Affiliate Plugins For WordPress

The majority of sites that I operate work off of the WordPress blogging script.  I have been unable to find a comparable website backend that stream lines my affiliate marketing.  Everything is made easier in Word Press due to it’s huge inventory of plugins, which allow for simple tasks like adding Amazon products to posts or full on automated scraping of articles and products.

Below are the Word Press affiliate plugins I can’t live without. (Affiliate links are used, thanks for your support.)

phpBay Pro ($79.00) – My online life has changed since finding this handy little affiliate plugin.  Basically the WP plugin adds items from eBay onto your blog and can be customized to fit your sites style.  Items can be inserted in a shop type manner or as a few items listed at the bottom of a post.  This plugin has great support directly from it’s creator Wade and is under constant improvement and updates to follow the changes within eBay.  phpBay Pro works with the eBay Partner Network and with Pepper Jam Network.

See phpBay Pro in actionUsed Hybrid Cars

Amazon Auto Poster ($29.99) – I’ve only started using this WP plugin about a month back and it’s already paid for itself.  As you can tell by it’s name, this plugin scrapes product listings at Amazon.com and then creats blogposts automatically.  The items are scraped per your keyword choices, starting point, and category.  The posts generated can then be scheduled up to 9 days out or published immediately.

See Amazon Auto Poster in actionFlip MinoHD Camcorder

Article Auto Poster Premium ($29.99) – Again, I just started using this plugin about a month ago and it’s already provided me with additional traffic, sales, and profits.  Just like the plugin name says, it scrapes ArticlesBase.com for the keyword you choose and generates blog posts off the articles found.  Each keyword creates it’s own job to publish a post based off of that keyword as often as you want.  This is a great method of generating long tail keyword search traffic and keep your blog updated when you cannot be bothered with writing content.

See Article Auto Poster Premium in action10 People To Surround Your Band With

AD Rotator (FREE) – This free Word Press plugin makes ad management on your blog a no brainer.  You create a catalog of advertisements, which are then grouped by php code that you place within posts or on your theme files.  This will automatically rotate the ads you placed within the group.  Weights can be adjusted and there is no limit to the amount of ads that you use.  Great way to keep ads fresh on your site through multiple page views and try different affiliate products.

Closing Statement

I use a lot of different plugins with my Word Press blogs, but these are the ones that I can’t live without and provide me the most commissions.  No, the majority of them are not free, but very quickly they can be paid for with just a little traffic.  Pair these WP plugins with a browser plugin like Affiliate Espionage and you’ll see your weekly earnings rise.  It still takes hard work, but thanks to plugins our work as marketers can be streamlined.

Like any digital product your mileage may vary.  However, the items listed here I use on a daily basis and can vouche for their usefullness.  For more affiliate news and information please read my affiliate blog on Blogspot, where on my latest post I describe what makes a BAD landing page.

Update 7/2/09 – The Amazon Auto Poster and Article Auto Poster are now known as WP Robot.  I’m still on the fence on my opinion of the new wordpress affiliate tool.  First reactions is that there is only an option to schedule and not ‘Publish Now’, which makes it difficult to edit these posts before going live.  We’ll see.

List Of Current Projects

I’m guilty of having too many irons in the fire and this summer is no exception.  Although having this problem doesn’t allow for any single project to be exceptionalin quality, it does allow some testing to see which sites will potentially be money makers.  That’s why I continue to partially develop and build at a slow pace on many projects and then once they start earning money adjust my focus.

Tunerhybrids.com – Automotive forum dedicated to hybrid enthusiasts looking to modify their cars.

Why I Think It Will Work

Every type of car has an enthusiast that ones to customize and push the limits of the vehicle.  I thoroughly believe that they hybrid market is no exception and because of this I’m lookign to cash in early.  This forum will hopefully serve as a place for hybrid enthusiasts to meet up, discuss, and learn new ways to customize their hybrid cars.

suGuesstion.com – Humor site with failblog type pictures of search suggestions from popular search engines.

