May 8, 2007

Public Domain Web Content Experiment

I recently returned from an amazing vacation to the Galapagos Islands. What an amazing place, its hard to put into words. I will soon be posting some stories and photos on my Galapagos Travel Blog. I just need time to sift through 1,300 photos and pages of my hand-written journal.

As I mentioned briefly in my previous blog entry, my Galapagos blog currently contains a bit of fun: the first 33 entries were not written by me, but by Charles Darwin way back in 1835, when he first visited the islands. At the same time, this also serves as an experiment in public domain web content. The 33 entries were taken from a single chapter of "The Voyage of the Beagle", a book written by Darwin about a trip around the world, that included many stops, including the Galapagos Islands. The book is now in the public domain, which means that the book is no longer covered by copyright. As such, it can be republished freely and legally.

Of course, my travel blog is not the only site on the web that includes some or all of the text of the book. The key question for the experiment, therefore, is would I be able to generate search engine rankings and traffic using content that has been previously published many times over?. The answer, which is a little surprising, is yes.

Here are some stats since I left on vacation, April 23, 2007:

  • 141 visitors
  • 205 page views
  • 140 people came from a Google Search, 1 from an AOL search
  • 94 different keyword phrases were used to find the site
  • several top rankings, including a #2 for tortoise mating, a #10 for Galapagos Climate, and a #12 for the non-specific phrase "different plants".

Since I don't have any ads on the blog (yet), the site has made no earnings. But 141 visitors from search engines within less than 3 weeks from public domain content that I cut-and-pasted isn't bad at all. And remember, I used just one chapter from the book. If I had used all 21 chapters, perhaps I would have received 2,961 visitors. And what I did the same for 10 public domain books of similar size? Then the total would have been almost 30,000 visitors in just over two weeks. Now we are talking significant traffic.

Of course, this experiment in public domain web content is not completely fair. Based on my experience building web content and search engine optimization (SEO), I did a number of things to help improve my chances of success. I am going to continue to research and experiment with public domain web content. Look forward for more from me on the topic in future.

April 22, 2007

Off to the Galapagos Islands

Tomorrow I head off on vacation for two weeks, to the Galapagos Islands! My wife and I are very excited about this trip, and plan to take many, many photos. Look forward to stories and photos on the Galapagos Travel Blog. So far the only entries on the blog were made way back in the 1800s by Charles Darwin, when he first arrived in the Galapagos (partly this is just for fun, and partly it is an experiment in public-domain web content). You will probably have to wait until I return for the stories and photos from 2007.

April 19, 2007

Selling Master Resale Rights

This is the second of two entries on "Master Resale Rights". The first arcticle was about buying master resale rights. This article will focus on the perspective of the seller. If you have created an information product, what are the pros and cons of selling master resale rights to it? Is it a good idea?

So you have created your own information product (ebook, report, software, video, etc.). You are ready to sell the product to the masses. You have probably noticed that some information sellers also offer master resale rights (MRR) as an additional "one time offer". It seems like an opportunity to make even more money, doesn't it? Well, sometimes, but no always.

If you are considering selling master resale rights to your product, the first thing you should consider is your main goal with the product. Often times, maximizing earnings will be the goal. Sometimes, however, building an email list, or building a reputation for yourself, may be a strong secondary goal, or even the primary goal. Selling master resale rights can affect both types of goals in different ways.

Offering master resale rights gives you a quick and easy opportunity to boost your earnings. The product is complete, and it doesn't take much additional effort to sell the master resale rights. Plus you can often sell the MRR for several times more than the cost of the product. This can add up to some healthly "back-end" profits. I read recently from an experienced Internet marketer that he was earning twice as much on the back-end offer compared to the original offer. Seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Well, it's not. If you think deeper about it, its actually more complicated than that.

