Tracking Hot Keywords For New Blog Subscriptions

Mark over @ 45n5 talks about geotargeting ads and keyword tracking for sales to best optimize your blog and fine tune it for sales. While I was writing a comment to his post, I realized this is actually too large and better suited for a blog post–so here it is.


  • Do you know what keywords are converting blog subs for you?

Sales aren’t the whole shebang, subs are good gravy too (and depending on the type of site–Subs hold *more* long term value than hit-and-run-sales IMO). So which of your blog pages draw more subs? And which keywords are the “omg-sign-me-up-now!” eyeballs finding your blog with?

It’s easier to twig into what topics/content draw links and inbounds, you don’t need any special analytics tools to track that. But what about subscribers?

I have some pretty heavy traffic pages–and popular too. But they’re not big subscriber/converters. Some link love, some stumbles, it’s all good. I also have small traffic count pages that go unnoticed (link love) yet I discovered they are subscriber gold mines and I make sure those get some attention so they rise and hold their spot in the SERPs.

What twigged me onto this was keeping a close eye on my subscriber counts. I find email sub counts easier (more stable) to monitor, so I work with those numbers. If my blog averages between 10 and 20 new *email* subs a day–I keep on trucking. When I hit 20+, 30+ and 40+ a day, that’s when my bloggy senses start to tingle and I want to know WHY.

Things to note:

  • There is no new stumble/delicious/social bookmarking action going on
  • There isn’t a new juicy inbound possibly sending the converters
  • Search traffic counts are within normal range

So when you discount each of those things as being a reason for the jump in blog subscribers, how can you pinpoint where these new subscribers are coming from and why? This had me scratching my noggin for a bit, but the secret: It’s in the keywords.

Analytics is cool, groovy stuff that I’m delving more into right now, but I’m not that sophisticated with implementation yet. For one thing, every analytics option that’s 3rd party hosted isn’t allowed on any of my sites and blogs (why hand over all my juicy secrets to competitors? Free? Ha!). And I’m not a coder. Double whammy.

But I have found a works-for-now option: Bot Tracker (WordPress plugin). You can use it to monitor which pages the search engines are crawling and all that jazz, but you can also watch which pages are hot spots in the SERPs for any given day. Drill down a bit and you’ll see which keywords are being used to find those pages.

When you discover the keywords and content that best converts to new subscribers, it’s easy to write more of that juicy subscriber-bait, as well as make sure what you already have floats to the top of the serps and is more easily found by searchers.

Tricky Blog Spam Ramping Up

There seems to be something new going on with blog comment spam. It’s been hitting me here at SuperAff as well as creeping into a few other blogs.


  • It’s not autogen spam, it’s a human being taking the time to comment in a way that’s applicable to the blog post (at least kinda/sorta)
  • They’re sneaking in questions that mention (and sometimes link to) products, services, people. They’re asking for advice (what do you think of xyz; I’d like to try ABC–what do you think; I need a good quality widget and I think 123 is really good, thoughts?).
  • The comments are made by people that have never spent a few weeks/months on your blog making relevant comments that add value in any way, but suddenly *poof* they arise from the mist needing your advice about a product.
  • The discussion on your blog is about Problem A, and again, they arise from the shadows to gush about Product #1 (never heard of before) to solve that problem. Complete with web address (sometimes).

The comment spam is so good at times that it’s hard to be sure someone’s intending to syphon your traffic to their product/service, but when in doubt–do a web search. You’ll almost always find several (dozens/hundreds) helpful commenters across several blogs and forums with the same plea for help or same product suggestions. The language/feel of the comment is a dead ringer.

Bottom Line: It’s your blog. Your traffic that you worked hard to build a relationship with. If a comment sticks out like a sore thumb, nuke it without apology.

I almost want to say: Learn from it and promote your own blogs/products/sites this way, because it’s done really well and flies under the radar for the less experienced. This could be a possibility for a site or product you don’t really care about building a good reputation (or brand) for, but for a web property that matters–it’s not a good idea. No one likes the smell of spam and that smell hangs on for years (and is in full view for eons via the web/search engines/web archives).

