A Year Reading Seth Godin

Well I say a year, but really it’s only 9 months, but I’ve still got a few books to read and I’ve only got 3 months to go (plus I’ll be reading the new Discworld shortly after Christmas – whether someone buys me it or not *hint hint*).

Anyways, I can’t believe how much I have learned – despite my previous knowledge of Internet marketing techniques and my business degree. Seth takes a concept, pulls it apart and analyses it and then puts it back together the way it should work. From coming up with great ideas, to spreading the word about your business to fixing your site so it is more user friendly – he really can apply himself to anything.

For those of you who don’t know Seth Godin, he is the founder of Squidoo and he was previously in charge of marketing at Yahoo (not sure what his title was, but he was at the top). I think all his books have been Amazon bestsellers, and he’s sold millions of books.

Anyways, if you’ve not read Seth Godin, or if you perhaps have and weren’t impressed, I’d like to recommend the books I think are worth reading:

To be honest though, some of the ones I didn’t find so useful, may actually be very useful for you, so it might be worth getting them all!

By the way, all those links to Amazon are affililate links, so if you do buy them I will get commission 🙂 But really, you won’t regret it!

Anyways, if you would like to watch a video of Seth, try this one (I’ve only watched part of it, but it was pretty interesting)

Modern Warfare Ranking Overloads My Site on Day of Release

I wasn’t really ready for this, in fact I hadn’t really paid attention to my Modern Warfare Help site.

Today, in case you didn’t know, Modern Warfare 2 was released and it was:

  • All over the news
  • A hot trend on Google
  • Trending on Twitter

Little did I know I was about experience my first visitor overload, which until now my cheap shared hosting account could cope with (largely due to the fact that I get very little visitors, except for SEO Specialist which does ok). So I was checking my email when I noticed around 5 people all subscribing to my Modern Warfare site within a few minutes, at which point I knew I must be getting some decent traffic. I checked analytics, the top term was “Modern Warfare 2 Tips“, so I happily went to Google and typed it in, to find that I was number 1! Nice surprise, huh? So I clicked the link and then saw my site die on its arse, along with all my other websites!!! Despite having the WP Super Cache plugin!

Anyways, I contacted support, and they said it was just the server, they did some adjustments and now all is tickity boo! Although perhaps I need some better hosting? Who knows…

Think Visibility September 2009

I attended Think Visibility this September on behalf of Bronco, it was my first conference I’d attended and I must say I found the experience very interesting. The conference was held in Leeds at a casino (I forget the name, but it was a pretty cool venue).

First up was Joost de Valk, who I met just before he kicked off Think Visibility, he’s a friendly guy and he really knows his stuff, you can check out his presentation here. It was a very useful, and a highly technical presentation on speeding up WordPress and various other things 🙂 It’s given me the kick up the ass I needed to sort out caching on my site and start using smush it.

Next up was Judith Lewis who gave a very useful presentation on universal search results, this made me realise how much I was missing out on by not doing a YouTube video for every blog post I do – perhaps I should start doing this! I met her afterwards, she seemed like a nice lady (hey anyone that gives out free chocolate has to be kind, right?)

After that there was Julian Sambles from the Telegraph and following on from that we got to choose which presentations we watched. You can view all the slides from ThinkVisibility here. Zoe Piper also did a useful presentation on the content network, which I’m sure will come in handy sometime 🙂

On the whole it was a great event organise by Dom Hodgson – who was really friendly and helpful, helping me decide which presentation was best for me 🙂

htaccess redirects with regular expressions

The Problem

Ok so I hit a bit of a snag tonight, I had ended up with the following predicament.

I had a url: http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/blog/ which I wanted to redirect to http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/ but when I used the following code:

redirect 301 /blog/ http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/

I ended up redirecting pages such as http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/blog/blogging-voice-recognition/ to http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/blogging-voice-recognition/ – but I wanted to keep it where it was (plus this created a redirect loop, which I could have fixed).

Twitter Friends to the Rescue!

So I asked for help on Twitter – offering a free link for the right answer (at first a site wide, then I chickened out and said “just a post”). Thankfully I found the answer – so they can all settle for a nice link in this post (see below).

Many things were suggested, some would have worked but I felt they were workarounds and I wanted to solve this particular issue in this way. I had tried some regular expressions, others passed me some more and people were passing me mod_rewrite code too. Unfortunately none of it seemed to work, some gave 500 errors, where as others resulted in the page sitting their, not moving – laughing at me, mocking at me, whispering…


The Solution

RedirectMatch 301 ^/blog/$ http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/

redirect doesn’t let you use regular expressions – RedirectMatch does (perhaps this is common knowledge, but I couldn’t find it anywhere and it wasn’t in the code anyone gave me). I found the fix here.

Thanks guys

For those that participated in helping me, I would like to thank (in no particular order):
Malcolm Coles
David Elstob
Will Critchlow
David Cumbor
Teifion Jordan

Review of Net Words, written by Nick Usbourne

This book was the second book I have read on copywriting. The first book (which I got half way through) was more for offline print advertising – where as this book is specifically for online.

I must say I found this book difficult to get into and a long hard read. The book is written by a copywriter – but unfortunately they lack the ability to write text in a way that makes it easy for you to learn. With that said I did come away with an overall understanding of how I should write for the web – although there weren’t many explicit rules, it was one of those books where you either “get it” or you don’t (similar to some of Seth Godin’s books). Personally I feel that a good author should be able to take their knowledge and explain it simply – Nick doesn’t seem to be able to do that (like many copywriters). Which is a shame.

