Monthly Archives: May 2013

IMAutomator Pro version now closed to new members

… and never to be opened again!

Now that we have finalised the details of our new membership system, it is time for us to implement it. We feel that it would not be fair to accept new Pro members during this time when the system they pay for is about to change radically.

For existing Pro members, we have been giving submission credits free for many months now so once the new system goes live, you should have plenty of credits to play with. All current members – both Light and Free will be automatically transferred to the new system but I’ll post the details on that nearer the time.

Whats coming up next?

We have several things that we need to do during the transition:

  • Implement the new Job Resubmission code which will replace the Secondary Submissions tool
  • Add more and better sites to each of the tools, and get rid of any PR0 sites
  • Get rid of daily submission limits
  • Get rid of restrictions for Light members
  • Get rid of all references to the old Light and Pro memberships
  • Prepare the new membership plans
  • Implement the system to allow credit packages to be bought
  • Convert all sites over to the new credit system

It’s actually a pretty big change and I’m sure we are going to hit some bugs along the way so apologies in advance for the disruption! We will be posting details of everything we’re doing here on this blog and also on our Facebook page.

We are aiming for a launch date of July 1st but we’ll know nearer the time if we will actually be able to hit it or not!

Submission Credit Giveaway – Free credits for ALL members (including free ones!)

We’re running a simple promotion to get more exposure for our Facebook page that we’ve been making a lot more use of recently. First of all like the page if you have not done so already:

https://www.facebook.com/IMAutomator

Then, click the following post, like it, and post your username in the comments. EVERY person who does this will get 25 credits and in addition we’ll pick 5 people at random to win 175 additional credits!

https://www.facebook.com/IMAutomator/posts/634210556608239

Note… you DO NOT need a paid subscription to IMAutomator for this one! With the launch of our new membership system we’re bringing back the free account which will allow submissions on a pay-as-you-go basis so you can claim your free credits on your free account and use them at your leisure. If you do not already have an IMAutomator account you can create a free one here!

This promotion will close Monday 27th May at 12 noon GMT.

 

Penguin 2.0 is on the way – Are you ready?

Around a year ago Google started rolling out the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates which penalized a lot of sites for violating their guidelines. One of the categories targeted were ‘poor quality bookmark sites’. It was interesting to see how this affected the sites in the system and those on our lists that are not yet added.

Those with high PR that had been around for years were largely unaffected though there were a few surprises with an occasional PR4+ suddenly becoming unranked. We saw this more amongst article and directory sites. However, what we did see was a lot of sites that were already low PR – just 1 or 2, dropping to 0.

As time went on, another big change was that the sites that survived became tougher on spam. CAPTCHA’s popped up everywhere, some sites also added in moderation and overall the quality of the content improved – which of course is exactly what Google was aiming for.

Now, Penguin 2.0 is right around the corner. What can we expect from Google? How might this affect IMAutomator and what can you do to protect your own sites?

What can we expect from Google?

There are specific techniques / areas that Google are targeting with this update:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Cloaking
  • Paid links
  • Bad link neighbourhoods
  • High link velocity
  • Over-optimized anchor text
  • Non-relevant links
  • Duplicate content

There is one area that really stands out for us – the one of ‘bad neighbourhoods’. Google considers sites that have a lot of the signals in the above list such as keyword stuffing, over-optimized anchor text, duplicate content etc to be spammy sites. When a whole bunch of those sites are connected together then the whole cluster is labelled as a bad neighbourhood. Sites that link into these sites are then devalued and in some cases penalized.

Bookmark, article and directory sites are often built from templates – a content management system (CMS) that allows the site owner to get a new website up and running very quickly. This creates a low barrier to entry and allows webmasters to very quickly create a whole bunch of sites. They slap on a bunch of adsense or other ads, and let the cash roll in. At least, that is the idea. For us, sites built on templates are very easy and quick to add to our system because we’ve already coded against all the major templates.

The problem here is that many of the people building such websites are not taking any care over it – they do not monitor accounts or submissions. There are other social bookmark submission products that will for example create hundreds of accounts at a single site and spam your link to every one of those accounts. That’s hundreds of duplicate copies of the same link, probably with identical anchor text, on the same site – nothing short of spam. So, these sites get flagged by Google and when a whole bunch of them have been created by the same entity then you’ll often see the whole lot get their PR removed in one foul swoop.

