I've always had a pretty low opinion of the Search Engine Optimization industry. Though there are of course legitimate experts in the field, it seems chock full of people who are barely above spammers, and they taint the image of the whole group.
Blog comment spam is one common type that bloggers know all too well, but creating tons of rubbish content is another type of spam.
HotNacho hires writers to write low quality articles for $3 each. The articles, being of low quality, have little value by themselves. However, if you can get an authoritative site to host the articles you can make a ton of money from advertising.
Black Hat: PPC Techniques. First time I have seen an article about Black Hat PPC. Good stuff Mikkel.
I do understand the reasons as they want to know what pages they send users to but why on earth does Google have to reset my hard earned high CTR if all I change is an added tracking parameter? In any case, I am not going to pay for it!
The simple solution is to set-up some kind of layer between you and them so the URL you use is actually not the one that shows the content.
Content, Content, Content:
A couple newerish (is that a word) products aim to help people grab or create loads of content. I have yet to use any of these.
Article Equalizer - pulls articles from various content sources. I think he also created traffic equalizer, rss equalizer, and many other equalizer products. Wonder if he will eventually release the ultimate equalier suite. ;)
Still need some work on the world markets though ;) Fast.ol
Since some of the top ranking search results are owned by competitors (such as Yahoo! Finance) it probably does not hurt Google to keep the visitors at Google by providing a bit more data in the search results.
Also, Google changed their logo for Vincent Van Gogh today. You gotta wonder if the person advertising for that term is going to see a huge traffic spike and lowered ROI on the day.
If I were an aspiring artist who had a few bucks and was trying to promote myself today might be a good day to get some exposure. One of my friends is an artist and a while ago he got to meet Pablo Picasso.
I am not really a star per say (as I do not use the word blogosphere enough to be one), but I will be on the phone tomorrow at noon Central. The topic is SEO and local search. You can listen in too if you like.
This will be like the third audio recording thingie I have done in the last year. I think I am probably getting a bit better at them, though I do have a tendancy to talk a bit quick.
In not so competitive industries it can help find some good resource pages & potential links, but in some competitive industries I was amazed at how many scraper websites were running AdSense. I knew it was going to be a ton, but sometimes you just have to see it to appreciate it. When I called out their AdSense product manager at the SXSW conference he used the whole concept of people and technology to say that is how they are dealing with bogus AdSense sites.
I think a friend of mine recently described the AdSense quality control process a bit better:
and they dont even kick out that scum when its reported!
I would guess there are probably hundreds of thousands of sites which are nothing more than AdSense on top of a search engine results page.
Google says you should control who you are linking to and then adds autolink to your site & Google News displays Nazi news. hmm...
They also are funding a ton of useless clutter. In some cases I am seeing both Yahoo! and Google cache live Google search results through caching the AdSense for search program.
Some Google search technologies are a bit more advanced than some of their competitors, and perhaps that gives them a bit more of a competitive edge to be profiting from sites that undermine competitors relevancy algorithms? And maybe they want to clutter the web up with junk so it is hard to sort through it?
Any way you slice it, it is hypocritical for a company which has the mission statement:
Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Seems like a very ill-advised program to me, because it's quite likely that as spam creeps into this link network, it will greatly affect the reputation of the people that link to the spam. Just my hunch though.
replace the word link or link to with ad and advertise on and you get:
Seems like a very ill-advised program to me, because it's quite likely that as spam creeps into this ad network, it will greatly affect the reputation of the people that advertise on the spam. Just my hunch though.
Google does not let advertisers opt out from being seen on individual sites and generally ignores the concept of publisher quality control. This
limits how much good publishers get since companies will be more inclined to opt out.
could hurt the advertisers brands.
may lead to quicker text ad blindness.
tarnishes the Google brand.
What am I missing? I thought the whole point of AdSense was to help fund the creation of quality content?
Then again, Google did give me a black hat and maybe I am seeing things wrong ;)
Jim Boykin creates another free SEO tool. The reports take about 3 minutes to make. It tells unique linking domains, unique linking IP address, and unique linking C blocks (as well as how many links from each unique linking domain).
Since links from sites on the same C blocks are more likely to be owned by the same person some search relevancy algorithms may lower the weight given by links hosted on the same C block.
Just logged into the Digital Point Keyword Tracker. In the past it only worked for Google, but I just saw that they added Yahoo! and MSN as options.
It may not be a good idea to make it too easy for search engines to cross connect too many of your sites, but if you like the whole keyword tracking concept this is probably the best free web based one on the market.
Yahoo! and MSN limit the number of API queries from a given IP address each day. You need to place a script on your server to interface with tracking Yahoo! backlinks and Yahoo! or MSN rankings.
