DMOZ Proxy Error Problems March, 2010

UPDATE: DMOZ is now accepting submissions again as of March 30, 2010, and no Proxy Error appears. I was able to submit a few listings this morning to various categories without issue.

UPDATE 2: A reader commented below that a major overhaul of DMOZ is due to launch soon, dubbed DMOZ 2.0. I think this is a great move, because as it stands right now DMOZ is pretty irrelevant/useless, so they should either kill it off or revamp it completely. Given the traffic and perceived importance of the site, it would make sense for them to revitalize it instead of killing it off. Thanks James! Read more here: DMOZ 2.0 Rumored to Launch at End of March

Original PostI haven’t been able to submit any listings in the past three days to DMOZ and keep getting a proxy error that reads as the following: The proxy server could not handle the request GET /cgi-bin/add.cgi.

This could either be a back-end glitch, or DMOZ is temporarily or permanently no longer accepting submissions. The directory itself will load, but if you try to submit anywhere to the directory, an error will occur preventing the “suggest a URL” page to load.

I’ve seen a few tweets from others confirming this issue , and I’ve tried on multiple machines and ISPs. I’ll keep this post updated if it gets fixed or learn of further information. As of right now there is no message on the DMOZ Blog indicating they aren’t accepting submissions.

It’s probably just a back-end glitch, but with traditional web directories become less and less important, part of me kind of hopes that this is a sign of DMOZ being prepared to be killed off. The mere fact that very few people have noticed or tweeted about it is an indicator of DMOZ’s dying importance – to me, it exists for nothing other than SEO purposes (and occasionally for Google to re-write spammy page titles), and tools/tactics that exist purely for SEO manipulation have a limited lifespan before they’re shut down or rendered obsolete. Is DMOZ obsolete? Should it be shut down for new submissions? Leave your two cents in the comments!

Monetizing My Blog(s) by Trial and Error

Blog MonetizationI’ve been working on monetizing my Modified Car Blog and thought I’d post some initial results of what has(n’t) worked so far. The blog gets between 30-50 unique visitors a day and is a very niche blog (Modified Cars/Audis), so I didn’t have high hopes but thought it was worth a shot. I didn’t really know where to start but found this article, How I Make Money Online, written by someone I follow on twitter, and figured it was a good start.

First I tried Image Space Media, a new advertising concept that places hover-over links in images. They actually contacted me, asking me to try it out, which I thought was pretty cool. However, I don’t really have the traffic to get sufficient clicks to make this solution worthwhile, and I thought it detracted from the user experience since ads were popping up all over the place. It’s cool concept for other blogs though, it just wasn’t the right solution for mine.

Next I tried Kontera, which places text link ads around random words that will take you to an advertiser. I got a lot more clicks than I’ve seen through AdSense, although it was still earning me less than a dollar a month, and again, I kind of felt it took away from the user experience, so I canned it.

Next I ventured into Affiliate Marketing through Commission Junction. I’ve only made one sale, and it was to myself, and with a minimum $100 payout (of which I’m $97 away from), so I don’t foresee this being very profitable…although I’ve been experimenting with which products I’m displaying and think there is some potential there, so I’m keeping it for the time being.

A few days I ago I decided to scale back the commission ads to just a few super relevant products that I’d actually purchase myself, and use some of the newly freed-up advertising space for what people usually try first – Google AdSense. The initial results are pretty discouraging, as I’ve had no clicks nor revenue since installing, although it’s still very early in the game. I’m encouraged by the ads I do see appear – they’re mostly local Audi dealerships, aftermarket performance parts & accessories, and other items that are highly contextually relevant. I will keep experimenting with placement and formatting to increase clicks, because I do think the ads being displayed are worthwhile.

