All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Broken Link Checker

Okay, I’ll own up to it; I’m not perfect. Yeah, I know, I’m surprised myself! In this particular case, I did something that actually was a smart move, but in retrospect, I probably should have thought about before I did it.

I was reading someone’s blog awhile ago, who’s I just don’t remember, and it was talking about the permalinks for each blog post. Many people who are on WordPress blogs have the default setting such that our posts have dates in them. All well and good, or so I thought. But the article was indicating that, for SEO purposes, it messes up how search engines will look at your site, thinking those numbers are a part of what you’re trying to highlight. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but if you take your blog post, right click on it, and slide down to Source, then left click, it will bring up a window that will show you the HTML of your site, even your blog. And, if you look for your H1 tag, you’ll see the title of your blog post.

So, I decided I wanted to change that, and I went into the permalinks settings on my WP blog and changed it so that the dates would no longer show. It was a manual change, near the bottom. When I clicked, I then went back to see some of my posts, and the dates were gone, and I was a happy guy.

The part I totally forgot about was that it would suddenly invalidate all the links on all the posts within my blog, all of which had those dates in them. I guess I hadn’t thought it would be retroactive, but it kind of makes sense. Also, it will invalidate those links if they happen to already have been cached in Google, although Google would adjust quickly enough. I didn’t pick up on this change, though, until I was writing a post the other day and wanted to check the links to my series on blogging. That’s when I realized that all of my internal links had changed, and I had to go back and take care of them.

What to do, what to do? I figured it was going to take a lot of time to go searching through every single post, as I’m over 200 at this juncture, and man, that was going to be a mess. Well, talk about serendipity. I happened to be reading another blog post (I really should write all these things down, just in case I need to go back to them), and it mentioned a plugin I hadn’t heard of before called Broken Link Checker.

That sounded promising, so I downloaded it, then uploaded it to this blog. It started running on its own, which kind of freaked me out because, at the same time, I had added another plugin, and it found 72 instances of bad links, with 67 of them being the result of my changing the permalinks. It took me awhile, but now my blog is totally up to date again, and if people click on a link within another post it’ll take them where they want to go. Whew!

There are definitely some smart people out there in WordPress land, and I appreciate every single one of them. I’d recommend getting this plugin if you ever add links into any of your posts, because it will let you know if a link is bad, as you get to set it to run every so many hours. Mine is set to 72 hours; that should be soon enough. Good luck.

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Credibility, Article Writing, And Marketing Products

A few posts ago, I wrote about Lynn Terry and some of her tips on making money online. Well, a month ago, I had the opportunity to participate in one of her weekly marketing sessions, and I got to ask her a couple of questions during that time.

The first question was what she thought about writing articles to put on article marketing sites. The second question was what how she felt in advertising products that one hasn’t really used. She gave me some interesting answers, and I’d like to talk about those answers.

On the first question, she answered that she thought writing articles and posting them at article marketing sites was a great idea. She felt that the traffic one could get from one of those sites could be important traffic; that you’d get links from those sites; and, if someone else decided to pick up one of your articles for repost, with the caveat that they give you attribution, your articles have a chance to give you a lot of publicity in other ways, possibly driving traffic to your site.

I’ve given this one a lot of thought, and though I don’t disagree with her assessment on the topic, I decided that I would check my own statistics on this one. I couldn’t do it for this blog, though, so I did it for my business website. For that site, I have about 20 articles posted in various places, but on two specific sites I’ve got maybe 16 articles posted. Maybe it takes more than that, but hey, it’s a sample. What I see doesn’t give me much encouragement to post any articles to any of these sites. Checking Google Analytics over a 60 day period, my site shows that I haven’t driven a single person to my site via any of these sites. And, before anyone asks, yes, one of those sites is Ezine Articles. Now, some of those articles have been picked up and are in other places on the web (it’s amazing where you’ll find your stuff on the internet), and I’ve verified that none of those places has driven any traffic to my site in the last 60 days either. Now, I’m not going to claim that this is overly scientific, but it’s not quite a catalyst in making me think that article marketing is going to help me much. I’m not saying not to do it; I’m just saying I don’t see it working for me.

