Archive for June, 2007

An Easy Way To Generate More Linkbacks

I got an e-mail from Scot Smith of Meridiancrest.com yesterday letting me know that he was back to blogging and had redesigned his site. His new design is one of the better ones out there in my opinion, so major props to him on that.

When checking the new look at, I noticed something on his sidebar which I hadn’t seen on other sites before. He has a section called “Recent Reaction”, which are essentially back-links to other sites and blogs which have written and linked to his site a specific post on his site. He also has a small blurb underneath stating this:

Good Idea: Get a free back-link automatically by leaving a comment or simply mentioning one of my posts on your blog.

This simple concept allows him to promote others to write about his site, as their article will receive a link on all of his pages. This is an excellent way to build more linkbacks, more traffic, and increase your sites SEO stance.

Adding this feature is as simple as adding the get recent comments plugin, which also suppors the back-link feature. If you have this installed already, or you do install it, let me know how it has worked out for you. Have you seen more people linking back to your site? Or did it not make any difference?

Hidden Black Theme In Aim 6.1

For those of you using AIM 6.1, you’ll notice that one of the new features is being able to choose various themes for the AIM buddy list and IM windows. All of the themes are based on the same background, but can change some of the colors. There is a hidden black theme, which actually changes the entire color to black, and looks so much better in my opinion.

AIM 6.1 Black

To make your AIM 6.1 buddy list look the same, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have AIM 6.1 installed
  2. Open the blGadgets.box file from C:\Program Files\AIM6\services\imApp\ver6_1_32_1\content\bl\blGadgets.box in notepad or any text editor.
  3. Search for ??black?? (at about line #580).
  4. Remove the collapsed=??true?? part
  5. Close AIM if you have it open
  6. Re-Open or open AIM and sign in

You can see the new color choice once the change is made here:

AIM 6.1 color picker

Much cleaner looking!

[Source: Gus What?!]

Video: Supercar Comparison

Autocar Magazine did a supercar comparison between these insane rides:

  • Audi R8
  • Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera
  • Porche 997 GT3 RS
  • Aston Martin DB9 Sport Package
  • Bugatti Veyron

These are all some amazing cars, and this video takes a look at each one. You can find out what’s so good about them, but also what their quirks are. My favorite parts are the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera flying around the corner (the car just sounds ridiculous), as well as the comparison race between the Audi R8 and Bugatti Veyron. That Veyron just blows the competition away…but with a $1.4M sticker price, it better.

First Advertisement In The Newspaper

For those of you who don’t know, I own a few different businesses, both online and offline. One of those is Tri Megatech Technology Solutions, a company that offers technology support and solutions to home users, home offices, and small-mid sized businesses. We do things like coming to your house and removing viruses to setting up an intricate network for a company moving into a new office.

The majority of our business is very localized, meaning most of the money comes from people and businesses within a certain mile range of our location in Maryland. We do offer web design and development services, which can be done for anybody anywhere, but most of our money does not come from this. This means we have to do a lot of local advertising in order to get our name out there and generate enough business to cover our expenses and make a profit. We are a new business, so getting our name out there is very important at this stage because it’s also one that can generate much of its business through word-of-mouth…the most powerful type of advertising there is. In order to get new clients and customers through word-of-mouth, we have to get the work in the first place to leave a good impression.

This Sunday we’ll be running our first advertisement in the newspaper. We purchased a spot called a 2×3 (3.7″x3″) that will run through a few local papers here in Maryland this Sunday. The circulation for the paper is about 60,000, so we really hope to generate a decent amount of business out of this.

