Monthly Archives: July 2013

Always Use Real URL’s In Your Social Bookmarking Submissions

The URL that you pick for your social bookmarking submissions is the URL to which Google will give credit when it finds the backlink – make sure you use a real one!

What counts as a real URL?

It might be better to answer this question by demonstrating what is NOT a real URL:

  • A URL that redirects such as from a URL shortening service
  • A dynamic URL with parameters that change
  • Most types of affiliate links

Shortened URL’s

I was looking through some of the recent jobs that members had submitted and noticed that some had a URL shortener as the Bookmark URL which is what prompted this post. These services such as bitly and TinyUrl are great for when you’re posting a big long URL into something small such as a tweet but they are no good for bookmarking because it’s the URL shortening service that gets the backlink and not your site!

Dynamic URL’s

Another thing I see sometimes is dynamic URL’s for example, those used on a travel site that offers deals. Very often these deals are very short lived and the URL to the deal is constructed dynamically from data in their database. But once the deal has expired or no longer available, neither is the URL. If you’ve used one of these for your bookmark then by the time it gets posted that URL is going to result in a 404 not found error and not give you a backlink!

Instead, always make sure you are linking to a static page that will not change.

Affiliate Links

When you’re doing affiliate marketing you obviously want to promote your affiliate campaign as much as possible to get exposure for it and hopefully get more sales. However, using social bookmarking submissions as a way of promoting affiliate links is not a good idea in most cases. Lets take Clickbank as an example as that’s one of the most popular. Here’s an example of a Clickbank affiliate link: cmiddlebro.freeartspn.hop.clickbank.net. The domain that gets the backlink is clickbank.net.

The problem is that using social bookmarking for link building is not going to send direct traffic to those affiliate links – it’s going to provide backlinks. But those backlinks are going to the affiliate system and not to your website!

Instead, setup a page on your site to promote your affiliate link and then bookmark that page. That way you get to promote your affiliate program and build backlinks to your site.

Making your social bookmarking submissions count

One thing to remember about social bookmarking is that you can only ever submit one URL to one site one time. Any attempt at submitting an existing URL to a site will just count as a vote for the existing story. This means that you submission matters! I see quite a few lazy submissions on IMAutomator. Take the time to do it right:

  • Use a real URL that counts as a backlink
  • Ensure your title contains your keyword
  • Use spintax to vary those keywords
  • Create an enticing description
  • Don’t forget to use several tags

 

Submission Times Are Now Much More Random

When you submit a job a submission schedule is created for you according to the speed you select which defaults to 1 link per day. But if you look at the job details after it is submitted to examine the schedule you’ll notice that the individual submissions are not performed at the same time each day – the exact time is randomized in order to avoid creating an obvious linking pattern.

We have tweaked this today to make it much more random – around 3 times more random than it was before. So let’s say you submit a job to 30 sites and use the default speed of 1 link per day, all of those submissions will still complete within the 30 days (possibly 31 if the final one is highly randomized) but within that 30 day bracket the individual submissions will be much more random.

You will not see a steady 1 link each and every day. There may be stretches where there is 1 a day but some days may be missed and on others there might be 2 or possibly even 3. This is more apparent with the slower speeds. If you submit a job on the fastest speed of 25 links per day there is obviously not much randomization that can be done there.

This change will affect all new jobs submitted from this moment on, and previously jobs will not be affected.

You may now delete jobs in bulk with just a few clicks!

Upon request from members, we have now implemented bulk job deletion functionality. From your jobs list screen you’ll now see a little checkbox to the left of each job. You can click on these individually or can use the selection buttons at the bottom of the list to select all the jobs or to clear all selections.

There’s a button to ‘Delete Selected Jobs’ – click that and you’ll be shown a confirmation screen. This will confirm the number of jobs to be deleted and also the total number of submissions that are available on those jobs. From this screen simply click yes or no to either confirm the deletion or to cancel it and return to the jobs screen.

You can of course use this functionality in conjunction with the new job search functionality that we released earlier this week. So for example if you have jobs for a website that you no longer maintain you can search for the domain name in the URL and then select all those jobs and delete them.

You can only delete one screen full of jobs at a time – so a maximum of 20. We don’t want to allow members to accidentally wipe out their entire job history!

