Category Archives for Features

Online Gambling in CR Government Sites

This article has been reprinted from http://gamblingcompliance.com:

The Costa Rican government has confirmed plans to create a new gaming authority under forthcoming legislation that will also subject all gaming companies – online and offline – to tighter licensing and taxation requirements, the country’s finance minister has announced.

The government’s plans to address Costa Rica’s worsening fiscal situation include tighter regulatory control over gambling and an extra 2 percent tax on the gross revenues of all gaming operators established in the country, finance minister Guillermo Zuñiga announced earlier this week.

Speaking at a press conference in Costa Rica’s capital, San José, Zuñiga stated that the government would introduce a new gaming bill for discussion in the country’s parliament, perhaps as early as this August.

Zuñiga said the 2 percent gaming tax on gross gaming revenues would allow the government to generate US$85m per year in new revenues. The proposal comes as Costa Rica attempts to address a fiscal situation that has seen government revenues drop eight percent during the first-half of the year, with expenditure rising by more than 20 percent. Projected GDP growth for the year has also been lowered by the country’s central bank. Under the fiscal plans, the government will also introduce US$112m worth of public spending cuts.

The finance minister said the gambling bill would include steps to establish a new gaming regulator under the control of various government departments. The regulatory body would be charged with issuing licences to gaming companies and ensuring their compliance with legislation. The new regime will apply equally to online betting operators, and the country’s 35 terrestrial casinos, according to local newspaper reports.

Zuñiga refuted any notion that Costa Rica’s move to tax and regulate gaming was related to the country’s inclusion alongside Uruguay, Malaysia and the Philippines on a list of countries that failed to meet international tax standards that was published by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in April 2009. Zuñiga this week described the Costa Rican government’s gambling plans as falling within a “global tendency” to regulate gambling activities.

Costa Rican casinos were made subject to more stringent licensing requirements just last year. However, an April 2009 report from global anti-money laundering (AML) watchdogs the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) criticisd the Costa Rican government over a failure to apply more effective AML controls to its gaming sector.

The report said such protocols “appear to be lacking in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua despite recent attempts by their respective governments to better control and regulate the industries”.

Costa Rica has also played a central, if controversial, role in the development of the global online gaming sector. A number of the most prominent names in the remote gambling industry have at one time or another installed offices or call-centres in the Central American country, despite the fact that the activity has never been formally regulated under Costa Rica’s gambling laws.

There are currently around 250 internet gaming firms registered in Costa Rica, according to the US State Department. At present, these companies are not subject to either gaming taxes or specific licensing fees, although they are forbidden from accepting bets from Costa Rican residents.

Several previous attempts have been made to establish tighter controls over online gaming in Costa Rica.

A temporary law passed in 2003 required all internet gambling companies to be formally registered with the government’s finance ministry, while several other bills proposed by politicians to impose stricter regulations on Costa Rica-based operators have stalled in the country’s legislative assembly.

Zuñiga said he was confident that the government’s latest initiative would receive parliamentary backing, though he acknowledged that the government had yet to sound out its Libertarian Movement coalition partners over the gambling plans.

Costa Rica’s stock as an online gaming jurisdiction has fallen significantly since the United States’ clampdown on US-facing gaming websites that has encompassed both the 2006 passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the collapse of Costa Rica-based and London-listed operator BetonSports just a few months later.

BetonSports’ former-chief executive David Carruthers has now pleaded guilty to violations of US gambling law following his 2006 arrest in Dallas in transit between London and his home in Costa Rica, while the company’s founder, Gary Kaplan, is due to stand trial before a federal court in Missouri later this year.

A number of gaming companies, such as SportingbetPortfolio info about Sportingbet, have also moved their principal operations away from offices in Costa Rica as they have withdrawn from the US market and come to favour bases with closer links to the online gaming industry’s core markets in Europe and, in particular, the UK.

How Costa Rica’s new rules will be applied to those internet gaming firms still based in the country is not yet clear. According to local media reports, they could see the Costa Rican government mimic tougher restrictions that have been put in place in Antigua & Barbuda in recent years. Antigua was admitted to the UK government’s ‘white list’ of approved online gaming jurisdictions in November 2008.

Representatives from Costa Rica’s land-based sector are said to broadly welcome the plans to impose stricter licensing and regulatory controls on gambling businesses. However, a spokesman from the Costa Rican Casino Association questioned the wisdom of hitting casinos with higher tax burdens when casinos, too, were suffering as a result of the country’s economic difficulties. The government’s plans to limit casino opening hours were shelved earlier this year on operators’ concerns.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Blocking Spam with WordPress

After my last article on Cleaning your Site after a WordPress Injection Attack I figure that it’s time to take the old “an ounce of prevention us better than a pound of a cute” (or something like that). So here is a nice easy way to enhance your Akismet spam protection and quickly and easily blacklist an offending IP.

Personally I get really sick of blog spammers, especially since my blog is DoFollow. It doesn’t stand for the same thing as DoSpam. Very annoying time consuming and potentially harmful – alot of these same idiots who blog spam would also be the same people who will try to inject your WordPress theme and plugins with Click Counter code.

