Oct 31, 2008

The end

Google AdWords' Keyword Tool is a wonderful SEO tool. Actually not only helpful for SEO, but for other situations when you need to choose keywords, for instance:

  • when you want to define an AdWords campaign and want to choose the lowest paying keywords, with the highest traffic
  • when you want to write articles/pages for your website/blog and want to have keywords suggestions on what you're writing, obviously choosing the ones that are the most searched for
  • when you want to decide how to name your products/service with regards to purchasing a domain name based on a keyword - actually phrase for now since the best keyword domains are taken
  • many other uses I cannot think of for now

I use it a lot, and a while back after searching for Japanese related information for a project I was doing, I thought of going to Google's AdWords keyword tool and do a search on Japanese related terms to see what are the most popular ones and what I should use. For using this tool, if you're not logged in with your Google account, you need to enter a captcha. Normally I don't try to figure out a meaning of the captcha, just put mechanically the letters in there, but this time it got my attention:

captcha-google

First of all, it caught my attention because I thought it meant ovari, and I chuckled. But, if you search for the term owari, you'll see that it actually means (as Wikipedia describes it):

Owari is a Japanese word meaning "The End" and is often found at the end of Japanese movies.

Google already sniffs through your searches, so that it knows better what ads to serve you in order to have a better click through. What I wonder if the "sniffing engine" also suggested to the captcha engine to generate something Japanese-friendly. Anyway, a long shot here, but you never know these days since Google knows about everything about our browsing habits, probably it knows what I did last summer too ... oh shi*.

Oct 25, 2008

Directory submission software - what's best?

A web directory is a list of websites with short descriptions and links to the original site. DMOZ is a web directory. The most popular one out there, one that Google uses for its Google Directory and that several thousand other web directory use as source. Google ranks the websites it displays in the search results (e.g. when you search for "directory submitter") in a order it calculates based on its own internal ranking algorithm. Two factors that count probably the most for Google's search results ranking algorithm are the linkbacks and the original content. Now, assuming that you're not the best copywriter out there and you don't have all the original ideas needed to create the best content that would make other people link to it, you have to focus on the other option for increasing your website's rank - link building.

 

There are literally thousands of web directories, some of them which let you submit your website for free, others require a linkback and some of them require payment for being included. Since the paid web directories ask, in general, between $10-$50 to submit and include a link, if you own a lot of websites and don't want to go broke you'll need to focus on the web directories that list your website for free or for a linkback. Then again, this is something either you could do it, or outsource it to someone else but pay around $50 per website to submit to 1000 free web directories. If you have ten websites and you don't afford $500 paid for those 1000 free listings, a solution would be using the directory submission software. What such a program would do is gather information about your website(s) and then let you submit your websites to those free/linkback directories in two ways:

  • manually - meaning that the directory submission software would show a list of directories and you would click on each one, open the submit form, auto-fill the required fields (and manually enter the captcha where needed) and finally doing the actual submission flagging the respective directory as submitted
  • semi-automatically - meaning that the directory submission software would "learn" what category your website gets to be submitted to, and only open a page for submitting if that submission form has a captcha - preferably only showing you the captcha itself instead of the entire page

There are some claims of directory submission programs that do all this automatically, but those either submit your websites to search engines (which don't really have any value), or they submit it in a wrong manner (wrong category, captcha), so that your website gets banned from that directory instead of gaining a backlink.

 

In my quest for finding the best directory submitter, I ended up trying these programs: digiXMAS Submitter 3.41, Fast Directory Submitter 1.51, Directory Submitter, Website Submitter 2.6 and Submiteaze 8 . Below you can read my reviews on each of these directory submission tools, along with a rating I chose based on my testing, on a scale from 1 to 10 (programs reviewed below are in the order of the rating).

