Monday, October 30, 2006

blogger trackback

A recent post of mine by the name of TrackBack in blogger described how to add trackback notification ability to based blogs. The solution described requires Firefox and Greasemonky. Having worked on another computer, I did not want to install Firefox and decided to check for standalone trackback solutions. Running a quick search in Google was all it took to find the following Standalone Trackback Pinger. All you need are the following details to use it:
1. The trackback URL of the post you link to.
2. The Permanent URL of your post.
3. Your blog name.
4. Your post's title.
5. Up to 250 characters excerpt of your post.

Related posts:
TrackBack in blogger

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Text ads and banners combined

I have to admit it, I am a real big fan of contextual advertizing (Google Adwords is a good example). I like the fact that I can plan what search phrases to show my ads for, use a matching text ad and get the customer hooked. I really feel that the time of the banner ad is long gone and that it is the dawn of the contextal ads era.

While looking in my RSS reader, I found a new post by Seth Godin. The new post is all about how using banner ads for brand awareness can significantly increase following contextual ads of same brand. The post is titled "the 249% solution" and reviews a 249% improvment of contextual ads after a banner-based brand campaign.

Related posts:
Adwords and email marketing similarities
Adwords tip - consistent message
Adwords tips - coming soon

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Adwords and email marketing similarities

Adwords campaigns have a lot in common with email marketing.
Their primary building blocks are:
1. Target audience and segmentation.
2. Subject line.
3. Call to action.
4. Landing page

Email marketing:

  • Most eCommerce sites ask their users to leave their email address for future communications. The collected email is stored in a list and can be segmented by various parameters such as Country, Gender and previous product acquisitions. To create an effective campaign, we need to figure out who our target audience is. If we try to sell an electronic gadget, it might make sense to target existing customers who bought a similar or related product.
  • Next up is the subject line. What many marketeers fail to understand is that this is the most important part of the campaign. Based on our copywriting skill, our potential customer decides whether or not to open this email!!! It's crucial to try several different subject lines and test them using a/b split tests before sending the whole campaign out the door. Remember, if your audience does not open the email, there is no chance of them buying a product.
  • The email body, also known as the sales pitch, is where we try to convince our potential customers to visit our website. In this place we want to send a clear and short message followed by a call to action. A call to action should be a link to a landing page on our site.
  • Landing page is where the actual action takes place. Here we show the customer, the product we wish to sell and try to get him to purchase it.

Adwords campaigns:
  • The first step in any adwords campaign is to figure out what search terms we want to show our ads on. The search terms should maintain some sort of logical connection to our product. If trying to sell an MP3 player, then MP3 and music players are relevant search terms.
  • Choosing a compelling ad title is what gets our potential customers to spend some time reading our ad. It should be short (under 25 characters) and clear. Most people know better then to spend their time on ads like "Just click here" or "The best offer ever". If your product offering is good, just let them know what it is.
  • The ad's text is our call to action. It should tease our viewers to click on it. A good message can be "Fine Wines from Around the World Offered at Consistently Low Prices.".
  • Like the email marketing campaign, this is where we show the goods to our (potential) customer and try to convince him to pull out his/hers credit card.

Can you see the similarities? Both marketing channels share similar steps. If you have a successful email marketing campaign, consider trying the same process in an adwords campaign and vise versa.

Related posts:
Adwords tip - consistent message
Adwords tip - word capitalization
Adwords tips - coming soon

Adwords tip - consistent message

In a recently posted article by MindValleyLabs, they measured the impact of two emotion based words in the ad text. The test compared the words "transform" and "improve" and the results showed an increase of CTR (click through rate) for "transform" but far better conversion for "improve". Read more about it in Using Emotions is a Double Edged Sword.

While I really like the way they show their ad testing results, what was missing from their article was the bottom line. In my opinion, the bottom line of this test is that you need to maintain a consistent message all along the path your user goes. This means a certain logical connection between the search phrase, the ad text, the landing page and the payment page. If any of them conveys a message that is inconsistent with the rest, it might cause the users to be disappointed and just leave.

Related posts:
Adwords tip - word capitalization
Adwords tips - coming soon

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Digg traffic usage

Here's a nice post by Neil Patel on how to get the most out of digg traffic.
Neil has some great insights on blogging, design and marketing and I've been following his posts for a while now. To summarize his post, even though digg traffic is not as good as organic or other traffic, you should try to get the readers to interact with the site via comments and RSS. If you can succeed in this interaction, they might be more prone to coming back again to your site/blog.
Read it to find out more here.

Related posts:
Digg - find your story

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My FireFox extensions

What I really like about Firefox is that it can be customized and extended in so many ways. Today it is my browser of choice and I think it is fast becoming the standard de facto of the blogosphere.