On the second question, she said that one doesn’t have to use everything that they market, but that it helps with credibility if you’re writing about products that you’ve at least used some of them or have tested some of them, or that you know something about the people you’re pushing at least some of the time. On this one, I wholeheartedly agree. Building credibility is a big deal; as a matter of fact, my new friend Dennis Edell of Direct Web Sales Marketing also just addressed this issue ((though Dennis won’t believe this, I hadn’t read the article until just now, but I’d seen that he had written an article on it via CommentLuv). And, since he’s linking to another article, it’s obviously a subject many people are thinking about, and works well with my post on sales, to a degree.

I decided to take a look back at some of my posts, things I’ve recommended, items I have on my sidebars, to see how balanced I’ve been. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on affiliate ads that I was marketing via Commission Junction, which shares most of the bottom ads I put on this blog with the Google Affiliate Network. I talked about Ultra Diamonds with “CJ”, but I’ve never bought a product from them. I also talked about and posted links to the Harry Potter series of books and movies, which I have read and seen all the movies for. Not quite balanced, but it was the first month.

As time has gone by, I’ve gotten more into talking about things I’ve given some type of thought to, and have fully participated in them. The last five products I’ve endorsed, not including the latest, Startup Rebel, which I just started looking at a day or so ago, are eHealth Insurance, Tweet My Blog, Recover My Data, Error Doctor, and FreeCreditReport.com, I’ve used or still use four of those, with the only one I don’t use being eHealth Insurance, but since that was more about an opinion on why people should have health insurance if they don’t, I don’t count that one against me.

And, as a further extension, with the ads I have on the side, which I’m not going to list here again, not including the Text Link Ads (which I may still remove at the end of the month), I’ve used or read every link that’s over there (at the top, since, by this time, we’ve gone down the list a little bit), especially the book I wrote, Embrace The Lead (run over and buy that one now! :-)), and of course Joel’s book, which has helped my website and Adsense revenue jump almost 400%.

As for the individual ads I put at the end of each post, I’m not going to claim that I’ve used or purchased most of them, because it wouldn’t be true. I have visited every website that I put up, though, just to see what it’s like, something I like to do before I decide to market them unless I’m already familiar with the product or company. And, of course, everyone’s familiar with Adsense. Goodness, as I’ve gone back through some pages of my blog to research this post, I realize I haven’t really spent a lot of time marketing as much as reviewing things and giving my opinion; that’s somewhat enlightening to me, so I’ve learned something about myself writing this post.

Anyway, I believe I’ve shown some balance in my recommendations of products through my blog, actually leaning more towards someone who has used, or at least tried, many of the things I talk about. Now, does that boost my credibility? I think so, but only you, the reader, can tell me so for sure. I feel fairly secure in what I’ve written about on this blog, and how I write this blog as honestly as possible, and in my own way addressed the issue I’ve been discussing with another online friend Rich regarding a post he directed me to regarding his belief that if one accepted ads on their site that it would make them less likely to speak their minds honestly. He may be right in general; at least, in my mind, he’s not right as it pertains to me. By the way, he writes some pretty good and heady stuff, so check him out.

So, there you go. How credible am I to you? Trust me, I care. How credible are you to your readers? I hope that, many decades down the line, that I remember how I felt when writing this post, and how I felt while writing this blog. Can one be too old to dream? I hope not, but if so, well, then take this little bitty video with you on that subject (y’all do remember that I’ve said before how much I love the Muppets, right?):

Muppet Show Season Three


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How Lynn Makes Money Online

Lynn Terry of Clicknewz, is turning into one of my favorite people, online or offline. We’ve had a couple of conversations with each other through email, and I’ve talked before about her weekly internet marketing online get togethers on Tuesdays.

