Tuesday, 4 September 2007

ClearBI - Clearly the Online Business Intelligence Enterprise Reporting Winner

I have two main gripes when it comes to database reporting tools: They are way overpriced, and end users are unable to manipulate reports for a particular analytical goal, which requires heavy dependence on the IT department's availability to create derivative published works.

Even the grandiose of enterprise reporting, 'Business Objects - Crystal Reports', provides end users with only a basic set of web tools that hardly make a mark compared say with the functionality of MS Excel. Adoption costs are so extraordinarily high, even big companies can't make sense of it. Smaller companies may never achieve sufficient ROI and are forced to lay low in the isolated realm of cutting data to Excel.

Having worked as a Business Analyst, Internet Strategist and Developer for many years I can assimilate my experience relating to the subject of Enterprise Reporting in one simple sentence: "Even today the people who need vital business decision making information are unable to get to it quickly, easily, and on their own."

Along comes Farata Systems with ClearBI (Clear Business Intelligence), a RIA Reporting Application where 'Report Templates', composed by IT or end users, using Adobe Flex or Flash player, can be fully manipulated, and saved as new versions (by authorised personal).

Targeted at end-users, ClearBI enables clients to eliminate the dependency on IT when it comes to any report modification, ranging from simple formatting changes and adding/removing columns to introducing grouping, sophisticated formula-based columns, and being able to persist the changes, optionally saving it as new report or report template.

Targeted at IT personnel, it automates creation of the "canned" report layouts for the end-users, who can then run them in Flash player, PDF print and Excel export these reports, with or without the ability to persist the changes.

ClearBI combines with Farata's Clear Data Builder, a Rapid Application Development tool, allowing production of complex database reports within minutes, rather than hours or days. A few simple gestures and configurations, and Flex developers can create base template reports for stand-alone use, or as custom containers within larger Flex applications. Publishing is a simple upload of the html wrapper and swf file. After that, end users can begin making their own variations and incantations with all manner of sophisticated beautification and complex literal and boolean expressions for aggregating and highlighting information.

Reports can stored in the database in XML format as meta-data structures. Data can be persisted using a Master/Detail Flash-based-form. Indeed there is no limit to the functionality placed in the user's hands, as application developers may simply combine ClearBI reporting into their own pre-existing or new RIA's.

ClearBI's interface is presented as if it were an extra, rather nice looking, toolbar in your browser, as shown below. (click the images for a larger view)



Clicking on the 'edit' icon opens a fully featured panel in which users can modify base reports and save them as derivative works, or new templates. The 'edit' panel provides layout, filtering, sorting, grouping, printing, and query functionality in a simple and well thought out, drag and drop interface.



ClearBI toolbar is easily accessible and offers the following 20 functions:



1. Template - Basic and end-user modified templates
2. Report - End user's published reports
3. Refresh data
4. Edit - pops up the report edit panel
5. Copy - allows users to copy the new report or turn it into a new template
6. Delete composition
7. Composition Wizard - allows end user to create new templates from scratch
8. Remove Filter
9. Show/Hide columns
10. Auto-resize columns
11. Edit Layout - pops up layout beautification panel
12. Edit Group - pops up drag/drop group editing feature
13. Sort - pops up drag/drop column sorting feature
14. Filter - pops up conditional filtering feature
15. Save (as new)
16. Zoom magnification
17. Zoom indicator
18. Flat Excel export
19. Structured Excel export
20. Print (to paper or PDF)

There are two versions of ClearBI:

ClearBI Developer Edition allows software developers to visually create and customize reports in Eclipse IDE. The report layouts are captured in MXML and can be compiled and integrated into any Flex application. The end users will be able to work with reports (sorting, filtering, grouping, export to Microsoft Excel, et al.), but won't be able to save the customized report.

ClearBI Server Edition delivers all the functionality of the Developer Edition to the end user; it allows the end users to create reports from the universe of the data fields without need to install any software other than Flash Player. The end users can create, customize and save reports in the centralized database server without any help from the IT department.

Developer License is around - US$799 per developer. This license is the best fit for the organizations that need a tool to create canned reports to be viewed by the end-users. These reports are read-only and can be viewed independently or integrated into other Web applications. Production support is not included but is available on a yearly subscription or hourly rate basis.

ClearBI Server Edition OEM is around US$999 per server (up to 2 CPU). The end users can customize and save their reports. The number of the end users is not limited. This license is a good fit for small businesses. Production support is not included but is available on a yearly subscription or hourly rate basis.

There is also a ClearBI Server Edition Enterprise and you'll need to contact Farata or myself for a quote.

Rich Internet Applications Australia was appointed by Farata System's to represent ClearBI and Clear Data Builder in Australia and New Zealand as of August 2007.

ClearBI is a clear winner in the business intelligence reporting space with RIA-ware that provides unmatched end-user accessibility to time sensitive analytical information. The combination of RIA and RAD with Flex/Flash makes report generation by end users incredibly fast.

For a demo of ClearBI go here. For Farata Systems web site go here. To contact me for a corporate demonstration in Australia or New Zealand, email me at: steven.rich[at]klikhir.com

RIA L.o.a.d.i.n.g...Does Usability Outweigh The Wait?

We all know RIA applications can present users with a great experience and provide superior usability. Significantly, one of RIA's main goal is to improve usability by offering seamless state changes on the client, which requires preloading of the core application, as well as initial images and data. But once this is done all manner of data filtering, animations, and screen changes can be performed without call backs to the server for new pages thereby drastically speeding up interactivity, improving productivity and enhancing end-user experience.

There is evidence suggesting users dislike silly flash introduction animations to web sites, or worse, poorly designed totally Flash'ed web sites that take forever to load. It appears users do not expect a totally Flash'ed web site, rather, a nicely placed Flash ad and the optional animation demo, where appropriate.
When they arrive at a web site and see ....L.O.A.D.I.N.G.... .... ... horrified and panic struck, they aim for the back button.

Has Flash (or Adobe) inadvertently created a problem (perceived or otherwise) for serious RIA web developers in that users arriving at these arguably 'much more dynamic and brilliant' web sites, turn back, because in their mind they think they're going to get a Flash animation - or something equally vulgar or useless.

Is the loading issue really the issue? Ironically, well designed RIAs may cause some marginal delay, but the benefits of not re-requesting data from the server every time a user clicks poses a radical gain in usability, efficiency and experience. It also reduces the payload on the web server as far fewer requests are being made.

I recently converted my web site www.klikhir.com into a totally RIA web site.
From a usability point of view I hope it presents the user with a great experience, and is very user friendly. But I have put up a notice in the Flex/Flash preloader to indicate to the user that the wait is worthwhile. I have also removed any ideas that unsophisticated users may have upon arrival that they are loading a Flash application.

Flex provides an incredible opportunity to create the types of application you've seen in Tom Cruise's Minority Report movie - far beyond what's possible with HTML or AJAX. I just wonder whether users will give RIA's a chance or whether they are destined for corporate use only rather than the general web surfing public.

I will be monitoring klikhir's traffic performance over the coming months more closely to see whether its up or down. If you see regular web pages again in a 3 months time, you'll know the RIA failed.

What do you think about Rich Internet Applications - does the potential gain in usability outweigh the negative perceptions that it's, 'god-forbid', Flash, and that it takes 'forever' to load? Are visitors panic struck by totally Flash'ed web sites and more eager to escape? Is it worth the wait when the application is useful (how would the user know up front)? Would the user prefer the same functionality in HTML/AJAX? And given the option, which option would they end up using more?

I look forward to your thoughts on this highly relevant subject (relevant because RIA's have advanced and matured - i.e. Flash has grown up)

Maybe its just something you love or hate.

(footnote: Flash apps that have been loaded once before are much quicker at reloading than html pages are.)

Thursday, 30 August 2007

MyCoolBook - Dynamic Interactive Online Book

I created MyCoolBook.com for a little fun with Flex 2.
Please see credits on the back cover.
Special thanks to Ely Greenfield for his FlexBook code. The rest was easy.

Update: Here is a tabbed version of the MyCoolBook Application

Flash crossdomain policy was subverted by using PHP proxies.

If you're interested in the source code or having a custom book made for your site, let me know via comments.

The book consumes feeds via 10 API's:
If you know of other feeds you would like to see, let me know.

YouTube.com - videos
Flickr.com - images
EVDB.com - events
Indeed.com - jobs
CJ.com - products & Stuff
eBay.com - auctions
Amazon.com - books & stuff
Technorati.com - blog posts
DigitalPodcasts.com - podcasts
Del.icio.us - social bookmarks

Have fun...

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Build Total Confidence in Adobe Flex with Secrets of the Masters



Rich Internet Applications with Adobe Flex & Java

A Personal Book Review:


Before purchasing this awesome book I evaluated more than 50 online resources, articles, blogs, technotes, and Adobe's development web sites, as well as purchased and read two other Flex and Actionscript books (Flex 2 with Actionscript and Actionscript 3.0 Cookbook). But none of the aforementioned gave me the complete understanding and confidence in being able to integrate Flex applications with enterprise databases in a J2EE or XML-based environment.

This remarkably in depth book begins by taking you on a short but important journey through recent history of Java, Ajax and Flex to consolidate your approach to Rich Internet Application development. You quickly become familiar with the Flex development environment and build reusable components grasping development techniques by example. Each chapter is well explained and easily understood as you work your way to developing your sophisticated programming skills within a matter of days.

The book unambiguously covers the most important techniques for binding Flex applications to data sources whether by XML data transfer, JAVA Beans, Enterprise (binary) Database Integration, Web Services and or to external applications. You also learn advanced techniques in extending Flex components, extending Flex Charts, and building data and destination aware controls you can quickly reuse in other applications.

Over seven hundred pages of example driven code and instructions will solidify your knowledge in creating large Flex applications.

Day 1: You begin this book by first gaining an understanding of Flex architecture and development environment. You then get a serious look under the hood and take Flex for a spin learning the basics of approach to design and usage of Flex controls.

Day 2: The day is spent building a complete multi-tier RPC communications application with transparent access to POJO/EJBs. The result is a complete Stock Portfolio Application that displays a feed containing security prices and the latest financial news, integrated with on-line resources and back end JSP.

Day 3: At the completion of day three you will be able to build end-to-end applications based on Flex Data Management Services using Flex Remoting. The book also includes DAOflex, a rapid code generator that automatically produces data assembler DTOs.

Day 4: You’ll learn how to create your own remoting and batch-update service. Some powerful techniques for implementing a single server update request to enter/update/delete multiple data tables, is learned. These techniques are crucial to implanting fast and streamlined binary data applications.

Day 5: The day is spent learning to extend flex controls; such as making the standard Flex ComboBox, Tree, and Data Grid controls "destination aware". Once you create this code you will never need to rewrite data-aware code again. Simple copy your control into a new application and change the destination and method to populate it with a different data source.

Day 6: On the last day you build a real-world slide show application, learn to extend Flex charts and integrate Flex with external applications such as MS Excel.

By the end of the book you will truly be able to program anything in Flex. It's a magnificent piece of work by smart guys who have truly grasped and then conveyed the magic of Rich Internet Application Development.

Morevover, Farata Systems have a great website and Blog and also host www.myflex.org – where you can download Clear Data Builder (formerly DAOflex). This software is well worth the price and will literally save you thousands of hours of code over the coming years.

Anyone who can program basic DHTML can learn Flex from this book. Seasoned Java and PHP programmers will easily grasp advanced concepts and gain new and important insights into working with Flex.

Thank you for this noteworthy achievement.

You can grab your copy of the book at Amazon. I received an email copy in PDF right away and the hard copy arrived within 3 days.
Rich Internet Applications with Adobe Flex & Java (Secrets of the Masters)

Monday, 23 April 2007

Amazon Context Links Boost Alexa Rankings and Google Adsense eCPM

Recently I introduced Amazon Context links on Klikhir.com and within a few weeks noticed a significant increase in rankings for pages that are regularly viewed. Secondly Klikhir’s Alexa rating has shot up 45000 places. Thirdly, Klikhir Adsense eCPM has increased by as much as 200%.

The only change to Klikhir.com in the past few weeks has been the addition of Amazon Context Links. In fact I have been very busy with other projects over the past four weeks and have done nothing else to Klikhir.com in that time.

Context links are causing Amazon to crawl Klikhir.com regularly. Perhaps this extra activity is causing the increase in Alexa rankings. As far as the Google increased page count I can only guess that the increased Amazon crawl traffic along with the cached return links from a top ranking site like Amazon has improved SEO and eCPM.

Amazon Context Links are a quick and convenient way to add text links to your website so you can monetize your content. Context Links automatically identify and link relevant phrases within your page content to Amazon products, unlocking new ad inventory and saving you the time from having to manually create the links yourself. You can add the links to your pages in minutes, and Amazon provides a wealth of options to customize how they are displayed.

After you embed one simple piece of code on your pages, Context Links will identify and link contextually relevant phrases within your content to Amazon.com products. If you enable the preview functionality your site visitors will see a preview of an Amazon.com product relevant to the phrase selected. Clicking on the link will send your site visitors to the product detail page on Amazon.com, and you will earn referral fees just as you would with any link you hand-picked.

Amazon's spider is notified each time the page is viewed. After the second or third view Amazon automatically inserts the Context links into the page. So each time a page is viewed Amazon’s spider is notified to crawl the page and log the number of views. I have noticed that the time taken for initial processing varies and in some cases it can take up to 3-4 hours until the Context Links systems figure out phrases to link on the page.

You must allow Amazon’s spider (Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; AMZNKAssocBot/4.0)) to crawl your Web site. The crawl is needed in order to identify the content of your Web site and determine appropriate phrases to link. If you do not allow Amazon’s spider to crawl your Web site(s), Context Links will not be able to link anything.

Here is an example of a page at Klikhir.com with the Amazon Context Links: http://www.klikhir.com/business/buying-buck-knives-means-buying-a-trusted-american-brand.html

Apart from enhancing Klikhir.com with Amazon Context Links, the unexpected increase in traffic rankings and eCPM appears to have been worthwhile from a rankings point of view. I have yet to monetize traffic from the clicks.

Do you use Amazon Context Links? If so, have you noticed similar results or increases in activity and rankings, or conversions?

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

How Blogs May Increase Human Intelligence

After reading Rand Fishkin and Andy McBeal this week I am inspired by the reasons why people blog. As ever, curious by the meaning and impact of the Internet on the human race, I pondered how blogs may have increased human intelligence and came up with five factors: consciousness, knowledge, truth, taste and sociality.

Consciousness
Writing and reading is a powerful force for breathing life into humanity. By reducing our thoughts to letter, sharing our dispatches in a way that invites criticism, and reading and commenting in others people’s blogs, we elevate our consciousness in three ways:
  • Becoming acutely aware of other peoples intelligence
  • Being open to broad criticism while maintaining individual identity
  • Expanding our minds and thoughts to infinite possibilities
Knowledge
Blogs are about researching, thinking, compiling, formatting, and publishing knowledge. The process itself requires a great deal of learning and knowledge in order to be successful. Countless tasks are required by Bloggers, all the way from thinking about subject matter, to moderating comments, reviewing statistics, and being able to place links and ads on pages.

People who read blogs do so for entertainment, learning, interacting and networking. A greater way to share knowledge is through social blogging, a fundamental cornerstone of which is, openness to criticism and additional commenting.

Truth
Blogs worth reading seek the truth no matter the niche. Truth is central to the development of human intelligence. Without truth there is no knowledge. Every generation surpasses the next with more knowledge ever spiraling upward in seek of the truth of Everything.

Taste
Chris Anderson coined the phrase “We are the new creators of taste”. What he meant was that because of the new abundance of choices brought about by the Internet we now spend a great deal of time recommending, reviewing, commenting, filtering and voting on content in order to expose the good stuff. Great blogs, with a measure of traffic, are what we collectively think is tasteful. Openness to experience develops taste and character which are attributes of human intellect.

Sociality
Blogs encourage sociality more than any other medium. By default they invite commenting and criticism. The Blogshpere is a virtual friend’s marketplace where people create relationships for sociality, fun, crowd voting, corroboration, and casual chat. This interactive behaviour makes people smarter by causing them to think more about what they are saying, and planning activities like their next post.

Human intelligence could have only been brought about through social behaviour. Try live in a world all by yourself. The human race is a team. Without each other we cannot exist. Together we create infinite intelligence by sharing knowledge through social mechanics. Investing in relationship building is a smart thing to do. With a network of friends you have untold leverage at your disposal.

Do you think blogging makes us smarter?

That’s what I have to say.
Here’s what 6 others are saying.
Rand Fishkin
Andy McBeal
Bud Caddell
Chris Rothwell
CiarĂ¡n
Michael Arrington

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Is Google is The New Testament?

In addition to Businessweek (April 2007) cover story titled “Is Google Too Powerful?” and with thanks to Bud_Caddell for his YOUmoz post titled “Google: Balancing an Elephant on Stilts”, I first posted this article in YOUmoz -Title: Google is the New Testament on 1 April 2007

The first part of this rant began with a post in SEOmoz - Title: SEOs Bubbling Influences Society, Culture and Values.

As an individual who benefits financially from Google’s Adsense program and who is concerned about privacy, corporate power, and objective access to information, I see Google as a forward thinking, transparent company, with roots firmly grounded in ‘doing the right thing’.

Google’s power lies in our collective perception of its "truthfulness": Not only is Google expected to provide meaningful results instantly on any subject, but they are under constant scrutiny by customers of their Web 2.0 services.

In my experience, Google is the first huge company to be accessible by the general public. They provide contact forms and forum boards for all services they provide. Their employees participate in Google and technology related forums, and are allowed to spend 20% of their time on their own sites. Unlike most traditional giants such as oil, insurance, Telcos, and media networks, Google is probably the most transparent.

It’s simple: Google transactions benefit ordinary people because the 12,000 people working at Google are some of the smartest (Internet) users you’ll find – and smart people, who have unfettered access to information and social communication, wouldn’t stand for anything less than the truth, open social discourse, and democratic freedom of speech. Also, Google’s new economy is enabling ordinary people, regardless of race, creed, or country, to engage in the New Economy through their Web 2.0 API’s and services. Never before - on such an unprecedented scale - has any individual anywhere been able to provide products and services to others. Not to mention the open access to scrutinize Google vigorously, through direct contact or social media platforms such as Digg.com, SEOmoz, and the myriad of Webmaster forums.

The gospel of ‘scarcity’ that traditional organisations have preached, and whose agendas have been that of secrecy of information and autocratic style, has been replaced with a world of abundance whose believers connect with a New Testament: Google.

