Shawn Hogan Interviewed

Jun 30th

A while ago I said that my ebook could be improved by interviewing a good number of industry experts to help build a more broad / diversified voice.

My goal is to interview about a dozen people who are doing well or I think really know their stuff. Recently via email I interviewed Shawn Hogan from Digital Point. He claims not to be an SEO, but his site gets far more traffic than most SEO related websites.

The biggest things that stood out to me from his interview:

  • he created things that he himself wanted / found useful

  • he threw it out there to collect feedback & added features people wanted
  • he loves to automate as much as possible

Over 38% of Click Fraud Prevention Software Vendors Use Bogus Click Fraud Stats to Promote their Products

Another class action click fraud lawsuit:

Google (Nasdaq:GOOG - news) and its top rival, Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news), have declined to say what percentage of clicks would fall under click fraud. The figure most cited by independent firms that track the practice is around 20 percent.

Scott Boyenger, chief executive of Colorado-based Click Defense, said in an e-mail that his company's tracking system has detected click fraud rates of as high as 38 percent. The company sells software to prevent click fraud.

Joe Holcomb, from BlowSearch, also states the 38% is not unrealistic.

A few things which discourage AdWords click fraud:

  • If you click a competing ad on Google you make that ad more relevant to the search query. Google discounts their click price to make up for their higher relevancy.

  • By clicking on a competing ad on Google you increase your own ad costs since you must bid higher to make up for your lower ad relevancy.

There are hundreds of millions of searches each day. No way 38% of the ad clicks are fraudulent AND not detected by the engines.

Recently, at the New Orleans WMW conferences I spoke with some people who told me they intentionally clicked their own AdWords ads just to try to keep them relevant and ranking.

Those preaching about the doom caused by click fraud are not telling the whole story.

To me, doing click fraud is about the same as complaining about people ranking above you. It is a waste of energy and builds little to no longterm value. Why? You will always have competitors.

Worrying about competitors instead of focusing on building your own business and parnerships while they are busy building their business means you are falling behind. If you are spending a ton of money on PPC ads it makes sense to track it, but click fraud should not be a primary business focus if you are trying to build a legitimate long term business.

Content publishers have more incentive to do click fraud since they get a cut of the revenues, but that is why most smart people do not bid sky high on content ads. For how cheap the branding effects are, I am usually stoked just to break even on content ads. If that means I am paying for a little click fraud oh well.

Danny Sullivan posted the click fraud complaint here (18 page PDF).

Ian Turner Missing

Jun 30th

Well known SEO Ian Turner recently attended the WMW conference in New Orleans, and failed to return home. ThreadWatch has a post about him being missing.

If you attended the New Orleans WebmasterWorld conference, and stayed around through the weekend, please take a look at the thread to see if you can offer any details.

Ian is a great guy. I wish him a safe return to his family soon.

AdRoar: No Click Fraud Here?

So AdRoar recently sent out an email that starts with:

We have recently seen many articles discussing pay per click "click fraud" in relation to the major search providers Google and Overture. Please see the articles referenced below.

By its design, advertisers on AdRoar cannot be subject to "click fraud". This is primarily due to the fact that almost all popunder creatives are shown using contextual software. Since this is not accessible to third parties, it cannot be defrauded.

We urge you to test AdRoar against your current PPC provider to see the vastly better ROI's available. Click here to see how now! Firther information about AdRoar is below the referenced articles.

How Orwellian is that? A small ad provider with a fairly open publishing partnership talking about fraud being virtually impossible with their service.

If I can't do click fraud can I still do impression fraud? How is your service better than AdSense ad targeting which lets me chose the sites my ads are published on?

The larger picture is does AdRoar have any quality traffic, and where does it come from. For them to attack the credibility of Google and Yahoo! to push their product seems bizarre.

In the same email they also promote their ad publishing service offering 60% payout. Weird.

Crazy Dayz I Sayz.

Managing SEO Risk via Dumb Affiliate Marketing

Jun 30th

A while ago Christoph Cemper shot me an email about his post about ______.

Personal experience and a wide variety of friends have helped me conclude that most hosts are garbage, so a bad host in and of itself is not a big story. ________, on the other hand allegedly sent out an email offering affiliates a $100 bonus for knocking Cemper's site out of the top 10 rankings.

They could have contacted Christoph directly and tried to fix their problems, or they also could have reranked the search results a bit more discretely. What is even worse about how they sent out that email is that one of their affiliates posted it to the page which talks negatively about their service, which shows how they aim to slience it. Talk about not breeding trust in a service!

Christopher could also build a ton of links from almost anyone burned by a bad __________ hosting experiece by creating an image button and asking them to use it to link to his page about them.

Any time you use shady techiques to manipulate the search results (which most all SEOs - including me - are guilty of), and also use mass communication tools to do so (most smart SEOs do not do that unless they are creating crash and burn sites) you raise your risk profile and the chances that your technique will backfire.

Update: ServerPronto has been harrassing me with phone calls, likely about this post. After weeks of waking me up on the phone they still call and call. For doing that I think they are _________. I took their name out of this post, so hopefully that will be enough for them to leave me alone.

Univision Partners with Google, Yahoo! Social Search, Google Partners with T Mobile

Jun 29th

En Espanol Por Favor:
Univision now powered by Google.

Share Your Searches:
Yahoo! Social Search. SearchEngineWatch has a writeup on it as well. Search personalization is going to be huge.

Mobile Search:
T Mobile partners with Google

BONN, June 29 (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom's (DTEGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) mobile arm T-Mobile will use Web search leader Google (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) as the starting point for surfing the Internet on its mobile phones to promote Internet usage, T-Mobile said on Wednesday.

The mobile partnerships are going to be huge.

Google Ranking Problems - What Ever Happened to Avril Lavigne?

Jun 28th

So Avril Lavigne is getting married. Why should I care? hehehe

While it is sad that I search for said information, it is interesting to note that Garbage.com is the top ranked site for both Avril and Avril Lavigne. Where is the relevancy on that one Google? Is Google trying to say she is a Stupid Girl?

Steve Balmer says they will catch Google on relevancy in 6 months, although Google continues to increase their marketshare, and today launched Google Earth and a truely personalized search service.

Screenshot images of Avril search results below Garbage ranking for Avril on Google.

Garbage ranking for Avril Lavigne on Google.

Yahoo! Search DMCA, Copywriting Advice, Google AdSense Supports Warez Sites

Yahoo! DMCA Policy:
bogus, removing sites without ANY sort of notification. They really ought to work on that. (from TW)

Bad Copywriting Advice:

You can also use copy from the site (no links), like the section where it says, "The only current SEO Book on the planet. Buy the industry standard #1 ranked SEO Book. What do the search engines think?" Etc.

Especially copy on this page:
http://www.seobook.com/buy-now.shtml

How can a copywriting professional offer such advice on an open forum?

Google AdSense Feedback:
Questions for AdSense...

  • Why are many WAREZ sites use AdSense as a business model?

  • Is it proper to use the AdSense spam report feature on WAREZ sites?
  • What if Google ignores that feedback?
  • Is Google telling webmasters that stealing is fine, and they support fraud?
  • Do they want people to run clickbots on their system to get them to actually accept feedback?
  • Are clickbots and other scam software products the only way to force quality into the AdSense program?

Google Video Player

Jun 27th

Google to launch an in browser video player, which will likely be compatible with their upcomming payment program.

The recent issue of Business 2.0 had an article about the resurgance of Akamai, and you have to wonder how far Google will span their business model with how cheap they store and serve data.

If Google is willing to store and stream unlimited free data just to have access to it that is going to be a hard for others to compete with.

If Google gets first mover advantage in multimedia search (due to hosting content free and setting up the first viable micropayment network) then they further solidify their market dominating position in general web search while bringing in another revenue stream.

Danny Sullivan posted a brief comparison between the new Google video offering to some of the other video products on the market. Danny said:

The key difference in what Google Video will offer compared to other services is inline playback. Rather than having to depend on having a particular plug-in for a particular video format -- which your browser will often annoyingly opens in a separate window -- Google Video will provide its own lightweight plug-in to display video right within the results.

US Porn Laws, Yahoo! AdSense, Interview of Excite Founder

Porn:
web laws will change.

Yahoo! AdSense:
may be behavioral, not contextual

Excite:
founder interviewed (from TW) - talks about inefficient markets and timing.

Archiving Usability Reports:
the importance of archiving

The One Campaign

Jun 26th

A friend of mine emailed me about a campaign aimed at erradicating debt, poverty, and hunger in many of the poorest nations. Official sites:

Some musicians are also supporting the campaign with free concerts. In a week, during the G8 meeting, there are going to be 5 free concerts around the globe. Another friend said Pink Floyd is getting back together for the concert in Hyde Park London.

SEO by the SEA

Jun 26th

Another SEO conference :)

A smallish non commercial type get together. August 19, 20, and 21st, in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

official SEO by the Sea blog

Picturing Oneself as the Perfect SEO...

Jun 26th

Jill recently posted about Google's new patent:

Basically, if you have a brand new domain/website, it will automatically land in the sandbox regardless of anything that you do with it. Your new website will be stuck there for an unspecified period of time (averaging around 9 months these days) and it will not rank highly in Google for any keyword phrases that might bring it any decent traffic. ... But new domains will not show up in Google’s natural results for even slightly competitive keyword phrases until they are removed from the sandbox.

A friend recently had a 3 month old site ranking number 29 for a $15 per click single word keyword that got great search volume. Jill continues:

If you have a real company that is looking to establish a real brand and a long-term customer base, then you’ll want to stick with the basic SEO techniques which have been proven to work time and again.

In other words, the stuff I’ve been teaching and doing for years.

