Category Archives: Internet

What’s Your Traffic Looking Like Lately?

Most of us track our traffic in one way or another. I’m not necessarily always checking mine, but I have a plugin on Firefox that tells me the Alexa rank for every website I visit, including my own.

sydney road sundays
Jes via Compfight

Lately I’m not happy with what I’m seeing. Except for one of my sites, my traffic is dropping across the board. And I don’t mean by a little bit either. In just a few weeks traffic has nosedived, and I’m at kind of a loss to explain it. All my blogs and websites are showing decreases. The one site that’s not showing a decrease is one where I’ve added new content when it hadn’t had anything new in almost 9 months, so it’s being paid attention to again.

The only connection I have to lower traffic, and it makes no sense, is the addition of CommentLuv Premium to the site. I decided to finally go ahead and bite the bullet because in the back of my mind I see the day when the free one won’t be supported anymore, along with the Growmap Antispybot plugin and some others, and as the reduced rate it seemed like the smart way to go.

CommentLuv usually helps promote traffic, especially if you have the dofollow attribute set, but for whatever reason my traffic has dropped on all my blogs, and it coincided with my adding it. Maybe my settings aren’t correct; maybe I’m blocking something that shouldn’t be blocked; I’m not sure.

On the flip side, comments have remained steady. If those had dropped as well I’d be worrying more than I am. And my Feedburner subscriptions haven’t fallen, so that’s a good deal as well.

I will continue monitoring traffic to see if it starts to improve any, but it’s possible that it’s the season that’s making it fall some. As it gets close to this particular holiday season, traffic often drops. When I looked at last year I saw that traffic dropped almost 20% in December when compared to November, and in 2010 it dropped 25% in the same time period.

So maybe the coincidence with CommentLuv is just that. Maybe it’s just historical precedence taking over. The same thing happens with people being admitted to the hospital by the way; more people get admitted during winter than they do in the summer. Just a little bit of trivia to make your day go well. 🙂
 

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NationStates

Something a little different today. I’ll play a lot of games online, though I have a few that I do enjoy. One that I’ve actually been playing for six years now, but I’m surprised I’ve never written about or talked about before, is called NationStates. As far as I know it’s unlike anything else that’s out there, it’s fairly easy to play, and they can offer some interesting scenarios.

I’m not quite sure how to describe it in the general terms of gaming, but the basic premise behind the game is that you create a nation state, given the name, and then determine, based on a series of questions that you get on a daily basis, how your government is going to run and how it’s going to fit in with the rest of society. Every day that you go back to the game you get to see what kind of impact the choices you made have on your nation, and get the alter your stance as you so choose. Sometimes you find that the choices you make don’t result in the responses you expected, but I tend to believe that’s pretty much how it is with regular government.

The next step after creating your nation is to decide if you want to join a region or create your own region. You have to be somewhere, and early on I used to take my civilization around to different regions before deciding to create a region of my own. The region is called Fairness For All; that I decided to call the capital city Mitchellopolis might seem a bit narcissistic, but that’s one of things you get to do. Unfortunately right now I’m the only member of my region, as it would be fun to have other nations involved, but that’s okay because it allows me to have the deciding vote for my region when it comes to participating in the World Assembly.

The World Assembly is where your nation state gets to either vote for or against something along with all the other nation states that are out there, kind of like a United Nations. Sometimes you’re voting for things like whether there should be international laws created or repealed, and sometimes you’re voting for or against a nation state or a region that’s being blamed for bad behavior. I have no idea what happens to those nations that get condemned, and I haven’t really weren’t all that much about it.

They also have a forum where people can get together and participate in all kinds of things. I’ve only been to the form a few times overall these years, because truthfully I forget about it. But the few times I have gone has been interesting, and you usually will find out what new thing is going on with the game because the owners of it are always making some kind of change here and there.

The best thing I like about the game is that it doesn’t take all that long to play unless you really want to get into the forums. At this point, because I’ve been playing so long, my nation has a population of around 8.6 billion people. Try imagining a world where there were so many nations that had billions of people in them; yeah, that would be a freaky proposition, but this game allows for it.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a little bit of diversion and have a little bit of a Napoleon complex about you, at least take a look and decide if it’s something you wouldn’t mind doing. And if you do, I wouldn’t mind you joining my region for a while just to figure out how things are going for you, and one of the best things about the game is that you can always leave and join other nations without much trouble.
 

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Getting More Annoying Phone Calls? Is It Craigslist’s Fault?

