Search indexes FINALLY updated

by alex 30. April 2013 18:30

About a month ago I mentioned that I was changing the titles in the sales site. It took about a month, but it is finally updated! This means I might rank better for the keywords I'm targeting.

Search results for "site:"

Broadcasting your sitemap to search engines

by alex 30. April 2013 18:10

Day 89!

I just realized that I had the sitemap for the BuildKeeper.NET blog configured incorrectly with Google. D'oh! I was using the RSS feed instead of the dynamic sitemap! After fixing this problem, my submitted-pages count jumped up!

I don't think this mistake caused terrible problems because my blog shows up in Google results when searching for my post titles and keywords. But it means that my blog would have been a step or two behind in scanning, because new blog posts could only be detected if the blog root was reindedex first.

A few months ago I manually registered a static sitemap for the sales site and the dynamic sitemap (although incorrectly) with Google Webmaster Tools. This means Google has my sitemaps, but Bing and Yahoo don't. To broadcast your sitemaps to all search engines, add them to your robots.txt file. Here's a snippet with mine:



Day 88 - Low traffic, inspiring ideas, and chatty bots

by alex 29. April 2013 18:13

It's day 88.

Over the last week and a half I wrote a few blog posts on the Build Keeper sales site and worked on a few minor features. Traffic has been generally low, but I'm starting to get hits to the blog from search engines. Actually, it's a bit disheartening at times when I see how slowly progress is being made. The traffic to the site is sparse and there isn't much of a positive feedback loop with this project. What am I doing to get traffic? Mainly blogging, so I'm going to go over and do that some more after this post.

I'm going through boxes hoping to find art supplies because I want to start drawing and painting again. I've followed a few very impressive one-drawing-a-day people through the years and I thought it might be worthwhile to take up a similar task. While toying with this idea in my head, I realized that it's hard to come up with ideas for creative projects. So I started an idea website. It's a tool that prompts users with creative ideas for projects. Kinda like a community, online class. There might be ideas related to painting or food or life adventures.

One idea is published daily per category. Users can then create something from the idea, post it back to the site and link against their blogs and Tumblr accounts. There was a bit of interest from friends on Facebook about this project. Actually, this site probably garnered more interest from friends and family than any of my other projects. It's more of a side project right now, but with a bit of effort and curation I think this project could become something interesting.

In other news, I'm popular amongst the robots!

This blog gets a lot of spam comments. The bots are getting smarter: they're writing comments that actually sound like real people. I don't understand why these bots exist.

In olde tymes (6 months ago) bots were designed to make loads of comments in the hope that all their links would increase search engine ranking or that someone might click on the links and buy stuff. These old comments were posted with links back to a homepage and the comment text might include a url or a link to a product they were selling. But these recent comments are just strange:

  • Confirm your region settings, go to System Preferences > Language & Text > Formats and select United Kingdom
  • good Kharma keeps the wheel turning...
  • I've been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I eventually stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i am satisfied to exhibit that I've an incredibly good uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I so much for sure will make sure to do not omit this website and give it a glance on a continuing basis.
  • Oh my goodness! an amazing article boy. Thank you However I am experiencing issue with 3rd there's r rss. Don't know why Can not subscribe to it. Is there anyone having identical rss problem? Anyone who knows generously respond. Thnkx

Very strange. That first one sounds like advice to another commenter or maybe an answer to a question in my post - but it isn't. That comment is from my post about taxes and there aren't any comments for that one either.

I understand that more human-sounding comments are more likely to make it through spam blockers and are more likely to dupe real people, but I don't understand to what end the comments serve. There aren't any links, no home pages, no email addresses... just text.

But I think I'm going to blame Twitter for this. The sales site doesn't see this sort of spam and the only different between how I manage and advertise those sites is that I tweet links to this blog's posts.


First year of taxes after starting a software business

by alex 17. April 2013 18:07

Everyone says that having a business is a great way to save money on taxes but there are so few real world examples of how it works. This post documents the start up business portion of my tax liability in 2012.

I used 2012 to gradually ramp up on my product, and I finally quit my day job in January of 2013. So, I was employed for the entire duration of 2012, which made taxes not-too-terrible (for taxes, that is).

I'm not going to write about my complete tax profile this year because that would require revealing my previous salary. Though I will make all earnings open next year, my old salary is not on the table =)

Services used in the first year of start up

The following services were purchased or rented for the business:

  • $120.00 - PersonalClass ASP Plan (Domain: Pre-paid For 2 years 
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $9.95 - Registration of for 1 year(s)
  • $25.95 - 1 year SSL Certificate for
  • $2.00 - Dedicated IP Address Addon
  • $2.00 - Renewal of Dedicated IP Address 
  • $76 - PO Box

Services Total: $295.60

The SSL certificate and dedicated IP address are what allow me to take credit card payments online. The rest is just web space and domain names, and a PO Box.

The PO Box was written off as a rental; the rest were under advertising.

Writing off computer purchases

I purchased a laptop and a desktop with two monitors. From a large number of resources, you must use an item 100% for the business if you are going to write it off on your taxes. With this in mind, I had a hard time justifying writing off both computers. In the end, I wrote off only the laptop and its extended warranty.

Laptop Total: $1341.00


Due to the business, I had a total of $1636 to write off. Because I have a sole proprietorship, this was a write off against my earned income from my day job; if I had an LLC, I'd have had to carry the losses forward.

All told, before entering the $1636 in write offs, I owed an additional $400 or so on federal taxes; these write offs resulted in a $28 refund.

Next year will surely be more "interesting." =)

If anyone had advice on further items I could have written off, or any more tips, I'd be glad to hear them!

10-Day results on new product exploration

by alex 17. April 2013 17:14

About 10 days ago, I wrote about my plans to see if traffic to one of my old websites,, was actually interested people or confused robots. In that post, I had 2 signups and 89 unique visitors. Ten days later, I have 2 signups and 95 unique visitors.

Le sigh. I guess you can't just put stuff online and expect people to flock to it, all on their own.

Metrics indicate that my most frequent visitors are bots

The spinning coins on the website are interactive - the user can click on them. Clicking on a coin will play a coin-pickup sound, and increase the coin counter at the top of the screen. The number of coins the user has is stored in a client-side cookie, so I can only grab the value of this cookie whenever the visitor interacts with my web server - by signing up or going to another page, for example.

There were only four people who both 1) understood that the coins could be clicked AND 2) also reloaded the page, went to another page or signed up for the beta.

This implies a few things:

  • The bounce rate on this page is high
  • Bots are a major source of traffic
  • Converting visitors (from visitor to sign up) don't understand that the coins are interactive
  • Non-converting visitors click the coins but don't interact with the site anymore

Actually, all of these could be true.

My bounce rate IS high, because there aren't any other calls to action or content for the visitor to navigate to; the visitor is not pulled into the site.

Bots give me a lot of traffic - there are a large number of hits to pages that were part of the old site but the new. When a visitor tries to request a page from the old site, I show them a "hey, sorry the site's gone, but here's some information, click here for more, click here to sign up" page, and I'm not seeing any traffic from these pages. There are also a few query strings that are obviously not from either the new or old site; this indicates bots trying to sniff out my server.

No converting visitor has clicked on a coin before signing up. This implies that it might not be obvious that coins can be clicked on, so perhaps non-converting visitors are also not aware that they can be clicked on.

However, the coins mean nothing. They were an experiment to see if making the site more interactive would be beneficial to the visitor's interest in the product. Kind of like an A/B test from the start.

I'm going to keep it up an running, but not much coming from (or going into) No Dice Required, for now.

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