 

5 Strategies for Maximizing SEO With Your Social Bookmark Service

When using a social bookmark service such as IMAutomator it’s an easy trap to fall into to think that you don’t have to do any groundwork and the traffic will just flood in – this is NOT the case! In this post I outline several strategies you can employ to ensure that you’re getting the best SEO benefit from your submissions.

1) Do your on-page SEO first

The idea behind using a social bookmark service for SEO is not to gain direct traffic – that’s only going to happen if you’re lucky enough to get on the front page of a big site like Digg and that’s really not very likely! No, what you are after here is the backlinks – lots of them. But backlinks blindly thrown at a page that is not optimized are just wasted. Google wants to know what your page is about and then those backlinks help emphasize the authority of that page for the keyword terms that are being targeted on the page.

This is such basic advice but so many people forget about it. First make sure you target something! Pick a keyword phrase for your page and then make sure you include it in the title, the description, on the page itself, the URL if possible and you can also sprinkle it elsewhere such as in ALT tags if appropriate and so on.

2) Submit REAL and good quality content

This one follows on from number #1. The early versions of IMAutomator we were a bit too lenient with what we allowed and we had a free service which got horribly abused. People would create multiple free accounts to try and get tone of free submissions and they would submit absolutely anything they could – profile pages, about pages, category pages, even multiple copies of the same page with slightly modified parameters.

Doing this will actually hurt you, not help you. First of all if you abuse the social bookmark service that you’re using then it’s not going to last. We discontinued that particular free membership a long time ago. Secondly, your bookmarks are going to be rejected from any site that has a manual review policy which includes all of the bigger, higher PageRank sites. If they deem your submissions to be spam they will not only block the link but block the whole account taking all of the links ever posted with it.

Lastly, even if your links get posted and stay there in the case of sites that just auto-allow submissions without checking them, what do you think Google is going to make of them? If Google sees a whole bunch of irrelevant, untargeted links it is simply going to discount them.

3) Pay attention to the  TITLE of your bookmark

When posting a social bookmark the title is used as the anchor text of the backlink in 95% of cases and the anchor text is one of the factors that Google uses to determine the relevancy of the target page to particular keywords. However do be careful here – remember that you are submitting a bookmark to a social networking site which means that real people see that bookmark. You should aim to include your keyword but work it into the context of a readable and valuable sentence.

Be careful here if you have a product site with many product pages where the title is simply the name of a product – this does not make a good bookmark! Maybe you could pad out the product page to include a good writeup and some reviews and then the title of the bookmark could be “xyz product writeup and reviews” which is more meaningful and more likely to be accepted.

4) Use Spintax to mix up your keywords

IMAutomator includes spintax support on every submission tool and you can apply it to any field including the title field for a bookmark. By creative use of Spintax you can vary your titles and thus vary your anchor text. Now I just said that you want to go to the effort to target a keyword phrase and include it in your title so why would you now want to change it?

Quite simply because Google has changed the rules of the game. In the 2012 Penguin & Panda updates one of the significant changes to the algorithm is that they now favor a mixture of different anchor texts and if you blast all of your bookmarks using exactly the same anchor text it will raise a red flag and some or even all of those links could be discounted.

5) Make sure a social bookmark service is not your ONLY link building strategy

This is perhaps the most important strategy on the list. Obviously I’m biased and am hoping that you’re going to sign up to IMAutomator but if that was the only thing you did as part of your link building efforts it would hurt you!

To expand on strategy 4 – Google now want to see variety in anchor text but that is not just variety in keywords. They also want to see backlinks to your main domain as well as content pages and it want to see a good percentage of those to use the brand name as the anchor text such as IMAutomator, and they also want to see some plain URL’s as anchor text such as http://www.imautomator.com because this is how other people link to you. It would be nice if people used a relevant keyword such as saying what a great social bookmark service that IMAutomator is but in reality, very few natural links would be in that form.

And expanding on this whole concept even further – you need to vary everything about your backlinks. Social bookmarking is just one possible strategy and there are many others – blog & forum comments, article submissions, links from other people in your industry, running a competition, listing your link on directories on on resources pages if that is appropriate and so on. The wider variety of links you can obtain, the better they will all perform.

 

The Ability To Search Your Job Lists Has Now Been Added

Today we have implemented a long awaited feature – the ability to search your job lists, rather than only being able to page through them. On the main job list screen for each type you now have a search area next to the submit button. It’s pretty basic – you just select the field you want to search on from the drop down, type in your query and click the search button.

