Category Archives: Tutorials

Making TOR Switch Identities Automatically

GTrends SE 1.6 has a new feature that, when used in conjunction with the TOR proxy, makes it much easier to get around Google bans. This tutorial will explain how to enable that feature.

First, set TOR’s authentication method to “Password”. If you have installed TOR as part of the Vidalia bundle you can find this option in the Advanced tab of the Settings window. Choose any password you like and make sure you memorize it. Note : don’t tick the box that says Randomly Generate (if you do the program won’t tell you what password it generated).

You need to restart TOR for the changes to take effect. In Vidalia you can do this by first clicking “Stop Tor”, followed by “Start Tor”.

Now all that is left is configuring GTrends SE to enable automatic identity switching. Head to Settings/Proxies and tick “Automatically switch to new identity when needed”. Enter the TOR password in the appropriate box. Also make sure that “Use a proxy” is checked and TOR’s proxy address (usually 127.0.0.1:8118) is in the proxy list. Finally, uncheck “Automatically pause if getting Forbidden results” in Settings/Speed.

Click OK. You’re set 🙂

Notes

  • I recommend removing all other proxies (except TOR) from the proxy list when enabling identity switching.
  • GTrends SE expects the TOR control port to be at 127.0.0.1:9051. At this time the address is hardcoded and can’t be changed. Automatic identity switching will not work if TOR is not running on localhost and/or the control port number is different.
  • If an identity doesn’t work , GTrends SE will wait 15 seconds before trying again and switching to a new one. This delay was added to account for slower network connections where it takes a while to get a new identity.
  • You can probably disable “Play sound if blocked by Google” now (if you wish).

How The Search Volume Is Calculated

In the beginning, GTrends SE was intended for those who participated with TDC 2007. So I didn’t describe the algorithm here, as TDC’ers would already be familiar with it. However, now I’ve gotten some inquiries from new users as to how, exactly, is the number in the “Searches” column calculated. So here’s the algorithm, in short.

The search volume is calculated by comparing it to the reference keyword (Settings -> Criteria -> Reference keyword). The program sends a query with both keywords to Google Trends and calculates the searches based on the ratio of the reference/unknown keyword bar graphs. The keyword phrase that needs to be checked is wrapped in “quotes”.

The equation is something like this :
keyword_searches = ( keyword_bar_size / reference_bar_size ) * reference_searches

Pretty simple, right?

There’s one curious implication this algorithm has – for keywords that have very small search volume, it will always report the exact same (small) number of searches. The exact figure produced depends on the reference keyword and how many searches it has.

You get those similar results because Google Trends shows 1-pixel graph bars for those keywords (keyword_bar_size = 1). Trends will even show those 1-pixel bars for keywords that don’t get any searches at all. Obviously, plugging this value (1) into the above equation, you will always get the same result.

So if you notice lots of keywords with the same small number in the “Searches”, blame Google Trends, okay? 😉

How To Prevent Google Blocks And Avoid “Forbidden” Results

Some GTrends SE users have emailed me asking why they sometimes get “Forbidden” results and how to get rid of them. In a nutshell – you will get a “Forbidden” result when Google decides to ban your IP address (temporarily) because they detect that you are using an automated tool to search Google.com. GTrends SE needs to do Google searches to determine the “Competition” numbers.

In this tutorial I’ll explain how to prevent this block. Google’s proprietary detection algorithms are hard to fool, but the tricks I’ll mention below should be effective for most users.

Use longer Google grace period

The “grace period” is how long the application will wait between consecutive requests. Longer grace period = less likely to be blocked. 12 to 16 seconds work well in most cases. The setting is found under Settings -&gt Speed. Note that you can safely set the Google Trends grace period to a lower value (e.g. 2 seconds) to compensate for any loss in speed.

Enable “Always check searches first, competition second”.

This option works very well together with the next trick, below.

Use “Negative thresholds“.

The idea is to decrease the number of searches that GTrends SE needs to do by quickly eliminating worthless keywords. This helps decrease the time needed to process a list of keywords and decreases the chances of getting a Google ban.

You can find this feature under Settings -&gt Criteria. Make sure the “Enable this feature” box is checked, set “Action” to “Don’t check the keywords any further” and set the “Less than X searches per day” value as high as you can afford to. For example, if you set it to “70 searches per day”, keywords that have less than 70 searches/day will not be fully checked – GTrends SE will stop analyzing those keywords as soon as the number of searches is determined.