The tool can also track the number of Google backlinks and PageRank, although generally the data given by Google is rather useless.
"We do not see Google and MSN as our competition," Tom HockSteatter said today, "we look at offline media as our competitors."
Right now no new SEM/Analytics companies are being allowed in, or the "not no, not now" response. Though he did not confirm it, more pointedly he did not deny that the existing SEM/Analytics/Tracking partners would soon be pushed out as well. "I won't say if existing agreements will continue."
I hope Kevin over at Did-It, the guys at Atlas and KeywordMax et al are ready for this.
"We have a strategic position for the web going forward", Tom HockSteatter said.
So did LookSmart and when MSN left that engine it rapidly feel to the side. I hope the Yahoo stock does not fall as heavily as that of LookSmart come announcement day.
SEO Conferences to become the new SEO forum? SEO Chat is thinking about holding an SEO conference. I can't see the conference medium becoming as saturated as the forum medium with all the associated costs and constraints, but there surely are a good number of conferences.
When using it don't forget to use the full URLs including the http:// part. Why is Hub Finder Useful / Important?
Pages and sites which link to common related resources often exist in the same topical community.
Well themed pages have a tendency to rank well in search results since they use many similar variations to describe simarly related sites, products, and services.
Pages which rank well and are topically related may drive direct traffic which converts well.
As search advances more search technologies will likely place greater weight on links which come from pages and / or sites of the same theme.
One of the fundamental flaws with PageRank is that it looks at the web on the whole. Looking for thematically related links makes it harder for a person to manipulate relevancy with links from entirely unrelated powerful sites. By looking for thematically related links it forces websites to be well cited within their community of experts to achieve top rankings.
What does Hub Finder Cost?
Hub Finder is free.
Not only is Hub Finder free to use, but you can download the source code and place it on your site.
By default the tool has a link to this page and this site on it, but you can remove that if you like.
Hub Finder was created in PHP. Your host must support PHP and DOM XML for the tool to work properly.
Problems with Hub Finder:
Some scraper sites tend to scrape thematically similar resources. Some of these may show in the search results. Along with those many of the actual hub pages will be returned.
Hub Finder usually works best if you look for cross referencing backlinks in well developed fields or check backlinks across a good number of sites.
Hub Finder works with the Yahoo! API, which I believe only allows you to query their database up to 5,000 times per day. This is part of the reason why the tool was made to be distributed, so that anyone can host it and so one central host site was not hosting a tool that frequently exceeded its limit.
Additionally other upgrade ideas are listed below.
Suggested Upgrades for Programmers:
Fetch top ranking sites: Currently the tool allows you to enter URLs one at a time, up to a limit of 10 URLs. This tool could be improved by also allowing the option of entering a search term and fetching the backlinks of top ranked sites.
Disclude: Option would be to disclude results from any specified URL. (This could be used to prevent you from sifting through backlinks on sites you already know well. Or sites which clog up the results with hundreds or thousands of rubbish scraper pages).
Paired with: Option would allow webmasters to look at pages which link to topical resources AND link to a specific page or site. An example use of this tool could be informing webmasters that they have a broken or outdated link when one of your competitors moves their site.
Find pages OR sites: On top of searching for common backlink pages the tool could also have another option or section of its results which looked for common root URLs between backlinks.
Grab more details: Tool could grab IP ranges, number of links on the page, and link text.
Multi Engine: the tool could allow people to grab backlinks from multiple engines. MSN seems to be more realistic than Google is in their policy toward SEO tools.
Sort: Tool could allow people to sort the search results by any of the topics it grabbed.
A cool friend made this tool. I have a few other tool ideas. Production depends on:
how quickly I can learn PHP
or how quickly I can find programmers who would like to make a few tools
or how quickly my friend is available to make more tools.
If you would like to host Hub Finder or tinker with the source code you can find a copy of the original source code here. Change the file name to index.php and it should work if your host supports it. When using it don't forget to use the full URLs including the http:// part.
Upgrades & Mirrors:
If you upgrade or mirror the tool feel free to leave a comment below.
InterActiveCorp, the Internet company headed by Barry Diller, is close to an agreement to acquire Ask Jeeves Inc., the nation's fourth-largest search engine company, for about $1.9 billion, according to an executive involved in the negotiations.
An announcement could be made as early as today. - NYT
IAC own CitySearch, Expedia, HSN, and a ton of other web properties.
Making Money from Blogging:
While I was at SXSW some of the speakers asked "Who here has a blog?"
Most everyone in the audience raised their hands.
The next question was "Who here makes a living blogging?"
