WordPress WYSIWYG Editor "Nofollow Links" Plug-In

Stompernet member Jim MacKay has come up with a neat little plug-in to allow nofollow on individual links in WordPress posts. In the WYSIWYG editor for posts, it adds a checkbox to the dialog box on the “insert link” button. There are other ways to do this, but Jim’s plug-in looks like a nice time saver for those who frequently link to sites that don’t deserve any link love.

Now that Semiologic is once again stable and great (serious credit to Denis & the new team for an excellent job), I’ll be testing Jim’s plugin a bit. If you try it out, I’d like to hear your comments here as well.

Google Local Listings – How Could They Screw This Up?

Podiatrist Todd Schafer reached out to me for help with a vexing problem today… although he has gone through all the steps, and jumped through all the hoops, to correct the physical address Google displays for his business, Google just can’t seem to get it together.

As you can see in his blog post for customers, Google shows an old address for his practice on search results. For example, if you search for Chino podiatrist, you get the old address displayed on the SERP, and an invitation to view that address on a map. If you click through a couple times to get to the map at maps.google.com, it still shows the wrong address.

Now, Google Maps has a feature (an Edit link with “NEW!” next to it) that’s supposed to let you correct a bad address… Funny thing is, when I clicked on that link, Google instantly showed the new, correct address. So clearly, Google has the correct address stored in a database *somewhere,* but in spite of this they show the old address on SERPs.

Google clearly has at least two separate databases with business addresses, and going through the whole “postcard in the mail, call in, punch in the secret code” trip only fixes one of them.

Are you kidding me? All those computer scientists, and not one of them says “hey guys, shouldn’t we have *one* record for local businesses?”

In researching this for Todd, I found that this and similar issues are affecting thousands of folks. I’m sorry Todd, I can’t help you solve this, because you’ve done the right thing.

Now, Google needs to do the right thing. It’s frickin’ obvious, and people have been fighting this for a long time. Get it right, Google.

SEOFS Live Agenda Posted – Now $297/seat

SEO Fast Start Live – Maximizing Search ROI

June 25 & 26, 2008 – Crowne Plaza Galleria – Addison, TX

Day 1 – Wednesday, June 25, 2008 – Strategies for Maximizing ROI

  • 9-10am: Introduction & The “Fast Start” Planning Process

Presenting a simple process for planning, measuring, & improving your ROI from search. This planning process puts a “wrapper” around the rest of your search marketing activity, from SEO to PPC to copywriting & testing.

  • 10-11am: Understand Your Brand & Using It Profitably

A different way of looking at branding, that takes the often-mushy topic to a concrete level. Student case studies demonstrate the results that come from understanding your brand & integrating brand messaging into your search marketing.

  • (break)
  • 11:30am-1pm: Keyword Strategy Clinic

The “Keyword Strategy” chapter of SEO Fast Start is 12 pages long… in this clinic, the “Keyword Guru” explains how to lay your competitor’s keyword strategy bare, understand the real intent behind search queries, and find the hidden profits.

  • (lunch)
  • 2-3:30pm: Content Development & Copywriting

Do big sites always win? Is content really King? In this session, we’ll explore the balance between SEO, PPC, content creation, and copywriting. Content isn’t just there to get you on SERPs, it must inform, engage, and persuade your visitors to take action.

  • (break)
  • 4-5pm: Open Q&A

Day 2 – Thursday, June 26, 2008 – The “Missing Training”

  • 9-11am: Link Building for Fun, Profit, & Link Juice

Exploring, via case studies, how link building strategies can be profitable on their own, how to get beyond “link bait” to create willful linking, and how to evaluate and channel the link juice you create.

  • (break)
  • 11:30am-1pm: Adwords – What They Forgot To Tell You

Battle-tested strategy & tactics to attack the “big head,” the long tail, and everything in between. Lead generation strategies, campaign organization to maximize profits. Day parting, day-of-week effects, and geo targeting techniques that any advertiser can use.