When you sell master resale rights, you are usually giving people 2 options: 1) promote your product via your affiliate program (no cost to them) or 2) buy the master resale rights and resell the product directly, cutting you out of the picture all together. Under the first scenario, you don;t earn anything for the MRR, but you may still make money if the person promotes your product via the affiliate program. If they buy the MRR, you make some money selling the rights, but you get zero for every item they resell -- in other words if they turn around and resell 1,000 copies of your product, you don't get any of that money -- plus you don't get any new subscribers to your email list either.

Which brings us back to your goal. If you have a strong goal to build your email list, selling master resale rights may not be 100% in line with that goal, for the reasons described above. However, if your goal is to build a reputation for yourself, selling MRR may be a very good idea. When you sell master resale rights, it makes it more attractive for successful Internet Marketers (the ones with really big email lists!) to promote your product. Why? For the same reason described in the previously paragraph. They have big mailing lists and they know they can sell a lot of your product. They also know that if they buy the master resale rights, they can also make more money by reselling the MRR themselves on the back-end. Bottom line: since they know they can make more money reselling your product (via MRR) than via your affiliate program, it becomes more attractive to promote your product. And don't underestimate the value of building your reputation (even if you earn $0 and get zero emails). In Internet Marketing, reputation and trust are very important, especially when you are just starting out.

In summary, selling master resale rights to your products can earn you more, or less, money. And it may result is less opt-ins to your email list, but at the same time it will make your product more attractive for others to promote. For the reasons discussed above, I think it is a good idea to think long and hard about your goals before deciding whether or not to sell master resale rights.

Oh, by the way, have you claimed your free list building eBook yet?

April 18, 2007

Buying Master Resale Rights

This is the first of two entries on "Master Resale Rights". This article will focus on the perspective of the buyer. What should be considered when contemplating buying master resale rights? Is it a good idea?

You may have seen information products (eBooks, reports, videos, etc.) that off an option to buy master resale rights (MRR) for the product. The general defintiion of master resale rights is that they enable you to resell the product and resell the master resale rights to others. In practice, however, "master resale rights" can mean different things, so it makes good sense to delve into the details, if provided. Some "rights" questions to consider:

  • Can you resell the product directly?
  • Can you re-brand the product?
  • Can you modify the contents of the product?
  • Do the MRR include the salesletter, images, and other marketing materials?
  • Can you give away the product for free?
  • Can you resell the MRR as well as the product itself?

In most cases, master resale rights include the sales materials, and enable you to resell or giveaway the product, and resell the MRR -- but do not allow re-branding or modifying the product itself.

Is it a good idea to buy Master Resale Rights?

The answer to this question is: maybe. It depends on a number of factors. You first need to decide what your goal will be in promoting the product. In most cases, you will have the option to promote the product via an affiliate program, by sending people to the vendor's web site. So one consideration, or goal, may be to earn the most money. Another common goal is to use the MRR to help build your own mailing list (either by selling it or giving it away).

If your goal is to maximize your earnings, you need weigh the expected sales revenue against the cost of the master resale rights. For example, suppose the MRR will cost you $47 and you will earn $7 on each sale of the product. That means you would need to sell at least 7 copies of the product in order to recoup your cost. If you don't think you can sell that many, then you are probably better promoting the product via the affiliate program (which you can usually join for no cost). Another consideration, is the potential for "one-time-offer" or back-end sales. In many cases, you would offer each buyer an offer in which they can buy the MRR themselves. Not everyone will take this offer, but some will. This can dramatically increase your earns potential. For example if 7 people buy product for $7, and two of them buy the MRR as well for $47, you have now earned $143, which is three times as much as you would have earned using the affiliate program (assuming it pays 100% commissions of $7 each). So you need to think about how many people you think will take the offer and buy the master resale rights from you. It depends on the product and prices involved, but if you think you can sell a substantial number, doing so via the MRR might earn you a lot more money. And you can build your own email list in the process, and you can earn future sales and commissions from mailing to your list.

Another thing to consider is your time and effort. If the buy the master resale rights, you have to do some work to setup a site to sell the product and MRR. Even if you can use the vendor's salesletter, you still need to integrate into your own payment methods, insert your mailing list subscription form, etc. This takes time and effort. Make sure that you can make enough sales to make the effort worth your while.

