Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Blog Subscriptions by Email - It Works!

My blogs have been a source of satisfaction and frustration to me.

They are satisfying in that, as blogger says, push-button publishing is possible.
They are frustrating in that, in the fine print, we learn: some assembly is required.

They are satisfying in that templates and more templates are only a mouse click away.
They are frustrating in that some template don't support some features.

Frustrating: I couldn't figure out how to let people subscribe by email.
Satisfying. I posted the email subscription to blogger question to the forum yesterday, and implemented the subscribe-by-email today (on my 2nd try but that's more satisfaction than frustration). THANK YOU FEEDBURNER / BLOGGER / GOOGLE :->

Satisfying. I can tell my story my way on my blog
Frustrating: I'm not that good at crafting stories.
Satisfying: I am going to take a course in story-telling focused on writing for blogs. I'm going to get a Black Belt in Blogging!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blogging Software - Todays problems

I have a few problems with the current generation of blogging software. I wonder if my list is very different than most others.

1. Sticky. Most forums allow the moderator to mark a comment or thread "sticky". This means that this posting, even when it's not the most recent, stays at the top. I can't seem to find this feature in the blogger or wordpress, the two blogging systems that I use. I'm about to try Typepad so stay tuned..

2. Subscribe to updates by email. This elusive feature is one that I would really like. The comments section allows users (including the moderator) to get emails about new comments but I'm talking about having a simple subscription method to get emails about all updates to the blog. I gather that RSS would be better system but I don't seem to understand RSS and I'd really like it to be a simple email system. Even the feedburner addition to wordpress and blogger is lacking this.

3. More HTML functionality such as tables in blog posts. While it's cool to be able to post videos and images, I sometimes try to put some info on a blog post that is best done as a table. While I succeeded after laborious efforts, it should be simplified (by the way, I did figure out some of the bugs and workarounds in blogger for tables but I can't seem to find my write-up here. Maybe it's on another blog, maybe it's on a forum. Ask if you want to see it)

4. Integrated trackbacks, stats, and subscriptions. Basically, I like that google bought feedburner and is integrating them. I just want it done already plus, I'd like them to remember us mortal non-techie users and provide us simple emails subscriptions and de-emphasize the glitzy rss feeds that handle everything including podcasts (another technology that I've not yet gotten involved with).

5. Promotion. It would be nice if there was more automated pinging built into the blogs. Or, if there is more than I am aware of, more documentation on them. I tend to update my content and then to manually use:
But I can't tell if my efforts are useful or wasted. I do know that if I correctly join and participate in the blog communities, I do well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blogging Software - Incomplete out of the box

You would think that the leading blog software would be click and publish. But, it's not. Some of the basic features need to be added in by the users.

With blogger, the google-owned software for making blogs, you don't get trackbacks or subscriptions or any statistics. To get a subscription capability, you need to separately sign up for and install Feedburner. Feedburner also supplies visitor and subscription stats. If you want trackbacks, you can add halo but that seems to invite comment spam. BTW - Google bought Feedburner and I assume is trying to integrate it.

With WordPess, you also need to add Feedburner for subscriptions and stats. And halo for trackbacks.

Of course, with some templates and other modifications, Feedburner is incompatible.

And while Feedburner talks alot about chicklets and convenient RSS feeds, I'm having trouble finding out about the basic ability to subscribe to blog updates by email. I know it's a little simple but still, that's how most of us operate. I don't know what an RSS reader is and, just like news and other readers, I don't really have the time or energy to figure them out.

I'm about to try Typepad which I'm hoping, has some of these features integrated. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Google Page rank - a contrarian view

Most SEO experts agree that:

The visible google page rank is a misleading short cut which we all use but which we shouldn't. It's a bad habit even glancing at that yellow bar.

I've said as much myself. But recently, I've developed a new view starting with the fact that page rank has recently been used by google is a novel way.

Google has dramatically dropped a number of people's page rank as a way of telling them that their site is breaking rules of conduct that google considers important. As Loren Baker explained:

In my opinion, by flipping the switch on changing the PageRank of some sites, Google is trying to send a message....

I think Google is trying to discourage sites from having an unfocused set of links on their site.

I've looked at a few of the sites that were penalized (admittedly, not as many as I would like) and surprisingly, I found them to be high quality sites. Where these sites seem to have run afoul of Google's sensitivities is by having links to sites in which Google could not find the relevance, the "common thread".

Google seems to want us to use text links to other sites only as natural links which is a component of content, not in any commercial sense. Google wants text links to be "natural" content links (around which they can build their search engine). Google seems to be saying that unlike banner ads which is an acceptable form (for google) of paid advertising, text links should only be used as part of "natural" content so they should be in paragraphs and only go to sites with relevant content. If they aren't, they should be run by java script (like adsense) or have "no follow" tags.

Returning to my original point. All the SEO pundits have been saying that although this time the page rank is actually a communication tool for google, it is generally a misleading and useless indicator. I'd like to disagree and submit a contrarian view: the google PR number is a useful measure of what it measures.

The fact is that I've seen a very strong correlation over the last four years between my viewable page rank and my position in the search engines.

I know that the page rank is easily manipulated. As far as I can tell, Google Page Rank is a simple time-delayed count of incoming links and a summary of their page rank without any dampening effect due to numbers of outgoing links or relevance. So, in my case where I am terribly white hat and spend my efforts generating original content and genuine links, my rise in page rank and in the search engines has been synchronous. For me, the Google PR is useful as a judge of my progress.

Blogging, SEO, Adsense, Traffic, ROI

The site pulls an enormous amount of traffic. Alot is repeat traffic, alot is from links from sites that recommend it, and some is from search engines. The good news is that the site does very well for terms such as vocabulary (#2 on the BigG), build vocabulary, and building vocabulary for standardized tests.

We are making an effort broaden the terms for which the site pulls traffic. We are doing this by providing a blog full of interesting relevant original articles such as:

Teaching With
Crossword Puzzles

What's New? 25 New Topics

Learning by Categories

Word Retrieval Therapy

Vocabulary Instruction in Early Learning

Reading Comprehension


Of course, I'm also very interested in providing grade by grade information to potential online students for what they can learn from Time4Learning. Check it out:

First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade
Sixth Grade
Seventh Grade
Eighth Grade

Monday, November 05, 2007

Firefox link checker says my links are forbidden!

forbidden links
I just installed the firefox link checker and ran it on my sitemap. It didn't seem to give much in the way of results. Then, I pulled down the menus: tools - web developer - information - display title attributes.

Yikes! I got a mess of "Title=forwarded or forbidden link" messages. But the links look fine to me. Anybody understand such things?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

BBB Online - The Kids Privacy Seal

I have joined my local BBB (with an annual fee) so that I could be eligible and then join the BBBonline which made me eligible for the BBBOnline seal (with an annual fee) that you see on my home education site.

Although I mention the fees, I know that this has worked out well for me since when I added it to my shopping cart page, my shopping abandon rate dropped by around 5% (actually, there were other changes made at the same time). Since my shopping cart abandon rate at that time was 80% (which is very typical), this increased my conversion rate and sales rate by 25%! :->

I just got an answer from the BBB about the Kids Privacy seal which I thought was particularly cute (you can see a copy of one on Club Penguin's home page) and which I have long coveted for my site. And I quote:

"The BBB Kids Privacy Seal is being phased out. A small number of companies are being "grandfathered" in their use of it, but we aren't accepting new applications for it anymore. It had very limited acceptance in the marketplace (less than two dozen companies signed up for it in the 7 years it was available) and the larger Privacy seal program of which it was a part if also being phased out."

