Monthly Archives: August 2013

Get Free, One-Way Backlinks from Testimonials

Writing testimonials for a product or service you find useful can sometimes be a unique way to get some high quality, one-way backlinks to your site. Getting automatic backlinks from the tools in IMAutomator are great, but that should not be your only source of backlinks. To have a well-rounded and effective link profile you need to build a wide range of backlinks from as many different sources as possible, and sometimes you have to think a little outside the box.

5 steps to getting one-way backlinks from testimonials

Writing a proper testimonial takes time so before you begin, you want to pick and choose your targets carefully and ensure you find ones that are worth your time. For any product / service you wish to target (I’ll cover brainstorming them later) you first need to evaluate the page on which the testimonials are likely to be placed.

1) Locate the page containing the testimonials.

first look for a dedicated testimonials page which you find for many companies. This is in fact the method that IMAutomator uses to display our testimonials. If there doesn’t appear to be a dedicated page, look on the main sales page and you’ll often find them sprinkled throughout. Lastly try the home page. If you don’t find anywhere that lists a testimonial then move on as you’d have to specifically contact the site owner and ask him to create a space for it which extra effort both for you and for the site owner and is much less likely to result in a link.

2) Check the Page Rank of the target page

Now that you have found the page, check it’s pagerank. I use browser plugins for both Chrome and Firefox that automatically show the PR (and some other data) for every page I visit as I browse – extremely useful. If you look at the IMAutomator testimonial page you’ll notice that it has a PR3! You can choose what your criteria is obviously. In some cases you may find that a site has testimonials on several pages – on a dedicated page, on a sales page and maybe a few select ones on the home page too. Check them all and see which has the highest PR.

3) Check for backlinks associated with testimonials

Next you want to look through the existing testimonials and see whether or not they have a link. Of course not all testimonials have links as many people write them and never even think to include their link but if there are no links at all then it might be that this particular site simply doesn’t want to include them. Personally I think that is an error as a testimonial with an accompanying link shows the reader that it has come from a live site, a real person which makes it instantly more trust worthy.

4) Check for nofollow links

Next, check to see if the outgoing links are followed or not. Again, I use plugins for both Chrome and Firefox to automatically highlight nofollow links as I browse the web so that this doesn’t take any time. You can then see at a glance which links are followed or not. If the links are no-follow then a backlink from your testimonial is not going to provide you with any link juice so you should move on unless you think the site is so popular that a good testimonial could actually provide you with some direct traffic.

5) Count the outbound links

Lastly, take a quick look at how many outgoing links there are on the page. Pagerank is divided up among the outgoing links on a page so if it already has 100+ links on it then you can still get some link juice but its going to be a lot less than a page that only has a handful of links. Our own page is PR3, do-follow and currently has 34 outgoing links which I check regularly. I remove any testimonials from sites that are no longer live.

Crafting a worthwhile testimonial that gets the link

As somebody who both receives testimonials and has written them for other products I have a fairly good idea about what makes a GOOD one. Here are the key points:

  • Make it positive, but realistic. You want to praise the product of course or your testimonial won’t be featured but don’t go overboard as that can sound fake, and don’t be afraid to mention a shortcoming or something that can be improved. That looks like a genuine comment from somebody who has actually used the product, which is exactly what you want!
  • Address the testimonial to others, not to the author / site owner. Many people write to me personally singing the praises of IMAutomator which is lovely, but I can’t really print that on the testimonials page as it doesn’t read well to other people. Write it as if you are telling a group of random people about your experience.
  • Don’t mention pricing / versions or anything else that could go out of date and render your testimonial irrelevant. When we moved from our Light / Pro versions to the new tiered membership I went through all of the existing testimonials and deleted any of them that referred to the Light or Pro versions as they were no longer available. I also removed any that mentioned a specific price point as the pricing had changed across the board. You want your link to stick long-term, so make it timeless.
  • Include your full name, your company or website name and of course your backlink. Sometimes I get a great testimonial from someone who simply addresses himself as ‘Rick’ or something similar. It simply does not look genuine. I do actually include a few of them on our page but not very often. The more information you can provide about yourself to verify that you are a real person, the better.
  • Construct your backlink to be in line with others on the page – if the only backlinks from other testimonials are links to the home pages of sites and only have company / website names as the anchor text then don’t try and submit a keyword-rich backlink to some deep page on your site as it simply won’t get accepted. On the other hand, if other people have used keywords as anchor text then go ahead!
  • Create the full HTML code for the link in most cases. There are exceptions to this. If the site uses a special format for their testimonials then they are going to format yours in the same way so it might be easier to just include the URL. However if they appear to be just pasted in from email then including the full HTML makes it a no-brainer for the site owner to include yours.
  • Make a good first impression. This may sound like strange advice considering that you are providing the favour to the company who’s product / service you are reviewing but remember that your goal here is to get a backlink and you want the highest placement you can get. If there are several testimonials on the page as there undoubtedly will be, you want yours to be as close to the top of the page as possible. Links higher up the page carry more link juice and there is more chance of somebody actually clicking your link. So, write a good testimonial!