  • 2-3:30pm: Social Media Strategies “Outside the Box”

Developing a blogging strategy, leveraging social networks to create ‘instant community,’ content sharing & syndication strategies for traffic, links, and reputation management.

  • (break)
  • 4-5pm: Open Q&A

Thanks to everyone for your patience – the “early bird” price of $97/seat will be extended through this Wednesday (June 4), but then I have to pull it down and lock in our room block. From Thursday on, for any remaining seats, the price will be $297/seat. (Update: the price has now gone up.)

Click here to register now at $297 per seat!

(You will be returned to this site after completing registration).

Agenda is subject to change & tweaks. I’ll have some announcements in the next week or so, as speakers confirm.

Update: Working on closing the deal with Dr. Ben Mack and Jerry West today… Ben is a magician, Ben is Branding, Ben is worth a trip to Addison, Texas.

For those who have already registered, hotel discount info should be on its way today via email.

Dayparting Ain't So Tough – How To Start Simple

First, a definition, in the context of pay-per-click advertising: Dayparting is the practice of limiting or shutting down ad campaigns at certain times of the day, and/or increasing activity at other times, in an attempt to maximize the profitability of the campaign.

Or you may prefer SEMPO’s definition:

Dayparting – The ability to specify different times of day – or day of week – for ad displays, as a way to target searchers more specifically. An option that limits serves of specified ads based on day and time factors.

No matter how you define it, a lot of advertisers are left wondering how it works, and whether they should do it… Over the years, I’ve seen many speakers, writers, and educators talk about pay-per-click advertising. I’ve done training on this myself, of course.

When it comes time to talk about day-parting, we all seem to get a little scared that someone will misunderstand, so the explanation of dayparting rarely seems to get beyond the definitions offered above.

While it’s true that a complete understanding of dayparting would require a lot of discussion, it’s equally true that there are some very simple things an advertiser can begin to do, in order to understand how “time of day” affects their profitability.

Getting Some Numbers

What you really want is your revenue per visit and cost per click, hour by hour, for each ad group, keyword, and campaign… but guess what? That’s kind of hard to get. If you use Google Analytics, you can’t get ‘hourly’ reports for keywords… so, what to do?

Although you can’t get hourly reports at the level of detail you want, you can get an overall sense of how well the incoming traffic on your site performs at different hours of the day.

In the ECommerce section of Google Analytics, you want to look at two reports:

  • First, the Conversion Rate report – click the link for hourly data, and export that report.
  • Second, Average Order Value – do the same – hourly report, export the data. If you collect leads, just assign a value.

The next steps are 5th grade math:

  • Your average order value times your conversion rate = your revenue per visitor
  • Mulitply your profit % by your value per visitor = your breakeven click cost

The table below, from Microsoft Excel, shows this calculation for a friend’s site:

They are at breakeven between around 8am and midnight, and most profitable during the hours of 10am-8pm (shown in green).

Not Science, But Maybe Better Than Nothing

While this method isn’t as scientific (or accurate) as analyzing your keyword campaigns’ traffic directly, it does have the advantage of being easy to do. For a campaign that is losing money, or barely profitable, eliminating click costs during off hours can make a huge difference. Maybe even enough difference to get some better-than-free analytics software up and running.

That’s it for today… we’ll talk more soon.

(PS – Stompernet is open today for a few hours to fill up the last few spots. If you missed it last week, today is your last opportunity.)

Help – Google Slapped Me With A -12 Penalty!!

As you can clearly see by searching Google for [seo book], my site is nowhere to be found on the first page…

In fact, there’s some guy named Aaron (probably not even his real name) ranked #1, 2, 3 and 4… obviously he has some kind of "in" with Google.

Proof that "Aaron Wall" gets special treatment!

Even though Google "claims" to treat subdomains like folders, he still has 4 listings, including one with a bunch of extra links! Clearly Google’s "organic’ engineers are HAND EDITING this SERP out of fear that this Aaron fellow will come over to the Googleplex and eat all their free organic hot dogs.

But it gets worse!! After investigating, I discovered that he doesn’t even *sell* a book any more. That’s right – not a book to be found, and Google still dedicates 14 links on page 1 of the SERP to this clearly irrelevant site.