Things do change quickly. I know from personal experience some of the stuff I was doing a few years ago might not be good stuff today. She then makes any SEO shortfall sound as though it is the engines fault:

It is true that even for those who do practice what I preach, there have been occasions when some search engines mistakenly throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, you may do everything by the book, but something somewhere trips a spam filter and your site may mistakenly get sandboxed, penalized or banned.

Kinda funny to view all of one's own SEO shortfalls as the search engines making a mistake and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The SEO space is constantly changing. When a person is new to SEO and dirt poor (me 2 years ago) they may be willing to work on sketchy sites and rank them from scratch. They will make errors (as I did), accepting bad clients and wasting time using ineffective techniques, but they will not be as quick to discount some techniques.

As you become more popular, people follow what you say and push you along to where you can do well even if you are dead wrong. So long as enough people think you are right then you are.

After you are established large companies want to hire you. The SEO techniques that work for large established brands which might be whitelisted are not the same techniques that work for Joe-average-webmaster.

I think it is important to frequently start new sites in a variety of industries to set up various flags to see how the algorithms change. Even if your results have proven effective on your own site it does not mean that everyone should practice what you preach.

This post is not a post stating how right I may be (as I frequently learn new stuff I should have known), but a post to reference the fact that each of us has a limited data set, and:

  • there is no one right way to do SEO

  • when bad things happen sometimes it is the fault of the algorithms, but sometimes it is a fault of our own

Overture Bid to Postion

Not sure if this is new, but I just logging into Overture today and I noticed a bid to position option, where they state:

Choose the desired position for your Standard Match listings. Your Max Bid will be set $0.01 above the Max Bid of the advertiser currently in that position. If you'd like to set a limit on your cost per click to attain this position, enter it in the box next to "No Max Bid to exceed" and you will be given the best position available for that price.

It allows you to set your max bid and bid for postion 1 through 5.

You can still bid using the regular old max bid format, but it interesting to see some of the third party bid management type functionality integrated directly into the bid management systems. Bidding to position is only possible for the Standard match type.

This new feature moreless integrates bid jamming right into the ad management console, simply state you want to rank 1 position below your fiercest competitors and crank the bid price way up.

Of course this will also encourage click fraud. By factoring clickthrough rate into click cost AdWords helps ensure relevancy and combat some of the potential click fraud. Sorta amazing to see that Overture has not been more proactive in using CTR.

WMW Search Engines and Webmasters

Jun 24th

Brief review of WMW search engines and webmasters panel. Rahul Lahiri / Ask Jeeves:
Referenced Jim Lanzone's Cre8asite Forum thread.

He also said misspelled anchor text has little use, although I am not so certain I agree with that. It is almost always more convenient to accidentally place misspellings on others sites instead of your own content, unless your content is user driven.

Eytan Seidman / MSN:
Emphasized how important user feedback is in improving their products. They quickly rolled out their local search offering due to requests / popular demand. He also talked about their search near me and direct answers in the search results.

Tim Mayer / Yahoo! Search:
Talked about data compression to lower hosting costs. Said Yahoo! Search's mission statement is to Enable people to find, use, share, and expand all human knowledge. He also spoke about many of the products Yahoo! has recently rolled out, like Yahoo! Q, Mindset, and the like.

Matt Cutts / Google:
Said Google is not using WhoIs privacy information in any way, but they may eventually.

He said the AdSense hijacking error was a 2 week old bug, not the same thing that was happening in other hijack cases. In the past their heuristic for finding the canonical URL was the version of a page with the highest PageRank, but he said they had problems with that and it is solved. I believe some people may still be having issues with it though.

If a site other than your own shows up when you do a site: search for your domain then that is likely a problem.

He would like feedback on canonical errors sent via the feedback mechanism on Google.com/support, using canonicalpage as the subject.

Reinclusion requests can be sent the same way, except they want "reinclusion request" as the email subject line.

For AdSense junk sites people can click on the ads by Goooooooogle and give the feedback "spam report" on it. Sorta amazing that they talk about how important quality control is and that they expect others to do it for them free. He also went through a funny page generator AdSense site by the name of Vitalizer Plus Hexagonal Water.

The most recent update recently finished, and people can send feedback to jun05feedback@googlegroups.com.

I got to hang out with Matt for a bit today and he is way cooler than I would have ever though. Sorta like Danny Sullivan in being a killer class act.

Link Building Campaigns WMW Conference

Jun 24th

Mike Grehan:
Stressed why people should link at you. Don't spread articles too thin just to get page views. Make things convenient to read and link at. Mike also said that some search engines might be looking at the text around links.

He stated why waste time building a link directory when you can just build good content, but I think a good directory can be good content.

Mike also stated that ezines and the like can yield underpriced links.

Bill Hartzer:
Went over a bunch of link strategies, including many of the tools and things I post about on the blog often.

Jim Boykin:
Jim Boykin stressed who you link to and your linking neigborhood. Mentioned tools such as Google related: search function and Google TouchGraph.

Jim manually sends link exchange request emails, and said he finds it works well to tell others what it is in it for them before asking for a link.

George Kepnick:
Went over finding / hiring / motivating link builders. Said he had great luck on Craigslist, and that many people hire interns & students.

Linking on a Dime

Jun 24th

Patrick Gavin:
I think a good part of his presentation came from his link building guide.

link value is based upon:

  • direct traffic

  • boost in rankings
  • brand lift

Getting links from pages that link out to shady sites can mess up your link profile.

He also went through many ideas about evaluating the value of a link (much of which is covered in his free online guide).

Todd Malicoat:
He placed his presentation online here. Emphasized creating natural link patterns and using creativity in link building.

Martinibuster:
Building and leverging your social currency is a huge way to build links when you are first starting out.

Emphasized mixing variety of link building mechanisms, not relying to heavily on any one type of link (reciprocal, directory, paid ads, etc).

Buying old sites is a great way to build cheap link popularity and authority. Searching for things like "temporarily down for maintenance" can help you locate underperforming sites. I also have seen some good ones by searching DMOZ and the like, of course if you do that you will want to try to get them before they expire.

MartiniBuster also tries to keep his link profile away from heavy SEO clusters, like high PageRank low quality link farms that pose as directories.

45 Minutes with Yahoo's Tim Mayer

Jun 23rd

Brett Tabke interviewed Tim Mayer. Tim think feedback from webmasters is useful in helping them keep up with indexing issues. They include publishers in their mission statement.

Spoke briefly about My Yahoo!, Yahoo! Subscription search, and Yahoo! Mindset.

The human feedback from people blocking or saving sites will be one of the biggest things that will effect search quality in the next
few years. PageRank has been around for a long time and has become heavily manipulated. Tim says that there has to be a better way.

Sees the problem with local search as getting small businesses to want to make information available. They made it free to get a local
website on Yahoo!.

Yahoo! Search itself is one of the most underutalized products Yahoo! owns because there are so many other features offered on the home page. Tim also mentioned the Yahoo! Search Developer Network, recommending people pull their linkage data and rank check queries from there.

Brett asked what are the biggest things you are fighting right now. Tim said he prefered to focus on the possitives. He mentioned that
Yahoo! has been winning RustySearch relevancy challenge. One problem many engines have is finding and indexing new content.

Looking for a manager for AltaVista and AlltheWeb. Feel free to apply. Each has a slightly different userbase and slightly different
indexes and relevancy algorithms to accomidate that.

Yahoo! has over 60% marketshare in Japan.

Good to get feedback from friends prior to sending a site to a search representitive.

Not sure whether or not or how they will use the feedback features to help sort relevancy. If the signal is good enough they want to
use it. Many of the feedback features are designed to help people find stuff they had found before, which may have got hidden in the
index dring a relevancy shuffle.

Neural Networks, Genetic Algorithms, & Benchmarking

Jun 23rd
posted in
msn

Apparently MSN search is using neural net ranking system and is adding a few new commands.

I mentioned this to Kali tonight and he brought up a bit about genetic algorithms and how some older algorithms suffer at finding the optimal points on relevancy curves because the improved relevancy might not be easy to reach since some of the algorithm get stuck on smaller peaks.

I think Jon Glick told me that Yahoo! Search used self mutating genetic algorithms at the Las Vegas WebmasterWorld conference.

Do you have any favorite readings on genetic algorithms and the like?

MSN also dipped their toes into local search.

Other recent search stuff of interest...

Marketing at WebmasterWorld

Jun 23rd

So day 2... I slept through a good bit of it due to Bourbon Street blues. Lots of fun down there, but the smell is sorta weird.

Barry apparently was blogging all day while I took a nap. I was thinking of some of the non SEO marketing that was going on.

Size of Conference:
I think I overheard Brett Tabke say there are about 1,100 people at the conference. I believe there were around 800 people at the last one. Some of my friends have booths and said the conference is slow and some said the conference is going good. Food at the booths is key.

Buttons:
PR Web has buttons with numbers on them. There are three matching sets out of a ton of buttons. If you find your matching number you win a few hundred dollars. Fairly cheap good viral type marketing there.

Drinking:
Lots of that going on.

Food:
as a big eater :) I notice food often. Nobody at any of the booths had any food. They might just be feeding tire kickers, but someone should have food at their booths for those hungover people who have not yet ate.

Spam:
I think DaveN had different spam shirts on each of the 1st two days.

Where to Spam: Meet the Engineers:
Google had a meet the engineers session. A different engineer sat at each table and fielded various questions. People were on some of them like hawks and the accoustics in the room were not good. Demand sorta outstripped supply, but some of the engineers also took time to chat in the bar afterwords, which was good on them.

