Monthly Archives: January 2012

IMAutomator Free to be replaced with $2.99 Light Version

Some time in the next few weeks we will be discontinuing the free service and replacing it with ‘IMAutomator Light’ which will carry a small monthly fee of $2.99. Let me explain why we are making this change…

Despite the fact that IMAutomator is still only on it’s second release, the growth over the last couple of years has been huge – far greater than ever anticipated. At the time of writing we have made close to 28 million submissions of behalf on a huge number of members. The vast majority of submissions (in excess of 80%) come from free members.

We pride ourself on the free service – it is the ‘pre-seller’ for our Pro service and I personally have told people many times that there will always be a free service. However, I have to go back on my word and change the business model in order to protect the business as a whole.

Severe Abuse of the Free Service

The trouble with offering something completely free is that is leaves it open to abuse. Now I am sure that the vast majority of individual members do not abuse our service in any way. However this morning I found a single user with 24 different accounts and these are just the ones I happened to stumble upon – I did not specifcally go hunting for them.

I have always known that people could create multiple accounts and use that to totally bypass our limits of 10 links per day to 15 sites. I simply relied on the fact that most people would be honest and hopefully there would only be a small number of abusers and perhaps naievely I also assumed that it would be fairly minor abuse – I envisioned people perhaps creating a couple of accounts, but 24? That hit home just how large the problem could be.

There are two ways that I could deal with this – I could spend vast amounts of time & energy trying to crack down on the abusers but ultimately this will be futile – people will always find a way to create multiple accounts. Even if I could prevent it this way, this use of time does nothing to propell me forward towards the next release. I would rather spend my time building new tools, adding new sites and making the software better for everybody.

The second way, and the approach I am going to take is to quite simply replace the free version with a paid version that carries a small fee of $2.99 per month. I have chosen this price point to be affordable enough to all those who genuinely use IMAutomator to promote their sites but high enough to deter those who chose to make multiple accounts.

The Damage Caused by Such Abuse

Perhaps I should take a moment to explain exactly why this abuse is such a problem. It does two things – increases the overall number of submissions by an unknown factor and secondly, it causes duplication. The 24 accounts that I found were all promoting the same websites – the exact same URL’s in fact.

Many people ask why we do not allow the same URL’s to be submitted multiple times – it is because this is not how bookmarking sites work. They store a database of links and each one is a single backlink to the URL in question but if more than one user attempts to submit the same link, each additional one simply counts as a vote for the first one and does NOT create an additional backlink.

However the real meat of the problem is that if we submit 24 copies of the same URL to the same site in a short space of time it rings alarm bells at the site in question and it can cause our accounts to get banned – this is in fact exactly what this abuser of IMAutomator has done. He abused it to such an extent that I noticed the unusual activity and then of course blocked all his accounts. Now there’s nothing to stop him creating another 24 accounts tomorrow and indeed, for IMAutomator we would create new accounts if necessary but the real issue is that if an account gets banned it takes all the backlinks with it!

Integrity of Our System is of Paramount Importance

This is the reason we have such a strict policy on spam – it is not because we personally have an issue with sites about casinos or drugs etc but because submitting such content can get our accounts banned and that brings down those links for ALL submissions ever made for that account – it affects every member in the system!

IMAutomator is designed as a service to build backlinks – if those backlinks do not survive over the long term they are useless. We will do everything in our power to protect the integrity of the system so that it remains a valuable backlink building tool which will bring our members thousands of backlinks over time.

Now somebody creating an extra account of two to enable him to submit a few more links each day is no big deal. It uses up a bit more of our engine resources but there’s no real harm done and as we have not charged until now, it’s really not something I have been overly concerned with. But when that abuse reaches the point where it is damaging to the other members then I will step in and take action.

I know this has been a very long post but I wanted to explain exactly why I am charging – it is not for money. If I wanted to make more money I would simply allow more people to purchase the Pro membership! Now I shall explain exactly what is going to happen over the next few weeks.

