Friday, November 20, 2009

eHow's Plagiarism Flag Stealing Earnings from Writers without Due Process

I've been watching the plagiarism flag sagas of several eHow members and been following the situation closely--even corresponding with members who are dealing with this. The post below was posted by one member on the eHow message board this morning and I asked if I could reproduce it here as I think it covers everything that is wrong with eHow's plagiarism policy. Especially note the sections in italics as they are particularly salient.

This is an important issue and I think eHow writers need to push eHow to review their plagiarism policy and make it more equitable.

Mrasey writes (having dealt with the plagiarism flag all week):

I would imagine now that new content goes through a plagiarism check that the number of plagiarism flags on eHow should diminish. Because they will have an internal time/date stamp that the content was unique upon initial publication. I would hope that future plagiarism flags would not result in temporary suspension or removal precisely because of the time/date stamp. This should allow eHow to feel pretty confident that their flag is catching someone offsite who has stolen content and they should be able to implement a system where authors are notified of the problem and given 2-3 days to prove their innocence, if that is necessary.

I hope that eHow does modify their plagiarism policy to incorporate the credibility given by the initial plagiarism scan upon publication.

Old content will continue to be a problem, however. This is what happened to me. I edited an old article and hit publish and got a flag because of all the sites that had scraped my work from eHow. Because eHow removed the article, I didn't have a direct link and that made it difficult to prove my case to some sites (although I ultimately prevailed in all cases at having sites remove my content). Further, when my article comes back, I will have lost quite a bit of money and based on what others have said, lost rank in the search engines which will hurt my income for months to come.

So while it is demoralizing and depressing, it is also a financial issue. All my hard work is wiped out because I am presumed guilty without sufficient evidence of guilt. That is my core issue with the way eHow handles plagiarism. They have no idea who is guilty, but pass judgement all the same. Judgement that hinders the author's ability to defend themselves and has lasting negative effects on their income.

It would be one thing if content was removed for a day and if these investigations were executed quickly, but that's not what happens. These plagiarism flags drag out. Content is removed for weeks at a time and the length of time it takes to resolve these issues is what creates the biggest chunk of financial loss.

Also consider the money eHow makes on the redirect to other pages when someone tries to visit your suspended content. Is the author compensated appropriately for this income once they are proven innocent and reinstated? Does that factor into the secret algorithm?

From a corporate due diligence perspective, I have to wonder how it is that it's okay to essentially cost people money based on suspicion alone. How is that protecting anybody? As much as eHow wants to avoid legal liability for plagiarized content, they actually create an additional legal liability, in my opinion, by robbing users of income without due process. eHow has closed one legal liability door and opened another which I don't think was the goal.

I think there are serious issues with their current policy. All it takes is the right mix of circumstances for someone to put together a legal claim.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sick With a Side of Troll

You know what's worse than a cold?

Having a cold and discovering a troll all over your ehow articles.

There's a reason I don't link to my sites or articles on this blog, it's to avoid the trolls. I don't want someone to get steamed about what I say here and take it out on my articles.

So that's why I don't link to anything. In case you were wondering. Which you probably weren't.

Aside from the cold, I've been spending a lot of time this week trying to figure out my niche strategy. I need to give it a good effort and see if I can turn any of the work I've done so far into profit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Important Thoughts on Adsense and Back Links

I am going to try to bang this out before my toddler takes command of the keyboard--I made the mistake of showing her and all I hear now is 'Letter? Letters? LETTERS?' followed by desperate scrabbling for the keyboard.

Anyway. Willow is talking about back links that use adsense on her blog today and I wanted to share, what I think is, an important view point on the topic.

Adsense. If you build back links that contain your Adsense ID to sites that also contain your Adsense ID, guess what? Google knows it's you and they know you're trying to pump up your site's credibility. Artificially so in their eyes.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: This doesn't pertain so much to back links for ehow content. So if you've only ever written for ehow, you can read this and file it away in the 'Good to know' drawer. Eventually you will get involved with Adsense because that is the next logical step forward after establishing yourself at ehow. You will need to know this adsense stuff someday.

This information is important if you have niche websites because Google is not thrilled with internet marketers. They don't like people trying to 'game' the system. So linking to your niche sites in a way they can spot (like using your Adsense ID on back link sites) may actually hurt your page rank and authority.

Some people work around this by setting up a second adsense account, which is technically against Google's terms of service and can get internet marketers in BIG trouble. Which is why I don't suggest a second adsense account until you are well versed in the dark arts of internet marketing. Google does not give second chances. One mistake and you are OUT of the game...for LIFE.

I do not have a second Google account precisely for this reason. What you don't know can hurt you when it comes to internet marketing. Always proceed with caution and as much information as you can amass lest you wake the dragon Google.

Other niche bloggers work around this by just not filling in their ad sense id on back link sites with revenue sharing. They forgo the profits and just go for the back links.

What I do is, open multiple accounts. I put my adsense on accounts linking back to ehow or other content online that does not also have my adsense id attached to it. Then I open a second account for my niche sites and I don't fill in my adsense id. That allows me to both earn revenue when possible and to build rank and authority for my niche sites.