What separates us, besides lots of dollars and time on the internet, is what defines who’s a professional and who’s still got a long way to go. While I’ve written what has become the beginning of my series on blogging, Lynn recently referred her regular readers, through an email, to a series of posts she’s made over the years telling people how she makes money online. I thought these were fascinating articles, and asked her if I could put the links to those articles here. She has agreed, and so here you go:

How I Make Money Online

How I Make Money Online Part 2, An Inside Look

Starting A Free Online Business

Where Lynn Was 10 Years Ago

Of course I talk all the time about making money online, but I haven’t made any yet! 🙂 Okay, a little here and there, but certainly not enough to live off. It’s not only great to find someone like Lynn who’s willing to share how she does it, but is willing to allow others to help her share the information. Truthfully, this goes well with my post on selling online because she proves you don’t have to constantly beat people over the head to make big time money online.

Thanks Lynn, for allowing me to post this. And I hope all of us can learn some of these same lessons for our futures.


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Can You Stomach Sales?

And now, controversial post number two; let’s see if this one gets to at least 1,800 words as the last one did.


from Business Pundit

Something’s been on my mind for about a month now. I’m on Twitter, and by now I have a good number of followers, and people I follow. Nothing like the thousands some people have, and I don’t go around pimping for more, so I’m content with the number I have. Anyway, one of the people I follow wrote an open message to another person I follow, and her comment was something like this: “Is the only thing you do on here is sell, sell, sell?” It was easy to tell that she wasn’t pleased one bit.

I’ve wondered why that phrase has stuck with me for so long. I’ve probably thought about it at least once a day since I read it, which is why I’m finally writing about it. Psychologists believe that if you write about something that’s been on your mind that you’ll be able to move on; or maybe it’s just Zen thoughts.

I’ve come to a realization that all of us have a level of tolerance against sales, or being sold to, at some point. Whereas those of us who are trying to make money on our blogs or websites understand that the way to make money is to find ways to drive people to our sites and blogs, most of us aren’t willing to do some of the things that others are willing to do to get those visitors.

For instance, I’m reluctant to add popups or popunders on my blog because they irritate me. I’m reluctant to send a bunch of email out to people, or capture email addresses, because I don’t like how everyone asks me for my name and email address when they’re offering something for free, or even when I actually pay for something, and suddenly Im being inundated by all sorts of email, sometimes multiple times a day, until I eventually unsubscribe. It’s the same syndrome that makes most of us cringe whenever we’re at a party or event and the person we’re talking to tells you that they sell insurance. Isn’t that a shame?

Now, the person who the initial post was directed at is one of the big time internet marketers. I’ve mentioned his name previously on my blog, but I’m not going to call him out in this post. But I will say that I’ve noticed his sales habits on Twitter, and at times they do seem obsessive. There isn’t really a balance of personal posts compared to sales posts, and yet he does have some personal posts.

But here’s the thing. He’s not on Twitter to just have fun, or tell people he’s eating PB&J sandwiches. He’s there to talk about his products, and some of the people he meets in the course of his business. Personally, I find him interesting, and when it seems like he’s hammering one product way too many times, I just ignore it because if I’ve checked once, I don’t need to check it again.

However, I also understand why he’s doing it. One, because throughout a 16 hour day, there are people who don’t go backwards who may have missed previous listings of the post, so he’s trying to make sure he’s covering as many people as possible. Two, he’s trying to make money; this is his life, after all, and Twitter is just another tool, another ends to his means. I don’t have a problem with that.

So, what does that say about the rest of us? My friends, let’s talk about this a little bit. Over the past couple of months, I’ve visited a lot of blogs, and seen a lot of ways we all advertise our stuff. We put up banner ads, paid ads, link ads, widgets, Adsense, etc. We request people to subscribe to our RSS feed, which is a different way of getting people on a mailing list of sorts, in that they’re notified whenever we make a new post, and every new post that someone reads means there’s another chance we’ll get one of those people to look at what we’re marketing, and we hope that one day someone will buy something from us; that’s fair. We see that as unobtrusive because those people have requested to be a part of our community; it makes us feel as though we’re less salesmen than providers of information; that’s slightly true, but not fully true. In essence, it means we’re not good salesmen and saleswomen. We’re non-threatening, we’re comfortable, and most of us aren’t making much at all. How’s that working for you?

