Sailing the seas of online marketing and plundering the riches as an affiliate pirate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

High CPU Load in cPanel Resource Usage Monitor

Today I randomly checked the Resource Usage tool in cPanel for two of my websites which use different hosting providers. To my surprise, both showed ridiculous CPU load (fluctuating from 70% to 100%) and high memory usage. What's more, this apparently has been happening for hours without any drop in load.

This was rather worrying seeing how my site usually has very low and memory usage and I rarely hits the CPU limit. Reaching the limits is bad because your webhost can decide to suspend your site or move you to a "troublemaker" server.

My 30 day resource usage graph looked like this:

You can clearly see the huge jump. What's more, the graph indicates that my host decided to actually increase the maximum CPU limit at the same time this started happening. All this, coupled with the fact that two of my sites, hosted on completely different servers, were having the same problem, seemed rather unlikely.

Sure enough, after googling for a few minutes, I discovered another user of completely different webhost service who had the same problem recently. I think we can safely assume that this is a bug in cPanel's resource monitor and not worry if your Resource Usage tool starts telling you're hitting the CPU cap all the time.

I haven't been able to find official notice of this anywhere though, so I'm keeping an eye out for any news.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How to Geotarget Ads on Your Website

Working with a single ad network is straightforward enough: you simply place their code on your website, and you're done. Things get a little more complicated if you are selling your ad space to advertisers directly, or when you want to geotarget your affiliate (or other) ads (in other words, show them only to visitors from certain countries). Geotargeting can drastically improve your profits, but is there an affordable solution for a small website or blog?

The answer is hosted ad managers which do all the work for you. There's lots of advantages to using a third party ad manager on a small website, the biggest one being that ad managing and geotargeting can use up quite a lot of CPU and RAM resources when you're hosting them on your own server or webhosting account.

So, how do ad managers work, exactly? You install the ad manager code on your website, and enter all the ads you have through the ad manager's admin panel. Simply put, now your ads aren't served directly, but rather through the ad manager's servers which can do all the nifty stuff like geotargeting for you.

Which ad manager to use? I've personally tried quite a few and ended up subscribing to AdSpeed. They have great support, easy-to-use interface, and affordable pricing (starting at $10 a month for 100,000 impressions). You can also try them for 10 days for free.

However, I did mention that I tried a few of them, didn't I? Perhaps some other ad manager would suit your needs better. I've published a short review of top 5 ad managers where I overview their pros and cons. Some of them will even let you use them for free (although with some limitations), so they're a good choice for even the smallest blogs which would benefit from some ad targeting capabilities.

Friday, June 24, 2011

High Profits Review

Intro to My HighProfits Review

HighProfits is a new affiliate program specializing in "make money online" niche products. I've only found out about it recently, but I was really impressed with what they have to offer. While HighProfits don't have a lot of products in their marketplace yet, the ones they do convert pretty well. Having in mind other great features of this program, it might very well become an alternative to ClickBank. That being said, let's move on to the main part of this High Profits review.

High Profits Review: Pros and Cons

HighProfits is a relatively new affiliate network with impressive features and an active community. The backend is packed with so many features it could make your head spin, but it is still very easy to understand and navigate. I've broken up my HighProfits review into several parts about certain aspects of the site I believe are worth mentioning.

Detailed tracking and statistics

The tracking system of High Profits is definitely one of its strongest sides. It registers all visitors coming to your affiliate links, counts Raw and Unique hits, visits to the order page (called "Join Hits") and, of course, conversions and refunds. You can see top programs that you're sending the most hits to; top sites driving you the most traffic; and you can even create campaigns for tracking, say, your Google AdWords efforts. High Profits even has detailed demographic statistics and shows what country your visitors are from and which one converts best and gives you most profit!

The statistics can be displayed in a Pie Chart or Bar Chart format, giving you a nice graphical representation of the data. Suffice to say, if you're a stats freak like me, you'll spend a lot of time playing with this stuff.

Payment options

HighProfits gets top marks for offering a nice array of payment options. Besides check you can choose international wire, MoneyBookers and PayPal. The latter is definitely more convenient than using checks.

