What’s happening is new webmasters, or I should say webmasters of newly created sites, can be tootling along with very little traffic and all of sudden they look in their analytics and they see traffic from Russia, and lots of it. They’re excited, they’re happy, they love traffic. In fact, that’s why they built a site in the first place. They’ve been struggling trying to figure out how to get some traffic and here comes some from Russia, that’s very exciting.
One of the reasons that these referrer spam guys are targeting new websites is because they expect that a new website won’t have much traffic, so a spike in traffic will be noticed by the webmaster. Of course it will, you’re checking your stats every day in your WordPress dashboard or Google Analytics, which I strongly encourage that you install on all of your sites. They’ll click to see where the traffic is coming from. That’s what I would do if I got a sudden increase in traffic, in fact I often do that to see if I was mentioned on a website or what’s sending this traffic to me.
Once you do that, if it’s one of these Russian referrer spam links that you click on, you’ll find that you’ll be redirected to a website where there is something for sale. It’s very confusing. Your website won’t be mentioned there, you won’t see the backlink, and you’ll be scratching your head wondering how in the world this Amazon page is referring traffic to your site. Well, it’s not.
That referrer link has been redirected to Amazon and on the way through your PC or Mac that you used to click on that link has been cookied with their Amazon affiliate ID. That doesn’t hurt your computer, it doesn’t hurt you, it doesn’t cost you anything, and it doesn’t hurt your website. But now, in the case of Amazon, if you buy something in the next 24 hours, as you know as an affiliate marketer, that Russian spammer is going to get credit for the sale.
You might be thinking, “What are the odds of that? Unless they get really lucky, that’s not going to happen.”
What if only 1% or half a percent, or one-tenth of a percent, one out of every thousand people actually happens to by accident buy something on Amazon right after they went through this link? That means one out of every thousand of these things that they do that’s successful they’re going to get an affiliate commission.
It’s automated. So what if they send it to a million people or 10 million people? What if they attack 100 million websites? It’s certainly possible.
This thing sits there in your analytics and doesn’t go away, it waits for you to find it. You could find it six months from now. So they’re planting all these seeds out there for affiliate links and probably making money.
The one kind of harmful thing for you is it skews your statistics, it’s confusing. You might have made a change recently in your website and you might be tricked into thinking that the change is what is bringing the traffic, so this is not good for you.
Google does some instructions on how to filter out these spam bots. They maintain a whitelist of known bots and you can activate that. In general, there’s not really any reason to do that unless you’re being confused by the statistics. [click here for video on how to block these]
Very interesting story though, because this is an old technique, it’s related to something you may have heard that’s been done in the past with cookie stuffing. Once upon a time it was possible, and I suppose that you could still do this, where you could load code on your page of your website so that whenever someone just visited your website the affiliate cookie for the product that you were promoting was stuffed into their browser and if they bought it sometime later you would get the commission, even if they hadn’t actually clicked on your affiliate link. Most affiliate programs really frown on that and they will ban you from the program if you do that.
There were some famous cases in the past of forums that would jam affiliate cookies in to forum visitors hoping to get commissions later on related products. Imagine if every time you went to CNN, or whatever your favorite news website is or Reddit, what would happen if they jammed their Amazon affiliate link into your browser. Every time you bought something on Amazon they would get a commission even though they hadn’t done anything.
That’s the idea on this attack. I think it’s very instructive to know it. You can take a look at how to get rid of that Russian traffic in your stats if you’re interested in that.
Listener Question: Yoast Plugin Settings for Categories
Now it’s time for a little listener feedback.
Listener teach7th – I assume this person is perhaps a seventh grade teacher, which is super cool. My wife taught fourth grade for 13 years. I don’t know how good of a teacher this seventh grade teacher is, but I’ve always said that my wife is the best teacher that ever taught. Maybe we can keep from getting in a fight; I’ll say today she’s the best fourth grade teacher that ever taught.
In any case, I applaud you teach7th, if you’re a teacher you’re awesome. Just flat out awesome.
The question is in regards to Episode 74 when I talked about how you shouldn’t index your category pages.
Let me say that one of the things that Google is very sensitive about is duplicate content on your site. A lot of times when we talk about duplicate content, as we’ve been over many times, about when your site has the same content as some other site. Right now what I’m talking about and actually what the webmaster guidelines are typically talking about is the case where you have the same content at different places on different URLs in your site.
In WordPress the typical category pages, what do they do? They take the excerpts from your pages and they present them all on one page. You write 15 posts about watermelons on your blog, that category page is a snippet from each of those 15 pages and all those snippets are duplicates from the original pages that they came from.
What we tell Google about this is we would like Google to follow those links to those pages, but we want to tell Google don’t put them in the index because they’re just duplicate content. These pages are not helpful search results, go ahead and index the main content pages that these summarize, but you don’t need to index the category page.
There are some cases where you can get the category page to rank, usually because you have some unique content on it. I’m not suggesting that you de-index category pages that are ranking and sending you traffic without thinking about it very hard. In general, for most people, 99.7% of the cases, you don’t want to index this extra content.
So we tell Google to no-index that page. We want them to follow it, we want them to know it’s there and we want them to follow any links they find on that page, but we’re telling them it’s not important for the index and “oh by the way, please don’t penalize me for this page because I’m telling you this is not for searchers, don’t put it in your index.”
Teach7th wants to know how to do that.
The first thing you need to do is install the Yoast SEO Plugin. If you go into your Plugins dashboard in WordPress and search for Yoast you’ll find the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast, that’s the one that you want.
Install that plugin.
If you look in that plugin what you’ll find is it’s listed in the left hand pane of your dashboard as SEO and then it has a bunch of options. One of the options is Titles and Metas.
If you go to Titles and Metas there are tabs across the top, the program lingo for these kinds of tabs is property sheets. There are five property sheets under Titles and Metas; General, Home, Post Types, Taxonomies, and Other.
Taxonomies has to do mainly with the way that we name things and it talks about how to manage the category pages at the top of the Taxonomies page.
Under the category options you’ll see a Meta Robots tag where you can check that and tell it to no-index but follow the category pages.
What this is doing is giving Google a signal that the information contained on the category pages is not appropriate for indexing, please don’t put this in the Google search results, because it’s duplicate content. You can no-index for a lot of reasons, but in this case we’re doing that because it’s duplicate content. And it tells them please do follow this link into category page because there are lots of links into really good content on this page. There’s 10 or 15 internal links on each category page that are pointing to your unique non-duplicate content on your site, so you want to leave those as follow to make sure Google has lots of ways to find your content.
That’s what you need to do.
As an added bonus, I have been wanting to start making some how-to videos. As my part of my content strategy for 2015 I talked about the fact that I want to release at least one video per week. Most of those are going to be video blogs, but I want to do some how-to videos as well. I have some nifty software for my Mac that does that really well, so I will in the next week or so create a video that shows you exactly what to do and we will go through it together on that video. I’ll let you know and I’ll put that link in the show notes so that listeners can find it if you need it in the future.
Thank you so much for the question, teach7th, and I hope you’re having an absolutely fantastic semester.
Getting Things Done and Your 2015 Goals
The last thing that we want to talk about today is this idea of GTD and your goals for 2015. Everybody talks about GTD and there are different kinds of people when it comes to GTD. Some GTD enthusiasts are really crazy GTD people, they don’t even go to the bathroom without breaking it down in terms of GTD.
For those of you that don’t know what GTD, let’s do a level set here. There’s a book that came out (maybe in the ‘80s) by a guy named David Allen, this is probably the famous time management book that has ever lived. I’m going to call it a time management book, that’s actually not exactly correct – it’s more of a project management book, but it’s not really project management. A productivity book – let’s call it that.
Probably the most impressive, important productivity book that has ever been published, Getting Things Done by David Allen.
If I could boil David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology down into 30 seconds, basically what it does is provides a framework for identifying projects, making sure those projects are well captured so you don’t forget things, giving you a system to keep you from forgetting things, and then breaking those projects down into something that David calls next actions, and recognizing that the only thing you need to work on in a project really in this moment is the next action.
Here’s why this is so important, especially this time of year. A couple of weeks ago, maybe if you’re lucky back in December, you set these massive goals for 2015. I hope you did – I hope you have some goals that would just blow my mind. When you did that you were doing that in the comfort of your rocking chair with your cup of coffee and your legal pad or an iPad or with your Macbook on a beach somewhere, you were in this serene environment and dreaming about what it was going to be like in December of 2015 and having this amazing stuff accomplished.