Of course, some of us are kidding ourselves. I’ve read some of the comments and posts on this blog and the blogs of others, where the writer says they really don’t care whether their ads and products make much money or not, but if it does it would be nice. I’m like that to a degree, so count me in with those folks. I have a short term goal of $100 a month; I have a long term goal of at least $3,000 a month. It would make the life of being an independent consultant a lot easier. I doubt there’s anyone who says they’re not overly concerned about making money online, that’s running any kind of ads, that would say they wouldn’t be happy making at least that much money online (anyone that’s not already making it, that is).

Being an independent consultant isn’t easy; no career where you’re working for yourself is easy. You have to learn how to sell yourself, which is always harder to do than selling products. You have to go to networking events you might not want to do. You have to join organizations you might not care to join. You actually end up putting more time into your business than you did working a regular job. Sure, the rewards can be outstanding, but there’s a lot of pressure.

You have to do the sales things, as I mentioned. You have to send regular letters, mailers, post cards, or flyers. You have to send email, many times unannounced, and risk someone calling you a spammer. And, from time to time, you have to pick up the phone and make cold calls; ugh. Still, if you want to make a life of it, you have to be willing to do some of these things. Why wouldn’t I want to have that extra bit of online cash coming in on a regular basis? Then I’d get to spend more time writing these missives that hit my mind from time to time that I hope enthrall the masses?

When it comes to internet marketing, there’s tons of information for us to pick from. I mean, internet marketing is big:

So, if you’re actually serious about trying to make money online, what are you willing to do for it? Are you willing to write about yourself all the time, and post it everywhere and anywhere, at all times? Are you willing to lie about products you’ve never tried just to try to sell them? Are you willing to take chances and do things that aren’t ethical? Are you willing to buck the trends that everyone else seems to follow and look for something that sets you apart from the field? Are you willing to spend money from time to time to learn more, or to attain things you don’t presently have, but things that could possibly help you make money in the future? Are you willing to pay for traffic, or purchase Adwords? Are you willing to take a stand or position on dofollow or page rank issues that others may tell you they disagree with?

By the way, just to share this, as it pertains to this article and my last post, doing good SEO tactics on your website or within your blog may help, but it’s not always end be all/end all. For instance, do you know what the top search terms are for finding my blog? Credit cards and conference calls. Has anyone ever seen me writing about either of those things? Nope, but they’re embedded into my footer, which is encrypted so I can’t remove it. One of my Twitter friends did recommend removing the footer, which worked great on the main page, but not for all the individual pages. So, sometimes, even your best SEO activities are not good enough. However, just to put it out there, if anyone has any ideas how I can overcome my footer, I’m willing to entertain suggestions.

Just for clarification, I’m not advocating anything, just discussing the issue. Everyone has their comfort level, as I said before, but when it comes down to it, just because there’s things we don’t like doesn’t mean that we should necessarily condemn people who do it, although I’m as guilty of some of it as other people are. In the end, though, I recognize that I don’t have the right, in the long run, to complain about how anyone decides to make a living. I can do what I’ve always recommended people do who don’t like a TV program; turn the channel, or, in this case, ignore, unsubscribe, and de-list anyone who’s irritating me too much.

At the same time, I still remain open to learning more and more things. I hope you are also. I didn’t quite hit that 1,800 words; I’m betting you’re happy about that. Oh yeah; I also hope you’re ready to buy something from me from time to time also. 😀

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Dofollow/Page Rank Discussion

I believe it’s time for my first controversial blog post, because a topic has come up that I see so many people writing about, even here in comments, that it needs some exploration and conversation. There will be another controversial post after this one on a different topic; so much to talk about on a Sunday afternoon.

