Dec 112008
 

It’s not exactly news that I’ve been far from happy with Izea, PayPerPost and SocialSpark for some time now. I actually abandoned writing for them for about two months, but have returned as they’re still one of the most consistent money makers available to me on the web. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over at Izea.

The last time I wrote about PPP was back in August related to Izea’s love of PageRank and how they’ve further embraced it instead of abandoning it as they had promised when Google attacked the bulk of their bloggers.  It seems good old Ted Murphy has decided that PayPerPost’s original critics were right and it really is all about selling PageRank and text links and actually has nothing to do with quality bloggers writing thoughtful and detailed reviews about products and services.  Why would I say this?  Well, according to Carri Bright (Izea’s Communications Diva)

The good news, though is that as of tomorrow (12.11.08), Tack Rating is no longer going to be a segmentation factor for Opps in PPP. So, while you may still receive a ban (deserved or otherwise) this will no longer affect your ability to take Opps from OTHER advertisers or lower your Tack score.

If you’re unfamiliar with PPPs workings, a ‘tack’ is the rating system advertiser’s have to give feedback on how well the blogger performed their duty when taking the advertiser’s opp (opportunity / sponsored post). Up until now, advertiser’s have been able to require a minimum average tack rating before a blogger could take one of their opps. This system allowed better blogs to (theoretically) rise to the top as an advertiser could require a 4 or 5 tack rating, leaving out all of those who previous advertisers have rated one or two tacks for poor English skills, outright lies, or rule bending.

The system was far from perfect, but was at least based on advertiser input and not the conflicted interest of PPP’s “reviewers” who (according to this ongoing thread) don’t seem very interested in disqualifying low quality blogs or even outright frauds and cheats.  In the past advertisers could allow even the one tack rated sploggers take their opps of they so chose, but now every PPP advertiser is required to let anyone and everyone who manages to game the (seriously broken) PageRank and RealRank systems get paid for linking to their website despite the quality of their writing or ability to follow simple instructions.

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 while doing some SEO package reviews on another site.  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?

Aug 112008
 

Ted Murphy, founder and CEO of IZEA (parent company of paid blogging companies PayPerPost and SocialSpark) despises Google PageRank so much that his company created a competing website metric system called RealRank.  But I’ll allow him to speak for himself…

From a PayPerPost Community Blog post dated November 17, 2007-

Once again Google has proved that PR has little to do with blog traffic, influence or relevance and everything to defending their monopolistic stranglehold on search and online advertising.

[…]

What does this mean for Advertisers?
If you are still using PR as your measure for influence you will be missing out on a lot a great blogs and bloggers. While the general population has maintained their ranking some of our better bloggers have been hit by Google. You may want to consider using Tacks and Alexa instead of PR for future campaigns until we implement RealRank.

[…]

We know that Google PR does not reflect your actual traffic…

From the IZEARanks.com FAQ

PageRank is not based on real traffic, but on what Google perceives as the quality of a website as determined by a link rating algorithm and some cloudy rules. The arbitrary and unpredictable nature of this ranking system has left both bloggers and advertisers longing for accurate statistical measure.

In an IZEA Town Hall Meeting on January 24, 2008-

I can promise you that PR will disappear in the future. Timing depends on how fast we wrap SocialSpark, but we will be removing PR from PPP in favor of other data.

There were many, many more disparaging remarks made about PR by IZEA staffers, but I think you get the point.  As far as IZEA is concerned, PageRank is an essentially useless metric, the only reason they haven’t gotten rid of it yet is because some of their advertisers demand it, and it will be going the way of the horse and buggy as soon as possible.

So, then can someone explain this screenshot to me?

That’s an opportunity at PayPerPost, created by IZEA to advertise PayPerPost, and it is only available to bloggers with a PageRank of 1 or higher, regardless of the website’s RealRank.  If RealRank is so much better than PageRank and IZEA is looking to remove the option to segment blogs by PR, then why are they using it as the only qualifier in their own opps?

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.