So I'm looking around for more ways to demonstrate our commitment to privacy, coppa compliance, and no-advertising policy for kids. Any ideas?

And I'm still looking for a vendor of ads (such as google adwords) that will deliver ONLY advertisements appropriate to children....Any ideas?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CoHosted Links Discounted by Google - Truth or Myth

Following up on my question as to whether google discounts links from sites that are hosted together, I've found a new release that suggests other people seem to feel the same way....(and I quote / paraphrase)

June 28, 2007 - SEO Hosting, a division of Host Gator web hosting, announced today .... a new service enables customers to optimize their web sites for search engines by hosting on multiple C classes.

The new service stemmed from customers regularly asking Host Gator for multiple C Class capabilities because of their belief that search engines will penalize sites that have the same C class and are linking to each other. With multiple C Class capabilities, customers no longer have to work with different hosting providers to overcome this problem and can consolidate all their sites on SEO Hosting.

Does this matter at my small size? For instance, I have four generators of links hosted at the same place:
Todays Learners
Parent Homeschooling Forum
Learning Games

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jim Boykin - Is Google Googling me?

Jim Boykin,

We spoke a few years ago and it started me thinking a certain way and building my site and links a certain way. It's worked well for me (I run a small online educational business). I've collected a few old domains from others, nurtured my own, and advertised/promoted without while staying under the radar. I've a question.

As background, we know that Google discounts the value of links from related sites. Well, to be more precise, they probably discount the value of large numbers of links from related sites. Google figures that two sites that share an IP address are probably related. So they would discount those links.

Do you think Mr. Google also considers the following as indicating that sites are related and so they are discounting the value of the links?

a Registered to the same person.
b Registered to people at the same address (physical or email).
c Sharing the same webmaster account
d Sharing the same adwords account
e Sharing the same adsense account
f From blogs that are part of the same google account.
g From blogs, adsense, adwords, and websites that share a common google account?

In short, how much research or googling is Mr. Google doing to value or discount links along these lines?

PS - Jim, I'm a big user and fan of your free tools. Especially the cool tool. Thanks.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Test Preparation - Advertising

Test preparation -would advertisements for preparing for tests be of higher value than advertisements for just generally building vocabulary skills?

At, we are engaged in a great google-adsense experiment. We're trying to find how we can adjust our page so that ads of more value per click appear.

We've been stuck in the $.09 basement for awhile with adsense touting vocabulary games, vocabulary activities, and free word games. By changing the title and building a few incoming links with words like test preparation or SAT preparation, will the ads change?

It seems to be that preparation for the standardized high stake tests merits maybe $.12 clicks which would be a 30% increase in revenue (which we would like :->)!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Online Marketing & SEO Consultants

I am a small company trying to build a good profitable stable niche. When I started, I need nothing about online marketing and couldn't have told you what PPC or SEO stood for. I was in a hurry so I used consultants to get educated. It was clearly not the only way. I could (probably should) have gone to the "boot camps" for a few days of intensive online marketing training that are often offered around the seo and other conferences.

I started with a consultant who ran some marketing tests on ppc on yahoo and google. I learned the basics of how it worked and spent some money running tests on moving traffic around. I found that there was alot of traffic and concluded (along with some other research) that I should launch.

After I'd been in business for half a year, I hired Ten Golden Rules (Jay Berkowitz and Maria et al) to help me improve my online marketing. They were good in that they had the capability inhouse to work on several types of project so we refined and rebuilt my sales funnel, created a new template for my webpages, and created ten pages designed for SEO purposes. I learned alot from working with them, paid them promptly, and asked them more questions that they could answer. It was a six month project.

I've used consultants intermittently since then. I had the "copy surgeon" work on some copy for me at one point. I had Ken help with some projects (get a domain transfered over to me) and I've worked with Juliana of Infineight Web Design intermittently for four years now.

I use lots of outside writers to help generate articles, web pages, or newsletters. I tend more towards people with real subject matter expertise (reading skills, homeschooling, math, educational curriculum etc) rather than marketing people.

I recently used the Hits Doctor to update my Google PPC campaign recently. He found that it was hard to improve on the performance since it was very well-tuned already but he did add Yahoo & MSN. Most importantly, he took a fresh look at the sales funnel and got us back to working on how to refine it.

Overall, the consulting firms are a little too pricy for me. I am basically a marketing firm living on a tight margin so we need to cost-effectively do our marketing.

For instance, adding a $1500 monthly marketing management fee on to a $4000 a month PPC budget means moving our cost per customer from $36 to $50. It would make sense if they could do alot more than we could but instead, I spent the money on some training sessions for our staff inhouse and now, on a much more cost effective basis, we're up and running.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wikis and educational wikis and spelling wikis

We have been looking at some of the technologies and so I have joined some educational wikis. They're interesting in that they seem to be alot like forums in terms of building a community but they're different too.

The difference is that in addition to threaded discussions, there's an ability to collaborate and create a nice set of documents. Other than that, with the threads and profiles, it's a very similiar collaborative tool.

Has anyone created an spelling wiki? More specifically, a wiki on teaching spelling? I think that would be an interesting approach to encouraging collaboration on I start by creating a spelling course which we encourage everyone to give input to.

But, - if it ever becomes operational - is joomla based. Is there a joomla wiki technology?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Alternative Spellings & SEO

I wrote once before about using "typos" to pull traffic. I think I called the article typos and SEO and dealt with the fact that I could pull almost as much traffic by spelling kindergarden incorrectly as kindergarten correctly.

I will now admit to a pair of out of control hobbies: blogging and karate. In fact, I've brought the two together in site on my experiences at the Lavallee Karate dojo in Ft Lauderdale.

In doing so, I've been struggling how best to help people find it and I found that I was the only site listed if they googled "bugo kumatae", which is our term for our sparring. Unfortunately, it turns out that one of the reasons that my site showed up first was that I was spelling it incorrectly.

I'm still not entirely sure how to spell it correctly (or if there is a correct spelling). I've asked alot of people how they would spell it and so far, I rarely get the same answer twice. (You see, our karate school has been primarily an oral tradition until I tried to record it). I think the most likely spelling (two instructors suggested it) is bugo kum ite. In any case, I'm now involved in trying to optimize the site for these terms no matter how you spell them.

Here is the current footer that I have on a post and almost daily, I add a new variation...

PS - A note on the term bugo kum ite - Is it bugo kum ta? Bugokumite? bugokumtai?bugokumatai? bugokumathai? bu go ku matai? bugo kuma thai? Bugo kuma tae? Bugo kumatae? bugo kumatae? bugokumatae? boogo cuma tae? boogokumatai? boog go ku matai? boogo koom tae, bugo koom a tai? bugo koom tae, boog koom tai, buggo kum tae. boogo kuma tai, boog go kum tai. Why this long list? I've told people they could find this site by googling "bugo kuma tai" but sadly, no two people seem to have the same idea of how to spell it. So if I add enough permutations, I'll cover the possibilities. bugg okum atai? boogg ocuma tai? bugokumite bugo kumite?

Monday, October 08, 2007

How to embed .mpg files in a blogger posting

How do you embed a .mpg file into a blog?

This is the question I Googled when attempting to embed an .mpg file into a blog. I got no real answers from that search. There are several different ways to do it but I was looking for a way to use HTML code to embed the file. It didn't seem to want to be done that way.