Once the results have been returned it works like the regular jobs list – you can click the ID of a job to view it’s details, re-submit it and so on, you can sort the list by clicking on the column headers, and if your search returned more than 20 results, you can also page through them as before. At any time you can clear the search to view all your jobs of that type by clicking the clear button.

When you click away to another page on the site and come back to the jobs list the search query will also be cleared and show all jobs as before.

8 Years of Link Building Trends – What’s Hot & What’s Dead

We’ve used the Google Insights tool to look at trends in the various submission strategies that people have been using to build backlinks over the last 8 years. What are the new up-and-coming link building methods? What is now dying, what is standing the test of time? We also comment on how IMAutomator views these trends and indicate where we’re headed over the next year or so in our submission tool development.

The insights tool looks at the searches that people have made for a particular search term over the last 8 years or so and plots it on a graph so you can clearly see the trend over time. This is a great way to gauge how interest in a particular strategy has changed over time and get an idea of what will happen over the next few years.

First of all we had a look at the four tools currently offered by IMAutomator:

Social Bookmarking Submission

Our social bookmark submitter has always been our most popular tool – partly because we started with just that one single tool so initially IMAutomator was known just as a social bookmark submitter tool. A few years ago sites like Digg became insanely popular but that has changed significantly now and one thing that we have certainly noticed over the years is that the major players in social bookmarks has shifted a lot.

insights-social-bookmarking-submission

 

The trend is steadily climbing upwards which is actually surprising to us based on the behaviour we have seen over the last year or two. Some big sites with high PR & Traffic have disappeared, many smaller sites lost their page rank and then were taken down. There are not as many social bookmarking sites around now as there used to be, but the ones that remain are higher quality.

Article Submission

The Panda update in particular had a negative effect on many article directories as they were penalized for having duplicate content. Google began to filter out duplicate articles that appears in search results, only showing a handful, and also lowered the PR of many article directories sites.

insights-article-submission

 

As we see here, article submission has been a strong strategy for many years but it has started to fade recently. Writing low quality articles or just buying PLR content for submission is not really reliable. To be effective with article marketing now you really need to take the time to write high quality articles and to reduce the effect of the duplication issue by careful use of spintax.

Both of these things take time and effort and so our personal prediction is that article submission will continue to trend downwards and the article sites will also reduce in number with only high quality hand-reviewed directories remaining over time.

Directory Submission

Direcory submission is a somewhat unique case as you can only submit your home page to a web directory so it’s a one-off activity. Webmasters typically do a round of directory submissions after building a new site just to help get it indexed in the search engines. Lets look at the chart:

insights-directory-submission

 

The trend is still steadily climbing upwards though I believe that the focus has changed a little. Years ago you could often buy web hosting that came with a free web directory submission service that would submit your newly hosted site to hundreds of directories and claim that it would bring in floods of traffic.

These days I don’t think we are so naive as to think that we’ll get a ton of traffic from directory submissions but one thing to note is that web directories are some of the longest standing sites on the internet. We have some directory sites in the IMAutomator system that have been around for almost 10 years! Getting a handful of backlinks for your new sites from some of these high PR directories is a good way to kickstart it and looking at this graph, people are going to be doing this for a while to come.

Search Engine Submission

We don’t offer a search engine submission service as such, but as the submission process is the same for search engines as it is for directories – you only submit the home page of the site, we do include a few search engines in our directory list. Again, years ago there were services offering submission to hundreds or even thousands of search engines. But these days there’s really only a few that matter!

insights-search-engine-submission

 

This graph says it all! Search engine submission is certainly one of those trends that is dying. We will not be spending any time on this for IMAutomator!

So now we’ve looked at the tools that IMAutomator currently offers but there are lots of other strategies that people use. We’ve had ideas for other tools that we could develop – here are the graphs for a few of those ideas:

Video Submission

Video itself is certainly massively on the rise – YouTube is now one of the largest sources of searches on the Internet! Smart phones that allow you to record video and upload it to YouTube at the click of a button are ubiquitous. However that is just video in general but are people using video for marketing? Are they creating video to then submit to video sharing sites other than YouTube? Lets have a look:

insights-video-submission

 

The trend is pretty much flat. Shooting a video of your friend goofing off is easy – creating video content to market your business is hard. Whilst I do think that video content is important and for many businesses it can be a useful part of a marketing strategy, I’m not convinced that enough people are using video in this way. We’d like to add a video submission tool to IMAutomator but it’s not high on the priority list.

