John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?  Competitive Web & SEO
January 31st, 2008 by john andrews

With More Domain Thefts, enter Fort Moniker ?

The world is full of scams, and as domain values increase there is a need for a Fort Knox style facility for holding domains securely. Moniker continues to earn top praise as the registrar of choice. I see Moniker recommended every time there is a domain theft or a new scam (and there is a new threat today – see below). I can only hope the domain auction business provides adequate cash flow, because no company can provide the levels of security we need with the few bucks they get on domain registrations (update: now owns Moniker… cash flow not an issue?).

Today on NamePros there comes warning of more abuse of the public’s trust in PayPal, this time for domain sales. Someone is allegedly offering to buy domains and using a PayPal account, which is then charged back on the premise that the item never “shipped”. The way PayPal works with credit card companies apparently leaves the seller holding the (empty) bag, even though the buyer has control of the domain. Read this thread because they identify the aliases used by this person, the whois, the email domains, and even a photo for those on the ground in Romania ;-)

Of course escrow is the answer, and that’s where Moniker gets recommended highly again. Good to see them stepping up to the plate as domaining advances and the various schemes are put into play by, instead of sitting back and monetizing the status quo until something breaks (the way it seems most companies operate these days).

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January 30th, 2008 by john andrews

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. + Affiliate Summit + SMX?

Domainers and Affiliate Marketers… what a combination! Domainers doing asset development like SEOs because SEOs know how to get tons of search referral traffic. But I often think that one of the reasons many domainers who don’t understand SEO still like SEOs is because SEOs know affiliate marketing (and monetization in general) and domainers want to monetize their traffic.

So it’s a no-brainer to say Domainers and SEOs should work together, but when did you last hear someone suggest Domainers and Affiliate Marketers should work together? You’re hearing it now, and February presents an unusual opportunity for just that. Both T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and Affiliate Summit are in Las Vegas with just a few days between them.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. (February 18-21 at the Venetian) is the premier domainer’s community conference. We tend to call all of these “expos” and “meetings” and “conventions” conferences but really, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is a true conference. Unlike conventions where everyone in an industry gathers around an expo or a collection of sessions, networking in-between sessions, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is one big networking session with conversation-and-thought provoking content tying the group together. You go to TRAFFIC for the people, and the gracious hosts and repeat participants help YOU get involved right from the initial “first timers” cocktail party on day 0. It’s all about domaining, but since domaining is also about SEO and marketing and online promotion and technology and TheFutureOfTheInternet, TRAFFIC is an exciting conference for anyone in the online space. For reference, domainers know that BigTimers like get up to $175 per credit card application, via a direct deal with the credit card companies. Not avalable to everyone, but the upper limit for per-sale commissions. Let’s keep that in mind as we compare to other deals below.

Credit Card Affiliate Programs

Just a few days after TRAFFIC comes Affiliate Summit West at the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Affiliate Summit is the big event for affiliate marketers, those web entrepreneurs who build and promote web sites that sell other people’s stuff. Affiliate marketing was the dominant monetization method prior to contextual advertising, and remains the most lucrative avenue for easy-monetization even today. All SEOs know affiliate marketing, for that reason. A LinkShare affiliate program for credit card applications can pay $100 per sale… Not as much as the BigBoys can get working directly with American Express, but not a bad commission, and far better than any PayPerClick reward from Google.

I won’t be at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. this time but I’ll be at Affiliate Summit, and maybe Search Marketing Expo in Santa Clara (overlaps perfectly one day with Affiliate Summit, so I’m not sure how that will work out for me yet). I suppose if you’re a domainer doing development and monetization, you’ve got a TriplePlay here with very little conflict : T.R.A.F.F.I.C. plus a few days off and then AffiliateSummit and a short hop to Santa Clara for SMX. I’ll note that the order is good as well… catch up on the domain space, meet the guys making millions hawking AsSeenOnTV-like products and earning $50 or $100 affiliate payouts per credit card application (compared to your $1.25 Google AdSense payout), and then hook up with Search Marketers to put it all to work on tons of search referral traffic that actually converts those $100 credit card apps, optimizing with targeted traffic for whatever affiliate programs you learned about by networking at AffiliateSummit.
Looks like the end of February is MakeMoneyOnline week in the west.

Executive Summary for Domainers: Google is not your friend. Product feeds are out; they have an obvious footprint detectable by Grandpa Google, offer little opportunity for differentiation, and don’t pay as well as affiliate programs. Super Affiliates can cut unqiue deals once they show the traffic they generate, getting them closer to those $175 commissions than anyone will publicly admit. That means domainers may be suited to become Super Affiliates. Search traffic is awesome, but needs to have a target, which is either PPC ads or affiliate links or direct links, so pick the best deal for you. If you go the affiliate route, your affiliate manager is your key to the palace and if you need one to get your started drop me a note and I’ll hook you up with a class act.

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January 29th, 2008 by john andrews

Magento SEO (search engine friendly Magento shopping cart)

Magento Book review: See down at the end of this article, a review of Packt’s PHP Development for Magento reference. There’s also a new recipe-like Magento book from Pakt on “sales tactics”, mentioned here, which I will also be reading.
Social Media aspects are coming to Magento… you will soon be able to use your Facebook page to showcase products in your Magento ecommerce site using this plugin.

