Removing from DNSBL or RBL Blacklists

DNSBL or DNS Blackhole List and RBL or Realtime Blackhole List are great for the consumer but for businesses and marketers, it can be a huge headache—even if the email sending is legitimate and opt-in because they are going by IP reputation and domain name reputation (reverse IP). If you have a large mailing list (opted in) that has not seen the light of day for some time, this can trigger these DNSBL / RBL services such as Barracuda and Spamhaus.

What is DNSBL / RBL?

This is an email spam prevention effort that flags locations on the Internet that has a reputation of spamming. There are tons of providers but some of the more popular ones include Barracuda, Spamhaus, Protected Sky RBL and Invaluement. These DNSBL services create blacklists and the recipient ISPs will check with one or multiple DNSBL providers to see if the email will make it to the Inbox or not. If it is flagged as spam, it will enter a “black hole” and will not make it to the recipients Inbox or even Spam box. That’s correct. If it is flagged with a DNSBL provider, it may not even show up in the Spam box.

How to check if my domain or IP is blacklisted?

I recommend using MX Toolbox and the Multi RBL checker by valli.org.


DNSBL and RBL Protection and White Listing

How do I remove myself from these blacklists?

There are tons of DNSBL / RBL providers and each of them has their own process to remove from their blacklist. I have included the links to remove from blacklist for some of the popular DNSBL / RBL providers that tend to be on the aggressive side with blacklisting.

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Importing Large Data Set (2GB CSV File) Into MySQL Database

As a digital marketer, sometimes you have to deal with large data sets—large enough that Microsoft Excel will be unable to open it. Microsoft Excel has a tendency of truncating data once it reaches a million records. In order to manipulate the data, I imported the CSV file into a MySQL database table so I can run SQL queries to pull the data that I need. The challenge comes with importing the 2GB CSV data because the web based MySQL client phpMyAdmin or even desktop MySQL clients will not be able to do the import without crashing.

What I did was upload the CSV file to the web server and used MySQL’s LOAD DATA command to do the import. The CSV file was 2GB with 9.2 million records and upon importing it, it took up 1.4GB of space on the database server.

LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE '/home/user/dataset.csv' INTO TABLE `tablename` FIELDS TERMINATED BY ',' (col1, col2, col3, col4, col5);

Simply replace the CSV file path, table name and column IDs.

If you need to remove all of the duplicate entries, here is the SQL query to do so:

DELETE FROM tablename 
WHERE id IN (SELECT * 
             FROM (SELECT id FROM tablename 
                   GROUP BY col1, col2, col3 HAVING (COUNT(*) > 1)
                  ) AS A
            );

Simply replace the table name and column IDs.

And, if you need to do a bulk find and replace, here is the SQL query:

UPDATE us_emails SET col1 = REPLACE(col1,'find_this','replace_with_this');

Lastly, if you need to export the MySQL database tables as CSV files, you can do so in phpMyAdmin but for really large files it may time out. In this case, you would need to use SSH and use the following command:

mysql -u root -ppassword database_name -e "SELECT * INTO OUTFILE '/full_server_path/filename.csv'  FIELDS TERMINATED BY ',' OPTIONALLY ENCLOSED BY '\"'  LINES TERMINATED BY '\r\n' FROM table_name;"

Simply replace the root username, password, database name, output file full path and file name, and table name.

Below is a screenshot of the MySQL database:


Importing 2GB CSV File into MysQL Database

Download Full List of United States Cities CSV

As a digital marketer, especially for businesses that provide location based services that span across the United States, sometimes it can be an annoyance finding a list of every United States based city. Fortunately, Google has thought ahead and provides all this information and it spans across the globe so it is not restricted to just the United States.

In Google Developers’s Reference Data, there is a section called Geographical Targets that allows you to specify the Country Code and Target Type. In my scenario, the Country Code would be US and the Target Type would be City, but you can filter this out to provide data such as Airports, County, Districts, Regions, Universities and much more!

Once you have set your Geographical Target, you can download a CSV file and import it into Excel or Google Sheets for further data manipulation and filtering. For those who just want to download the CSV without using Google Developers, I have provided the CSV download below.

Download Full U.S. Cities CSV


Full List of United States Cities CSV

Regex or Regular Expressions in Google Analytics Custom Reports

Regular expressions, or regex for short, is a string of text used to describe a search pattern. In simple terms, it is find and replace on steroids. In this specific example, we are not replacing anything. There are a ton of applications ranging from parsing data on a web server to manipulating high volumes of text files to what makes SEO permalinks possible on Linux servers, which is done using Apache’s mod_rewrite by editing the .htaccess file. In Google Analytics, you can create Custom Reports using regular expressions to build customized reporting views that allow you to get to the data that you want in the format that you want it presented. I will show you how.