Turns out there's a very simple way to do it......

Friday, October 05, 2007

Starting a Green Business Online- free advice

I had breakfast with a friend who mentioned that his wife has started a great new business, importing a novel "green" product which I think should have strong appeal in the US marketplace. Being an overly enthusiastic techie, business-guy, and "save-the-earth" type, I gave him an earful of free unsolicited advice.

Here's the thoughts that I had.

1. Pick your domain very carefully and with an eye on search engine optimization, a second eye on people and their ability to correctly type in URLs, and a third eye on messaging (fortunately, the toxins in our environment means many of us have mutated to three eyed beasts). The choice of domains will do more to determine your search engine success and messaging than anything else. If you are Amazon, you can afford to educate the public who you are. Otherwise, pick a domain that has your keywords in it and which messages somehow. BTW - Time4Learning is only a partial success on this count. Say an A-. Some of my favorites sites and blogs in terms of naming are: Web-Home-School, Todays Learners, Learning Games for Kids, Reading Skills Pyramid, Parenting in an electronic age and SpellingCity .

2. Don't spend much money up front on a website. Instead, blog it. Install wordpress (it comes on many sites ready to install with a click) or use blogger (which can be positioned onto your domain easily). The process is simple. A - Pick and register your domain (I use or for this - under $10 and easy). B - Get some pictures and key messages and topics ready. C- have a webdesigner with blog experience and in 3 hours together, pick and install a template, customize it, and get trained on how to post. Be sure to get the mods on wordpress that make the page name & URL reflect your articles topic, not just the site name and some codes (This is key for SEO). In fact, I would just use blogger to avoid this complexity.

3. Write blog articles to cover the key issues. Fill in the profile with how you want to be contacted Don't use your home number - use a line that can be turned off!). Write a blog article with your pricing. Write another on product issues. Write another on Green stuff. Etc etc . Write articles on when you first got interested in the environment. Write about stylish clothes. Basically, write a post every few days. Or every day. Keep them short, professional, on or around the topic etc

4. Revisit the blog structure monthly. By this, I mean the menus and key message. Easy navigation to key sections is critical. To get a sense of this, look at how we keep moving these two blogs around. Karate at 50 and Moms Homeschooling. Nobody gets it right at first. Just adjust it slightly every month based on what you're learning.

5. Socialize and promote online. Alot. Find forums that are relevant and join them and participate. It's your signature line with your key message and a link that is your marketing. Find communities and blogs of people with similiar interests and get to know them. Write about them. Spend $1K on promotion getting people to blog about your products. Think about using the blog to market.

6. Once you get going, learn to track your traffic (thru your hoster or feedburner or google's webmaster tools or google analytics).

7. When you get going, learn to use the social bookmarks (technorati, delicious) and social networks (linked in, myspace, etc).

8 Keep building you understanding about keyword mechanics, SEO onpage issues, keyword volumes that are relevant to you, and the leading sites in your sectors.
Build relationships with them. I, for one, have an intimate relationship with the keyword "homeschool curriculum". I know who it likes best and why. I have relationships with the other leading sites. And homeschool curriculum likes me too!!!! ;->

9 Someday, build a regular website. Or don't. Blogs are flexible and powerful as content mgt systems that there's no reason to keep looking.

SEO Questions - Open for help

Is it worthwhile trying to get separate IP addresses for colocated domains ? Any way to quantify impact of joint ip address? I have a series of major accounts in the same whm/cpanel account at sultan. They have the same IP address. Our parent homeschool forum, for example, generates thousands of links to our main domain. Todays Learners, Learning Games for Kids, Reading Skills Pyramid, Parenting in an electronic age and SpellingCity are all on the same account & IP address.

Revenue Optimization. I'm trying to move my monthly advertising revenue from $1K to $10K. I might have to better understand adsense, affiliates, revenue optimization, and other advertising-revenue choices.

Advertising. I have never "bought traffic", my ads have been cheap, bought case-by-case, and carefully balanced for traffic and seo purposes. What about pure agency-type traffic or impression buying? Does it make any sense?

Google analytics. I hear great things about google analytics. My host provides urchin. Is this upgrade worth it? If so, what is involved not just in setting up the account and javacodes but in learning to use it effectively?

Authority & .edu sites. I have a disproportionately small number of them. I feel like my site could do better, could be moved from a 6 to a 7 or 8. I got no basis for that and obviously, it's a symbolic measure. Still, my link pattern is strong in every way except major authority sites. Any ideas?

Directories, especially DMOZ - I've never paid attention to directory listings and cannot seem to get my site listed in DMOZ (what a weird experience I've had with them over the last three years). Is there a methodology or approach here?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Link Importance Taxonomy

I just met the very impressive Joe Laratro who we will probably hire for some inhouse SEO classes or PPC

We had an interesting discussion about what links count more than and he pointed me towards a presentation by Todd Malicoat . I thought it was great but pointed out that it wasn't complete or at least, it didn't address the type of questions that I had. I remember worrying alot about how to best harvest google juice and writing on link importance back in Jan 06 (and other times I'm sure)

I'll update my thoughts on link importance and I'd be honored if Joe uses this to refine his teaching in this area:

Image links vs text links. Text links are better although image links with alt text are better than just a banner. For the unitiated, many image links on sites are run thru a javascript adserver engine meaning that there is no followable link.

Single links on a page versus multiple. Each additional link divides the link power on the page accordingly. I'm still unclear on whether if Site A & B start with the same google power, which site's links are more powerful:
- Site A - has 5 outgoing links on one page, 4 pages with no links
- Site B - have 5 pages, each with one outgoing link

Relevancy: relevant is more important than irrelevant by a big ratio... Arguably, this is the most important.

Multiple links on a site - The 2nd link on a site is less valuable than the first. The second link to you on a page is less valuable than the first. The 3rd in both cases is even less important and so on. So, don't think a link on each of 20 pages is 20x better than a link from the site.

The Value of Links from Different sites - More important to Less Important (my list)

Best - Authority sites (including .edu, .gov, or any site that is at the top of the search engine for significant terms).

Original Unaffiliated Articles on blogs, websites, or forums that quote and link to your site (they probably count the same if they are set up right meaning that url, page name, keywords, and content are relevant and original. And that the content is substantative)

Original Unaffiliated Articles on blogs, websites, or forums that link to your site


Affiliated sites (either co-owned, co-hosted) - I'm not sure if google is yet looking to see if there are shared adsense, adwords, or webmaster management tools to determine affiliation and I'm surprised that more people don't ask this question.

Duplicate content - An article with links that shows up on two sites is of less value on the second site. And on the 3rd etc.

Worst - Reciprocal links - While some of this is OK, google will notice alot of it and will particulary dislike irrelevant links or links to spammy places.

PS - I think a fun project would be to quantify some of this...How heavy is the depreciation of the 2nd link to your site from the same page versus the 2nd link from the same site, different page...

BBB Online

I joined the BBB local business so that I could then join the BBB Online which is a national council. I've been amazed at how 19th century the better business bureau is with endless fiefdoms and initatives and no ability to really show leadership on a host of issues that need leadership.

I did find that when I put the BBB online logo on my payment page, my shopping cart abandon rate dropped significantly. In plain English, more people signed up since they had more confidence due to the logo. I've thought of offering myself to the BBB as a case study since my stats are interesting and there are few companies willing to share their stats.