Why I Think It Will Work

Why do any humor sites make it, especially those like FailBlog.org and Icanhazcheeseburger?  It’s a specific niche that can easily be updated daily, it will be a stop on the internet, not a destination.  With proper integration of social bookmarking scripts this can be another meme phenomenon.(maybe that’s asking a bit much)

EvansvilleBlog.com – Local blog that focuses on what I’m doing in my home town.

Why I Think It Will Work

Currently there is very limited competition amongst the Evansville Indiana market for an online presence.  This seemed like a great opportunity, considering this is a city of more than 300,000.  Time will tell if I can keep it updated frequently enough to start drawing regular visitors and local advertising dollars.

Buy-HD.com – Testing blog for automated affiliate scripts focused on any product that claims high definition.

Why I Think It Will Work

So far so good, considering the majority of the content is scraped from article websites.  Furthermore it focuses on an affiliate program that requires a lot of volume to really make some money, Amazon.com.  I’m hoping that generated content mixed with my own articles will help bring in some of the residual search engine traffic, since I’m not too concerned with Google at the moment.

Dead Man Blogging – My actual affiliate ‘guru’ blog, with tips on marketing online.

Why I Think It Will Work

I’m not an expert on everything online, but what I do learn I like to share with others.  If nothing else this blogspot blog is a launching point for me to work on my writing skills.  So far traffic has been increasing on a weekly basis, we will see where it takes me.

WordPress Incoming Links

The Google Blog Search powered Incoming Links widget on the dashboard of my WordPress blog is no longer functioning.  This has been going on for a few days now and I know I have links, although it shows none.  I’ve verified incoming links because I’m getting ping backs and interlinking amongst my own blogs as well.

Perhaps this function is broken because of a change in Google Blog Search or in the latest update of Word Press.  I can’t remember if this just started happening around the time of upgrading to WP 2.8 or not.  Either way, it was a nice feature to have, especially when said blogs weren’t pinging and were just mentioning your posts in passing.

No Links
No Links

Bing Sending Traffic

Thank you Microsoft for finally launching Bing!  Taking it a step further, please continue to promote Bing and make it a real Google competitor.  Today traffic from Bing has made a substantial impact on my web stats.

Also, following the search terms used I’m seeing that the visitors are highly relevant.  In most cases it appears to be mimicking Google SERPS, but for now has me closer to the top of the results.  Although I know this is early in on it’s launch, but it already feels better not having to worry about all my eggs being in Google’s basket.

I think it’s time I start looking into advertising on Bing, at least while the attention is high.  And, I’ll kick back and hold my breath that the traffic will hold and increase as time goes by.  Google needs some competition.

Thank You Wired Tree

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Well, after a few months of up and down, network problems, and poor customer service at ManageMyBox, I’ve finally settled in with my new host.  WiredTree.com has provided me exceptional customer service, follow up with my questions, setup my VPS, and all for a very reasonable price.  I’m using their VPS512 package for $59 per month, along with a nifty little coupon I found on the web, so it’s more like $40 per month.

This package has handled my handful of popular websites (1000k+ unique visitors per day) and all my slow sites (under 300 unique visitors per day).  There hasn’t been a slow down, hiccup, networking issue, nothing.  This is a huge load off of my mind, considering I was at my wits end with ManageMyBox where I was using a fully dedicated server.

Just goes to show you can save money by purchasing a good managed VPS over a crappy managed dedicated.  I’m looking forward to being a customer of WirdTree for years to come and hopefully will eventually need their highest tier web hosting option.  Until then, thanks, my blood pressure has finally dropped down to respectible levels.

Upgrade SMF 1.1.8 to 1.1.9

SimpleMachinesForum script has released an update to 1.1.8 which addresses some security and bug issues.  Furthermore if you are one of those living on the bleeding edge, there is also an update to the latest Release Client 2.0 RC1-1.

