Wordpress Automated Email Link Building

James from Semvironment created a plug in to automatically email webmasters you link to from within Wordpress blog posts. When he launched it, the opening post sent me an email

Hi! We linked to your website in our post: Link Builder for Wordpress - Download it Now!. Please stop by and check it out, subscribe to our blog and if you find something useful on our site or blog - we would welcome a link back anytime ... no obligation - we're happy to link to high quality websites and blogs like yours! To your continued success, [Your Name Here]

That link was broken (pointing to a revisioned archive version of the post before the URL changed), but even beyond that I sorta do not like the idea. Why? Automated communications is the enemy of relationship building. And the worst people to offend are the people you find interesting / important / influential enough to want to talk about them. You can get the person's attention just as easily by clicking the link in the post a dozen times and by commenting on their blog. And most of them would even be up for lending their time to you if you stoke their egos.

As more people start using a wider array of automated link building tools the effectiveness of automation will drop. And you can't train an automated tool to be personal. A tool like this might work in some verticals for a year or two, but if people find it effective look out for the tragedy of the commons to be heading toward your inbox some time soon!

Robots.txt Overview, Generator, & Analyzer

We recently compiled a 6 page robots.txt primer and added a robots.txt generator and robots.txt analyzer to our suite of free SEO tools.

Google AdPlanner Media Buy Planning Tool

Google announced AdPlanner, a tool to help ad agencies find where desired demographic audiences are active online. The WSJ highlighted how the new Google tool can help make the ad marketplace more efficient:

The Web-audience data could be combined with the ad-serving system, so that advertisers would be able to find out whether they would reach the right audience before they committed to placing an ad.

In addition to AdPlanner, Google will launch another tool that compares consumer response to ads against a control group of users who did not see the ad:

Separately, Google this week is expected to roll out a new tool aimed at showing how Web surfers respond to online ads. It will compare groups of people who are exposed to an ad with others who haven't seen it, taking into account such factors as search activity and site visitation.

Update: Search Engine Land Reviewed AdPlanner.

SEO for Firefox Support Thread

SEO for Firefox.
Our CMS only shows 300 comments per page. I am sure there is a way to enhance that, but for ease of publishing and following the conversations I decided to close the last SEO for Firefox thread and start a new one. If you have any questions about SEO for Firefox this is the place to ask them. :)

The two unanswered questions from the old thread were

I've used this plug in for awhile and I love it, but the number of links in Yahoo won't display now.

I have the plug in set so that it doesn't automatically query, but when I click on any of the link items, it says that there are no links.

I'm using Firefox 2.0.14 and uninstalled and then reinstalled the plug in, and it is still the same thing.


I've noticed that Y! is requiring API Keys for all of the automated lookup tools now. Any word on when support will be out for SEO for Firefox?

The answer to each of these are

  1. Is that issue occuring for all sites? Have you tried putting the tool on automatic and seeing if it will pull data in for you?
  2. SEO for Firefox already contains an API key. I used it this morning and it worked fine for me.

Search Twitter in Realtime, and Get Free(ish) Content

Summize is a conversational search engine which allows you to search Twitter in realtime. Useful for finding customer feedback even when people do not provide it directly to you. For example, I just found out that for some people the Rank Checker Firefox extension stopped working after the last update. So I just reverted the extension and am awaiting another update from the developer. Summize offers RSS feeds so you can track conversations mentioning your brands and/or important topics.

Summize offers an API which can be used to generate free content for your sidebar if you publish Mahalo-like content, though that is a bit spammy. ;)

Our New Search Engine Rank Checking Tool Has Been Updated

The Rank Checker developer told me he just completed our first major update on the extension. From his email...

  • added international character support
  • fixed query time saving error in options window
  • added status icon (right click on the icon to see the whole menu)
  • fixed linux issues
  • changed doubleclick behavior (if you want to go to SE results on windows, hold CTRL key and click on the url; on mac hold META key and click on the url), because double click causes some errors on mac os.
  • fixed export to CSV
  • fixed result scraping when domain has sitelinks
  • added dragable columns
  • fixed domain.net vs domain.net.au issue

What else do we still need to fix/do?