I've spoken to the BBB on a number of occassion for several reasons:

- offer my case of the bbb logo reducing my abandons for them to use as marketing fodder. I find that it's not something that they jump upon

- try to sign up for the kidsafe BBB logo which I've seen on a few sites but which I cannot find the source of. Is it an abandoned program?

- I've googled bbb kidsafe and lots of variations of it but can't find it.

- there is one page on the national council of better business bureaus which lists, for kids, a caru (children's advertising review unit) which signifies compliance with coppa and Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. I had never seen or heard of either so I doubt that joe public knows or cares about them. The CARU logo does not even mention BBB so it's just another unknown credibility logo.

Note, there is also a bbb privacy seal of some sort...The BBBOnLine Privacy seal, awarded to 675 web sites, indicates adherence to the privacy principle outlined in the new BBB Code and other privacy protection standards, and already transcends national borders, with applications pending from businesses in 20 countries. This is from a 2000 local BBB press release.

Btw - I wrote on bbb online awhile ago..

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Managing & Parking Unused Domains

Here's how I try to use my domains to help build traffic for SEO purposes. Examples (from my netfirms accounts):

Books Count - A url intended for our future reading program. Initially used as a parking place for the spellingcity software development effort. It's been one of my domains for over a year and about 11 months ago was populated. Since we wanted to be under the radar, it has no links. This posting is the first link to the site!

Family Homeschool - This little 5 page website is put up with a site builder. It's unfinished. Nevertheless, the site has a google pr of 3! go figure.

Homeschool curriculum review - Another quickie website with a few pages of html that seems like I created it in word. It has good content and the right links and a google pr of 3. Why? With it's strong url, I could alot with this one.

Homeschool Curriculum - This domain has no page rank, it is forwarded to

This approach of treating them one-by-one is kind-of fun and it is not the type of seo-work that the algorithm gurus at google are likely to care about. But, it's time-consuming and perhaps not very effective. Since I have a total of 150+ domains, is there a better way?

Previous Posts related to domain optimization (interesting to note how little progress I've made in this area despite having grown my number of domains to 150):
Parking domains for profit, is there a free lunch with domains?
Parked domains, how best to use them?
Useful Parking of Domains

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blog Marketing

I've made progress in the marketing of the blogs. A few areas:

- I use google adsense on all my sites, blogs, and forums as a simple way to glimpse traffic on them
- I use feedburner for the stats on blogs which tells me about users & sources

- I have a bunch of mods for WordPress which makes the URL & title SEO-friendly (words not codes)
- I've started using some social bookmarking, specifically Technorati, Digg, & Delicious
- I'm still trying to figure out authority sites.
- Pinging. I think I have automatic pinging on plus I manually will do pingomatic sometimes to be sure.

I just read a good article on blog marketing by Dave Parrack.
And, just for giggles, I think I'll try the wholinkstome script:

But, before you click on the link, look at your google toolbar (if you have it installed) and you'll see that google gives this blog a PR of 4. you'll noticed that wholinkstome script gets that wrong. In fact, they get most of it wrong.
Who links to me?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Adsense for tracking

I have about a dozen sites hosted in half a dozen different places. I've found that by putting a few discrete adsense ads on each site, I can get a very rough sense of the comparative traffic of the sites from a single tracking system. A few of the sites:
Learning Faster
Ed Mouse - The Story of Creation from Character Sketch to an Animated Character
Todays Learners
Parenting in a Digital Age
Homeschooling Online Blog
Homeschool Forum
Plus,, and Fun Vocabulary Learning.
to name a few

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

405 Errors -Technical Problems our Members Face

Time4Learning was told my a member last week: "Wow, I pay you $20/month and you spend hours fixing my computer for me, this is the best deal I've ever had."

This both pleases and pains me. Since we might have spent $200 of time helping that one user, it's likely that we've got a really big negative margin on him even if he remains a customer for years. We try to only help our members with problems that are easily fixed and problems that have specifically to do with using our website but it's never clear where/how to draw the line.

We try to avoid entering into discussion as to why they can't get on the web, what sort of security software they have etc etc but we frequently find that we are spending time on problems that really are none of our business. We try to only go deep into technical help if we are trying to learn about a recurring problem but the problem of the staff gets carried away and, given the type of people that we have and the way that I manage them, will never go away.

In any case, a new repeating problem is the 405 error when they try to login.

Background - Members login to Time4Learning where we verify their account and pass their credentials to our educational materials provider, CompassLearning. CompassLearning checks that the session started at and then, if the other credentials are correct, allows them to login and start their session.

If Compass can't verify where the session started (because session cookies are turned off on the user's computer), they put up an error message: "You are trying to login from an unknown source, please contact Compass".

Since this message is cryptic and the calls to Compass were often not crisply handled, we created a work-around so that our members avoided this error. As a step in the login process, we have the process check with another site ( to see if a third party site can determine the referring site.

In most cases, this works. If we can determine the referring site, we continue to login. If we cannot determine the referring site, we give them an error message which explains the problem and the fix.

A third case has emerged which is when the user get a "405 error message"

405 Error Message

We are working on figuring this out. So far, we have them call their ISP but I'm not sure we give them enough data to make the call worthwhile. The best info on this that I've found so far is:

And I quote:

Error Message:405 – Method Not Allowed

Translation:For each particular resource type, HTTP allows for a variety of actions (or “methods”) between a Web server and a browser. These methods include Options, Get, Head, URL, Post, Put, Delete, Trace, Connect, and more (depending on the HTTP version in use). Web servers can be configured to allow or reject any method. For example, your ‘read-only’ Web server may disallow PUT and DELETE methods. When your Web browser tries to use a method for obtaining a Web resource that the server prohibits, an error occurs. Bottom line—you cannot exchange desired data with the Web server.

Solution: You normally don’t see this error unless you’re creating Web pages. In most cases, 405 errors arise when using POST (power on self test) methods—you may be trying to provide input on your Web site (such as a form), but not all ISPs allow POST methods needed to process that form. You can try GET commands in place of POST commands. In short, most 405 errors can be corrected by adjusting the configuration of your Web server (to allow POST methods, for example) ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Site Stats for Blogger

Site statistics for my blogger blog have been a sore spot for me for a long time.

Today, problem solved!!!! :-> !!!!

I hooked up the site stats for blogger from feedburner (recently acquired by Google) and wow, I now know where the people are coming from.