The upgrade process from 1.1.8 to 1.1.9 was easier than expected and was a breeze compared to other forum software that I’ve used.  Literally 2 clicks later the update was applied without any issues.  To make sure you are using the latest version of the SMF forum software log into your admin panel and follow the prompts.

Like any other website script available, always stay up to date.  There are plenty of nasty script kiddies that love to wreak havoc on online communities, no matter how popular they are.

Free Google Analytics Alternative

Google Analytics Alternative
Google Analytics Alternative

A few weeks ago I talked about the issues I had with giving away all of my traffic data to Google, by using their free traffic stat software Analytics.  Since then I have tried about 3 different stat tracking software and sites.  So far I’ve tried using Piwik, W3Coutner, and now HiStats.  I think I may have found the best Google Analytics alternative in HiStats, if only for a few negatives, but let me explain why the others didn’t work out first.

Piwik

Piwik was great, provided minimal stats, but the ones necessary to properly develop and form a website.  I got keywords, graphs, time on site, and visitor data.  Of the information provided with Piwik, my complaint lied with no IP tracking, clumsy reports, and no direct links from keywords to the search engine results page.

The absolute nail in the coffin reason why Piwik is not a good alternative to Google Analytics is that you have to host the tracking software yourself.  This means that if you have high traffic websites that you are tracking then it has the potential to bog down your system.  There is no question in my mind that Piwik was hurting the response time and up time of my dedicated server.

W3Counter

I tried out the free version of W3Counter and really thought I had found the stat program I would stick with.  The free version only allows the tracking of one site, but provides ample time to test out before upgrading to paid version which allows tracking for up to 10 sites.  The tracking was spot on and it allows for real time reporting, so you don’t have to wait 24 hours for information like you do with Google Analytics.

Unlike Piwik, W3Counter is hosted on it’s own servers, so it’s not taxing on your system.  Unfortunately the servers W3Counter is hosted on is not sufficient to handle the load.  Regularly I was faced with timing out errors or worse, sealing the deal with W3Counter being marked off my list of potential Analytic tracking alternatives.  Hopefully in the future the creator of W3Counter will create more efficient code or break down and buy top notch servers.

HiStats

I think I have decided to start using HiStats.com as my Google Analytics alternative.  It provides all the information I need, complete with keyword, day reports, real time stats, and even exporting for record keeping.  Furthermore, HiStats.com is a free service, but laced with a ton of annoying ads.  I’m not against someone earning a buck for their hard work, so I can look past the ads.

Also, the free version allows for unlimited site tracking, as far as I can tell.  It seems that HiStats is also accurate with it’s visitor tracking, keyword lists, and can even provide future traffic potential.  I’ve been using it for a few days and have never ran into downtime like I did with W3Counter and unlike Piwik the code is hosted on their servers.

I’d recommend anyone looking to have an alternative to Google Analytics to try out Histats.com.  If you are worried about putting ugly counters on your site, don’t, they offer plenty of tasteful buttons and promise no hidden link code.  For now, that’s where I’ll be tracking, until a less Ad laden paid service shows up.

AdBlock Plus Collateral Damage

By now everyone has heard of AdBlock Plus, a small tool that effectively disables advertisements from loading within a web browser.  Slowly but surely this FireFox addon has managed to garner over 5% of the FireFox user base and growing.  While this may seem like a small percentage, it’s important to know who is being affected most.

In the past few months I have tracked a loss in total affiliate and Adsense revenue.  There are a number of reasons for this and obviously Adblock Plus is not the primary reason, but it still hurts.  I work very hard to create every website I own and therefore should be compensated for people using them.  When I’m fighting spammers, cookie thieves, bots, etc, why should I have to worry about legit visitors cheating me?

Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way and Wladimir Palant has addressed the issue on the Adblock Plus blog.  Essentially, for the first time that I’ve noticed, Adblock Plus is suggesting an easy method for plugin users to opt-in to displaying ads on a website.  However, what he is proposing takes into consideration only a small portion of websites with repeat traffic, which relatively speaking is a small portion of the internet and affiliate websphere.