Brainstorming targets to write testimonials for

Okay you have the strategy but now you need to find companies that will actually accept your testimonial. So lets look at a few ideas:

  • Online tools & software – we use software all the time, whether its a piece of software you downloaded or an online tool. Look through the software on your computer and look through your browser bookmarks. Make a list of all the software you use – I bet there’s more than you realise!
  • Sites & blogs – Your testimonial doesn’t necessarily have to be for an actual product or service. You can also give somebody a testimonial for their content alone and this is especially relevant for blogs. However be careful here as not many blogs actually feature testimonials. If you read a particularly high PR one though this could be the exception to the rule I mentioned in step 1 where I said to filter out any site that does not currently have testimonials.
  • Offline services – Got a gardener? Does he have a website? Many local services in particular really value testimonials as they are very important to their trade. It might not be as easy to get a link from your dishwasher manufacturer but you can always try!

A closing note on relevancy

One last point to consider when using this strategy – many of the companies that you approach to place your testimonial will not be in the same industry as your own website so the relevancy will be lowered. Google prefers high relevancy so if you have a website about dogs then try to think of all the dog related products & services you have used first before moving onto other things.

Submit Your RSS Feed Once – Get Backlinks Forever!

The RSS Feed submission tool is not used a huge amount and this is understandable as you don’t generally have a ton of RSS feeds to submit, but it is certainly a strategy you should use on every site you work with as it offers exceptional value for money because if you just submit your RSS feed once to each site – you don’t just get one backlink per site, you get a constant new stream of backlinks as long as your feed is updated for the price of that one single site!

How does RSS Feed submission differ to the other tools?

The bookmark submitter, article submitter and directory submitter tools all submit one piece of content to each individual site. That piece of content provides a single backlink (or up to 2 in the case of the Article submitter as you can put 2 links in the resource box.) RSS Feeds are different. The URL of the feed itself is not really a backlink; well it is, but not a terribly useful one in its own right.

However, it’s what that feed contains  that is the real hidden treasure here… Let’s assume you have a blog for your website and you most probably bookmark each new post that you publish. Every major blogging platform such as WordPress, Blogger, Typepad etc automatically creates and updates an RSS feed for your blog. Every time you publish a new post to that blog a link to that post gets inserted into your RSS feed.

So what happens when you submit your RSS feed to an RSS directory? This is where the magic happens – these specialised RSS directories don’t just store links to RSS feeds, instead they are crawling those feeds and publish the links contained within them! Every time your feed is updated with a new link, that’s a new backlink that is available at any RSS directory that the feed is published on!

One Credit Payment – Many Backlinks!

All of our submission tools work on a very simple credit system – each site has a credit value equal to its Pagerank and that is what you pay for the submission. So a PR4 site would cost 4 credits to submit to. The RSS feed submission tool works in this exact same way except that the PR4 site that you just submitted your feed to will receive as many backlinks as your feed contains and will continue crawling that feed and as long as you publish new content, you are getting new backlinks!

So, try out the RSS feed submitter tool today 🙂

Submitted Bookmark URL’s Now Becoming Available!

By far, the single most common question we have been asked since we launched the service has been “can I get a list of the submitted bookmark URLs created by IMAutomator?” and our answer to that has always been no… for technical reasons.

… UNTIL NOW!

