Archive forOctober, 2008

Found: New SEO Conference From O’Reilly

O’Reilly has just announced a new conference called “Found”. The tag line for it is “Search Acquisition and Architecture Conference”. It will be held June 9–11, 2009 in Burlingame, CA.

This conference will be in direct competition with some more established conference including WebMasterWorld’s Pubcon, Search Engine Strategies and Search Marketing Expo.

It looks like the O’Reilly conference is trying to focus more on the developer side of things as opposed to the marketing side. Here is a little bit from their web site:

The way to online success is through being easily found in search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft Live Search. While developers have historically thought of search as a marketing activity, technical architecture has now become critical for search success. Found is the authoritative place to discover best practices for this nascent industry and gain a thorough understanding of why search-friendly architecture is absolutely mission-critical to businesses of all sizes. No spammy tricks. Just solid foundational coding tactics and actionable data that will ensure search engines can easily crawl, index, and rank your site’s content.

This is an interesting take on the subject. Although there is a lot to know about how to build a site to be crawlable, this seems to be ignoring the much bigger, more difficult problem of marketing a website. You can have the most crawlable site in the world but without other aspects of SEO like keyword research and link building, sites will not get any search engine traffic.

I actually don’t agree with the very first sentence on the website, which says: “Startups and enterprise-level companies are on an even playing field when it comes to being found in search, so whether you are an entrepreneur or a CTO of a large corporation, you need to know how to build search engine optimization (SEO) best practices into your development processes.” Enterprise-level companies do have a large advantage when it comes to search engines. They have websites that have been around a long time so Google will automatically rank them better. Since they have been around a long time, they have built up links, which help them rank. Also, large companies have brand awareness and trust, so people will naturally tend to link to them. Saying startups are on a level playing field just seems naive.

The new conference is being chaired by some well know people in this space, Vanessa Fox (formerly from Google Webmaster tools) and Nathan Buggia from Microsoft’s Webmaster Center. That is a good sign.

One thing I am worried about with this conference is the price. O’Reilly conferences tend to be expensive. For example the upcoming Money:tech conference’s standard price is $3295 for the 3 day event. Contrast this to Pubcon, which is $1299 for 4 days, or SES Chicago which is $1,995 for 4 days.

It will be interesting to see how the SEO community reacts to the new kid on the block.

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Securing WordPress Installations

I run several WordPress blogs, and they have been recently hacked. I love WordPress, so I don’t want to change platforms, but I also hate being hacked. These hacks cause a lot of extra work and also cost a lot of money. Seeing my main money-making site sink in Google ranking because it got hacked is not a fun experience.

So, I’m going to go about securing my blogs as much as possible. One great resource I found was the WordPress Whitepaper(PDF file) by

Based on the whitepaper, and some other tips I have found around the internet, I am going to be doing the following to try to stop the hackers:

  • Use .htaccess files to password potect the wp-admin directory. See Matt Cutt’s blog to see how to do this.
  • Use .htaccess files to block unauthorized access to files in wp-content and wp-includes directories. Public access to various files such as images and css files should be allowed in these directories. See the WordPress Whitepaper on how to do this.
  • Add an empty index.html file to the wp-content/plugins directory. This will prevent people from seeing what plug ins you run. This is another tip from Matt Cutts.
  • Remove all unused plugins and themes. Plugins and themes can be a source of security holes. If you are not using a plugin or theme, it should be deleted.
  • Changing the default WordPress table prefix. By default WordPress prefixes all table names with “wp_”. This may allow hackers to access tables by assuming the name. Changing the prefix makes things a little harder. has a tool for changing the prefix on existing blogs.
  • Changing the “admin” username. Since “admin” is the default username in WordPress hackers can assume that this user exists and this can make it easier to guess passwords. This is another tip from the whitepaper.
  • Removing the “generator” meta tag and any other clue that lets hackers know what version of WordPress is running. If hackers know the version of WordPress they can try specific exploits for that version.
  • Installing PHPIDS for WordPress. This plugin defends against malicious code injections. This was another recomendation from the whitepaper.
  • Installing the WP Security Scan Plugin. This plugin checks installations for security vulnerabilities and suggests fixes.
  • Keeping up to date with the latest WordPress versions. In the past I have been a little lazy about updating my blogs to the latest version, but I will now update them right away. I updated my blogs to WordPress version 2.6.3 the day that they issued the release. I am going to investigate automated update tools to help with this.

If you know of any other tips I would love to hear them.

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Google Adding AdSense Statistics to Analytics

Google has announced some major upgrades to its analytics service. They have added:

Advanced Segmentation – allows you to isolate and analyze different sets of visitors
Custom Reports – allows you to create and save specific reports
Motion Charts – allows you to visualize data over time
A New Dashboard – new quick access to more data on the front page
A Data Export API – will allow custom application or websites to do more analysis or visualization of analytics data

And finally the new feature I’m most excited about…
Integrated Reporting with AdSense
This is something I have been hoping they would do for a while. For a while, I have been using a script that attempts to track AdSense clicks, but it was not as accurate or detailed as what will be available from Google. Here are some useful things you will be able to do with this new data.

Track Which Traffic Source Pay the Most. It is nice to know where you good, revenue generating traffic comes from. If you know that search engine traffic bring better revenue then links from other sites, you know to concentrate on SEO. If other types of sites bring in more revenue per visitor, it is a good idea to concentrate on getting links from those sites.

Track Which Pages Bring the Most Revenue. If some pages on your site bring more revenue per page view than others, it is a good idea to get traffic to those pages. Point your own internal links to these pages and get links from other sites to those pages. Also if you notice that certain types of content bring in more revenue per page view (e.g. product reviews versus how-to articles), you know that creating more of that type of content would be a good idea.

There are some more detail in an Inside AdSense blog post.

Google is rolling out the feature over time into publishers AdSense account, so look for it next time you log in. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I can’t wait.

Update: Here is the official Google Support pages about Adsense and Analytics integration

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