Adblock Plus will then check the browsing history to see whether the user frequents this site (this could be specified for example as “visited the site on three days of the last week”) and then display a notification like the following (unless a notification for this site was already shown recently):

Adblock Plus Filter

The majority of visitors to my websites are one time visitors, probably less than 5% return.  This is in regards to my affiliate sites and not my personal blog. 😉  It’s not because I have a bad website, a spammy website, it’s because the user finds what they want and complete a sale.  Or, the visitor searches on a specific question and then finds their answer.  So, what Adblock Plus is proposing will not benefit me in the slightest and only caters to the largest of affiliate and news sites.

This post is just a child of a frustration with the direction the internet is taking.  It’s an entitlement complex by users and a handful of programmers that think they should control whats being shown and published on the web.  The issue is growing, becoming it’s own beast, and slowly starting to resemble Net Neutrality issues.  After all, if Adblock Plus can effectively and accurately block ads, sure it’s on the radar of those that want to block other content.  Filter or not, Adblock Plus has no place on the internet in it’s current form.

Paranoid Of Google Analytics

Recently I’ve been doing more thinking about a statistics program for my websites.  Of course, money is always a concern so I’ve been looking at free alternatives, namely Google Analytics.   Now, I used Google Analytics for over a year, was happy, but always a little bit paranoid.

Why would I give total and utter information of my website over to the company sending me traffic and providing me a monthly pay check?  I mean, Google provides the search traffic, will have access to my statistics through Analytics, and then will be writing me a check for my Adsense earnings every month.  It just doesn’t make sense and always made me feel uneasy.  Especially once I started hearing more and more about Google adjusting SERPs based on bounce rates.

Now, more information has surfaced that indicates that Google in fact does not take bounce rate into consideration, but I trust Matt Cutt’s as far as I can throw him.  Why take the chance of giving over valuable statistical data on your visitors to Google when there are other options available?  Thus my search for a quality statistics program began.

First, Piwik Stats was great!  However, it bogged down my server, seemed buggy, and needed updated far too many times in the short span I was using it.  I needed to take my web statistics program out of house.  What I found was that statistics programs are not generally free, like Google Analytics, and to get the good stuff plan on dropping around $10 per month.

Right now I’m testing out the free version of W3Counter, which limits you to a single domain tracking and less than 10,000 visitors per day.  The single domain is a problem, but I’m nowhere close to the visitor limit.  So far I like the reports, layout, and general live tracking that W3Counter boasts.  However, my only complaint right now is that their website is slow to respond on occasion.

I’ll be trying out some new web statistics programs here over the next few weeks.  I also plan on using free and paid tracking software so I can finally settle down with a program I can use for years to come.  I’ll report back with my findings as I go, so look for a W3Counter review in the next few days.

Not WHM Trojans

After doing a scan for trojans on my dedicated server, through the security option on the WHM panel, I received several results.  I contacted the management team at ManageMyBox to make sure that these were not trojans and were in fact false positives.  Below are the supposed trojans found on my dedicated server:

Possible Trojan – /etc/cron.daily/logrotate
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/cpan
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/instmodsh
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/prove
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/psed
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/pstruct
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/s2p
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/splain
Possible Trojan – /usr/bin/xsubpp
Possible Trojan – /usr/sbin/pureauth
Possible Trojan – /usr/sbin/antirelayd

This is the response I received back from the nice people at MMB.

Well you can ignore those, Those are not really trojans as they are system binary and perl files which are getting frequently modified by cpanel and other applications, so while doing a scan cpanel considers the most frequently modified system files as trojans. So there is nothing wrong with your server – Let me know if you still have any questions.

So, one idea down, on to more research to help make my server run a little bit more efficiently.  I think I have some scripts and MySql issues that are starting to clog my pipes, so anything I can do to make it more efficient I’m gonna try.  But for now, if you run into these being listed as trojans on your server, rest assured they are merely false positives.