I got 3 sites manually reviewed and booted from Google while asking questions. I am joking, but one of my buddies said some people were asking specific questions about their own casino URLs. Not a good idea IMHO. Those of my friends who did talk to the engineers said the SEO answers were usually a bit generic.

As time passes Google is making SEO harder and harder and advertising easier and easier. If you heard any cool nuggets today you would want to share please post them in the comments.

Collectors Item:
Google had good food and gave away huricane glasses that change color when you hit the bottom of them. So long as I do not break it before I get home I will give one away on this blog soon.

Google AdWords coupon status:
They appear to be a bit harder to get than in the past. I have grabbed one $100 coupon so far. I will continue to try to grab more as time passes. Here is the redemption code of the first one: 304555452508. It is for new accounts only. Of course whoever reads this first and redeems it first wins it, and if you tried it and it was already redeemed please comment on the blog.

Name Tags:
Most name tags say
name
job
company

mine says
Aaron Wall
Aaron Wall
Aaron Wall

I can't tell you how many people have loudly asked me why I was not putting SEO Book.com on my name tag. I like not taking myself seriously, and when people ask that they help market my site. hehehe.

I also liked Shak's dot communist tag :)

Personal:
I am usually a bit quiet and reserved in person (perhaps due to a bit of social anxiety from not leaving the house as much as I should). I find it cool how many people have said hi and chatted with me.

It is also interesting meeting people in person. Sometimes you guess them perfectly, and sometimes people are way different on and off the web.

Test Sites:
Many of the best SEOs use a variety of sites to collect algorithmic feedback. By running your own sites of various size and quality you can help grab a ton of market research data about what the search engines are doing, of course some people tend to find facts that match what they want to prove.

Converging Business Models:
It is interesting to talk to various people and learn how business models at different companies are converging.

Peaceful Coexistence - Writing for the Engines & the Web

Jun 21st

Brief review of WebmasterWorld conference writing for engines and the web session.

Ted Ulle:
He stated that many websites fail because they are not built in a focused order. He likes to focus on each of these issues,
in this order

  • business goals & seo strategy

  • get a pile of raw content - get rough content groups
  • tracking system - define success and build a system to track how well you are doing
  • information architecture - sorts using ideas on index cards. make it easy for people to do what you want them to. do not give more than 5 equavalent choices because it gets to be hard to chose. He also recommended the book Information Architecture.
  • graphics & design
  • tweak content - especially the calls to action

he said navigation is an important part of content and advancing algorithms such as latent semantic indexing means there is no neeed to
over focus on a phrase

he recommends checking server headers monthly to ensure nothing has changed

Jennifer Slegg:
She spoke mainly about duplicate content problems.

The main ways to check are to copy and past a chunk of text from the middle of your page copy into a search engine or use a tool like
CopyScape. If your content has been copied you could send a cease & decist or send a DMCA to
Google, Yahoo!, and their hosting company.

FAQ:
Ted said that pages which added at least 1 outbound link to related pages on other sites on each page tended to rank far better than
sites which were greedy with their link popularity.

Duplication filters are working down to paragraph level. Original duplicant content filter for Google was made by an intern who placed his
thesis online about 3 yrs ago...its no longer online.

Theme Master is a tool for looking at LSI related information.

WikiPedia View Page History Tools & SEO Tool Creation Contest

Jun 21st

I have not tried them out yet, but Andy Baio had a contest for people to animate the history of WikiPedia pages.

the results are here:

I chipped in on that contest, and like the idea enough that I think we should have something like that for search and SEO, where people request open source tools be made, and we have competitions to see who can make the best ones and then pay them for it. Thoughts on that idea?

What search or SEO tools would you like to see be made?

I might start a weekly or monthly create a free tool thing next week. It could probably be a fun and useful project.

WebmasterWorld Competitive Intelligence

Jun 21st

Brief review of Webmasterworld Competitive Analysis panel. Bill Tancer:
from HitWise

Went through traffic interception and search seasonality information using HitWise.

HitWise starts at about $20,000 a year. Keyword Intelligence is a cool tool they are coming out with that is cheaper.

Joseph Morlin:
SEO trivia nugget: he was a private investigator for 12 years

write scripts to discount affiliate links if their affiliate codes URLs are ranking where your site would be

tools

BakedJake:
new webmasters use real WhoIs information
intermediate uses an anonymizer
advanced fake some of their WhoIs

mentions CompleteWhois.com

goes through social engineering...

  • pose as someone fake (like internet fraud prevention / survey / panel)

  • ask a confusing question or a question that does not matter (do you do online transactions for over $100,000)
  • ask the real questions (do you have any other sites)

track and log weird referals that might be competitors

  • link: visitors

  • visitors from WhoIs source
  • people searching for allinanchor:
  • people from sites on known open proxies
  • etc

screwing with competitors

  • serve them a 403

  • serve them their own site
  • serve them porn or annoying midi's

FAQs:
It is worth learning programming, and anything that is publicly available may not be worth using for one reason or another.

also someone mentioned BlogPulse

Niche Marketing: One-Page Wonders and Microsites

Jun 21st

Brief coverage of the webmasterworld conference niche marketing panel.
Ted Ulle:
The power of long copy...people either leave with a back button or a buy button. Direct mail showed longer copy works better.

split test your niche sites
80% to your historical best
20% to your test version

  • The people who are actually going to put the effort into reading long copy are the most qualified prospects.

  • You should write to your BEST prospect, not necissarily to the largest audience. (My sales letter is lacking, and out of guilt I will make it much better soon.)
  • As you widen your targets you lose your best prospects.
  • Talks about The Tipping Point, and the effects of viral marketing by targeting your most targeted leads
  • Talks abut how targeted the copywriting on the MailLoop salesletter is.
  • Telling a story in first person is a strong sales technique. You want prospects to visualize the happiness and enjoyment your product will bring them.
  • Typeset is important (For example I know I should change the font type on my testimonials to something like Courier New or a newspaper looking )
  • create a rhythem of small agreements, and then the final agreement or purchase is much easier to make.

recommended books & authors:

Chris Raimondi:
Where to get ideas for niches:
don't throw away junk mail
look at one of the search sites that shows searches as they happen

for small niches sometimes the best way to test is just to put a page up and see what happens

control your visitors before they see your site

asx (I need to find a link) is free software which lets you check your site visitors in real time. customize your content to match their setup focusing on the selling points that work well for them

after people visit an adult site he gives them a popunder, using how would your boss feel about you looking at adult sites during the day and how would your family feel about you looking at adult sites during the night

Usability.gov is a good resource

Talks about eye tracking. Usually people ignore things that look like a banner or the top banner area. back when Chris ran banner farms the second banner position would bet more clicks than the top one.

Jeff Libert:
buys many long targeted domain names for type in traffic. may put sites on them down the road. buys various versions of a URL. they are cheap, and in expensive categories a few clicks a year pays for the cost of it.

pay attention to related areas and emerging technologies to make your business model futre proof

do inventory of things you enjoy.

don't register trademark domains.

recommeds Moniker

type in traffic also shields you from algorithm shifts

FAQ's:
ChrisR gave the example of hearing a person on TV say something like bring back the porn and registered the domain. it pays for itself daily.

lawsuits can be in other areas. the privacy of a hidden domain registration does not protect you against laws. it also might be held against you to make you look even more suspicious or troubling if you are sued for the site.

for search engine love register domains for at least 3 years. use real information on your domains. even if it is not your own details make sure that the phone number and related data work.

Webmaster World New Orleans Pubcon - John Battelle Keynote

Jun 21st

History:
John helped found Wired. In 1994 the first comercial banner ad was placed on Wired. He also founded The Industry Standard. Went back to Berkley after the Industry Standard business model stopped working in 2001. While the market was doing bad he noticed Google and Overture was doing well and started SearchBlog. He started Web 2.0 conference. About a year and a half ago became the ban manager of Boing Boing. Publishing Costs at Blogs vs Magazines:
Boing Boing most linked to blog. 600,000 monthly unique visitors. Only cost about $1,200 in marketing to get to that level. The Industry Standard cost about $25 million to get to 500,000.

Web 2.0 vs Web 1.0:
More potential now than in the past with a Web OS.

Great Web 2.0 companies...

  • are build on the architecture of participation &

  • leverage work of other people and run lightweight business

Search & Web 2.0

  • Talked about the power of the tail.

  • Search drives most of the action in Web 2.0.
  • Search has large cultural impact which most of us do not yet appreciate.
  • Cited Piper Jaffrey data on growth of search and how the cost per lead was less than half of any other channel.
  • 59% of money in search comes from other marketing budgets
  • CTR on paid search ads increases on longer search terms.
  • New media models were not that new. Get subscribers and attach ads to it.
  • Where search is different than most web publishing is that audience places intent before content with search, instead of buying a proxy of intent with normal ad purchases.
  • Talks about the Point to economy. If people point at you, your site ranks better and people find your site.
  • Publishers thought search was bad because they viewed search as stealing their content.
  • a while ago on his blog he posted From Pull to Point: How to Save The Economist and The Journal from Irrelevance
  • Defamer has much more linkage data than Variety.com since it is easier to link to, and thus is growing faster.
  • Business models that do not accept the new point to economy will continue to fall behind.

Old vs New:
He compared old media to new media, saying newer media has lower customer acqisition costs, healthy profits, and minimal lockin. The lack of lockin makes people have to keep working hard to keep their visitors.

Publishing Synergy:
Publications have three main things:

  • publishers

  • marketer
  • audience

A good marketer adds to the conversation. The synergy of the conversation between the three are what drive the success of a publishing business.

A Market Opportunity:
The authors of well known blogs are industry leaders because people decide to give them their attention. A good blogger is an editor / filter. The biggest difference between blogs and most media is a more direct connection with the audience. Technorati tracks over 10,000,000 blogs.