I’ve had an increase in phone calls lately from out of town. They’re coming from Oregon and Washington state, and since I only know one person living in Washington and no one in Oregon, and I don’t owe anyone any money, I know that they’re probably sales calls of some type.


by Mark Fischer via Flickr

The funny thing is that it’s the same two numbers over and over. That’s rare, as you know these people like to randomly change numbers all the time. I’m not one to call numbers back to find out which companies these are because I don’t want to give them that kind of time. I am the type, though, that looks up phone numbers after awhile to see if I can learn anything about them.

I did that with these two numbers and what I found was interesting. On both numbers, someone mentioned that they had been responding to ads on Craigslist for jobs lately and that it coincided with the increase in calls.

I hadn’t thought about that at all. I also have been checking out links originating on Craigslist for writing gigs, though I haven’t been scouring Craigslist independently. I subscribe to a site that sends out writing offers on a daily basis and within the last couple of weeks I’ve started reaching out to some of these people.

Luckily, one of them has come through and it’s turned into a writing project, but that doesn’t negate any of the rest being dodgy. I contact every one of them through my SEO business account email, which has my phone number in the signature file, and of course it’s on my website if they bothered to check that out.

Can I definitely say these two things are related? No I can’t, but it does bring up the issue of just how much one can trust what we come across online. Whereas in general Craigslist is a fairly trustworthy place, there are a lot of scammers doing things that, until it’s caught, could end up causing you grief. After all, when I wrote my post last year about the anatomy of a scam, that also involved responding to a Craigslist ad.

This is just another warning to be cautious of things you find online, even on Craigslist. You’re never sure what you might be getting yourself into.
 

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The Images Issue And Getty Images

Last week was interesting for many reasons, but one was somewhat troubling.

One of my clients called me up saying she’d received a letter from Getty Images saying she owed them $800 for using one of their images. Since there were only 4 images on her site and two of them were of her and her business, I thought it was kind of a crank.

What it turned out to be was an image that was embedded in the free WordPress theme that I’d put on her site because the colors matched up with her site nicely. Most of the time I use this theme that I can customize, but this one seemed to do the trick.

Anyway, turns out that the image in the header was a copyrighted image. Whether the creator got permission to use it or not I have no idea, but supposedly even if that person had the right to use it, no one else has the right to use it, even though all of us downloaded the themes with the impression that all was right with the world.

In any case I called the guy at Getty, who was relatively nice but clueless. I gave him a website that showed the theme I downloaded, which is one of many. He said I should go after the people I downloaded the theme from; that was six months ago so that’s not happening since I can’t remember. I told him that it’s not everyone else’s fault if they downloaded a free theme, something that probably happens at least tens of thousands of times a day, and he said copyright is copyright.

We said a few other things to each other, which I’m going to leave alone for now, but I told him my client wasn’t paying and I wasn’t paying and if everyone he was now going to try to contact, since this site listed that 570 people had downloaded the image, got lawyers and decided to fight back that the company would find out soon enough that it wasn’t worth going after so many innocent people. That plus if they thought that one image was worth over $450,000 (just from this one site) they were out of their minds.

It does point out the issue of trying to make sure that images you use can be used on your sites or blogs. I usually go to Flickr if I don’t have an image of my own, and yet last week I also was contacted by someone whose image I used on one of my blogs. I gave attribution as I was supposed to, but this guy said I was supposed to link back to their website. I said there wasn’t anything showing that on his page and he said they were limited in space by Flickr. I said I’d followed the terms as listed on Flickr, but I was going to just remove the article because I wasn’t in the mood to link back to their site. And trust me, my site was easily ranked higher than theirs, so irking me did them no good.

What’s your thoughts on all of this? Meanwhile, my Hot Blog Tips Hangout crew explored this very issue, as well as the topic of free vs. paid themes, and here’s the video if you’re interested in checking out a bit of it:


 

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Guest Posting Scams

You know, it probably seems like I’m totally against guest posting lately. I’m not, even if I did write a post about guest posting lies. I just tell it like it is, and then I show you what I mean.

In this case, I’m going to share what I believe turns out to be a guest posting scam by someone representing themselves as working at a company called Greenlight Digital. It turns out this is a legitimate company; how legitimate the person who wrote me is makes me curious. My issues were thus:

1. She seemed to not know what she was doing. She kept having problems understanding me, as I did her.

2. She parceled out information one bit at a time.

3. She tried to get me to sign up for something where I could “get” articles to put on my finance blog that they were going to pay for, but she sent me the first one.

4. She tried to tell me that I wouldn’t get paid for two weeks, but I had to run the article with their links during that time.

