How To: Report Competitors Black Hat SEO Techniques to Google

Have a keyword where you have one of the top search engine rankings for, only to have someone came out of nowhere to outrank you?  With few exceptions, websites don’t jump 5-10 spots overnight without some help, so I always get suspicious. This happened to me recently, so I figured I’d share how to recognize why this happens and what you can do to prevent it!  

For those unfamiliar with black hat SEO techniques, “black hat” is a term commonly used to describe SEO techniques that aren’t allowed by Google or other search engines.  Common black hat techniques include hidden text or links (an example would be making words white while on a white background so they can’t be seen by readers, but search engines see them), misleading or repeated words, cloaked pages, deceptive redirects, doorway pages, etc. 

On the flip side, there are “white hat” SEO techniques which are approved or allowed techniques that are encouraged by search engines.  Examples include sitemaps, meta tags, and of course optimizing your websites structure (header tags in the right spots, breadcrumbs, etc.) so search engines can read your entire site and figure out what exactly your site is about. 

I am fortunate in that I’ve got a few different highly competitive keywords where my sites have top rankings in.   While doing my standard review of my rankings (at least bi-weekly) for these keywords, I noticed a website had come out of nowhere and was now ranked higher than my site!   

After my surprise subsided, I began researching this site (which is an established site, but never ranked very highly before) and noticed that the footer of their theme had some links for the three most prominent keywords within this niche. Thing is, they were hidden using CSS, so they couldn’t be seen by human readers. 

This is the kind of thing that Google wants to avoid, so being the Google fanboy that I am, I went ahead and reported the spam to Google.   This is my third time doing this, but the first time the spam affected me directly.   The other two times I just discovered it on accident so I reported it.

Unique Blog Designs Offers a Contest

I’ve always been a big fan of Unique Blog Designs work.  In fact, I’m such a big fan that I have been considering commissioning them to build a 100% custom theme for an important website/blog I am in the process of building.  It is a site that will probably define my online over the coming months/years, so I think doing so could be a great investment.

If you like their work, you may want to check out their 1 year anniversary contest they are running throughout the weekend.    All you have to do is leave a comment on their post to earn a point, then blog about the contest to get another 5 points.   The lucky winner will receive an iPod Touch and a free copy of their new Citrus theme, which is going to be released in the next couple of weeks ($99.00 value I believe).

Learn to Maximize AdSense Income with AdSense Secrets

The internet is filled with people that are self proclaimed experts of one thing or another, whether we are talking about making money online, internet marketing, blogging, domaining, etc.   But it is rare that you run across someone that is widely accepted by the internet as an expert as the authority on a particular subject.

Joel Comm, the Google AdSense expert, is the only person that I know of that meets this criteria.   Joel is the author of AdSense Secrets, which is a close to 250 page eBook designed to teach you everything he knows about Google AdSense.   That is right, I said almost 250 pages!

Chances are if you’ve read AdSense tips by the many pro bloggers and other “experts” on this subject, they got their information from this Google AdSense bible.  I’ve been reading about 5 pages a day and working my way through this document for a few weeks now and finally finished it.

I have to say that this book was the best $9.95 I spent over the past few months and has really opened my eyes to some additional opportunities that AdSense users have.   I am hoping to discuss some of these strategies over the coming months after I’ve put them to good use, but in the meantime I wanted to make sure you guys knew that AdSense Secrets was out there at an incredible price.   Oh, and don’t forget this could be considered a business expense.  :mrgreen:

The SEO Benefits of Article Marketing

Are you using article marketing to increase your niche sites inbound links?   Recently the Affiliate Classroom blog wrote a great post about the importance of article marketing, and why this strategy is possibly the best SEO for affiliate marketers.   After reading through it, I wanted to mention it here.

There are actually 8 reasons listed, but I wanted to point out a few important ones that I think people fail to think about:

Links are one-way. Some SEO experts believe that search engines downplay reciprocal links in their results calculations. While reciprocal links can still be valuable, they don’t count as much as one-way links to your site. Article directories give you a one-way link.

