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Web Dev

Cashing in on Clicks

September 24th, 2008  · stk

We've been running Google AdSense Adverts (shown only to search engine visitors) for nearly a year and a half. Revenue has increased, over time. We figured we'd take another stab at increasing our stake, so we revamped our adverts, their placement, how they show and focused Google ad bots onto more relevant text. Learn more about our Google AdSense Advertising Empire! (lol)

Randsco Revamps Google Advertising

Back in February, we talked a bit about the history of Randsco and how it's become a calling card for web development work. We also talked about monetizing the blog and on our philosophy about Google Ads. The revenue from these context-related advertisements has been modest, but it has grown, as Randsco readership has increased.

Google Ads were added in June 2007 as "a test". We've been pleased with the results from these - relatively unobtrusive - ads and as a consequence, thought it time to revisit our Google Ad strategy. We're hoping to catch more paid clicks.

New Google Ad Strategy in a Nutshell

We've increased the number of Google Ad blocks to four three & a video Google Adsense Rules google adsense logo LOL ... four turned out to be a violation of the AdSense "Terms of Service" agreement (you can have, at most, 3 ad blocks on a single HTML page). So ... we've replaced the 4th ad block (bottom of the page, 728x90 banner), with a YouTube video block. (Might be entertaining ... or not.) Click the link (or in this box if it comes up over the link) to see the Google AdSense Rules , instead of one ad block. As before, we're only showing them to visitors who land on Randsco from a search engine (Google, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) We don't want to shove advertising at "loyal" readers - anyone landing here by typing "" into a browser address bar, bookmarking us as a "favorite", or linking in from a non-search-engine link. Originally, we only showed Google Ads to search engine visitors on their landing page, but we've now expanded that to every page they click through to see. We've also pointed the Google Ad bot to only look at the body text of each article (and comment text), which - in theory - will yield more relevant ads.

To learn about Ad revenue growth, Google Ad tactics and the specifics of the Randsco Google Ad policy changes ... read on ...

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Views: 18120 views
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Updated: 28-Aug-2009
Web View Count: 18120 viewsLast Web Update: 28-Aug-2009

Hack Attack

September 12th, 2008  · stk

Randsco Hacked - Hackers gained FTP access and uploaded two .htaccess files, both attempted to redirect search engine visitors to another website. One failed, the other was successful. Read the postmortem on how approximately 15,000 Randsco visitors were hijacked over 5 full days, last month.

Hackers Hijack Search Engine Visitors for Five Days

This wasn't the first time our web server has been hacked. Last year, while we were hiking the West Coast Trail, Randsco was hacked, along with everyone else on our (then) shared server.

What is it about hackers? They seem to know when you're away on vacation and nowhere near a computer! Grrr.

Fast forward a year and we're now on a VPS host. This time, (as far as I know), it was only Randsco that was hacked.

For five full days in August - and a couple of partial days - all visitors clicking through to Randsco from a search engine, weren't connected to Randsco. Instead, they were automatically redirected to a spammy website that was selling "anti-virus software". The site loaded a "virus scanner" and a JavaScript alert window, which popped up in the middle of the screen. Closing these pop-ups was also difficult, as they spawned further pop-ups.

Visitors typing in a Randsco address into their address bar, weren't affected. The hackers were targeting major search engine visitors only (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.)

I don't know if that website was legitimately selling marginalized software or if it was a ploy to get unwary visitors to download something malicious. One is definitely worse than the other, but for me, a moot point. The fact that hackers were successfully able to redirect search engine visitors, was an egregious violation of our privacy and goal of providing helpful, relevant content and a positive visitor experience.

To learn more about how hackers gained access and what they did (a postmortem, if you will) ... carry on.

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Views: 18327 views
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Updated: 13-Sep-2008
Web View Count: 18327 viewsLast Web Update: 13-Sep-2008

Serving it Up

February 4th, 2008  · stk

This is as close as it gets to an "About Randsco" page. Readership sits at 85,000 unique visitors a month (Jan 2008). Reasons why, what's popular, monetization, Interent penetration & the future of Randsco are all discussed.

Randsco: 86,500 Unique Visitors During January


On Growth: Nearly 15% of all the visits Randsco has ever had, came last month.