You may set the minimum payout, but it has to be at least $100. This might be a bit higher than most other sites, but I don't really see a problem with it. Personally, I try to withdraw in larger sums anyway due to the fixed withdrawal fee.

Community and support

Another great aspect of High Profits is its active community and helpful support. If you contact them with any question regarding the affiliate program, someone will usually answer you in a matter of hours. HighProfits also has a forum with member discussions, helpful tips from the pros and affiliate website reviews. What makes it great is the fact that the product owners and administrators frequently post there as well and give you great advice.

Products and comissions

When it comes to the number of products available for promotion, HighProfits is a bit lacking - alhough it's understandable seeing how it's a relatively new affiliate marketplace. However, what it lacks in quantity, it makes up with quality. Take ClickBank for example - there's a lot of old and no longer supported products, products which don't offer any affiliate tools, and the like. HighProfits on the other hand provides a large variety of promotional material for every single product on their marketplace. That includes banners of different sizes, ready-made reviews (this isn't one of them) and even websites (with pre-written content or without) which you can upload to your server and use them right away.

Since all products offered are digital, High Profits is able to pay generous commissions ranging from 30% to as much as 100% for certain paid membership websites. You will find that the most popular number is around 50%.

Edit and update
: it seems this program has new owners. I'm not sure about its future, although it has been running without problems for now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Weebly Review: SEO Issues

Weebly is a site builder that allows you to create websites quickly and easily. You get to choose from a number of nice looking themes, and then you can create pages and drag-and-drop various elements (paragraphs, pictures, videos, forms...) to them. You can do this even if you have no knowledge of HTML or CSS.

For those who wish to delve deeper, Weebly does allow to edit the HTML of the theme to some extent, as well as gives you access to edit the CSS file. But keep in mind the things you can change are limited; for example, some webpage elements are described in a second CSS file that comes from Weebly that you can't change. If you want full control, it's always better to host a website on your own.

I was pretty impressed with Weebly, but also ran into some problems right away. Weebly allows you to add pages as well as blogs to your site - but it seems it's not quite ready to be used as a full-fledged blogging platform. The biggest problem I've encountered is the mess with meta descriptions and titles for blog posts.

You see, Weebly allows you to enter custom meta description and title for every page. However, it treats blogs as pages, too. What this means is that if you enter a title ("My Blog") and meta description ("I blog about stuff here, check it out") not only your blog's homepage will have it, but also every single post on your blog.

Duplicate meta descriptions and titles on every blog post is a pretty bad thing. If you use Google's Webmaster Tools, they will quickly point out this problem in Diagnostics > HTML suggestions as well. My conclusion is, if you want to make a simple webpage, or even an e-commerce website, Weebly might suit your needs just fine. But if you're looking for a blogging platform, it's not quite up to par yet.

Shameless ad: if you signup through my affiliate link, we'll both get 1 month Weebly Pro membership. Cheers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Remove Wordpress Admin Top Bar in 3.1

The popular blogging platform Wordpress was recently updated to version 3.1. One of the new features is the "admin bar" that is shown to logged in users and allows them quick access to posting new content and administrating their blog. While that certainly can be useful, some people (including myself) don't find much use for it, or just want to see the site in the same way as regular visitors see it. Or maybe they just hate these "tool bars" with a passion :)

Disabling it is easy enough, if you know where the option is hidden. It's actually changed on per-user basis, so you have to go to Users in your dashboard, and manually uncheck the option for every user that doesn't want the admin bar (simple enough if you're the only one):

But what if you want to disable it for hundreds of users at the same time, or maybe remove it for specific parameters (like adding ?bar=none" to your blog URL)? Not to worry, has posted detailed instructions on more complex modifications of the behaviour of Wordpress 3.1 admin bar:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Invalid Account Nickname / Password at ClickBank

I am unable to login to my Clickbank account right now. It gives me the following error message:
Invalid Account Nickname And/Or Password, Please Try Again.

Things like that really scare me, I mean, who wouldn't freak out if they lost all their CB affiliate commissions?  But in this case, it seems Clickbank is having some technical issues. So if you get the same message while trying to login to your Clickbank account, don't panic or start request your password - simply try later.