Links are guaranteed. If you’ve never asked a webmaster for a link before, it can feel a bit intimidating. But when you submit articles to directories, you know you won’t get turned down. Seeing those backlinks show up in the SERPs is a nice confidence booster, especially if your site is brand new. As long as your articles are of good quality, they will also send you targeted visitors for a long time to come.

Links per page are fewer. This is a little known, but valuable benefit. Some SEO experts believe that the higher the number of links per page, the less SEO value each link will have. But the link back to your site in an article directory is usually only one of only a few links on the page.

Backlinks soon multiply. Article sites exist for a reason – to provide other webmasters with access to free, quality content. So just one article, in just one directory, can actually turn into hundreds of links, as webmaster after webmaster finds your article and uses it.

If you’d like to read more about article marketing, I recommend you check out Josh Spaulding’s Article Marketing Domination eBook.

Introducing the Success with WordPress eBook!

I sort of teased it in last months income report when I mentioned a project I am working on, and then again this last weekend with my post about Mark’s contest, but now it is finally official.   The Success with WordPress eBook is now available!

This project started way back in February 2008 after polling Hack WordPress readers about their interest in a WordPress eBook, and after confirming interest, I have been working on it off and on in the 6 months since.   I took my techniques and experiences with WordPress and built them into the book, then built in some affiliate marketing and AdSense techniques, and finally I did a good amount of research for other sections of the book to make sure it is a useful resource for people that purchase it.

Here is what is included with this WordPress eBook:

  • Building a Multi-Author WordPress Blog
  • Using WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS)
  • Building a WordPress Forum
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tips designed specifically for WordPress
  • Maximizing CPC Income with Google AdSense
  • Advanced Affiliate Marketing Techniques
  • Building a Niche Blog with WordPress

In order to tie this post to affiliate marketing, I also wanted to share with my readers here that the Success with WordPress eBook has an affiliate program that uses E-Junkie and pays out 33% per sale!   You can find out more about this WordPress affiliate program on the affiliate page, including how to get setup and we are also offering a 125×125 banner you can use to advertise the product in your sidebars.

Any questions?  Let me know in the comments below!

Mark Sierra Announces Huge New Contest

Mark Sierra, who is a good friend of this blog (and also the guy that built our logo), has announced a new contest over at his blog, which includes a number of great prizes!

Here is the list prizes:

GRAND PRIZE
Garmin nuvi 350 GPS navigation system – This cool prize is sponsored by Market Leverage. I’ve seen this thing go for upwards of $320 on some sites. Take it with you in the car or walking around town. Never get lost again. You won’t find this on any other contest they’re involved with!

Prize 1
Apple iPod Nano 4GB Silver1 – Hey, it’s from Apple and it’s an iPod…need I say more? Valued at $149. Sponsored by MeAndMyDrum.

Prize 2
WOW-Pen Joy – These aren’t available in stores yet, so one lucky winner is going to be among the first to receive this superior ergonomic PC mouse. I’ve been using another model made by the same company and love it!. Sponsored by WOW-Pen.

Prize 3
1-hour Consultation with Garry Conn – Garry continues to provide great tips and information about how to make money online and does so at an incredible rate. He has created untold numbers of blogs for a variety of market niches and has become very successful at it. If you’re interested in making money online, then make it a point to get to know my friend Garry. This hour he’s giving away will no doubt change the way you blog. Valued at $250.

Prize 4
Free 1-year Membership to LifeFoc.us – this prize, valued at $324, is generously offered by another successful online entrepreneur, Aaron Abber. This recently launched online community is already off to a great start and is sure to provide you with encouraging tips on planning and achieving your goals, both online and offline. Happiness can be found in many different areas of your life and LifeFoc.us can help you find them.

Prize 5
1 Market Leverage 2GB USB Pen – Another prize sponsored by MeAndMyDrum, this is something I won from another contest that I’m throwing into the mix. It’s brand-spanking new!

Prize 6
Free ebook: Success With WordPress – Written by Kyle Eslick of Hack WordPress, this hasn’t even been released yet, so the winner will be among the very first to grab a free copy and become even more successful with using WordPress.