Implentation of the Light Version

We are going to roll this out in three phases:

Phase 1: Preparation

Everything on the website is geared towards the concept of a free and a paid version – every article, every email in our sequences, even every video. All this will need to be changed though the videos will be done later as they will be re-done with the next release anyway.

Phase 2: Free version replaced with Light

We will create a new product – ‘ IMAutomator Light’ and make that available as a product that you can upgrade to in the way that you would currently upgrade to the Pro version. New members will no longer be able to create a Free account though existing members with a Free service will continue to have their submissions processed for the time being.  At this point I will email members so they understand what is happening and will allow a grace period – probably around one month to give the existing Free members time to upgrade.

Also during this grace period we will disable the fast submission options. Those who would like to continue to use the service would be advised to upgrade as soon as it becomes available to ensure that their links will continue to be process after the discontinuation of the free service.

Phase 3: Discontinuation of the free servive

Once we have given people a decent amount of time to make the upgrade (we will of course keep you informed via this blog, our Facebook page and email) we will make the switch. What will happen here is that submissions made using free accounts will no longer be processed. If we continue to process them we would simply be opening ourselves up to even more abuse – I imagine those that abuse the system would just create even more accounts to try and submit as much as possible while they still can. By stopping all free submissions from being made, this would make such activity pointless.

Pro Members Not Affected

Note that Pro members will not be affected by this switch in any way. The fast submit options will still be avaiable – everything will continue to work as normal for Pro members.

Not All Social Bookmarking Services Are The Same

There are several different kinds of social bookmarking services and in this post I’ll look at the differences between them and how best to decide which is the right kind for your needs. First of all, we’ll briefly look at what a social bookmarking service actually is.

What Are Social Bookmarking Services?

To back-up just a little bit, what is social bookmarking? This is the process of posting your content to various social bookmarking sites (lots of them) in order to benefit from the backlinks they provide. Each bookmark at each site is a new backlink to your content. By submitting your best content to a range of bookmark sites on an on-going basis you build up a steady flow of fresh backlinks to your site.

Social bookmarking services all help you in some way – some do all of the work for you, others do part of it for you, some allow you to do it yourself in a quicker way but the general benefit is that they all drastically cut down on the time spent on this link building activity. So let’s have a look at some of the different kinds of services available.

Fully Automated Cloud Services

IMAutomator falls into this category – it is cloud based software that fully automates the social bookmark submission and requires zero up-front time investment. This is simply the fastest way to get the work done and also gives you a lot of control. Because it is software based, it has additional features built in that you would not find in a manual service such as drip-feeding those submissions over time and support for spintax.

Also, because IMAutomator is fully managed software, the sites that you can submit to are always up to date and new sites are added all the time. You only ever pay for a successful submission and you can control exactly what sites to submit each piece of content to. The pricing is extremely flexible – you can create a free account and simply purchase a credit pack as and when you need to submit some bookmarks or you can sign up to one of monthly membership plans which provide much better value.

Manual Submission Services

A manual service is a company or individual that does the submission work for you. They will manually go and visit each of the sites and submit your link in exactly the same way you would do it yourself. This is basically outsourcing of work but because it is done by a human just like you, it has the disadvantage of not being able to use features that come with software such as the spintax support and spreading out links over time.

However the biggest disadvantage here is the cost. A human being doing the work needs to be paid a wage and can never be as fast as software. Usually you will pay anywhere in the region of $0.10 to $0.50 for each individual submission! Compare that to IMAutomator that charges just 1 credit for a PR1 site submission and those credits can be purchased for as low as $0.01 each!

Downloadable Software

Bookmarking Demon is probably the most popular downloadable social bookmarking submitter software and in some ways it works similarly to a cloud service like IMAutomator but it is software that you run yourself on your own computer. It can create accounts for you automatically at the bookmark sites. With IMAutomator you don’t even need to worry about accounts as they are all managed by IMAutomator internally.