Those are just the highlights. It’s better to share our correspondence here, and you tell me your thoughts on the matter. Hers will be italicized, and mine will be in blue; I know you like that. 🙂 Here we go:

Hi,

We are currently running a campaign in combination with one of our major UK clients, and were wondering if you would be interested in hosting content on http://www.topfinanceblog.com/

One of our major clients is currently focusing on increasing the visibility of their pages on the web, and it would be great if you could play a part.

I have several flexible possibilities in mind including bespoke guest posts and articles.

Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

In exchange we would offer you payment dependent on the visibility of the content.

If you would like further information or if this has sparked your enthusiasm then please feel free to contact me via email Veronika.Kustrova@greenlightdigital.com .

I look forward to hearing from you!

Kind Regards,

Veronika Kustrova
Web Relations Executive | Greenlight

Greetings,

This is the advertising policy of Top Finance Blog: (not sharing advertising policy here, but it’s my standard policy for that blog)

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

We are currently running a campaign for our finance clients such as XXX and XXX (not going to “out” her clients, in case they’re not her clients) and were wondering if you would be interested in this advertising opportunity. I have briefly outlined below exactly what we do and what we are looking for from you.

All we are looking for up to 3 article/blog posts. Our writers are flexible and are willing to write the articles based on your focus (also being happy to take topic suggestions should you have any particular topics in mind). The content is bespoke and based on your site so will certainly be in regards to your site’s subject – once it is written you are, of course, free to review the content before placing it on your site and any changes you wish can be made for you to ensure you are comfortable with the content.

The content can remain live for as long as you like unless the specification of the client changes, in which case we would ask you to remove the content. We do ask that there be a homepage link (internal) to the content so that your users can read it. Each post must meet CAP regulations, we provide details on this alongside the content.

You can see some examples of our articles at XXX & XXX. Please note these are examples, do not place this on your site and that your articles will be based on the focus of your site and so will be different from these examples

For the posts we offer a one-off payment per article of £75.

Do you have price for one-off payment per article?

The reason for offering this price is that I expect that the review will be posted in the form of a blog post, which would be top news while it is still fresh (a month or so), to be replaced with newer content as time wears on.

Our partnerships are built on maximum flexibility as we recognise that circumstances can change, for example you may wish to redevelop or refresh your site and may no longer wish to have our items on the site. If the case arises where circumstances do change you need only inform us and we can either renegotiate or end the partnership, and vice versa.

What are your thoughts on this?

Regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

We’re going to have to clear up some terminology because I’m not sure what you’re saying.

One, I have no idea what CAP regulations are. Two, I have no idea what “one-off” means. I can’t respond to this without that knowledge. At least I knew what “bespoke” meant; not a term used here in the U.S. I want to make clear that this site is in the United States, and all content on the blog must be geared towards an American audience. As long as it’s on a finance topic and not something we’ve had on the blog within the last month, all should be fine.

I will answer what I do know. Each article gets to have a link in it going back to the site in question, but the link can’t be a blatant ad, and the link has to have relevance to the word it’s linking to. For instance, if the article says “credit card” and the link goes to a credit card company, or a finance company of some kind, it’s a good link. If the article says “credit score” but links back to “Bob’s Young Horses”, that wouldn’t work at all. I’m sure you know this, but I’m just making sure.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

One-off payment means paid just once and CAP regulations mean that the article content and publishing needs to follow correct SEO rules.

As I mentioned in the previous article the content is unique and it is relevant.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

Just to clarify this part first, you’re saying you’d pay $XX to place each article? Second, I do SEO as one of my businesses, but even a paid post follows the rules of this blog, although I don’t often turn down what’s requested unless it goes against the format of the blog. I still need to see the websites being linked to ahead of time, and need to mention that anything regarding payday loans, either in an article or the website being linked to, won’t be accepted.

If I’m clear in what you’re saying then we can go forward and I will gladly take a look at the posts you have.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is correct we would pay $XX/£XX per article.

I have already sent you a few examples of our articles for Santander.

I am also happy to take any suggestion of the topic for the article to make sure it will fit your audience.

If you are interested please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address) and I shall get the content commissioned for you; you should have it within a few weeks.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

I’d be interested, but the two articles you sent me had blatant advertising in them, and that wouldn’t be allowed, even for a paid post. I just want to be clear on that up front. As long as the articles pertain to something that would interest an American audience, we can take a shot at it. I’d like to see an article to review before I send my payment information, and please remember that every article must have a one line bio with a person’s name that will be responsible for responding to any comments the article receives on the blog.