Anyhow in this post I’m going to use the following plugins:

  1. Akismet (setup properly but that goes without saying.)
  2. WP-EasyBan
  3. WP Security Scan
  4. Secure WordPress
  5. Redirection Plugin

The first thing you need to do is install all of the above plugins and ensure each of them work. As a side note: I had trouble with WP-EasyBan on WordPress 2.7.1 but I corrected it. To be honest I am not 100% sure if it was a conflicting plugin issue or a core problem with WP-EasyBan. If you have a problem, contact me or comment here and I will share my fix (I wasn’t able to see “Add Ban” in the user menu but a few changes to the plugin fixed it without any issue).

Ok moving right along.

Let’s say you are getting a substantial amount of Spam in your Spam Bin in Akismet. You will easily be able to tell if it comes from one particular IP address. First go to your Spam Box and identify the IP address – see below:

One: Identfy the IP Address

Next step: Check your Security logs under “Tools -> Security Logs” – now if the person is simply annoying you can skip that step but the Security logs will identify if the user is on a blacklist:

Is the IP already on your Blacklist?

Check your Security Log and Blacklist

Once you’ve done that it’s time to “Add Ban” provided by WP-EasyBan. It’s got a great interface for you to add various options. We want to add a specific IP address (adding a block if IP’s could cause you to block legit visitors to your site.

Adding an entry to your Blacklist

Adding a Banned IP through WP-EasyBan

Also as an ounce of prevention you can set a time limit and maybe you’ll discourage the blog spammers after a period of time. The reason I like this method is that Spammers never give up unless they are certain that their stuff is not getting through. Blacklisting will let you send a message that there is no getting through to you.

As a last note: I like to add a personalized message to these idiots. Sometime I venture into more colourful language depending on how badly one IP is offending my site and messing with my hard work.

Then you can set another site to redirect them to as well. Get creative here you can have fun with this, there is also a sense of satisfaction to mess around with these people.

Anyone else have any tips? Let me know!

Cheers,

Dan Nedelko

Dan Nedelko

Building Great Links

Link Building is always a topic of conversation for anyone in the world of Internet Marketing. People who push only organic SEO tend to be quite focused on the overall process of building masses of links with target anchor text on sites which may pass link juice.

Personally that’s a narrow minded point of view that really limits your overall link building goals. The reality of the situation is that links drive traffic, reputation, new visitors and potentially new customers. A well thought out online promotional program will assist you in your organic SEO link building efforts. But you need to have a holistic view of link building.

We build links to achieve a number of goals:

  1. Promote the site. We produce great content and we want the world to know about it.
  2. Highlight other sites we think are great. We do this by commenting on articles we love, participating in discussions.
  3. We are promoting a contest or promotion based around a product. This could be considered link baiting but it’s also showing people how creative and fun we might. When I was Director of Internet Marketing for BetUS we had alot of fun with this great link bait program – it was flattering that Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz thought it was genius marketing. We had fun doing it and it was very successful.
  4. We are building links to increase our search rankings. When I was at Bodog we built links for SEO specifically but tracked it with Clicktracks and optimized from there – times were very different but it was (and is) an effective tactic – it certainly worked there. Check out the case study on Lyris.
  5. We are participating in a community such as StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter. This isn’t for the purpose of building links directly. It’s promoting our product, service or just talking to people. We generate content, talk to people and they shockingly enough they may link to us directly but that’s not the initial goal (we don’t whack people over the head).

I just finished watching Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on the same subject. I strongly suggest you check it out:

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/3609778[/vimeo]

What other link building tactics do you use now? Let me know what you think of my take on link building awesomeness. Have a great Friday the 13th!

Cheers,

Dan Nedelko

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Google to Index Google Voice?

Google Loves YouIn an interesting although expected move Google is about to relaunch GrandCentral as Google Voice with a few new features:

  • Free voice mail transcription, which converts recordings into typed text. Users have the option to have these messages sent to themselves as emails or texts — enabling them to search through, sort, save, copy or even forward material from voice mails.
  • Free conference calling.
  • Cheap international calls, with rates competitive to online telephony leader Skype: $0.02 a minute to France or China, $0.03 to Chile or the Czech Republic, for example.
  • Text message organization — texts are sent to whichever mobile phones you specify, including multiple ones at once. They are also collected into your Google Voice inbox, like email, and can be filed and kept — a first in mobile phone history, the NY Times observes. As is the case with Gchat on Gmail, back-and-forth texts will be kept as “conversations.”

Now that means that pretty much your entire digital communication stream can (and will) be captured by Google. It’s going to be in an index somewhere. I would be 100% certain that your Google Desktop Search will index these entries and Google will keep a cache.

I think I’ll stick with Skype. Is anyone else going to try this out? There is an inherent coolness factor but I’m not sure how much more information Google *cough* Big Brother needs about me. Check out http://voice.google.com

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Using StumbleUpon Effectively

Social Network Marketing is currently a hot topic in the world of Internet Marketing. Many people want to integrate a social media and social networking component to their marketing mix. The most common problem I see is Social Media Marketing thrown together in an ad hoc fashion and poorly executed.