Oddly, although this blog is brilliantly written, it gets little to no traffic - :-<
So I will now experiment by changing the name a little bit to see if that improves traffic. I just focused the name on the concept of learning online marketing, learning seo, and intermediate level seo. I'll see if that helps. I de-emphased online Q&A.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SEO Abbreviations Glossary

404 - page not found. Most sites redirect the user to a standard page when the requested page does not exist
504 - aredirect from one page to another (when the first page is obsoleted)
B2B - business to business
B2C - business to consumers
BOT - short for robot (an automated self-running process)
BLOG - short for weblog, also suggests a Better Listing On Google (Joke)
BTF - below the fold
CPA - cost per action
CPC - cost per click, or, cost per customer (a source of ongoing confusion)
CPM - cost per thousand views, a rate used for advertising and banner sales
CTR - click thru rate
CSV - common separated values, a data format often used for transport between systems
FAQs - frequently asked questions
FFA - free for all meaning anyone can add a link.
DMOZ - Directory MOZilla, the open directory project, a human edited directory that was a big deal in the 90s
DNS - domain naming service, the lookup system of table coorelating names (such as with numerical IP addresses
GUI - graphical user interface
HTTP - hypertext transfer protocol, meaning the info to come is in HTML
HTTPS - secure/encrypted HTTP
HTML - the code used to write web pages - hypertext markup language
IBL - inbound links
IM - instant messaging
IP - Internet Protocol, usually used as short for "IP Address", each computer and router on the net has a unique numerical address such as 192.117.80
IT - information technology meaning computers and such
JPEG - an image format, joint photographers expert group
LTV - liftetime value of a customer
OBL - outbound links
PFI - pay for inclusion
PPC - pay per click
PR - Google PageRank (named for Larry Page punning on his name)
ROI - return on investment
SEM - search engine marketing
SE - search engine
SEO - search engine optimization
SERP - search engine results page
SQL - standard query language, an architecture/protocol common to modern databases
UI - user interface
URL - web address
WWW - world wide web, a great moniker to help people understand the internet. I wonder who coined the expression?
XML - eXtensible Markup Language, a new language augmenting HTML for better organizing data and meaning

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Social Bookmarking - State of the Art Today

In the last year or so, a Mysterious List of Words & Logos have appeared on the web: Digg,, PopURLs, Reddit, Fark, Blue Dot, StumbleUpon, tags, Ikeepbookmarks, and so-on.

This latest set of techniques is known as social bookmarking.

Social bookmarking can affect search engine position and provides an alternative approach for viewers to navigate the web.

Are all these services worth participating in and are they all the same? NO, some are specialized in some area, some are small, and some are old fashioned (can you believe it? There are already some old fashioned sites in this latest and greatest trends. ex Ikeepbookmarks).

Which are the ones to select? Well, here are today's leaders and how they are different.... provides a new way to go around the net following links established by people who have recommended sites by category and popularity. is all about articles. People vote. is more of a bookmarking tool. Your favorite are listed and connected with others. BTW, for a great explanation and howto on del.icio.ous, try this social bookmarketing video

technorati - A multimedia listing by tag of blogs, music, pictures.

Furl - A listing by tag of websites.

Reddit - Articles get tagged and voted upon with the votes weighted by the taggers karma. This is the least corporate (albeit owned by conde nast) of the services.

Now some people (such as gino) categorize social bookmarking sites as subset of social media sites and include the bookmarking sites above with the likes of:

MySpace: social networking site
Facebook: social networking site
YouTube: video sharing community
Flickr: photo sharing site
LinkedIn: professional networking
Wikipedia: web-based community-created encyclopaedia
Yahoo! Answers: community answer site
MyBlogLog: blog networking community
FIQL & Netlister - sharing playlists.

Time4Learning's parent forum has started using social bookmarking

Friday, August 17, 2007

Permently Banned

I tried to login into the seochat forum this morning to comment on a thread and was greeted by this message:

You do not have permission to access forums, because you are permanently banned.

OUCH! What's odd is that I have no memory of having done anything that's not kosher or of being warned or reprimanded. What's also odd is that this "permanently banning from a forum" actually has an emotional sting to it. Weird.

It did cause me to take stock of my online behavior to see if it's spammy in any sense. Here's a quick list of my forum participations.....

1. Lotsa chat. I picked a forum recently and spent some time on it a few times / week to get my rating up above 50 posts so that my signature links would become active. While fun, the quality of the forum is mixed and I think the links are probably of very marginal value. As I look thru my posts, I think mine are often the most thoughtful and original and show the most research. Others (of mine), particularly in the forums that are "other" or "greeting" new members, my posts are pretty sloppy often missing words in the sentence.

2. Tech support. In our new site,, there's a serious Firefox bug which we have been trying to understand and resolve. To pursue help, I have posted into several tech forums with similar comments. Is this spammy?

Best discussion:

3. And of course, we run our own parents forum which helps parents discuss common areas of interest and get feedback from members (not just us as a vendor). We permit links to competitive and personal sites although there have been a very extreme examples where we had to remove them. We've never banned a real member although there are plenty of extreme spammers that we ban (although since they switch sites constantly) I'm not sure that it does any good.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Top Ten Factors Affecting Your Search Engine Position

Here are the top ten ways to improve your position in the search engines.
They are in order of Most Important to Least Important! (in my opinion)

1. Quality inbound links from relevant pages with relevant anchor text to relevant pages.
2. Quality Inbound Relevent Links
3. Original content with each page built around a few targetted keyphrases with correct use of page title and URL.
4. Keyphrase-based domain name
5. Quality Directory Listings
6. Large Websites
7. Quality Relevent Outbound links
8. Site map
9. Correct use of H1, H2, Meta, and Alt tags
10. Correct use of keyword density & metatags (important to Yahoo & MSN)

Quality HTML with no errors
No broken internal links
Having friends at Google.

What will hurt you:
All and any blackhat techniques
Lots of non-original content
Links to spam & trash sites

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Online Revenue Development

Time4Learning has a fantastic online learning service for afterschool or homeschooling which we provide to users for a monthly fee. So the heart of our business is a subscription service.

However, with over 400,000 visitors per month, we have often considered trying to build revenues though either advertising or affiliate programs.

To be clear, we are NOT talking about advertising to our students or members. We don't do that. We are thinking about our main and tertiary sites where we get lots of traffic but most of which does not convert into members. In fact, 99% of our visitors don't sign up so it seems reasonable to try to make some money on them as they surf out of our site.

Adsense - We have had a variety of different experiences with adsense, some of which we cannot explain. At one point, we made alot of money on it but then, some clever consultants, convinced me to take it down.

Since then, I've run adsense on sidebars of some pages of the site and at best, I can around a 5% clickthru on the ads. With an average of $.10 / click, this means that I make a dime on one out of every twenty visitors or, a half penny per visitor. Here's a question: anybody out there want to share similiar metrics with me? Are there industry norms of what one ought to be able to make per visitor?

I've also experimented with a variety of affiliate programs including commission junction, linkshare, affiliate fuel, amazon, and others. None of them have done much for me. Or, I've not figured out how to do much with them?

If any of you have experience helping to optimize pages for these efforts and wants to help, I'd be pleased for advice or even some consulting help.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Acquiring Websites - due diligence

I just bought my second website. The first one was a simple domain acquisition with no content. This website acquisition was much more complicated and expensive since I acquired:
  1. A domain
  2. Applications on the domain
My reasons for acquiring (not in any order):
  1. I wanted the applications to deploy onto one of my educational websites
  2. I wanted the highly rated site (in several search engines) to drive traffic and send "google juice" to my other educational sites
  3. I'm trying to learn to make money from advertisements & affiliates (ie, not subscriptions) and this seemed like a good way to learn it.
It was not cheap but the the seller, whom I contacted initially to buy the technology that I had seen on the site, would only sell the website in its entirely, not just the technology. So I bought the website, pretty much at his asking price.

I went through, what I think of, as an appropriate amount of "due diligence". "Due diligence" means the process through which a potential acquirer evaluates a target company and its assets to ensure that the price is fair and that the buyer understands the assets appropriately. It is a legal term for publicly-held companies (and others with fiduciary legal obligations) that the management must go thru to not be reckless with the funds entrusted to them.

Actually, here's (simplified) what I've done.
1. Had initial discussions with the buyer. I approached him as interested in buying the technology on the site. He responded by saying that he was trying to sell the whole site. I asked "why" and "how much?"  He answered.

