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Category: Tools

Customize your BlogRush widget with this WordPress plugin

28 September, 2007 (00:15) | Tools, WordPress | By: Nick Dalton

This post used to contain a nice description of a new WordPress plugin that I wrote. The plugin allowed you to completely change the style of the BlogRush widget by supplying your own stylesheet. With this feature it’s much easier to get the BlogRush widget to blend in to the style of your blog. However John Reese made a good point that if each blog customizes the look of the BlogRush widget, click through rates may vary wildly throughout the system. Therefore John requested that I take down the original post and the link to my plugin.

This is not the first nor will it be the last useful/controversial WordPress plugin I’m developing. So stay tuned! (A good way to do that is to subscribe to the RSS feed or to the email notifications for this blog.)

Database backups

9 September, 2007 (01:22) | Security, Tools, WordPress | By: Nick Dalton

Databases cannot be backed up as regular files because the database continuously writes to its files, so you are very likely to backup an incomplete or corrupt set of files. Therefore you need to use a special database backup program to create the backup. After the backup program has done its job you can then copy, move and archive the backup files just like any ordinary file.

Most web server control panels come with a database administration program. A popular option is phpMyAdmin for MySQL databases and phpPgAdmin for Postgres. Here are step by step backup instructions for some of the more popular control panels. And equally important: restore instructions.

The drawback with these database administration programs is that you have to perform the backup manually. If you’re like most people you will put off a manual chore like this until it’s too late. Therefore the goal should always be to automate your backups. If you’re running a WordPress blog on your web site you should definitely install the excellent WordPress Database Backup plugin. This plugin used to be distributed with WordPress 2.0 but was later mysteriously dropped from the standard distribution. If you have other programs on your web site that store information in a MySQL database then you need a full backup script like AutoMySQLBackup. Note that this latter solution requires some Linux shell knowledge to setup.

A great feature of both the WordPress Database Backup plugin and AutoMySQLBackup is the ability to email the backup files to yourself every day. I recommend that you setup a new Google Gmail account which has over 2 GB of storage to receive your backup files. Unless you’re a very prolific blogger, 2 GB should last you for quite a while. Then once a month or so you can login to the email account and delete old files.

Just like with regular backups is critical that you test your restore procedure occasionally. For this you can install MySQL or Postgres locally on your PC and restore the data to it. Backup files typically contain checksums and integrity checks, so if the file restores without errors then it’s very likely that the restore was successful without you having to verify the contents of all the data.

Now go back something up!

Who’s got time to learn how to fish?

6 September, 2007 (06:32) | General, Life, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Mike Filsaime has a thought provoking post today titled “Fish, Poles, Boxes, and Buttons…” where he argues that people do not want to learn how to fish, rather they want to push a button and get instant results. While I think this is a sad trend, it is a reflection of today’s society of instant gratification and short attention spans.

If I accept the fact that I cannot change society as a whole, how can I adapt my own products to this reality?

Most of my products are software tools so they fall in the “poles” category: My Article Tracker, My Ranking Tracker, rApogee and Unique Article Publisher. rApogee stands out from the group since it requires a service from a separate provider which costs $1000 per month. So my customers for rApogee are already very committed and thus my refund rate is very low.

These software tools were developed to automate work that would otherwise have to be done manually. But work is still required. If you are looking for a push button solution for your article marketing then I highly recommend the Content Spooling Network; articles are written and submitted for you automagically.

The Digital Security Report is an ebook and a series of videos that show you how to protect your digital products from free downloads. Definitely falls in the “fish” category. However there is an upsell where I offer to perform a security audit of your web site. It is expensive so it attracts people who do not have the time to learn how to do it themselves. I would categorize this as a solution in a box. It’s not quite a button since the web site owner still has to implement the suggestions in the security audit. Offering the implementation as a service would be possible too, but it would require that I be granted access to servers and the authority to make changes. So far I have not seen a lot of demand for this, but if this is a service you would buy, please let me know.

I am currently developing a line of professional WordPress plugins. More “tools/poles”… An easy way to make this a solution in a box would be to bundle the plugins with WordPress. One install and everything is configured and ready to go. Add a couple of optimized templates/themes and the best plugins preconfigred, and it’s definitely a box. Taking the last step to a “push button” offering is certainly doable too. Register domain names and add hosting just like Mike and Ray did for their 1,000 sites that sold out in a day. There will be some added logistics for transferring domains and hosting, but since this will be a premium offering the price should be able to support it.

Thanks for the ideas Mike!

Glyphius has a small problem with counting

18 April, 2007 (15:06) | Tools | By: Nick Dalton

One nice feature of Glyphius 2.0 and Glyphius 2007 is that a count of the number of characters in the text you are scoring is shown below the text box. This is great for writing AdWords ads where the number of characters per line is severely restricted.

Today I was trying to cram as much meaning into a 25 character headline as possible. And more than once did I end up with a count of 26. Despite liberal bending of the rules of the English language, I was stuck. In frustration I decided to manually count the characters, and to my surprise there were only 25 when Glyphius reported 26. Huh?

It turns out that if the input text box is empty, Glyphius correctly reports the number of characters as 0. If you enter a single character, Glyphius proudly displays 2. And so on.

Once you’re aware of this, it’s not a big deal; simple addition and subtraction is not that hard, for a human. Best of all is that I now have one more character to play with in my AdWords headline!