If your primary goal is list building, then buying the master resale rights is the way to go. There are two options here. You can sell the product and have buyers opt-in to your mailing list in the process, OR, you can give the product away for free if they subscribe to your list. The latter will have a higher conversion rate, as more people will go for a free offer. As such, you will build your list faster, but you won't earn any money from direct sales of the product. I chose this last option a few days ago. I bought the Master Resale Rights for List Blueprint, an eBook about list building, and I give it away for free to people who confirm their subscription to my new mailing list. Get your free copy of List Blueprint here.

In summary, buying Master Resale Rights (MRR) can be a good idea if you think you can sell a significant number of products and if you have the time and knowledge to setup a site and integrate payment methods to do so. On the other hand, if you think you can only sell a few items, then sign up for the affiliate program, it is fast an easy to get started, and usually free.

April 16, 2007

My Gift to You: Free List Building eBook

I have been doing Internet Marketing full-time for several years. Starting with SEO consulting and building from there, I now provide Internet Marketing consulting services and my own web site generate 10,000,000 page view per month.

While I have a lot of experience with SEO, PPC, conversion optimization, blogging, and more -- I have never put the effort into creating and building an email subscription list. Until now. I recently bought an eBook on the subject of email listing building and I was very impressed with the techniques revealed in the book. I am on a mission to start implementing those techniques in order to start building my own list. The mailing list is called "Internet Money", and it will cover a broad range of topics that can help you make money on the Internet. I have learned a lot in recent years, and now it is time for me to share some of that knowledge with you.

The eBook is called List Blueprint, and I was so impressed by it that I bought the rights so I can give away a copy of it to those who subscribe to Internet Money. All you have to do is subscribe and confirm your email address, and as my gift to you, you will be able to download List Blueprint absolutely free.

Click here to get your Free List Building eBook.

Or, if you prefer to pay for the eBook, you can purchase List Blueprint by clicking here.

March 9, 2007

Double Your PPC Profits in as little as 7 minutes

I have just released my first information product, a 30-page report called "Double Your PPC Profits":

I have been managing Pay-Per-Click campaigns for almost 4 years. I manage campaigns for my own web sites, and professionally for my clients. I have learned a lot in the process. I have tried and tested everything under the sun, and measured the results. I am constantly tweaking, constantly improving things. After hundreds of hours of experience and testing, I have core set of 7 powerful techniques that have a HUGE impact on profits.

For more information about the Double Your PPC Profits report, click here.

October 18, 2005

SEO Web Site Templates

There are many sites on the Internet that sell web site templates. Web templates can be a cost-effective way to start a web site if you are not a web designer. Many of the web templates out there are not very well optimized for search engine optimization, however. Hiring an SEO consultant to optimize a web template would cost much more that the web template itself.

It is for these reasons that I have started a site dedicated to providing SEO Web Site Templates. I have only posted 3 templates so far, but more will follow soon. The templates, which are very similar to each other, have been specified and designed with the primary objective of being optimized for SEO. Based current SEO best practices, the layout and HTML structure are optimal for search engine rankings. Of course, you still have to fill them with good content and build links to your site -- but with a solid SEO-optimized web site template, you can be off to a great start. For more information, click here

By the way, if you like the idea but you don't find a template that meets your needs, let me know. I am open to suggestions as to general and specific "themes" for future templates.

October 7, 2005

eBook on Blogging and SEO

I have started writing an eBook about blogging and SEO. "Start a Blog, Quit Your Job" is still in BETA, and I will be posted small sections of it as I complete them. In the first part of the book, I share my story about how starting a blog set me on a path towards starting a successful web business, eventually quitting my job. It is just one example of what can be accomplished when the power of SEO and blogs are combined. The second part of the book will be a step by step guide for applying the techniques and strategies that I have used, that anyone can follow to boost web traffic and rankings, and parlay that into a money-making business.