The level of increase in this type of spam is having me wonder if there’s a product launch coming up, “How To Use Other Blogs To Promote Your Products Without Being Deleted For Spam”…only $99.97 if you buy now! Or maybe it’s someone’s WOMM campaign service they offer for a fee, who knows.

Cleaning Up Your WordPress Blog

Remember back in the day WordPress came with a “wp-images” folder? Well I still had that plus a lot more crap in the folders here on SuperAff. Uploading a fresh new theme motivated me to clean up the loose files, remove old forgotten folders as well as do a complete fresh install of WordPress itself.

I found a bunch of files loose in the root domain (wth was I thinking?) and some stuff scattered throughout that just needed better organization. Moving files can cause problems for old posts though, anyone who’s bookmarked that post or new to reading it will find the file MIA. It’s simple to fix:

  • Just do a search for the filename (ie. “smilie.jpg”) and edit the post to the new file location. You can do this right in WordPress admin area (under Manage) or use the blog’s search box. I didn’t have much post editing to do (makes me wonder what the heck I have those files uploaded for), but if your job is a big one you may prefer doing a database search and replace.

If the search doesn’t come up with any posts using that file, chances are it was something to do with an old theme and can safely be removed from the server completely.

I do have more plans for SuperAff, I don’t blog much here but I am fond of the place. Time to treat it a little better ;). I’ll be adding a few new sections, maybe do something a little different with all the resources, tools and bookmarks, as well as switch up the categories I blog under and a few other ideas. It will take some time though, I have other places that require top priority, but I’m looking forward to updating things around here. I won’t be announcing each improvement or change or removal or update, so if you come across something new the next time you’re visiting, you’ll know why.

I’ll also be monetizing SuperAff a bit. Buying the new theme and realizing that I couldn’t justify the cost for an exclusive theme (that was affordable and reasonably priced) is so wrong for a blog that’s three years old. I won’t be going crazy or interrupting your feed reading constantly with the “latest and greatest must have deals”, so no worries.

How To Purchase A WordPress Theme

After searching what seemed like forever, I finally found a theme to purchase for SuperAff from a nice young fellow all the way over in South Africa, Cobus. I searched, and I searched, and I searched. During my theme hunt, I discovered a few things to look for when buying WordPress themes:

  1. Window Shopping: I found browsing through portfolios for ready-made designs to be the best bet rather than trying to explain to a designer exactly what you want. If no prices are listed, just ask–you might hit the jackpot and be pleasantly surprised (like me). Unless you have a designer on hand that knows your style and what you expect, there’s a high risk that it just won’t work out. You explain to the designer what you want, she understands, and whips up something completely different than what you had in your mind. She’s incorporated the things that you’ve requested, but not at all in the way you envisioned. It’s like clipping a picture from a magazine and taking it to your hairdresser to style your hair in the exact same way. You walk out with a hairdo that’s not at all what you thought it would be (ladies, you know what I’m talking about here!). That’s because how I see/perceive something can be different than how you see it. I see shiny highlites and bouncy curls, my hairdresser sees orange undertones and perm. I’ve lost a few bucks because I didn’t like what the designer came up with.
  2. Watch The Graphics: Make sure the theme’s category and sidebar titles are text and not graphics. It’s *real fun* trying to customize and make new titles/headers match the font and shade exactly when you are trying to add something other than the usual suspects to your sidebar (like “categories”, “archives”, “meta”). If you have the graphic skills and are able to edit them easily, it still sucks having to create a new graphic file every time you want to add a section to your sidebar.
  3. Be Clear On Specs: If you want the sidebars to be a certain width (to hold a certain size banner for example), or if you want the content to be read in the code first before the sidebars, make sure to mention that to your designer. If your specs aren’t already in place, they can easily do so before handing the new theme over.
  4. Original Design: If you want a theme designed from scratch that you totally own and no one else can get their hands on, expect to pay between $700 and $1100 dollars. It aint cheap. But in return you better get some serious input and editing control in place, otherwise chances are high you’ll be stuck with a very expensive theme you are dissatisfied with or even hate (see point #1).
  5. SuperAff AvatarTheme Accessories: Ask the designer to whip up an avatar and a favicon to match the theme. Be specific though, same rules apply as with choosing a theme. My words to Cobus were: “Basically just the two letters from my blog title (maybe staggered) with a nice border” and this is what he came up with–I love it. I lucked out though, this could have gone very, very wrong if I was wanting something particular in design.
  6. Widgets: Is the theme widget ready? Do you want widgets? Although WordPress is widget friendly, I use them *sparingly* on other blogs. This theme was widget ready and I could have had Cobus “un-widgetize” it, but I decided to go for it. Now I think I hate widgets :P. But it’s a good thing to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new theme, do you want widgets or not?
  7. Header graphics: Ask the designer if they’re willing to customize the header graphic. SuperAff in the above header doesn’t look that complicated and I probably could have pulled it off myself, but Cobus did a beautiful job on the theme–would I really want to go in and slaughter the design by topping it with a header hacked together with my crappy graphic skillz?
  8. Customize It: Once the new theme is delivered, upload it, add all your favorite plugins and then comb through the code. Designers are artists, net marketers are hacks. But with our fresh pair of eyes sometimes we can spot things that could be streamlined or tightened up in the code. Feel free to hack away at your new theme, just make sure to keep an untouched master copy on hand in case you screw something up and can’t fix it. This new theme on SuperAff has been modified a bit, and Cobus was ok with that ;).