Anyone reading this that has ideas or comments on how to monetize a low volume, niche blog, I’m all ears! Until then, it’s a game of trial and error, running 1-2 month experiments with different ad types and seeing what works or doesn’t. It’s still fun testing things out, even though my results so far haven’t turned actual revenue. I’m encouraged by SEO & Internet Marketing expert Bill Hunt, who I had the privilege of meeting last month at a SEMPO AZ event called  “Search 3.0“, who told me the secret to his success has been to always test and experiment, with a healthy dose of curiosity and skepticism for SEO tactics. I’ll be sure to post an update in a few months on how the rest of my experiments go, and if I ever find a profitable solution!

Update: It’s been over one week since installing AdSense…and I’M RICH! Okay maybe not, but $1.03 per week isn’t bad either. At the very least it’s motivation to keep trying, so I guess AdSense seems to be the best ad solution to-date for me.  Hopefully I can keep tweaking the presentation and producing good content to increase both impressions and click-through rates a little. Having AdSense on two blogs is nice, right now I have one click from each.

Easy Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

Speed Up WordPress with Common SenseConcerned with Google’s indication that Page Load Speed May Become A  Ranking Factor, I began to look at my own WordPress blogs to see if I can speed up my page load time. In particular, my Modified Car Blog loaded very slowly, to the point where it was actually annoying to users as well.

I read some great posts on technical tricks and hacks to speed up your WordPress blog. Two in particular I found useful were WolfHowl’s post How to Speed Up WordPress and WPGarage’s 38 ways to optimize and speed up your WordPress blog. Plugins recommended in these posts like WP-Minify really seemed to help speed things, but Nick’s Car Blog was still painfully slow.

A test using this website speed test tool of my home page, http://nickscarblog.com, baselined at around 10 seconds to load. After implementing many of the technical tricks in the posts referenced above, it was closer to 5-6 seconds – better, but still pretty bad. I ran a few comparable sites to my blog and they were all around 3 seconds or less.

Then it was time to go back to the basics. Here are some “common sense” things you can do that require no technical tricks, plug-ins or code. These are simple things to make everything load quicker.

  • Use the More Tag for posts that have lots of images. I had several posts that were loaded with over a dozen pictures, often technical articles with DIY Guides to install car parts. By only providing one image and a snippet of the content, there isn’t so much to load on the homepage. I think this was the most effective way I reduced my homepage’s load speed. I also think it really cleaned up the appearance and organized the content better as well.
  • Compress Images – I had several images that would load in the header and throughout the blog that were pretty large – by just a slight adjustment in resolution I could cut the file size in half without the end-user ever really noticing.
  • Remove plug-ins you’re not using anymore, or don’t find very useful – if a user probably would never use it or find it beneficial – toss it. Sometimes a little plug-in “Spring Cleaning” is in order.
  • Contact your hosting company – maybe there is something on their end they can speed up. Or maybe you just have a really crappy hosting company.
  • Remove some of those Digg/Spinn/Reddit buttons. Is anyone seriously going to Digg your About Me page? I don’t think so.
  • Consider your WordPress theme. A simplier theme will load quicker. A really fancy, widget- and animation-heavy theme will load slower. You don’t have to kill your fancy-pants theme off, just try a new one and see if it affects loading speed with a website speed test. Who knows, you might find something you like better.

The end result? My Car Blog now loads in 2.66 seconds. I didn’t lose any content or images, and by using the “More” tag I expect to see a decrease in bounce rate as there is more of an incentive to view the Post Page as opposed to just reading the whole post on the homepage. Some images are more compressed, there are fewer social sharing buttons (but the ones that appear are likely to be more useful), and the blog appears less cluttered, better organized, and oh yeah – a heck of a lot quicker too. Let me know if I missed any more “common sense” ideas in the comments below!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I am a Certified Social Media Maven*

Great post at DotCult: Having 1000 Twitter Followers Doesn’t Make You a Social Media Guru

The core of the argument:

Engagement is what matters. How many of your followers actually reply to you? How many of them comment on your posts? What percentage click on links that you tweet? Go ahead and ask your social media person – I bet they don’t have any answers for you.