 

NO 1 is, Submiteaze - this is what I consider the winner of this directory submission software review round-up. It has the same informercial/salesletter type of website that made me suspicious initially, but good thing they offer a free trial. There's a Download free trial page, truth is that they ask for your email address, but there are solutions if you want to bypass that. I added my email address and I can tell that they only submitted a follow-up email, so no worries on being spammed. Plus, I've sent a support request and they were very fast in responding. It costs $80 (almost), but the best thing about it is that it includes not only a directory submission program, but also an article submitter. That's right, beside having the possibility to submit to 3800+ directories, it also offers an article submission section where you can submit (manually) to 400 (more or less) article directories. Not to bad, is it? Especially if you have multiple websites. I'll definitely purchase Submiteaze, because it meets my requirements: has a semi-automated submission mode, it isn't expensive if you have to submit to multiple websites (one time payment, unlimited submissions) and offers upgrades free for life. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Submiteaze an 8.

Pros for using Submiteaze:

  • best deal - with $80 you get a directory submitter and an article submitter too
  • offers a semi-automated submission mode too, but out of the 3800 something web directories, only about half are supported for the semi-automated mode (they call it Turbo Mode)
  • offers an article submitter too (I know, I've put this twice, but it's just because is a good deal)
  • lets you import custom directories (they will not be supported in the Turbo Submission mode)
  • it does a check on the backlinks your website has (out of the submitted directories)
  • displays Alexa pagerank, IBL, Google Pagerank for the directories listed (so you can sort which to submit first to)
  • the directories are well categorized, in over 19 categories (by submission type, free or paid, and also by the niche of the directory)
  • you can import/export project settings in between, well, different projects

Cons for Submiteaze:

  • it gets a little until you understand the interface and all that it offers, it's just too much information for someone looking at it for the first time
  • a bit on the slow side compared to Fast Directory Submitter for instance, but this is not a big problem since it still doesn't take long, given it offers a Turbo Submission mode
  • it offers a free trial but you can only submit to 15 directories, you have to buy it to submit to more of them

image

It took a while to test them all and finally chose a directory submitter that fits my needs. For now (until Website Submitter gets to version 3), Submiteaze seems the best choice as it offers a bundle of directory/article submission, has a semi-automated submission mode, a consistent list of directories to submit to and nevertheless a good price for multiple-website owners.

 

2. Website Submitter - I really wish this was the product I was going to purchase in the end. I really do, and not because the developer is Romanian (like me), but because it has the lowest price (considering my case of needing to submit multiple websites) of $47 and one of the largest database of web directories (over 4000 of them). However, the final decision in my case was based on the fact that I need semi-automated submission, and also the ability to submit to several websites by easy switching between different profiles. However, not all is lost. I've emailed the developer which sent me a (quick) reply saying that he's working already on Website Submitter 3, a new version that will be released (hopefully early) next year. That's good news, because probably I'll switch to it then. Why? Well here's a glimpse of what it's going to be in Website Submitter 3:

  • it's going to use the same engine as Article Submitter and Feed Submitter (two other products from this developer) which means it will be up to 300% faster in submitting than the current version
  • it will have a fully automatic submission mode for up to 40% of the directories in its list (and there are MANY), which means it will record the categories to submit to before the actual submission

How does this sound? Excellent I would say, and this would push it to the top of my preferences and I'm sure many others will think the same. Anyway, as for the current version, I would recommend it for those that want to have an accurate directory submission process, because the submission mode is manual only.

Pros for Website Submitter:

  • the lowest price (for a webmaster with 5 or more websites)
  • one of the most comprehensive directories (with over 4000 of them)
  • offers a 14 day trial with a maximum submission of up to 40 directories (paying removes these limitations)
  • auto-fills in the information when the submission form fields are detected

Cons for Website Submitter:

  • no semi-automatic submission mode (though the next version will have an automated directory submission mode)
  • you cannot submit to several websites at once (meaning you should be able to switch easily between different website profiles so you could submit the first one, then the second to the same directory, and so on)

image

As mentioned above, of all the directory submitters tested I think Website Submitter 3 is the best - unfortunately it wasn't released yet :). If you can wait until next year to purchase a directory submission tool, do it, because the announced features surpass many of the ones offered by existing programs (though they might change too). Until then, Submiteaze will work for me. Even if it doesn't offer semi-automated submission, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give Website Submitter a 7.