Google is the New Testament because anyone can contribute to it and or make use of its resources of intelligence and economy on a global scale. Unlike the old book, I can ask Google a question and it will immediately answer with a variety of answers filtered by popularity of opinion on a grand scale. Those search results are what the rest of mankind thinks is relevant to my question, and I may visit one, 10, or hundreds of them to learn and clarify my new point of view.

Even in my role as an SEO, who specializes in achieving higher search engine rankings, my links are scrutinized by the general public and validated for link-worthiness, democratically.

Markets previously controlled by traditional giants of the last century are being eroded by us, the common man, because a new generation, who communicate through social media portals and blogs, provided by companies like Google, will never tolerate autocracy again. We have abundance of choice and we will never again suffer a Milli Vanilli, Pinochet, or Enron – because we don’t have to.

We, the people of the Internet, are watching Google, YouTube, Viacom, and every other corporate and individual participant of the 21st century, and while we allow them to collect our information, filter results, and aggregate information, we will continue vote on it, chat about it, bookmark it, and judge it for ourselves. We will find a way to eliminate spam and click fraud. We will evolve the Internet into an AI that feeds us, clothes us, helps save the environment, and connects us as globally as a ‘common human consciousness’ of shared opinion, collective ideas and intellectual fortitude.

I believe that had YouTube not been sold to Google, its rivals would never have sued it. The truth is the benefactors seek to limit our access because it is the only way they can survive. They are not users of the Internet and have missed the boat on what’s going on. We no longer need them. Social communications is more interactive, engaging, entertaining and meaningful than TV and it is here to stay, evolve, and lift global human consciousness at lighting speed.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Thoughts

Desire is the furnace that drives individuals like a steam train, unstoppable!

Inspiration is abundant and available in many forms whenever I look for it

What I don’t know someone else does and they can’t wait to share it

All my steps are stepping stones; giant leaps leave gaps, easily missing the tipping point

Unbridled faith* commands the entire universe to submit to one man

Love, intelligence, and laughter kills mental germs

Negativity is something they choose

Lucky circumstances are born out of conscious decision making and persistence

Money spawns when I make a positive impact on other people’s lives

Asking for criticism makes mistake-making fun. Other people make judgments

Consistency is the building block of reputation

Reputation is the resonance of meaning and purpose in my life

Whatever I haven’t thought of yet is imminent; unsurprisingly enlightening me on time

Good intentions are not enough; they require planning, action, and follow through

I can get anyone to buy something once. Integrity gets repeat business and referrals.

Negativity, worry and stress are the effects of indecision

The more imagined ideas I turn to reality the more imagination I have

By recognizing everything that happens is a lesson I can predict direction

Abhorrence of Narcissism fills my universe with a fortune of possibilities

I am twice as sexy, fit and vibrant than I was at 20 and half as good as I will be at 60

Enjoy your life, live your life, you are the meaning of it!

*goal oriented rather than religious

Thursday, 22 March 2007

How to Make Money Online By Someone Who Never Has. D'oh!

03/19/2007
By: Steven Rich,
Web Developer, SEM, Internet Strategist, 15 years online

My brother emailed me the other day and asked whether an infomercial web page, you know the ones that scroll forever, was a valuable purchase. I checked out the page and knew instantly it wasn't. How did I know?

The “Be an Instant Millionaire" Title

If I see titles containing phrases like these I know it's probably a con:

  • Adsense Riches
    The reality is that 1% of Internet sites make money with Adsense. 99% of that 1% is Google.
  • Massive Passive Income Streams
    For the seller, maybe, but then why would they be selling their own product? No one sells a money making business to individuals who come across their web pages by chance. If they did they would dilute their own earnings potential; meaning they make more money selling the dud system, product or service, than they do utilizing it themselves.
  • How To Make Mini Sites
    Mini sites never make more than $1 per week. So you’ll need around 2000 of them to make a good living.
  • 100+ Adsense Ready Web Sites
    Google penalizes duplicate content and keyword enhanced sites with little content.
  • Set-and-forget
    Set and forget what? That you paid $97 for a dead site or product? The web is ever evolving and anything set and forgot last year is history.
  • Massive Amounts Of Laser-Targeted Traffic
    Not without massive amounts of organic search engine optimization, which takes massive amounts of time and expertise, or bucket loads of burning cash on pay per click advertising campaigns.
  • Instant Money Affiliate
    There is no such thing as instant money from affiliate programs. Even the most dedicated affiliate marketing companies (let alone individuals) make money from around only twenty top affiliate programs. Most of those are from Commission Junction.
  • Skyrocket Your Adsense
    With duplicate content, phony cloaking and black hat tricks? Even a dedicated SEO cannot manufacture traffic for a cheap site. People need a reason to come to your site and laser targeted ad campaigns do not work without spending money. If they promise you 5000 or 10000 etc visitors a day it’s probably a lie. They can easily ping your site from a cloaked URL to make it look like you received a visitor.
  • Cracked The Adsense Code
    Yes, Google cracked it! Google owns the code and are the only company that makes 99% of their profits from the Adwords/Adsense Empire. Even the top social bookmarking sites would have no value if it were not for their database of users.
  • Instantly Build Your Own Google Adsense Empire
    There is no such thing as ‘instantly' in relation to business, let alone online business.
  • Killer Sales Copy
    A good copywriter will earn thousands of dollars. I don't know of a single way to generate killer sales copy for less. Duplicated killer sales copy is useless.
  • Instant Commission Collectors
    True, 5% of $1 = 5c x 10 000 visitors per month (if you're good) = $500/month. What they mean is “Instantly work every single day from 9am to 10pm to get 10 000 people to visit your web site for $500”. What an excellent deal!
  • Paid Surveys
    If you sit at your PC every single day for a week you can make around $200. Just about enough to cover your electricity, broadband connection, and payments on your Notebook.
  • Buy/Sell Domain Names
    All the really great domains have gone. Big companies specialize in this sort of activity and have long thought of all the obvious domain names. But let's say you know of a new movie being released titled “conmeaffiliates”. If you buy the domain name “conmeaffiliates.com” it will be valueless within a few months. Unless of course the movie is a hit, in which case the people who make money out of it will be the producers, not you.
  • Make over $3000 per week doing nothing
    If there's nothing to do then no money will be earned. Simple rule of life isn't it?
  • Become a Millionaire
    I know of no individual, though there may be a handful, who became a millionaire by buying an ebook or signing up to an affiliate marketing program. The people who make money are the ones that show YOU how to make money by conning you into the belief that it's possible. Of the millions of ebooks created, only a handful has made any significant amount of money and none of them have made millions from a single book. There have been a few successes here and there but it's the tiniest fraction of people who attempt it. You have to be honest with yourself about this.
  • Secret Decoded or Why am I revealing my secrets
    There are no secrets. You can Google anything.
  • Instant Niche Web Site
    Every single niche worth creating has already been created. Most of the sub-niches have also been created. It's nearly impossible to compete with the top blogs. And if you wanted to give it a go there would be nothing instant about it. You're going to be working hard at creating rich content, or your blog will die.
  • Converting All The Way To The Bank
    Please take your bank manager your web traffic statistics and put a dollar sign before each line. You still won't get a loan.
  • Never work again
    Unless it's a lotto site, by chance.
  • Give up your day job
    Yes yes yes, so you can work all night, ignore your family, become addicted to getting traffic for your white elephant, and believe believe believe you are going to make it.
  • Money Machine
    You really need to be quite a clever programmer to make a money machine, to a point. If you do not add new features, keep up with competitors, or build links every day, you're out. If you are considering buying a so called “money machine” make sure you research who made money with it. Your search could take around 12 seconds.
  • Prints Non-Stop Profits For You Automatically or The Easiest Money You'll Ever Make!
    My $100 colour printer can print low-quality non-stop counterfeit.
  • Now With Google/Yahoo Tracking!
    Tracking is free. It always has been, and always will be. If an infomercial offers you tracking, don’t believe their statistics. Get your own free tracking.
  • Big Money Maker
    No web site of an individual is a big money maker unless the individual is a programmer, has special skill that can be sold as a service, or has something unique to offer, or say in a Blog. Money making programs such as ‘PPC-direct-to-affiliate-landing-pages’, require truck loads of cash to make around 8%. And that's after generating literally hundreds of thousands of long tail keywords. Serious keyword research software will cost you around $20 000. Affiliate programs can change their policies in an instant without notifying you of your impending loss.
  • The Lazy Way!
    There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • ….insert another few hundred here…

