Top SEO Research Tools – Part One: Recon


80% of the time setting up any SEM campaign, especially if it’s selling products in an already crowded market (i.e. the majority of CPA offers in affiliate marketing), is spent on research. Some prefer to use free tools, some rely on paid services or applications that might offer additional marketing benefits and then there’s a whole separate group which will uses home-grown scripts that achieve a combination of tasks. First I’ll show you some of the freely available tools that you can use to research the competition, from finding out what other websites link to them (i.e. backlinks) to even what other websites the owner is hosting on the same IP address. This is part one of a series on SEO research tools: Researching The Competition (For free).

Free Competitive Research Tools: – Find out what hosting company is being used for the website. For most this won’t matter much but for some of you, this information can be used in more grey-hat SERP strategies. – A mash-up of some of the top research utilities that you’d check for any given site. From the # of links on social bookmarking sites, basic domain and webserver information, related sites, company information and even a comparison of several different ‘traffic ranking’ utilities. This is by far one of the most comprehensive and easy to use research utilities for any given website. A similar tool (that is open-source) is Xinu Returns.

SEOPro’ Link Checker – One of the best FREE services to check a website’s backlinks, including both the anchor text used as well as the homepage and link PR. Useful to see what links your competition are using to help build their SERP as well as which links have potential to improve (i.e. finding page links with high homepage PRs and working to improve the quality of the link).

What is hosted on that IP? – Great tool from SEOEgghead that will tell you what other domains are being hosted on the same ip or domain.

Redirect Check – Here’s another from SEOEgghead that will tell you all the paths taken to reach a specific domain, useful if they’re using multiple re-directs – this tool will identify every stop along the way.

Domain Tools – From the basic WHOIS information and META Tag information to previous owners and nameserver changes (though most of the more detailed information requires a paid subscription), this website has a bunch of tools that are useful in hunting down the owner of a website (or finding similar sites). – Search blogs, social networking sites (like twitter), comments, images, news and a variety of other sources for your keyword or website. You can even export the results in csv format. Great for finding out where people are talking about your competition or niche.

Quick Bulk PageRank and IP Lookup – This tool will let you look-up the pagerank and ip addresses of multiple URL’s, perfect for when you have a long list of sites and want to quickly see which would be the best to try and get a link from. It’s one of Esrun’s tools (a well-established figure in ‘blackhat seo’).

Multiple SERP Tool – An amazing script that gets the results on the first 3 keywords of a domain, then parses out the top 3 word combinations in the results pages and ultimately spits out a top-40 list of domains for that niche based on an intuitive ranking system. A must-use for niche research. – Can’t figure out what platform a website is using to host their content? This site will let u know the basics from whether or not it’s using a popular CMS back-end like WordPress down to what software the server might be running.

Next up will be free keyword tools.

Break out of ANY iFrame (Including Google Image Search)

Have a video game portal and you’re tired of folks iframing their own ads around your games? Want to break the google image iframe when it reaches your site? Easy, just copy and paste this code at the top of your file and it’ll break you out of any iframe. For large sites it’s best to put it in an external .js file and just use an include call at the top of each page:

<script type="text/javascript">
		if (top.location!= self.location) {
			top.location = self.location.href


A Complete List of XML-RPC PING Services

XML-RPC Ping Services

Alerting search engines that you’ve updated your website and would like to have their spiders re-crawl the domain can be accomplished by ‘pinging’ them with your URL. This feature is built-in to most popular blog and CMS platforms (like WordPress) and will automatically ping various networks anytime that you save or publish something new. Sometimes though it can be beneficial to ‘help’ this process along, especially if you’re creating a site from scratch and don’t have any sort of auto-ping functionality built-in.
Two websites that will ping a long list of services for you are Pingoat and Pingler. These are both great resources for any website developer.

I’m a big fan of Pingler in particular because it lets you modify the list of services that it will contact when you use it.

Now there are many blackhat, whitehat and well “greyhat” uses for pinging these services to let them know of a site update, all of which are hot-topics for debate (which I won’t get into just yet). Just a word of caution though – You can easily get de-indexed if you ping Google too often, as well as from a variety of other search engines…so with that said, you’ve been warned. Don’t abuse this service!