On the whole though – this book is definitely worth reading, and towards the end Nick does give some more useful, specific advice. I’ve also come to understand that the best way to learn how to copywrite is through split testing – which is what I plan to do from now on.

Overall I give it a 7/10.

If you are interested in buying a book on copywriting, then I would recommend this book:

How to get Feedburner subscription links at the end of every post

I’ve had a lot of visitors for my site with the keyphrase “feedburner at the end of every post” so I thought I best write a guide on how to do it.


Firstly I want to make it clear that I am using WordPress, if you are not using WordPress then I suggest you do so asap.

Once you have WordPress setup I suggest you install the Add Post Footer Plugin

Once you have this simply add some code in the plugin options and hey presto, you have a call to action to subscribe to your blog at the end of every post!

How to use nofollows correctly

Ok so today I read an article by Aaron Wall about nofollows being largely a waste of time, I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about until I scrolled down on my RSS reader to find Matt Cutts had already blogged about this.

Basically, in a nutshell – no follows don’t pass page rank, but they do reduce the amount of page rank passed on by other links.

So for example, if you have a PR 10 site and 10 outgoing links, 9 of which are nofollowed, only 1 will actually pass any link juice. In this situation you might expect it to pass all 10 (minus a dampening factor), but it doesn’t it only passes 1.

So here is my advice on how to use nofollows correctly and what action you should take:

  1. Ensure you are “dofollowing” all internal links – otherwise you are just shooting yourself in the foot – don’t page rank sculpt, you are just reducing the amount of juice that stays on your site.
  2. Reduce the overall amount of outgoing links you have on your site, these might include social tagging links
  3. Dofollow all your external links, unless you see them as a direct competitor or you deem it a “bad neighbourhood”
  4. Dofollow Nofollow links from commenters – you may get a little spam, but if you keep on top of the moderation it should be fine you will be spammed!.

So far I’ve dofollowed all my internal links (that I have noticed) and removed any nofollow external links completely. I’ve also removed my social networking links on each post which were detracting the link juice through my site significantly.

On a final note, I’ve dofollowed nofollowed my blog comments – I want to encourage people to use my blog – perhaps it’ll but I don’t want to get it covered in spam (I hope not) – so feel free to comment on this post!

The plugin for WordPress I used to use to dofollow my comments is called NoFollow Free in case anyone is interested (by the way the link is dofollowed).

The 5 Most Common Google Analytics Mistakes

Ok, so you lazy people out there, I know what your like, you just slap your Google Analytics code on the site and think that its done. Well your wrong, and your messing up valuable data right now! Here are the most common mistakes:

1. Failing to Exclude URL Query Parameters
Nobody ever seems to use this, its great though, it gets rid of all the crap out of the content reports. Every time a page loads with a query string (e.g. http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/index.php?essays=boring), Google Analytics treats it as a separate url to index.php. In order to prevent this, you simply put the variable name (e.g. ‘essays’) in the handy little box (edit profile, edit main website profile information).

2. Failing to Setup Site Search
Again this is a similar problem to the one above. If you don’t state what your variable name is for the site search then url’s like: http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/search.php?q=hubbletelescope and http://www.davidwhitehouse.co.uk/search.php?q=bagels will both be treated as separate content. Instead you just put ‘q’ in the site search query box and then get it to strip the url of parameters.

3. Goal Conversion Setup
I rarely see this one setup right, people often repeat the final step twice, as they don’t realise Google puts the final one in at the end. Most people don’t even bother setting this up, but the ones who do, tend to do it wrongly.

4. Ecommerce Script Setup
When your setting this up, you have to put your ecommerce code after your tracking code, or it won’t work. Most people just paste it in and adapt it, not realising they need the tracking script before hand and an if statement in their footer to prevent the tracking script showing there.

5. IP Exclusion Filters
If you are going to be working on a site, whether you are the developer/designer or the marketing agency, perhaps even the business owner – you need to be adding your ip address to the exclude filter on the profile (make sure you have an unfiltered profile as a backup though).

Review of Permission Marketing

So I’ve just finished reading Permission Marketing by Seth Godin, after hearing his name mentioned so much over the past few months I decided I best read one of his books. Permission Marketing was really the book that seemed to make him – the first successful one.

I must say I thought the book was interesting, it talked about how most marketeers are interruption marketeers, whereas he was suggested that they should become permission marketeers. It had a few interesting ideas and some practical tips too, but on the whole the book did go on more than it had to in order to get the point across. Here is how I understood it:

If you do an advert and expect to sell to someone just from one advert then you get bad results, if instead you use the advert to begin a relationship with someone then you can teach them over time about your product, getting more and more trust, until one day you have permission to buy things on behalf of your customer. Amazon seems to be the best example he refers to.

In Internet marketing terms that means attracting people to your site, with the sole aim of getting them to subscribe to your email list/blog. Then over time teaching them and building their trust and then eventually selling to them.

It is also a bit of an old read now, this was before Google AdWords became popular and the big player seems to be Yahoo at the time. I would recommend reading it though as the principles still apply.

On the whole I’d give it 7.5/10. If you want to order the book, you can use the link below to take you to Amazon: