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Saturday, September 02, 2006

How to Cross-Link Your Websites

Cross-linking, the practice of linking to one site from another, is a valid and useful thing to do when you own multiple websites. It is valuable because it sends both PageRank and traffic from your established sites to your newer sites. However if your sites are unrelated the cross-linking can look spammy and while you'll still get a PageRank benefit you likely won't get as much traffic through the links. Plus if you have many sites having so many external links on your pages might cheapen the look of your website, and Google (or another search engine) may think you're trying to manipulate PR and thus punish you.

So, what I recommend doing is a hub and spoke linking scheme, this type of linking is perfectly valid to do, regardless of the topics of your site, because the practice predates link popularity algorithms with search engines, and companies that care nothing about search engine optimization practice this method and do not even know it. This scheme also gives you great control over which of your websites are getting the most benefit.

The center of this method is a hub, usually a business site. All of your websites link to the hub, and then the hub links back out to your websites. My favorite place is to put the link in the copyright statement of a site. For instance my business name is Jalic LLC and so I link to from within the copyright statement of my websites. Even without PageRank I would still do this, as Jalic is in effect the "parent company" of the websites. Then from I link back out to sites I own and voila, a hub and spoke linking scheme. No matter how many sites I own each site only needs one link on it, going to, then contains a list of sites.

Well, actually, it is a little more complicated than that. You may have scrolled down to the bottom of this page and check out the copyright statement and see no link. Confused? Well the beauty of this linking scheme is that you can easily control which sites you wish to be PageRank donors and which sites you wish to be PageRank receivers. By not linking out I'm not donating any of this site's PageRank as this site is still very much in it's growth stage and I don't want to take any PageRank away from it. So if you have a site that needs PR, you don't need to link to the hub from it.

Then, on the hub, you can do many things to control the flow of PageRank. For instance lets pretend the hub has a left side menu on every page. Instead of linking to a site from a "Portfolio" or "Sites We Publish" page, you could link to it from the menu that appears on every page of the hub. This way that site would get a lions share of the PageRank and really flourish. I've gotten a new site to a PageRank of 7, initially, by linking to it in this manner. Another thing you can do is link out to subsections or subpages within a site in addition to the site itself, thus sending more PageRank (and possibly good anchor text) to that site. Of course, if you have a site which does not need any PageRank at all, you don't need to link back to it from the hub site.

If you have sites that are topically related then direct cross-links between them are still a good decision, but for publishers with a wide variety of websites the hub and spoke method is best.

How to Analyze a Competitor’s Website

Competitors' websites, if analyzed properly, can give you all sorts of information that you can use to increase the traffic and the popularity of your site. Here is an article on how to analyze a competitor's website.

Identifying the Leaders

Start off by identifying the major players. A good place to do this is Yahoo’s directory. It is good to view the major players in similar fields to your own so that you have a better view of your web site as perceived by others. You may want to print out the directory to take a closer look. Check some of the bigger companies and find out some of the innovative approaches and new products offered.

Sites like Media Metrix 500 can tell you which companies get the most traffic, and you can learn about the relative traffic by using Alexa. It is a free add-on to your browser that ranks the traffic for each site you visit and informing you whether it is in the top 100 or top 1000 ranking. This gives you a rough idea of where your competitors are in the ranking order.

Scrutinize the Leaders

The next step is to study the top 5 or 10 competitors very closely. There is a lot that can be learned by looking at competitors' web sites and analyzing them. These are the things that you should look for:

1. Make sure you check to see what products or services competitors offer, and note anything that’s different from your own offerings.

2. Look for gaps that you could fill.

3. Think about the look, feel and functionality of the competitors' web sites.

4. Check the advertising campaigns and offers they are running.

5. Look at their strengths and weaknesses, from the customer’s point of view.

6. See if you can figure out their strategy.

If you are dealing with a public company then you can get detailed information from proper sources and write down the names of their key players. Then it is possible to look for any interviews, articles or speeches they might have made about relating to their web site.

Look for Strengths, Vulnerabilities, and Gaps

Now summarize the information you have found into few sentences for each competitor, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Note down the strategies to be followed to counter your competitor’s offering.

With this research, you can create or modify your marketing plan. Be sure to include how you intend to deal with competition, and what steps you think you would require getting top rankings in the search engines. On the basis of your research on your competitors' websites, you need to make a decision of either to compete with your competitor or walk out of the competition and focus on other areas.

Don’t get frightened away prematurely, though – make sure you know what you are getting into before you start, and don’t let big companies intimidate you. Remember that you can move faster than your competitors if you have confidence in your abilities. All you need to do is offer your customers things that they cannot find anywhere else.

The Google PageRank Algorithm

The PageRank Algorithm

The original PageRank algorithm was described by Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin in several publications. It is given by

PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

PR(A) is the PageRank of page A,
PR(Ti) is the PageRank of pages Ti which link to page A,
C(Ti) is the number of outbound links on page Ti and
d is a damping factor which can be set between 0 and 1.

So, first of all, we see that PageRank does not rank web sites as a whole, but is determined for each page individually. Further, the PageRank of page A is recursively defined by the PageRanks of those pages which link to page A.

The PageRank of pages Ti which link to page A does not influence the PageRank of page A uniformly. Within the PageRank algorithm, the PageRank of a page T is always weighted by the number of outbound links C(T) on page T. This means that the more outbound links a page T has, the less will page A benefit from a link to it on page T.

The weighted PageRank of pages Ti is then added up. The outcome of this is that an additional inbound link for page A will always increase page A's PageRank.

Finally, the sum of the weighted PageRanks of all pages Ti is multiplied with a damping factor d which can be set between 0 and 1. Thereby, the extend of PageRank benefit for a page by another page linking to it is reduced.

The Random Surfer Model

In their publications, Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin give a very simple intuitive justification for the PageRank algorithm. They consider PageRank as a model of user behaviour, where a surfer clicks on links at random with no regard towards content.

The random surfer visits a web page with a certain probability which derives from the page's PageRank. The probability that the random surfer clicks on one link is solely given by the number of links on that page. This is why one page's PageRank is not completely passed on to a page it links to, but is devided by the number of links on the page.

So, the probability for the random surfer reaching one page is the sum of probabilities for the random surfer following links to this page. Now, this probability is reduced by the damping factor d. The justification within the Random Surfer Model, therefore, is that the surfer does not click on an infinite number of links, but gets bored sometimes and jumps to another page at random.

The probability for the random surfer not stopping to click on links is given by the damping factor d, which is, depending on the degree of probability therefore, set between 0 and 1. The higher d is, the more likely will the random surfer keep clicking links. Since the surfer jumps to another page at random after he stopped clicking links, the probability therefore is implemented as a constant (1-d) into the algorithm. Regardless of inbound links, the probability for the random surfer jumping to a page is always (1-d), so a page has always a minimum PageRank.

A Different Notation of the PageRank Algorithm

Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin have published two different versions of their PageRank algorithm in different papers. In the second version of the algorithm, the PageRank of page A is given as

PR(A) = (1-d) / N + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))

where N is the total number of all pages on the web. The second version of the algorithm, indeed, does not differ fundamentally from the first one. Regarding the Random Surfer Model, the second version's PageRank of a page is the actual probability for a surfer reaching that page after clicking on many links. The PageRanks then form a probability distribution over web pages, so the sum of all pages' PageRanks will be one.

Contrary, in the first version of the algorithm the probability for the random surfer reaching a page is weighted by the total number of web pages. So, in this version PageRank is an expected value for the random surfer visiting a page, when he restarts this procedure as often as the web has pages. If the web had 100 pages and a page had a PageRank value of 2, the random surfer would reach that page in an average twice if he restarts 100 times.

As mentioned above, the two versions of the algorithm do not differ fundamentally from each other. A PageRank which has been calculated by using the second version of the algorithm has to be multiplied by the total number of web pages to get the according PageRank that would have been caculated by using the first version. Even Page and Brin mixed up the two algorithm versions in their most popular paper "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine", where they claim the first version of the algorithm to form a probability distribution over web pages with the sum of all pages' PageRanks being one.

In the following, we will use the first version of the algorithm. The reason is that PageRank calculations by means of this algorithm are easier to compute, because we can disregard the total number of web pages.

The Characteristics of PageRank

The characteristics of PageRank shall be illustrated by a small example.

We regard a small web consisting of three pages A, B and C, whereby page A links to the pages B and C, page B links to page C and page C links to page A. According to Page and Brin, the damping factor d is usually set to 0.85, but to keep the calculation simple we set it to 0.5. The exact value of the damping factor d admittedly has effects on PageRank, but it does not influence the fundamental principles of PageRank. So, we get the following equations for the PageRank calculation:

PR(A) = 0.5 + 0.5 PR(C)
PR(B) = 0.5 + 0.5 (PR(A) / 2)
PR(C) = 0.5 + 0.5 (PR(A) / 2 + PR(B))

These equations can easily be solved. We get the following PageRank values for the single pages:

PR(A) = 14/13 = 1.07692308
PR(B) = 10/13 = 0.76923077
PR(C) = 15/13 = 1.15384615

It is obvious that the sum of all pages' PageRanks is 3 and thus equals the total number of web pages. As shown above this is not a specific result for our simple example.

For our simple three-page example it is easy to solve the according equation system to determine PageRank values. In practice, the web consists of billions of documents and it is not possible to find a solution by inspection.

The Iterative Computation of PageRank

Because of the size of the actual web, the Google search engine uses an approximative, iterative computation of PageRank values. This means that each page is assigned an initial starting value and the PageRanks of all pages are then calculated in several computation circles based on the equations determined by the PageRank algorithm. The iterative calculation shall again be illustrated by our three-page example, whereby each page is assigned a starting PageRank value of 1.
Iteration PR(A) PR(B) PR(C)
0 1 1 1
1 1 0.75 1.125
2 1.0625 0.765625 1.1484375
3 1.07421875 0.76855469 1.15283203
4 1.07641602 0.76910400 1.15365601
5 1.07682800 0.76920700 1.15381050
6 1.07690525 0.76922631 1.15383947
7 1.07691973 0.76922993 1.15384490
8 1.07692245 0.76923061 1.15384592
9 1.07692296 0.76923074 1.15384611
10 1.07692305 0.76923076 1.15384615
11 1.07692307 0.76923077 1.15384615
12 1.07692308 0.76923077 1.15384615

We see that we get a good approximation of the real PageRank values after only a few iterations. According to publications of Lawrence Page and Sergey Brin, about 100 iterations are necessary to get a good approximation of the PageRank values of the whole web.

Also, by means of the iterative calculation, the sum of all pages' PageRanks still converges to the total number of web pages. So the average PageRank of a web page is 1. The minimum PageRank of a page is given by (1-d). Therefore, there is a maximum PageRank for a page which is given by dN+(1-d), where N is total number of web pages. This maximum can theoretically occur, if all web pages solely link to one page, and this page also solely links to itself.

Defend Against Black Hat SEO: Your Web Host Can Help

The world wide web is a dynamic, exciting place to launch a new business or promote your organization's message. It's also a lawless landscape in which black hats – crackers, hackers and other on-line evil doers – roam with very little oversight or law enforcement.

And that means it's up to every site owner to ensure that his or her site is defended against intrusions, code injections and other forms of attack. There's plenty of software to help keep hackers out of your desktop pc, but what about your hosting service? How can you protect server-based data?

Top-tier web hosting firms design proprietary hardware and software protection to ensure that your business is secure. But site security doesn't stop with impenetrable firewalls, spam zappers and e-mail scanners. In fact, if you go with a hosting service that isn't up to speed on the latest forms of hacker attackers, you could quickly find your site is no longer under your control!

Great hosts "harden" their server systems to deter and deflect known exploit points in the software the servers run and in any client-site's code! There is where the value of quality hosting comes into play .

XSS Attacks

XSS stands for cross site scripting and it poses a threat to even the most secure sites because XSS exploits vulnerable hardware and software holes that allow black hat SEOs to circumvent commonly employed security systems. In an XSS attack, black hats inject malicious HTML script into site pages of other domains. They do this for two reasons.

First, in some instances, black hats inject undetected scripting into competitor sites to taint these sites when SE bots spider them. Imagine, a competitor is able to access your site's code, insert invisible text (at least invisible to you) and, when an SE bot discovers this invisible text, your site is slammed. Even banned from Google. Don't think it can happen? It closes down on-line businesses daily.

So what kind of attacks can be "planted" on your site? There are plenty:

* Redirects take visitors to another site as soon as they reach yours.
* Overloading alt tags, meta tags and other interior coding with keywords, sometimes called keyword stuffing.
* Inaccurate or misleading keywords inserted within site pages.
* Cloaking, which detects search engine spiders and changes site text to improve PR.
* Pagejacking, the practice of stealing site content, can not only cost you in sales, it can also slam your PR because your content isn't "original" any longer.