For those of you looking for a full list of URL’s that allow you to notify them of updates, i’ve provided such a list below. It also includes all the international URL’s for Google’s Blogsearch. Keep in mind a lot of these actually will ping multiple resources so if you use them all, you’ll be hitting a large number of duplicate services….just a heads up. Enjoy.

XML-RPC Ping Services

Tracking202 Beta Program Launched!


Tracking202, which is quiet possibly the single most important tool any affiliate marketer can have in their arsenal, just announced yesterday that they were starting to take applications for the new Tracking202 Pro Private Beta Program. While enrolled in this trial, all fees associated with the application will be waived with the exception of any API calls. Once the private beta is over the service will switch over to being a paid analytics program….the first that the company has ever offered.

Up until now all Prosper202 applications have been completely free of charge. These include:

  • Tracking202 – A great link analytics program to help you map trends, ctr, and much more.
  • Export202 – A utility to convert PPC campaigns from one advertising network to another (i.e Google->MSN).
  • WorldProxy202 – A great service that offers free international proxies in Canada, USA, Australia and the UK. This was always great for checking how your ads would appear to the international search markets.
  • Meetup202 – An event/user group planning system allowing you to create, manage, and track gatherings.

It should be interesting to see what new features this Pro version has, something to note though is that there will not be a self-hosted version this time. Tracking202 Pro will be only sold through their subscription service. I don’t know how well this will go over with the AM crowd as the biggest fear in using any subscription service is that someone will steal ideas, LP’s, strategies, etc.. All of which are visible through this tracking application.

CX Digital/Incentaclick Goes Dark Due To DDOS

Incentaclick Fail

So apparently some genius thought he could make some quick cash by combining affiliate links from Incentaclick/CX Digital and bit-torrent. There’s only one catch… resulted in a massive DDOS attack on the incentaclick servers, knocking them offline for practically all day. Needless to say, some people were pissed (shit, I don’t even want to think about all folks who just lost big $$ due to their PPC links being dead). Rumor going around on #cakes ( – don’t be a stranger) is that it’s more than just their servers that were hit, the ping attack took-out part of their entire network. If that’s the case then don’t plan on switching back to your incentaclick links anytime soon… such a shame.

Brilliant work kid!

Countdown Timer Redirect Javascript For Your Affiliate Links

Affiliate Link Countdown Clock

A great way to scrub referrals (and help cloak affiliate links from Google) is by sending your users to a ‘middleman’ redirect page before handing them off to the Advertiser. With some offers though it’d be nice to be able to deliver one final ‘parting’ message or chance for up-sell before having them leave your site. For those situations I’ve found it handy to build out the ‘middleman’ pages using a javascript redirect timer that lets me delay the eventual redirect for however long I think is necessary for the visitor to read my farewell message or see that ‘last-minute-offer.’

So that the user will know this is all part of the website experience, a simple countdown timer is shown letting them see how much time is left before the page changes. There’s even a secondary option in the script that allows for a short one-liner to be displayed during the eventual redirect, though the transition is typically too quick for anyone to read (so it isn’t mandatory, if left blank it will default to say “Redirecting…”).

Download countdownRedirect.js

 * Copyright (C) 2006-2009, All rights reserved.
 * Script Name: Countdown Redirect
 * You can obtain this script at

function countdownRedirect(url, msg)
   var DEF_MSG = "Redirecting...";

   if( ! msg )
      msg = DEF_MSG;

   if( ! url )
      throw new Error('You didn't include the "url" parameter');

   var e = document.getElementById(TARG_ID);

   if( ! e )
      throw new Error('"COUNTDOWN_REDIRECT" element id not found');

   var cTicks = parseInt(e.innerHTML);

   var timer = setInterval(function()
      if( cTicks )
         e.innerHTML = --cTicks;
         document.body.innerHTML = msg;
         location = url;	  

   }, 1000);

To use just upload the countdownRedirect.js script to your webserver and add the following code to the header on your ‘middleman’ page:

<script src="countdownRedirect.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

In order to have the countdown start automatically once the page is loaded, you’re going to want to then add the ‘onload’ attribute to the main ‘body’ tag. This is also where you’ll tell the script what page to eventually redirect the user to as well as what (if any) redirect message to display:

in this example the eventual redirect will be to with no secondary redirect message

<body onload='countdownRedirect("")'>

If I wanted to change the default redirect message, “Redirecting…”, to something different (i.e. “Thank You For Visiting”), then I would use:

<body onload='countdownRedirect("", "Thank You For Visiting")'>

Now build-out your page as desired. The only thing missing is to tell the script how long the countdown is for and then display the timer on the page. We do that by adding the following code in with our content:

in this example I have the countdown timer set to 10 seconds, you can adjust accordingly

<span class="counter" id="COUNTDOWN_REDIRECT">10</span>

There you go! You can change how the countdown timer looks via CSS. This is the most basic example of how you can use this script but hopefully it saves you some time/gives you some ideas.

