Fitness Superstore Copied My Site

Whilst checking up on the rankings of my sites I came across a site which I hadn’t seen before which was similar to one of mine, I clicked through and was surprised to see that it was pretty much identical to mine, “You Cheeky Affiliate!” I thought, so I went to Nominet to check who had registered the domain and was surprised to see it was Bodypower Sports Plc, I’m already aware of them as I’d ordered stuff from them before myself.

To be honest I’m not too bothered about it, I actually find it funny that a company with a £19m turnover have to resort to copying sites.

Here’s the evidence: (click image to enlarge)

Fitness Superstore Site
Fitness Superstore Copied My Site

My Site
Bowflex Dumbbells

Fitness Superstore Footer

My Footer

You can see it’s an exact copy of the layout of my site, the menu layout, the image names are the same, it has the same YouTube video and best of all the footer is worded exactly the same as mine, which I worded myself.

So even the big boys copy other sites, thank you Fitness Superstore / Bodypower Sports Plc

Birthday Weekend in St. Ives Cornwall

November 5th is my birthday so we decided to go away for a long weekend, originally we had looked into going abroad but ideally if it was going to be crap weather we didn’t want to be stuck in our hotel rooms, so we decided to look for a house down Cornwall way, therefore if it did rain at least we could relax at the house being a bit more sociable.

We spent a while looking around the internet on various holiday rental sites and eventually we found this little gem on Owners Direct, the house is in Carbis Bay, St. Ives in Cornwall with what only I can describe as a bloody amazing view, I love the sea and this was just perfect, the whole house was amazing too, no expense spared, a great big 60″ TV with Bose surround sound perfect for playing FIFA 12 on the Xbox too!

Here’s a few pictures of the place, most of the time you hope a place will be as good as the pictures, this was in fact better!

Carbis Bay St Ives Cornwall

Carbis Bay St Ives Cornwall

Carbis Bay St Ives Cornwall

Carbis Bay St Ives Cornwall

1&1 Hosting Support is Crap

I’m sure most people know this already but I’m going to have my own rant.

I transferred a few domains I’d bought into 1&1, every single one had a ‘domain registration error; next to them in my account, the DNS was still pointing to the previous host, I had requested the DNS was changed to 1&1 upon transfer but this didn’t happen, I reset the DNS to point to 1&1 and waited 48 hours and still it wasn’t pointing to 1&1.

A few emails went back and forward with 1&1 support, basically them telling me to do what I had already done despite me telling them I’d done exactly that in my first email to them, eventually they told me they had to escalate it to another department, I phoned support and asked to speak to that department and was told I could only email them, I emailed them many many times with no reply, that was the last I heard of it, that was in January 2011.

To fix this I basically had to cancel the domains from my contract and request them again, but this involved me having to change the registrar at Nominet as cancelling them made them have no registrar assigned, so £12 just to get them to point to the right place, after I’d already paid the £12 to have them transferred to my name at Nominet in the first place!

Recently I transferred another two domains in to 1&1 and have had the exact same problem, first line support reply stating they can’t see any problem and to send screenshots, so send screenshots showing the error message next to my domain and also a screenshot showing no DNS settings, I mean how bloody thick can they be that they can’t see this? They also tell me to check the whois records of a at Internic?!

So basically after me asking them if they actually read my emails they have escalated it to the non existent department, whom I don’t expect to get back to me anytime this century so I’m left again with having to pay another £12 just to be able to use my domains, I’m thinking of sending them an invoice for these £12’s that keep adding up and then issuing county court papers when they don’t pay them!

So I suppose this is a post to ask for recommendations on hosting providers, with over 200 domains it’s a process I’m not looking forward to doing though.

Advertising in the National press, worth it?

No basically! This is probably not true for all situations but for me it was.

Back in November I received an email from the Mirror newspaper about advertising one of my sites in an 8 page Christmas Gift Guide (gifts for him section) they were going to be running, this supplement was to go in the Mirror newspaper on 25th November and then online for 3 weeks from 29th November, the online part was the bit that excited me most, I wasn’t expecting to get much traffic from the published article but from past experience of having a site featured on the Mirror website and the traffic it generated I did think it would be worthwhile.

So, the 25th November came, I popped to the shop to get my copy of the Mirror to see my site featured in all it’s glory except there was no Christmas Gift Guide in it, I fired off an email to my contact asking where it was, I got a reply the next day telling me it was in on the 26th instead, I’d found this out by buying the paper anyway, the Ad looked great, I did get a little bit of traffic from this but nothing to write home about at all, which was fine as it was still the online part I was most interested in.

On the Mirror home page there is a 145×145 image that says “Gift Guide – Check out our Christmas present ideas” this is where, naively, I expected the Christmas guide to appear online, Monday 29th November came and excitedly I go to their website to see what it looks like and click ‘that’ gift link and there’s nothing new on that page, especially nothing to do with the 8 page guide that appeared in the paper.

I left it a couple of days expecting it to appear before emailing asking why it wasn’t on the site, I was then sent a link to it, it was tucked deep within the site where no one would ever find it because the link was ‘advice/christmas/gift-guide/for-him/’ so you’d expect to see a link to it from ‘advice/christmas/gift-guide/’, but no there was no such link to it on that page or anywhere else at all, I pointed this out and then some links were added to that page, I asked a few people to see if they could find the page and no-one could, you’d have to actually be given the link to even see the page. I was told the value was in the online part as the money goes towards running the print guide, I felt it was a waste of time being online as there was no chance of anyone just stumbling across it.

By this time I’d pretty much passed caring and put it down to experience and naively expecting a Christmas gift guide to be linked to from the homepage, I received an email saying they were running a small ad box in the newspaper every day to make people aware of the gift guide, then another email saying they were running a big 300×300 ad box on the homepage pointing to the gift guide, great that’s something I thought, except that ad box online only lasted about 8 hours!

So all in all a complete waste of time, I’m sure I’m not the only one from that guide who feels that way, I could’ve wasted that money on an IPad instead, the Mirror website is just a mass of adverts these days, one to avoid.

Google Adwords Bans

What’s it all about? There seems to be a lot of affiliates affected by the adwords ban, mainly due to sites quality scores dropping to 1/10, it takes some effort to get a reason from Google as to why, plenty of automated messages instead of to the point human response.

The main reasons seem to be thin affiliate/bridge page/whatever sites, which fair enough not many can argue about, but I don’t really see why Google feel the need to do this, if I wanted to advertise a thin affiliate site in a national newspaper or on the TV then I could (as long as I had the funds), Google could just let people fight amongst themselves whilst paying them a lot of money to appear in their sponsored listings.

I wouldn’t mind if I could just go to another search engine and use PPC, well I could, but it doesn’t have the same effect as Google, where I’d spend £100+ on Google adwords for that site I pay less than £2 a month on Bing, Google is ‘the internet’ to most users, people say if Google keep doing this advertisers will find somewhere else, but is that going to make a difference as it’s the ‘users’ that will still be ‘using’ Google for their search, they are the ones who would need to go elsewhere for Google to sit up and take notice.

Since my adwords account was banned I actually make more money, I’ve had to focus more on SEO so in a way I actually find it a blessing, but now when I’ve got a site that I know would do good with the help of adwords I can’t as I have no account, banned forever, I’m actually quite concerned about what else Google may do to affiliate sites, especially within the natural listings.