While in BETA, the eBook will be freely available in web format. Please help me out and tell me what you think. Any feedback (including pointing out typos and errors) is greatly appreciated. The BETA, work-in-progress, version of the book can be found at: Start a Blog, Quit Your Job.

April 13, 2005

CN Tower Climb

On April 23rd, I am going to climb up to the top of the CN Tower....using the stairs! The CN Tower is tallest free-standing structure in world, and it has 1,776 steps.

The CN Tower Climb is in support of the World WildLife Fund (WWF). Please click here to sponsor me and support this good cause.

January 10, 2005

Unique Tsunami Relief Project

I recently donated some services to a unique Tsunami Relief Project. The project, spearheaded by Larry Benet, provides a unique approach that gives back to those who make donations. Dozens of business leaders, authors, and celebrities have each agreed to donate one hour of their time to the project. When people donate to the Tsunami Relief Project, they get access to teleseminars, 'webinars', and other vaulable expetise and content, that is only available to donors. Ken Blanchard, Mark Victor Hansen, and Jay Abraham are among those who have donated an hour of their time in support of the Tsunami Relief Project. For more information, please the project's web site by clicking here.

I think this great way bring people together to contribute a worthy cost in a way that provides some extra value to donors, as a way of saying thank you for their donations.

Spread the word! If you have blog or web site, please take 5 minutes to post a short message about the Tsunami Relief Project. Together we can all make a major difference in the lives of many affected by this disaster.

August 24, 2004

Stan versus the 900 Pound Gorilla

For the past several years, I have maintained a Seinfeld web site under the alias "Stan The Caddy". It does well on the search engines - in fact, the past few days it has been #1 on Google for 'seinfeld', but usually the official site beats me out. For the search term seinfeld dvd, however I have been number one for at least a year - until today. Finally, 2 weeks ago, the first of the Seinfeld DVDs were made available for pre-order. So a lot of people (including myself) linked to the order pages on Today, the pages outrank mine.

As often is the case, large commercial ecommerce sites outrank the little guy. But Stan has worked hard for that #1 ranking, and he is going to stand up to the 900 pound gorilla that is And he intends on winning.

If you want to help Stan in this quest, please link to with the link text 'Seinfeld DVD'. Thanks in advance for your help. ;)

August 19, 2004

NicheBot - Keyword Research and rank Checking

I recently came across a very useful tool for SEO. Primarily, NicheBot ( is a keyword identification tool that uses the WordTracker system on the back end. It's very simple: you enter a search phrase and it will display some information about the volume of searches for that phrase and for a number of other phrases. If you search for a two word phrase, NicheBot will also display 3 and 4 word phrases that contain those words. And by clicking on each of those phrases, you can drill down even further. This can be a great (and quick) way to research keywords for both pay-per-click and SEO.

NicheBot also has a Google rank checker tool that is just as quick and easy to use. Just enter a list of keyword phrases, enter the domain you want to check, choose the number of search results to check, and you are done. And you can even bookmark the results for future checking.

Finally, the NicheBot toolbar makes it easy to do both of the above from any web page, and includes the ability to highlight a phrase on any web page, then right-click to use NicheBot to do some immediate keyword research on that phrase.

I use other tools for large scale keyword research and rank checking, I have been using NicheBot the past few weeks for doing quick rank checking and premilinary keyword research, and it works great.

June 3, 2004

Broadening your Keyword Base

This is one of my favorite strategies for search engine optimization. For most web sites, there is a lot of untapped potential because they have too few pages, which can only target a few keywords.

Each month, people use over 40,000 different search keyphrases to find the pages on my web sites. My top keyword in this long list represents only 5% of the search engine traffic. Logically, it makes sense that I should spend 95% of my time trying to rank well for other related keywords. Some people will only focus on the "holy grail" top keywords for their industry. While this is important to do, you may find that you can generate more traffic by targeting a large number of less competitive keywords. For many sites, this alone can result in doubling or tripling the search engine traffic.