The key risk from a marketing perspective is this: poorly executed SEO will result in no rankings, poorly executed PPC results in wasted budgets, poorly executed Social Media Marketing can result in a bad reputation, negative buzz and angry users.

You need to be very cautious when executing a Social Media Marketing campaign – do not just throw something together and start talking to an online community, the ramifications could be not only worse than you expected they could be difficult to undo.

Planning, education and execution are critical to a successful social media program. I would suggest that you consider the following points before launching a social media marketing program:

  1. Which social media sites will you be targeting? Is your content appropriate for that network? For example: Digg is extremely popular among technology and design audiences. StumbleUpon is popular for humor, entertainment and gaming audiences. Newsvine is popular among politcal junkies (these are fairly simplistic examples but you get the point).
  2. What voice do you want to project for your product to these audiences? Direct marketing doesn’t generally work well. Informational, educational and interesting content is needed with a subtle hint towards promoting your product.
  3. What are you trying to say to the audience? Social Media Marketing is really about starting an ongoing dialogue with an audience, it’s about building trust relationships that are subtle. Formulating a message is extremely important, continuing the dialogue in a genuine way is critical. If you are not going to do that then you need to reconsider leveraging this medium.
  4. Social Media Networks are composed of and run by real people. Remember that. This is not traditional advertising. You are developing a conversation with real people.
  5. Be prepared to hear things you may not like. You may get no reaction. You may in fact get a negative reaction. Ensure that you know how to deal with a negative reaction and always remember that someone who gives you a reaction is someone who cares. Engage them and sort it out, it will be worth it!
  6. Be prepared to engage the community as a community member. Participate in a very real way, if you do any less your programs will not succeed.

Although I’ve gone off on a tangent slightly, I am laying the ground work for this screencast and discussing one of my favorite sites: StumbleUpon. I’m not going to introduce Stumbleupon in this article, I do that in the screencast below. You can also learn about StumbleUpon right here.

So enjoy the screencast and I’m sure I’ve missed something in my overview so let me know by leaving a comment. Click Play and watch my screencast on Stumbleupon, you might find it useful!

[media id=4 width=600 height=480]

If you are already on StumbleUpon or ready to join and get into it, add me to your friend list or subscribe to my stumbles.

Happy Stumbling!

Dan Nedelko

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

SEO Return On Investment

I am pretty active on LinkedIn and have been for quite some time. I really do my best to try to answer one question per week and participate heavily in that community. It’s a good way to connect with others, make contacts and also use it as a sounding board for input to my ideas and thoughts on SEO, Search Marketing, Internet Marketing and what I do for a living both with Honeypot Marketing and with my own projects.

I figure since I am posting there I should also share some that with this audience. So the question that was posed from LinkedIn was this:

“How can you calculate the ROI of further SEO Investments for online project? Is there a model that can be used?“

That is a darned fine question since typical ROI models do not stand up well when it comes to SEO and Organic Search for a couple of reasons:

  1. Investments are indirect. You invest in link programs, content etc and it doesn’t directly drive traffic. The engines drive the traffic but the investments are there to help increase your authority in those engines. It confuses alot of people as to the logic.
  2. Most companies fall flat in terms of customer acquisition models. They are not correctly tracking a converted visitor from search, which makes it impossible to optimize your converting terms from the engines. I have seen many instances where terms which you wopuld not think are big converters in fact are massive converters (especially in tail of search). If you dont know this information then throw out your ROI model, you’ll be guessing anyhow – you could lie I suppose but then again that would be even worse and since SEO’s never ever lie (I’m ducking from the lightening!) that would never be a problem. :mrgreen:

Given those two factors I’ve come up with a fairly decent model that I find works and here for your viewing pleasure is the overview. If you disagree with me or if you think I’m wrong then register and comment or email me.

One of the key things to consider is that calculating ROI on Organic Search is different than traditional media. Here is the layout I utilize:

A Total Amount of Search Traffic
B Total Amount of Converting Search
C Conversion Rate from Search
C Life Time Value of a Conversion (is it CPA or LTV)
D Converting Terms (focus on these)

Determine total Search Traffic = 1000
Determine the Converting Search Ratio: B/A (10/100) = 0.10
Use the Total Converting Search Numbers = 100
Determine the value of the Conversion: C = $200

You have profited $20,000 from organic search.

Total current budget : Link Building $1500 per month plus other monies spent (I am not sure what these are)/

[poll id=”4″]

Your profit of $20,000 from all search engine optimization programs is being generated by $1500 of spend to acquire 200 customers. Your cost per customer is $7.50

Your spend is generating a 13:1 profit to cost ratio. Now you know your budget to work with and you can shift your overall tactics to increase the overall number search joins as you wish.

I’ve used this model (with much more detail) successfully in the past on numerous projects in the online gambling industry including online sportsbooks, casinos, generic ecommerce sites, online dating, lead generation and ebook marketing industries. It provides for a strong ROI model, justifies SEO budgets and keeps the business people happy since they understand what the goals of the program really are.

I would love to get your input, comments and suggestions on expanding the ROI model for Search Engine Optimization. Please comment below and let know, even if you think I’m completely wrong!

Cheers,

Dan

>