The Glass Harmonica Blog

June 16, 2010

Does Google have a “sandbox”?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 9:31 pm

Now here’s an interesting phenomenon. As described earlier in this blog, I optimised my website for the keywords

Free book download

Because, of all relevant keywords, they were the most searched on, according to Google’s keyword tool. Sure enough, after only two months, my site at

http://www.free-book-download.com

is at number 4 on Yahoo out of no less than 1,200 million sites (that’s 1.2 Billion sites) on one of the most hotly contested keywords on the t’internet – not a bad achievement.

But where am I on Google? Nowhere! So how can this discrepancy be explained?

Amongst SEO professionals there has been a persistent runmour for some time now that Google is pursuing a policy of putting new websites into some kind of “sandbox” – an Americanism for a kindergarten or playground that is fenced off from the real world – until they have grown up. When does Google decide they have grown up? Search me.

Is this ethical? In my opinion, no it’s not. But then Google is a law unto itself and can do whatever it pleases. Its aim is to make money and that is what it is doing.

May 5, 2010

Are Facebook pay-per-click ads any good?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 10:04 pm

I intended to blog every day about the experience of uploading a novel to Authonomy.com and then setting up social networks to support it. That was before I was hit by the Tsunami of urgent tasks that engulfed me as soon as I had uploaded the text.

In the last week, I have started a pay-per-click ad campaign on Facebook – and been inexplicably rejected and deleted by them for my trouble(!) re-optimised my website and waited ages to get re-indexed by Google, finally got to the bottom of how to import Word text into this pesky Blog – and somehow managed to get The Glass Harmonica to the Number 1 spot in the weekly list. More on all of these issues anon.

I put up a pay per click ad on Facebook directing people to my website for a free look at the novel. There are three chapters shown there and if you want to read more, there is a link to the complete book – again free of charge.

Setting up your Facebook ad campaign is completely different from Google PPC Ads, which are driven by keyword searches. Facebook is seen by everyone – unless that is you limit the reach of the ad by selecting various demographics. Here I encountered my first problem. There is an age demographic selector which is set by default at 18. I altered this to 13 and above because I reasoned that teenagers might well want to read a free thriller. What I didn’t realise was that this automatically triggered a process where my ad had to be scrutinised by the Facebook police in case it was porn or whatever. This entailed a three day wait. However, after three days, it was passed and the ad was published.

It immediately attracted a lot of clicks (at about 40 p each) and I quickly went through my £10 daily test budget, so I paused it. I realised that the wide demographics I had chosen (reaching 160 million people in the UK and US) was far too indiscriminate. So I went back in and changed the demographics to people who had specified that they liked reading and books. This dropped the reach to about 6 millions.

However, because I continued to leave the age set at 13 upwards, the ad automatically went back into the approval process. Another wait. This time, I never found out how long my budget would last because the Facebook police disapproved the ad! Nothing had changed except the amount of revenue they were going to earn ( :-) ) but now the ad had suddenly become unacceptable!

What’s going on? Who knows. Life is too short to waste time on idiots who don’t know what they are doing and only want your cash.

April 25, 2010

Technorati – the most infuriating site on the web

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 11:40 pm

There are a number of blog search engines which are worth taking seriously.  The first and biggest is Google’s Blogsearch.  It’s big, but it’s not very informative.  There are specialised blog directories like BlogPulse. And there is Technorati – perhaps the best known specialist blog search engine.

I had intended to blog here about how to register your blog with Technorati. The problem is that Technorati is so difficult to use and it keeps chopping and changing so much that anything I say is going to be out of date by the time anyone reads it.

I did in fact manage to register this blog with Technorati yesterday.  It took me half an hour or more of searching to figure out how to do it.  Technorati (for some reason known only to itself) calls it “claiming your blog”.  When I went back to the site today to note down how it’s down, I found that whatever link I clicked on yesterday isn’t there today.

So I’m afraid I can’t tell you how to “claim your blog”.  If I ever find out – I’ll let you know. Although, frankly, every time I visit Technorati I end up losing the will to live.

April 23, 2010

Posting a press release online

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 9:41 am

I did two things today: I posted a press release on the internet and I registered my blog with Technorati.com – the best known blog directory.

I wrote my press release using the same keyword vocabulary that I derived for my website. It’s very tempting to begin a release with a sentence like, “Richard Milton has published his new novel The Glass Harmonica on Authonomy.com, the author website published by HarperCollins.”

The trouble with that approach is that there are virtually no decent keywords in it, apart possibly from HarperCollins. No one looking for a crime thriller or a free download to read is going to search on my name or on the glass harmonica or even Authonomy – unless they’ve already heard of them.

My release actually starts

“Social networking is used by writer to promote new book

Social networking in all its forms is being used by writer Richard Milton to promote his new crime thriller The Glass Harmonica.