Finally, we have figured out a way to extract out the actual URL of the submitted bookmark. It’s not an easy task and it requires custom code to be written for every site in the system. So far, we have done this for 15 of the sites and made the data available. This is going to be fully developed in 3 phases.

Phase 1 – URL Extraction For All Sites

The first phase is simply to get the code written for all the other sites in the system. At this point we don’t even know if its possible to get it working for all of them but we’ll deal with that as we go along. For the moment, we’ve stored the URL in a new field in the job table and you can see it from the job details screen of any job. Click on the Job ID of a job and for any that has succeeded, if a URL has been found you’ll now see a new entry in the info column that reads “Posted URL: <the actual URL>”. Click on it to test it.

So right now its somewhat crude, you manually have to go look into each job so the data is there but not in a useful way. That’s where the other phases come in.

Phase 2 – Searchable Bookmark URL Reports

Once we have all the sites done, or at least a very large majority of them, we’ll start building a proper reporting interface which will allow you generate a report of generated URLs and you’ll be able to sort this by date, by job or some other factors and you’ll be able to search it to. We’ll figure out the finer details nearer the time but we will certainly appreciate your feedback so if it doesn’t work the way you’d like it to then please let us know!

Phase 3 – Downloadable White-Label Reports

This functionality is most asked for from our members who use IMAutomator for their client work. What we are ultimately building towards is a proper report that you can generate with your own branding for your clients – or just for your own use of course. Again, we’ll really want your feedback with this!

Why Only Bookmark Jobs?

So far, the bookmark submitter is the only one of our tools that publishes the content instantly. For all of the others, when IMAutomator has made the submission it is merely submitted for review by the target site and then is subject to human moderation. The article, directory entry, RSS feed etc may be accepted or rejected at some later point in time. We can’t report on what doesn’t yet exist so this functionality will be for bookmarks only.

Please Give us Your Feedback!

So far, we’ve done 15 sites and obviously they are working in our tests but it is possible that certain URL’s with special characters may cause issues. If you notice any problem – namely a posted URL that does not work then please let us know giving us the Job ID and the Target site ID so that we can check it out. It will probably take some time to really make this new functionality robust.

And if you have any ideas on how the reporting can work, please let us know about that too!

 

Credit Prices Reduced 20-66% Across ALL Plans & Packs!

Following our last post, we have done a careful review of our entire pricing system, the activity level of the members, our costs (Captcha costs in particular), and feedback from members and we have come to the conclusion that when we launched our new membership system on the 1st July, we simply set the prices too high – particularly in the lower priced products for lower volume members.

So we’ve reduced them – a LOT! 

Brand New $12 Plan Introduced

The Level 1 plan in particular was not working as we’d hoped. We wanted to allow people to test out the tools at minimal cost but the 100 credits provided were simply not enough. If you click the ‘Select All’ button on the Bookmark submitter today the credit cost will be 138 credits as we now have so many high PR sites. Many members do just this, rather than picking and choosing individual sites.

So we have introduced a new $12 plan which provides 400 credits per month, at a credit price of $3.00 per 100 credits which is 66.67% cheaper than our old $5 plan which was $5 for 100 credits. 400 credits should be enough for a few full bookmark submissions or many more if fewer sites are selected.

The existing Level 1 plan is renamed Level 1a, and the new plan is the new Level 1 and available to new members. Existing members of Level 1a can stay as they are or upgrade to the new Level 1 (or of course any other plan!) and the old subscription will be cancelled for you.

I want to be very clear on this point – existing members on the current $5.00 Level 1 plan will not be automatically migrated to the $12 plan! However we have also reduced the credit price of the existing plan to $4.00 per 100 credits (previously $5.00) so this now provides 125 credits instead of 100.