2. I considered his answers to why and how much to make a go/no go decision on the purchase:
- I wanted to pursue it at that level of asking price
- To think about whether he was "for real" or a dishonest or flakey person. If I felt that either of the latter were likely, I would not pursue it at all. I have decided to not deal professionally with people that are lunatics or lying (to me or themselves). I checked up on the info that he provided, reviewed his sites and their links to get an overall picture of his online activities and decided that he was a "good egg" and someone that I wanted to go thru the acquisition process with.

I cannot overemphasize how important making this decision is. The ONE time that I decided to buy with someone who seemed "too-amazing", I wasted a huge amount of my and my colleagues time and money on an acquisition that did not close since as we got into the details of due diligence, it turned out he was not just exaggerating, he was totally lying. I knew at the beginning that there was something wrong with his story and I wish I had, based on simple intuition, walked away.

3. I gathered all the independent stats that I could to evaluate it.
- many independent lists of incoming links such as those provided by
- alexa etc

4. Check hosting status (including blacklisting) using

5.  I asked them to supply to me:
- traffic by month for the last year with explanations of traffic trends
- data on referrals by country and domain
- disclosure on relationships for sites with links and sites providing traffic
- I had thought about the possibility of fraud here before when I looked at SEO due diligence.

6. Looked at other similar sites that might be for sale and followed some discussions to go from being a novice to an expert. I looked at but preferred: . In fact, they had a great free guide to Buying Websites.

7. I found a lawyer that I like, trust, is experienced with small acquisitions, and that I had good access to. This is nearly impossible. I was incredibly lucky.
8. Put in critical data in the purchase agreement in the "reps and warranties". This means that they, as part of the contract, represent that they've disclosed the truth about the data that they've supplied me (which I made part of the contract as an attachment).5. Staged acquisition with payment tied to deliverables.

BTW - if there is much interest in this, I could write more extensively. I think this is a huge new business growth area for me (acquisitions) and generally, there will be lots of growth thru deals on the web.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Focusing Page Rank by limiting content?

Analytically - Can new pages hurt?

This is a question that's puzzled me for awhile and which I thought I would put to a forum that I'm now active on: John Scott's V7N webmasters forum.

Before I get to the question about content and whether too much defocuses googlejuice, let's talk about his forum. He has some good quality content (his seo intro is fabulous). The forum has a policy of not only ranking contributors by number of posts (junior, senior, emeritus etc) which is addictive but he provides some perks along the way. The most visible one is that at 50 posts, you can have live links in your signature. Of course, there are oodles of people posting silly short comments to get their post count up....

I added this math seo puzzler on the back of this discussion: "Does adding new content without adding new links hurt your search engine position....."

My post.....I'd like to take this question towards the mathematical and away from the simplistic "go get some links".....

Assume that I have a 5 page site on widgets. Each page talks about different widgets. Say A Widgets, B widgets... right up to the 5th letter. But all my links come into my home page which is the A widget page.

If I add a sixth page but without adding any links, does that hurt my positioning on google for B Widgets?

Or, does adding new pages, while keeping the link count constant, mathematically reduce the PageRank (in the truest sense of the word) of my existing pages?

I've read extensively on this point and have learned about dampeners and matrices and such but nobody seems to deal with this question directly.The math suggests that the page rank from the total links in cannot be used over and over again for any given number of (even relevant) keywords. But then, why doesn't anyone discuss how to optimize from this question of having the optimal amount of content for the incoming links?

In my case, this is an academic but puzzling case since I am busy adding content (quality) and links as fast as I can to: Still, I wonder if rather than going for learning games, Educational Games , and teaching games, I should make more choices....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Common SEO Myths

Many people believe, but it is not true:

1. You should not have any outgoing links because they dissipate your SEO power. Just like water pressure or electricity, any outgoing link will function as a "leak" and release the pressure. This is a completely false understanding of how the search engines work yet many people totally believe that they are "wasting power" by having outgoing links on their site.

2. You should have as few pages as possible on your site. Again, many believe that just like electricity or water power, the bigger the area covered, the less pressure or power is concentrated on the key spots. So your best pages will do better if you don't divide your SEO power across many pages. While largely untrue, there is some truth (I believe) that sites cannot just keep getting larger without diminishing the power of some key pages)

3. The google PageRank that we see on the google toolbar is an important measure of a page's power and the value of an outgoing link. In fact, the visible pagerank is a highly distorted cartoon which can be wildly inaccurate. I believe (and would welcome comments) that this is inaccurate in that:
- it is reflecting the number of incoming links but NOT the quality or relevance which is at least as important as the number of links
- the value of an outgoing link from a page is a reflection of it's relevance to the target page, quality, and the number of outgoing links on a page. If all else were equal, the links on a page with 10 outgoing links is ten times more valuable than a link on a page with one outgoing link. I have seen hundreds of people pay for links from the same page which means that the relative of power of those links is the original power of the page, minus some dampening effect, and then divided by the total number of links on the page.
- it is always several months out of date

PS - While not a myth since the pun is good, most people don't know that when the concept of pagerank was being developed, Larry Page decided to name the concept after himself. I've often wondered if Sergei Brin wanted it to be called BrinRank.

The Long Tail of Search

This is amazing. Time4Learning lives off the long tail so it was exciting to find an article on it:

Chasing The Long Tail.......How big is this phenomena? At Google's Universal Search announcement, Udi Manber put up a slide that stated that 20% to 25% of the search queries Google sees every day are search queries it has never seen before. Let that sink in for a moment. To me, that number was startlingly large.

While this is an amazing fact, it is this next one which I think is understated and of more business significance....

The sum of the searches on all the low volume terms = the sum of the traffic on all the high volume terms.

1. This depends on definitions.
2. All the same, most people believe that the volume is in the big search terms, nto the small ones. So this is big news to them.
3. I believe that: the volume in small search terms > the volume in big search terms.
4. I have successfully figured out how to take advantage of this in natural search, but not in paid search. (more on my recent trials and frustrations in paid search later). Basically, even with broad matching, if you build enough terms, you can bid on relevant keyphrases at a much lower rate. I had figured this out when I was very active in PPC a few years ago. I'm now on my second consultant to try and resucsitate my PPC campaign and so far, he has not shown substantial progress. BTW - remember my seo joke?

There are basically two ways to pursue the long tail:
Write in depth articles. This provides you access to long tail terms simply through the natural combination of words that the search engine will extract from your article. The scope of this is somewhat limited, of course, as there are so many word combinations that can be extracted from one article.
Implement lots of pages all targeted at different terms. The trick with this approach is to make the pages unique and different from each other, so they are not seen as spammy duplicate content.

Posted by Eric Enge on May. 21, 2007 on Clickz as Chasing The Long Tail

PS - Note to self. It is way past time for me to figure out how to do trackbacks and other social bookmarking or referencing systems so that I can participate in the discussions properly.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

LMS - learning management systems

I'm looking at LMS for some new content that we are creating. For one site, I've picked Joomla. That is really a content mgt and community system.

My more ambitious projects require my own cms. I'm reviewing them at

Leading contenders:
- create my own
- joomla or jooml with lms
- druple
- moodle

I have a few sets of requirements. Quickly evolving....

1. Course mgt. I want the students to see the upcoming activities in a visual way. They should be able repeat what they've done .....

2. Student record keeping

3. Roles for admin, course creators, course teachers, parents, students. In fact, I want to be able to create new roles based on whether I want to give them access to:
- create accounts & grant permissions - globally
- create content
- create students
- look at records
- be a student
- ohmygodthisisgoingto be a long list...