I won’t call this a bug since the author claims that bugs are a myth. So I’ll file this under:
“An interesting, but benign observation that Glyphius works differently than I would have designed it.”

What’s the difference between Glyphius and Nemeas?

19 March, 2007 (13:06) | Tools | By: Nick Dalton

In a previous blog post I mentioned another tool called Nemeas that is used to score URLs. Several people have asked what the difference is between the Glyphius and Nemeas are and why they score the same phrase differently.

Glyphius is built upon a large database of advertisement copy and the knowledge of which of the ads were profitable. When scoring a phrase Glyphius compares the text that you entered with the data in its database. If your text looks like text commonly found in profitable ads, then you will receive a high score.

But how does this apply to URLs? Good URLs contain one or more words that describe what the web site is about. Glyphius will score these words just like any word in a headline or a paragraph in a sales letter. For example www.guaranteed.com scores 199 in Glyphius 2007, www.priceguaranteed.com scores 283 and www.downside.com scores negative 44. Compare this to the individual words guaranteed (71), price (84) and downside (-172).

Nemeas on the other hand uses ranking factors data to score a URL. The premise here is the correlation between the URL and a page’s ranking in a search engine. If pages with URLs ending with .com typically rank higher than page with URLs ending .org, then Nemeas will assign a higher score to .com URLs. The same principle applies to all parts of the URL.

Since search engines rank pages for specific search keywords, you need to enter a keyword in Nemeas to score your URL for. The keyword you enter should be one of the keywords that you want your web site to rank well for and a keyword that you think users will type in to find your web site. As an example I used the keyword “copywriting” when coming up with the domain name for this blog.

You can also use Nemeas to determine if having dashes (”-”) in a URL is a good idea (it isn’t), or adding a number in front of or at the end is better (sometimes), the benefits/drawbacks of a long descriptive URL vs. a short one (shorter is typically better).

Nemeas does not have any concept of profitable words so you can construct “gibberish” URLs that score well in Nemeas. So you should not entirely discount your human intuition for what a “good” URL is. And if you have Glyphius and Nemeas, use both tools to score potential URLs before you register your domain.

Keep in mind that of all the things you can do to a page to get it to rank well in search engines, changing the URL after the fact is one of the more difficult things to do. So spending some time upfront to get a good domain name and a good site structure, is time well spent.

Thank You!

21 February, 2007 (10:12) | Life, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Thank you for the link James! Yes I am probably a little bit nuts, but as you point out I already had developed the spreadsheet for my own use. Not to get me to take action, but to help me be more productive with RaSof. I found myself scrolling, scrolling and flipping back and forth between RaSof and Ranking Factors. Now all the information is there right at my fingertips. And yes it’s nicely organized and in color. :-)

Taking the extra step to create a product out of my spreadsheet, record a few videos and put up this web site took a couple of hours, but it provided a very nice ROI. Thank you to all my new customers who have purchased rApogee!

If you have any questions about rApogee before you purchase, please ask them in a comment to this blog entry.

Can rApogee help you with RaSof?

15 February, 2007 (16:35) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

James Brausch writes: RaSof Price Too Low?

This blog post is both a lesson about pricing… and a warning that one of my most popular services will have it’s priced increased by 10 times at noon tomorrow.
[...]
The current price is only $100/month. That price is drawing in tons of very poor customers. The refund request rate is once again at 75%. That service doesn’t even offer a guarantee. There have been four denial of service attacks against the web-site. It’s not a good thing.

I’m writing this blog entry so you recognize the problem when you have it with one of your own products. Many would be tempted to simply withdraw the product from the market. It seems obvious that customers are not happy with it. That’s not the case. I’ve seen this before and I’ll probably see it again. If I’m wrong this time, I’ll post here and give an update… but I’m almost certain this is simply a case of pricing the product too low.

In the spirit of unabashed self-promotion I would like to invite you to take a look at rApogee – a presentation and organization companion for RaSof. I developed it for myself to help me better understand and make use of the Ranking Factors data and the results produced by RaSof. I’m making it available commercially so that others may gain the same benefits as well.

Please note that rApogee does not include RaSof or any Ranking Factors data. You have to purchase the RaSof service directly from James Brausch. (Do it before noon tomorrow!)

Discover How To Present RaSof Data In A Powerful Way To Dramatically Increase Your Understanding Of The Ranking Factors Data

11 February, 2007 (17:42) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

RaSof is a very powerful tool, but the 1,500 lines of raw output are somewhat daunting for users who are not very familiar with the Ranking Factors data. rApogee takes this raw output and organizes it in a way that you can easlily find sections where you need to improve, shows you which small changes will increase your score, and along the way explains each piece of data.

See the screenshot below for some of the main features of rApogee:

  1. Present the RaSof data in expandable/collapsible groups for a better overview of the data.
  2. Easily compare RaSof data for multiple URLs.
  3. Automagically compare your URLs with the top 10 search results from the selected search engine.
  4. See ranking data for other values for guidance on how to improve the RaSof score of your page.
  5. Hover over data cells to get explanations of what the data means.

rApogee Main Screen Image

Using rApogee is extremely easy. If you have ever used Microsoft Excel; you are already a power user. These two screencasts illustrate, step by step how rApogee works: video1, video2

rApogee is written in Excel and it requires that you have Excel 2000, or later. The advantage of having all your data in Excel is that you can use the full power of Excel to further analyze, organize and track your results.

In addition to Excel you also need a current subscription to James Brausch’s RaSof.

Read more about rApogee.