The Illuminati, Benjamin Franklin, conspiracy theories, are some of the key ingredients in The Glass Harmonica. The whole book can be read for free at Authonomy – the web site designed by HarperCollins to enable writers to publish their work electronically. See http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=20200

The important keywords are all there – social networking, writer, promote new book, crime thriller. Richard Milton and the title of his book come last in all this. The next paragraph opens up with the other big keywords – Illuminati, benjamin franklin, conspiracy theories.

Anyone searching on any of these terms on Google is going to pick up this release – as long as I can get the release indexed by Google or aggregated by Google News.

OK now to post the release where it will do me some good. I chose two free press release sites and one paid site:-

http://www.pitchengine.com(a US site)

www.pressbox.com (a UK site)

http://www.sourcewire.com (a paid-for UK site)

Pitchengine is an innovative social media savvy press release site with reasonable reach and you can post a release which will be published for free for 30 days. The release will be hosted on their site so that journalists and others can visit the site and read it. However, they will have to search for it once it’s sunk down the list of new releases.

Performance: after 24 hours it had been viewed 23 times.

Pressbox is a long established free UK site which, again, hosts the release so that visitors can see it, although Pressbox will keep a release up indefinitely.

Performance: Pressbox doesn’t publish any statistics about views. However  its releases are often swept up by Google News after a few days or weeks, and they often stay in place for a long time.

Sourcewire is a paid for service. It cost me £45 plus Vat to publish my release. However, I think it was money well spent for two reasons. First, it enabled me to put live links in the release, so that readers could go direct to my site, my blog and to my Authonomy page. Second, it was picked up by Google News within seconds of being published, which means that my release literally went global immediately.

Performance: After 24 hours it had been read 275 times. Good result.

My conclusion is that they’re all worth trying.

April 22, 2010

So what do I put on my website?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 6:26 pm
Hmmmm. So what to put on my website? There needs to be a home page with some kind of striking image. I found an interesting black and white picture of a pianist that sparked some ideas. I cropped it, played around with it, and eventually came up with the tag line “In the wrong hands, music can kill . . .”
Does that relate to the heart of the book? Yes and no. The book is about music and it is about murder. So I haven’t cheated. But the truth is that if the book had been about pearl diving, I would have found something aquatic and adapted that. If the book fades into oblivion, no one will ever know or comment on whether the image and text are well chosen. If the book is successful then people will queue up to congratulate me on my genius as a graphic designer. Gawd, we’re all so shallow! J

What pages should I include? I cocked up here to begin with. I created

Home
About me
Read (excerpts from the book)
Story
Characters in the book
My Books
Vote!
Authonomy

That last page was going to be about the Authonomy site, with a link to The Glass Harmonica and instructions on how to vote. Then my partner, She Who Is Always Right, said, “You are going to start a Blog, aren’t you?” Ooops! So the final page is now the link to this blog. (I’ll write later about how I chose which blogging software to use).

The purpose of this site is threefold. First, it’s to find people Googling for free ebooks and direct them to The Glass Harmonica on Authonomy in the hope of increasing the voting potential. Second, Autonomy allows writers to include a web site URL in their entry, so if someone on Authonomy visits my profile, they may decide to click on my web site, where they will find additional background on me and the book.

Finally, it’s also the vehicle for directing traffic to this blog.

April 21, 2010

What to call your book website?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 10:41 am
 
So, now I’ve got to put up a website for The Glass Harmonica. But what do you call your site? What URL (web address) do you choose? I could call it http://www.glassharmonica.com or .co.uk. The problem with this is that the number of people who are likely to put in “glass harmonica” as a search term in Google is negligible. So no one is going to find it. It will be a great site – but no one is going to visit. I need to find a web address that is itself a frequently used keyword in Google searches.
 
Fortunately there is a tool available to help me find out what that is. It’s Google’s own keyword tool and it’s located at https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal. It’s really intended for people who are thinking of advertising on Google, but it’s freely available and contains a treasure house of information.
 
I shortlisted the keywords I thought might be most relevant to my site and went to Google’s Keyword Tool to check them out. This was my original shortlist:-
The glass harmonica
Benjamin Franklin
Founding fathers
US founding fathers
Masonic conspiracy
Conspiracy theories
Illuminati
Free ebook
Free e-book
Free book
Fiction Crime thriller
Crime thriller
Best book
Book of the week
Best fiction
Great fiction
Exciting novel
Best novel
When I checked these out on Google, I found that there were a number of interesting surprises. For instance, I found that the most searched on keywords were terms like Illuminati ( 3.3 million searches in March 2010) and Benjamin Franklin (1 million searches in the same period). But who would have thought that Franklin Benjamin (a different search to Google) would also have been made 1 million times? Or that the highest ranking search terms would include conspiracy theory (368,000) and conspiracy theories (301,000)?
This is the keyword list I ended up with after my research:-