Another key difference with Bookmarking Demon is that it allows you to add lists of sites to submit to – it includes a scraper tool which allows you to add literally hundreds or even thousands of sites to the software and it will submit to them all – but they might not all work. This is quite different to IMAutomator that has a set pool of sites that it submits to and it monitors those sites daily to ensure they are all working.

There is another not really talked about advantage to downloadable software such as Bookmarking Demon compared to any kind of managed or manual submission – nobody gets to monitor your submissions and decide what you can or can’t post. IMAutomator has a strict anti-apam policy and does not allow any adult content for example and I doubt the manual services would submit that kind of content either. But with software that runs on your computer you can submit whatever you like! Whether the accounts and backlinks remain and don’t get blocked is another matter however!



What Can A Social Bookmarking Service Do For You?

A social bookmarking service can really take the time, pain and tedium out of incorporating social bookmarking into your link building & SEO strategy.

Why do social bookmarking at all?

There are two ways of approaching social bookmarking in terms of your content promotion strategy. The first is to really hit the social angle and try to craft content that is specifically designed to perform well on specific social sites such as Digg in the hopes of getting on the front pagein order to drive swathes of traffic.  A good example of a site that uses this strategy with excellent results every time is BuzzFeed – they are simply phenomenal at producing content that is an instant hit on social media.

Chances are you are not BuzzFeed… especially if you are promoting your business website about a topic that may be less ‘interesting’. That is when you want to employ the second strategy.

Social bookmarking for backlinks

There are now literally hundreds, if not thousands of social bookmark sites that you can submit to and each one of those submissions provides a backlink to your page. Couple that with the fact that you can submit every piece of content and you have a strategy to bring in a constant stream of backlinks assuming you create content on a regular basis.

The trouble is that in order to submit a social bookmark you need to create an account at the site before you can submit. Whilst this only takes a minute or two, you have to do this for every site that you use and then of course you have to visit each of those sites and do the actual submission. This may only take a minute but again, multiply that by perhaps 60 sites and there goes an hour of your day! And that’s not taking into account typing in annoying captchas, hunting through long lists of categories and so on.

A social bookmarking service such as IMAutomator can eliminate all that annoyance and tedium and allow you to make your submission in just a few seconds and create a submission schedule that will bring in those backlinks for days, weeks or months to come.

That is another advantage to an automated service in particular – controlling the timing of the submissions. Google does not like to see huge numbers of backlinks created very quickly as it looks suspicious, unnatural and they may decide to simply discount some of the links. Most submission software and manual submission services will perform all of your submissions at once but IMAutomator will drip feed your backlinks slowly over time.

Captcha Solving, IP Rotation, Failure Management, Spintax Rotation etc

IMAutomator has a whole host of other features that make your life so much easier. It solves all those annoying captchas automatically – this can really save time as some of them are very hard to read! It rotates the IP addresses of the submissions made to make the link profile look a little more varied. It also will retry a submission that fails several times so if a site goes down for an hour or so it will come back and try again. If you were submitting manually that would be very inconvenient.

Another major feature of IMAutomator is that it fully supports spintax on every field of your bookmark. This means you can have unique versions of your titles, descriptions, tags etc for every site if you want to. Try doing that if you were doing the submissions manually!

So, what can a social bookmarking service do for you? Well no matter what kind of service you use it can primarily save you a LOT of time, but if you use IMAutomator it can also automate many tedious tasks, and manage your submissions at a level that simply could not feasibly be done manually.

Internal Site Issue Resolved

The problem with the internal network of sites has now been resolved and they are all working again now and now that we know what caused the problem, we’ve taken steps to ensure it does not occur again.

Internal Site Network Issue

We have another problem with the small network of sites that we own. The sites are working but the submissions are not. Server support is working on the issue now. Apologies for the inconvenience.

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