Gmail Spam Filter - Fighting the Good Fight

Did you know it takes the average person 5 seconds to identify a spam email message? No, nor did I but apparently it does. With almost 80% of all the emails being handled by Gmail being spammy in nature that could add up to a considerable amount of wasted time over the course of the working week - time which could be better spent playing fussball or instant messaging your Grandma according to Google software engineer Brad Taylor.

Amount of spam aimed at Gmail users.

Gmail users are playing an increasingly major role in the fight against spam. Every time a rogue piece of spam creeps through the Gmail spam filter and gets reported a message is sent through the Google computer system to catch the same piece of spam before it lands in other inboxes. The spam filter is also smart enough to spot most important genuine emails, rather than hide them away in the spam folder - this reduces the chance of missing anything crucial.

It's all very interesting stuff - at least I thought so. Find out why Brad is a software engineer and not an actor by watching this YouTube Gmail spam guide.

WidgetBucks - Trend Watch -

WidgetBucks Update

Last week I wrote a post about a new semi-contextual advertising service called WidgetBucks. A few teething problems have become apparent - nothing major, but some things you should be aware of.

Firstly the widgets are quite slow to load. This is a problems that WidgetBucks are aware of and they have been working on a fix to try and speed things up. If you reapply your ad code you should find the widgets load slightly faster than previously.

Secondly, again a problem WidgetBucks are aware of, even when publishers are using the MerchSense system of targetting the ads don't always match the page content. This is to do with an initial shortage of advertisers. As WidgetBucks creating a massive stir in the webmaster community their service should reach new advertisers quickly and their ad content will diversify.

But do not despair - I am still experiencing very good results with WidgetBucks. So far every click has been worth at least 25 cents plus there is a $25 sign up bonus for every new publisher.

Some other things that have become apparent from surfing around the various reviews of the new service - ads related to PDAs and flatscreen TVs are paying particularly well - more like 30 cents per click. Many publishers, even with modest traffic, are reporting several dollars worth of income every day. Conscious of the fact that some people are trying to cheat the system WidgetBucks are monitoring earnings closely. Suspiciously high click thru rates are being investigated and cheats will be banned without payment.

Join quickly
because that generous $25 bonus offer isn't going to last for ever!

Earn $$ with WidgetBucks!

Blogger Comment Alerts by Email

Yesterday I noticed something new about the comments on Blogger blogs. An announcement in the official blog, Blogger Buzz, confirms my observations that people can now subscribe for new comment alerts by email. To do this you'll have to be signed in and comment using your Google Account.

But the image of the Buzz entry gives a very interesting insight into the world of the Blogger Googler - it shows that they actually use Internet Explorer 7 as their web browser. How bizarre. I thought every Googler used FireFox - it's almost a Google product from the amount of promotion they give it!

Google Introduce Tip of the Day

They're an innovative bunch these Googlers - either that or they have very dull lives looking at the paint drying on the dull inner walls of the Googleplex. The newest little gadget they've come up with, to break the monotony of their repetitive keyboard tapping, is a 'Tip of the Day' gadget. The new gimmick can be easily implemented on your iGoogle homepage or embedded into your site or blog.

Another attempt to spread the famous Google branding and encroach even further on webmaster's everyday lives. Me, cynical? Absolutely not!

Read more about this story on the Official Google Blog.

AdSense Ad Management

I'm amazed it has taken so long but AdSense has finally cottoned on to what every other PPC provider has already been doing since the dawn of time - they are going to allow their publishers to update their ad colours and formats directly from their account dashboard.

Nothing revolutionary there you be thinking? And you'd be absolutely right! Which makes it all the more surprising that Google has been dragging their feet on this elementary piece of functionality. In the past any publisher wanting to update the appearance of their ad units had to generate code for each new ad and endure the often painstaking and torturous process of having to re-paste it on their site.

The new ad management system means (thankfully) that publishers will no longer have this battle - they'll be able to sign into their AdSense account, change the ad options and their edits will be reflected automatically on any ads displayed.

Who says you can't reinvent the wheel?!

Read more about this story on the official blog, Inside AdSense.

PageRank Happenings

Google PageRank - not such smiley faces anymore.

After months of nothingness on the PageRank front it now appears that Google engineers are beginning to flick switches in their network of Data Centers. It seems like bad news for a lot of webmasters including me, with vast drops in PR across the web. It looks like AdSense4Dummies and YouTube Karaoke, my two most popular blogs, could drop from their current PR4 to only PR2. This is despite considerable effort to promote them and build their backlinks and traffic.

I'm hoping it's just a temporary pre-update rollback, although I'm doubtful of this because these 2 blogs have never been PR2 in the past. Maybe Google, increasingly (and arrogantly) filling the role of web God, has just taken a dislike to my sites for including the words 'AdSense' and 'YouTube' respectively?

