ONE.

That one image brought in 435 individual people to the main website (or probably around 30 more, taking into account my Analytics mistake). Clearly, those visitors went on to browse the site with an average of 1.72 pages visited.

Let’s not get crazy though. The click-through rate works out to be just 0.5%, but when your image is getting 40,000 impressions a day, it can be a really good day.

Image Search Lessons Learned

It was not my intention to run tests on image searches. Originally, I just had a short 200 word article with an image in the post. Nothing special. The original post had been online for 3 weeks prior to this huge upswing. So what did I do in the days prior to this huge upswing?

1. Image alt tags

A few days before the upswing, I ran a website analysis through Woorank that told me, amongst other things, that none of my images on the website had image alt tags. This was sheer laziness on my part because it was just a test website so I wasn’t putting in the full SEO effort. Including image alt tags have been recommended in SEO circles since the dawn of time.

On the same day, I had just signed up for the free trial of Market Samurai (affiliate) to use as my primary keyword research software. I had a quick keyword research session and found some nice longtail keywords that I used in the image alt tags.

2. Image file names

Just the same as I did for my image alt tags, I renamed some images to the keywords I had found through Market Samurai. eg, long-tail-keyword.jpg
As a matter of prudence, I created a redirection from the old image filename to the new one, so that I wouldn’t lose that traffic.

The result, as you can see in the graphs above, was phenomenal. I believe my keyword research, changing the image filename and adding the alt tags boosted impressions and subsequently brought in more ‘real’ traffic to my website where visitors continued to browse around.

3. Submit an image sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools

Did you know that your website’s sitemap doesn’t just contain links to pages and posts, it can include images as well? If you are using WordPress, Yoast’s SEO plugin creates a well formed sitemap perfect for submitting to Google Webmaster Tools. The plugin can also submit sitemaps for you automatically and will update whenever you create new posts. If you don’t have Yoast’s SEO plugin, get it because it’s great for other SEO tweaks.

Are you having success generating traffic with images?

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.

Mailbox

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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Tags:  first blog postfirst blog post example

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