Update: Clickbank gives a proper maintenance message when trying to login now:
Scheduled Maintenance

Sorry, we're performing some scheduled maintenance.
HopLinks and Orders are NOT affected by this maintenance and are functioning properly.

The entire ClickBank site is temporarily unavailable.

We're sorry for any inconvenience. Please check back soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How to Disable HTML Links in Wordpress Comments

One of the most annoying things that a blogger (Wordpress or otherwise) has to deal with is comment spam. Both spam bots and human spammers leave comments with links to various sites in hopes to improve their Google ranking or even get some direct visitors. Take away their ability to post active links in your comments, and you've won most of the battle. Regretfully, for some reason Wordpress both turns inactive text URLs into active hyperlinks, and it allows a href HTML code in the comments by default. To fix this we'll need to implement two modifications in the Wordpress code:

1. Prevent Wordpress from turning text URL addresses into clickable links. This can be achieved easily by modifying the functions.php file of your theme using the editor in Wordpress admin area. All you have to do is add the following filter somewhere in there between the opening and closing php tags:
 remove_filter('comment_text', 'make_clickable', 9);
And if your theme doesn't have a functions.php file, you can simply create one, add the opening php tag, and paste in the filter afterwards.

2. Disable HTML links in Wordpress comments. This part is a tad harder, because you actually have to edit a Wordpress core file. That's right, believe me or not, as of 3.0.5 version of Wordpress, there's still no other way to disable certain tags in comments but to edit the kses.php core file (which gets overwritten with every update, so you have to add your hack again). Hopefully they will add a setting for this in your admin area in the future.

So, find the kses.php file in your wp-includes folder. Locate the part which says * @global array $allowedtags and comment out (e.g. add a double slash before) the tags we want to disallow in the comments (in our case we want to disable active links, so you'll want to comment out lines like 'a' and 'href'). Here's an example of how that part of a modified kses.php file looks:
     * Kses allowed HTML elements.
     * @global array $allowedtags
     * @since 1.0.0
    $allowedtags = array(
        //'a' => array(
        //    'href' => array (),
        //    'title' => array ()),
Of course, you could simply delete the lines and it would have the same effect, but commenting out is preferred in case you will want to turn them back on sometime.

As I mentioned before, this hack will disappear every time you upgrade your Wordpress, so keep a note handy somewhere so you will know what to edit.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Wordpress Strips New YouTube iframe Embed Code

I frequently use Youtube videos on my Wordpress-based gaming blog to show off new game trailers. Youtube recently introduced a new kind of embed code which uses iframe HTML element rather than object element as before. This causes some problems with Wordpress editor, since apparently it strips iframe tags from the post.

You can, of course, simply use the old code that uses the object element, but we can't be sure Youtube will keep supporting the old embed code forever. Also, the new code provides support for HTML5 videos.

There is an easy workaround to make iframe work in Wordpress post editor:

1. Use HTML mode when editing posts. Paste in the new Youtube iframe embed code and publish the post while still in HTML editing mode. Do NOT switch to Visual mode, as this will cause all iframe tags to disappear!

2. Use a Wordpress plugin that prevents it from stripping iframe elements. Frankly, I prefer using as little plugins as possible to keep the installation uncluttered and reduce CPU and RAM usage on my shared hosting account. However, if you want to keep using the Visual mode and keep Youtube iframes from disappearing, then using a plugin is a valid choice.

Which plugin to use? I know at least two that do the job:
  • IFRAME Embed For YouTube adds a quicktag to the Wordpress Post Editor - you simply post the Youtube video URL into this additional tag, and when the post is published the iframe embed code will be displayed correctly.
  • TSL iframe unfilter is a much more simple plugin that simply prevents Wordpress from stripping any iframe tags in the post editor.