ATutor is an Open Source Web-based Learning Content Management System (LCMS/LMS), designed with accessibility and adaptability in mind. Interoperable content for creating and reusing learning objects. Easily customizable. Put your courses online.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Google Page Rank, Personalized Search, DataCenters

For the last few months, I have been high fiving myself that for my key term, homeschool curriculum, I am almost always number one on Google.

Today, I wondered if that is only true for my search, since there are personalized searches giving different results to different people, and to different data centers. I tend to use the cool seo tool and it always shows me number one to. But it too might have become personalized since I use it alot!

So I tried a different free seo tool and found the following:

Google Datacenter - - #1
Google Datacenter - #1
Google Datacenter - #1
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -

Woa, I'm number one in every case. What have I learned?

Is it possible that my personal login was somehow communicated thru that search so that they knew what I was looking for? Not likely, so I'm number one in every case. I guess I'll keep high fiving myself.

Or, I could check out homeschooling curriculum.

Google Datacenter - - #6
Google Datacenter - #6
Google Datacenter - #6
Google Datacenter - #6
Google Datacenter - #6
Google Datacenter - etc
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter -
Google Datacenter - #6

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Homeschool Education - Googles rankings

Homeschool Curriculum #1
Homeschooling curriculum #8
homeschool #7
home school #17
homeschooling #18

home education - not in top 100 (overture reports 6057 terms)...interesting. My poor position here is interesting since this is part of the title of my home page, the most linked to page on my site and a PR 6. I wonder if this one link will make a difference?

Help Wanted - Blog SEO

I would like someone to show us (and to do it) how to set up a blog perfectly for SEO purposes and with a few google ads.

I am hiring three writers who will post once a week on a given topic on this group blog. They need to be instructed:
- are link swaps actually useful in 2007? Are a few good but not more than 20?
- is posting as comments on other blogs useful?
- forums?
- are pingomatic submissions useful?
- which software (wordpress or typepress i think) is best?

I would like the pages to be set up for the best seo. And I'd like all the extras worked in. For instance, what is digg & delicious and how are they used to help blogs? What is all this stuff that I see...

subscribe via rss, yahoo, google, newsgator, rssvibest?

This is how much work and $$$ from the right person?

Monday, February 26, 2007

HTML Correctness

Generally, I like to follow rules. I also like to run a profitable business. Does it make business sense to spend time on HTML Correctness?

My homepage fails some WC3 HTML tests. Lots of them.

My use of CSS was better.

Long ago (June & July of 2006), I researched the question of whether SEO Errors Matter and how HTML Errors & SEO related. At the time, I concluded that they do not.

Any research out there to prove otherwise? I hope so since like I said, I'm looking for a business justification to clean up my HTML. I like to follow rules.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

SEO Research - link value

Is it possible that small business like myself could do original research on SEO. For instance, a terribly relevant question.

Do graphical links count more or less than text links?

Research Plan.
- Create some number of near identical sites in terms of domain names and page layout and content. Actuatly create three pairs of nearly identical sites. One page deep each.
- Split them in two groups.
- One group gets links to it that are graphical with images and alt tags that help position them. The links should be nearly identical in terms of position on the pages that they come from.
- The other group gets only text links using near identical keyphrases
- Run searches on them
- Determine if there is a pattern.

Level of Effort
- One hour to fully design the keyphrase and domain strategy
- One hour to explain to staff exactly what I want them to do
- Half day of staff time to put up the domains and place the ads
- One hour / week for 9 weeks to run searches on google, msn, & yahoo to determine pattern
Total - less than 2 man days.

At the end, I'll understand something important. I might even have a sellable report (would I pay $50 to someone who had done this reseach properly and could give me a definitive answer? I would).

Monday, February 12, 2007

Optimizing Content for SEO

Here are a few principles that I live by. I wonder if I could get some feedback on them.

1. When we create an article that is to be submitted to other sites, we first post it on our site since we like to create the pattern with google that we are the source. Does this actually matter? For instance, look at the experienced homeschoolers curriculum review or the article on Christian homeschooling or Christian homeschoolers.

2. When we submit articles elsewhere, we place about 5 links in them back to our site related to the topic and with logical links between the site where it's placed, the content, the anchor text, and the page it links to.

3. When we place articles on our sites, we mix the links so that only about half of them come back to our sites, the rest go to authority sites. We believe this establishes some sort of credibility.

4. We list all of our pages in our site index which is primarily for the spiders: the site map only get the info that we want the people to see.

5. Articles on our site are very focused and designed to answer specific questions for people (and do well on specific keyphrases in the search engines). For instance, a parent might want wonder, should I help my child by enrolling them in a Kumon Learning Center or is there another better approach?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Marketing to Moms

The heart of Time4Learning's marketing is convincing Moms to give us a try. This is why we have Maria Bailey, author of Marketing to Moms, on our board. And why we read her books and articles. I am bringing on some new writers and so it's time to repeat Maria's lessons (which I am paraphrasing).

What Moms Want in Advertising.
How to Sell to Moms...

1. Visible benefits to using the product
2. Pictures of cute kids (women love the aspirational family picture irrespective of how little it reflects their personal reality).
3. Solutions to everyday challenges
4. Ways to enrich their children
5. Safety information
6. Useful ideas or advice.
7. Value

A relationship with Support from their vendors.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Social Media Optimization

Social Media Optimization, a new topic to me, is (and I quote Gino's article):

"...the process of optimizing a website so that its content can be easily spread on the Net by the website’s own visitors to off-site social and online communities – basically making it “socially friendly”.

The most common example is adding social bookmarks, trackbacks and widgets to a site’s page, such as “add to delicious” links and the MyBlogLog widget."

In Gino's own blog, the key social book marking sites are discussed which to me, reads like a Top Ten List of Mysterious Words that I see on the web: Digg, Delicious, PopURLs, Reddit, Fark, Blue Dot...

My thoughts are that Social Media Optimization means packaging content in a way that it is easily disseminated and quoted across other sites and media. It starts with providing RSS feeds and Newsletters that are quote-worthy and quota-able with the rights clearly defined. Perhaps it includes creating google gadgets that people can put on their pages.

Gino also claims that: "search algorithms are evolving to include social media weight in defining a search-relevant site." I wonder if that's true.

In any case, I know nothing of these technologies although I did get someone to feed by blogs into site-burner which may or may not have any impact on attracting visitors or in building my google rank.

I''ll add looking into "social media optimization" on my list of todos. I wonder if having my spelling test software in a format that it can be used this way is an interesting approach....And of course, rather than manually logging into Gino's blog to say that i had read and commented on it, wouldn't it be nice to know the cooler way of doing it?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

New Free tools

The latest and greatest that I use:

The cool seo tool is the best - Thanks Jim

The Webconfs seo site is stuffed with great free tools

Rather than just using overture, I use the Good Keywords interface to it.

Don't get too distracted by this quick article, go look at my best piece on free seo tools.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lego Ergo Sum

Time4Learning relies on CompassLearning for most of our educational content. Sometimes, we like their updates, sometimes we are disappointed by them, and sometimes, we are over the moon.

Their update this past summer and fall was fantastic. The highlight of the new materials was a large number of vocabulary sections. Antonyms and synonyms and all sorts of exercises done in a fun multimedia manner. Fast paced but with just the right type of repetition so that the children really learn.