3. Fast Directory Submitter - I don't know what relation is between the developers of Fast Directory Submitter and the digiXMAS Submitter developers, but the programs have some questioning similarities. There is one big difference though, Fast Directory Submitter has a better interface and has a few new features compared to digiXMAS. Actually Fast Directory Submitter has implemented the new ribbon interface Office-like, so everything is right there where you need it. Just like digiXMAS, it requires you to login to an online account, where it checks automatically for updates and lets you download those. It lets you submit for free to 150 directories. However, it has exactly the same payment system as digiXMAS, meaning for each website you want submitted to more than 150 directories, it will require you to pay $15. So this means that it gets quite expensive with 10 or more websites. Too bad, this would have been my choice if it wasn't for the pricing.

Pros for Fast Directory Submitter:

  • it allows submitting for free to 150 directories
  • well structured interface, ribbon-type like
  • has an Express Submission mode, which is a semi-automatic mode that recognizes automatically categories and you only have to click the Submit button (everything is filled in automatically, and if there's a captcha you see it only)
  • has an option to switch automatically between different website information (title/description/keywords) to avoid being ignored by Google
  • lets you check for backlinks (directories that approved your website) automatically, and offers Report Tools

Cons for Fast Directory Submitter:

  • Pricing structure, it's very disadvantageous if you have several websites, because each submitted website costs you $15
  • obligates you to create an online account and login each time you want to submit a website (they do this though to verify how many websites you're using)

image

If it wasn't for the pricing structure, I would have definitely took it into account too for the final purchasing decision, because it has somehow the easiness and speed digiXMAS has, but compared to digiXMAS it has a very well-laid interface. However, the search went on and in the end I was able to find Submiteaze, my definite choice for a directory submission software. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Fast Directory Submitter a 7.

4. digiXMAS Submitter - Why do the programs that you like always have a glitch or two that make you look elsewhere for a replacement. From all the directory submission tools I've tested, digiXMAS Submitter is the only one that has a truly semi-automated mode. They call it the Truck Mode. What this does, is it lets you put in description, link, title and everything project related, it also recognizes some categories based on keywords you've entered, but the truly best part is the fact that once you start the Truck Mode, it will automatically submit your site to directories. From time to time, if it gets to where it encounters a captcha, it will show a window where you need to put in the captcha but digiXMAS Submitter still works in the background submitting your website.

Pros for digiXMAS Submitter:

  • it comes with a free trial that lets you submit your website(s) to 150 directories
  • it has a semi-automatic submission (called Truck Mode) that lets you submit your website very very fast, probably in half an hour I submitted one website to 150 directories
  • it's the fastest program from the tested ones

Cons for digiXMAS Submitter:

  • first there's the interface, it looks so old that you're wondering if it's still being developed (and it seems it is, just they probably overlooked the GUI importance)
  • it gets expensive if you have multiple websites, because for each website you want to submit you have to pay a fee ($15), so if you want to submit 30 websites you'll have to pay $450. This payment will allow you to submit to all the directories in their database (not only those 150). On the other hand, if you have only one website you'll need to pay $15 which is quite good.
  • there's a downside to that auto-submission feature, because if by mistake you're adding the website to a wrong category it will be rejected and probably your ip banned. This is why they probably offer a normal submission method (manual).
  • it doesn't offer an option to switch between different descriptions for your website
  • in order to use it you need to create an account online with them and each time you have to log on to that to use it (probably to track the websites you submitted)

 image

Again, with some work to its interface, and offering the option to make a one-time payment for all the websites you have, and digiXMAS Submitter will be a winner. Right now, I had to move on with my tests with the purpose of finding the best directory submitter. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give digiXMAS a 6.5.


5. Directory Submitter  - Don't get scared because they have the website listed as an infomercial (salesletter-type of website), because they do offer a trial meaning you can download the program and test it. Plus, the trial version comes with a list of 350 web directories, on which you can test submitting with it to see how it works.