I think I was one of about 2-3 people who raised their hands. Affiliate Links in the Archives:
Until you can create a product or business model which is self sustaining there is nothing wrong with building multiple passive income streams to help get you by.
Some of my past posts have affiliate links in them. My free PPC guide has affiliate links in it. For a while even my original ebook had some affiliate links (those were later removed because they were unnecissary and some consumers did not like them).
Ads vs Reviews:
Within free content what is the difference between having affiliate links to useful stuff and allowing people to advertise products? Some of the most powerful sites on the web allow people to market complete bunk (libel laws prevent specific examples).
At this point my financial solvency no longer depends on affiliate links, but to new bloggers or website publishers I ask why not make a living doing what you like and promote good stuff along the way?
If you are learning how to build a business model from scratch some of the people reading your site might be interested in some of the tools or resources that you found useful.
If slightly additional profit allows you to work full time on things you can enjoy - and thus deliver a better end product - why not? If you are focused on helping your consumer do well then there is good value in product and service reviews - so long as they are honest.
Other People Imposing Ethical Guidelines = Bogus:
Instead of having sponsored posts or product reviews is it any more ethical to make a living running clearly marked ads that sell rubbish? If so, why?
There is nothing wrong with mentioning things that you think are useful, even if you make a profit by mentioning them. If you give crap positive reviews then eventually that will come back to hurt you. If you introduce obscene amounts of noise into your chanel then readers will leave.
More people should be able to make a living by talking about whatever interests them. Even the loudest advocates of transparency still do not fully get the topic.
Some people enjoy first to market advantage, or success in prior markets which carries over nicely to their situation. They can afford arbitrary luxuries or arbitrary bogus ethical guidance.
People new to the market may not be able to, and thus should not allow others to control their thought patterns or business models.
Success can breed blinders, and some people may also give bad advice so others do not create businesses or business models which may eventually trump theirs.
Intent is perhaps more transparent than some would like.
Website Dating: My Density shows first and second degree relationships between websites.
The interface could be a bit cooler and smoother (perhaps if they used a bit of AJAX and ensured the text was easier to read on scroll overs if they are showing a ton of data in a small area), but it looks like a cool idea. more info about My Density and even more info here.
I saw this mentioned a while ago, but I think I forgot to link to it. Essentially it allows search results to be reformatted & reappear elsewhere. Robin Good has more about why he feels it is important.
Google AdSense: Publisher Conference, reviewed. They highlighted a few sites and I think I know some of the people who may do some of the ads for some of them.
When my friend initially set up his personals page on AOL a long time ago (before he knew what a landing page was) he got so many leads that he was sending girls to his friends. Unfortunatly, I was not a friend of his at the time :(
The core of the speech is that we are depleting resources at a faster rate than the world can provide them. Things will need to change. Options going forward:
fold dumps into the production cycle
create long term stuff
They stated that the biggest problems in the world are closely releated to infistructure, not necissarily social, political, or religious ideolology.
Fabricators, computers, and other small fast production technologies will shorten pruduct creation time and thus enhance the efficiency of micropublishing or small scale creation of various items. Actual will become the new virtual.
To show how fast things change Bruce Sterling asked us to imagine describing our jobs to a time traveler from 30 years ago. Many of us who were in the room at the time worked on web related or industrial design type projects. Our jobs would have been a bit hard to explain.
He said the future will be somewhere between unmanagable or unthinkable. We should strive to make it as best as we can.
After his speech I bought an autographed copy of Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now, which looks at how the world may change over the next 50 years. On page 65 he explains the exact reason many people are doing well with SEO:
You're likely to thrive if you learn plenty about subjects where the tests and grading papers have yet to be invented. And if you find yourself learning about something unusual and there's no sense of drudgery to it - on the contrary, you find yourself spending long, smiling hours just painlessly soaking it up - take my advice and look for a job there. If there don't seem to be any jobs there, find a way to make one up.
Social relationships only require single directional relationships. Social networks place more emphasis on relationships than personal information. Many of the things which are currently being touted as social networks are community based sites which place greater emphasis on individuals than on relationships.
Danah stated some of the more common problems with social networks are
problems with being public
Joyce also stated another recurring problem is that many networks are created by men and do not take women into account. Another common problem is that some social networks fail to adapt to their audience.
A couple interesting facts:
Orkut took off in Brasil for two main reasons
Brasil had two large cities which for a long time did not mix much but recently started mixing more frequently on a larger scale.
Orkut originally had many flags on it. This reminded many people in Brasil of the World Cup. Some people joined because they wanted to beat out the other countries. Now the innovation at Orkut is driven by the Brasil community.
