Sunday, October 17, 2010

Google Analytics - Alternatives to the problems

Google Analytics was once an indispensable tool for me.  It was free, easy to set up and provided enterprise style analytics.

But after a while the headaches and frustrations of managing multiple sites with this tool becomes evident.

Here are some of Google Analytics flaws:

1. Google Support - does this actually exist ?  Trawling support forums usually leads to the same outcome, bugs and frustrated users waiting years for fixes ... I have very rarely been able to contact a real person from Google.  This is probably the biggest problem, not just with Analytics, but Adwords, Adsense and a whole range of other mission critical Google products for websites.

2. Deleting profiles and accounts without admin access - power users of Analytics will know what I'm talking about here.  You've been managing a clients stats in the past as a report user and then the incompetent customer loses their admin details.  You are stuck forever with this dud account.  There is absolutely no way to delete the profile/ account from your Analytics and it just sits there festering away for years annoying you and Google does not seem to feel it is an issue and can't or wont help.

3. Moving profiles from one account to another is not possible - We've all been through it.  Google Analytics accounts and profiles can be can be confusing at the best of times.  You're never sure the best way to manage it.  But what's worse is that if you make a mistake, you're stuck with it.  There is no way to move a profile from one Google Analytics account to another.  This is a truly terrible situation and a source of frustration for many.  Again, Google seems unwilling to find a solution due to design issues and the problem of Analytics IDs.

4. Exporting and importing data profiles is not possible - This would probably make #3 a little easier and solve a number of other issues, such as archiving and restoring a website statistics profile after a hiatus.  But again it is not possible to export and import data from one profile to another and Google does not seem to have any current plans to support this.

There are obviously more issues but these are my top gripes as from my own perspective they are pretty serious flaws and it is disappointing to many including myself that Google does not address them.

So I've been looking at alternatives to Google Analytics and found a few helpful blogs along the way.  Some look promising, although some are free and it is a question of whether you put up with the above to persist with an otherwise good free product.

Anyway, here are some blogs reviewing some free alternatives to Google Analytics:

Anyway I'll let you know what I find once I've tried a few.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Free Auction Sniping Tools - The Best

If you're sick of losing eBay auctions like me then you might want to get into Auction Sniping.
Auction Sniping is watching a timed online auction and placing a winning bid at the last possible moment. This virtually guarantees a win.

I am a bid sniper and for years I have been using  This service works really well, you just enter your eBay logins, the ID of the auction you wish to snipe and maximum bid. however they only give you a certain number of free snipes before you have to begin to pay for the service.  There are ways to earn more snipes, such as recommending friends or affiliate banners, but once you run out you may wish to look at alternatives.  Fortunately there are now plenty of them.

Some of the alternatives include Bidnapper, AuctionStealer, JustSnipe, Gixen, Bidnip, EasySniper, Powersnipe, BayGenie, JBidWatcher, Hidbid, AuctionSentry, QuickSnipe, BidBall, Snip and HarvEX.

Most of these offer similar features and a few free snipes to start with.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Make Money simply by viewing Ads (Paid To Click or PTC)

I've recently discovered a way to make money viewing ads.

A number of multi-level pyramid type schemes exist which pay you to view ads.  They are called "Paid To Click" or PTC sites.  Some will pay as much as 2 cents per ad view.  Others are a scam.  Using a referral system so that other people's clicks ad to your earnings and diligently viewing about 5 ads a day has topped up my account and sure it is not much but it all ads up !

The one I've used is one of the most established, is definitely not a scam and genuinely does pay out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Template Monster vs ThemeForest

Previously I've compared Template Monster to various Open Source Web Design directories for out-of-the-box website templates.
Well I grew tired of those options a while ago due to a lack of depth and the frustration of their search interfaces.  Additionally many of the licences would require that you link to the designer's website, which isn't always idea.

One site I have been using recently is ThemeForest, part of the Envato network.  This site offers paid templates including HTML and Content Management System (CMS) ready templates for most of the popular systems including Joomla and Wordpress.  As a community based site they are much better value for what you get i.e. massively cheaper than Template Monster and unlike Template Monster the HTML, CSS and custom code is typically of a very high quality all zipped up with adequate documentation.  Additionally it is great that purchasers can post comments about what they like and don't like about each product on offer.