Document Submission

What’s the difference between article submission and document submission? Article submission means submitting the text of an article you have written to directories that then allow others to take that article and replicate it on their own sites. Document submission is submitting an actual document file such as a Word Document, PDF file etc to specialised directories but your documents are made available for viewing but not for copying.

It’s a fairly subtle difference because if you have an article that you have written then you can easily create a document out of it and in your document you can embed backlinks. Let’s have a look at the chart:

insights-document-submission

 

It’s a fairly new idea compared to article submission at least but the trend is slowly rising. This could certainly be one to keep an eye on.

Press Release Submission

Press release submission used to be all the rage but one difficulty with press releases is that they are simply not something you can do on a consistent basis for most companies. However the chart seems to disagree:

insights-press-release-submission

 

There is a slight dip in 2013 but it’s barely noticeable so it seems that people are still using these to get backlinks. However in a recent interview Matt Cutts said that backlinks from press releases would not carry much weight so it’s not a submission tool that we’re likely to build any time soon.

Social Submission

Now things start to get interesting! Even though social bookmarking has the word ‘social’ in it – it’s not really all that social any more for most sites. Many newer sites are little more than a link sharing platform (which is great for link building of course) but there is very little actual social engagement. But Google has been talking more and more about ‘social signals’ – shares of your content on popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.

Google figures that if people are willingly sharing content that somebody else has written (rather than just promoting their own content) that is a strong indicator of quality, trust worthy content and we’d agree with that too! But these days the number of social platforms is increasing and its becoming difficult to manage – especially when you can’t just submit the exact same content to each platform.

It’s getting a little messy and there is a growing need for social tools that facilitate posting and engagement with other users at all these sites. This is an area that we’ve been thinking about a lot lately and the chart confirms this to be an important direction to move into:

insights-social-submission

 

Of course the keyword phrase ‘social submission’ is somewhat generic and vague so we checked a couple of more specific ones and here it gets REALLY interesting…

Facebook Submission

Facebook has simply exploded over the last four years and what was once just a cool place for University students to hang out online has now morphed into an extremely important social platform for just about every business in the world. If your business is not on Facebook you may as well just shut up shop. And as for the idea of a facebook submission tool… demand is also growing massively:

insights-facebook-submission

 

IMAutomator will most definitely be developing some kind of tool for Facebook submission within the next year though we are more likely to develop a more integrated social tool that lets you manage several platform at once rather than having to fiddle about with a whole bunch of individual tools.

Twitter Submission

You can’t really look at Facebook submission without looking at Twitter submission too even though they require quite different strategies for effective marketing. We make very little use of our Twitter account (we should probably rectify that!) and find Facebook to be far more suitable for engaging with our members but this is not the case for all businesses.

insights-twitter-submission

 

Predictably, demand for a twitter submission tool is on the rise and there are already quite a few tools out there.

Conclusion

There are many ways to submit your content for link building and many of the strategies that were in use 4 or 5 years ago are still going strong today even though Google has indicated that some of them may not be as effective for actual SEO benefits. The real takeaway from this study though is the distinct rise of social media platforms. Every business should be on at least one platform if not several and as they become more plentiful and popular there is an ever growing need for social tools to help manage it all. IMAutomator aims to fill that need in the coming year.

The IMAutomator Blog is now a ‘REAL’ blog :-)

If you look over to the right, you’ll see a sidebar with recent posts, a list of archives, a search box and a WordPress meta section. You are now viewing this post on a proper WordPress blog installation. We’ve always had WordPress running in the background but before we actually hid the public installation and used custom code to pull out recent posts and display them on our blog page. But this was a one-way page with no interactivity or other blog functionality.

We did that because our first site design was not available as a WordPress theme and our blog pages would have looked completely different to the rest of the site and we didn’t want that. When we redesigned our site design a few months ago we purchased both a standard HTML template and a matching WordPress theme so we could be sure that we could seamlessly integrate the blog properly into the new design. Much better 🙂

One issue is that the blog is not fully integrated with our membership system so we don’t display the login/logout section in the navigation bar.