When it comes to advertising, it’s all about ROI (return on investment). I don’t care if I spend $1,000,000 on an advertisement, as long as I can make money (in a specified amount of time), I’m happy. This ad costed us about $200, so just getting a few simple jobs will make up for it. The jackpot would be to get some contracts with businesses out of it though. While lots of little jobs adds up, the direction we’re trying to move our company into is supporting small-large businesses as well as IT government contracting. Here’s the ad I created:

Newspaper ad for Tri Megatech

We’re offering 50% off of our prices because it’s important to us right now to generate a client list that will spread the word about our company. Word-of-mouth advertising is the most valuable type out there, and generates the most business…for free. We also wanted to target some businesses, so we’re offering free consultations. It was pretty hard to fit everything we wanted in one ad, and maybe it would have made more sense to actually get a few ads, make different creatives that target different services, then see how the results are for each. Just like online advertising, it’s most optimal when you tweak your ads every time in order to see what gets the best response (unfortunately in the offline world it’s much more expensive and time consuming to do this).

Hopefully I’ll be reporting back in the next week or two with some good news in regards to the newspaper ad. Stay tuned for a followup.

The 45 Best Tech Sector Corporate Web Designs: P-Z

Update: I have also compiled a best of the best list.

This is the second to last in my series featuring the best tech sector corporate web designs. I take a look at the last batch of letters, P-Z. My final edition will feature the best of the best, taking a look at almost 1,100 corporate tech companies websites that are traded in stock market. I’ve already posted The 45 Best Tech Sector Corporate Web Designs: A-G and The 45 Best Tech Sector Corporate Web Designs: H-O.

Palm

Palm

Plantronics

Plantronics

Polycom

Polycom

Priceline.com

Priceline.com

Quadramed

Quadramed

Qualcomm

Qualcomm

Que Pasa

Que Pasa

Quovadx

Quovadx

Continue Reading »

Finally Google Analytics Makes A Small Big Update

Google Analytics is an awesome program to track traffic on your websites, but there was always one thing that bothered me. In the referring sites section, there was no link to actually visit the site that referred you. You had to copy the domain name, then copy the actual full URL, add the domain name to it…every time you wanted to see the page that referred you.

But finally, Google has come through with a simple solution:

Link for Google Analytics referrral sites

Google added a new window icon that actually clicks through to either the domain or the actual page that referred you.

THANK YOU GOOGLE!

Update: I found out that a bunch of new features on top of clickable referral URLs were also added to Google Analytics:

Hourly Reporting
View by? daily/hourly is now back for those that want to see their stats broken down? by the hour rather than just the day.

Cross Segmentation by Network Location
You can now cross segment reports by network location.

Increased number of data rows per page
A single report page now can show 500 rows of data, rather than just 100.

Bounce Rate increase/decrease
A slight error in colors of bounce rate increase/decrease was corrected.

AdWords Integration
It’s now easier to link your AdWords and Analytics account together.

I’m glad to see proactive changes being made to the software.

 

Tracking Things You Didn’t Know You Could In Google Analytics

Like most of you, I am a stats whore when it comes to my websites. I can spend hours constantly checking various stats, income, referrals, etc, etc. So when you can get better stats, it’s exciting! I found a really good article yesterday on using some advanced features in Google Analytics.

Patrick discusses a few different features, I’m going to cover just a couple of them that I think you guys would be most interested in. Patrick touches these topics:

  • Tracking exit clicks, banner clicks and RSS feed subscribers
  • How do I track downloads?
  • Tracking ecommerce revenue
  • How to track Sales
  • Tracking 404 errors

I want to cover tracking clicks/RSS feed subscribers, as well as ecommerce stats. If you’re interested in anything else, check out the article

Tracking Clicks And RSS Feed Subscribers

Tracking clicks was a feature I found out about and used when I was developing SmashMyViper.com (now sold). The site had a grid of advertisements (We ended up having 32 different ads on one page), but we wanted to track the number of clicks each one was getting. The ads could not be ad served as we did not want to bog down the server with requests each time, so I utilized Google Analytics to help me out. By adding a simple line of code to each URL I was able to track clicks. For example a regular URL would look like this:

<a href=”http://www.activetuning.com”>ActiveTuning</a>

To utilize click tracking, you would just add a little code:

<a href=”http://www.activetuning.com” onClick=”javascript:urchinTracker (‘/outgoing/activetuning’);“>

On SmashMyViper.com, I gave each ad an ID, so my tracking code was something like this:

<a href=”http://www.activetuning.com” onClick=”javascript:urchinTracker (‘ID22′);“>

Now when I login to Google Analytics, I go to the content category and choose content drilldown. I can see ID22 as one of the line items, and the number of pageviews is the number of clicks it receives:

Number of clicks in Google Analytics

When you click “/ID22″, you can then see a history of the number of clicks over time the link has received.