Many of the best blogs are not the best publishers. Many are created around interest, and not necissarily profit driven.

He talked about Google site targeted branding AdSense ads. Mine are showing on SearchBlog when I just checked :)

AdBrite allows publishers to chose to accept ads prior to listing them. He feels that is important and something the AdSense model missed out on.

John's new Federated Media publishing funded last week.

He wants his new FM Publishing idea to help be an independant fourth item between marketers, authors, and audience. Their goal is to get 10 to 20 high quality publishing partners in each industry.

A while ago I remember writing a few posts about why I did not think something like About.com scaled well, which is the same way John thinks. By not owning the content, it can scale, since FM are partners with the channels, and make the channels easy to buy without needing to worry about the editorial scaling inhouse. To me this is the exact reason why being independant is a better SEO business model than getting wrapped up in a large company, and resonates well with Seth Godin's recent small is the new big.

The Plane Takes Off in Less than an Hour... Need to Pack, Quick

Jun 21st

I am going to WMW New Orleans conference. So is Yahoo! Search. They just issued a weather report saying there will be a major Yahoo! Search index change tonight and that it is going to be humid in New Orleans.

I may do some review stuff or I may not. Depends on the motivation factor and how much time I spend in the speech areas. I want to maybe set aside a bit of time to interview a few people if I can while I am down there.

I think one thing my ebook is lacking is that it is all wrote from my opinion or perspective, this is a good thing in that it means it is not huckster upsell upsell lock-in upsell upsell, but it is also bad because others have experiences I could / should be sharing. My experience is somewhat diverse, but I have only been in the game for a few years. Interviewing a few key SEO players could make the voice of my ebook much more diverse. And so I will. More on that later. :)

Link Hounds: New Blog Launched Just for You

Jun 20th
posted in

Are you a Link Hound? I thought you were.

My buddies Andy Hagans and Patrick Gavin have decided to launch a link building blog, by the name of... Link Building Blog. It's in my feedreader on my daily must visits list.

Nowhere to Click: Google AdWords Ads Without an Ad Title

Jun 20th

Somebody got creative over the weekend. Not sure how they got it past the automated ad tester, but I searched Google for Asian to compare their ads to Ask Jeeves ads and found the top AdWords ad did not have a link and title associated with it (and I tested on two browsers on two computers).
Google AdWords ad without an ad title.
Wonder how you get the ad to #1 with a 0% CTR? You could make the ads funny too, like:

I can only afford
two lines.

or

AdWords Ads
half off sale.

I think they know what they are doing. hehehe (they not being Google)
Google AdWords ads image.

Cleaning Out Domain Junk & Renewing Domain Names

Jun 20th

I recently chatted with a friend about domain names. I ended up deleting about a dozen of my domains. I could probably delete another 50 to 80 more and still be fine. It is almost like an addiction buying those things, and they are so hard to let go.

I also renewed some of my domains for many years, which I think is probably a good call, especially since search engines may look at a longer domain registration as a greater commitment and reward it with a greater level of trust. Ever so slightly higher rankings can land a few more customers, and just one good one pays for a decade of domain registration.

Have you renewed your registrations on your best sites and do you find it hard to let go of a domain name?

Search Engines Trashed for Paid Links, Paper Trashed for Bias

The East Bay Business Times published an article named Jeeves, others trashed for sponsored links, about how search engines do not label their ads properly:

Indeed, the quality of search results has steadily increased. That's due to better search technology and to reforms resulting from pressure from the Federal Trade Commission and groups such as Consumer Reports.

Wow, talk about a pat on the back article. Search quality evolved because of these groups? Search evolved because Overture proved it could provide strong revenues and Google proved it could be done cheaply & highly profitably on the back of those evil ads.

The competition for the ad dollars, userbase, and purest data set have been what has driven it from there.

Dan Thies got a plug in the article:

"Speaking as an advertiser, I would prefer that my ad is known as an ad because it is more likely to reach the right audience," said Dan Thies, a search engine advertising consultant. "I wouldn't want my ad snuck in."

I personally like people not thinking of my ad as an ad. There is so much nasty advertising that many people would be turned off if they knew what the ads were.

Our phone number is on the no call list and my roommate gets about 2 or 3 telemarketers a day. They almost always refuse to give there name and want to know who I am, so I curse them out and hang up the phone. My goal is to help give them a bad day, make them want to quit their job or be less productive, and make that marketing channel more expensive for wasting my time.

Paid ads are different than telemarketers though because people are requesting information on the topic. It is the same exact reason that most legitimate SEO services are not nasty. Quality SEO work focuses on being relevant.

Whether people click more ads or more regular results there is approximately the same value in the search market as a whole, and I am willing to pay for the targeted leads that might still be a bit earlier in the sales cycle. Is that somewhat wasteful of me? Yes, but since the medium is so new and the market is inefficiently tracked it is undersold.

A person interested in a topic who does not buy right now may also be a person conducting research and buying later, or they might link to or reference my site in some way.

Even if search engines noted that the ads were ads that still would not stop people from manipulating the regular search results, so I don't really see how it helps them to brightly label many of the ads for what they are and ignore labeling the rest of them. Doing that would make the regular results seem more pure than they are, and if that was the case my bank account would be empty and I would not be typing this particular post right now. You can't take human bias out of search.

The article continues their multi page focused attack on Ask Jeeves:

take the search term "Asian." In past years, such a search would have been guaranteed to result in many adult and pornographic sites. That has been mostly cleaned up by the search engines, though traces still remain: search for "Asian" at Ask Jeeves and the paid listings come up with three dating sites.

Dating ads = porn? What sort of comparison is THAT? Of course they don't tell you that those nasty dating ads on Ask Jeeves come from Google's AdWords program.

Usually search articles good and bad focus on Google. This is about the first industry wide article that I have seen which places much more emphasis on Ask than on Yahoo! and Google. Lets not forget that this article is about wanting engines to label advertisements and it only gave Yahoo! paid inclusion a brief mention. Was this focus on Ask because they are small and easy to attack, or did someone not want to lose an inside contact with Yahoo! or Google?

Piss Poor Usability in SEM Services: Overture & MSN Small Business Directory

Jun 20th

Overture:
I am sure I am the guy in the glass house throwing stones here, but why is it that after you get to the bottom of your Overture add listings page the button right there is the opposite of what you just did.

Like if you make 50 different listings the button there would be for the create one ad for all keywords, and the regular continue link would be a little lower over on the other side of the page. Click the more conveniently located button and erase your work. Yippie!

There are many other factors that make using Overture a purely frustrating experience, but that was just one example.

MSN Small Business Directory:
I can't log into my damn account because my one stupid proprietary MicroSoft account does not match up with the other stupid proprietary MicroSoft account. They give me some bullshit options to create security keys and other security garbage.

  • Why the hell did they give me one account if they already knew they wanted to migrate me over to their other dubious services?
  • Why is the migration wizard such a hunk of crap?

  • Why is the original SBD login stuff hidden away until after I tried my non matching Passport email account?
  • Why do I have to fill out a ton of forms to send an email for a personalized response when they really ought to know that their migration wizard is a hunk of crap from the feedback many people have surely already gave them?

Passport.net = hunk of shit. As a bonus I like how it disables the back button.

Here is an example of the login experience:

  • click the sign in button: nope. that's NOT your correct Passport details. Don't have a Passport account? try our supper cool migration wizard (and don't ask us why we wasted your time creating that other account. don't ask us why this process isn't seemless or automated).

  • thrown off by the Passport stuff you can forget your login details, so you click the I can't remember my bCentral password button.
  • that launches a help pop up with a couple options, namely:

    If you've lost or forgotten your bCentral password, go to the Password Retrieval Form, type your e-mail address, and then click the Submit button.

  • click that link and you wind up here, where they say "Type your registered e-mail address and click SUBMIT once."
  • they know they are migrating the account service over. at this point you have indicated that you do not know your password three times, so you enter your email information and think nothing of it. click submit.
  • the next page gives me drop down form options, where I have to specify account type, product, and problem, and then give them my email and information AGAIN.

I just sent them this feedback:

Complete hunk of shit usability IMHO. Bad enough to write a blog post about. I hate your migration wizard and am unsure what account I signed up with. If most business had this type of usability and customer interaction they would go bankrupt.

White Hat VS Black Hat: What Color is Your SEO?

Jun 20th

Gray Hat News - Monty Pythonish SEO blog.

Black Hat vs. White Hat Search Spam Debate - Rand debates white hat vs black hat with a successful search spammer. To me the most interesting parts of the interview are that the spammer says what he does, and he also shows the visitor log of a recently launched spam site which made a couple thousand dollars in it's first few weeks.

I do not agree with the example of a New York legal healthcare business as an example of the type of site that would be worth doing aggressive spam for. Heavy spam sites are usually affiliate marketing or generic travel type sites. They also did not mention that if your site has a strong enough brand you can get away with just about anything.

With all the talk of [insert color here] hat seo there is starting to be some decent search volume and type in traffic for the related terms. Black hat is beating white hat by a large margin.

Almost tempting to redesign black hat seo, linking through affiliate links to many decent black hat tools ;)

I think a good name idea for a small SEO company might be something like Orange Hat SEO. Some tagline ideas:

  • While others debate SEO... we are getting your site ranked. (and as you built a brand you could just shorten it to "Busy getting your site ranked", which of course implies that other people don't do that)

  • We're different. We actually rank your site.
  • No hype. Just results.
  • And in the page copy I would also use "If people are SEO experts then why are they wasting so much time debating ethics?"