I wrote my post about blogrolls because I love looking at the blogrolls of other people, as well as having a few of my own. But it got integrated into another conversation about “dofollow”, “page rank”, et al. I don’t necessarily mind that, because it’s what’s on the minds of people, but it just seems like it deserves its own prominent spot on this blog, so here it is.

I love getting comments on my blog; who doesn’t? I’ve also wanted to grow the readership of my blog, for more than one reason. One, I’d like to make some money from my blog; I stated that, in my own way, with my very first post back last December. Two, I like to see that people enjoy my blog, or possibly hate the blog but just can’t stay away. I have always believed that we all should mainly write for ourselves, for the love of writing, but having people acknowledge your writing in some fashion is always pleasing. As a sidebar, I was at a health care conference last week, and at the registration desk I came upon a “fan”, who told me she’s been reading my blog, newsletter, and comments on a listserve that we’re both participants of for years, and once she knew I was coming she wanted to meet me to tell me how much she’s enjoyed my writings. There’s nothing better in the world than having someone not only recognize you in some fashion, but then tell you something nice like that; totally unexpected, and yet, lucky for me, it happens from time to time.

Anyway, I started getting a little bit of comment activity around April, but it was still fairly low. Then I was introduced to more WordPress plugins, and after adding the dofollow plugin and this became a dofollow blog, comments started to rise, especially after I also decided to add CommentLuv and joined Sire’s little F Group blogging community. That, plus expanding my own commenting on other people’s blogs, has really gotten things going for my blog.

However, the most controversial piece of this whole thing has been the dofollow/nofollow controversy. It basically encompasses two things. One, the conversation of page rank. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this one, and ever since last year it’s been a hot topic, even on Matt Cutts blog, although he seems to always be right on the fringe of deciding how to answer the question everyone wants answered directly. Two, the conversation about paid links and Google penalties, and once again, Matt Cutts comes right to the edge without fully answering the specific question, but on this one he’s more the company man than on the other one. Let’s look at both issues in more depth.

All of us seem to scramble for Google page rank on one hand, then decry it on another. Let’s face this fact; ranks are ranks, and while none of them mean all that much in the long run, some seem more impressive than others, and can help us out in more ways than others. For instance, being a PR 0 or 7 doesn’t help me and this blog all that much because it’s a blog, with a wide range of topics, even if many are concentrated in a couple of areas. I’m much more impressed by page rank as it pertains to my business site because that’s the one I’ve worked on optimizing for specific keywords to generate offline business. I’m number one for quite a few search terms on that site, and yet it just dropped to a PR 3, after being PR 4 for at least 18 months. My traffic hasn’t dwindled, though, and my search terms are still at number one, with many others in the top 5, so what does that say about page rank overall?

Now, it’s possible that I’ve dropped page rank because at the same time I added dofollow to this blog, I added it to that blog, which is attached via subdomain, to my main site. However, I got slightly increased traffic for the site by adding the dofollow and CommentLuv plugins; do I want to give those up and possibly lose participation?

It’s actually the same question to ask for this blog. What’s the better “problem” to deal with; having more visitors and participation and worrying about page rank, or not having to worry about page rank and not having anyone reading my words? I checked my statistics on Google Analytics and the percentage of blog visitors that come here via Google is around 4.6%, which isn’t even half of the traffic I get from search engines, which is 9.6%. So, for this blog, my visitors are coming from other blogs most of the time; why worry about who’s finding me on Google searches at this time? If I can end up going the John Chow route, without directly attacking Google or flaunting any bad practices in their faces, and my traffic grows and I end up with more readers and purchasers, so much the better.

Which leads me to my second point, that being paid links. In reading Matt Cutts post on Selling Links That Pass Page Rank, the premise seems to be that it’s all on us individual bloggers or website owners to make sure that every advertisement that’s on our sites are set up as nofollow, as Google has a right to determine that paid links are there to help page rank only. I have some problems with this, as do others.