I would recommend always adding a “/outgoing” to the link (ex: onClick=”javascript:urchinTracker (‘/outgoing/activetuning’);) because it will better organize everything in Google Analytics.

By using this methodology, you can create a tracking click on your RSS feed button to see how many are clicking on it. Put it in different places, change the icon, and make various changes to test where it is most effective.

Doing eCommerce Analysis With Google Analytics

If you run an eCommerce page, setting it up to track everything with Google Analytics is a must. There is so much valuable information that can be gotten for example:

  • Revenue analysis
  • Conversion rates
  • Referrals
  • Visits to purchase
  • Time to purchase
  • Much much much more

I would post a ton of screenshots for some of the information that it gives me for ActiveTuning, but I have to keep that confidential due to my competitors reading my blog.

In order to track sales, some server side script needs to be added on the order confirmation page that populates a form in this format:

<body onLoad=”javascript:__utmSetTrans()”> <form style=”display:none;” name=”utmform”> <textarea id=”utmtrans”>UTM:T|[order-id]|[affiliation]| [total]|[tax]| [shipping]|[city]|[state]|[country] UTM:I|[order-id]|[sku/code]|[productname]|[category]|[price]| [quantity] </textarea> </form>

I personally used an open source contribution that was built for osCommerce and automates this function, so I can’t really say much about doing it yourself. Google does offer some references and guides here.

If you have any other tips, please share!

Links Of Interest

John Wesley gives his 27 Lessons Learned on the Way to 3000 Visits a Day and 2200 RSS Subscribers. This is a good way to see what has and hasn’t worked for him, and use that for yourself.

The guys at YoungGoGetter write about How to work on your blog without anyone having the slightest clue. I found this useful because if I wanted to make template changes, I don’t want the world to see…especially because of lots of mistakes are made. Using a preview theme allows only you to see changes until you want to make them live.

Smashing Magazine writes two excellent resources on the Golden Rules of Linkbaiting and Google PageRank.

Martin speaks his mind on giving back to the online community. Not only will his methods help others, but it will also help your own blog. I’m a big a proponent to this, especially in the blogosphere, where I do feel like it’s a big community and not an anonymous website.

Muhammed guest blogs on Copyblogger about Writing Headlines for Regular Readers, Search Engines, and Social Media. Find out everything you need to know to appropriately choose headlines to market for the type of readers you want.

An Electric Yamaha R1 Motorcycle

I’ve always known the Yamaha R1 motorcycle to be one of the big daddies of sports bikes. That is until a company in Oakland, CA that goes by Electric Motorsport converted the 99′ R1 into a LiIon (lithium ion) battery powered bike that can do 100mph and 0-60 in 3 seconds.

Yamaha R1 LiIon motorcycle

To get the bike this way, they had to yank the engine, tailpipes, radiator, gas cap, transmission, and clutch. They then replaced all that with 28 lithium ion batteries, an AC regenerative motor, and an electric throttle…all weighing less than what was removed in the first place.

One of the coolest parts is that when the bike is idle, it is completely silent…when it’s going, it sounds like a remote control car on steroids. The conversion costs about $15,000, but is just a prototype at this time. The company hopes to have a production version around this price range with a custom chassis, as well as a cheaper, smaller $6,000-$8,000 version.

Here’s a video report that was done by LATimes.com:

[Source: LA Times]


Ready to upgrade your bike? Consider donating your motorcycle to a charity of your choice! You can donate your boat, car, or RV! Car donation is a great way to get a tax deduction for a good cause. Learn about deducting vehicle donations and read some important car donation FAQ for more information.