There are no explicit rules on what numbers you should set in the “Negative threshold” section – choose what makes sense for the niche you’re researching.

Get a good proxy

Using an anonymous proxy is a very effective way to avoid being blocked by Google (though you need to switch the proxies now and then so that the proxies themselves don’t get banned). The real challenge is finding a good proxy – most of the freely available ones are of dubious quality and may have been already banned, even before you try to use them. I’ve already written a few posts on this topic :

How to configure GTrends SE to use a proxy
Another tutorial on GTrends SE and proxies (includes links to some proxy sites)

While a few users have had success with commercial, subscription-based proxy providers, I’m reluctant to recommend a specific site. A few Google searches will likely turn up a number of proxy services – e.g. Socksify – use at your own risk.

Using The Negative Threshold

This tutorial explains the new Negative Threshold feature of the GTrends SE keyword research tool, and how to use it.

What It Is

This feature allows you to set a threshold (both for searches and competition) and apply special treatment to keywords that are below that threshold. You can make GTrends SE remove those keyword phrases from the list automatically, or not analyze them any further, or don’t do anything special except stating “Below Threshold” in the Verdict column. This frees up resources and can significantly decrease the time required to process a keyword list.

Negative Threshold Settings

You can configure the threshold options in the Settings window, under the Criteria tab. Here’s how they look :
Negative Threshold settings

And here’s what they mean :

  • Enable this feature – check this to enable this feature. If it’s not enabled none of the other options mentioned below will have any effect.
  • Less than X searches per day – the search threshold. Keywords that have less than this many searches will be considered below threshold. The default is 10, and you can enter 0 (zero) to ignore the number of searches a keyword has.
  • More than X phrase-matching results in Google – the competition threshold. Keywords that have more than this amount of competition will be considered below threshold. The default is 100 000 (which is quite a lot), and you can enter 0 (zero) to ignore this part of the threshold calculation.
  • Action – what to do with keywords that are below threshold. There are three possibilities here, all are pretty self-explanatory :
    • Just mark the keywords as below threshold.
    • Don’t check the keywords any further.
    • Delete the keywords.

    Choose whichever suits you best. The default is “Don’t check the keywords any further” – a middle-ground option that is faster than just marking the below-threshold keywords and safer than deleting them outright.

Choosing the exact settings is a matter of personal preference and what is needed in the current situation. Setting the search threshold higher and/or lowering the competition threshold number will cut off more useless keywords and make the research process faster.

On the other hand, if you use a very “aggressive” threshold configuration you might miss some potentially good keywords that just didn’t make it. Therefore I advise that you use a threshold that is more lenient than your good keyword criteria.

Notes

All Verdict values are recalculated when a keyword list is loaded from a file, and any configured threshold action will take effect immediately. This has one important implication – if you have set the Action to “Delete the keywords” and you load a keyword list that has some below threshold keywords, those keywords will not be loaded.

Another thing to note is that if you change the threshold settings while GTrends SE is running, it will only affect any newly checked keywords. Known verdicts will not be updated. If you want to recalculate them, you can either save the keyword list to a file and reload it, or select they keywords, right-click them and choose “Recheck keywords” from the popup menu (re-checking them can take a while).

Well, that explain how to use this feature to speed up your keyword research process 🙂

Getting Google Errors? Try Using A Proxy.

Looks like Google have gotten a bit trigger happy lately – some GTrends SE users have been getting errors in the “Competition” column yesterday, me included. This is because Google doesn’t want any automated tools checking their search results.

I looked around for a solution and made a few minor changes to GTrends SE to make this blocking slightly less likely. I also modified it to show “Forbidden” instead of “Error” when you hit a temporary block, so you know what the problem is. Get the new version.

The solution to these errors is to use a proxy. You can find lists of free proxies on the sites below :

Proxy4Free – I myself am currently using a proxy on this site.
ProxyList “fast proxies” – this site has several lists of proxies; the link goes to the list of “fast” proxies that also shows the uptime. You can use this parameter to determine how reliable a proxy is.

How to use a proxy with GTrends SE.

Another possibility is to install the TOR package (freeware) and use the address 127.0.0.1:8118 as the proxy address. Then you can switch proxies just by clicking the appropriate system tray icon and selecting “New Identity” from the popup menu.

I’d also recommend to increase the Grace period value in the GTrends SE Settings menu.