April 11, 2004

Content Targeted Amazon Ads

I recently came across a tool that displays Amazon product links that are targeted at the content of the page - much the same way that Google AdSense targets ads.

The tool, which is offered by Alexa, works by adding some javacript to your page like this:

<script src="

Here it is in action (as I write this I am not sure what books will be recommended):

I have started a test with these ads on several of my sites. I wonder how good the targeting will be. Compared to AdSense, the range of products that can be displayed is much narrower, especially since you have to specify only one amazon store (books, dvds, electronics, etc.). By the way, that's number one feature request for Amazon associate links: ads boxes that span more than one store. This would be especially useful for Amazon Web Services (AWS) - enabling you to display a book, a dvd, and a dvd player in the same ad box. I am interested in feedback on how good the targeting is -- please reply in the discussion for this entry with your comments.

You can pass the following arguments with the script:

store - books, dvd, electronics, etc.
url - the URL of the page to target
tag - your Amazon associates id
ad_geometry - a code associated with the size and dimensions of the ad box

There is also an XML output option, which returns a series of keywords and a single key phrase based on the target URL. The idea is that you can then use the key phrase to display links using AWS. The XML method take the following form:

The tag n_terms enables you to limit the maximum number of terms that are returned. This actually affects the target phrase as well, so it would be interesting to test the optimal number of terms to achieve the best targeting.

To see what books would be recommended on your site, use the form below:

Ad Geometry:


April 2, 2004

Moving and Shaking

Thank to Jason from Career MetaSearch for pointing out that is #9 on the Alexa Movers and Shakers list. The "Weekly Traffic Rank" of 8,430 means that I am currently in the top 10,000 on the web.

Update (4/7/04): The Movers & Shakers list is now showing the next week, so my site isn't listed anymore at the above link. Here are some screenshots from the previous list:
Click for larger image Click for larger image

April 1, 2004

Over One Million Page Views

In the month of March, my web sites collectively exceeded one million page views for the first time. Actually, there were 1,301,222 page views, so I am well on my way to two million!

I am not posting this in order to toot my own horn. Rather, I do it to share the results of my strategies for web presence management and search engine optimization (SEO). These strategies, which combine blogging tools with quality content and solid SEO, create a virtuous cycle of traffic growth. I can help you implement similar strategies to help you boost traffic and rankings for your site. For a free assessment of your web site, click here.

March 10, 2004

Technorati Tracks Over 100 Million Links

Congratulations to Technorati for bypassing the 100,000,000 link mark. Wow!

The technorati team is growing too, including the addition of Joi Ito. More interesting things are sure to come from the Link Reputation service.

February 25, 2004

MTDynamic - My first MT Plugin

Yesterday I posted my first Movable Type plugin, MTDynamic, on my new site, MT Hacks.

The plugin enables dynamic rendering of Movable Type blogs by using parameters in the URL. This can be used to display an entire MT site (pr just selected pages) dynamically, which opens up some interesting applications. One is the filtering of content by blog author, catgeory, and other criteria.

For more information about MTDynamic, click here.

January 27, 2004

NY Times mentions one of my blogs

In my first mention in the printed press, the New York Times (very briefly) mentioned my Mars Rover Blog today. The article can be found here.

In addition to blog design and customization, I can provide advice and strategies for promoting blogs and web sites, to ensure that a large number of people find your site.

January 19, 2004

SEO Competition

Just for the challenge, I have entered an SEO competition. There are virtually no rules. The goal is to rank high for search query "SERPs" for a newly created page. The page hasn't been indexed by Google yet, but in a few days, you can check on my progress by searching for SERPs.

January 2, 2004

Limit MT Comments to 1 Week

David Sifry presents a simple method for limiting comments for only one week after the entry was posted. There are both advantages and disadvantages of implementing this - but it does simplify comment management significantly and it may be suitable for some blogs.

December 31, 2003

Reputation Systems and Social Networks

I have just posted over at Web Dawn about peer-to-peer reputation systems. The idea is to use social network-based trust to store reputation information in a P2P network. Click here to read more.