Managing My Personal Finances & How You Should Too

I’m very finicky when it comes to managing my personal finances. I like to make sure all bills are paid on time, and I know where all of my money is and how much I have. This is going to be one of my more informative posts, so make sure to give it a read AND take action if you are trying to better manage your own financial situation.

Enter Microsoft Money. The software that keeps it all in check for me. For $30-$100 you will have the perfect solution for managing your finances. I’ve been using MS Money to track my finances since about 2000, which is great because I have a lot of historical data that I can pull from.

My first process is that I’ll normally keep any receipt that I get and put it in my wallet. I try and use my credit card for most purchases since I get 1.5-5% cash back rewards. After a week or two when my wallet has a decent amount of receipts, I’ll empty it out on my desk and start inputting them into MS Money. For any items which may be a write-off on taxes, I add “write off activetuning” or whatever business of mine it may apply to in the memo field. This just makes it easier for me at the end of the year when I’m giving all my information to my accountant.

Inputting money into MS Money 2007

At the end of each month when I get my statement for each account, I’ll go in and balance the account. This will ensure that I have all charges in the software, and of course it will ensure I don’t find any mistakes on the statement (I’ve found double charges, incorrect tips, etc before, so it’s always good to go line-by-line). I do this for each account, every month (savings, checking, credit cards, etc…you can even do your PayPal account). Each account doesn’t take very long to do, especially if you actively input your receipts through the month.

The best method I’ve found to do this is to go through the statement, and highlight the amount in each line once it has been cleared in MS Money. This way once you go through everything, you can just back to the stuff that hasn’t been highlighted and make sure they either need to be put in, or are mistakes. The most important reason for doing this is making sure that you never fall behind, and all of your numbers are accurate at least up to that month.

Alternatively, you can have MS Money connect to your financial institution and just download everything from the statement and put it into the software. I don’t like this method for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t like the names of the items that are chosen.
  2. They don’t choose the right categories that I want
  3. I want to add memos many times
  4. It’s hard to remember what they are for
  5. You get lazy and don’t proactively update your own financials, therefore you lose touch with it.

Once you have data in there, it’s easy to just pull up the “accounts list” page and easily see where everything stands. On top of my regular accounts, I also track my investment accounts through MS Money. Investment accounts also show up in your accounts list, so you can easily track your net worth.

List of accounts in MS Money 2007

Another cool thing I use MS Money for is to track categories and run custom reports. When I set everything up for the first time, I went through every category that MS puts in by default. I added/deleted/modified everything as needed so I could have things specifically tailored to what I want. So now if I want to see how much my gas expenses have been over the past few years, I can see that I’m spending a lot more money than before (due to more driving and higher gas prices):

My gas spending in 2007

You can of course export the data to something like Excel if you want to create better charts.

The other thing I use MS Money for is to manage any sort of recurring deposits/bills. For example I know every month I’m going to have certain bills and a paycheck from various sources. I set these transactions up to either be automatic (for example I take a specific percentage out of every paycheck and put it into my ING savings account) or manually (ex: My electric bill varies from month to month). This gives me an idea of generally what I’m planning to spend/deposit, and I can better manage my finances knowing this information.

Bills summary

You can also use this to create a budget. Based on what you normally spend/make every month, you can budget a certain amount to specific categories, and MS Money will help you track this. For example if you only want to spend $200/month going out for food, you may find out mid-month you’ve used the amount you’ve allotted and you can tone it down for the rest of the month in order to maintain your budget. This is perfect for those of you that have a hard time realizing how much you are spending, and don’t want to end up with a massive credit card bill you weren’t expecting.

There’s much more, but this is pretty much what I use it for. Using my basic guidelines, you too can proactively manage your own finances and make sure you are in control.

Microsoft Money 2007 Deluxe

Microsoft Money 2007 Deluxe

Microsoft Money 2007 Deluxe brings all of your personal accounts – banking, credit, and investment – into one place and provides the tools you need to help you improve your credit and debt and tackle tax time with ease, so you can spend less time worrying about your money and more time enjoying it. Money 2007 Deluxe automatically consolidates your online accounts in one place.