Any of these black hat SEO tactics and more (spamglish, links farms, virus injections, etc.) can and will do severe, if not irreparable, damage to your on-line enterprise. Why?

SE Bots Are Brainless

SE spiders are dumber than a box of rocks. They're unable to discern legitimate text from a malware injection. They rely, solely, on automation to assess and categorize a site. There's no subjective analysis. Just text strings that are sorted completely by brainless bots.

A competitor, using one of the XSS attacks listed above, exploits to "de-optimize" and make it appear that you're using black hat SEO tactics, or can gain access to your site through a web browser and/or inject toxic data to devalue your content.

Google Penalties For Black Hat Tactics

The purpose of any search engine is to deliver relevant, useful SERPs to users' queries. So, when a Google bot discovers what it perceives as an attempt to falsely increase value, the site may suffer serious, site-threatening sanctions.

Some of these penalties may be imposed without you even knowing about it – until you discover that site revenues have dropped 75% in two days as a result of lost rankings and traffic! A site discovered to employ black hat SEO may be penalized in page rank, may lose PR altogether, may experience SE indexing issues (partial or mis-indexing, for example) and, for the worst offenders, banishment from the Google site altogether. Dead in the eyes of Google bots

So, here's the problem: without your knowledge, a black hat competitor can inject toxic script into your site that could, conceivably, get your site banned from Google. Even if you and your web host have all the firewall and intrusion detection protection there is.

It Gets Even Worse

The second reason black hats use cross site scripting is to actually gain access and control of your on-line business. Certain types of XSS attacks actually enable a complete stranger to acquire the same system privileges reserved for the site owner - you.

Access to sensitive customer data, bank account information, the entire back office – all can be achieved with relative ease by a knowledgeable cracker looking to steal and plunder your site.

Whether the black hat is a competitor who wants to eliminate the competition, or a script-kiddie looking to clean out the till and sell some credit card numbers, your on-line business is at risk regardless of how much security you and your web host deploy.

This Is Where Quality Web Hosting Enters

During the design, administration and growth of a web-based business, numerous tools and applications are used by site owners and designers. There's site building software, email management software, a check-out, customer database, automated shipping apps, tools for developing site metrics and many others.

This software isn't necessarily designed with security as Priority One. Often, there are openings in commonly-used ebiz software that are exploited by black hats during the execution of an XSS attack.

And, because of the nature of these attacks, system and server security measures can be breached because, in essence, the hackers piggyback their way onto an unsuspecting site using the site administrators' credentials to gain access and/or control.

The key to protection from XSS attacks is in the proper configuration of all of the applications and tools that comprise your on-line enterprise. These apps must be synced up to work together while, at the same time, developing protection against XSS attacks.

This configuring of applications is done at the host level and should include a detailed analysis of potential XSS entry points within the site's design and reconfiguration to fit the server security already in place.

Go With The Host Who Knows

If your web hosting service isn't familiar with the growing danger of XSS attacks based on application exploitation points, consider finding a more informed host.

It's not a matter of securing your business system locally. And it's not a matter of the multi-layers of protection offered by your web host.

It's a matter of thinking like a black hat and taking a proactive stance against XSS attacks they may employ. If you aren't sure your site is protected, and your hosting rep can't provide the assurances you require, talk to another hosting company before disaster strikes and your site is banned from Google.

It's that important.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Top 10 AdSense Tricks To Boost Your Commission

Google AdSense is fast becoming the preferred way for people to earn an income online. Forget eBay and multiple affiliate programs - Whether you are a work-at-home mom trying to make a little extra cash or an Internet entrepreneur with hundreds of monetized websites, AdSense is truly the easiest way to earn money.

Simply sign up for a free account, grab your ad code and paste it in your site. But here's the amazing thing - no matter how much money AdSense is making for you right now, a few simple tweaks can increase that amount considerably. And I should know, after learning about these tricks, I more than doubled my AdSense commissions!

The self-proclaimed AdSense gurus and experts are sharing this insider knowledge, for a fee. You can learn all these secrets from them, as long as you buy their e-book, sign up for their seminar or purchase their newsletter. But I'm going to share all their AdSense tricks for free. Here they are:

1) Color code your ads to match your web site palette *exactly*. Don't use frames around your ads. Instead, in the AdSense code generation interface, make sure you choose the same color as your page background for the ad frame and the ad background.

When choosing the ad heading colors, match them to the *exact* color of your page headings. Use the exact same ad background shade as your page background. Use the exact same ad text font and color as the text on your pages. You can see an example of this color-matching on my search engine advice blog - notice the 4 link ad unit and skyscraper text ad unit on the left hand side under the headings Ads by Google as you scroll down the page? The link and text colors are identical to the color palette used throughout the rest of the page.

Near enough is NOT good enough. If you can't quite get the color matching right, use Google's built in color palette together with the RGB to HEX or vice versa color converter on this page. That handy little tool was a life saver for me.

This is probably the one single tweak that made the most difference to my commission levels.

2) Try not to use the traditional horizontal banner style or leaderboard image ads because people are blind to them.

3) Use Google's own AdSense optimization tips and visual heat map to assist you in deciding where on your page to place your AdSense ad code.

4) Research competitive keywords using a keyword research tool such as Keyword Discovery or grab a list of the most popular keywords from various sources and use them in your web site pages where relevant. This article is a good source of frequently searched keywords. Targeting popular keywords should trigger AdSense ads on your pages that utilize those keywords. The more popular the keyword or phrase, the higher AdWords advertisers are generally willing to pay per click for it so the higher your commission on those clicks.

5) Incorporate the AdSense code into your page so that the ads look like a regular part of your site. You can see an example of this on the Internet Dating Stories site where link ads are incorporated within the regular left hand navigation of the site under the heading "Sponsor Links".

6) Use Google's new 4 and 5 link ad units wherever possible. They seem to have a much higher Click Through Rate (CTR) than regular ad styles. You can view all the AdSense ad formats here.

7) Place images next to your ads to attract the eyes. You can see this in place on the search engine article library page at the bottom where 3 images draw your attention to the bottom of the page. But be careful here - the use of arrows or symbols enticing viewers to click are NOT allowed by Google and publishers may NOT label the Google ads with text other than "sponsored links" or "advertisements".