If your inbound links are completely unrelated, but who links to you is completely outside of your control because you made a contest where people are paid to try to [insert random idea which includes linking to your site] is that a legit SEO technique?

If so, why aren't more companies doing it?

The Perfect Shopping Mall: Inside Google

Jun 20th

I may have been drinking a bit too much Kool Aid recently, but this post reviews why I think Google has a better business model than eBay... Although I want to, I have yet to read the book called The Perfect Store: Inside eBay. eBay has seen slowing growth, has limited feedback mechanisms, and the announcement of Google's payment processing service is a shot across the bow at eBay.

Buying Cycle:
Sure people buy a large amount of stuff on eBay, but many people only go there AFTER they are in the buying mood. Many people use the web to research, and eBay clearly misses out on that opportunity. Recently they bought Shopping.com, but that brand and service is still targeted at the later ends of the buying cycle.

Google's business model allows them to profit many times along the entire buying cycle, and their new payment processing will allow them to collect a percentage of the sale when people finally buy.

An Ad Everywhere:
Want to search for something? Here are some ads. Reading something interesting? Here are some ads. Checking your email? Here are some ads. Want to buy something? Buy it through Google Wallet.

Trackable, Precise & Easiest Ads to Buy:
There are a few oolies, but generally those ads from Google are the most precise and some of the easiest ads in the world to buy. They also allow people to buy using different mechanisms. You can create search only ads, also place those ads on content, target them to a region, and target them to a language.

Google also offers free tracking so they can collect more market research data.

If you are worried about click fraud on content sites you can buy site targeted ads on a CPM basis. Eventually they will probably add features which allow you to limit the number of times any one person sees your content ads.

Could I afford to run branding ads on About.com? Not until Google site targeting came about. By making the ads available in quantities small and large they get more participants in their ad auction, higher ad prices, and more ad revenue.

Limited Value of eBay Feedback:
The numbers and text eBay feedback comments are limited in value. In the hotel lounge at SES London one of my friends was looking at an item and said the guy selling it had a 97% possitive feedback. Immediately the guy sitting next to him started explaining how that is not a good number. Is it? I don't know, but a 3% return rate is not uncommon for many products sold over the web. eBay has a ton of community feedback, but most of the members still remain faceless.

Trust, Value, & Price:
We tend to be willing to pay more to people we trust. Trust is much more of an emotional issue than a mathematical one. Over the weekend MasterCard announced a breech of 40 million credit card accounts, which happened through what consumers likely feel is a nameless faceless middleman. Until I read articles about it I did not know it happened or who CardSystems Solutions was, and now all I know is that they suck. If people trust you at the other end of the purchase they are more inclined to trust the steps in between.

When items come from a faceless vendor, with mostly textual sales copy, and a one off relationship, it is hard to build a brand and tell a story. That is the flaw of eBay, currently it is limiting how well it can allow it's members to tell stories. There will always be some disconnect between true value and price. Why not host merchant blogs or value added story building tools like that on eBay?

Saving Money & Paying for Certainty:
There is nothing on eBay which deeply motivates me to build a relationship with a merchant instead of bidding a few dollars cheaper to buy the same item off someone else.

The whole frame of mind at an auction is "let me save a few dollars". People pay a premium for the story that goes with something. They also pay a premium for certainty. For some reason I think the Fletch DVD is out of print in the US. I will probably end up paying $20 more for it to know I am getting a certain price instead of going through the auction process at eBay.

Hollow Shops Not Building Trust:
I searched for eBay shops and was brought to stores.ebay.co.uk. They have featured merchants on the home page. Look at how ugly these shops are:

  • Golf Madness - nothing sells golf like bright ugly red?

  • Candle City LTD - I am not sure why, but it FireFox there home page has huge flashing text. what is that?
  • Look Cool for Less - the name stresses save money. not pay extra because you are worth it.

Those were the first three shops I looked at. The individual product pages look so ugly and modularly built that they remind me of Geocities (or Todd's favorite site). The fact that those sites were the featured ones tells me that eBay, merchants, or consumers must not take that idea too seriously.

Brand Extention:
Recently Forbes did a piece on brand extension, stating that consumers believe many brands can be stretched. Some have suggested that Google might want to buy a merchant with a recommending service like Amazon.com (see Epic 2014), but Google has access to far more information, and could probably create a better recommending program.

Pure Data:
Google bought Urchin, and also offers free tracking with their AdWords product. They could afford to give away Urchin, but they charge for it to keep the data more pure. Essentially they are providing a poor tax to filter out anomalies and smaller poorer sites.

Urchin not only allows them to track their own search service, but it also allows them to see shifts in market share, as well as how well competitors monitize their traffic and merchant ROI from competing services.

While it is likely Google will profit from their payment system, they may also want to create that service to have access to more raw data.

Ad Recommending Engine:
When you buy site targeted ads Google asks you to enter a few sites and a few keywords to recommend where else you might want to advertise.

Adgooroo lets people see some of the best terms their competitors bid on which they are not yet bidding on. Based on competing site ad buying habbits and conversion details Google could know where you should be buying ads. Of course, there will be limits to what advertisers define as acceptable sharing of information, but after the information becomes widely available elsewhere it might be considered acceptible for Google to share more data.

Google could even recommend bid prices and use competing advertiser details and web browsing patterns to tell you what parts of your sales cycle they believe are weak and how you may be able to improve them.

Thought Recommending Engine:
Search personalization, semantic web applications, and social filtering help guide people to certain channels and new ideas, helping people find what they love, and helping the ideas spread (causing the ideas to be refined and creating more content to place ads on).

Owning the Stock Market:
Having the most pure data means you have better data than anyone else in the world. Company insiders have some data tha Google does not know, but Google does get a deep snapshot of many businesses, buying trends, and better data about your competitors than you do.

Google could also look at link and news citation data or query volume for business related issues, and perhaps even predict when buyouts or mergers will occur. Eventually Google will probably buy or create something similar to Technorati just for the market research data. Perhaps they could do that with Google Sitemaps (I am not sure, but I do not think Google Sitemaps has a ping feature yet).

Google roughly knows how much value there is in nearly any market at any time. More importantly they can spot market shifts and buy or sell shares in near real time.

Investors are somewhat attached to their money and trade with emotions. Google has access to a large investor userbase which they feed news to and recommend thoughts to. It is not uncommon for a small cap stock to gain 10% or more from being mentioned on certain sites.

Google could create self training genetic algorithms to make bets for or against companies based on internal data. The program could teach itself how to make snap judgements based on self training criteria. This data could be used as one data point, or entirely automated - without any human interaction.

So long as Google was right 51% of the time they would make a ton of money, and surely it would be easy to create something that was right more frequently than that with all the data they have.

Imagine how Google could leverage their reach, their data, and their market capitalization in the stock market. Even if Google did not directly use the data imagine how much money investors would pay to access it.

Employment & Scalability:
Google has made scaled computing cheap, can recruit the top talent in the world, pays millions of dollars to outside sources to create content for it's engine, and scaled their internal system to be able to employ cheap remote workers. Their search data will soon be accessible almost anywhere, especially as the cost of communication continues to drop.

The Perfect Product:
I don't think Google will end up selling physical inventory directly because:

Filtering data is what search is all about, but Google could end up collapsing under its own weight if their hunger for data causes them to lose focus on what originally made them successful & the space is constantly evolving. If Google doesn't screw that up and do not lose their trust factor by collecting more data than people want to give they are poised to be the most powerful and richest company in the world within a decade IMHO.

Who Do You Link to? New SEO Tool

Jun 19th

Many people get stuck in the sandbox because they can't get high quality links.

The solution is to keep churning out mediocre content and build more junk links, maybe also rent a few decent ones. Sure aging can have an effect, but a large part of the ineffective SEO problem might rest within the fundamental techniques being used.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Many webmasters are stingy with their links, afraid to link out to other sites. Some people view sending traffic away to other sites as losing your visitors, but linking sorta works on a karma like system.

If you don't link out to anybody and your content is not amazing then most of the best sites are not going to want to link to you. Why should they?

Certain sites are not going to want to link to your site no matter what, but you can still work your way into their community by linking at them. As you cite relevent and useful resources your site becomes more linkable. More of the sites you want to links from will send you some link love.

Linking out freely and regularly is one of the cheapest and fastest forms of marketing available. Many new webmasters drop the ball on the concept because they feel they need all the links to point their way.

In the spirit of linking, I am linking at Jim Boykin's new SEO tool, which tracks who you are linking at: Forward Links (beta). Nice touch on the beta name Jim.

Currently the tool only shows the first 100 outbound links it comes acrost.

I think Jim might further explore the neighborhood concept next week, during his WMW speech. Google Touchgraph also does a good example of showing the neighborhood concept.

Are there any good sites I should be linking to which I have not yet linked to? If so feel free to mention them below.

PayPal Upgrades Payment Solutions

Jun 18th

Google is always amazing at timing their news to overshaddow competing services. Google's news of their new payment process system had no specific source and absolutely no useful details, almost as if they just wanted to whip something up to overshaddow another story.

In other, unrelated news:

A name synonymous with e-commerce made a move Friday to cement that status. Online payment service PayPal launched a new tool, which gives merchants the option of allowing consumers to complete credit card transactions on the merchants' own Web sites. The tool will preempt the need, and annoyance, of being redirected to PayPal's own site. The software allows Web sellers to run the checkout procedure as PayPal processes the deal in the background.

Website Payment Pro only costs $20 a month more than regular PayPal payments, and odds are that by ditching the extra screen one would make a few more sales. PayPal could still make a ton of improvements, a couple nice things would be:

  • allow merchants to run an affiliate program through PayPal instead of needing to install their own affiliate software or use a system like PayLoadz.