Credit Prices Reduced 20-37% On All Existing Plans

Here is the breakdown of the new prices for all the plans:

  • Level 1a – $5 per month, $4.00 per 100 credits, 125 credits per month (only available to existing members) – 20% Reduction
  • Level 1 – $12 per month, $3.00 per 100 credits, 400 credits per month – 66.67% Reduction
  • Level 2 – $25 per month, $2.50 per 100 credits, 1,000 credits per month – 37.50% Reduction
  • Level 3 – $50 per month, $1.60 per 100 credits, 3,125 credits per month – 20% Reduction
  • Level 4 – $100 per month, $1.25 per 100 credits, 8,000 credits per month – 21.88% Reduction
  • Level 5 – $250 per month, $1.00 per 100 credits, 25,000 credits per month – 20% Reduction
  • Level 6 – $500 per month, $0.80 per 100 credits, 62,500 credits per month – 20% Reduction

We’ve really concentrated on the first two plans – they were priced MUCH higher than level 3 and this was unfair to those who simply do not have as much to submit. What we have done is to increase the credit allocation rather than the pack price as we cannot actually make a change to an existing subscription (Paypal does not allow that) so now you will find that your subscription simply buys more credits than before.

New Credits Allocated From Next Payment

This change takes effect immediately but credits are allocated only when the payment comes through. Your credit allocation on the members screen will display the new value and you will be awarded that new value when your next payment comes through and from then onwards.

Credit Packs Also Reduced 25-66%!

We have also made corresponding changes to the credits packs. The monthly plans are still better value than the packs but for those who prefer to buy packs as and when they need them rather than commit to a monthly fee, here are the new prices:

  • Pack 1 – $12, 300 Credits, $4.00 per 100 credits – 50% Reduction
  • Pack 2 – $30, 1,000 Credits, $3.00 per 100 credits, 66.7% Reduction
  • Pack 3 – $50, 2,500 Credits, $2.00 per 100 credits, 25% Reduction
  • Pack 4 – $100, 6,250 Credits, $1.60 per 100 credits, 25% Reduction

If you have bought a pack since August 1st at the old credit prices, feel free to email us with your username and we will allocate you the extra credits as we know how annoying it can be to buy something and then find it reduced / better value the next day!

We are committed to providing the best value possible (whilst still making a profit of course!) and we will continue to review our costings on an on-going basis.

 

Are Membership Levels 1 & 2 Too Expensive?

It’s been just over a month now since the launch of our new membership plans and credit packs and its been interesting to see the response. One big surprise was the popularity of the credit packs. They were added almost as an afterthought at the very last moment but have been selling well.

Looking at the sales of both the plans and the packs, and from feedback from customers, we’re thinking of reducing the cost of the credits in the level 1& level 2 plans, and in the first 2 credit packs.

Our first paid version was the Pro version and this was $49.95 and the only plan available for a very long time – it is what we consider to be our ‘baseline’ plan. When we introduced the credit system we carefully analysed the activity of existing members and priced the credits such that those on the $50 plan would be able to submit as much or more than they had been on the Pro plan until then.

Then we added lower priced plans with more expensive credits, and higher priced plans with cheaper credits. But we think we may have gone a little too far from the baseline on the first two plans. On Level 3, which all existing Pro members were automatically migrated to, the credits are priced at $2.00 for 100 credits. The level 2 plan which is $25 per month, is twice as expensive with credits costing $4.00 per 100. Level 1 adds another 25% to that at a rate of $5.00 for 100 credits.

The level 1 plan at just $5 a month is a cheap way for new members to try out the tools but with only 100 credits to play with they don’t get much and we think we need to adjust that.

The New Plan Proposals

So what we are thinking is the following: lower the costs of the credits but increase the pack price of each by $5 to provide more credits (and to give us a round number to work with lol!). The new plans would be as follows:

Level 1 – $4.00 per 100 credits, Plan price: $10, monthly credit allocation: 250

Level 2 – $3.00 per 100 credits, Plan price: $30, monthly credit allocation: 1000

As these are significantly differently to the existing Levels 1 and 2, we would create new plans and not migrate existing customers. The existing plans would be renamed ‘Level 1a’  and ‘Level 2a’, and would no longer be available to new customers but of course existing customers could just keep the plan they were on or change to one of the new ones.

The New Credit Packs

Similarly, we also think we overpriced the cost of the first two packs so the following are proposed:

Pack 1 – $4.00 per 100 credits, Pack price: $15, credits allocated: 300

Pack 2 – $4.00 per 100 credits, Pack price: $30, credits allocated: 750

We would most likely offer a discount to existing members wishing to change plans if we decide to go ahead and implement them. Please let us know your thoughts!

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