For this next statement you will have to pardon any cultural ignorance I display, but I think this is what they were trying to say :) Friendster is popular in some Muslim areas because with certain segments of that cultural background you have to show how and when you met someone, you can't just meet someone and instantly marry them.
ABC of SEO: Brad Talmir reviews The ABC of SEO. I too bought it and have read a chunk of it so far. Thusfar I have similar thoughts as Brad. Good for learning what the jargon means, but I did not like the occassional accusatory overuse of the term black hat SEOers.
AdBrite has 6 salesmen. 3 for inqueries and 3 for calling advertisers. AdBright also recently accepted $4 million dollars in VC funding.
service & fees:
Google AdSense places contextually relevant ads on your site. While they have the largest distributed ad network they do not state the profit share percentage. Google introduced Smart Pricing a while back, which works to automatically discount the value of a click if they believe the site has low quality traffic. He stated that the publishers were not given a smaller share of the cost per click in these situations, but that the overall cost per click is lowered.
BlogAds allows you to sell flat rate ads. They keep 20% of the ad spend.
Pheedo allows you to track your RSS feeds and also places contextually relevant cost per click ads in your RSS feed. They keep 35% of the ad spend.
AdBrite allows you to sell flat rate targeted ads. They also allow you to sell bulk untargeted ads if you chose to. They provide a great overview of stats including repurchase rate. They keep 25% of the ad spend.
Business models for blog networks:
Jason stated that he expects many publishers to stack the various advertising networks on their sites to achieve maximum profitablility. He stated that when he started his network he wanted to pay bloggers 50% and that did not work. He later said that he gave the bloggers the first $500 and then 50% and then that did not work. Now he stated that he pays bloggers a flat monthly fee. He stated Gawker media pays $2,500 per month. One of the major benefits of blogging is that the time spent editing normal media is not usually required for bloggers.
He stated that at this point the bloggers still usually need to do something else to get to self sustaining but he thought that the business model would allow bloggers to just blog for his network sometime next year.
Jason also stated that for the people who run multi channel blogs that the more profitable channels are used to pay for the less profitable channels. The channels which lose money can still be ran to offer a wider selection or offering to people who like the network. His goal was to run 700 channels. Recently I believe they launched their 75TH channel.
Criticsms for this panel:
For this panel being about making mone with online ads it was a bit excessively focused on blogs. If it was to be exclusively about blogs it should have said that on the schedule.
I can not fathom how there was a panel about making money with online ads and there was exceptionally little coverage given to the concepts of:
selling ads directly
partnering up with a merchant or creating your own product
I asked about low quality screen scraper sites participating in AdSense and got a fairly canned response from Google AdSense's product manager. He stated that they use technology and people to review sites and disapprove low quality ones. If they do that then they are doing a lousy job.
Discounting the click prices a bit and still leaving sites in the program still encourages people to cloud up the web with crap sites. Granted a long time ago I made a few crap sites myself, but Google could at least be honest about not caring about that issue.
On that same question Jason Calcanis stated that click fraud is a non issue. He stated that people were just looking to make up ways to find problems with the business model. He then pointed at Google's AdSense product manager and stated click fraud is not a problem, and he of course agreed.
Funny that this is the complete opposite answer to what George Reyes, the CFO of Google, gave a while back.
"I think something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model."
As a person who has probably bought and sold around $100,000 worth of various ads in the last year I know that fluctuations in bid prices or click volumes can have significant effects on ROI and ad spend.
Even if the fraud averages out over time it still:
tears apart consumer trust
increases account management time. If it takes me more time to manage an account then it costs more money for me to manage it, and that means less money is going to Google.
causes more inefficiencies in the market
This panel should also give tips on how to increase site exposure and ad click through rate, since those concepts directly relate to ad revenue.
Jason Calcanis used his speaking gig to rip on Gawker media no less than three times.
talking about finding Michael Jackson news on Gawker
talking about finding a Lindsay Lohan nipple slip on Gawker
post: Sometimes panelists need to be reminded that they are there to talk about the topic at hand, not to trash people they don't like and then admit they never heard of the topic of the session till they were asked to be in it. Could have been a really interesting session, though.
comment: i agree. i think two audience questioners put it best when they basically said you ALWAYS have to consider the authenticity, knowledge and motivation of ANY source. After sitting through this session, I question all three for panelist Jason Calacanis.
For a person strong on the blog ethics concpet you would think he could give a speech without doing that crap.
Ana Marie Cox, who writes for Wonkette, was the keynote speech at SXSW interactive on Monday.
She stated that she has been in reporting for 10 years. She is working on a political book about August in DC prior to a presidential election. As far as good political books goes she recommended The Gay Place: Being Three Related Novels and I think she also recommended something by a name similar to Minor Fall Major Lift.