Edited to Add: Willow has shared that her approach has been successful for her. However, I am still leery. I've read so many sob stories of internet marketers who lost their Adsense account--going from $3000 a month to $0--that I am very protective of my Adsense account. I don't want Google to think my niches are any less sincere than any other website out there.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

eHow Back Link Strategy (Part 2)

Go read the first post on this topic here. It gives the whys and hows of the strategy I'm going to outline below. Plus it covers the results, a.k.a. the money, of back linking.

Here are my rules on back links for eHow.

1. Back link everything you can. I find that the critic in me comes out during back linking as in 'oh, I think that article sucks' or 'Who cares about this topic?' or 'I don't care if I make money on that' or 'This article is waaaay out of season. No one wants to learn about summer in winter.' Ignore the voice and back link every single article you've posted on eHow. Don't think about it, just do it.

2. Don't build links too fast. I could be wrong on this, but a big part of niche blogging is letting content age and not linking too fast. I am extending that practice to my eHow content. Back link articles that are at least 1 month old. However, also feel free to play around with this rule and see what works for you. So I guess this is more of a suggestion.

3.Don't bother with back linking until you've got at least 50 articles. The money on eHow is in quantity. If you don't have enough content to reach critical mass, you are better off writing more articles. Back links are the final step, not the first. The first step is to write the content!

Until you write the content, just bookmark this post or print it out. Don't read further until you have 50 articles. 100 is even better!

4.Learn about SEO, search engine optimization. Quality for ehow lies in good SEO. The money is found in Quantity of good SEO. If you don't know what the Google Adword Keyword Tool is and have never used it, you are not ready for back linking. Back links are the cherry on the sundae, not the ice cream or the fudge. Get the ice cream and fudge going first--to carry a bad comparison to the bitter end.


Create blogs in all the categories you write in and post links to your articles. Blogs that you own are part of your long term content marketing strategy.

Also write unique posts for those blogs every once in a great while so the blog doesn't look like a 'blog farm' which is a no-no for Google. You can use a free service like Blogger. I would avoid using adsense on these blogs, but you can eventually use a Blogger blog to get an adsense account (which is important for making money on other sites you may wish to write on).

HUB PAGES - Not Recommended

I love the format of Hub Pages, but as far as earnings? They SUCK. Views are slow. Earnings are slower. HP is not the best back link option. You have to create new content and maintain your 'hubber score' so the links you put in remain 'do follow'. (Do follow links are back links. If your hubber score drops below 74, your back links become 'no follow' meaning they give your content zero link juice. So you end up babysitting your score which is a pain.)

Between having to create content and maintain your Hubber Score, Hub Pages is high maintenance. Best avoided unless and until they actually prove to be a viable source of earnings on par with eHow. I only mention them because HP is where I first started experimenting with back links.

If you do work with Hub Pages, you'll want a Google Adsense account so you can make money off of any ad clicks your content may receive. You should also slant your content toward selling Amazon products as HP earnings seem to do better when hubbers market Amazon affiliate items.

EZINE -Not Recommended

Ezine is an online article directory. People use ezine content for websites, blogs and newsletters. It provides back links via the requirement that all content users post the author's bio which includes a back link to whichever site the author is promoting. It is a valid, but time consuming way to build back links. Avoid it unless you have no other choice or unless you need a really high ranking back link. Google loves Ezine and they have tons of rank and authority which juices up your back link.

The important difference between Ezine and sites like Hub Pages is Ezine doesn't share ad revenue. You basically give your article away for free in exchange for the back link.

There are other article directories out there that operate similar to ezine. This information should apply equally to them as well.

- Sort of Recommended - Like Ezine but with Adsense

The title says it all. I like Infobarrel as an alternate source of passive income. Not so much as a source of back links, but you can kill two birds with one stone. Write for Infobarrel to diversify your income and build back links as you go. I like IB over Hub Pages because you don't have to babysit your score to get do follow back links.

However, note that you need an adsense account. Those Blogger blogs I suggested you start are going to come in handy in terms of getting you started with an Adsense account.

XOMBA -Recommended

Xomba allows users to post links and blurbs to web content. It is simple. Fast and easy to use. You can upload your Google Adsense id as well, so if anyone clicks on an ad, you might make some money. It also has decent Google authority and rank.

This is a good place for creating back links. Community participation is optional, but I would suggest spending a minute or two rating other people's posts and friending people at random.

Oh, and note that Xomba has identified Hub Pages links as spam. So no linking to HP content.


She Told Me is similar to Xomba. It allows you to post a blurb and a link. So an excellent and easy way to make a back link. Fast to use too.

Community participation is optional, but I would suggest spending a minute or two rating other people's posts and friending people at random.

Propeller - Recommended with Reservations

Propeller is similar to She Told Me and Xomba, but the site is glitchy (right now I can't even log in and I can't tell if they've accepted what I uploaded or not) and mass uploads of content are frowned upon.