To keep things simple, I will use the example that I want to build a Custom Report to see the traffic coming from Facebook. Traffic from Facebook generally comes in from facebook.com, m.facebook.com, l.facebook.com and lm.facebook.com. The l.* and lm.* are part of their Link Shim release in 2008, which helps protect Facebook users from malicious URLs.

Custom Reports Basics
To create a Custom Report, click on the Customization tab on the top and then click the “New Custom Report” button.

I gave mine the title of “Facebook Traffic” and left the report Name the default. Under Metric Groups, I added “Users”, “New Users”, “Sessions”, “% New Sessions”, “Pageviews” and “Avg. Session Duration”. Under Dimension Drilldowns, I added “Source / Medium”, “Full Referrer” and “Landing Page”. You can change the metrics and dimensions to the ones that you want to see but for this purpose, you can use the ones that I have used to make it easier on your end. If you click on Save, you will see all traffic—I will show you below several methods to filter out just traffic from Facebook.


Google Analytics Custom Reports

Go back to Customization, and under the Actions dropdown, click on Edit. Under “Filters – optional”, click on “add filter” and select Source (under Acquisitions).
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Bing Ads Phishing Scam Hi-Jacks Google Search Using Google Adwords Loophole

Do you trust Google search with navigating you to your trusted sites?

Most people do. But you shouldn’t. Or at least not without doing your due diligence.

This scam specifically targets Bing Ads advertisers but this loophole can be exploited for your online banking, financial institutions, email accounts social media accounts and anything you can think of that contains sensitive information. The hackers have swindled at least a hundred thousand dollars of which that have been confirmed from multiple undisclosed but reliable direct sources of mine.

I have broken this article into three critical sections:

  • What is a phishing scam?
  • How was money stolen using this phishing scam?
  • How can you prevent getting scammed and swindled of your hard earned money?

What is a Phishing Scam?

By definition, a phishing scam an email that falsely claims to be a legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information to be used for identity theft. The Bing Ads phishing scam extends the mechanism used for phishing from email to search, specifically Google search.

How Was Money Stolen in the Bing Ads Phishing Scam?

The Bing Ads advertiser would type in bing ads into Google, or a similar keyword. The advertiser, which is the business owner or proxy of the business owner, will click into the first link that comes up.


Bing Ads Phishing Scam

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Leveraging Seasons, Holidays, and Special Events to Generate Publicity and Traffic

Within the marketing world there are several times of the year that call for celebrations and a chance to show true innovation: holidays, seasonal changes, and special events. Knowing how to capitalize on the latter times can help your business generate additional positive publicity and more website traffic. In fact, in 2014 alone the top three retail sales events occurred around holidays and seasonal changes. The 2014 winter holidays generated $602.1 Billion in revenue, back to school and the fall season generated $72.5 Billion in revenue, and Mother’s Day brought in an astounding $19.9 Billion (sorry Dad’s you racked in only $12.6 Billion in sales).

Top Ways to Use Holidays, Seasonal Changes, and Special Events to Generate Website Traffic

To help you capitalize on the marketing potential for holidays, seasonal changes, and special events we have gathered together a few industry-expert tips.

The Holidays Are a Time for Publicity Marketing

The best part about a holiday is that you have instant access to hosting holiday-themed giveaways. Whether it is a large incentive or a smaller item, free items are always popular amongst consumers and always generate additional brand publicity. In this vein, you can create specialized themed pages for additional holiday Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value. The landing pages should be engaging and filled with user generated content, so that the 59 percent of consumers who are happy to share brand products for a simple reward, will continue to publicize your brand’s holiday-themed giveaway landing pages.

The holidays can also be successfully marketed through the following tactics:

  • Create holiday themed content for your blog. This content should engage with users and encourage them to partake in the conversation. The more connected the user the higher the website traffic.
  • Optimize your best pages and products. Know where buyers are going to be and optimize accordingly to boost publicity and site traffic.
  • Enhance your website checkout. The majority of brands lose consumers on the checkout page; don’t be one of them.

The Seasons Are a Time for Change

Bob Dylan may have coined the phrase “the times they are a changin'” but the seasons are also constantly in flux. Seasonal changes are the perfect time to host a marketing campaign that drives brand publicity. For example, partake in a widely publicized charity event. You can use the event’s publicity, combined with your own marketing efforts to truly connect with individuals on a whole new level.

At the start of each new season you should take a fresh look at your consumer base. Are they comprised of baby boomers ore millennials? Knowing the difference can help you to create highly targeted ads that will drive more traffic to your site. To capitalize on this idea, here are a few unique ideas:

  • Combine social trends with user generated content. A recent HubSpot report shows that user generated content is very likely to improve your sales to millennials (who are soon to be the biggest buying force on the Internet).
  • Run a multi-social media campaign. Use popular networks like: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Vine to create a multi-dimensional campaign that starts and ends with your site.
  • Ask customers to leave reviews on your website. It is great to have Yelp or Google+ reviews, but it is even better to have reviews directly on your website. In fact, starting in 2013 90 percent of consumers stated that their buying decisions were influenced by online reviews. Make the reviews count and improve your website traffic.