She stated her past work at sites like Suck.com (I think) helped to:
make her not care what people thought
make her willing to offend all parties
make her more edgy and funny
She was asked many questions on the blog vs journalism theme (which appeared strongly this year at SXSW).
She stated that as some bloggers became scalpers they started to turn into the media they critisized...and thus others will replace them.
She also stated that while blogs make some subjects more notable they also make other topics toxic, which prevents them from getting proper coverage in the national media.
She thought that blogs could be a supplement within the media diet, but should not entirely replace media.
A somewhat complete transcript of her keynote interview exists here. Please note that some of the text may be seen as slightly offensive to some.
Al Franken was the next speaker after Ana Marie Cox. He is an author and hosts a left wing radio show on Air America.
Jeffry Veen shows Haynet as an example of good usability.
He believes that to perform well it is best if he imerses himself in the topic of the clients site. He jots down lots of notes on yellow stickies and covers the wall with the various ideas.
During project definition and research many possible solutions can be quickly eliminated, thereby lowering the overall cost of a project.
To find some of the core ideas behind the sales point of the website Veen collects market research data from people in the real world, often while failing to mention websites, as he feels that the needs overlap. The research ends up averaging out to about $200 per person and most smaller tests usually test about 6 to 8 people.
Veen also feels that analyzing data from server logs also tends to fall off track. Since you are only tracking where people are going wrong with the current system it may not bring about the most effective solution.
I totally agree with this concept. Often people have self fulfilling prophecies about their sites. The first day I talked to a marketer for a major cable and high speed internet provider. He stated that since most of their referals to their website came from direct type in traffic or bookmarks that he did not feel they needed to do SEO. If you don't know what traffic you are missing out on then it is kinda hard to see the need to go after it. This is why only analyzing your referal logs can give you bad or incompelete market data.
Seelong states that it is a good idea to follow the money trail before you get too deep into a project to ensure you will be OK to do whatever you desire. She also likes using survey services such as Survey Monkey.
A Whole New Mind
Daniel H Pink, who spent 10 years as a political speech writer, stated that the keys to a good Monday morning speech were brevity, levity, and repitition. He then went on to explain some of the concepts in his upcomming book by the name of A Whole New Mind.
In the past he stated that left brain dominant people have had an advantage. Well paying jobs existed for those who exceled at linear, logical, rational, and analytical types of thinking.
He then went on to state that due to automation, abundance, and Asia that people who exceled in right brain dominant thinking will do well going forward. Those who are empathetic, wholistic, artistic, intuitive, and big picture thinkers will receive more than a fair share of the upcoming windfall of profits.
2 in 3 US own their own home
more than 1 car per registered driver in the US
self storage is a $17 billion dollar per year industry. (which is more than the motion picture industry
overhyped short term
underhyped long term
1 in 10 US IT jobs will go to India in the next 2 years.
1 in 4 IT jobs will be outsources by 2010.
2010 more people from India will speak English than the number of people doing so in the United States.
they work for 1 / 6 of the wages
cost of phone connections has moreless reached zero
routine jobs (such as scripts and specification sheets will be the first to go)
"Software is a forklift for the mind." - Tom Peters
Affluence, technology & globalization
agriculture -> Industry -> Information -> Conceptual (creators and empathizers)
Women have a much larger corpus callosum and are thus better at multitasking.
questions to see if you are in the wrong business
Can someone overseas do it cheaper.
Can a computer do it faster.
Will there be demand for it in an age of abundance.
He adds the buzz words high concept and high touch to explain products and services he believes will do well.
Design, story, sympathy, play, meaning, and empathy are fundamental human attributes which will help people succeed.
He then gave examples of how design could be easy and why it is important.
"I see us as being in the art business. Art, entertainment, and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation." - Robert Lutz, chairman of General Motors North America
Daniel also showed how quickly one can learn to draw by taking a five day course, showing his before and after self portraits.
US Army using video games to recruit.
Daniel also points to the hokey 2000 Florida state ballot which had many old Jewish ladies voting for Pat Buchanan
I have recently seen a site under a month old rank for some rather short query sets.
New SEO / SEM Blogs:
maybe not new, but at least new to me. Got Ads? - seems to be more focused on the ad / ppc side of the search game. have not read it a ton yet but have seen John contribute many good posts on Andrew Goodman's SEM 2.0 Wolf Howl - should have mentioned and found this one a while ago as multiple friends have recommended it to me. his most recent post references Flatland, so it must be a cool blog :)
the conference I am at:
ended today. I could blog about a bunch of stuff but now find myself headed toward the closing party, which I suspect may give me more stuff to blog about.