Maybe you were going to build the dream website that you’ve been thinking about. You’re going to finally build that ultimate affiliate website where you were going to sell Texas A&M sandstone coasters. You’d researched this extensively and you know Texas A&M University is one of the greatest universities on the planet and you know the demand for sandstone coasters with the Texas A&M logo on it is off the chart, you’ve done your keyword research and this is what you’re going to do.
But, the problem is building a website is a big task; doing the keyword research, creating the content, getting images for the site, finding affiliate programs, getting the affiliate links, maybe split testing some of the calls to action, building links to the site, driving traffic, testing conversions, maybe adding an auto responder, and the list goes on. It’s a massive task.
It’s the third week in January and you’re so overwhelmed by whatever this goal is that you’ve set that you’re not really doing anything. You get home from your day job late at night and you don’t even know where to start, so instead of starting you go to the couch or whatever. I’ve been there, I’ve done this. This is me, I’m talking to you from my experience. You’re tired already and unless you can be very specific about exactly what’s next, you either end up in front of the TV or on Facebook or down a Twitter rathole or whatever. None of that is good, right?
David Allen’s GTD has gotten almost to religious status in some communities, as I mentioned, there are GTD zealots. I think what you can really do that will help you with your goals is you can borrow ideas from GTD.
What I would say is you can take this goal that you’ve set for 2015 and you can break it down into the major steps. Let’s call those steps milestones.
In the example that I had before, you have some things that you have to do. You have to research this niche that you’ve decided you’re going to build on, sandstone coasters with the Texas A&M University logo. And you have to find keywords and do all the things that we talk about in the Affiliate Marketing Overview Guide on LateNightIM.com. Then you have to build a website; you have to get hosting, buy a domain name, install WordPress. Then you have to create some fantastic content, complete with images. Then you have to find some affiliate programs and maybe some related products that you want to put on this website and get those affiliate links set up.
All of those things are big tasks that David Allen would call projects. Getting the website up and running is a project. Researching and buying the domain name is a project. Doing keyword research is a project. The question is: to complete that project what is the very next thing that you have to do?
The project by itself, keyword research for an entire giant website, that seems overwhelming. Twenty pieces of content, oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start.
It may be that the next thing that you need to do to get 20 pieces of content written, the simple next thing you need to do is decide what the very first piece of content you’re going to write is. Maybe in order to make that decision you need to complete the keyword research and evaluate the competition level on some keywords. Whatever that next thing is, you can find a thing for that project that is the next thing that you need to do that takes you less than 20 minutes to do.
That’s sort of the standard – What is the next action that needs to be done that is broken down at a level that is small enough that it takes less than 20 minutes?
For each one of these projects that you have that supports this major goal, if every day you know what the three, four, or five next actions are, one for each of these big projects, then you have three, four, or five things you can just go do that day.
It will seem like a very small thing when you’re doing it. For the domain name, maybe the simple task is to look at 20 of the competing domains and see what their domains are, or maybe it’s spend 20 minutes looking at a domain name suggestion tool for good ideas. Whatever it is, it will seem like a small thing, but if you do that consistently day after day and you always know what the next action is, then by the time you get down a month, two months, three months down the road you’ll be amazed at the progress that you made, because you were never unsure about what to do next and you were always trying to accomplish something that was small enough to get done that day.
And over the course of the year that is the way that you can actually get to your goals for 2015. Take these big goals, break them down into milestones, create projects. We’ll use the David Allen term of project, a project is something that takes two or more steps that are 20 minutes or less each. Maybe the project is 100 steps, but break it down into these small steps and know what the next one you need to do is every day.
If you get up every morning and understand what the next actions are and you try to get two, three, four, or five of those next actions done every day, by the end of the year you will absolutely love the results, I guarantee it.
Wrapping Things Up….
That was fun. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really do appreciate it. I’m on the mend, I’ve hit the cough button a couple of times during this episode but I’m going to make it. I really appreciate you listening to me.
In the month of January I will be re-launching The Late Night Internet Marketing Minute. If you want to get back on that train, make sure and go to your podcatcher, whether that’s iTunes or if you’re one of many Android listeners whatever tool you’re using on Android, go ahead and search for that podcast and add that to your list. I will be producing content on that feed shortly. Content guaranteed to come in the month of January, it’s coming soon and I don’t want you to miss that. I’d love to see you subscribe to that show and maybe leave me a review over there, that would be awesome.
Thanks for listening. Have a fantastic week. I’ll be talking to you very soon, as I continue on my journey to get 50 or more podcast episodes published in 2015.