If the definition of SPAM is "sites positioned above mine," this Aaron character is clearly a SPAMmer in the extreme… even if you overlook all of the "thin affiliate" sites for his "product" that are also Positioned Above Mine (TASPAM?).

Clear evidence that the -12 penalty exists!

Well, not only do I have an SEO book, it’s even free. Clearly Google has slapped me with some kind of penalty or filter. I can prove this, because you have to go all the way to page 2 to find my site at #13:


Now, since my book is obviously better than no book at all, for people who are searching for an SEO book, my site, quite obviously, should be ranked #1. Why isn’t it? Clearly, further research into this "-12" phenomenon is required.

You can help advance this "SEO revolution" – act now!

Since I can’t "prove" that the -12 penalty exists without attempting to escape from this filter, I need everyone who likes my book, and believes that it’s better than no book at all, to link to my site with anchor text like "seo book," "free seo book," "aaron wall sucks organic hot dogs," "best seo book," "this site actually offers an SEO book you can read," and "world’s best SEO book slapped by -12 penalty."

In a cause like this, there’s no room for the wishy-washy. If you believe in good search results… if you believe in truth, justice, and fair play… you know what you must do.

We’ll talk more soon, comrades.



Dan Thies Releases 2008 Edition of SEO Fast Start

Only 12 hours late – not bad for something I had a whole year to work on…

If you haven’t read the 2007 edition, because you’ve been waiting for this, now is the time, and yes it’s still free. If you’ve already read the 2007 edition, don’t get too excited, because not very much has changed. Download here.

Sorry if you were expecting something radically different, but the point of the "fast start" system is that it doesn’t have to change all the time. I can’t reinvent SEO again, unless something big happens.

As I told someone the other day, the only thing that seems to never change in SEO is the persistent myth that the search engines "change the rules" all the time.

There are minor rewrites on Keyword Strategy, some more detailed advice for Site Structure, a little bit in Link Building, and a few other notes of newness here and there.

A big thanks to all of my readers for your help and support over the past year and change. In case you’re wondering, PPC Fast Start is still on track for June 1 release… check out my video on Adwords if you want a sense of how "different" it’s going to be.

SEO Fast Start Live Training June 25 & 26:

The first "SEO Fast Start Live" training is all set, for June 25 & 26 in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. Addison, TX to be specific. The Crowne Plaza. If you want to attend, go grab the early bird discount while there’s still space – it’s just $97 a seat until next Wednesday, so all you have to think about is whether you can get there.

Once I have numbers, we’ll get back to everyone next week on the room discounts. We got a GREAT classroom for this – power hookups for every student so you can use your laptop, etc.

Hope to see you there!

SEO Fast Start Live – June 25 & 26: Maximizing Search ROI

SEO Fast Start Live: Maximizing Search ROI
Presented by Dan Thies

June 25-26, 2008 – Addison, TX (Dallas / Fort Worth Area)

Okay, folks… it’s on! The only question remaining is… will you be there for this one-of-a-kind event?

This is not your usual SEO training or conference…

If you want the basics of SEO, read my book. If you want to get more out of your paid and organic search efforts, I hope you’ll be able to attend.

During this intensive 2-day training, we will discuss how SEO and PPC fit into the larger picture of your business… how to develop better strategies, tactics, and processes to maximize your return on investment from search engine marketing.

Topics will include:

  • The “Fast Start” planning process
  • Why “branding” is not a waste of time… Seriously!
  • Keyword strategy & positioning tactics
  • Content development and relationship marketing
  • “Beyond the basics” strategies & tactics for Adwords advertisers
  • Copywriting for Titles & Descriptions – selling the click
  • Marketing, promotion, and link building that pays you back
  • Social media strategies for traffic & links
  • Lots of time for Q&A

A more formal agenda will be released in a couple weeks, as I get confirmation from speakers etc. If you don’t know me well enough to trust that this event will be worth your time, I’m sorry – maybe there will be a few spots open when you’re ready to decide.