8) Use the full allowance of multiple AdSense ads on each of your pages - 3 regular AdSense ads, plus 1 link unit. Use careful placement of these ads so they blend into your site and don't distract from your content. Clever use of this allowance can be seen on this page about bad Internet dating stories where you see:

- 1 horizontal 4 link ad unit towards the top of the page under the first paragraph
- 1 vertical skyscraper text ad unit about halfway down the left hand side under "Sponsor Links"
- 1 vertical skyscraper image ad unit down the left hand side under "Sponsor Links"
- 1 horizontal text banner unit at the bottom of the page with images above each ad.

You can also include 1 AdSense referral button in addition to the 3 other units.

9) Tailor your page content to a particular niche or focus. Page content that is tailored towards a specific theme is more likely to trigger AdWords ads that closely match the content and are therefore more likely to interest your visitors and inspire them to click. Don’t create pages merely for the sake of placing AdSense ads. Visitors (and search engines) can see through this ruse in an instant.

10) Use custom Ad Channels for each of your ad placements, for example, "Top 5 Link Unit Blue Palette" or "Left Side Navigation Image Skyscraper" etc. Tweak, track and measure the success of each of these custom channels so you know what gives you the highest CTR. Some ad formats and colors will work better than others, but you won't know which until you test, test and test some more!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Secure Payer Authentication

3-D Secure Payer Authentication

A.K.A Verified by Visa & MasterCard SecureCode

Introduction: The Industry and The Goals

Payer Authentication is the newest and most powerful tool available to ecommerce merchants today. Payer Authentication provides merchants with the electronic equivalent of a signed sales receipt. Under the umbrella of Visa’s 3-Domain Secure initiative, internet merchants can participate in Payer Authentication. Visa’s program is called Verified by Visa. MasterCard and Japanese Credit Bureau (JCB) also have 3-D Secure programs: MasterCard SecureCode and J/Secure. All three programs operate exactly the same way, they validate that the consumer shopping on your website is the legitimate cardholder.

Why would the payment associations (Visa, MasterCard, JCB) want to do this? They are worried about brand erosion.

The benefits of payer authentication are pretty substantial. First and foremost is guaranteed payment on all fully authenticated transactions. Even if the transaction is later determined to be fraudulent. The merchant will NOT be charged back. In fact, the chargeback is actually blocked from being submitted to the merchant’s acquiring bank by Visa and MasterCard, so there is not even an awareness at the merchant bank level that a chargeback occurred. More importantly, the number of chargebacks that a merchant records with their acquirer will drop dramatically. Typical participating merchants see a drop of 60-70 percent in their monthly chargeback rates.

Even more monumental in concepts than the guaranteed payments is the shift in liability from the merchant to the card issuing bank. Never before in the history of card-not-present (CNP) transactions, have the payment networks ever offered a way for merchants to avoid liability for CNP transactions they accept. It has ALWAYS been the merchants liability. Those days are now over. This is ground-breaking stuff here folks.

Now, how about a little lower margin for doing busy more securely? Visa says sure. Just for installing Verified by Visa software on your site, Visa will lower your interchange rate by 5 basis points. I know, I know, basis points are confusing, what does that really mean? Well it works out to $0.05 for every $100.00 you process. A nickel doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up when you are processing $1,000,000 a month or more in sales. Why did Visa do this? Well they want to motivate merchants to participate, and the 5 basis points is intended to help offset the cost that merchants pay for the payer authentication service (typically between 5 and 10 cents per transaction).

Common Misconceptions

Misconception #1: Not enough cardholders are enrolled.

This is irrelevant. 300 million plus US Visa cards are enrolled. Visa is offering merchants guaranteed payment on all Visa cards* regardless of whether the cardholder is enrolled or not. This means that from day one, with Verified by Visa enabled on your site, a merchant can cut their transaction liability by 50-60 percent, just on their Visa transactions.

MasterCard does not offer attempts processing liability coverage at this time, but 5-10 percent of MasterCard transactions are guaranteed payment, and their adoption rate is growing every day.

When a merchant combines the coverage of Visa and MasterCard together, they are typically getting guaranteed payment on 60-70 percent of their overall transaction volume. They are also eliminating 7 out of 10 chargebacks.

Misconception #2: Not enough banks offer the service.

Completely untrue. 45 of the top 50 U.S. issuing banks, and over 10,000 issuing banks now have the software up and running, worldwide.

Misconception #3: If it is such a good program, why aren’t the big name merchants doing it?

Good question. These merchants would like to know why you don’t consider them big names:,,,,,,,,,,, NorthwestAirlines,,,,,, LizClaiborne, Wilsons Leather,, Nickelodeon,, and about 30,000+ others worldwide that I don’t have room to list here.

Misconception #4: I have heard that Verified by Visa/MasterCard SecureCode cause higher “abandonment” rates?

First of all, lets define abandonment: Abandonment is the process by which a customer leaves/aborts the CHECKOUT process prior to a final submission of the order – including items for purchase, billing and shipping method, and payment information.

Pay attention to this: payer authentication occurs AFTER CHECKOUT (or shopping cart) has been completed, but PRIOR TO AUTHORIZATION of the credit card (it works with both real-time and batch authorization).

Understanding the definition of abandonment explains why Verified by Visa contributes to absolutely zero ‘shopping cart abandonment’. It can’t. Fundamentally, Verified by Visa, as a process that a consumer would see, does not begin until the checkout has been COMPLETED.

With that said, the initial implementation of Verified by Visa, more than two years ago, had some problems with the authentication process. But those problems have been fixed. First and foremost, pop-up windows are no longer allowed for the authentication screen. Due to pop-up blocking software and the almost instinctive act of a consumer closing pop-up windows, Visa realized that this was not going to be effective. Since then they have mandated the “in-line” presentation method, which presents the Verified by Visa screen within the same browser window. This in-line method has proven to be dramatically more effective reducing authentication abandonment from 20-30 percent, down to less than one percent. The in-line method also allows the merchant to keep their brand on the same page as the authentication screen, which provides additional reassurance to the shopper that they are not being enticed by a ‘phishing’ scam.

Also, Visa and MasterCard strongly encourage the prominent display of the Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode logos, both on the homepage, and the checkout page, so that it is clear to the shopper that this site is protected by these programs.

Finally, the strategic placement of consumer messaging (which is the fancy phrase for providing instructions and guidance to your shoppers in the from of text) has been surprisingly helpful. Amazingly, just telling consumers what they can expect to happen (ex: You may be prompted to enter your password if you are enrolled in Verified by Visa), and what to do if the expected thing does not happen (Ex: please call this 1-800 number if you experience a delay or are unsure how to proceed), has been extremely helpful.