Maybe save Propeller for those times when you really want to push an article. I don't see it being efficient for mass article promotion. Which is probably how they like it!

Community participation is optional, but I would suggest spending a minute or two rating other people's posts and friending people at random.

REDDIT - Recommended

Reddit is another great place to build back links. It's fast and easy to use. However, this is an active community that will not respond well to a flood of article links. So parcel links out slowly, maybe 3 or 5 at a time to avoid getting in trouble with users.

Community participation is probably a good idea and I would suggest spending a minute or two rating other people's posts and friending people at random.

Do Follow Digg
- Recommended

Do Follow Digg is a hole-in-the-wall website (at least that's how it strikes me) with high authority and google page rank. It appears you can post up to 3 links a day. That's all I know. There's no 'about' page or FAQ. You're kind of on your own, but because of its rank, it's a good place for back links.

The hard part is keeping track of which 3 you've uploaded because Do Follow Digg lacks user features found on other sites, such as a 'my posts' list. You'll need a spreadsheet or some kind of system to keep track of what has been submitted.

There are other sites beyond the ones listed above. These are just the sites I have worked with so far. As time permits, I may blog about other sites that I've found.

I hope you've found this helpful. Note that one or two links are affiliate links that don't hurt you at all, but might help me.

Thoughts on Back Linking & My eHow Back Link Strategy (Part 1)

I first started learning about SEO on Willow's blog (see links in sidebar for Freelance Home Writer and go visit her, she's awesome!) and continued my SEO education at The Keyword Academy*.

The Keyword Academy is where I learned about the value of back links. Basically Google rates all web content based on a variety of factors. SEO is one. Google wants to give web searchers exact results whenever possible so having the exact key word in your content only helps you rank with Google.

Another thing that Google looks at is who has linked to your content. One way links have more weight than link exchanges because (I assume) it looks like someone independently liked your content enough to pass it on, which carries a huge amount of positive karma with Google. Link exchanges are reciprocal and tend to be 'deals' between bloggers that are intentional marketing efforts which Google does not love as much. I mean, you do get some 'link juice' with exchanges, just not as much as you would with a one way.

In addition, the page rank or google authority of the sites linking to your content carry weight as well. There's a difference between a Chinese Viagra spammer linking to you and MSNBC, you know? Google takes this into account when evaluating the rank of your page/content.

If you can get your content to outrank the competition you can make good money with a website or online article. The trick is to build back links in a way that gives you the most 'Google juice' or 'link juice.'

So we know that Google doesn't think too much of reciprocal link exchanges (which is why internet marketers are always looking for a 'three way' exchange--not as kinky as it sounds, just chasing the elusive one way link). Google is also suspicious of sites or content where a lot of back links pop up in a very short period of time. You might as well get Internet Marketer stamped on your computer screen. Google doesn't want people to scam their rating system. They want good, honest, sincere content. Google is trying to 'keep it real' so to speak.

Meaning internet marketers go to great lengths to look legit with google. There are formulas and time lines as to when exactly and how often a back link should be set up. It can get intricate. So intricate, I've just ignored all the advice and winged it, just waiting a while between back links.

As for eHow...

I didn't build back links for eHow content initially because I started my web career at ehow and a lot of big money eHowers told me not to waste my time with back links or article promotion.

So I didn't. And I made money. More money than most people, I think, due to my SEO. Most eHow writers don't get into SEO right away, they learn it after they've written a bunch of articles and then ask people why they aren't making money. Whereas, from the beginning, I was aware of SEO and trying to get it right. 90% of my articles have made money. I've only had 1 stubborn article that required super human effort to get money on it despite good CPC and SEO. I only put the effort into making money on it because the lack of earnings got under my skin like a bad itch. I think I've made twenty cents on it--so still not hot. I guess the competition must be tough for that keyword. (The other non-earners I can accept because they are low cpc topics or they are recipes.)

The other problem I had with back links is that The Keyword Academy method taught me to get back links by writing even more articles for sites like ezine. Which is great. It's a bona fide, high quality back link. But it takes work and requires more writing.

I could not see writing almost 100 ezine articles just to promote ehow content. Who has the time? Not me! We're potty training over here, which is like the third circle of parenting hell and very time consuming.

However, when I joined Hubpages 2 months ago, I started linking back to eHow articles whenever it made sense.

And my earnings took a jump to $5+ days on a consistent basis. Most importantly, the articles I linked to saw immediate earnings increases. I now had direct evidence of the power of back links.

Then I ran across an article talking about places where I could back link articles without writing another one. I'm not linking to the article because some of the info was bad, but I did find a few gems in that article.

And my earnings took another jump to $7-$10 earnings per day on a consistent basis.

So far, for November, I've made more than $10 a day each day this month. From $11 to $15 a day.

I do believe it is the back linking.

My next post, because this one is long enough and my toddler is ready for lunch, I'll tell you where I put my back links and which sites are worth your time and which were duds.

*The Keyword Academy is a good place to get some basic SEO. However, it's not as comprehensive as I would like. Unfortunately, I don't have time to go into detail at the moment. Perhaps in another post.