Each of these great new exercises (developed by those visionary jellyfish) starts with the announcement of Lego Ergo Sum. If someone could tell me what that means, they've earned free Time4Learning coffee cup.

(no, saying that it is Latin does not count). email to john at time4learning . thats a com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

lParents Forum - lurkers vs posters

Time4Learning has it's own parents forum. I frequently feel unsure whether it is worth the effort to maintain it. I feel that despite us having thousands of members, the traffic on the forum is disappointing.

So, I'm trying to figure our more about forums.

1. Is there a typical percentage or lurkers versus posters? I'm going to try and figure out over a period of time how many "visitors (or maybe "views") there were versus how many "posters" (or posts). For instance, from questions and answers, I see:

Topics Replies Author Views
Sound and work completed 9 Donna 231
Just registered.... ??? 1 wendolynleah 20
Printable Scope and Sequence -Need your input 5 T4Lwebgirl 304
I just want to look at the assignments ahead of time 4 momcarole 198
Time For Learning Works 3 stephaniejl 254
Peedy Parrot 1 Donna 27
Homeschool Glossary & "Welcome to Homeschooling&quo 0 JohnEdelson 66

2. Keeping track of posts & threads just to see progress. For instance, I see that as of right now:
Questions & Answers - 71 threads, 245 posts
General Chat - 62, 175
Home School Questions - 42, 145
Special Education -4, 13

3. Links - How does Google "feel" about forums? Do the forum links to our site help? Since it is highly dynamic content, maybe they love it and count it's links to my site and it's posts very highly? Or maybe, since our site points to the forum and the forum points to our site, it's heavily discounted as reciprocal links.

4. Is the forum set up right from either a user, member, visitor, or seach engine point of view? Probably not since new Time4Learning members must separately register with the forum so this is clumsy to begin with. Also, the categories might not make sense since the difference between the categories might not be clear and one, special needs, get very little traffic. Maybe new categories such as: Introductions, Homeschooling Users, Enrichment Users might work better.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SEO Success!!!! It's Time2Celebrate

For Time4Learning, it's Time2Celebrate.

We have achieved (for tonight at least), our holy grail.

Time4Learning is third for homeschool curriculum. Yes Third!
"Homeschool curriculum" is a major term and a perfect match for us.
We are also third for "homeschool online", another perfect match albeit a smaller less competitive term.

Those that want to find us, can find us. Yea Yea Yea.

On our most recent experiment, adding "homeschooling curriculum" to the ~"homeschool-curriculum.htm" page..... no news yet. We're still 13th for it but it has not been indexed by google since we added homeschooling to the page earlier this week. Stay tuned......

Update. On Jan 12th, two days later, google's cache of this page shows the new version of the title with the term "homeschooling". But, the ranking for "homeschooling curriculum" has not moved up from 13th and when you search for homeschooling curriculum, the ranking still shows the old page title (which is before we put in the term homeschooling)

BTW- people seem to love our other site on kids learning games.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Homeschooling - Status of this keyphrase

It's now been a week since I created the "homeschooling"page and while it's been spidered by friend google, it does not seem to rate.

So far, Time4Learning's best position on "homeschooling curriculum" is not the newly-created page that has so many onpage "Homeschooling" references, it is the long-standing "homeschool curriculum" page which has few onpage mentions of homeschooling. I'm surprised. So I postulate that:

1. Google's sense of meaning is getting better. They now recognize "homeschooling" as nearly identical to "homeschool" and/or

2. The incoming direct links to "homeschool curriculum" means that it's very hard for a new page, even on the same site but with very few incoming links, to compete.

To further test it, I've added today a few mentions on "homeschool curriculum" to "homeschooling" and we'll see if it jumps.

Status today - jan 6th:
homeschool curriculum - 5th
homeschooling curriculum - 15th

News Flash - Update Jan 12th
The updated version of "homeschool-curriculum.htm" with the page title: "homeschool curriculum - homeschooling curriculum" appears in google: "as retrieved Jan 12, 2007 00:31:03". However, the page's position has not changed since Jan 10th when (see the For Time4Learning, it's Time2Celebrate post) when the page hit 3rd for homeschool curriculum and 13th for homeschooling curriculum. I'm hoping this page will jump to maybe 5th-6th in the next few days which will confirm to me the importance of the page title.

Last Update - Jan 20, 2007 - Today the new text in the page name of homeschool-curriculum.htm finally appeared in google as well as the new content in the cache. The new homeschooling page however, while spidered on the 12th, does not rate anywhere visible (top 89) of google. Homeschool-curriculum.htm is 11th for homeschooling curriculum (homeschool-math is 24th). On my key term and phrase, I seem to have settled for this past week at 5th on homeschool curriculum.

New strategy: do not create new pages that are only slightly different like homeschooling-curriculm.shtml and Christianhomeschool: instead try to get a few more phrases onto my key pages...

Note from sponsor, our animated character is the best! And check out the new page on different learning styles.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Gifted choices

I have my gifted page up for awhile. Here's it's status by keyphrase

gifted student - 10th
gifted students - 13th
gifted child - not in top 100
gifted - 35
gifted children - 49
gifted education - not in top 100

Now, it looks like gifted child is hopeless but that I'm in OK for gifted student, gifted students, gifted, gifted children, and gifted kid. But the page is primarily focused on gifted child

3797 gifted child - not in top 100
3690 gifted - 35th
2173 gifted hands
1964 1,000 everyone gift gifted idea in life
1901 drama of the gifted child
1379 gifted and talented
1138 the drama of the gifted child the search for the true self
1096 gifted education - 49th
879 gifted student - 10th (students 13th)
696 to be young gifted and black
696 characteristic of gifted child
610 gifted adult
443 gifted and talented education
387 extremely gifted
349 gifted hands the ben carson story
346 boss de employee gifted great hire hire only success their way
339 gifted program- not in top 100
331 gifted kid - 8th

BBBonline from the BBB

The BBBOnline - Better Business Bureau Online Seal of Approval - is it worth getting or not? I have asked around for other people's experiences about the BBBB & putting the BBBOnline logo on their site and nobody seemed willing to share their experiences or thoughts.

Actually, everybody said: "See if it works for you".

So, I am. But I first had to get accepted (andy pay for) my local better business bureau (South Florida) where a nice lady (but with no access to a computer) helped me fill in the paperwork, As it turns out, I had my business properly registered with the Feds (Income Tax, Social Security, workman's comp & other employer stuff), State (State license, DBA Ficticious name, sales use tax, employees hired), and Broward County (occupational license) but I had not registered (or paid) the City of Ft Lauderdale. (Its now done).

Once the Florida BBB accepted me, I got alot of stickers for windows and other stuff that I'll never use and I got a chance to apply for the BBBOnline Logo. Which went surprisingly quickly. They processed me including giving me a hotlinked logo in about two days.

On Jan 4th, Thursday, we put up the a BBBonline logo on our shopping cart page. Heres the question that I'm going to track: Does the BBBOnline logo improve performance. Specifically, will my shopping cart abandon rate drop from the current 65% to something better.

Stay tuned... Or, if you have data or thoughts on this topic, please share them with me.


Overture USA Searches done in November 2006
Count - Search Term

52511 - bbb
3480 - bbb online
1079 - bbb org
938 - bbb california
706 - bbb houston
559 - bbb florida
424 - bbb report
365 - bbb canada
361 - bbb diego san
350 bbb dallas