December 23, 2003

Movable Type 3.0 (not Pro)

In recent announcements, Six Apart has announcement that the next version of MT will be Movable Type 3.0, which is a free upgrade to the current versions. Movable Type Pro, a paid version, will follow 3.0 and will focus on features for business and organizations. MT 3.0 will include new features such as:

  • Comment registration. As a response to both comment spam and to the increased usage of Movable Type on large community sites, we'll be adding the option to restrict comments to registered users.

  • Improved comment and TrackBack management features.

  • New API hooks for plugin developers. Plugins will now be able to hook into many more pieces of Movable Type, including adding callbacks for saving and removing objects, building application methods with integration into the UI, and hooking into the publishing process. This opens up possibilities for plugins to add even more advanced functionality than they're able to do now.

  • User interface rebuilt using CSS. We've seen with TypePad that a CSS-based interface gives users very fast application response times, and gives us a flexible interface for making application-wide changes, and we want to give this same speed and flexibility to Movable Type users.

  • Support for the Atom API. We've already added Atom syndication feed support in version 2.65 of Movable Type, and we'll be adding publishing support for the API in 3.0.

The announcement also alludes to some other features to be announced later. I am particularily interested in the comment management features being added. A beta is expected in the first quarter of 2004.

December 17, 2003

Blogging Tools

Christopher Locke discusses a handful of "must-have" blogging tools in Cheap Thrills for the Beer-Budget Blogger. The tools are not blogging applications or services themselves - rather, they are utilities that Bloggers may find useful for blog design. Some of the tools seem quite interesting. I plan to try them out soon.

December 14, 2003

SEO after the Google Florida Update

In mid-November Google deployed the first major update in months, now known as the 'Florida' update. Previous updates have introduced changes to Google's scoring algorithm and adjusted spam filters - filters designed to catch sites using hidden-text, link farms, and other tricks to fool search engines. The Florida update was unique in that it introduced a filter that was not targeted at spam sites at all. It appears that the filter was targeted at over-optimized sites: sites that have been ranking very well due tried-and-true SEO techniques. The filter seemed to target mostly commercial search queries - but perhaps this is just a coincidence, because commercial web pages are among the most likely to be heavily optimized. While it remains unclear exactly what the threshold might be to get caught by this filter, the existence of this filter has been confirm solidly. Google Watch founder Daniel Brandt discovered some bugs that exposed the impact of the filters. These bugs have now been fixed, but the filter remains in place. While the filter does downgrade many less relevant sites, it also has taken many small businesses and other relevant sites with it. Pages that used to rank in the top 10 may no longer be in the top 100. Many webmasters have reported dramatic drops in traffic and sales - in the middle of the critical holiday shopping season. Here's what others are saying about the Florida Update.

For search engine optimizers (SEOs), the question is: how do we optimize pages to rank well after the Florida Update? Many webmasters have discussed the obvious choice: attempt to de-optimize pages until they no longer trigger the filter. Perhaps this is what Google wants, believing that this might level the playing field for non-optimized yet relevant web pages. If many webmasters take this approach, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

My rankings and Google traffic have been largely unaffected by the Florida filter, for a number of reasons. First, none of my sites are in areas that are highly competitive commercial topics. Second, my SEO strategy is to target many search queries, not just a few top phrases. In November, my top 20 search queries represented less 20% of my search engine referrals. During the month, over 13,000 different queries were used to find my pages. This strategy provides insurance against events like the Florida filter and it is also a quicker, less expensive approach to generating search engine traffic.

My post-Florida recommendation is combination of the above two approachs. If you have been hit hard by the filter, start stepping down your optimization - but do it in baby steps, waiting to see if the change affect the search results. At the same time, starting adding pages to your site, targetting sub-topics, thus increasing your referral base. I know that's not a miracle cure for those who have been hit hard, but it is a proven strategy that works well for me.

Coming soon: Books as Blogs