What IMAutomator is doing about it

Over the past few months we have really been working hard to get those big sites in. The sites built from scratch, with real live human moderators, with spam detection, with high PR, lots of traffic and who have been around for years. Look at our supported sites list now and you’ll see the likes of Delicious (PR8), Diigo, Bibsonomy, Mister Wong – all PR7, Foldk (PR6), 5 sites with PR5, 4 with PR4… you get the idea! And let’s not forget one site that we hold dear to our heart – Tagza, a PR5 site that has been in our system since day 1!

We’ll be doing the same thing with our other tools, particularly article sites. These can really be hit very hard from the duplicate content penalty. Directory sites seem to fare better as many have been around for so many years and almost all are human edited and quite high PR. In fact, with directory sites we don’t even bother adding anything below a PR3 these days.

Now we will still add template sites here and there because it is important to diversify your link profile, but of course if they get hit by Penguin then they will be removed. But for those ones we’ll be looking more closely at the existing submissions and if they are full of spam then we’ll avoid that site.

What you need to do about it

There are several steps you can take to ensure that your content doesn’t get hit with the penguin hammer.

Get your on-page SEO right

First of all, make sure you have checked your content and removed anything that is going to get flagged. Don’t stuff keywords, don’t cloak your content, and don’t buy or sell links! If you have ads and affiliate links on your site, make sure you no-follow them. You should do this across your whole site regardless of whether you intend to submit that content to IMAutomator or anywhere else.

Use Spintax

One of the dangers of using a service like ours is that it is very easily to blast out a whole bunch of duplicate content very quickly. Every one of our submission tools includes support for spintax – use it! Yes we know it’s more effort but the whole point of getting links is to improve your SEO and if they all get devalued for being duplicate content then you don’t get the SEO benefit anyway!

In the coming months we plan to develop a free text spinning tool which will be integrated directly with our submission tools but in the meantime you can try this free text spinner and then just copy in the spun text to our system.

Vary your anchor text

In the case of bookmarks, directories & RSS sites, the title field becomes the anchor text. With articles, you directly embed links into your resource box. Now for Directory and RSS submission you should only be submitting your home page or feed so for these tools use the company, product, brand name etc. Don’t use keywords here unless it fits in as a tag line.

For bookmarks, this is where you need to be the most careful. I see a lot of people abusing bookmarks and using them to blast out links where the title is not a good human-readable title of an informative post, but instead is just a keyword such as “credit card deals”. Anchor text like this works well when linking to that content when in the context of something else like I did with the “free text spinner” link above but with social bookmarks you are not creating a contextual link – it is an article title.

By all means put your keywords inside the title but make it meaningful – make it something that a real live human being might want to click on and read. Then use the spintax to create lots of variation.

With articles you have more flexibility and you have 2 links per article to play with. Make one of them point to your home page using your brand name and use the other for keywords. Now these are contextual links so you can use your keywords – but vary them! Again, use the spintax tool to create lots of different variations.

Drip-feed your links

Link velocity is the speed at which new links come into a page / domain. Google looks at both of these. Now in some cases you really do want the links fast such as a breaking piece of news. In that case it’s normal that loads of people would be writing about it and linking but if you’re not writing about breaking news, then you want to keep your links coming in at a moderate pace. How many is too many? That I can’t answer as it also depends on the size and age of your site.

Am established big site with thousands of pages of content is expected to have far more incoming links than a brand new one-page sales site. We have the technology built right into our software to keep these links coming in at a slow, steady pace. At the bottom of the submission form you have a speed setting and the default for every job is 1 link per day. You might want to pick an even slower setting if you are submitting many pages from the same domain in a short space of time.

Choose your categories wisely

Google likes relevancy and in the case of submission sites like the ones we use, relevancy is determined by the category that is used for the content. When we add new sites to the system we run it through our category matching algorithm which will match the closest one of our internal categories to each one of their categories. But you have to do your part too and make sure you pick the most appropriate category in your submission.

There’s always the miscellaneous category if you get stuck but due to it’s nature it will receive content which will be on all manner of topics and so the relevancy of any particular item is diluted so it’s in your best interests to try and find something more specific.

Conclusion

We’ll do our part, you need to do your part, and hopefully webmasters of submission sites will do their part too and it will be a win-win-win-win all around for you, for Google, for us and for our supported sites.

 

Transitioning To Our New Membership System – Closing For At Least 1 Month

We are on the verge of launching our new membership system but as it works quite differently to our current one, and we use a mixture of both systems, we are in a transition phase. In this post I shall recap exactly the difference between the two systems, how the new membership will work, what the new membership options are and how we plan to transition from one to the other. We will also be closing to new memberships during this time for at least 1 month.