Resource Rate is the brainchild of Chris Ridings from SearchGuild. Essentially it aims to tap an Alexa type data from those of us willing to add a bookmarklet to FireFox to rate threads we view on various SEO forums.
Currently the system is heavily biased toward the newer / smaller / more hip forums ;)
If a few people join from some of the other forums it could help create a rather comprehensive resource. Editors get a share in the AdSense revenues from the site and it requires little effort beyond automatically sending back your feedback.
So today was the fifth annual Bloggies. Boing Boing won blog of the year for the second year in a row. Gawker media won a bunch of Bloggies too. The guy grabbing the awards for Gawker decided to rotate someone else in after a while.
With respect to companies and their home pages showing up as the number one result I would like to point out that large companies who are SEO savvy do not necessarily want to have their home page show up first. Let's take Hewlett-Packard (disclaimer - I work with these guys)
Review of the first couple days of the South by SouthWest conference. It does not much relate to search, but if you like other web, design, and interactive media stuff it might be worth glancing at. Friday, March 11
As time passes artificial intelligence and genetic algorithms will become more and more intertwined into the design process. They also stated that one thing that really helped Austin take off in the tech scene is that many of Austin's early industrial design firms openly shared their work and products with one another.
He was a funny speaker who ended his speech with a which one of these things is not like the other game. He emphasized the importance of having fun, meeting people, and social interaction at SXSW. He also brought up Matthew Mullenweg to explain how South by SouthWest helped Matthew create WordPress.
They talked about raising money after the recent tsunami and how some people crossed large plots of land to bring their ideas to portions of the country which still had web access.
In the Q&A section Hossein Derakhshan, a popular blogger who covers Iran, was asked what was the biggest worries with Iran country going forward. The response was the worry of war destroying the recent buildup in the country. He also stated that the country has some semi democratic processes and the corporate controlled government in the US may not compare all that favorably to it.
He also stated that most of the youth in Iran is not politically active. He said what would really help the country move forward is if they could get a journal of a 50 yr old Iranian who was politically active when he was young and upload those entries to the web each day.
Sunday, March 13
Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote speech. He primarily discussed some of the rapid cognition and inherant natural predjudice concepts in his book Blink. He has rather strong carisma and is a great public speaker.
Later he was signing books and I got a signed copy of The Tipping Point - a key pickup as it is one of my two favorite books.
We The Media
After Gladwell's keynote Dan Gillmore was the next speaker I watched. He covered concepts which were in his We The Media book and talked about various points in the history of online media where he felt that he noticed a shifting in media.
He pointed to
an email a random guy in Florida sent him during a conference - which allowed near real time feedback
September 11 coverage - where many pictures came from the web first and vivid accounts such as now I know what a burning city smells like.
They stated that blogs are not for everyone and that if you don't have something interesting to say there is no reason to expect people to read it.
One of the most important things for writing is to be authentic.
Scoble ever so slightly talked about SEO (primarily saying that people should use descriptive title tags). He also stated that he uses PubSub to track various post topics for MicroSoft.
In the Q&A section someone asked about clients who may not like you for comments you may make on your blog. Jason said that you should not want clients who would be upset by you writing your opinions. He said he is well known for dropping the f-bomb and the s-bomb and that he you should not change who you are for clients.
Being fake kinda undermines the whole point of the web. With the Long Tail there is a market for just about anything so long as it appears honest and thoughtful.
I got a pre signed version of Jason's book. I wanted to wait and get one signed in person and have him put F-bomb in the autograph.
That is probably a good link building idea for whoever does it first, create a logo for people who support gratuitous amount of F-bombs in their content.
The Web Awards occured after the conference on Sunday. I sat next to a MicroSoft employee and chatted search a small amount. I was stoked to see TheMeatrix amongst the prize winners at the show. Moophius came on the stage and claimed the prize.
After going to NYC and seeing how many people are covering search coming here and seeing that the Interactive portion of this conference probably only has about 1,000 people seems amazing.
With the breadth of the topics covered here and the quality of the speakers and visitors you would expect many more people to be here, but I guess it just goes to show how new the web is. From what I have seen there are few marketers here and I have not seen much discussion about search or broad based marketing, but then again there still are a couple days left in the conference and there is a panel called how to make money with online ads Monday.
The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection depends on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else's imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real!
- Thomas Merton
It is sometimes hard rewriting a post when your view of a topic entirely changes.
Vic Johnson and I had a misunderstanding which was quickly resolved. From our conversation he seemed like a swell chap who was willing to do what he could to work things out.
We all make mistakes, and I could have perhaps pursued the issue from a better angle. Thanks to everyone who linked to this post and thanks to Vic for being swift and courteous. If you want to learn more about Vic Johnson click the link to visit his site.