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Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm

This is a continuously updated blog post on the Google Mobile Friendly Algorithm that is scheduled to roll out on 4/21/2015.

The Google Mobile Friendly algorithm change will affect websites that are not mobile friendly. Google urges business owners to shift to responsive websites or at minimum, have a mobile website. Websites that are not mobile friendly will lose their rankings in mobile search, which makes up the majority of searches today.

Read my article published on Bloomberg Business:

bloomberg-business-logo

Yan S. Huang shares his tips to prepare for the Google Mobile Friendly algorithm change that rolls out beginning 4/21/2015:

1. Check Health of Your Website in Google Webmaster Tools

A. Setup: If you do not have Google Webmaster Tools, have your webmaster set it up. It should take no more than 15 minutes, assuming they have proper access to your website.

B. Adding URL Aliases: You want to add all variations of your website URL to Google Webmaster Tools including www.*, https://* and https://www.*. for e-commerce websites and m.* for your mobile website.

C. Check Important Updates: Once logged into Google Webmaster Tools, go to Messages to check if there are any issues that Google wants you to fix.

D. Check Crawl Errors: Click into Crawl and then Crawl Errors. Be sure to check under the Desktop, Smartphone, Feature phone tabs and underneath each device category, check the Server error, Access denied, Not found and Blocked sub tabs, if it displays errors.

E. Check Pages Indexed: Click into Google Index and then Index Status to see if the “Total indexed” reflects on how many pages in your website, roughly. If this number does not match up, check your sitemap.xml and possibly robots.txt, if there are any access denied pages.

2. Check Your Website Using The Google Mobile Friendly Test Tool

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

In rare occasions, if the Mobile Friendly Test tool indicates that your website is mobile friendly but Google Webmaster Tools indicates otherwise, listen to Webmaster Tools.

3. Check Your Website on a Mobile Device

The best way to see if a website is truly mobile friendly is to check on a smart phone and tablet, preferably on iPhone, iPad and Android. I have seen many occasions of web developers, especially for small businesses, launching responsive websites that appeared broken on an iPhone. It turned out their only method of testing was resizing their web browser window. This should be the first but of many quality assurance use cases.

 

Convert Word Doc to HTML

Convert Word Document to Clean HTML

Often times, I receive either website copy or press release articles in a Word document with links and formatting within it. The manual way of converting it to HTML would be to copy and paste all of the verbiage from the Word doc into Notepad or TextEdit in plain text, and then start replacing the special characters such as double quotes, apostrophes, etc., and adding the paragraph tags and formatting such as <strong> and <em> or <b> and <i>. If the copy is going on a WordPress site or a platform that automatically converts new lines into paragraphs, then you can omit adding <p> or <br /> tags.

The good news is I have a tool that will help boost your productivity in converting Word documents to clean HTML:

Convert Word Doc to HTML

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How to Find Out Competitors’ Website Traffic

Do you want to get a traffic estimate of your competitors? This would give you a broad understanding of where your website stands in contrast to your competition. It would also be beneficial to get a website traffic estimate for any websites you plan to enter an advertising or link exchange partnership. This would serve as a research tool to verify the traffic they are reporting to you.

Here are two websites that I recommend:

  1. Site Worth Traffic
  2. Similar Web

I ran a test across a series of websites where I have Google Analytics access and generally speaking, Site Worth Traffic reflected more accurately whereas Similar Web was more liberally. However, with a small fraction of the websites that I tested, the estimated traffic readings were way off on both sites so use these tools with a grain of salt.

I would also recommend cross referencing the traffic estimates with the website’s Alexa Rank. Alexa.com does not provide a traffic estimate but a ranking system in relation to other websites across the web where the higher the rank number, the more traffic they probably get. For example, if someone says their website gets 5 million a month but has an Alexa Rank of over 1 million, then you know they are full of it.

Similar Web

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Mass Ping Services and Mass Ping URL List

The purpose of ping scripts or services is to rapidly have search engines detect a new website or blog. Often times, Google is pretty good at detecting new websites, especially if you run a search query for your domain name. You can also add your website to Google Webmaster Tools and go to Crawl > Fetch as Google.

The benefit of mass pinging is to stimulate the discovery process, especially for all of the additional smaller search engines. If you’re lucky, you might also get some temporary back links from crawler sites such as Alexa.com, depending on the list the ping script or service uses.

Here are two free services for general SEOs:

  1. Rapid Indexer by Index Kings
  2. Website Submitter by IMTalk.org

If you’re an advance SEO and are familiar with Scrapebox, you can download my mass ping sites list, which is very comprehensive and has 50,000+ URLs. Please note I am against using Scrapebox to generate blog commenting backlinks, as those are spammy and can lead to getting de-indexed on Google.

Download Mass Ping List

IM Talk Website Submitter

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