Pros for Directory Submitter:

  • has a free trial and lets you submit your websites to 350 web directories.
  • it lets you define different website profiles, so if you want to submit 10 websites at the same time you can select one profile, submit it to the web directory, switch to another profile and submit it, and so on.
  • has a money-back guarantee of 30 days.
  • it automatically fills in the data you want submitted to the directory (after you've selected the category)
  • has an option to switch between multiple fill in information bits (so that Google won't ignore some of the links if it finds the same title/description everywhere there's a new link)

Cons for Directory Submitter:

  • it doesn't have a semi-automatic submission mode (one that would automatically "learn" the categories your website gets placed in and select them, and loading the captcha in a larger picture for you to put in and click submit
  • it doesn't offer a tool to check the directories you've submitted to if a link has been added
  • the directories in the list aren't filtered in other categories, they just show as free/paid or both

directory-submitter

Overall, Directory Submitter left me the impression of a pretty stable program, one that you could rely on, and it has a very simple interface as you can see from the screenshot above. The price for the version that doesn't limit the number of directories you can submit to is $76. If this sounds much for an webmaster that has only one website, it's really not that expensive if you own 10-15 or more websites. The drawback that would keep me from ordering this is the fact that it doesn't have a semi-automatic submission mode. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Directory Submitter a 6.

 

If you had the time to read all through this, you'll realize it took me a while to test all these programs, just because I wanted to be sure I get the best value for my money. I hope Submiteaze won't disappoint me in the future, after I use the paid version for a while. If it does, I'll "re-review" this directory submission tools review. My recommendation for you, reader, is to test them too. I chosen for this test only programs that offer a free trial, because I do believe in try-before-you buy.

 

Disclaimer: This review uses some affiliate links, but this shouldn't be a problem since I don't use them only for one product, but for 3 of them. First I reviewed them, and after that I signed up as an affiliate. Any comments, good or bad, are highly appreciated.

Oct 20, 2008

Forex trading robots

The first time I discovered Forex I thought it was a fascinating world, something I couldn't believe I didn't hear about for such a long time (discovered it 4 years ago). If you're asking why is it fascinating, it means you don't really know what Forex is. Forex, or the foreign exchange market, is the largest and most liquid financial market in the world, because it includes currency tradings between banks, governments and the most part of the traders, which is speculators. Because that's what you're doing on Forex, you speculate which currency pair would have gains for you. Forex involves trading currency but in pairs, for example you buy 100 euro in your account by selling 140 dollars, thinking that in the future the ratio between the euro and dollar would increase so that you could sell back the 100 euro for more than 140 dollars, gaining the difference. Of course that because of its liquidity, the ratio varies by the second. And by the second the transactions happen, bringing the average daily trading volume to a stunning 4 trillion dollars. That's daily, meaning in one year (365 days) it would go up to 1460 trillions. It becomes interesting, isn't it?

 

Back to my fascination, after reading anything I could get my hands on, and trying everything other Forex traders suggested, I realized after about 2 years that it wasn't for me. I couldn't do it. Even if I managed somehow to win some money, I lost even more after a while. The main rule I didn't follow on trading currency pairs on Forex was that you don't let your emotions dictate what to do next. However, when I was gaining pips, I always stayed near the chart and simply looked how it grows and decreases slightly, until in the end I couldn't take it anymore and stopped that trading pair, to find out the next day that it went up at least two times the no. of pips I settled for. At the other end of the story, whenever I had losing trades (-xx pips), I let them running and running thinking that the market would get back and my pips would return. Most of the times it didn't happen, at least not in a timely matter. That's when I thought Forex trading isn't for me.