I currently use the following extensions:
1. Gmail RTL - allows automatic changing of text direction when detecting Hebrew based text in Gmail.
2. IE Tab - Some pages cannot be displayed in FireFox. IE Tab allows you to view specific tabs in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
3. SearchStatus - Shows alexa and google rank for the current page. Gives you a sense of the publicity of the page/site you are currently viewing.
4. GreaseMonkey - Allows you to customize the way a webpage displays using small bits of JavaScript. I use scripts for trackback capability and for adding technorati tags.
5. CoComment - Tracks my comments and responses to them on any site.
6. AdSense Notifier - shows my adsense earning in the status bar.

What other extensions are you using?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Happy birthday to me

My birthday arrives once a year on this specific date. It's just another day like any other, but I am trying to make it different. It starts by taking a day off work and taking it easy. The schedule will probably look like: Eating breakfast, going to the gym, taking an afternoon nap and later on an evening dinner with my family at a Mexican restaurant I like.

Plans for next year? Quite a lot, but I can't reveal them yet :)

What are your plans for your birthday?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blog post title - how to choose them

Here are 3 post titles taken from various blogs I subscribe to:
1. How do you get it all done?
2. Landing Page Optimization Tip: How We Boosted The Conversion Rate By 31% in less than a minute
3. Firefox 2.0 or IE7?

Why is the post title important?
1. Your RSS/email subscribers decide if they want to read the post based on the subject line. Is it relevant for them? Is it interesting?
2. Most blogging platform give the post a URL based on the first few words of the title. If the first few words are not relevant, you will not get this post indexed by search engines.
3. My blog features over a hundred posts. When going over my old posts, I want the title to be significant so I can easily figure out what a post is all about.

What do you think of the 3 titles? Are they good? Are they bad? Do they mean anything to you? Will you read these posts based on their titles?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adwords tip - word capitalization

I've always wondered if word capitalization in an Adwords ad is good for conversion. The answer to this question as well as other is testing. You should try out more than one option and measure their performance. In a recent test conducted by MindValley Labs, an ad was tested using word capitalization in all words versus remove capitalization of non significant words (e.g "to" is non significant). The results was that "smaller" words should not be capitalized. For more details on the conducted test, read Google AdWords Tip: Should You Capitalize small words such as “to”? Answer = NO

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bump It - new voting system added

Have you noticed the bottom of my blog posts now sports a "Bump This!" button?
It's a cool voting system powered by that allows you to vote for posts you liked.
It's a new feature in my blog that will allow me (and you) to figure out which posts more readers like. So, don't be shy and BUMP this post.

Adwords tips - coming soon

Coming soon to this blog... Some posts on Adwords campaign management.
While there are many PPC platforms, I believe that today Adwords is the best one, especially for someone just making their first steps into search engine marketing.

Here's a quick tip for now.
When selecting keywords for your campaign try using the following groups:
1. Your brand name - choose keywords that remind potential customers of your brand, product or company.
2. Product category - select keywords that describe your product or customer requirements. If you are selling mobile phones, a good keyword would be "GSM"
3. Competition - use your competitors brand and product names. Use this group only if there is already a dominant competitor in your field that customers know it's brand.
4. It's related - profile your potential customers to find out what other stuff interests them and try buying keywords related to their interests. This is probably the least effective group and should be priced accordingly.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Comment spammer types

Here's a great post about the 9 personality types of comment spammers that I had to share with you. At least two of these types tried to leave comments on my site (can you guess which?). My personal favourite of the types was The combatant.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Technorati popular abused

In a recent article, I covered the tracking of technorati's popular tags to get a sense of what people are searching for in the blogosphere. As mentioned in the previous post, you can figure out subjects that people want to read about and post about them. While playing with technorati's popular page, I came across a blog named Sissenah's space that outright copied the content in technorati's popular page tags to get a better rating in technorati. I feel that this is a serious misuse of technorati's power to connect bloggers and hurts readers as they are directed to non relevant content.

What do you think? Should such acts be allowed? Is Technorati supposed to ban this blogger or is it our job?

Adsense multiple custom channel usage

The adsense team recently announced that multiple adsense channels can be applied to a single ad unit. How does this affect me, you ask? I think there are two important measures that I like to track by. The first is ad size (e.g. 200x200) while the second is by ad placement (e.g. homepage). A good way to implement the multiple channels would be to track by both and then use different reports to compare the values and start making changes if needed.
I have to say that this feature is really nice to have but not what I am really waiting for, which is dynamic URL channels. As a blogger, I like to see the affect of each post on my readers and my revenue. This is something that is impossible in adsense unless I define each and every post I add as a custom URL channel in adsense. I think it might be a good time for the adsense team to pick up the glove and figure some way to add this feature for us bloggers.