Misconception #5: I have so many passwords, and I can never remember all of them. What happens if I forget mine?

First of all, do you have a debit card? If yes, then what’s your PIN number? Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question (and you never know who might be listening!). But you get the point, right? Why can you instantly recall the PIN number for your debit card amidst the tens, if not hundreds, of passwords you have? Because it’s the key to your bank account – your money. The same goes for payer authentication. In regards to consumer experience, it’s almost identical to entering your PIN number for a debit card purchase. In fact, if you want to make your Verified by Visa password a ‘PIN’ number, instead of a password, go ahead, it’s OK. The point is, we already have a proven and flourishing example of consumers successfully protecting their money with a password (PIN) and payer authentication works exactly the same way – you just enter the password in your web browser instead of an ATM machine.

What are the merchant benefits of Payer Authentication?

Guaranteed Payment.

Yeah, right. Guaranteed payment? Where’s the fine print. What is that supposed to mean?
Exactly what it says. Guaranteed payment. If you are an ecommerce merchant, and you install payer authentication software on your site, Visa and MasterCard will guarantee that you get paid, and can NEVER be chargedback on fully authenticated transactions. For a typical ecommerce merchant, this represents about 25-33 percent of Visa card volume and 5-10 percent of MasterCard volume.

In addition Visa also offers guaranteed payment, including chargeback protection, on what they call “attempts processing”. This means that if the merchant has the Verified by Visa software on their site, even if the shopper is not enrolled (has not set up their password), Visa will guarantee payment on that transaction, and block any chargebacks from coming back to the merchant on that transaction. This represents an additional 60-65 percent of the merchants overall Visa card volume.

When you combine the protection outlined in the above two paragraphs together, that equates to roughly 60-70% of your overall credit card volume being covered by the two programs. That means 60-70% of your overall credit card volume will be guaranteed payment, and will be protected from chargeback liability. Sounds crazy right? See Misconception #3 above to see how crazy it really is.

Chargeback Blocking.

What the heck is chargeback blocking? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Literally, Visa and MasterCard step in between and block chargebacks from being passed by Issuing bank who issues credit cards to consumers, to the Merchant Acquiring bank, who receives funds for settled purchases from issuing banks on behalf of you the merchant.

What this means is that a chargeback is blocked from ever reaching your Merchant Acquiring Bank. This means that the number of chargebacks that show up on your monthly chargeback report are going to drop – dramatically. Typically by 65-70 percent. When the number of chargebacks drops, the fines for those chargebacks (usually $15-25 each) also go away. In addition, since their was no chargeback, you the merchant can keep the funds for that purchase. The issuing bank again is blocked from pulling the funds for that fraudulent purchase out of your merchant account. Why? Because you have done your part. You have the payer authentication software on your site. You are off the hook for those transactions that are protected. But somebody has to pay for that fraudulent transaction, right? Right. Lets’ read on…

Transaction Liability Shift.

Transaction Liability is the end result of chargeback blocking. If fraud occurs on a transaction, and the merchant is no longer required to reimburse the consumer for that fraud because the merchant was employing payer authentication, then who will? The bank that issue the credit card. Yep. You read that right. All banks that issue Visa or MasterCard credit cards are now liable for all ecommerce transactions that are protected with payer authentication by merchants. When did this happen? Well, it’s actually always been this way with Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode. Now are we starting to understand why the biggest merchants in the world want these programs on their websites?

So why would issuing banks allow this to happen? Aren’t they now exposed to a huge amount of fraud? That’s partially true, but banks, as members of Visa and MasterCard, are bound by the rules of the card associations they are members of. Also, issuing banks realize in the long run, these programs will strengthen the brand of their cards, and make consumers more willing to shop online. And as you know, issuing banks love it when you use your credit card.

The ecommerce channel today represents only 2-3 percent of the overall commerce in the U.S. However, it is the fastest growing payment channel. Issuing banks realize that ecommerce is really still in it’s infancy, or maybe now more like a toddler. It’s learning to walk, but its still stumbling around like a drunken sailor trying to get his sea-legs. It may not be perfect, but it’s getting better, and becoming ubiquitous. Pretty soon it will be so big, it will be too big to fix, so banks are willing to scrape their knees a little now, and get the problems fixed. When ecommerce eventually is 5, 10, 20, or 50 percent of US commerce, consumers will feel good about using their credit card to shop online, and not be afraid of identity theft and fraud.

Accept International Transactions.

Do you accept transactions today from Nigeria? No? Not surprising. Nobody does. However, what about Canada, or Mexico, or England, or Germany, or Australia, or Japan. There are most certainly customers in these and many other countries that we would be happy to do business with, if we only could feel safe about accepting the transaction. But there’s no Address Verification System (AVS) for these countries, so what can we do?

Well, if you enable Verified by Visa/MasterCard SecureCode on your ecommerce site, not only can you accept transactions from these countries and all over the world, you can do so with exactly the same benefits and protections that you get on U.S. issued credit cards.

A conservative approach for a merchant who is hesitant to test the international markets may be to simply offer to accept international orders ONLY if they are made with a Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode credit card. That seems fair enough. Talk about expanding your markets!

Reduce Overall Cost of Doing Business (operational overhead).

This benefit probably takes the longest to realize, but can be pretty substantial. Ask yourself this question: How much manpower, time and resources do I spend preventing/screening transactions for fraud, and dealing with chargebacks that I have received? Whatever the answer is, now cut that manpower, time and resource allocation by 60-70 percent, and that’s what payer authentication has to offer your business in terms on reducing your costs of doing business.

Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode make your business more efficient. They reduce the time you spend as a business trying to be a security expert, and give you more time and resources to focus on selling your products, which is what a “merchant” should be doing. It’s a beautiful thing!

Verified by Visa Chargeback Reason Codes Covered

U.S. Visa Credit and Debit Cards – Full & Attempted Authentication
23: Invalid Travel & Entertainment
61: Fraudulent Mail Order/Telephone Order/eCommerce
75: Cardholder does not recognize transactions

Visa International Credit and Debit Cards - Full & Attempted Authentication
23: Invalid Travel & Entertainment
83: Fraudulent Mail Order/Telephone Order/eCommerce

MasterCard SecureCode Chargeback Reason Codes Covered

U.S. MasterCard & Maestro Cards – Full Authentication
4837: Cardholder non-authorization
4863: Cardholder not recognized

Which merchants can benefit the most from these programs?

