Nov 032008
 

Hello again 🙂 Did you miss me?

If any of y’all have wondered where I’ve been, I’ve been around, just keeping my paws off the site in order to see what would happen.  Specifically, I was curious how my complete absence for a month would effect such things as my standings in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and my Google Adsense revenue.  Results were both positive and a bit distressing, but I’ll get to my reaction to them in a few moments.

Traffic Results and SERPs-

First, here’s some actual numbers from Clicky Web Analytics

September Traffic Stats for Philaahzophy.com-

October Traffic Stats for Philaahzophy.com-

To quickly sum up those traffic numbers I had more visitors looking at more pages, but spending less time overall in October as compared to September.  And that’s without really promoting the site or doing so much as visiting, much less adding new content.  Yes, my last post was actually on October 5th, but that post only received 215 views leaving more than 2,500 new views unaccounted for.  And, though it’s not visible in those screenshots I also lost more than 1,500 ‘social media’ views by not actively promoting the site through StumbleUpon.  So, where’d that traffic come from?  Well, search traffic more than tripled in October from 2,140 to 6,627!

Google Adsense Revenue-

Unfortunately, Google won’t let me share my Adsense earnings with you, but I do believe I can safely say the following:  In the almost three years I’ve been a member of Google Adsense I’ve earned a grand total of three payments.  I first reached payment threshold in February of this year (about 18 months into my history with the program), my second in August (six months later), and my third at the end of October.  In other words, my revenue has consistently increased as I’ve learned more about how the system works and regardless of my continuing to add new content to this site.

I did manage to earn roughly 15% more from Google Adsense in September than I did in October, but I attribute that more to the Adsense earnings from StumbleUpon visitors that I wrote about previously.  And, even without any new content, October was still my second best month for Google Adsense earnings by more than 25%.

Conclusions-

So what does this all mean?  Unfortunately, I have no idea.  Thus the ‘positive but distressing’ comment in my opening paragraph.  The results are clearly positive – traffic and revenue are both up – but they’re also distressing because this seems to be happening not only outside my control, but apparently also without my input.  It just seems to be an organic occurrence now that I’ve reached some sort of critical mass with this blog.

Yes, it does seem there was a Google PageRank update in October, but Philaahzophy still sits at it’s arbitrarily enforced zero because I dare to state my opinions. This despite the fact Philaahzophy has more backlinks and far more traffic than my PR 2 blog.  So, that couldn’t be the cause of all of this.

I do have numerous pages on the first page of search engine results (in Google, Yahoo! and MSN search), but few, if any, of these just achieved those high results.  And even if my standing has increased in the SERPs, that simply begs the question of why since I’ve been doing nothing to the site.

The number of new links back to Philaahzophy decreased dramatically in October because I was neither out promoting the site nor generating new content to link to.  So that wasn’t it either.

If forced to state a reason behind these increases I’m left with only two options: 1) More people are spending more time searching the internet for topics I’ve written about over the last two years, or 2) Philaahzophy has reached some sort of critical mass.  I’m sorry if that informational isn’t exactly helpful, but one can’t always predict the usefulness of an experiment upon initiating it.

For those who actually missed my ramblings: thank you.  I do have several posts waiting in the wings that should be appearing shortly.

Sep 072008
 

According to Google

PageRank Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results.


Could someone please explain to me, then why Google thinks that this crummy blog ranks a 5 out of 10?  According to CheckPageRank.net (see the screenshot at right or run the search yourself), Yewpp.org “earned” a PageRank of 5 while having a grand total of 167 backlinks (in 14 Google, in 75 Yahoo!, and 78 in AllTheWeb) and after being live for a grand total of 51 days!  It seems that their “considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms” brought them to the decision that a near-splog is more valuable than (very roughly) 90% of the pages on the internet.  Way to go, Google!

For the record, I know how Yebb.org got a PR5 (they bought an expired domain that had a PR5 thanks to its .edu links and long standing (check The Wayback Machine for a snapshot) ) I just have a hard time believing that so many apparently intelligent people still put faith  in a metric that can make such glaring errors.  I mean, if CheckPageRank.net can determine that the domain changed hands less than two months ago, why can’t Google’s PR algorithm?

ps.  What’s up with no special logo to celebrate your 10th birthday Google?

Sep 032008
 
Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series         Next in series

Welcome to the third installment of my Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series!