  • make it easy to download account history from a week or a year ago. make the data accessible as AdWords account data is

I am sure there are other ways to make it better as well, but I am sorta tired :)

How would you improve PayPal? They probably have at least a few months before Google launches their system. You can bet that Google's system will probably interface with their advertising and tracking software as well.

MovableType Blogs, TypePad Hosting, Comment Redirects & Google Ignoring Robots.txt Files

Jun 18th
posted in

What is up with Google indexing all the TypePad comment redirects. Clearly the robots.txt file says Google should not be indexing those.

Is ignoring the robots.txt file an accident, or a normal feature at Google?

I have a rather small blog, with about 1,000 posts on it. Google is showing 5,000 pages from my site in it's index. Some of my normal pages are already not being cached because Google is indexing my site less aggressivley due to seeing no unique content on the pages where THEY IGNORE THE ROBOTS.TXT PROTOCOL. Pretty evil shit, Google.

Now I need to figure out how to do some search engine friendly cloaking or somehow issue Googlebot 403 errors when it tries to spider those URLs. Way to suck Googlebot.

Perhaps this issue would have been noticed and addressed by a MovableType employee if they didn't have blind trust in search engines and think all SEOs are scum.

Many TypePad hosted sites & MovableType sites are being screwed / partially indexed due to this problem. MovableType owes it to their paid customers to ensure problems like these are not happening.

Legitimate Guerilla Marketing Forum Advertising Threads - Google Site Targeting and Forums for Viral Advertising Success

Jun 18th

Another idea as an extension of creative ways to use the new site targeted AdSense idea...

Go to a forum and participate for at least a few days to make it seem like you want to participate in the community. Make a few friends, and maybe ask them what they think of your new tool, product, idea, or offering.

When the pump is primed:

  • Have one of your new friends post about your new tool on the forums or community site.

  • Create an advertisement that looks like it is from the forum site owner that does not look like an ad. Using good tact you could almost make the ad look like an endoresement without offending the site owner.
  • Link that ad at the thread about your new product.
  • Collect feedback and participate in the thread with a few friends to guide that thread along to a happy ending.

Ads that do not look like ads...taking it one step further :)

Google Site Targeted AdSense - Killer Market Research Data

Jun 18th

So some of my site targeted ads started running today.

Within the targeting there will be biases of the audience personality, and the bias of how well people know you or the product you advertise, but right now with the site targeting not having a ton of competition I can get a glimpse into how effective various AdSense formats and ad positions are, creating my own real world tested AdSense heat map.

Although I should, I do not have many AdSense sites yet. I have been pouring most of my time into this one.

Some markets are absurdly expensive in search, but poor in content.

Mesothelioma is a term which is so expensive that people joke about it, yet when you look at content pricing people end up making little off it. Why? Because many people want those large ad dollars, so there is a ton of junk mesothelioma sites, and limited ad spend to go around them, combined with a fear of click fraud.

If you create scraper sites then there is little sense spending time and money to test the markets. You can just put up a site and see how it works. If you are debating creating legitimate long term content sites the new site targeted ads is an excellent way to see how well certain niches pay.

Simply join an affiliate program or two, run a few ads, and see how much they cost you per impression.

Google to Offer Payment Services

Jun 18th
posted in

The largest online ad and information broker wants to broker transactions too. No real details exposed, but this (WSJ sub req) is not a real surprise:

Google Inc. this year plans to offer an electronic-payment service that could help the Internet-search company diversify its revenue and may heighten competition with eBay Inc.'s PayPal unit, according to people familiar with the matter.

It will be interesting to see what sort of walls Google builds as they expand into other verticals.

You can't dip your toe into certain markets without a strong desire to shut out competitors, but if the moves are too blatent people will shun Google. Their search algorithms and business practices will get called in question much more frequently now. A while ago, due to that hum dinger too much similar anchor text filter Google rolled out, PayPal was not ranking for its own name. Now you will have people asking if things like that are an accident or a feature.

I can't see some marketers wanting to share transaction history details with their ad broker, but if the roll out is smooth and smart Paypal could be screwed. Interesting times indeed.

Notice how this news came out on a Friday evening after the market closed, so Google could generate spin and press all weekend long.

Search Engines Deweighting the Effects of Bad Links

Jun 17th

So I got a call today from a person who wanted to automate a large link network system. They wanted to find a way we could work together, but I think the bulk automated links are not the way to go forward for most websites.

It is fairly hard to automate a scalable solution that:

  • search algorithms won't detect and

  • search editors won't detect and
  • people would want to link at

Sure you do not need people to want to link at it to have some value, but if you can't create something that people would be willing to link at it is going to be a constant battle trying to look authentic.

  • More and more of the cheap links get bought up by sites trying to be hollow middlemen. After they are bought up, buying additional links gets logarithmically more expensive. You can't grow with the web, at least you can't if you value your time. Thus the value of links from some link networks would diminish logarithmically over time.

  • Search algorithms get smarter and devalue more and more of the cheap & easy links.
  • Other webmasters hunt out the cheap and easy links, lowering their value and making them easier for other webmasters to find.
  • People are going to start mass pirating large quantities of RSS content to create semi authentic looking keyword net sites and link farms which will require algorithms to get much smarter at determining which links are legitimate.

A while ago I wrote that I thought if you had enough junk links that it could place a penalty on your site, but I am not sure how well that idea scales.

In some industries you can't help but get tons of scrapper links by just creating a site. Instead of trying to asign much of a negative weighting search engines may try to just discount the junk links as best they can.

Also, if people scrape the search results and link to all the top 20 listed sites it will not have much of an effect on the relevancy of those top ranked sites since they are all gaining the same links.

When you think about how the web scales, most every well ranked legit site in a competitive market will have many junk inbound links. Need proof? Look at the co-occuring links pointing at the top ranked sites for generic terms in your field.

The biggest way where I think junk links will hurt sites is if they do not have enough legitimate links to offset the effects of the junk links. It is especially easy for that type of effect to occur if you have few links or have not been mixing your anchor text.

The key to futureproof link building is to get links that are hard to get from well trusted sites. Sure that sounds blatently obvious, but sometimes it is cheaper to:

than it is buy ads, and that is a huge idea most websites seem to be missing out on. Instead of spending so much time figuring out what the latest spam techniques research is about many webmasters would be better off creating something people would want to link at.

Then again, some people who are uber proficient search spammers will always stay one step ahead of the algorithms. It is all about playing off of your strenghts and finding what you love to do.

Google Hand Editing "Search Engine Optimization" for PPC?

Jun 17th

A friend told me that recently he has seen huge changes in Google's search results for search engine optimization.

Overture, SEMPO, and Search Engine Watch are all in the top 10. Is Google relying more on related community / hub links, placing more value on word relations, or placing more value on human review?

My friend has stated that arcoss the wide variety of sites he tracks that this is the only large change he recently noticed. Anyone else see any shakeups recently?

Is Google trying to get people to think SEO is PPC? That would be evil.

Update: I did a bit of digging around. My other site does not have much in the way of anchor text for search engine optimization and the Google API shows it ranking at #73 for search engine optimization. Perhaps they are better understanding that search engine marketing and search engine optimization are related. Yet another indication of how important mixing anchor text is & will become.

Wow My Alexa Ranking is Great! Should I Trust It?

In the past I did not write in my ebook about somethings I did not care for much. I never really mentioned Alexa because I did not view it as a big deal. An epiphany hit me that I should state why I did not care much for Alexa stats.

Over the last few days my Alexa has doubled from around 13,400 to around 6,800. Wow I am great. Not really!

If you looked at my actual server logs you would see that traffic has been fairly constant over the past week with only a small uptick in traffic of about 5 percent. Why the huge increase in Alexa rankings then? More new webmasters using the Alexa browser finding my site. The three things that helped boost the number of new webmasters reading this site are:

  • mentioning the hidden links on FT - WebProNews linked to my site

  • my site ranking for Corey Rudl's death, and his friends recently putting out a newsletter saying he died
  • About.com WebSearch recently listing my blog as a top SEO blog

Many new webmasters get information from each of those channels. Just a few people from each browsing my site with an Alexa toolbar caused the rankings to nearly double, which is a huge change on a logarithmic scale for a site in the top 10,000.

Traffic has not changed much, sales are about the same, and if you looked just at Alexa things would look a bit brighter than they really are.

Here is what I recently wrote in my ebook:

Alexa is widely tooted as a must use tool by many marketing gurus. The problems with Alexa are:

  • Alexa does not get much direct traffic and has a limited reach with it’s toolbar
  • a small change in site visitors can represent a huge change in Alexa rating

  • Alexa is biased toward webmaster traffic
  • many times new webmasters are only tracking themselves visiting their own site

Why do many marketing hucksters heavily promote Alexa? Usually one of the following reasons:

  • ignorance

  • if you install the Alexa toolbar and then watch your own Alexa rating quickly rise as you surf your own site it is easy for me to tell you that you are learning quickly and seeing great results, thus it is easy to sell my customers results as being some of the best on the market
  • if many people who visit my site about marketing install the Alexa toolbar then my Alexa rating would go exceptionally high
  • the marketers may associate their own rise in success with their increasing Alexa ranking although it happens to be more of a coincidence than a direct correlation

A lower Alexa number means a greater level of traffic, and the traffic drops off logarithmically. You can fake a good Alexa score using various techniques, but if it shows your rankings in the millions then your site likely has next to no traffic.

Alexa by itself does not mean that much, but it simply provides a rough snapshot of what is going on. It can be spammed, but if a site has a ranking in the millions then it likely has little traffic. It is also hard to compare sites in different industries. For example, if I created a site about weight loss there would be many more people searching for it than a site about knitting. Also, you shouldn’t forget the webmaster bias the tool has, which means my site will have a higher Alexa rating than it should.