Free Firefox Rank Checker - Check Your Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Search Engine Rankings

Rank Checker.

Want to check your rankings on Google.com, international Google search results, Yahoo, and Microsoft? Try Rank Checker, our free Firefox extension which tracks your rankings, and allows you to automatically check ranking changes over time.

If you have any questions please watch this video.

The tool has issues with special international characters, but we are trying to get that fixed ASAP. Have any other feedback? Please leave it in the comments below.

If you like it/find it useful, please show some love via a blog mention and on del.icio.us if you can. :)

[Update: to verify your rankings on a search engine you can scroll over the rank number, hold down control, and then click on the ranking.]

The Tools Between You and Your Audience

Some tools exist because they are valuable and remove market friction. Others exist because they are perceived as being valuable, even if they are actually value destroying, or only valuable in rare circumstances.

Valuable Tools of the Trade

Outside of paying for a domain name, hosting, site design, and buying a few links you could create (an ad supported) business online virtually free.

Blogs are easy to post to, easy to subscribe to, and easy to comment and interact with. Keyword tools and analytics services are easy to view and infer ideas and trends from. Searchable email saves time. Google Alerts and feed readers save time and keep you connected with your industry. Many of these tools are free, in spite of offering great value.

Negative Value Software

But there is another class of software that exists long after it is useful or profitable to use, or long before you would need to consider such a solution. Are you still paying for monthly submissions to the search engines? Not all of the solutions are outright fraud though (like monthly search engine submission services are). Even some of the good intentioned tools can still hurt you.

Automated Email

A friend of mine is nervous about launching their first linkbait, and wanted to use this enhanced email software to help automate finding the right people to contact. But until you get some experience in the marketplace you might be paying for value destroying software that hurts your brand.

  • One software program my friend bought crashed his computer.
  • Another was bought through Plimus. It was purchased, and simply never came...pretty bad after about a half dozen emails and a few phone calls. How hard is it to send an unlock code?
  • One of my friends got his account banned by an ISP the first day, when he accidentally misused one such software program. One minute he was doing research, and then he clicked to the next step to refine it, and accidentally ended up sending out about 150 emails in under a minute. Ooooops.

And none of those situations even take into account brand value and risks of a reputation management issue arising.

Automated Bid Management Software

A customer of mine recently asked about what bid management software program made sense to use, as he was new to PPC and wanted to do it right from the start. But if you are new to the game I think you first need to do it by hand so you can understand how it works. If you use bid management software that is optimizing for the wrong things you may end up blowing through a lot of money. It is much harder to learn the ad network + the management tool at the same time rather than learning them one at a time, and in many cases human intuition works better than machines do.

There are a lot of ways to get caught up in the complexities of money saving tools and ideas to where you never do anything. You can't teach a software program, machine, or employee how to do marketing until after you have done it yourself.

Other Backwards Solutions

  • Have you seen people pay to be able to resell some sleazy MLM company's junk on a 100% duplicate content subdomain off of the corporate site?
  • Have you seen people pay for hosting and CMS services that are far worse than they can get for free from other providers or the open source community?
  • Have you seen people using expensive keyword density analysis software this year?

What causes people to buy into such stuff - laziness? lack of research? greed?

What (does/doesn't) Work Well for You?

What tools made your marketing easier? Which ones set you back?

What works well in 2008? What is a waste of time? Twitter? FriendFeed?

Another Update to SEO for Firefox

We updated SEO for Firefox again. The Yahoo! childnodes error is fixed, and we added BOTW directory listings to the stats we pull in to SEO for Firefox.

SEO Book Keyword Tool Fixed

I got a few dozen emails chewing me out for our keyword tool breaking. This post is just to let you know that it is fixed and to say thank you to those people who let me know about it breaking.