Now you know how to use the new Youtube iframe embed code on Wordpress without problems. I am sure the future versions of Wordpress will fix this little inconvenience so you'll be able to embed Youtube videos without the need for any plugins or additional hassle.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Clickbank Pirate Review

Introduction to My CBPirate Review

It's not often that I give in to the hype and buy these "amazing" money-making products from ClickBank. In fact, ClickBank Pirate is only the second one I've ever purchased. The reason I did that was the fact that Soren Jordansen  (Soaring4Traffic admin) is the owner, and that CBPirate promises that all you have to do in order to make money is send traffic to the simple squeeze pages that they provide. I do believe I'm the perfect test subject for this, since I've never had much luck with making Clickbank sales.

How Exactly Does Clickbank Pirate Work?
This Clickbank Pirate review has everything you need to know.

The problem with most "making money online" related CB products is that it is often hard to understand what exactly are they supposed to do at a first glance. You have to simply ignore all the "incredible $9,000 worth of bonuses" and other marketing fluff that doesn't tell you anything useful.

Thankfully, Clickbank Pirate website is pretty clear in this regard. What they do is provide professionally designed promotional tools - such as e-mail texts, banners and squeeze pages (more about those later) - for certain ClickBank products. As of now, the CBPirate members' area contains 6 "packages", or in other words, a big variety of promo tools for 6 different CB products. I was presented with a One-Time-Offer to buy more "packages" for $67, but I declined as 6 is more than enough to promote for me right now (and besides, they are supposed to add new ones every month).

"But wait" - you might ask, "Is it really worth paying as much as $67 one-time fee + $27 per month just for a bunch of tools for promoting Clickbank products?" That's what I asked myself as well. Turns out it is in fact worth it, because the Clickbank Pirate squeeze pages that I mentioned earlier do most of the work for you - all you have to do is send traffic to them (by means of PPC, or traffic exchanges for example).

The CBPirate squeeze pages (such as this one) promote a free report to the visitors. They have pretty high conversion rates (meaning there's a high chance a visitor will opt-in by entering his name and e-mail). After that the ClickBank Pirate does all the work of following up and explaining things by sending out emails with YOUR links - you do NOT have to deal with replying your potential customers or trying to sell anything to them. And the best part is, once you get a customer he becomes tagged as yours for life, making you money on all follow-up sales as well!

To sum it up:

  1. Signup for Clickbank Pirate
  2. Send traffic to their squeeze pages
  3. CBPirate does the rest and you make money!

And if you don't know how to get traffic, Clickbank Pirate can help you out a little as well. They have a tutorial on getting visitors by various means such as PPC advertising, social bookmarking and traffic exchanges (although there's only a handful of information on each traffic source, so don't expect too much). You do NOT need a website or any HTML knowledge for this to work - you can even promote using forum signatures or whatever else works for you. They also give you a free 1,000 visitors bonus in the members area.

That's about it for my Clickbank Pirate review. I didn't mention some minor bonuses that they give you, but I believe those are not all that important. For example, you will get a free Wordpress blog - however I doubt that it'll be very useful as it's on a subdomain and you have very limited control over it. The main power of CBPirate lies not there but in the automated squeeze pages that they provide - and those are HOT!

Real-Life Proof That CBPirate Works
Note: these earnings aren't typical - there's no guarantee you will get the same results. However, if you're unhappy with anything at all, ask for a refund in up to 60 days after your purchase.

So you've read my Clickbank Pirate review and you're still not convinced that you should pay $67 for it. Fair enough - $67 is no pocket change for me either.

CBPirate is a great turnkey system, and chances are almost anyone who can send enough traffic (be it via AdWords, social networks, forum signatures - whatever) can make money with it. However you will NOT make $1,000 overnight if you just sit and do nothing!

Check out the image above - it contains real-life proof that Clickbank Pirate works. The owners took their squeeze pages for a little test drive, and the results were great. The best part is, you will be using the exact same tools!

Join Clickbank Pirate! Arrrrrrrr!

If you want...

  • An automated system for quickly and easily getting your online business into profit & raking in massive Clickbank checks.
  • To make more money online this month than ever before.
  • To earn easily without your own website, product, or any kind of technical skills, by simply sending traffic to professional, ready-made squeeze pages...

Then Clickbank Pirate is exactly what you've been looking for!