Over the last two weeks we looked at simple steps you could take to improve the efficiency of your WordPress blog. This week we’re going to back up a little bit and look at how to set up a blog, or, more specifically, the very first plugins you should install on your WordPress blog. Yes, even before your very first post. With all of the great “Top 10 plugins for {whatever}” posts I’ve read, the one I really needed was never found. So, I’ve now written that post for the benefit of all the new bloggers out there. More experienced bloggers are welcome to follow along, of course, and if you think I’ve made a bad choice, or left something out, please comment to let me (and the other readers) know!

Exec-PHP

What it does- Exec-PHP is short for “execute PHP code” and the plugin executes code in your posts, pages and text widgets.

Why Install Before Blogging- Exec-PHP should, without a doubt, be the very first plugin you install and activate. While it is an “activate and forget” plugin, it’s absolutely essential to so many things a WordPress blogger does that it really should be part of the WordPress core. Even if you don’t know the first thing about PHP this plugin will still regularly aid you in your blogging journey. Aside from that, many, many plugins require that Exec-PHP be installed on the blog. In fact, so many require it, that it has become simply assumed that you’ll already have it installed and few mention the requirement, leading to no end of heaaches for the uninitiated. Save yourself stress – install and activate Exec-PHP before doing anything else on your new WordPress blog.

Google XML Sitemaps

What it does- An XML sitemap is like the directory at a large shopping mall. It includes the link to every page on your site (both posts and pages) with special meta data about each page in order to help webcrawlers (like GoogleBot) more easily track down all the bits and pieces of your blog. XML is the standard for sitemaps and is used by Ask.com, Google, MSN Search, and YAHOO!

With this plugin you don’t need to ever worry about your sitemap. Not only does it create one for you automatically, but it constantly updates it (and notifies Google!) with every change you make to any page.

Why Install Before Blogging- I assume that if you’re publishing a blog you want “the public” (aka complete strangers) to find and read it. In this day and age that means being indexed by Google. By installing this plugin before writing even your first post you ensure that Google will be with you every step of the way, reporting it to any websurfer interested in your topic(s).

All In One SEO Pack

What it does- The All In One SEO Pack WordPress Plugin does exactly what its name implies. This one plugin will automatically improve the search engine optimization of your WordPress blog. Specifically, here’s the highlights-

  • Automatically optimizes your titles for search engines
  • Generates META tags automatically
  • – Avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs
  • For WordPress 2.3 you don’t even have to look at the options, it works out-of-the-box. Just install.
  • You can override any title and set any META description and any META keywords you want.

Best of all, this is all 100% customizable for those who have an understanding of SEO techniques.

Why Install Before Blogging- It’s never too early to start worrying about search engine optimization. With the All In One SEO Pack you can just install it, activate it, and ignore it while still receiving maximum SEO benefits while you concentrate on the quality content that will keep readers coming back. The last plugin I recommended will make sure Google (and other search engines) knows about your website. This one will make sure you show up near the top of relevant searches.

I’ve been running my primary blog for about three years now and only started worrying about SEO in the last few months. When I went to research and test how effective my current SEO tactics have been I found they were considered near perfect by most online tools! At first I credited this directly to the WordPress platform itself, but after checking a few of my other blogs one was ranked down around 70% instead of the 95%-98% of the majority. While investigating what was different about that site I realized that I had never activated this plugin. After doing so that site as well jumped into the 90th percentile!

WP-PostViews

What it does- WP-PostViews tracks the number of times each post or page on your blog is viewed. This information is stored in your WordPress databse so can be easily accessed and posted just about anywhere on your blog.

Why Install Before Blogging- You may or may not be interested in sharing a list of your 10 (or 23 or 147) most popular posts on you rblog right now. Especially as you have zero posts at the moment. However, once your first post goes public views will start coming in. And if you wait to install (or activate) this plugin you’ll never have accurate data again. Install and activate it now, then the data will be ready for you whenever you’re interested.

CommentLuv

What it does- CommentLuv is designed to encourage fellow bloggers to comment on your blog by rewarding them with a link back to their latest post. It accomplishes this by accessing their blog’s RSS feed.

Why Install Before Blogging- Much like WP-PostViews, this plugin is unable to “go back in time” and add the links after the fact. Since it gathers the data as the comment is posted there is no way to append the commentor’s latest blog post to a comment that has been left in the past. Additionally, there is a growing CommentLuv community of bloggers that you will be plugged into as soon as you start your blog should you enable this plugin before writing your first post.