On a related side note, I’ve recently had a twitter epiphany. My former strategy was to follow people back and just ignore them, using tweetdeck lists to pay attention to those I deem worthy, while maybe occasionally skimming those not on a list, as explained here.

This was a horrible strategy. Not only was a promoting/helping spam-bots that were auto-following anyone and everyone, but it made the web feed (and more importantly, mobile phone feed) less useful. Even with the new lists feature, I was getting a lot of noise.

In the past week, I’ve unfollowed over 400 people. I’m now following less than 800, and plan to keep defollowing people as I see noise in my twitter feed. I’ve also lost ~100 or so followers, and I expect that number to keep dropping as I unfollow people – I’m guessing their software can detect when they’re not being followed back, or they’re using a service like friendorfollow (awesome, btw) to determine who isn’t following them back anymore.

Here are some other posts on “Social Media Experts” – as ranting about social media has been a consistent theme in this blog 🙂

Have a nice weekend!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Now Posting on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog

I haven’t been posting as much here – but still actively blogging… Check out my latest posts on the iCrossing Great Finds blog:

So, if you’re looking for some fun SEO related reading, I suggest you go check out http://greatfinds.icrossing.com or add the RSS feed to your preferred Reader. And as always, I’m tweeting away at @nickroshon as well 🙂

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

New Logo & Look for NickRoshon.com

A New Year and a new look…2010 is going to be big.

Special thanks to Collin Cornwell for the logo design as well as Ben Kwan of The Sweet, The Sour for the theme inspiration!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick blog post while on vacation in Florida to say Happy Holidays. It’s been a great year and I have a lot to be thankful for. Enjoy this Holiday themed iPhone Choir video from my company, iCrossing, called “Just for the Bell of It” and enjoy your time off over the next weeks!Just for the Bell of It Holiday Greeting

BTW if you want to know what I want for Christmas, it’s easy. Just go to Audi’s Driver Spotlight contest on Facebook and vote for me every day for the next 5 days until the contest is over! http://apps.facebook.com/driversden/contests/13422/voteable_entries/2006441 (just click Thumbs Up and then Allow – I promise allowing access will not sign you up for anything or give you spyware)

I’ve Been HACKED!

Hackers (film)

Image via Wikipedia

I really need to get off a shared server. It’s cheap, but then you could be sharing your server with someone up to no good…

Also, time to install a boat-load of security plug-ins. My blog was hacked by accessing the wp-config.php file, and this site has a good tip on how to lock that down, as well as encrypting passwords and other stuff: 18 Plugins & Hacks to Protect Your WordPress Blog

I’ve deleted any information about the hacker since he told me how he was able to hijack my blog – luckily, he only got into the wordpress admin and not the server or any of the backend. I will be moving everything to a new server soon – stay tuned, and pardon any interruptions in the meantime.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

My Motorola Droid Phone Review

Motorola Droid Picture

Motorola Droid Picture

I purchased the new Motorola Droid phone the first weekend it came out after 2+ years of desirable smartphone neglect from Verizon. While all the cool kids had their iPhones, all I could do was complain tirelessly about my BlackBerry Pearl, only to purchase and nearly immediately return my BlackBerry Storm POS-brick-that-did-nothing-right-and-was-useless-as-a-phone-or-anything-else-phone. Additionally, the last cool phone Motorola made was the Razor (or is it RAZR?), which was eons ago.

So it was with much skepticism that I picked up the new Motorola Droid Phone. The initial reviews were overwhelmingly positive, but Verizon has had such a solid track record of disappointment I had to experience it to believe it.

And now, I’m a believer. This phone kicks ass!

I’ve spent the past few days trying to think of bad things to say about this phone, and to be honest it’s been a struggle. It works perfectly – no freezing, no bugs, quick response time, etc. Any complaint I could think of was usually just “user error.” Like any phone, there is a bit of a learning curve, especially to get used to the rather tiny buttons on the keyboard. I’ve seen a few reviews wishing that had eliminated the gold arrow pad and just made bigger keys and I probably agree, but that’s a rather minor complaint.

Now for the features that really “WOW” me.

– Easy & impressive integration with Facebook and Gmail contacts. Within seconds of getting the phone, I logged in to Gmail and Facebook. It pulled in all of my Gmail contacts, then updated them with their Facebook Profile pictures and most recent Facebook Status. No need to ever sync my phone with my computer, as everything is pretty much already synced across Google.

– Determination on Verizon’s (and Motorola and Google’s) behalf to make this phone a success. Within less than 2 weeks of launching the phone, they already have a firmware update on the way to address bugs many (including myself) didn’t even know existed. Compare that to the Storm which went months without a very desperately needed firmware update…that is commitment.

– Google Maps with Turn by Turn Navigation – I purchase the Car Mount (which didn’t come with an included charger as advertised and instead cost an added $30, WTF Verizon?). What’s great is I now have a Navigation system that is better than any OEM or Aftermarket In-Car Navigation system because it connects directly to the internet with traffic updates and detours from Google (traffic prediction isn’t all that accurate though). Here is my setup:

Motorola Droid in Car Mount Holder

Motorola Droid in Car Mount Holder

– Awesome apps – while maybe not as impressive as Apple’s App Store, the Android Market has some pretty damn cool offerings. For instance, the Key Ring app which uses your camera like a bar code scanner to capture your Membership Cards for various places like CVS, BevMo, etc., and can then display them for the cashier to scan, so you don’t have to carry them anymore (please dont steal my BevMo Rewards number, haha)

Key Ring App for Android

Key Ring App for Android

Another great app is Pandora – I can connect my phone to my car stereo and have streaming internet radio (something iPhone users probably have trouble with, since their network is so spotty). Also works great for podcasts, especially since this phone comes packed with 16GB of storage space! Check out Google Listen for a good app to find and listen to PodCasts. YouTube is also awesome on this phone…

– The Screen – although the phone is kinda big, its a little larger in size than an iPhone, the screen is extremely high quality and having a big screen like that makes the Google Maps Navigation & YouTube videos all the more useful & enjoyable. I don’t think I’d want a smaller phone, as I’d rather have the big screen, and this still fits in my pocket just fine. Below you can see the screen on this phone is almost bigger than the entire size of my Pearl.

Motorola Droid vs BlackBerry Pearl

Motorola Droid vs BlackBerry Pearl Size Comparison

– Google Search Bar – this widget on the home screen makes it super easy to search. Anything you want to know, just type it in from the home screen. It also acts as a sort of “desktop” search, because it will search data on the phone like your contacts, files, etc. So if I want to call someone, I can type their name into the Google Search Bar and it will return their contact file – very useful.

I’m sure I’m missing stuff, but at this point, I think you get it. I’d highly recommend you pick one up if you’re on the Verizon Network. It’s intuitive to use, works great, and is an awesome piece of machinery.

The inevitable question is, would I rather have an iPhone? The answer is nuanced, because I still think the iPhone has better apps and possibly a better user interface, but at the same time I think it would really depend on AT&T coverage in your area. I also think the Android Mobile OS will continue to grow rapidly in market share, as Google is basically giving that to any phone manufacturer (Motorola, HTC, etc) and across multiple networks (T-Mobile, Verizon, etc), whereas the iPhone OS will only be on Apple manufactured phones, and for the next year or so still only on the AT&T network. With the HTC Eris (a cheaper but still very capable Verizon Android Phone), as well as slew of other low cost Android Phones on multiple networks, the number of Android users will grow exponentially – and as it grows, more apps will be developed, which will inevitably close the gap between the iPhone App Store & Android Market. And I don’t expect Google to stop innovating and improving the Android OS either, as Google understands the Mobile Web is the future, and the Android System is so tightly integrated with Google Mobile Search that it will provide a huge opportunity in the future.