For everyone else, I have a very special offer:

Early Bird Price – Just $97 per Person!
(Available for a limited time only.)

This is a limited time offer – the price will go up has gone up to $297 per seat.

Space is limited, and I fully expect this event to sell out. Once we’ve sold all the seats, we’re sold out… I will not be able to get more space, nor do I want to offer a training to hundreds of people all at once.

I hope to see you there…

Click here to reserve your spot @ $297!

(You will be taken off site to register, and returned to this page)

The venue is the Crowne Plaza – Galleria/Addison, in Addison TX, about 2- minutes from DFW or Love Field airports. If you sign up, wait until next week – we’ll get you details on the discount rate for the rooms then.


Dan Thies

PS – Feel free to post questions below – I’ll do my best to answer everyone.

Slight delay in SEOFS 2008 Release

Got an email this morning to let me know that my son has won an award @ school*. Hooray! But the award ceremony is tonight – nice of them to let me know so far in advance. Anyway…

Because I am not finished with my final read-through, and I insist on doing that before I publish… The release of the 2008 edition will be put off until tomorrow morning, instead of tonight. I’m sure we’ll all survive an extra few hours without it.

The big burning question is: should you read the 2008 edition, if you’ve already read the 2007 edition? The answer is, it’s up to you. But there’s no rush.

The only changes that I consider significant are in the chapters on Site Structure (which I think is better written now) and link building (where there are some new opportunities worthy of discussion). Oh, and if you didn’t grok the Keyword Strategy chapter, give it another try with the 2008 edition, I did a minor rewrite on that.

Your site will not burn to the ground if you continue to rely on the advice I gave in the 2007 edition. In spite of what you may have heard, SEO just doesn’t change that fast.

*If this turns out to be a ‘punctuality’ award or something like that, I will feel seriously cheated. I want him to be "bad-ass of the year" or something, at least…

Split Testing Adwords: You're Doing It Wrong

I’m sure the title of this post is going to make a few folks upset. Don’t worry, the content is going to really make you mad. Not at me, but maybe at yourself, and especially at whoever taught you how to split test.

That’s because, for most Adwords advertisers, the title of this post is very accurate. Most advertisers are doing split testing all wrong.

If you’re doing  A/B, you’re robbing yourself of profits at every step.

That’s because, in a typical A/B split test, what you’re doing is keeping your Control (the best performing ad) running, and creating a new test ad to run against it. Doing it that way is perfectly normal, but it’s also completely, utterly, and totally wrong.

Most of the time, these test ads fail to beat the control… and predictably so. Your Control is the Control because it’s doing well. After a few rounds of testing, it becomes less and less likely that your test ad will beat the control.

The “usual method” of ad testing delivers invalid results – here’s why:

  • The Control has a strong performance history, but your test ad has no performance history.
  • As a result, your test ad may be ranked lower on the page, leading to lower CTR and (quite possibly)  conversion.

In other words, your test ad might have been better – but it didn’t get a fair chance! This means that you may have already rejected many great ads, because you didn’t test them correctly.

But that’s not the worst part! “Control vs. test ad” also loses money:

When you run two ads in equal rotation, your Control is only getting half of the available ad impressions.

When a test ad fails fails to deliver good click-through and conversion rates, you’ve just given up as much as 50% of the profits that you would have had, if you had just left your ad group alone.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could construct a valid test that didn’t bleed money? Here’s how it’s done…

Step 1: Set Up A Valid Test

Instead of running your test ad against the Control, you create multiple copies of your Control.

How many copies you make is determined by how many of the ad impressions you want to go to the test ad.

In the example above, we’ve created 3 copies of the Control, left the Control running, and set up one test ad. Therefore, the test ad only gets 20% of the ad impressions.

This method leaves far less of your profit at risk.

It also allows you to run a valid test, by comparing the performance of your test ad against the copies of the Control only.

Since none of the ads in the “testing pool” has performance history, you can have far more confidence in the test results.