Google Site Targeted AdSense Ads

Jun 17th

This page was linked to from various site targeted AdSense ads to explain a bit about how the technology works. There are a couple links at the end of this post which also point to a few ways to creatively use Ads by Goooooogle.

Easy to Set Up:
I just set up my first site targeted AdWords ad account. Setting up a campaign was fairly easy.

This post is my intro to the site targeted ads, if you are interested with my thoughts of it click on and read with your bad self. hehehe Overpriced Impressions:
While there is lots of active discussion on them, I tried to avoid CPM advertising on most of the major SEO forums because I know that its not uncommon for me to generate 50 to 500 page views myself in a day when I am in the posting mood.

The $2 minimum CPM for forums is probably a bit rich for my business model, especially when I can participate in the threads and be seen as part of the activity instead of part of the ads. I might advertise on them soon, but am not yet.

Business Model / Quality of Business / Why to be Social:
I spent a couple hours picking out sites to advertise on, but some people have far more profitable business models than I do. Shortly it will likely get to where site targeting is not a viable option for my current business model, but I might as well try it out while its new.

A good link broker (hi Patrick) or an SEO firm can make far more money than my business model because my business model currently lacks recurring fees.

One major benefit my business model has over most others is that I spend most all day reading and playing on blogs & forums, and thus know many people who are hip and help market my stuff for me. Another benefit I have is that I have low living costs and limited infistructure, so I could change quickly.

Keywords & Site Targeting?
Some people have recently told me that the site targeting also allows you to target keywords on those sites, but I did not see that feature. Likely it will eventually be added. Yet another reason why primarily designing a site about a niche is huge: making efficient ad sales easy to target, automate, and buy.

When you pick your initial content sites to advertise on it allows you to add a number of keywords with the seed set of sites you entered to help refine the concepts you are interested in and offer other similar sites you may want to advertise on. Some of the suggestions were a far miss, but a large portion of them were dead on.

Another useful feature would be allowing you to specify filepaths. Currently it looks as though they only allow site and subdomain targeting, which can make it hard to reach other parts of sites with huge forums.

Context Without Search:
In the past you could not buy contextual ads without also buying in on Google.com search ads as well. With the new CPM program you can buy text ads, graphic ads, or annimations. When you place your bid it is a max bid. Google does a bunch of math to convert your CPM max bid to a CPC to compare it to the AdSense contextual ads for pricing purposes.

By picking what sites to advertise on, and shifting the ads from CPC to CPM, you lower your clickfraud risk profile.

A Low Noise Hello:
One of the best deals with the new CPM program is that you can make sure certain site owners know you exist for a low price. With blogs sometimes you can do that with a comment or a trackback, but it is not possible with many sites. A site targeted ad might be a good way to say hello.

If you randomly start seeing a bunch of ads from my site on your site then I probably targeted your site.

Other Cool Things:

  • Whenever there is breaking news you can quickly add that site to your account to make sure you advertise where large active streams of new traffic are.

  • In the same way that Google makes irrelevant ads pay a premium for having a low clickthrough rate on Google, this program also uses community feedback (in this case peer pricing pressures) to help ensure the ads stay as relevant as possible.
  • This program helps quality publishers get more value out of their content while lowering the fraud risks associated with participating in AdSense.
  • Displays clicks and cost per conversion with each URL.
  • Allows you to bid different prices on each URL within a group.

The Down Sides:

  • Just like all Google ads, the system is a bit unpredictable. I put in a max CPM and ad spend amount, and odds are my real costs will be nothing like I bid and I will get less impressions than the associated amout that I bid for.

  • There were no suggested CPM bid prices, or expected costs listed, just estimated pages viewed in the past.
  • If large advertisers buy up the best ads by overpaying for the best content sites that means that the average advertiser, which may be locked out of many of those sites, might not have much left but the clickfraud and scrapper sites to pick through.
  • When initially selecting a seed set of sites it helps suggest many others. It seems as though after you set up your ad group you can't get that feature back again without starting up a new ad group? But then again I am tired and maybe I missed something.
  • Sometimes I might want to advertise specifically because I want to reach a site owner, but Google considers clicking ads on your own site as clickfraud.
  • It is probably a bit easier to fake page impressions than ad clicks, and Google will quickly be dealing with another form of fraud.

Bonus creative site targeted AdSense ad ideas:

Amazon 10th Anniversary Concert Webcast, Yahoo! Subscription Search

Jun 16th
posted in

Free Web Concert:
Amazon.com 10TH anniversary 5PM Pacific today on the 17TH of next month - Bob Dylan & Norah Jones, Hosted by Bill Maher

20 that Made History:
Fortune Article

Still Not Dead, YET:
LookSmart Solutions for Publishers - the new offerings seem a bit confusing and grab bag like, why not launch them one at a time like...

Yahoo! Subscription Search:
search through subscription content, such as Financial Times & The Wall Street Journal.

It will be interesting to see how they integrate that with regular search, and how much of a push they make at integration. from TW

Internet Geography Project:
interesting. Marcia linked to it in a SEW thread recently.

A Bit Rich?
article about natural link development from a person who runs a network that sells off topic bulk cheap links sold by PageRank. hmm.

Purple:
What's the Matter with Kansas?

Pretty Cool Speech

Jun 16th

Great Thank You Page

Jun 16th

So you might be a geek if you are excited about a DVD documentary on Bulletin Board Systems.

All doubt is removed when the purchase thank you page is so great that you have to blog about it.

I think that is the best thank you page I have ever seen. Great marketing.

Blowhard Clients & Bad SEO Leads

Jun 15th

Bad clients will waste your time and destroy your business. Since SEO can deliever such cheap marketing sometimes it is easy to sell yourself short, taking on bad clients.

The worst prospects I have ever encountered are:

  • those burned by SEOs who have no trust left

  • those who used to rank well, feel they deserve free top rankings, and are unwilling to change with the algorithms
  • those who think SEO should be free marketing

A person recently emailed me, telling me they were having a rough situation, wanting me to commit to them, but not wanting to pay anything before their problems are guaranteed to be solved. Sometimes even analyzing a situation can take hours, and you would be a nut case to do that work free unless it was for a cause you believed in.

Eventually they even thought they were going to taunt me into fixing their problems for them:

Having read your blog I had thought you were up for a challenge to put right what is not only an unfair penalty, but potentially one that shows that Yahoo applies one set of rules for its 'channel' partners and another to its 'channel' partner's competitors.

If you are at all serious about what you do, check out this search and tell me if Yahoo should be penalizing this website.

This person assumes that there is a hidden agenda, where the search engine is out to get them, unwilling to look in the mirror to see if he is providing the search engine with something they would like.

As far as that want a challenge bit goes, there are many challenges in life:

Sometimes it is easy to feel too important, but you can only do so much, and there is no reason to spend your life helping someone who wants guaranteed results who pushes blame on others. Last time I had a lead like that I blew them off. A friend later worked for them, and is still regretting it.

If you bronze a turd it is still a turd. Any decent SEO knows that they can't make the search engine listen if it does not want to. Even if I could find a way to make a search engine eat itself, taking on a client who is only interested in pushing risk and blame is still not a gamble I would want to take. Most SEO leads are not worth much.

SEMphonic Competitive Analysis, Yahoo! Buys VOIP Player Dial Pad

SEMphonic:
New SEO competitive analysis tool. I have not tried it, but it seems similar to Adgooroo.

Bundles:
of fun & software. Google Toolbar bundled with WinZip

Washington Times:
switched from Google to Yahoo! Search.

Relevant:
EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers <-- I need to take a peak at that.
http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/000859.html

VoIP:
Yahoo! buys Dial Pad. they also bought Blo.gs

WordPress vs MovableType:
Jeremy Z switching to WordPress. surely thats not a good thing for MovableType. Also, why is the Yahoo! Search Blog using MovableType instead of their Yahoo! 360 or whatever?

The Mathematics of Search & the Need for Creativity

Jun 14th

Danny Sullivan writes Search Marketing Isn't Just Math & Machines, which is in reaction to some chatter that the only way to work in search is to work it mathematically.

When I was younger I was good at math, but have not practiced it much in years and still do fine. From what I have see creativity is a much larger part of the battle.

Some people say you need to work at Google if you are in search. Like Danny, I totally disagree with that statement. All you really need to know, is what Google wants.

An example:

Google wanted to push their Google Sitemaps program. Recently a few people posted code about how to create one in various languages, or with various content management systems. Google quickly created a page linking to those resources.

If one acted quick enough they could have got a link from Google. For those who did not act quick enough, they can try to buy ads on the pages Google linked at, or create Google SiteMap pages that interface with other CMS's or languages. Even if you did not know the language I am guessing that a programmer could be hired for a few hundred dollars. A low one time fee for a link from Google.

An even better example:

Google recently updated their page about SEO and linked out to this news article about fraudulent SEO companies.

Currently there are Toyota ads on that content. I am betting that I could call them and see if it was possible to run an ad on that page, paying a premium much greater than what Toyota pays because there is much greater value for me than Toyota for an ad on that page.

What better place for me to run an ad like:

Don't get ripped off by a shady SEO firm. Buy the best selling SEO Book and learn how to market your site in Google ethically. Increase your site rankings and traffic today.

I perhaps would feel a bit guilty / sleezy for running the ethics line (as most people using the term ethics in the SEO field do not use it in an honest manner), but Google sets up that ad and that marketing copy for me.