The Infomercial Web Page as a 'sales tool' is untrustworthy.
Just look out for the six signs of influence to gauge how much selling is involved in getting you to buy:

  1. Reciprocation, the old give and take
  2. Commitment and Consistency, the old I'm here to help you
  3. Social Proof, the old recommendations by more losers
  4. Liking, the old photo and signature and boring rags to riches story
  5. Authority, the old ‘doctor said' so trick
  6. Scarcity, there is no such thing in a world of abundance

The Staggering Statistics and Earnings Graphic
Whenever an infomercial web page produces a graphic of earnings statistics it's probably not true. If these people were making money from the thing they are selling to you then there's no money in the product itself. Otherwise they would be focused on utilizing the widget themselves.

If you ever see the “Do You Want Proof?” question followed by an earnings graphic, consider the implication of clicking the Back button in your browser. Anyone can use Excel and Photoshop. What kind of proof is a graphic? I would insist the seller send their complete bank statement to me before I buy and see what sort of response I get.

The Time Limited Offer
Date stamped web pages that show today's date are probably a lie. Come back tomorrow to reveal the truth. Watch out for date stamped pages that appear to be around 3 – 6 weeks ago. They too can be a con. The developer may have simply adjusted the JavaScript code to display today's date minus some days or weeks. Anyway, 99% of these products are digital and for obvious reasons there is no time limit.

Here is a javascript date example: March 23, 2007

Quick - Only 193 left before we sell this one out!
The seller will most likely create a new template (which is really no better than the previous one, for they are all always so simplistic) and slap it on their old product. Then they change some landing page design elements, or the domain and product name, and set off again in search of new suckers.

Too Many Recommendations
95% of those recommendations are from Partner affiliates i.e. other Partners selling other junk. The other 5% are usually the hipnotees.

The MASSIVE CENTERED UPPER CASE TITLE WITH HIGHLIGHTED BLACK AND RED WITH EQUALY HORRIBLE YELLOW BACKGROUND is a dead giveaway

The Email Address Request
If you have to give your email address away to a stranger to get to page two you already know it's a con. They're using the web page as email bait. They don't care about the product. They want your email so they can send you offers using their Autoresponder system. Their Autoresponders are laden with scheduled email offers. It gets worse. If you opt out of their email subscription they have confirmed your email address is real and you are using it.

The Phony Free Giveaways Valued at Hundreds of Dollars
None of these so called giveaways are worth anything. Affiliate marketers can easily acquire White Label Rights (the right to use their own branding) on junk ebooks. There are literally thousands available. Also, affiliate marketers will partner together and share digital products on each other's web sites.

Pictures of the site owner’s Ferrari, mansion, jet, boat, and the cartoon of a man with US$ in hand, are all a lie.

The Adsense Con
The only people who make money out of Adsense are those that work tirelessly every single day to add value to the web through meaningful and in-depth web pages and sites. These potentially profitable sites are high profile blogs, some top article directories, and industry specific, niche, or vertical forums.

Sites that make worthwhile money from Adsense will probably:

  • be rated in the top 25 000 on Alexa.com
  • receive over 10 000 unique visitors per day > 30 000 page views
  • be social media hubs or portals with massive databases of users
  • have quality SEO with extensive quality inbound link networks
  • add value to a product or service greatly in demand
  • be MP3, software download, or other digital media hubs
  • be Google


Brother, please apply my points above to every web-infomercial landing page you come across. Alternatively, if you're feeling charitable, just send me the $97. You know I'll never pay you back but you will feel a lot better than being ripped off by a stranger.

Lots of love,
your brother

PS: A picture is worth a thousand words. This one is worth around $97, the average cost of an infomercial web page scam.