Some things that I don't like about ThemeForest that I truly wish they would fix for better customer satisfaction.

1) Search - the problem with all these services is how to find a template. While Themeforest supports tags and item attributes the thumbnails and lists used to showcase the templates just aren't adequate to sift through the pile

2) Searchable comments - again search.  The ability to search comments would solve major headaches. When you're using this as the primary support tool for their products, comments can span many pages and with no option to view all you sometimes have to skip through dozens of pages trying to solve a particular problem, sometimes simply to find whether a feature that is purported to be supported actually isn't.

These things aside, ThemeForest is so much better than Template Monster it really isn't funny.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In text ads and Infolinks - Alternative Pay Per Click

I've recently discovered Infolinks, an affiliate program and pay per click (PPC) network and been trialling it on several sites so I thought I'd run a quick review.

Advertisers will be disappointed that Infolinks appears to focus on publishers and the website not allow advertisers to create an account.  In fact everything is done manually via email with their support staff.

I have been using Infolinks as a publisher, however, with moderate results.  Infolinks claims to be the highest paying context advertising.  However, the revenue per click is as low as 1 cent.  Adsense is capable of generating a hundred times more than that.  However the click rates for Infolinks are far higher than Adsense.  So a direct Infolinks vs Adsense comparison doesn't stack up.  On my site Adsense generates about 5 times more revenue each day.  However the good thing about Infolinks is that it can work together with Adsense and other programs in combination.  Together it can be an effective complement.  It also seems to be consistent based on page impressions, whereas Adsense doesn't work great with low traffic blogs.  

Other things I like about Infolinks is the low payout threshold and regular payments in comparison to Adsense which has a high threshold and confusing payment system. 

However Infolinks tends to be very distracting for users and I've had some feedback about misleading and offensive ad content which is unrelated to the highlighted keywords.

But as a means of generating revenue from a website or blog, Infolinks is worth a try.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amazon Associates vs Borders vs Fishpond - Website Affiliate Programs and Commission Comparison

A few years back I began an experiment with commission based affiliate programs and began with Amazon.

I started with Amazon Associates and went to great lengths to target specific pages with specific products.  But eventually gave up having made just $3 in commissions for a product that I hadn't even advertised and never qualifying for a cheque.  The problem it seemed was that my websites had a primarily Australian focus and Australian buyers it seemed had bad experiences with Amazon's delivery prices and timeframes.  My Adsense ads were earning far more each day than Amazon Affiliates was worth for a whole six months.

I continued to experiment with other website affiliate programs including Payloadz and Commission Monster, but digital products just don't have the same effect as books and DVDs. 

Anyhow, in the last two months I have joined the affiliate program of  While I was a little skeptical given that I found the interface for creating ads to, it was not long before I made my first sale.  Within three weeks I qualified for my first payment.  I think they have done a lot in their marketing to make Australian consumers feel comfortable buying them and as a result my websites were a very good fit.  It is great to now see some quality affiliate programs emerging for content publishers.

I have been tempted to give Borders more of a go given its strong brand in Australia, however its commissions are relatively low and Fishpond has the advantage of being 100% Australia.  I also wish that Readings, one of my favourite booksellers would start an affiliate program.

You'll find below a brief commission comparison of the various website affiliate programs for online DVD and booksellers.

Commission Comparison
  • Amazon - 4% to 15% (typically 10% for books)
  • Borders - 5% to 8% (typically 5% for books)
  • Fishpond - 10% 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Things that annoy me about Wordpress

As devout I am a disciple of Wordpress, I have to say there are definitely things that bug me about this publishing system / CMS. 

#1 Links in image captions - as of Wordpress 2.6, if you try to put hyperlinks in image captions, Wordpress strips them out.  Which of course means that you can't effectively credit the author of an image or photo (whether it be from Flickr or some other website) and link to the appropriate licence.  This can be frustrating and there aren't really any plugins which properly address the issue.  However I've found a couple of workarounds here and here.  However this is something essential that really shouldn't require a plugin or hack.  Memo to Wordpress ... fix this in the next version please !

More in due course