What other features are you missing?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Adsense notifier

My blog shows google adsense ads. In my opinion, adsense is the best way to monetize a blog. All I had to do was setup some adsense code in my template and check the reports every once in a while to see my income. Now would be a good time to state that I am not writing for money but I feel that getting some sort of compensation for the time spent on this blog is only reasonable.

Adsense notifier is an extension of Mozilla FireFox which automatically checks your adsense account status and displays it in the status bar of the browser. All you need to do is to download the extension, configure it to your account and start getting your adsense stats on the status bar.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Technorati tags and searches

Have you ever looked at technorati's popular page? It shows the top tags posted as well as the top tags people search for. There is a lot of insight to be gained from comparing the two lists.
If you substract the posted tags from the searched ones, you can come up with content that people are searching for but that is not that often posted about. Let's check today's list for example (listed below). The tag Video is searched for but not tagged. I see that so does the combination of Google Youtube which is only partially covered in the Youtube tag. I think the interest in Video/Google/Youtube comes from the expected anouncement of Google buying Youtube.

Let's see what tomorrow brings...

Top Searches:
1. North Korea
2. Jonny
3. Taschengeld
4. Battlestar Gala...
5. Video
6. Youtube
7. Foley
8. Google Youtube
9. Anna Politkovsk...
10. Armandinho
11. Google
12. The Paranoid St...
13. Death by Instan...
14. Firefox
15. Paginas Da Vida

Top Tags:
1. Bush
2. youtube
3. North Korea
4. Iraq
5. Microsoft
6. Comedy
7. foley
8. north-korea
9. Terrorism
10. War
11. web 2.0
12. mark foley
13. Republicans
14. web-20
15. sexy

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The blog is e-volving

I guess it's time, I said to myself. My blog is 6 month old, has a decent amount of visitors daily as well as a growing RSS subscriber list. I think it's time to do some fine tuning.

So, where do I start?

Header: The blog's name is taking a significant part of the screen today due to it's font size. Now would be a good time to minimize it.

Description: In the past few month , this blog featured more and more articles on SEO, PPC and the art of blogging then new websites. If this is the new character of the blog, then is the blog's description still valid? The current description is "Digital culture. Learn of sites and technologies as they shape our life in the digital age". I think the new one should be focused on marketing.

Navigation bar: Our next stop is the left navigation bar. It currently shows the following elements (by order of appearance): About me, Get email updates, Archive (combined with RSS link), Previous posts and the blogger logo. I think the "About me" is in the right place but all others should be reconsidered. I think the "get email updates" should be grouped with the RSS link as a single section titled "Subscribe". Another change I want to make is to place the "Previous posts" before the archive. I think most users might find an interesting post title in the previous posts section before checking the archive.

Got any more suggestions for me? Don't be shy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Google testing new search engine

Google is an amazing company. It never stops to release new internet related products and features. The latest product in testing is a new search engine by the name of SearchMash, which serves as a testing ground for new features. According to the about page of SearchMash, "SearchMash lets you search the internet in new ways. It is constantly evolving as we come up with ideas and figure out what works and what doesn't."
Current features include "start typing" which means that the search box reacts to what you type even if your mouse cursor is not on it, "Image search" which shows you up to 3 images for your search phrase and "reorder results" that allows you to reorder search results for yourself (can you think of a reason to do this?). All in all, this is a great initiative by Google and will allow them to test new features in a more controlled environment.

Do you like the new interface? I think the current Google search looks better.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dell homepage design

I have been thinking of posting some guidelines for a good homepage. Even though I have some ideas about how I want the post, it's still premature. In the meantime I wanted to share with you a post by Neil Patel of Pronet Advertizing about Dell's homepage design. As ever in the blogosphere, there is value in reading the post and the comments as well. What I really liked about this post is that Manish Mehta of Dell's web team actively participated in the comments and answered some of our questions. It feels like more and more companies understand the power of the blogosphere and interact with it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Netvibes updated - Cinnamon

Yesterday, Netvibes upgraded their personal dashboard solution. The upgrade had some minor bugs and issues, but overall went well, at least from a user perspective. I am not sure how many hours their R&D team spent slaving to tackle all the issues. If you are not sure what Netvibes is, I suggest you read my post about Netvibes - your personal dashboard. The new release features improved control pannel, smoother styling and UI, content localization and other features. As an avid Netvibes user, I think it's a great solution for anyone who needs to use more then once computer to access his online data. For more details on the new features, read the netvibes blog.