DISCLAIMER: THERE IS NO QUICK WAY TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE. YOU CAN MAKE MONEY ONLINE BUT LIKE ANYTHING ITS HARD WORK. THESE TIPS ARE A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SERIOUS ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING AS A BUSINESS AND WANT TO LEARN HOW TO AVOID SCAMS. IN NO WAY IS THIS GUIDE INTENDED TO MAKE YOU BELIEVE OR THINK YOU ARE OR ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE AND IN NO WAY DOES THIS GUIDE COVER ALL OPTIONS OR OFFERINGS.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

101 SEO and SEM Tactics for 2007

Deciding which Internet Marketing strategies and SEO Tactics to adopt this year, and in what priority they must be actioned to generate the best results, will radically increase your web site traffic and save you time and money.

Based on my experience as a professional Internet Marketer for the past 12 years I recommend newbies and seasoned Internet Marketing professionals adopt a prioritized Internet Marketing and SEO strategy for 2007. You will discover loads of targeted paid for and free traffic by applying these proven and guaranteed tactics, sequentially.

DISCLAIMER: THERE IS NO QUICK WAY TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE. THESE TIPS ARE A GUIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE SERIOUS ABOUT ONLINE MARKETING AS A BUSINESS AND WANT TO LEARN HOW TO ADOPT GOOD PRACTICES. IN NO WAY IS THIS GUIDE INTENDED TO MAKE YOU BELIEVE OR THINK YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE AND IN NO WAY DOES THIS GUIDE COVER ALL YOUR OPTIONS. THE AFFILIATE LINKS PLACED WITHIN THIS DOCUMENT ARE TO DEMONSTRATE HOW MUCH TIME IT TAKES TO BUILD VALUE ADDED CONTENT. THEY WILL NEVER GENERATE MORE THAN A FEW BUCKS FROM THIS PAGE. YOU CAN MAKE MONEY ONLINE BUT LIKE ANYTHING ITS HARD WORK.

I hope these tactics prove beneficial to you and wish you health, wealth and happiness in 2007.

Subscription Opt-In Email Marketing

Email is the fastest and most effective way to get laser targeted traffic to your web site, by far.
1 Create a news letter on a regular basis and send it to your opt-in email list
2 Use ad-hoc emails to notify your subscribers of important new updates on your site
3 Promote discounts, coupons, and special offers by email and offer discounts and incentives to ‘click here now'
4 Make all offers time and stock limited
5 Include a ‘send to a friend' link in your emails
6 Send quality content to your users or they will unsubscribe
7 Use an Autoresponder and opt-in email system
I use and recommend getresponse.com
I have also used aweber.com
8 Do not overuse or abuse email. Do not spam your users ( report spam )
9 Make sure your email is HTML compliant so your users see what you see
10

The following 15 words are proven to engage viewers. Use them unsparingly in your emails and digital swag:

Easy | Free | Safety | Save | New | Discovery | Love | Money
Proven | Guarantee | Health | Results | You | Your | Beautiful

Courtesy Harry J. Friedman
The Friedman Group


Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay per click advertising is the fastest sure way to get targeted traffic from searchers. But be prepared to throw money at the problem for at least two months before your CPC comes down to an acceptable bid price. Make sure your landing pages are highly relevant to your keyword search terms and you follow Google's guidelines for Quality Scores .

Priority list for Pay Per Click advertising (approx. %):

  1. Google Adwords (60%)
  2. Yahoo Search Marketing (14%)
    Sign up and get a $25 credit.
  3. MIVA (11%)
  4. Enhance Interactive (5%)
    Sign up and get $25 in Free Clicks!
  5. goClick (5%)
  6. MSN AdCenter (5%)
  7. 7Search (2%)
  8. Search123 (1%)
  9. SearchFeed (1%)
  10. ABC Search (1%)
11 Research keywords properly, exhaustively, vigorously– never guess. I use and strongly recommend Wordtracker
12 Create thousands (not tens or hundreds) of keywords For one of my customer's sites I have over 11 000 keywords. I have friends who have 100sof1000s of keywords!
13 Ensure landing pages meet Google's quality score guidelines to reduce ad cost. Even if you use other Pay Per Click advertising, Google's guidelines are worth implementing
14 Create landing pages that match keywords precisely. Whoever clicked your ad is looking for instant gratification for their search. Get to the point immediately and monetize as soon as possible
15 Manage Ad campaigns with bid management software. I use and recommend Bidrank . I find it less complicated than Bid Maximizer with more affordable usage/purchase options. If you cannot afford these tools use Google's free AdwordsEditor software to manage bids
16 Manage bids continuously. Don't leave your bids the same for more than 48 hours
17 Do not outbid competitors who have larger budgets. Do not start a bid war over crucial keywords
18 Bid on Long Tail keywords and study the theory of The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
19 Schedule bids based on analysis of site traffic logs using Google Analytics and Alexa
20 Do not use your home page as your landing page and make sure your landing page calls the user to action even if only to contact you


Banner Advertising (Pay per Click)

Banner advertising is less effective than text ads at producing clicks but more effective at Branding. Even if people do not click they see your logo and name. Impressions do not usually cost money - it's free Branding.

21 Use Flash animated banners whenever possible
22 Be creative and give users a reason to click
23 Stick to 468x60 banners for greatest reach


Writing and Distributing Articles and Press Releases

The Information Age has passed. We are in The Recommendation Age, the age of filtering. Filtering is the process of reducing information overload and noise. Writing articles, comments and reviews are effective methods of filtering and building targeted niche traffic.

24 Write at least two articles per week for 6 weeks (initially for a new site) and then one article per week indefinitely
25 Write articles about the benefits of a web site or product like yours but not about your actual product
26 Your articles should be all about pre-sales digital swag. Use them to inform – not to sell
27 Write around 500 words per article using carefully selected keywords relating to your business
28 Before you write, research keywords (using Wordtracker ) that people are actually entering into search engines – do not make up your own keywords - that is a hit and miss affair. Rather use keywords that you know people are using. Having said that, bear in mind that Google estimates that 60% of searches are only ever typed once the same way - eeek! So create variations of searched keywords
29 Make sure your article contains your Author byline, telling readers who you are, with a hyperlink back to your web site and landing page, relevant to your article
30 Submit your articles to sites like iSnare.com for distribution to approx. 40 000 publishers. In this way you can expect to receive hundreds of back links over a 3-6 month period (for each article) to your web site from article directories (like klikhir.com ) and various publishers. Almost all of them immediately submit articles to search engines, which means nearly every duplication of your article is indexed for search
31 Publish your articles in your Blog and bookmark your articles in your favorite Social Bookmarking sites for extra return links. Blogs and Social Bookmarks index quickly in search engines
32 Inform your email database using GetResponse.com or a similar service about new articles or include them in your emails
33 Syndicate press releases regularly using sites like mediasyndicate.com


Create and distribute RSS feeds

RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is an XML standard that allows you to produce a publicly available list of your web site's updates and news. When your RSS feed updates, users immediately see the new items as headlines in their RSS feed reader, without having to visit your site. If there is further interest they can click on the title to view the web page you are directing their attention to.