Hi Mitch,

Please see the article in the attachment.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Greetings Veronika,

I have to modify a couple of lines but otherwise the article works, and your link will still show. If you don’t have a problem with that then I’ll go ahead and schedule it and let you know when it’ll be going live.

Hi Mitch,

Yes that is fine the article can be modify by yourself.

Please can you add the attached text image “advertorial promotion” to the bottom of the article. Just save file on your pc – please ensure image remains GIF format. Please rename the image to any number, e.g. “23”.gif.

When the article will be publish send us the link and we just check if it meets the CAP regulations.

Please send me your full contact details for our records (Payee Name, Payment Method (Paypal) Phone Number, & Address).

Kind regards,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

If I add that image I’m going to have to charge you an extra $XX for it, since that’s obvious advertising. This means the cost of the article is $XXX. If you agree I’ll add the image; otherwise, it’ll still be $XX for the article itself.

My pay information is thus:

Hi Mitch,

Unfortunately we have to use this image according the CAP regulations that is beneficial for both sites.

I understand your point. Please can we try to negotiate for $XXX/£XX per article? The price would include also the PayPal fees.

Thanks,

Veronika

Before I had time to respond to the earlier email, I received another email from someone that said the same exact thing as Veronika’s original email. I wrote her back mentioning Veronika, and she wrote back saying to just work with Veronika. Then I got this:

Hi Mitch,

We contacted you recently about hosting content on your site for some of our clients, and you’ll be pleased to know we may have some content for you.

We’re doing some work for XXX, and wanted to know if you’d consider the following proposal.

Proposal details (this lead to a link that wasn’t on their site, and, because I have Mailwasher, would have led to one of those strange links that would have altered the link on my site, something I warned about Gera Agency)

As soon as you’ve accepted, one of our editors will prepare the content for you, and get it over for you to approve.

Also…please note that if you haven’t accepted or declined within 7 days we may automatically assume you’ve declined, and this opportunity will expire, so please be sure to let us know either way.

If you have any questions about this request, or email, please don’t hesitate to contact us, either directly on the number below.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Veronika Kustrova

I had actually scheduled the article for publication and sent a date telling her when it would go live; then the email above showed up and irked me to no end, to whit:

Veronika,

No, I’m not doing that, and I’m not clicking on that link. If that’s the only way for me to participate then I don’t want any part of it. If that’s how this works and the only way it works, then I’ll just delete the article I already have ready to go next week and we’ll part ways now.

Hi Mitch,

I am afraid I have to do this. Otherwise I am not allowed to raise the payment for you.

Kind regards,

Veronika

Then I’m sorry we can’t work together. I will remove the article so you can place it elsewhere. Maybe another time.

Hi Mitch,

After talking with my manager. I can approve it.

Please let me know when the content is life.

Thanks,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

As I previously mentioned, the article will go live on XXX by 10AM EST. I won’t be around, so you’ll have to check based on time conversion. Hopefully payment will be made within 24 hours of its going live. Thanks.

Hi Mitch,

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately the payment takes approximately 1-2 weeks to transfer. I will try my best to proceed the payment as soon as possible.

Cheers,

Veronika

Hi Veronika,

Your company seems to have a lot of rules I’ve never had to deal with before with anyone else. I’ll wait 24 hours and then I’ll remove the links until I’m paid; that is, if you still wish to go through with this project. I’m not feeling like a valued partner, and thus I will not feel like being taken advantage of for one or two weeks of links to your client’s sites without payment.

Hi Mitch,

Apologies I cannot proceed further.

Best,

Veronika

And that was that. Now, I mentioned the 4 issues I had with what went on; was I sensitive, overly protective, or spot on in my assessment of the situation?

Here’s the thing. I’ve talked before about how we get offered certain amounts of money and it can help to make us kind of stupid sometimes. If you’ll do anything to make money, you set yourself up to be taken and scammed. There was just too many strange things that occurred here for my comfort level. If I was making the contact, I’d have put it all up front so there wouldn’t be any questions. I should have known earlier that they’d want to add a banner ad, that they’d think I would want to sign up at some kind of link go to get articles (which makes no sense) and that they hoped not to pay me for two weeks. I wouldn’t have gone for it, but at least it would have been honest.

That’s why I share this stuff. It just feels like a scam, and it leaves me wondering if it’s legitimate or not. The link make me suspect. Always take care of yourself, because it’s your blog or website. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of for pursuit of the almighty dollar.
 

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