Our Current System

What we started with was a system based around daily submission limits. Your membership fee purchased the ability to post a number of jobs per day for each of the submission tools and each of those jobs would be submitted to all of the sites in the system for that tool. Light members were restricted to the Bookmark tool only and each job was only submitted to 15 of the available sites.

This system has many shortcomings. It encourages people to ‘use up’ their daily limits which resulted in a lot of poor quality content being posted which is not good for the sites we support. It was also not very fair to the members because in one month we may have had 50 bookmark sites and in another month only 30, but the membership fee was the same so the value offered varied from month to month which is not good. Also, if a submission failed there was no recompense for the member.

Lastly, due to the volume of submissions posted under this system we were unable to utilise sites that had a CAPTCHA or a paid fee because the cost was simply too great to be absorbed into our membership fees.

The New System

We are doing away with daily limits, removing all restrictions on the tools and making all submissions credit-based. Under the new membership options your monthly fee will purchase a credit package that you can use to submit any job to any of the sites of your choosing. You could submit to just 1 site, all of them, or anything in between. You can choose to spend more credits on a PR7 site or make your credits go further by submitting to only PR1 sites. Also, any member under any plan (they range from free to $500 a month) can use any of the tools. Current Light members will no longer be restricted to just the social bookmark submitter.

This system eliminates the problems with the previous one. Firstly, because you pay in credits for every site you submit to, it naturally encourages you to submit good content which means that poor quality filler content should no longer be posted. This results in only good quality content for our supported sites.

Secondly, you only ever pay for what you choose to submit to and you only ever pay for a successful submission so it is fair. Our sites list will always vary as we cannot control when sites come and go but under this new system your membership plan always offers 100% value for money month after month. And you can even use our free option which has absolutely no commitment and allows you to purchase credits only when you need them.

Lastly, by putting a cost on each individual credit, we are able to absorb the cost of CAPTCHA solving services and in some cases also pay membership fees to paid sites. This allows us to greatly expand the range of sites we can support.

The Membership Options

We will have a total of 7 different membership plans. The idea is that the higher the monthly fee, the cheaper the credits will be so you can look at how much you post on a monthly basis, determine what sites you might want to submit to, calculate how many credits to spend on each job and then based on that pick the membership plan that is right for you.

The number of sites listed for each tool will of course change dynamically – it is the costs of the credits and the monthly plans that we detail in this screenshot. Also note that we don’t have the free article spinning tool ready yet – that will come later. We were just experimenting with the price table when the screenshot was taken.

Performing the Transition

It would be unfair for a visitor of IMAutomator to come to the site one day, sign up under the old system and then a couple of days later it changes into something completely different – that would be misleading. Therefore we are actually going to completely close memberships to all new members for at least one month which means that any new members who join before the closure can get their full month of service that they have paid for.

This closure will occur next Monday 27th May at 12 noon. Click here to find out when that is in your timezone.

We will re-open on the new system no earlier than 1st July. We’ll be aiming for 1st July but if the new system is not ready (it’s a big change and a lot of work to ensure a smooth transition) then we shall keep you informed and let you know when it will be.

Existing members will of course be able to continue using their existing memberships. It is only going to be closed to NEW signups during this period.

If you have any questions about the new system please feel free to drop us a line on our Facebook page or via email.

New Site Design Is Live!

I’m sure you will have already noticed that the IMAutomator website has a brand new look! What started as an effort to remove the sidebar to give us more space to display job information turned into a total site overhaul! We’d had the original design since the site was first created back in 2009 so it’s about time it had an update!

I hope you like the new look! If you have any issues refresh the page in your browser and it should load properly. I’d love to hear your feedback – feel free to drop a comment on our Facebook page.

Sneak preview of the new membership options!

I’ve been working on the new site design this week and part of that work is getting ready for the launch of the new membership options. Below is a screenshot showing the design from part of the purchase page that shows the table of available options.

There are a couple of things to note:

1) The different levels of membership get better in value as you go up as the price you pay for the credits goes down. For example, the $25 option puts the price of 100 credits at $4.00 but the $50 option slashes that in half which means going from level 2 to 3 actually quadruples the credits you get. Level 3 also happens to be the level at which all existing Pro members will be migrated to at launch. Light members will be migrated to level 1.

2) There will be a free option. Sadly we’re unable to offer a free trial that actually offers free submissions as it is too open to abuse but this option allows you to just have the account and buy credits as and when you want to without any monthly commitment. This is basically the ‘pay as you go’ option and it will work by allowing you to buy packs of credits whenever you need them. The cost of the credits will vary depending on the size of the pack. Members on a monthly package can also purchase additional packs if they want an extra boost without moving up a level.