34 Create RSS feeds using standards like RSS 2.0 and ATOM
35 Update your feeds at least 2 to 3 times per week with relevant newsworthy content
36 Submit your feeds to Feedburner , Syndic8 , 2rss.com , rssfeeds.com , channelweb.com , feedboy.com
37 Create RSS feeds with images for greater impact
38 Mention the location of your RSS feeds in all of your digital swag. My RSS is here :: RSS 2.0
39 Place RSS Feed Icons in prominent places on your web site so visitors can subscribe to them
40 Automate your feeds so when your sites update your feeds do too. If you are manually creating feeds you will not be able to maintain production timing consistency
41 Sub Syndicate your feeds with partnering sites to include their links in your feeds for greater reach, as long as they reciprocate
42 Try limit your feeds to 50 items. Try to aim for 20 items and update them more regularly if there are more items
43 Use the correct dates and XML schemas in your feeds


Google Site Maps

Generate Google Site Maps regularly. As much as 60% of your web traffic can emanate from Google so get your pages indexed within hours, not days or weeks, using Google's back door. Google Site Maps allow you to submit your web pages to Google automatically. You can easily set up a Python script (or similar service) on your server to update the site map. Google's Python script notifies Google to index your pages. Googlebot can be made to crawl your site daily with some training.

44 Use Google's Python script to generate Site Maps
45 Create a Robots.txt file to ensure Google indexes only public pages
46 Set up an automatic command on your web server (e.g. Cron Job - ask a technician for help using a support ticket if you cannot do this yourself) to produce your site map as often as you update your pages. e.g. hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. You can check the crawl rate and pages indexed in Google Webmaster Tools
47 Google SEO: Try to use 20 or less great keywords per web page keyword META tag. You can put 30 or 100 in if you want to but it will hinder your results. Rather focus keywords on the precise content of your page(s). ie use keywords that are repeated regularly throughout your page – even if there is an alternative search term a user may consider. If there are too many variations, consider creating variant web pages using alternative keywords and content
48

Ensure the following Meta Tags are in the header of your web site's index page:

meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"
meta name="description" content="…"
meta name="keywords" content="…"
meta name="robots" content="Index, Follow"
meta name="Revisit-after" content="1 days"
meta name="rating" content="general"
meta name="document-type" content="Public"
meta name="document-distribution" content="Global"
meta name="copyright" content="…"

Remeber to enclose your META tags with "<>"

49 Check Google Site Maps regularly to identify problem areas and commonly used keywords for your site


Blogs, Social Bookmark Sites, Reviews and Podcasts

You should have a blog in 2007, its part and parcel of any pre-sales swag today. Make the time and become a voice for your niche

50 Create regular blog and podcast entries about a subject related in some way to your real landing pages
51 In your Blog entries, talk about the link you are sending visitors to
52 Create a friends network for your blog
53 Create a Blog roll of similar or related blogs
54 Link your blog to your home page
51 Submit your blog to the search engines and blog directories
52 Try to write 300 to 500 words every second day
53 If you have a large website consider employing a full time blogger to drive traffic using Long Tail theory
54 Welcome and promote comments in your blog
55 Submit your news URLs to a social news site like Digg.com , Reddit.com , Care2.org
56 Submit your bookmark URLs to social bookmarking sites like del.ico.us , blinklist , stumbleupon
57 If your web page is not a product selling page but has relevant information for users then you can submit to social news sites
58 Do not over use these free news and bookmarking services otherwise you will be banned
59 Build up a friends list as fast as possible so that when you publish they are notified about the new link and can ‘ Digg ' your web page helping you promote it to the front page of the news sites
60 Place entertaining and interesting news related to your niche to increase your Digg -ability
61 Put social news icons on your landing page so other users can Digg them
62 Build up your profile rankings and Karma in social bookmarking sites by actively taking part
63 Write reviews on related product in sites like Amazon Books
64 Digg pages you find interesting on other web sites
65 Ask friends to comment on and save your bookmarks and add a 'comment box' and 'email a friend' links to your own site.
66 Comment in other people Blogs and Social Bookmarks - commenting in other people's blogs give you a return link to your own web site and makes social bookmarking worthwhile. 'We' are the new tastemakers and filters for quality links and information


Back Linking and Link Exchanges

Do not underestimate the value of return links. It is time consuming to build them but they are the beacons to your site. The more sign posts (return URLs) you have the better.

67 Be active in building links. The more you have the more popular your web site is according to Googlebot
68 Treat your web pages as pieces of real estate for which sign posts need to be located everywhere. It takes time but it's worth the effort
69 Content Links (like those offered by Kontera.com ) are especially useful back links that hyperlink contextually applicable keywords exposed in real time on a publisher's web page. Keywords are automatically turned into links to the most pertinent and highest paying text ad
70 Ensure your context links direct users to actionable landing pages
71

Submit links to search engines

72

Place ‘link to this page' html code in a text box for users to copy and paste into their web pages

73 Put a link exchange contact form on your site to let people know you exchange links
74 Ask your friend's networks to Blogroll or exchange links with you
75 Exchange links only with interrelated sites for maximum performance
76 Become a regular user of an industry related Forum . Post and reply to that forum daily, if possible. Create your own Forum with free PHP scripts from hotscripts.com
77 Buy and sell links using a portal like LinkWorth


Affiliate your web site and products

Ask other web marketers and publishers to market your products for you through affiliation. (This could be prioritized higher if you business is dependant upon affiliate publishers)

78 Sign up as a merchant to a well known trusted portal such as Commission Junction , Clickbank.com , Kolimbo.com , Amazon.com , or eBay.com
79

Sign up to an online pay system such as PayPal.com to receive online affiliate payments (and be able to use eBay affiliation)

My Top 10 Earning Affiliates Picks I will personally be promoting in 2007 are:

  1. Expedia (AU)
  2. AutoAnything
  3. Amazon
  4. Google
  5. eBay
  6. Yahoo!
  7. Bodybuilding
  8. Medifast
  9. Gate.com
  10. Skinstore
80 On behalf of your affiliate publishers create deep links for each product you sell
81 Create banners and digital swag on behalf of your affiliate publishers to save them time and ensure brand consistency
82 Initially offer your affiliates a very high rate of return. 50% for digital products. Over time as you extend your reach you can reduce the rate
83 Sounds silly but make sure you have a great logo.
84 Make sure you have an affiliates, privacy statement, and contact us page
85 Continuously email your affiliates newsletters with the latest product offerings
86 Offer your affiliates a sub-affiliate program so they can earn revenue from their own sign ups
87 Ask your affiliates how you can improve your service. Most merchants ignore this rule so the ones who use it are noticed and appreciated more.