"Randsco" was born early in 2005. It was a blogging experiment that came about after acquiring a domain name and moving to a shared hosting company. Before that, we had maintained our websites at GeoCities, a free online host. In autumn of 2004, GeoCities changed their advertising and because the new method impacted the visitor experience, we made the leap to an inexpensive ($5/month), shared host.

Randsco started as a means of documenting our lives (primarily for ourselves, but also for family and friends). Additionally, it allowed us to share our love of backpacking, cycling & adventuring with like-minded people.

Wow, have things changed. We still document our lives, keep friends and relatives up-to-date and share our adventures, but Randsco now serves up much more:

Because Randsco has been (sorta) monetized, we've recently moved to a $50/month VPS host. Hopefully this will result in a superior visitor experience (stability & page load speed).

Readership growth is due to a number of factors: worldwide Internet penetration, benefits of a blog tool, increase in SPAM and (last but not least) valued content. To find out a bit more about monetization, what articles are the most popular, worldwide Internet penetration & the future of Randsco .... read on.

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Views: 29368 views
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Updated: 10-Feb-2008
Web View Count: 29368 viewsLast Web Update: 10-Feb-2008

Four the Third Time

December 16th, 2007  · stk

Last week was an interesting one, for this website. We were hosted on a dedicated server (till a HDD failure), moved back to our yucky shared host and then finally settled with a new VPS (Virtual Private Server) host. Learn more about hosting option (we've now tried them all). :p

Web Hosting: Free, Shared, Dedicated & VPS
We've tried them all. Which is right for you?


With Christmas right around the corner, the last thing I needed was a server failure. Unfortunately, along with a high blood pressure diagnosis, the impending holiday season and four chickens rapidly outgrowing their temporary home ... that's exactly what happened.

Last week, we moved from a failed dedicated server, back to our old shared host and then to a new VPS. We went from peachy Georgia, to too-big Texas and finally settled with all the lovers in Virginia. We went from an empty football field, back to cramped quarters of shared hosting and then to - what we hope is - a cozy condo.

Like Goldilocks, we had to try them all on, in order to find something that felt "just right".

For five years (1999-2004) we used a free web host. Then we moved to a shared web host account for three years (2004-2007). We outgrew that (about a year ago, actually), and had recently moved to a dedicated server, with some mates. However, after an unexpected hard disk drive failure, which knocked out our website for several days, we wondered if we were up for the rigors of a dedicated server.

After a bit of investigation, we've decided that a VPS host was more our speed.

If you're deciding on a web host or want to learn the differences between "free hosting", "a dedicated server", "shared hosting" and "Virtual Private Servers" (via a simple analogy) ... read on!

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Views: 7000 views
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Updated: 18-Dec-2007
Web View Count: 7000 viewsLast Web Update: 18-Dec-2007

May & June SPAM Stats

July 4th, 2007  · stk

Randsco SPAM stats for May and June. Over 45,000 visitors and nearly as many SPAM attempts. Some were successful. Graph, tables & a few oddities that stand out in the crowd are presented. See who broke through the defenses and why.

Barbarians at the Gate

We apologize for May's late SPAM report and we thank those that emailed us, asking about it. We were busy sorting out server problems, because the Randsco website was hit or miss for over a week. SiteGround (our hosting provider) was trying to fix hardware problems on their server. Finally, they bought a brand new server, moved everyone across, then told us we were consuming too many resources! Eye-veh!

Despite technical glitches, Randsco readership hit new highs during May and June, with each month logging over 20,000 visitors! Now that the website is stable again (fingers crossed), we have time to post the monthly SPAM stats. We'll cover the last two months - May and June - in this one report.

In April's report, we said that our perfect, SPAM-free record was broken by a single SPAM message. (Poor Bridget, desperate for human contact, left us a comment in which she said, "I want sex".)

May and June both, have yielded additional SPAM messages, though none quite as compelling as Briget's. By comparison, it seemed like the SPAM floodgates were open. It turns out that it was partly webmaster error and partly spammer success.

Does this mean our blocking methods don't work? How bad was the damage?

To see who's laughing now and why ... read on ...


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Views: 19164 views
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Updated: 5-Jul-2007
Web View Count: 19164 viewsLast Web Update: 5-Jul-2007