Not a new concept to SEO or marketing here, but it is not talked about that often as compared to other linking techniques.
Instead of buying sitewide links it may be better to buy an advertising pages hosted on other sites. Link to that page from many pages on that same site (which in a sense is like pointing a sitewide link on that site at that advertising page). Link popularity flows more naturally within a domain than it does across domains.
Write the pre sell page using appropriate page title, header, and subheaders. From the pre sell page deep link to various locations on your site with descriptive anchor text.
If you make the pre sell page well and the site you are advertising on is strong enough it gives you another opportunity to rank well. In fact, if your market is exceptionally competitive the authority of the site you are advertising on may allow that page to rank even if your site is not strong enough to rank.
By placing pre sell pages you do not need to worry about getting dinged for having too many (or too high of a percentage) of sitewide links with similar anchor text.
Some people also link off to other authoritative sites on their pre sell pages to help cluster their site in with other related resources.
It is common in affiliate marketing for affiliates to host pages on their sites which warm up prospective clients prior to selling supplies on another site. If done correctly pre sell pages can have a positive effect on both conversion and SEO.
Buying Links to Ban a Competing Site:
Rumour has it that with the latest Google update a few people have started in on this practice...buying sitewide keyword rich links to help their competitors get blacklisted...surely SEO is going to get a bit more ugly here soon ;)
I do a good bit of directory submissions from time to time. I usually submit to about the same number of directories as that package except I do both free and paid directories. I do not mind paying for links because it means that the directory is more likely to have a functional business model and the links will not go away as quick.
Directory registration is exceptionally effective in MSN and Yahoo! right now.
other than having a different name what the hell does this software do that AdWords Analyzer does not? Wouldn't it have been better to release any additional AdWords related features as an upgrade to the AdWords Analyzer program?
Tim then brings up a remarkable new tagging system that Yahoo! is proposing and would like to see the other engines support. It's a method to specify the separate content blocks of a page, so the search engines don't need to conduct block-level analysis in their algorithms. The tags look like this:
<div class="content-public"> </div> - indicating the content is publicly created and not monitored by the site owner
<div class="content-nav"> </div> - indicating that this is internal navigation content for the site
<div class="content-default"> </div> - indicating that this is the primary content area of the page
Tim notes that these tags can also be applied to link attributes.
Greg calls the sandbox, the "litter box" and suggests that websites that stick out as being over-optimized will generally fall into the trap. He says that in order to bypass it, he simply builds a subdomain on an existing and well-ranking site, then 301 re-directs to the new URL. He warns against getting too granular for subdomains and says to try to use a general domain rather than a specifically themed site.
ROI Testing is a new bid management / ROI tracker tool in beta test created by MakeMeTop.
I was joking with a friend and we figured that there were about 30 conferences you should go to each year, and it seems like soon that will be the reality.
I think some people have traded in their regular jobs to be traveling salesmen / lead generation / speakers at various conferences. I can't see myself ever trying to be too much of a salesman (or a public speaker), but the conferences sure are fun and there are a ton of them.
Someone should write an ebook about working (or optimizing the output from) the conference scene ;)
ACCOONA gave away a car at the NYC SES show and since then I have seen multiple forum owners complain about themspamming their forums.
Even if they were not the ones doing it, the complete lack of participation in those conversations is a bad thing for their search engine.
Not to mention that the ads are in the left rail and when I clicked an organic search result link in the right rail it went through Overture. At least I had a good laugh when I saw clicking on a link to my other site sent me to this one and cost me 50 cents.
Whether or not you actively participate in communities if you are above radar people will find a way to create hate threads about you. People tend to look much more credible when they show up than when they ignore them.
You gotta wonder if the $30,000 they spent on the car and booth would have been better spent actively participating in their marketplace. Tim Mayer and Matt Cutts do.
Yahoo! contextual ads to come? Three ways Yahoo! can beat Google in this market are transparent revenue sharing, legitimate parner quality standards, and using XML and the like to make their ad service more publisher friendly.
MSN and Yahoo! are fairly easy to manipulate right now, and Google can only throw out a limited amount of baby with the bathwater before their search results become irrelevant - causing them to lose market share.
Many of the people who are going after algorithmic exploits are focused on conversion. If a site has a 30-40% conversion rate there is no legitimate way a search engine can state that they filtered it out to provide a good user experience.
Yahoo! and MSN seem to understand that. Google seems a bit behind the curve on that concept though.
New SERP EyeTracking Study. I believe Gord Hotchkiss also stated that in most engines 70% of traffic goes to organic listings and 30% goes to paid listings. In Google he said the split is closer to 85 / 15.