For one, having any paid links on one’s site is only for the purpose of making some money; we all know that having one way links doesn’t benefit us in any way except for either making some money or passing along information. Look at all the links in this post already; there’s more coming. Not a single one of these is a paid link, and not all of them link back into my blog; what algorithm is Google going to run to determine whether any of these links are paid or not? And no, I haven’t typed nofollow into any of these links, one because I don’t feel like it, but two, because Google themselves have acknowledged that it’s not that they don’t index nofollow links, just that if it’s there they won’t count them in their algorithms.

Therefore, Google’s expecting me to do their job for them; and that benefits me how? Oh yeah, that page rank thing again; well, I already talked about that. Now, am I selling space? I ask this question; is my having Text Links Ads any different than some blogs that have banner ads saying that people can pay to advertise there, or already have advertisers there? Matt Cutts said in one of his blog posts that Google doesn’t care about affiliate ads or whether they’re dofollow or nofollow; once again, how would they really know? Relevance is a red herring in this discussion.

For two (I’m never sure if one says “for two” or just “two”; does it matter?), just what is Adsense anyway? It’s paid text link ads that come from Google, and if you’ve ever checked (just right-click on a link, then go to Properties), you’ll see that every Adsense ad is a dofollow link; interesting. So, if Google is doing it for their advertisers, why are they so gung-ho to deny it to anyone else’s advertisers? Why? Because they can; just like the government, they’re the big dog, and big dogs don’t play by their own rules.

I wrote a comment a few days ago on someone else’s blog, I believe, that I also find it interesting that Google’s present ad partner, Yahoo, is allowing sidebar ads to run for this Text Link Ads company, and that company comes up number on if you use Yahoo search; seems these two big dog partners haven’t quite connected on a common philosophy as it regards paid links. And yes, Yahoo is also running Google’s Adsense these days, and of course it’s dofollow there also; what a dichotomy. Also, isn’t it troubling that Google can just erase a company from its search engines, which is supposed to be impartial? Try typing in Text Link Ads on Google; you’ll notice that the site itself doesn’t come up for even its name, but it’ll be listed as a topic of discussion on many other people’s sites. Hey, at one time in America, blacks weren’t considered as people either, but property; that’s a different conversation, though.

So, let’s ask some serious questions, and relate it to comments I’ve seen on this blog, other blogs, and many other articles I’ve read over the past couple of days. One, is Google really going to come after someone like me, who still has fewer than 2,000 physical visitors a month stopping by, just because: my blogroll, which is dofollow by default, shows up on every page, no matter how many links I put up; because I have a dofollow blog, which means every commenter who writes here gets some love from me; because I have two Text Link Ads that just started on my blog a couple of weeks ago, that’s going to net me less than $10 and is also “only” on my main page, but is also more than I’m going to earn from this blog from Adsense for the month?

Two, is my page rank going to overly suffer because of the same reasons I listed above? And, if it does, is that the end of my blog in the blogosphere?

Three, is fear really so rampant that people are afraid to try to do a few things here and there to improve their blogs, their monetary status, and their minds? Will fear suddenly make people scared to post here, or fearful of what they write and where they write? And, fear of Google, of all things? Does Google have a gun to your head? Sure, they’re the number one search engine, and I like Adsense just as much as many other people, but would that end my life on earth as I know it?

Four, have I done anything sneaky and below reproach? Have I done a single black hat SEO thing? Have a link farmed this site?

Five, and what about Naomi? Okay, just threw that in to lighten the mood a little bit and to see how many people actually remember it.

I know where many of you are going to stand on this issue, so I’ll ask the question this way, though you can still comment as you will. Realistically, just what is your main fear, and if it came to fruition, would it be the end of how you run your blog, or would you find another way? That’s all; I’m out!

State Line Tack

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