You can now look through all of our archives of posts if you wish and of course you can subscribe via an RSS reader (actually you could do that before but it’s a little more obvious now), but most importantly you can COMMENT on our posts! Please do, we like to hear from our members and general visitors 🙂

Tagza & Mister Wong dead?

We monitor all our submissions for failures – sometimes a site has a temporary glitch as has happened a few times with Tagza but this week we have taken both Tagza and Mister Wong off of our live lists and put them on trial 🙁

These are two of our longest standing sites – Tagza has been in the system since the very beginning and both are high PR and high profile sites. We’ll be very sad to see them go but we’re keeping them on trial just in case they do come back.

Tagza is simply not loading at all. Mister Wong is still there but it has stopped acknowledging the paid account and every link simply redirects to a page asking to upgrade to a paid account. We tried creating a brand new account and upgrading it but it did the same thing. We’ve tried contacting them to no avail and are now trying to contact them via Paypal but it’s not looking good.

We’re always on the lookout for new sites to add – are there any high PR bookmark sites that is not in our system that you think should be? Please leave a note in the comments below and we’ll check it out!

You can now re-submit FAILED submissions

We released the job resubmission functionality a few weeks ago and today we have enhanced it to not only allow you to re-submit jobs to any new sites that have been added since previous submissions, but now you can also retry failed submissions.

Won’t it just fail again?

We monitor all of our submissions and if a site starts to report failures we investigate it. If a site stops working we put it on alert and check it daily. If it’s still not working after a week then we delete it. All submissions to that site that are still pending will not be attempted and will fail with a ‘Site is Dead’ message. These sites do not appear in the list of sites that can be chosen for resubmission.

The only sites that appear in this list are either new ones which have not been selected before or those which have failed previously but are still active. There is a good chance that a site that failed previously could work a second time. I’ll explain how the submission process works and the kinds of issues that crop up.

Common submission problems

Due to the large volume of submissions that our system performs we use proxy servers to do the submission – this rotates the IP addresses used but proxies are not as reliable as a direct server connection and these sometimes fail due to a timeout error. This is the most common problem and is reported as a ‘Server error’. Proxies can vary in their performance – sometimes they will perform great and other times they don’t work as well. We regularly change our proxies and use lots of them to circumvent this but failures do still happen.

The other issue is that sometimes the sites we submit to don’t work as well as they could. Again they can be temperamental. For example, Tagza has been playing up lately. This is our oldest site, it’s high PR (5) and generally a great site but over the last few weeks they have had occasional bouts of poor performance causing the submissions to fail. The next day it’s fine again – this is where resubmitting those failed submissions can pay off.

Our retry mechanism

Obviously the issues above are temporary so we have a built in retry mechanism that will retry a submission several times over a 24 hour period. Sites with high PR are retried more often than lower ones as they are obviously more valuable. This gets through most of the glitches but we have to draw a line somewhere otherwise submissions to sites that had permanently stopped working would hang indefinitely. Therefore if a site fails on its last attempt then we record that as a permanent failure and do not retry it again.

You only ever pay for a SUCCESSFUL submission!

Just a reminder – if a submission fails you are refunded the credits spent on that site. You never pay for failed submissions so you don’t pay multiple times by retrying your failed submissions. You’ll only every pay for a successful submission.

24 Hours Left for 50% Extra Credits!

As part of the launch of our new membership plans last Monday, we are giving away a huge 50% extra free credits for the first month on any of the membership plans – this offer expires in 24 hours so now is the time to signup if you’ve not done so already. Click here to see all of the available membership plans.

Get Bonus Credits For Changing Plans

The bonus applies to ANY new subscription signup regardless of what plan you are already on. Whether you are a free customer looking to try out IMAutomator for the first time, you’re on an old Light membership and want to get a few more credits or even a Pro member wanting less – every new signup made in the next 24 hours will gain the 50% extra bonus credits. If you already have an existing paid subscription it will be cancelled for you automatically.

Try Out ALL the Tools For Just $5!

Until last week, only Pro members were able to use the Article, RSS & Directory submitter tools but now ALL of the tools are open to ALL members regardless of the membership plan. Plus we now have new features such as Spintax support on all tools and the ability to reschedule existing jobs to new sites at any time! Level 1 is just $5 a month so if you’re not sure if IMAutomator is right for you, now is the time to try it out and see if you like the tools. Here’s the link again to all the plans.

 

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