Shop.org research showed an average online retail conversion rate of 1.8%
This year was my third SES conference. I think while eating lunch 2 of the 4 days people described my ebook and site to me without knowing I was me, which must mean I am getting a good bit of market saturation. :)
Many of the people who talked to me at past SES events either were SEOs or wanted to know how to hire one. Recently my inbox and at SES a much higher percent of my inqueries were people asking "how do I become an SEO?"
I have been a bit of a branding whore so it would seem that over time I would get more questions like that, but I think a ton of people have recently been entering the SEO market. The Google IPO and the like brought many new faces to the field.
Some companies are still out to lunch though. The last day of the conference I met a person who read my ebook and wanted to chat. He was the single employee webmaster / programmer / backend database / web marketer for a few nationwide stores which were doing over $5,000,000 a year in sales from one of the websites.
It would make sense that a person working on salary doing all that work may want to go it alone. If I were him I would.
The general things I think that can help people who want to jump into doing SEO are:
Start a site about something that interests you. Get involved in that community.
Your first site may totally suck. Mine did. and the second and third did too... the beauty of the web is that nothing is permanent and you rapidly learn from your mistakes.
Do not be afraid to be wrong or make a mistake.
Go after a niche. A large part of the reasons my first site sucked was because I was a bad writer and bad designer. An equally large reason my early sites sucked was because they were too broad in scope.
If you are unsure of how to niche out your idea look for feedback from blogs and forums and Google Groups. If you do create a large site you will be able to break out many of the ideas into their own smaller sites.
Build content on that site using a regular human voice. Try to build an audience by participating in other communities.
Within any channel or site limit the number of choices you give people to make it easy for them to do what you want them to. If you have another product idea or target audience you may want to set up another website to sell it.
Read a ton of literature about topics that interest you. If you know a ton about a topic it is far easier to crank out a ton of content about it.
Subscribe to RSS feeds of topical blogs.
Don't worry about keyword density. Write pages that are focused on usability and conversion. Use headings, subheadings, and the like to work the appropriate words into the content.
Use descriptive anchor text. Use many variations.
If you sell SEO services most people who want to buy SEO services want services which can not be done at the prices they are willing to pay unless you do things that will damage their brand. Stay away from bad customers. If you can create passive income streams they will pay you just as much as bad customers do while requiring far less work.
It is better to have a few strong partnerships than to spread yourself too thin working for a ton of customers. A good way to find some customers might be to talk to local merchants you know and trust and do profit share partnerships with them.
Price points target your audience. If you are the cheapest on the market you will find the people who can't afford good products or are not interested in fully committing. About 5 months ago I doubled the price of my ebook and get less refund requests and customers who are more serious and more friendly.
Once you understand how to do well within one social network on the web you can parallel that to other fields that may interest you.
Update: The old AdWords coupons are all gone. New codes which should still work to this day are located below. In addition we found some high value coupon codes for Bing Ads (formerly Microsoft adCenter).
Are you from the United States? Use this $50 coupon.
When I first started going to SES conferences Google gave out $300 vouchers, but some vulchers would loot them.
Google has since
lowered the coupon amount to $100
stated that the coupons are only good for new accounts
watched the coupons more closely
I still like trying to grab the coupons for the game of it. Its the same reason people who already read my ebook try to win the free ones I give away in my newsletters.
A friend of mine tried grabbing a few and got caught. He went back later when that girl had her back turned and another girl caught him and remembered him as being the same guy. I went back 4 times and never got caught or questioned.
If you are new to AdWords and would like to give it a try be one of the first two people to email me with "Free $100" as the subject line. I will also give away some coupons in my next newsletter.
Here are some more current AdWords coupons for $75 to $100 in free ad clicks. You can get a free $75 AdWords coupon here (or here or here or here or here or here or here) ... many options linked because some of their coupon offers expire over time & we update this page periodically. The Google Partners Program also offers coupons to consultants managing AdWords accounts.
At the SES conference there are many parties. Yahoo! and Google both held parties which were rather open. I think some of my friends who did not even attend the conference were at the Yahoo! party and I guess Jason Briggs or someone like that was at the Google party.
Ask Jeeves held an invite only party.
MSN held a party where many people thought you only needed to have a conference badge to get in. You drive across town in a cab for 20 minutes to get turned away at the door.
With all the money MSN is spending on marketing it is rather stupid for them to turn people away. I am not ranting stating that I deserve a free party just that its bad marketing to turn people away like they did.
The parties are often as good as the conferences because on top of being able to do social networking you can learn a ton about how various people market their products and services.
This conference was awesome for meeting people. I can't even name all the people who I got to hang out with, but thanks to everyone for all the fun.