Here’s the code for a demo page using the above options:


<title> Javascript Countdown Redirect Demo</title>
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

<style type="text/css">
body {
   color: black;
   background: white;
   font: bold 18pt Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
   text-align: center;

span.counter {
   color: red;
   cursor: default;
   font-size: larger;
} {
   margin: 0 auto;
   text-align: left;
   font-size: smaller;
   width: 80%;
   margin-top: 2em;

<script src="countdownRedirect.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

<body onload='countdownRedirect("", "Thanks For Visiting")'>

<div> - countdownRedirect.js Demo Page</div>
<div class="info">This is a demo page of the redirect script in action, code and instructions can be found at <strong></strong><br /><br /><center>You will automatically be redirected in <span class="counter" id="COUNTDOWN_REDIRECT">10</span> seconds.</center>

Visit Live Demo | Download Demo Page (with countdownRedirect.js)

Free Greasemonkey Script For Facebook Ad Manager

Facebook Ad Manager Greasemonkey Script

Let’s face it, the UI for the Ad Manager in Facebook is horrible, especially if you’ve got a large set of campaigns & are having to deal w/ the ebb and flow of interns rejecting + accepting ads (not to mention deleting/re-submitting them after they’ve been rejected).

Apparently there are other scripts/add-ons available that make this process a whole lot easier, but as was recently pointed out over on the WickedFire Forums, there’s a guy out there who’s actually trying to sell this script for $99.95 (or if you’re dumb enough to send him $25 now to secure your spot in the ‘pre-order’ the script would only be $85 after his discount). He’s since updated his blog to announce that his program would not be released on time after-all, adding that:

…Some rookie on WF totally stole my steam and posted some FireFox plug-in that works pretty sweet with FB to do lots of stuff I had planned.

Well, that rookie just knocked out a working script in one night (while allegedly drunk) meanwhile you’ve only been talking about the project since November 20th….hope you learned a lesson in being quiet.

Nathan from WF from just released what he claims was a drunken coding effort, but regardless is a great Greasemonkey script that streamlines managing Facebook ads. He even was so kind enough to add in a ‘dickroll’ option allowing you to partake in the kind of entertainment that only can provide.

You’ll need the Greasemonkey Firefox add-on in order to use this, install that first from the mozilla add-on site then, after installing & restarting Firefox, download and open (with Firefox) Nathan’s fbo.user.js script (which should then add it to Greasemonkey). Just head on over to the Facebook Ad Manager and partake in your newly acquired abilities of awesomeness.

Some brief features:
Here’s the old campaign screen, forcing you to click through far too many screens just to perform basic ad management functions:
The old Facebook Campaign Screen Before Installing The Greasemonkey Script

Here’s the improved campaign screen, now with added shortcuts:
Facebook Campaign Screen With Greasemonkey Script Installed

Now this wouldn’t be complete without the MakeMonies shout-out…
The Old Menu Bar:
The Facebook Ad Manager Menu Before Installing The Greasemonkey script

The *New* Menu Bar:
The new Facebook Ad Manager Menu After Installing The Greasemonkey Script

Setup Email Alerts To Notify You When Your Site Is On Googles First Page

Get email alerts if your website hits page one of google

Here’s a useful free service that will email you if your website ever lands on page one of Google, Yahoo or MSN Live. It’s called Exactfactor and for now it’s completely free of charge. All you have to do is setup a basic user account and you’re all set!

You can even set it to where you’ll get an email if another website (i.e. competition) passes you or your rank changes significantly. If you want it to this site can even send you a weekly SERP update via email. It’s limited to only three keywords/phrases per site, but even that should be useful enough when spanned out across a large collection of websites that you’re trying to monitor.

Go check it out while it’s still in beta (i.e still free).. no code or invitation required.