You can also join WordPress theme clubs like this one and this one, you get an array of goodies to choose from with new releases on a regular basis.

Please Note: If any “report bots” are reading this and are tempted to skedaddle off to report this post, I have not received a reduced price, a free theme, a cup of coffee or anything in return for mentioning Cobus and his mad design skillz. I’m simply a happy customer that recommends him and am pleased with this purchase. That’s still allowed to discuss. Sad state of affairs that I even have to add this blurb.

Googlebot Kickin

This landed in my inbox, thought it was interesting – Googlebot Just Got The Boot:

Having been defamed by Google, along with many other bloggers, gave me an opportunity to reevaluate my relationship with big G. I have decided to see how will this blog survive on its own- without Google. So I have instructed Googlebot to stay way from this blog. But I also have requested to remove my entire website from Google’s index via Google Webmaster Tools (formerly know as Google Sitemaps).

Not only has he removed his site and blocked it from Google, but I don’t see any Adsense code on the pages either. Goog’s not getting fatter off this blogger (Vlad). Is he feeding data to the data hungry Goog with Analytics? Dunno, but so far I’m impressed. It’s one thing to complain about Google, but it’s a whole ‘nuther thing to actually “respond in a meaningful way” to a business that you feel has crossed the line. Otherwise it’s just hollow talk (IMO).

One thing that confuses me is the remark “having been defamed by Google”. I don’t follow that logic and don’t get how Goog’s defaming anybody thru the visual pagerank displayed on their toolbar. Anyone who judges a website or blog on what number Google chooses to display in the toolbar has a serious case of brainwashing to undo. But whatevs, it’s just a small quibble.

My prediction: It’s hard to know whether this is a serious attempt to break free from goog’s hungry clutches, or if it’s linkbait. It may be a bit of both–nothing wrong with that. Whatever happens, I think this will be interesting to watch. Maybe this will be the start of a new game in town: Googlebot Kickin. Now THAT would be hilarious, lol.

John Chow Effect

You’ve done a terrific job branding your website. Now disaster strikes: Google bounces you out of the SERPs. And you can’t even rank for your own brand or name – say it’s John Chow. Searchers are using your name to find you. The top results in the SERPs are feeding off the brand you built.

So what’s a webmaster to do?

If you haven’t prepared for this already, get a site up there, and fast, that will rank in the top spot for your website name. A new domain, or a free platform (Squidoo,, Blogger, LiveJournal, etc.–or all of them). Direct that traffic to the real domain. Use javascript on the links, nofollow, whatever you have to do to keep the ranking site safe (linking to a ‘bad neighborhood’ excuse goes *poof*).

Chances are it won’t be that hard to rank, unless your name becomes a ranking sport–like John Chow, :wink:, and everyone has fun trying to rank for it. You know, a sport for bloggers and webmasters.

Another good reason to own as much of the Top 10 as you can with whatever means you have available. Call it your brand’s “Emergency Preparedness Plan”. No harm done if you prepare a domain or two for this now, a step or two ahead of any Do-Evil Internet Overlords. Just in case you’re the next John Chow.