There has been a few major upsets PR wise over recent weeks. StatCounter, a webstats service which was previously a PR10, dropped to PR9 at the last update (end of April) and more recently to only PR8. Darren Rowse's ProBlogger, previously a solid PR7, now has the very mediocre rank of PR4. V7N forums, previously a strong PR6 webmaster community, is now only a PR5.

From these and the many other dramatic decreases in PageRank it is becoming more apparent that the sheer volume and quality of backlinks, the previous sole determining factor, is becoming a less significant commodity. Google is getting personal.

BlogRush? More Like Bog Brush!


I've held off doing a review of BlogRush until now because I wanted to fully test the merchandise before passing judgement. The verdict - BlogRush is pretty pathetic.

The idea is simple enough - you sign up, submit your sites, paste some code in your blog template and an ad unit appears which contains links to sites similar to yours. The more impressions and clicks the BlogRush unit accumulates the more credits you earn to display your own link on other blogs involved in the scheme. You also earn credits for referrals.

What an absolute load of tosh. After only one day of using BlogRush all I achieved was to slow my page loads to a snail's pace and alienate my readership. Despite accumulating hundreds of BlogRush impressions that days I got no visitors whatsoever in return. The BlogRush unit couldn't be described as attractive either - slow to load, bloodstained vomit in colour with horrendous clashing blue links.

Bog brush

Definitely one to avoid. Lots of hype and no substance.

If you want to get some visitors to your blog I suggest what I always do when someone asks - write lots of informative and unique content (very important), exchange links with related sites, submit to directories, append your link in forum signatures and emails and don't give up!

WidgetBucks - Making Your Traffic Pay

Revised 30 Jan 09

I've been keeping a close eye on this new starter for the last month or so to see what the opinion is at Digital Point forums. They're an astute bunch over at Digital Point - all experienced webmasters who have seen traffic monetisation methods come and go over the years. WidgetBucks is getting good reviews over there from a lot of people at the moment - let's have a look and see why:

What is WidgetBucks?:
WidgetBucks is a promising new semi-contextual advertising program. Their attractive widgets advertise products of relevance to the website on which they are placed. Widget advertisements are geotargeted so that visitors see products available in their country. Payment is earned either on a per click or impression basis, depending on where the traffic originates from.

How does WidgetBucks work?:
Publishers sign up to the program, generate some advertising widgets and embed the widget code on their site. Ads are displayed immediately and begin to earn CPM (impression) revenue right away. They also pay on a CPC (per click) basis for clicks generated in the US, Canada or Europe.

What do WidgetBucks ads look like?:
Just like this:

The ad size and colour can be customised to blend in with your site. Remember that the ads are dynamic so they will cycle through a range of different products during each impression.

What does WidgetBucks pay?:
Over at Digital Point people are saying it pays as well as AdSense. That's a very steep claim and I couldn't possibly agree to it - I guess it depends on your traffic and niche. A combination of North American traffic and electronic goods (PDAs, flatscreen TVs) seems to pay particularly well.

WidgetBucks pays in two ways - for clicks from North America and Europe (CPC) and for impressions from most other countries (CPM).

In my experience their North American and European clicks are paying around 20 cents each. CPM earnings are not great at the moment - somewhere in the range of 10 cents per thousand impressions. WidgetBucks hopes to increase this rate once they've gained global advertiser confidence.

Is it AdSense safe?:
The widgets are non-contextual and dynamic - they don't look or work in the same way as AdSense ad units so are perfectly safe to use alongside AdSense.

What about a referral program?:
WidgetBucks publishers receive a very generous 15% of the earnings of their referrals for a 12 month period.

How and when does WidgetBucks pay?:
WidgetBucks pays by either USD check or PayPal. Payment is sent within 45 days of the end of the month in which you reach the $50 minimum payout. As with similar programs if you don't make the $50 minimum payment is rolled over to the next month.

Do they pay?
WidgetBucks issued their first payments at the beginning of December 2007, so have proved they pay promptly. I've received payment (shown below) so they're definitely a legitimate company.

How do I join?
If you've found this short review useful please sign up for WidgetBucks as our referral using the banner below.
Earn $$ with WidgetBucks!

AdSense Payments By Western Union

I heard this rumour last week, but there hasn't been any official confirmation from Google until a couple of days ago. If you live in the following countries you can now elect to receive your AdSense publisher revenue by Western Union:
  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • China (mainland)
  • Colombia
  • Malaysia
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • the Philippines
  • Romania
This new payment option is available to individuals only (not businesses yet). To receive payment by WU publishers will need to sign up in their AdSense account. Government issued ID will be required to collect the payment, which must be done within 35 days of issuance otherwise it will expire and be re-credit to your AdSense account balance. Payments will mainly be made in US Dollars, but it may be possible to receive local currency in some countries.

For more information on payment by Western Union check out the official blog, Inside AdSense.