Magento SEO Update 2/11/2009: More activity with SEO and Magento, with some SEO developers trying to make a name for themselves in the Magento space. See below.

Magento SEO Update 11/4/2008: Magento SEO is actively evolving, and SEO links (SEO resources for those working with Magento ecommerce) are now listed down below.

It’s never too early to be looking at SEO aspects of Magento, the new Open Source commerce application (shopping cart). Theyare still in beta but quite advanced, and search engine friendly issues have been addressed a few times in the Magento SEO forum, and in the “SEO group” and on the Magento site. There’s a video clip from November describing the rewrite system as very flexible, because in SEO, “every seo has his own opinion”.

Much of the SEO discussion is very basic, and there is pitifully low activity on real SEO. Someone on the China magneto forum posted a spider view back in November, before the latest SEO friendliness was incorporated. There is more SEO discussion in China than on the main site as well. However, the framework is quite capable and the meta tag management is as I would expect it to be for a modern, flexible PHP framework.

Maybe it’s time to dig in and flex the SEO friendliness and Magento’s “built in flexibility”?

I’d like to connect with anyone else looking into Magento and SEO, or anyone attempting effective deployment of Magento at this stage (non-production assumed) with respect to search marketing. The online demo site is not looking so good, but given the level of SEO discussion so far I didn’t expect it to be optimized. That said, this Chinese demo is not looking so good either, and they did have a bit more Magento SEO discussions.

Magento SEO Resources

Still plenty of misunderstanding of SEO issues in the Magento community and here. and here.

Some SEO advice is appearing, even though it is brute-force also see here and here.

There is some SEO awareness showing up on the Magento template design forums and even early signs of web sites dedicated to optimizing Magento for search engines.

BlueAcorn has published a good blog post about SEO and Magento, paying attention to the strategic issues that I find matter most when considering search marketing. Their ecommerce experience shows, as this kind of post is much better than the typical “SEO for Magento” blog post.
This is funny. I’ve been watching Google struggle with the new term “Magento” for almost a year. It seems there is enough mis-typing of comic book character Magneto (the freak who can manipulate magnetic fields) in the corpus Google indexes, that Google assigned Magento as a synonym of Magneto (do a Google search with ~Magento and you’ll see it).¬† Even to this day Magento hasn’t defined itself enough in the world to overpower the Magneto typos!

WordPress SEO promotor Joost DeValk¬† is moving into the Magento space now with a canonicalization extension he specified, putting his Yoast brand onto it. He didn’t write it, and it isn’t perfect, but he’s apparently collaborating with a PHP coder comfortable with Magento. Joost told me the coder will be guest blogging for him with more Magento code in the future. This initial code was prepared with some advance awareness of the new canonical tag sponsored by search engines, and is already listed in the MagentoConnect system under SEO.

Packt Publishing’s Magento PHP Developer’s Guide : Learning Magento PHP Development

,p>I just reviewed a copy of Packt Publishing’s Magento PHP book Magento 1.3: PHP Developer’s Guide. It’s a good resource for getting started developing SEO-optimized ecommerce sites with Magento. Packt is an open source publisher well respected in the community for publishing niche titles and donating some proceeds back to Open Source projects. I don’t think anyone can complain about $100,000 contributed back to Open Source projects so far (as reported in wikipedia).

Probably the biggest SEO advantages to be gained with Magento involve custom Magento modules, well-crafted SEO friendly Magento templates, and smart management of the sales conversion process. Conversion rate optimization with Magento requires programming. Magento is open and flexible, built on Zend Framework, and PHP developers can easily dig in to Magento for the first time with guidance from this book. When I see SEO for Magento articles focus on tricks and templates, and promote custom SEOplugins for Magento, I cringe because really the best way to build a Magento store involves baking SEO best practices into the core system. No one can hand you a set of templates and plugins for that – you need to do some custom development.

I’ve already recommended this book to two project developers. It says it is for experienced PHP coders, developers already familiar with PHP5 and wanting to work with Magento and the Zend Framework. That is accurate, but I don’t think you need to be very experienced with PHP to appreciate the book. The first few chapters cover Magento in detail sufficient for getting comfortable with a Magento/ZF installation. That’s always an issue for developers not familiar with ZF, because of the extensive folder structure. I think the book does a very good job of demystifying that from the start.

The middle chapters are the meat of this book. You build a shipping module from scratch, deploy a payment module, build an extensible featured product module, and finally a full Magento module with admin panels. In a nutshell, the authors covered the top 4 or 5 initial concerns of anyone starting out with Magento, and did so in a didactic way that gets you started with confidence. Nice job.

Could you get this free online from articles? Sure. As always with books, you are paying for the editorial context and commitment to accuracy. With this book, for $30 or whatever you get in one place, in basically one voice, a well-presented short story that carries you through what matters most when getting started with Magento development. I see it as a must-have for any developer joining a team working with Magento. Consider it a 2 hour read for an experienced developer, with a weekend full of Magento development exercises that will get you primed to jump in with the development team on Monday morning. After reading this through (I already work as an SEO on Magento projects as well as Zend Framework projects), I went to see the other titles Packt offers. I intend to bring some Packt books to my next user group meeting as well.

Related: See post on SquareSpace SEO

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