This method has reversed the results of many “close misses” I had with the old method of testing, which I was using myself until 2006.

Step Two: End Test (Fail) or Ramp Up To Full Test

In one of my many “hallway conversations” at the last Stompernet Live event, Andy Edmonds (Chief Scientist @ Stompernet and a real expert in testing) pointed out the real advantage of this method… which is that failed tests usually “fail early.”

Scientific testing types have a much more formal language for this, of course, but I got tired head when he explained that part of it.

I’ll just summarize the main points for you:

  • You can usually kill your test ad pretty early because most test ads will be obvious failures.
  • Running 3 copies of the Control actually accelerates your testing most of the time.
  • If the test ad appears to perform well, you can progressively eliminate copies of the Control to ramp up the pace of the test.
  • The final test is the validation test, where you run your Test Ad vs. Control – but now, you’re doing it right!

Since I’ve started doing this “Andy’s way,” my ad tests are running even faster than before. Way cool.

But what’s the real goal of all this testing? Higher click-through rates? Lower cost per click? These statistics are merely means to a greater end, my friend, and they can often lead you astray.

Indulge me for a minute, please. I didn’t get to be the “Keyword Guru” for nothing, you know…

There’s one other huge mistake that most folks make when they’re split testing ads - they don’t compare the business performance of their ads, just the click-through rate.

The problem should be obvious – you aren’t trying to buy traffic, you’re trying to buy customers. Actually, that’s only sort of true. What you’re really trying to buy is profit. Specifically, what you really want to achieve is the maximum possible profit per keyword.

At Stompernet, we call this statistic “Profit Per SERP”

Understanding how much profit you make every time one of your targeted keywords gets searched is a powerful idea. One of the most important metrics that any enlightened website owner will learn to measure and improve. It’s the KEY to search marketing success.

You have a lot of control over every variable in the search marketing equation, except for one thing…

You can NOT change the number of times people carry out a given search.

During the month of May, some number of people are going to search for “mortgage rates,” or “baby gifts,” or “free seo book.” We are powerless to change this number.

The number that we’re trying to change is our average profit for each of those searches.

By doing Adwords right, you can change that number, and in doing so, change the rules of the game.

We’ll talk more later.

For now, I’d like to invite you to watch the 50 minute instructional video that I prepared for you, with the help of master video editor Andy Jenkins. Watch online or download the Quicktime – but do watch… you don’t want to miss this.

Dan's Picks for 05-04-2008

 It’s been a while… here’s what I’ve been reading:

Best of the week: The SEO Guide to Information Architecture, by Adam Audette
Goes a little farther than I would into the whole theme concept, which is a fine way to look at site structure but pretty meaningless for SEO.

Darned good, from April 16: Wake up, real estate bloggers, there is no money in the long tail of search for niche blogs so stop chasing it by Mary McKnight
Close to a rant, but just this side of the fence. Mary writes mainly for realtors, but this is good perspective for all of us.

Best of the rest…

Web 2.0 Expo – Creating a Social Strategy
Lee Oden
referencing Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li of Forrester (authors of Groundswell)

Economies of scale in the very personal groundswell
Josh Bernoff

Social technology marketers bullish in face of recession
Josh Bernoff

Targeting Conversions and Traffic with Long Tail Writing
Jennifer Laycock

7 Habits Of Incredibly Effective Bloggers
Sarah McHarry

Some Thoughts on SEO Ethics:  Matt McGee, Michael Gray, Jeff Quipp, Jim Hedger and more

The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet
Danny Dover

Google Leaks Quality Score Variables (Pscore, mCPC and thresh) in Search Results
Eric Lander

Blogger’s to do checklist before hitting the publish button
Jennifer Slegg

Twitter Wrote This Column For Me
Chris Winfield

How to Analyze Your Site with Del.icio.us
Ann Smarty

Holy Mother of Linkbait
Jane Copland

How to get your Blog Traffic to Convert in 5 Easy Steps
Jennifer Osborne

Why Microsoft + Yahoo! makes sense – and why it won’t work (Deal’s off, BTW…)
Charlene Li