Local and Industry Linking and Offline advertising

88 Search for local chambers of commerce, bureaus and directories you can link from
89 Participate in a local industry related aggregator (local news or directory site)
90 Ask your suppliers to link you
91 Use online and offline classified advertising
92 Use traditional mail to draw users to your web site
93 Run regular competitions with great prizes

94

Sponsor a local social sports event to display your company banner or print logos on sports drink bottles

95

Take part in local trade conventions

96

Ask your suppliers to include you in their snail mail swag

97

Make a decal of your web address and stick it to your car


Friends and Family
98

Email your friends and family about new stuff on your site

99 Tell your friends and family what you are doing and ask them for help by forwarding your emails to their friends and family
100 If you are starting out with your own new web site and you believe what you are doing will pay dividends, consider asking family and friends to lend you money in return for a share so that you can work on the previous 99 items full time
101 If you can get through the previous 100 you deserve a day off. On your day off, carry some business cards with your URL and hand them out to people at random ;-)


klikhir is a new project and web site I am developing. The goal is to use free reprint article feeds to automatically filter products from Google, eBay, Commission Junction, and Amazon. "I'd rather read an article with the related products in view than go searching elsewhere', is the theory. I'll be improving klikhir and trying to follow my traffic recommendations.

Steven Rich is a professional Internet Marketer and Software Developer and produced and operates klikhir.com, a sophisticated Web 2.0 Article Directory Recommendation Filter that unifies articles with trusted brands to display products implicit to what you are reading. Browsing articles with related products greatly reduces your searching time online. Visit klikhir.com and grab free article content and great products.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Recommendation Age Filter Engines Unify Content and Products

Inspired by the teachings of Chris Anderson and The Long Tail.

It wasn’t too long ago we were embracing the information age. Most of us still think we are in it. But the consequence of the information age is the overwhelming volume of information on any given subject, product or service. We are forced to spend a great deal of time sifting through sites, bits and bytes to [hopefully] discover what we are looking for.


Be it music, film, books or other products the sheer volume of choice makes it more difficult to find what we want; but we are also offered an abundant picking list: This immense list has emerged because a) production has been democratized: Never before has any single human being anywhere been able to operate independently to bring something of value to the world stage; be it a sound track, desktop wallpaper image, Flash cartoon, computer programming service, or indeed, more and more, a paid commentator, and b) distribution now takes the form of bits and bytes, meaning zero goods stock holding so companies like Amazon can print books on demand and iTunes can deliver music in bytes.

These two forces create abundance in choice and transform information into saleable products and services.

But sifting through tons of information to get to what we want is a bit like weeding the garden. We have to look at almost every blade of grass to get all the weeds out before we see the right result. And usually we miss a few patches.

What if we had someone helping us weed? Like a tennis umpire overlooking the landscape and directing our attention to important areas within our focal length. Moving from Information age to Recommendation age the collective wisdom of the crowd is the new connoisseur. More and more people spend time writing reviews and recommendations, creating Blogs about everything, posting comments, writing forum topics and replies and so on and these serve as beacons for us searchers by highlighting areas of interest through a process called filtering.

Today filters are king! They help us find what we are looking for within the overwhelming abundance of choice. Sites like Google filter pages to bring us the most relevant to our search term. Amazon provides recommendations and reviews along with every book on the planet. Netflicks tracks our search patterns to filter and offer movies that closely match our needs for titles we haven’t even heard of. Ten years ago my local music store offered me 4000 titles. Today iTunes offers me over 4 million. I may have spent an hour browsing my local music store. How many would that be online?

Filtering transcends search and browse behavior. It is amplified through word of mouth. Sites like MySpace are huge filtering engines for new music bringing us informed democratic choice though collective sharing. ‘Linkers’ build online bookmarks and the numbers of clicks to those web sites are like endorsements, showing us where to click next.

With monstrous data crunching technology more and more sites are able to measure consumption patterns in real time and make changes just as quickly. This is a grand shift entering the Recommendation age.

Google Adsense filters immense volumes of keywords to bring quality ad content to any web site. Amazon Associates are easily able to place recommendations and reviews on their own web sites. These targeted ads and recommendations act as beacons or short cuts to what seek in a landscape filled with abundance. With good filters diamonds can be found anywhere.

Sites like Rhapsody, MySpace, Netflicks, and Commission Junction are the modern day factories. The workforce has been democratized so that any individual anywhere can produce hard or soft products and services for anyone to consume. All of these sites offer sophisticated filtering through recommendations, reviews and statistics. Still other sites like Digg, Reddit, Folkd, Shoutwire and Care2 are aggregators of opinion on any given topic and filter information based on democratic consensus and democratic publishing.

Klikhir.com unifies article feeds with targeted recommendations from trusted brands acting as a filter that shows users what they most likely want without navigation away from the article.

Bloggers filter niche market information providing direct access to relevant data. Blog comments are like fine tuners and direction finders helping us home in without reviewing every option ourselves.

The age of information is over. We have entered the age of Recommendations. Successful entrepreneurs would be wise to consider the new way to wow the crowd is to automate filtering through sophisticated engines and to engage users with interactive features like commenting, recommendations, reviews, Blogs and articles.

Steven Rich operates klikhir.com, A Web 2.0 Search Aggregator andf Filter of Quality Articles. www.klikhir.com transforms around 150 new articles, reviews and recommendations every day into copy-able web pages with value added content from trusted brands.