If you accept credit cards as payment online for merchandise, then you can benefit. It does not matter if you are a small business run out of your basement, or if you are selling millions of dollars a year in merchandise. Every merchant can benefit from these programs. More specifically, merchants that are in high risk categories for fraud: jewelry, consumer electronics, software, DVDs; merchants whose items can be easily pawned or fenced: sporting goods, tools, tobacco, ticketing; merchants who sell ‘soft’ products: games, music, content, airtime/phone minutes

So where can I go to get this software?

Visa and MasterCard both have published vendor lists on their websites. You should also talk to your Merchant Acquiring Bank, your Payment Gateway, and/or your Payment Processor to find out if they already have a vendor that they recommend or are partnered with.

Verified by Visa Merchant Information Site:

Verified by Visa Consumer Information Site:

MasterCard SecureCode Merchant Information Site:

MasterCard SecureCode Consumer Information Site:

All for E-Banks and E-commerce Money

All for E-Banks and E-commerce money

What is a Merchant Account?

Quite simply a merchant account allows your business to accept credit cards. Typically this is used to describe the ability to accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards but does also include American Express, Discover Card, and other types of credit cards.

What is a third party processor?

A Third Party Processor is a company that allows you to use their merchant account to accept credit cards for your business. The merchant account is theirs and therefore they set the rules you must abide by. They are also responsible for ensuring that you receive payment for your sales and for debitting your account for fees as well.

Paypal, Worldpay, and 2CheckOut are some examples of a Third Party Processor.

The benefits of Third Party Processors are primarily in their cost benefits to small businesses. Since most Third Party Processors only charge processing fees and nothing else (like monthly fees or annual fees) they keep billing simplified and costs low for small businesses who don't have money to throw away for nothing (like an annual fee). They also tend to supply everything a merchant needs to process sales online with no other accounts required.

The downsides of Third Party Processors are pretty severe relative to a true merchant account. Since Third Party Processors assume all risk associated with your account and therefore they tend to have very strict policies on risk which frequently allow them to seize and hold money on a whim. Their processing fees are also very high on average and can take quite a chunk of a merchant's sales if they are processing more then $1,000 a month.

Should I get a true merchant account or use a third party processor?

This all depends on your business needs. The easiest way to determine which is best for your business is to base your decision on your average monthly processing volume. Generally, if your volume is over $1,000 per month you should establish a true merchant account. This is because even though you will incur extra fees for your monthly statement and processing gateway, you will still save money versus Third Party Processors and will have much more flexibility with the whole process. Third Party Processors will save small merchants money only because even though their processing fees are higher they charge less fees overall (they typically do not charge monthly fees or gateway fees).

What you should do when comparing any processor to another one, whether they are a true merchant account provider or third party processor, is to take the core fees you will be paying (see below) and do the math for your business. Typically knowing your businesses average ticket size and estimated monthly number of sales will allow you to make a comparison of what you will pay with one processor vs another.

What kind of rates and fees should I expect to be paying?

In the world of credit card processing their are a lot of potential fees and costs that you may encounter as a merchant. However, 99% of merchants won't see the vast majority of these fees so we'll cover just the ones that significantly affect the majority of merchants.

The most common fees that affect merchants are:

Discount Rate - Also known as the Percentage Rate this fee takes a set percentage of a merchant's sale as a fee for processing that transaction. Retail stores typically pay between 1.60% - 1.80% per transaction. Mail Order and Internet businesses typically pay 2.10% to 2.30% per transaction. Third party providers typically charge between 2.80% - 5.00%. This fee affects higher ticket merchants the most.

Per Item Fee - Also known as a Transaction Fee this fee is a flat fee charged every time a transaction is processed. This fee is typically between 20¢ - 25¢ for retail business, 25¢ - 35¢ for Mail Order and Internet businesses, and up to $1.00 for third party processors. This fee affects lower ticket merchants the most. It is possible for this fee to not be charged to a merchant but is rare and at the expense of having a higher discount rate.

Monthly Fee - Usually referred to as a Statement Fee this is a flat fee a merchant pays each month to keep their merchant account active. This usually includes a statement being sent during the month that breaks down the merchant's processing history for that month, customer service, and technical support. This fee typicically runs between $5 and $15.

Annual Fee - Also known as a Membership Fee (and many other names) this fee is charged to a merchant simply for keeping the service open for a full year. This fee is not required by Visa and MasterCard.

Monthly Minimum - This is a fee which guarantees the merchant will be paying a minimum amount each month in processing fees. If a merchant’s discount fees do not equal their monthly minimum fee they will be charged the difference between the two in addition to their discount fees.


A merchant has a discount rate of 2.50%, a monthly minimum of $25, and a monthly volume of $600. The discount fees for the month will be $15.00 (.025 * $600). Because their discount fees are less then their minimum fee ($15.00 < $25.00) they will be charged an additional $10.00 as a monthly minimum fee ($25.00 - $15.00).

This fee is not required by Visa and MasterCard.

How long does it take to open a merchant account?

Believe it or not the process of establishing a true merchant account is usually fairly quick and easy (assuming your sales agent is knowledgeable in what they are doing). An account can be opened in as little as four hours or as long as a few days depending on when the application is submitted and the underwriting guidelines of the processing bank. The application process should never take longer then that without a clear and legitimate reason. If your application is taking two weeks to be approved and you've had little to no communication with your sales agent, something is wrong and you should consider cancelling your application.

Establishing a third party account will vary from provider to provider as each has its own criteria and verification process. Your account can go live anywhere from immediately to several days or weeks. Also, the services made available to you may depend on verification of your business or personal information.

For planning's sake, the process setting up of a merchant account should be started two or three weeks before you expect to "go live". This will allow for unexpected delays and testing of the account and gateway.

What is a Reserve?

A reserve is when a bank holds a portion of a business' sales and sets it aside. This is money that is normally deposited into a merchant's account. This money can be a set amount or a percentage of a merchant's monthly volume (also known as a rolling reserve). This money is usually set aside to offset the risk a merchant account poses. Reserves can be temporary and the funds returned to the merchant (typically this doesn't happen until the merchant has processed for at least six months) or permanent and the funds are not released until six months after the merchant account is closed.

What is a Cancellation Fee?

Just as the name implies a Cancellation Fee is charged if you were to close your merchant account before reaching the end of your contract agreement (which can be anywheres from one year to five years with three years being typical). The amount for this fee varies and should be considered before choosing a merchant account provider. An average cancellation fee is around $300. However, some merchant account providers will charge up to $800. A cancellation fee over $300 is excessive and should be considered a negative factor when choosing a provider. A cancellation fee under $300 should be considered acceptable. Some merchant providers do not have a cancellation fee, however, this is rare. Others do have cancellation fees that decline in amount as the end of the contract nears.