The values may still be adjusted between now and the re-launch but this gives a pretty good idea of where we are going. Also note that the numbers for the sites are not accurate on this screenshot – they only show a portion of the sites but when we re-launch, all existing sites will be included so there will be over 50 bookmark sites for example.

 

Retroactive refund of failed submissions now complete

We reported yesterday that a bug had been found with the mechanism that refunds credits spent on failed submissions. The bug was fixed but there was still the issue of past jobs that had been submitted and not correctly refunded. We’ve now run the script to allocate the refunds and this has been done as a batch. If you run the credits report from the member page you’ll see one entry for each job type such as Bookmarks, Articles etc.

You’ll probably actually have MORE credits than were spent due to two reasons. Firstly, we did not have a mechanism to mark the trial submissions as trials so even though they would not have been charged, if they failed they would have been refunded. Secondly, the script has checked all jobs entered since the credit system was started but many of the current credit sites were not originally credits sites so they would not have had a charge when you made your job submission. For example, Tagza was only made into a credit site a few days ago but every job that had Tagza in it which failed (which would have been quite a few as it was not working for a while) would have been credited by this script. So you can consider that a nice freebie and that will teach us to be more careful in future! 🙂

Now, what to do with all these new credits? Well, the reason they have been allocated is because the original submissions failed. At the moment there is no way of rescheduling the failed submissions from a previous job which is functionality that is sorely missing. However, this is what we are currently working on!

We are developing the new job resubmission code which will allow you to not only submit your existing jobs to any new sites that have been added since the previous submission, but it will also allow you to retry the failed submissions. In the case of a site like Tagza which is a PR5 and was not working for a couple of weeks because they had changed their template, it would be a shame to miss out on that link juice.

However, there’s one other thing we’re working on before we delve deeply into this new functionality and that is a whole new look for the site! We needed more room to display the new information in the job lists so started looking at some tweaks to the layout and decided that the site was looking dated and needed a sleek new look so decided to just start over and bring it up to date! Hopefully this can be finished by the end of this week and once done we can really start to integrate the new job resubmission code. So save some of your credits for that, especially if you have lots of existing jobs that are still active that you’d like more backlinks for!

Problem found with refunding credits on failed submissions

We have discovered a problem today where some failed submissions were not properly refunding the credits spent. On the job details screen it correctly shows the credit cost as 0 but did not actually apply the refund to the credit balance. The issue has already been fixed but we now need to retroactively apply the missing refunds to affected jobs / members.

At this stage we’re not sure how many jobs are affected but we’re going to check all credit submissions made since the system was introduced on 8th Feb so we’re currently developing a script to do that. I’ll post again when the retroactive refunds have been applied.

I can only apologise for the bug – it’s a nasty one, but at least it’s been found and fixed whilst we’re still giving these credits away free!

New upcoming site design for IMAutomator

The next big feature that is being worked on is the new job resubmission code. I will go into more details about that in another post but to summarise – it will allow you to manage your jobs list more intuitively, and pick any of your existing jobs to be resubmitted to any sites that have not already been chosen, or that failed on an earlier submission. This will be replacing our somewhat clunky secondary submissions tool.

The jobs list will become more important to the interface and will require some more information to be displayed on it but using our current site template there is not very much physical screen space. The first idea was to get rid of the sidebar and instead use only horizontal navigation with a button bar going across the top underneath the current header.

I’m not a CSS coder so this is the kind of thing that gets outsourced or purchased. I had a look around online and found a fantastic website that sells snippets of code which can be plugged into existing sites. I found a great navigation bar but continued to look around and then started looking at full site templates which is what I had used when IMAutomator was first started in 2009.

As I looked through some of these themes I was quite blown away and looking at them alongside the current IMAutomator site made me realise just how dated it’s looking now. So I made the decision that rather than just tweaking pieces of the interface here and there that I would start over from scratch with a brand new design. As the site is going to be re-launched which a whole new membership system soon it seems fitting to update the design at the same time.

However, as there is a significant amount of development work to do for the new job resubmission system, it makes sense to do that within the new design as some of the coding is interface based and if it was done now within the current design then a whole bunch of code would have to be re-written a second time when the template was changed so instead, I’m going to start with the new site design and then build in the new job resubmission feature.

I’ll post some screenshots as I go along to get some feedback 🙂

Stay connected with us in your favorite flavor!