 

Now, 2 years passed by and every now and then when I saw the mention of Forex I felt like going back to see if something changed in my trading behavior. A couple of days ago I've found the first mention about Forex trading robots. A so-called Forex robot (Forex trading robot), would actually trade instead of you, or at least give you suggestions on which pair to buy/sell and when. All sounded well, but the thing is that the websites for these Forex robots are long sales letters with talking characters, a type of website I don't really trust. So here comes the dilemma I'm having these days, do these work or are they Forex robot scams? At first I inclined to think it's the latter one, but then I thought it's not that impossible to have an automated trading system, given that there are already a lot of legitimate Forex softwares that help your trading decisions based on different algorithms of interpreting previous trade charts. Basically such an automated Forex trading system would be triggered by some Forex signals (calculated using an internal algorithm) and place automated bids for you. The programs I've found so far are: Forex Autopilot, Forex Killer, Forex Funnel and Forex Tracer. All with salesletter-type of websites, all with prices around $100. So, since I have my doubts about if they're helping or not I decided to do a test. I've put some banners on this blog hoping that someone that gains a lot from Forex and would like to experience other Forex trading softwares could purchase and test its accuracy and post results in form of comments. On the other hand, I'll purchase it too if the affiliate income pays for the software, being able to provide reviews for these trading programs.

 

I'm a fan of try-before-you-buy programs, and this is why I have questions on how these Forex programs really work since on their websites you find anything but step-by-step screenshots of how they work. On Forex Autopilot it seems that it will do a simulation of market trend, raising Forex alerts when you should buy/sell certain pairs. Same goes for Forex Killer too, so it seems they're not actually so automated since you're the one performing the trade, but based on the Forex signals you get from them. Anyway, I'll delve deeper into this since any overlooked opportunity is a loss, and I neither want to lose any new opportunities, but I don't want to be tricked either. Worth mentioning, as an example, that Forex AutoPilot has a disclaimer at the end of the website content saying:

All information on this website or any e-book purchased from this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial advise

But then again if you start reading the EULA of 99% of your installed programs, you'll see they all deny to offer any guarantees if the program will work or not as advertised.

 

To sum up, here are the four programs I've started asking myself if they're worth or not:

  1. Forex AutoPilot - Forex trading advisor (robot), costs $97, offers a money-back guarantee of 56 days
  2. Forex Killer - same automated trading robot, about $99, offers a money-back guarantee of ... yes, 56 days
  3. Forex Funnel - Forex automation software, this one costs $137, 60 day money-back guarantee
  4. Forex Tracer - "expert advisor for the Forex market" as they name it, $97 but it seems they don't offer a money-back guarantee (or maybe I've missed it).
Update 1: This experiment kind of failed before starting, since no one purchased or commented on any of these forex trading robots. Do they work or not, why knows, I for one am not convinced (since I was not able to test any).

Oct 9, 2008

Notepad2, replacing your old Notepad

Call me old fashioned, but I use quite frequent Notepad. I like it because it's fast, and it's a perfect program when you want to write something down, and fast. Now, because it's very basic I thought maybe there's something out there that keeps the simplicity of Notepad, but offers more. And there are quite a few Notepad replacements. One of them is Notepad2, a program born from Florian Balmer's need for a "fast and light-weight Notepad-like text editor with syntax highlighting".

Ten things I like about Notepad2:

  • it highlights code syntaxes based on different schemas, also matching visual braces
  • it shows indentation guides and line numbers
  • when writing html/php it automatically closes the opened tags (when you finish writing the starting tag, it will add the ending one too)
  • it does code folding (between two matching tags)
  • has an improved find and replace
  • it offers a way to display an opened window Always on Top (by pressing a key combination)
  • and probably the best of all is that you can install it and have the old notepad completely replaced, so now when you want to edit a file even if it says it will edit it with notepad it actually opens in in Notepad2

image

I'm sure there's more to it than I've discovered, but it's a far better choice than using the simple Notepad windows offers. The default installation doesn't give you the code folding option and the total Notepad replacement, that's why you need to download a modified version from here: Notepad2 3.0.20-rc3 (scroll down at the end of the page where it says My Custom Notepad2 Builds and select the normal installer for the version you want installed (the latest for now is 3.0 rc3, I'm not giving a direct link to the exe because it will probably change). Once you have it downloaded simply run it and you'll get a prompt if you want to install it and replace Notepad, at the end of the installer you'll notice that the old Notepad was retired and replaced by Notepad2. The View menu will let you customize the way it looks.