What is a Chargeback?

A chargeback occurs when a customer contacts a credit card-issuing bank to initiate a refund for a purchase they made on their credit card. The reasons why chargebacks arise can vary greatly but generally, they are the result of a customer being dissatisfied with their purchase. The customer may or may not have contacted the merchant about remedying this situation ahead of time. They may even be completely wrong. However, responsibility falls to the seller to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly and the customer is satisfied. A failure somewhere within the fulfillment process, including at the customer service level, can lead to a chargeback.

What is The Match File?

The Match File is a database file used by MasterCard and Visa processing banks to identify specific merchants and owners who have had their merchant accounts terminated. Once a merchant is on this list it is highly unlikely that future merchant account applications will be approved. The Match File is essentially a BLACKLIST from which it is almost impossible to be removed.

For a business or merchant to be added to the Match File they need to violate Visa and MasterCard rules in some way. The most common reasons include:

- Fraud
- Factoring (ringing sales for another business)
- An excessive number of chargebacks
- The processing bank concludes that serious violations of the merchant agreement could result in increased loss exposure to itself or the credit card community.

Once a merchant has been placed on The Match File only the processing bank that added them can remove them from it. The merchant must work with them directly to accomplish this.

You do not want to be on the Match File!

What you can't do with credit card processing.

Just because you have a merchant account doesn't mean you can do anything you want with it. Visa and MasterCard has guidelines governing their use. Here are some thngs you cannot do:

• Personal Use - Visa and MasterCard do not allow their services to be used for personal reasons. All accounts must be established for one business and to be used only for that business’ products and services. An account cannot be established for an individual nor can a merchant use their merchant account for personal reasons.

• Factoring - Visa and MasterCard do not allow more then one business to use a merchant account. All accounts must be established for one business and to be used only for that business’ products and services. When a business processes transactions for another business, even if they own that business, they are “factoring”.

• Charge More for Credit Card Transactions - Visa and MasterCard does not allow a merchant to charge more for products/services paid for by their credit cards. They do not want paying by credit card to be seen in a negative light.

If a merchant wishes to offset the additional costs of accepting credit cards, they should do one of the following:
• Increase prices on their products/services for all purchases
• Increase prices on their products/services and then offer a cash discount
Charging a convenience fee for accepting credit cards is not considered acceptable.

• Set a Purchase Minimum - Visa and MasterCard do not allow merchants to set a minimum purchase amount for which credit cards may be used. For example, a merchant may not declare that a purchase must be at least $50 in size in order to use a credit card for payment.

What is a Gateway?

In short, a gateway connects your ecommerce Website to your merchant account.

The gateway facilitates online payments by connecting your secure order form with your specific merchant account at a processing bank. The gateway takes the submitted form data and presents it to the processing bank. When it receives a response from the processing bank, it presents that return data to the site of origin for appropriate handling.

The gateway itself doesn't provide ecommerce features such as shopping carts, Web hosting, or merchant accounts, although many larger gateway providers do offer additional services like these.

Popular gateway providers include, Verisign, Plug 'n Pay, and LinkPoint.

Gateways like does not provide merchant accounts! They are two very different and separate things. Both are very complex to offer and thus are offered as separate services.

I want to process my Internet sales without using a gateway.

Visa and MasterCard forbid Internet merchants from using software or equipment that does not support the Electronic Commerce Indicator. Electronic Commerce is when the cardholder’s information leaves possession of the cardholder and travels through an open connection, such as the Internet, to reach the merchant. In order to designate this type of transaction, the Electronic Commerce Indicator (ECI) must be included on the payment transaction message format to show that the transaction originated form an Internet source. This indicator is assigned in the point of sale product utilized by the merchant. Credit card information sent via email does constitute a transaction needing the ECI in the transaction to the processing bank.

Visa U.S.A. introduced a penalty structure effective June 1, 2000, for acquirers who fail to identify an electronic commerce transaction with the correct electronic commerce indicators. MasterCard International introduced a penalty structure effective August 1, 2000, for acquirers who fail to identify an electronic commerce transaction with the correct electronic commerce indicators.

If a merchant's software sends an ECI (values of 5, 6, or 7) the transactions are noted as a secure ECI transaction and must be using a secure form of processing card data. These transactions are eligible for CPS rate programs. If the software sends up an ECI value of 8 or 9, the merchant is processing the card data in a non-secure format and the transaction cannot qualify better than EIRF (i.e. the highest rate you can pay for a transaction).

All terminal products that are certified to pass an ECI send a value of 8 because this is a non secure way of processing electronic commerce transactions. But there aren't any credit card terminals currently supported to handle ECI. This means you must use special software or a gateway only. Visa and MasterCard employ 250 employees whose sole purpose is to find web merchants who violate this policy. Violating could result in fines, your account being terminated, and/or you being blacklisted for accepting credit cards.

Other Definitions

ADDRESS VERIFICATION SERVICE - A service that verifies the cardholder’s billing address in order to combat fraud in mail order/telephone order transactions.

BATCH - A grouping of credit card transactions as captured by a merchant. A batch is usually an entire day’s activity.

CARDHOLDER - Merchant’s customer who holds a credit card. The person to whom a financial transaction card is issued or an additional person authorized to use the card.

DISCOUNT RATE - A percentage rate that merchants are billed for the processing of Visa or Mastercard transactions. This discount rate can be applied to net or gross sales.

MERCHANT - Any business that, having met the qualification standards of MasterCard and/or Visa and having been approved by any acquiring member, accepts MasterCard and/or Visa cards as payment for goods and services.

RECURRING TRANSACTION - A transaction charged to the cardholder (with prior permission) on a periodic basis for recurring goods and services, i.e., health club membership, book-of-the-month clubs, etc.

Apply for an eCommerce Merchant Account

So, what do you need to sign up for an eCommerce merchant account? It's not just like signing on the dotted line. This is what you'll need to get that account up and running:

Option 1) The ownership will have to have strong personal credit. Credit checks are done on the owners of businesses when an application is submitted. For online business, especially high risk ones, it's a huge factor. If the ownership has strong personal credit, you've overcome a big hurdle. If the ownership's personal credit is very strong you'll be fine.

Option 2) The business will have to have strong financials. If this is a new business, skip the next paragraph. But if this is an established biz (at least a year but more like three or more) and it's got good financials (it has debts it pays on time and has a steady flow of cash) you should be fine.