Prize 7
Free ebook: Blog Adrenaline – Written by John Moston of DNXpert, this is an 80-page ebook that also includes a 24-page guide to building WordPress themes, AND a “skeleton” WordPress theme that can be customized and given away for building backlinks.

Prize 8
2 Market Leverage Rewards Cards – These guys came through again with another popular prize. Each card is worth $20. There will be 1 winner per card.

Prize 9
Advertising on KeithJamesLock.com – Keith is offering some great advertising opportunities on his blog. One image ad will be placed beneath each of his posts on single post pages as well as beneath the post on the home page. Size can be up to 400×250. He’s also offering a text link up to 50 characters in length. Both will have do-follow links which can be affiliate links if desired. 2

Prize 10
Niche Adsense Themes for WordPress – Created by Mark Mason, this rising star in the Internet marketing world is someone I’ve been following closely. His recent release of these specially designed WordPress themes has been well-received in the online community. Do yourself a favor and get to know Mark so that you can carve out your slice of the make money online pie.

Prize 11
Free ebook: Article Domination – Written by Josh Spaulding, this has been a best seller in the article marketing world for a while. It’s packed with step-by-step, easy-to-understand instructions to making money online using articles and article directories to drive qualified traffic to your site or blog. Valued at $39.

Prize 12
125×125 ad on BlogAboutYourBlog – a $20 value, Matthew Henrickson is offering ad space at the top of BlogAboutYourBlog for one month. His blog gets a lot of traffic so your ad will certainly get a great deal of exposure.

Prize 13
Free ebook: Written Prompty Everyday – Written by Christine Senter, this is an inspiring book designed to help you get your creative juices flowing and get over your writer’s block. It lists some very creative prompts that will help get you that spark of creativity you’re looking for.

Prize 14
Free 1-year Membership to I’m On A Budget – My friend Joe Swopes has launched a great new membership site called I’m On A Budget that provides its members with very affordable videos, software, and audio products that cover a wide variety of topics. Valued at $60.

Click over to check out more information about that prize and the information you’ll need participate in the contest.

Ultimate Collection of SEO Tools?

Affiliate Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are two things that will always go well together, so I’ve always made it a point to stay current on the latest SEO techniques and strategies.  I recently noticed a new post over at Search Engine Journal that really caught my attention.   They’ve called the post the Ultimate Collection of Internet SEO Tools, and I have to say that after reviewing the post, I’m going to have to agree.

Though it isn’t a complete SEO collection (as it only includes web-based tools), it is a great resource that I think people will love.   It is almost overwhelming just how many SEO tools there are out there!

What are your favorite web-based SEO tools?

Traffic Secrets Revealed 2.0 Now Available!

Have you ever heard of John Reese before?  Unless you’re new to the world of internet marketing, chances are this guy is a household name to you.   For those unfamiliar with the name, John is the author of the incredibly popular Traffic Secrets home study course that has propelled the careers of most full time internet marketers today. 

As we all know, getting traffic (especially search engine traffic) is the key to drive any affiliate campaign, but doing so is much easier said than done. This is especially true without purchasing your traffic via PPC or other methods.  Did you know that there are SEO techniques and other methods you could be using to get natural (and free) search engine traffic?   John has covered all of this in his home study course.  

If you would like to check it out, or purchased the original course, I wanted to give you the heads up that as of 1:00 p.m. EST today, the Traffic Secrets 2.0 home study course has been released. 

Check out Traffic Secrets 2.0!

How To: Using .htaccess to Cloak Affiliate Links

In August of last year I explained how to hide your affiliate links, which received some good feedback.   That post is my preferred method, as it uses PHP redirects to cloak the affiliate link and allows me to upload a single file to multiple websites.

The drawback of this method is that these can still sometimes look like affiliate links.   If you’d prefer to have better looking affiliate links (though it requires extra work to setup), this method is probably better for you.

Here are the steps that you need to cloak your affiliate links using your .htaccess file:

  1. Access your .htaccess file.
  2. Type the following:
  3. redirect 301 /french-toast http://YourFrenchToastAffiliateUrl

That is it!  On this site, this would take the URL of slickaffiliate.com/french-toast and redirect the user to http://YourFrenchToastAffiliateURL.