There you have it. Five more things to do before you even write your first post. Obviously, after installing the WordPress software you’ll be anxious to get those first few posts out the door, but taking the time to add these five plugins will get you started ion the right foot. All together it shouldn’t take you more than a half hour to install and activate these plugins, and down the line you’ll surely consider it time well spent.

That’s it for this third installment of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesday series. Next week I’ll have some more great tips for using WordPress to achieve all of your hopes and dreams!

Part of the Wonderful WordPress Wednesdays Series - Previous in series        Next in series
May 152008
 

When I started to get serious about monetizing the websites and blogs I’ve created over the years the first thing I realized was that it was going to take traffic. And large amounts of it. So that led me to pondering where, exactly, web traffic comes from. The answer, ultimately is two places: links and search engines. This, of course, led to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. One of the first things I learned there was that links from governmental sites (.gov) and educational institutions (.edu) carried more weight with search engine rankings then those from the more common top level domains (.com, .net and .org).

As I’ve muddled along with my own attempts at search engine optimization I’ve often wondered how, exactly, one goes about getting such links. Despite my efforts I have managed to obtain very few although they have been some of the most effective direct links in driving traffic to my various sites. Have they helped with Search Engine Optimization? Hard to say. None of my pages have exceptionally high Page Rank, but then those that I promote the most actively have also been Google-smacked for other reasons, so there’s no way to tell for sure what their real PageRank is.

I recently learned that both Matt Cutts and John Mu (both Google employees) have come flat out and said that .edu links do not carry any more weight in Google’s algorithm than kinks from any other top level domain. Rather the weight a link carries is directly attributable to the trustworthiness of the page and the site itself. Well, both educational institutions and government websites carry significantly more trustworthiness in the eyes of search engines, so perhaps both sides can be accurate.

Whether or not .edu links in themselves carry more weight, per se, everyone still agrees that they’re desirable. As noted above, I receive more traffic from my .edu links than from any other particular links I have floating around the web. In fact, this blog is still the number one search engine result for the term “Applied Anarchy” and I credit that to the fact that this phrase was used on a link from a .edu domain.

But this still leaves us with the dilemma of how to obtain such links. Well, today I learned of .EduTextLink.com whose sole purpose is to aid in your SEO efforts by providing edu links to your website.  Prices start at a mere $399 for their Basic “Get Acquainted” Package, which seems pretty reasonable should you have a website that is well monetized.  Earning back that investment shouldn’t be too difficult.  Unfortunately it’s out of my budget for the moment, so I can’t yet give them a try.  However, if you’re looking to do some serious marketing of your latest web project and you’re looking for .edu links than I’d love to hear back on your results.

Apr 192008
 

FiddyP created an amazing WordPress Plugin last year called CommentLuv and it’s been steadily working its way around the blogosphere. Comment Love Essentially, CommentLuv uses fellow blogger’s RSS feeds to automatically append a link to their latest blog post to any comments they leave on a CommentLuv enabled blog. I installed it here at Philaahzophy about 6 months ago and it’s quickly became my favorite WordPress plug-in.

However, a few months back word slowly started spreading that people who use FeedBurner’s excellent RSS service to serve their feeds may be losing out on the advantages of commenting on CommentLuv enabled blogs. The best post I’ve seen on the topic is Stephen Cronin’s Don’t Let Your CommentLuv Be Stolen Away

Some people are not taking full advantage of the benefit provided by CommentLuv on DoFollow blogs. They could be improving their PageRank and their position in the SERPs, but instead this is being stolen away.

How? The link for their latest post points to a FeedBurner redirect URL, not to the original post on their site.

This doesn’t stop people getting to the post, as FeedBurner will redirect them to the site. However, it means that the PageRank / SERPs benefits are going to FeedBurner, instead of the commentator’s site. Some of this may be passed on by FeedBurner, or it may not be. It’s not worth the risk.

Fortunately, there’s a simple step one can take to ensure FeedBurner isn’t “stealing” away one of the advantages of the CommentLuv Plugin – simply uncheck the ‘Item Link Clicks’ option within the FeedBurner Stats PRO section of your feed’s control panel at FeedBurner.

Not only will this ensure that you receive link credit in the search engines from CommentLuv’d comments, but it will also make it easier for other people to find the direct link to your post should they so desire. And an awful lot of the ‘promotion’ we tend to do as bloggers is about getting readers back to our site, so why send them to FeedBurner instead?

If you’re not sure if your links are pointing to your blog or your FeedBurner feed, feel free to leave a comment on this post. CommentLuv is enabled so when you reload the page you should see a link to your latest post. Hover over it to see where the link leads.