Regardless of which option you choose, here's some more of what you should be prepared for when applying for your account:

- Be sure to have two forms of verification of the existance of the business (i.e. any document from the local, state, or federal gov't with the business name on it). This replaces the traditional photographs of retail establishments. This is how the bank verifies this is for a legitimate business.

- Make sure you have a business checking account in the business' name. It's a must.

- Have a (mostly complete) web site for the bank to review. If you provide a safe and secure place for your customers to shop, they'll feel better about accepting your application. Here's a checklist of an acceptable website:

+ Merchant’s DBA name appears prominently on the web site
The name of the merchant’s business name (DBA) should be prominent and obvious on the website. Ideally, the DBA name will be at the top of every page and very clear. Also, there should be a correlation between the DBA and product(s) being offered. For example, if you plan on selling car tires, a good DBA name would be Bob’s Discount Tires. A bad DBA name would be Mary’s Flowers.

+ Customer Service phone number is clearly posted
A customer service phone number is required for your customers to be able to call to ask questions. It should be clearly posted. Ideally it will be on every page and very prominent. It need not be a toll-free number.

+ Return/Refund policy is clearly posted? Your customers should be aware of how a refund/return is handled by your business. How long do they have to request a refund? Will they receive their form of payment back or will it be a credit only? Is it possible to get a refund at all? Even if your items can not be returned and you will never issue a refund, that policy must be clearly stated for your web site’s visitors to see.

+ Delivery methods and timing are clearly posted? How long from the time an order is placed can a customer expect you to ship your product/ deliver your service? How will you be shipping it? UPS? DHL? Fed Ex? Next day air? Ground? Mule? Make sure your customers are aware of how their order will be shipped and how long they can expect to wait for it.

+ Privacy statement is outlined
How do you plan to use the information your visitors give you when they place an order? Will you use it only to complete their order? Will you sell it to a third party? Privacy is a concern of all web users. A privacy policy should be very clear and easy to read. It should be obvious and easy to find.

+ US dollars currency
Although you may offer your products in any currency you wish, you must also display a price in US Dollars ($). The amount of the sale will be transacted in US Dollars.

+ Product offered is clearly described
What exactly is a widget? If you’re selling them, a clear description of what they are must be present. If you can answer the following questions with a description, it is a good one: Who would use this product? What is it called? What does it do? How do you use it? Is there a warranty? What colors are available? What is it made of?

+ Page where credit card info is entered is secure
Probably the most important checklist item. The page where a customer enters their personal information and credit card number must be secure. This means purchasing and installing a secure certificate on the web server. This will encrypt a customer’s private information so hackers can not steal it while it is being sent to the web site. Most customers won’t place an order on a web site that does not have one anyway.

If you are prepared when applying for your merchant account, you will almost certainly get it. Being a high risk style of business, it's key.

WordPress and SEO

There is a big bunch of resources on optimizing your blog for search engines. I have tried to collect the best tips and plugins in this article.

These tips won’t flood your blog with visitors - no SEO tips will. Use these tips to improve your site, and fight for a lot of backlinks and visitors by writing quality content and putting a lot of work into it. It has never been easy to run a website, and it for sure isn’t getting easier.


Use a permalink structure and be sure that the post title is in it. In the WordPress administration go to Options>Permalinks and select a permalink structure, or make your own. I use /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/ on this site.

Page titles

The title tag should show the title of the current post or page you are currently visitng. Eg. this page will have the title »WordPress and SEO | The undersigned«. In your themes header.php file you can do this by making sure that the title tag looks like this: (title)(?php wp_title(‘ ‘); ?)(?php if(wp_title(‘ ‘, false)) { ?) | (?php } ?)(?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?)(/title)


Search engines weigh headers (h1, h2, h3 …) higher than other content (p, li …), so it is important that you write good titles that also contains keywords that matches the content. The best thing is to only have 1-2 h1 tags on each page, eg. the blog title and newest blog post.

Alt tags

Use alt tags for your images, and be sure that they match what the image shows - this helps google image search and other image search engines.


The internet is evolving, and in this process tags is the next »big thing« - using tags makes sure to keep a lot of cross-linking from posts to posts, which eventually will let search engines dig deeper into your site.

Ultimate Tag Warrior

Related posts

If you read an article on this site, you will notice the recent posts list in the end of each article. This also helps search engines digging deeper into your site.

Related posts.

Landing sites

When visitors is referred to your site from a search engine, they are definitely looking for something specific - often they just roughly check the page they land on and then closes the window if what they are looking for isn’t there. Why not help them by showing them related posts to their search on your blog.

Landing sites 1.1.

Google sitemaps

Google has a feature for webmasters, called Sitemaps. This helps google index your site, and lets you weigh what content on your site, you find most important.

Google Sitemaps Generator.

Pinging aggregators

Use the feed feature! Set up your WordPress to ping a list of aggregators automatically in Options>Writing. A great list of ping services can be found here.

Valid markup

Be sure that your your site validates, this might not be the most critical point from a SEO point of view, but it might weigh some.

Avoid this

Google says you should avoid this:

  • Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
  • Don’t employ cloaking or sneaky redirects.
  • Don’t send automated queries to Google.
  • Don’t load pages with irrelevant words.
  • Don’t create pages that install viruses, trojans, or other badware.
  • Don’t create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content.
  • Avoid “doorway” pages created just for search engines, or other “cookie cutter” approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
  • Tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.

Get backlinks

Write to your friends, to other bloggers, and trade links with them. Get a linking-network established, and make sure that some people link back to your site, using your blogs title or primary keywords as anchor-text. Amount of links and especially links from quality sites, helps you being placed better in search engines search results. When writing an article, be sure to link back to your sources (if these are blogs, in most cases, a trackback link to your blog will be shown on their site). Be sure to link to your blog in forum signatures, mail signatures etc. as well.

Update your blog

Be sure to keep your blog updated - no one visits a dead site. Eventually you can let post your daily bookmarked links to your blog - this helps making your site look active.

How to automatically post daily links.

Stick with it

Stick with the same domain name, blog title, permalink structure etc.

Write quality content

Write quality content, it is the most important. Write quality content that people want to read. Stick to a few topics, and write mainly about those. Quality content might bring you to and as well.

Involve the reader

Encourage your visitors to comment on your posts and join the discussion. Involve the reader by writing to them. »You should«, »We could« and less using »I have«, »I did« etc.