Illuminati
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin Benjamin
Conspiracy theories
Theories conspiracy
The illuminati
Conspiracy theory
Theory conspiracy
Masons
Freemason
New world order
World order
The glass Harmonica
Founding fathers
US founding fathers
Masonic conspiracy
Masonic conspiracies
free books
free book
free ebooks
free ebook
free audio books
free online books
download free books
books for free
free book download
free ebooks download
free ebook download
free book online
free texts
books download
download ebooks
ebook download
free audiobook
electronic book
free library
fiction books
mystery books
thrillers
authors fiction
crime books
fiction stories
crime fiction
best books
best book
best selling books
best fiction
best novels
the best books
top books
business books
buy book
best fantasy
100 books
books direct
paperback books
novel writing
danielle steel books
science fiction books
books bestsellers
Book of the week
Book of the month
Best fiction
Great fiction
Exciting novel
Exciting novels

Now you may have noticed a few oddities. For instance ‘Danielle Steel books’. Is it ethical to include this keyword? I believe it is. Ms Steel’s books are excellent entertainment and she is one of the world’s most successful writers. Some of the people who use her name to search on intend to find her works and no one else’s. But equally, some of the people using her name to search are just looking for an exciting read. If I can offer them reading entertainment which I honestly believe is excellent, and it is free of charge, then it is not unethical of me to offer it to them. They can still decline to visit my site.

This first stage of research has told me what most people are searching on. So it has given me the keyword vocabulary that I must use in writing my web site. But it has also told me what URL or web address I should seek to register – if it’s still available.

Now, some writers are going to have a big, big problem with my choice of URL. Seeing that words like ‘free book’ and ‘download’ were the most popular search terms, I decided to cash in on their popularity by looking for a URL using those words.

I went to my web hosting service (http://www.1and1.co.uk/?k_id=20002792) and put in a few combinations to see what was already taken and what was left. The obvious choices like http://www.free-ebook.com had already gone long ago. But I kept playing around with different combinations and eventually found that www.free-book-download.com was available so I snapped it up.

I don’t have to call my website by the same name, if I don’t want to. I can call it “The Glass Harmonica Website”. But its URL will contain several extremely popular keywords that will ensure millions of people see the site listed in Google’s search results.

In future will writers chose the titles of their books by choosing the most searched on keywords in Google? Using that criterion I should be calling this book “Ben Franklin and the Illuminatus conspiracy theory”. Somehow it doesn’t trip off the tongue quite so well, so I think I’ll stick with The Glass Harmonica until a better idea comes along.

By the way, I did also register http://www.theglassharmonica.co.uk just in case anyone does cotton on to the publicity I’m hoping to generate and puts in the title. But that URL will simply point them (transfer them without them knowing anything about it) to www.free-book-download.com

In the next blog I’ll explain how I used the keyword vocabulary above to write the site.

April 20, 2010

Can you sell books using social networks?

Filed under: Social networks — richardmilton @ 6:44 pm

My partner, She Who Is Always Right, has told me a million times not to exaggerate. So I’m not exaggerating when I say that I would rather slit my wrists and then eat my own typewriter than give away secrets that will make other writers’ books more competitive than my own literary efforts in the cut-throat world of publishing. :-)

But I’m having a lot of fun exploring the world of Social Media and now I want to have the fun of sharing my journey, too. I’m like a tourist who’s just come back from an exotic destination with a suitcase full of photographs, and I can’t wait to invite the neighbours round.

So here’s the thing. I’ve published six books over the past few years including a thriller (titled Dead Secret). I’ve also completed a second thriller titled The Glass Harmonica. Now I know perfectly well that every writer thinks their work is the bees knees, but this novel is really, really, really great. Everyone who’s read it thinks it’s fabulous (and I’m including some of London’s top literary agents). My problem is the all too common one that not one bl**dy editor thinks it is worth publishing. And once it’s been shopped around, it’s damaged goods. I’ve nowhere else to go with it.

In the past, writers have had few alternatives: put the typescript in the bottom of the wardrobe and forget it, or self publish, or give it away for free on the internet. Now there is another alternative. HarperCollins has set up a website called Authonomy where writers can publish their novel electronically and have it voted for by readers. Each month, the five highest rated books are looked at by HarperCollins’s editors with a view to possible publication. The publisher says that more than 20 books have so far been picked up from the site by themselves or other publishers/agents.

The site is controversial – one critic describing it as a “do it yourself slush pile”, and another as a way of inducing writers to self publish using print-on-demand. But for my bottom-of-the-wardrobe typescript, it’s perfect. I can’t send it to another agent, since it’s already been shopped around by one of London’s best-known names, and virtually no publishers now accept direct submission. It’s Authonomy or oblivion.

What Authonomy does perhaps provide (we’ll have to wait and see) is a way for a savvy player to use social networking to give the book enough visibility on the site to drive it to the top of the slush pile. That’s the master plan, anyway.

How am I going to do it? That’s the subject of this blog – and my new website, my Facebook page, my Twitter account, Linkedin account etc etc etc. (If that all sounds like gibberish stick with me for the next few weeks while I see if this ‘ere Internet thingy really works, or whether it’s all just cyberhype.)

Step one is to upload my typescript to the Authonomy site, which I’ve done. It’s now live here:- http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=20200

Take a look and let me know what you think! Better still click on “Back the Book” to vote for it.

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