Finally, I think whether the Droid is an “iPhone Killer” is besides the point – while it may not be “better” than the iPhone, they both have their relative strengths and weaknesses. I think this is the first smartphone where one can say (with a straight face) that this is a serious iPhone contender (even if it’s not an outright killer).

Please leave me any questions or comments you may have. And sorry for the pictures, it’s really hard to snap a decent photo of an LCD screen…

UPDATE 12-03-09: Thanks to all my new visitors, I appreciate you checking out my blog. Here is a great follow up post by the Silicon Alley Insider today with 10 Things We Love And Hate about the Droid & Eris:

Google Toolbar Updates PageRank – I have PageRank 3!

PageRankUpdateOctober2009

Google pushed out a PageRank update last night, and now both NickRoshon.com and NicksCarBlog.com have PageRank3. Search Engine Land has more of this surprising update, given Google’s recent statement that webmasters shouldn’t focus on PageRank so much, and consequently removing PageRank from Webmaster Tools. Many speculated PageRank might be dropped from the Toolbar soon as well – but this doesn’t appear to be the case. The last PageRank update was in June, which continues Google’s trend of updating PageRank in the toolbar every few months.

RustyBrick of Search Engine Roundtable has a good point in regards to PageRank in the toolbar from an SEO perspective, so I’m quoting him below:

Yes, a Toolbar PageRank update means nothing in terms of your ranking changing anytime soon. The PageRank scores shown in the toolbar are outdated and have zero direct impact on your Google rankings. That doesn’t mean that PageRank has no influence, but the toolbar score does not have any influence. Google shows us one thing, but yet uses another thing.

Well put.

It’s also important to consider the Webmaster Point of View here, and I think that is really where Toolbar PageRank matters: I’m looking for advertisers for my car blog. When advertisers see that I have solid PageRank, I think that gives me credibility that I might be a website they should consider to advertising on (after more due diligence, of course) – especially if I offer those potential advertisers a link on my blogroll, as that link should pass along some “link juice.” At a minimum anyway, potential advertisers will see that Google values my content at least somewhat, that this is a legitimate site that probably isn’t penalized or banned, and that my website is something they give further thought to- and they can tell all of this from a free toolbar in a matter of a second. Likewise, a site with PageRank N/A or 0 is likely to turn off potential advertisers nearly immediately,  so that PR can really be the “first impression” to either open the door or have it slammed in your face. Just my two cents, anyway.

What are your thoughts? Would love some comments on this.

Testing My Google Alert

This is a test to see if my Google Alerts will ping when when this individual post is indexed. Will update later and explain why.

Blog & Tweet to #BeatCancer

I’m helping to raise funds to
#beatcancer, by blogging, tweeting
and posting Facebook status
updates.

Click here to join me!

MillerCoors & eBay/PayPal is donating 1 cent per tweet, facebook update, or blog post containing #beatcancer. Use it. More info at the official website: http://beatcancereverywhere.com/

While we’re on the topic of ways to #beatcancer, early detection is critical. This is why it’s important to maintain affordable health coverage in order to keep up on regular office visits. Low Insurance provides a way to compare insurance quotes for health insurance online.

Check out my dad’s websites for more information on cancer care in North Central Ohio.

North Coast Cancer Care: Northern Ohio’s Premier Oncology & Hematology Center, now in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility and one of the only cancer centers in the US offering RapidArc  technology, speeding up treatment and improving accuracy in radiology treatments. You can also check out my dad’s bio here.

North Coast Cancer Foundation: Working to provide payment support, education, and complimentary programs for cancer patients ranging from Art Therapy to healing gardens to improve the quality of life and treatment for patients at North Coast Cancer Care. Another goal of the foundation is research, including holding a breast cancer conference every year, which happens to be this weekend at the Kalahari resort in Sandusky, OH. You can donate here: http://www.northcoastcancerfoundation.org/giving.html