As a matter of fact, I just called that newspaper to see if I could buy an ad. First I got a disconnected number that offered me no assistance, then I tried another number and got another person who transfered me through to another person, who was not at their desk, so I got to leave a message.

Sloppy ad sales compared to AdWords.

The exact reason Google does well is that they make it easy and automated to buy targeted ads. Many of the newspaper companies would make significantly greater profits if they automated a portion of their ad sales, and allowed more people to compete for their ad inventory (the same way partnerships with AdSense do).

CNN has over 200,000 links from DMOZ. Imagine what links on some of those pages are worth to webmasters and think of how little they make from sloppy untargeted ad sales. That is why link brokers can partner with so many newspaper sites, because the newspapers are too sloppy at ad sales and behind on technology to get good value out of their ad space without a middleman doing their marketing for them.

Andrew Goodman recently stated:

I find it hard to fret much about Google dependency at this stage when General Motors is spending $3.3 billion a year on offline ads. That’s about the same as Google’s total revenues from all advertisers for 2004!

So if Google is making that big of a wave with that little income it makes sense that they are on to something with their ad targeting, and that there is much room for growth with Google.

At the end of the day good SEO and PPC marketing are just ad buys. When you think of how large the web is there are many more opportunities away from Google than in it. Most ad buyers and sellers are lazy, working with outdated technologies, or are not creative.

Thread about Gaining Good Links to Offset the Effects of Bad Links

Jun 14th

ephricon recently posted at SEW forums in a thread about scraper sites:

Its sorta funny, but I've not really needed to continue to build many links for this site, as its got enough high quality ones and ocassionally gets a few more natural links here and there. I think its hilarious and a bit annoying that I'm now considering a link campaign for a site that has alot of natural links, solely for the reason to offset these automated links! Sorta ironic there.

Google prefers you build a great site and not focus on building links. I do that. I get ranked well. I attract scraper links, and now I need to build links to combat that!

Have you ever had a strong ranking site filtered out of the results because automated links gave you an unnatural linkage profile? Sounds like something that wouldn't happen, but in Google's results just about anything can happen. Even canonical URLs can be a big problem.

As a bonus, The Kills have a great song called The Good Ones

Keyword Ranking Getting No Love Over at Virtual Promote

Jun 13th

Andy Beal is a JimGuide, and yet there is a thread over at VirtualPromote ripping up his SEO firm?

Now a bunch of what you read in the forums is rubbish, but there are some strong alligations about Keyword Ranking in that thread:

They go after small companies, persistient sales force who promises everything, once you sign you find out that for the money you pay them YOU do all the work.... it's like hiring someone to read you a book on SEO. They provide generic canned reports, basically "find and replace" company name, no specific analysis to your site, only what you provide to them they take an reformat into another useless report.

and

Keywordranking has a shoddy record with the BBB.

Visit the website of the Better Business Bureau and search for "keywordranking" under the section "Check It Out". The BBB report on Keywordranking / Websourced states "The Bureau has processed 22 complaints about this company in the last 36 months concerning unfulfilled contract and refund and credit issues. Eighteen of those were processed in the last 12 months"

Can you find any other large SEO company with such a bad BBB record? I couldn't!

Also check out Alexa/Amazon for Keywordranking.com the reviews. Out of 11 current reviews, 8 reviews are very negative.

bhartzer, a fellow JimGuide, even worked Traffic Power into the thread!

I am sure I am going to get some hate for this post, but at what point should large SEO companies also have people who work the forums, and not just the phones?

Clearly they have many bright marketers over there, some of the best in the industry, and yet they are getting torn up on forums where they moderate at.

On another front, that thread is over 5 months old. You would think a company trying to position themselves as a cutting edge marketing firm would track what the major channels say about them at least a few times a year, wouldn't you?

Mother Russia's Google

Jun 12th

Russia's 'Google' aims for London share listing

Russia's leading internet portal floats on the Alternative Investment Market on Wednesday in a stock market debut that will value the company at more than $150 million.

Rambler Media - the closest the country has to Google - hopes to become the latest in a series of sought-after Russian stocks listing in London. It plans to offer 3.9 million shares priced at $10.25, and use the $40m raised to help it take advantage of Russia's rapid increase in internet usage.

Interesting that many Russian companies are floating stock in other countries, and it shows how important a stable currency and political structure are.

I am not sure what the search engine distribution breakdown is like over in Siberia, but a friend told me that its fookin cold there.

Why Reciprocal Linking Sucks - Part XVII

Jun 12th

Not sure if the link removal agent position has been added to the association of search engine spammers (aosep.com) yet, but people are going to new lengths to hurt competitors.

A friend recently got this email:

Hi link exchange partner.
Someone is sending our reciprocal link partners a request to remove our link. The email appears as it is being sent from [our site]
Please be assured that we will not remove any links and we are not in process on redoing our link section as stated in the email.

If you have any questions, please email me direct at [my email].

Best regards
[name]
[site]

People would rather be lazy and work to hurt competitors instead of trying to build up their own sites. Short sighted. Sad really.

When people do shit like that it eventually comes back at them.

That sort of thing is all the more reason to get to know people in a real sense, and have a link exchange represent a business partnership - not just a link.

Hidden Links on Financial Times Website. WTF?

Jun 10th

When you can no longer trust media...

Ever get the sense that many business models are being challenged by the web? In spite of being subsidized, the Wall Street Journal has been seeing eroding profits. In the most recent issue of the Linking Matters Newsletter Ken McGaffin noted that Financial Times sells hidden advertising links.

That is prettymuch the two largest papers about making money and both of them are getting worse at it, and Financial Times is running a business model based on deception. Can you trust news sites that hide their content and their own business model?

It will be interesting to see how Google deals with the hidden links. Something tells me they are not going to delist FT, although I could be wrong. As this type of shady link activity spreads it will require search engines to place more weight on click stream data, editorial review data, and user data.

If you ever listen to people like Noam Chomsky talk about not trusting certain media he usually uses Financial Times as an example of one of the media sources you can trust since they are so heavily finance based and investors tend to expect more for their money since they need timely news to trade.

Friends have also showed me other similar sites that were doing the same, but I don't really want to out them.

Barry Dillar's IAC Sells Stake in Vivendi Universal for 3.4 Billion

Jun 8th

Barry Dillar's IAC Sells Stake in Vivendi Universal for 3.4 Billion. TheStreet reports:

"The transaction results in after tax proceeds to IAC that, by any measure, exceed the company's publicly stated valuation of the VUE securities," Diller said in a statement. "After paying applicable taxes on the transaction, IAC will have netted approximately $1 billion in cash, repurchased 56.6 million IAC shares, and obtained approximately $100 million in advertising across NBC-Universal's various networks over the next three years."

Well that ought to pay for Ask. IACI is up over 5% on the day so far.

In other business news, I think I have seen about 100 articles stating that Google is the #1 media stock, slightly larger than Time Warner, which has recently dropped the walled garden approach hoping to increase ad dollars.

Internet Censorship & Blog Registration - The Great Wall of China

Jun 8th

China to require forum & blog owner registration. What if censorship was in the routers? Would we still see the ratings?

Need to get a quote from Sergey on this move.

Related: Social Tools as Ripples to Waves of the Future

Web Sales & Advertising

Jun 8th

Post about Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid

Jun 8th

Hugh MacLeod, of GapingVoid fame, & Seth Godin will be at London Marketing Soiree July 11th 2005.

Hugh MacLeod also recently created a podcast which I just listened to.

He described the idealism or assumption of purity associated with blogs to be a guise for the selfish reasons why blogs are created.

Blogging about your industry is a good way to gain status within that industry. He also said launching your first good blog could require similar time and effort to writing your first novel to pay off.

M u s t    K e e p    T y p i n g . . .

speaking of regular jobs:

  • he said most companies do not have your best interests in mind

  • most companies want to squeeze you until there is nothing left (it also happened to me at a rather young age)
  • many people with 20 years experience do not have 20 years experience, but 1 year of experience 20 times over. (Before playing on the web I had two legit full time jobs. I had this feeling twice).

He stated that his blog readership tended to rise as he spoke more about his partnership with English Cut and fell when he just drew cartoons. I bet there were other factors at play, such as crossover traffic from major media coverage. His cartoons are awesome.

Hugh also started a blog about wine. I posted this comment on his blog:

are you worried about spreading your branding too thin? eventually the conversation about conversations about conversations will get thick when many of the conversations have holes in them because you are trying to do too much on limited resources, ie: attention & time.

I also have a bunch of blogs, but most of them are crap because most of my effort goes into this one. How many authentic voices can you have before authenticity means nothing?

Dirt & Making People Link at You

Jun 8th

So most people are all driven by emotions and a desires like

  • money

  • power
  • fame
  • empathy
  • happiness

If you fill someone's needs there is limited profit potential in that market space as others will try to fill needs cheaper. The key is to fill wants and desires.

You can buy links all day long, but the more your site launch conveys a social element and fills people's desires for at least one of the above the better the chance it will succeed. Fathom's Keyword Price Index is in my opinion fairly arbitrary. Much of the search profit growth is driven by search volume, but Fathom created a system to give people a set of numbers to track click prices by sector and report them each month. Since some people feel the data is important they may feel their site is incomplete without it. Thus we talk about it.

Other marketers will need to pay for that type of exposure, and even then many people discount or ignore ads. I ALWAYS prefer to buy content advertorials over traditional ads because they look less like ads and converts better. It is the reason behind the whole page editorial looking ad and a large part of the exceptional profitability of AdWords (the other part is of course precise targeting).

The below example might be full of crap or easy to do wrong, therefore it is no formal suggestion and the author of this post shall not be held liable for the use or misuse of this information / post / idea.

A friend of mine recently wanted to launch a site about celebrities and asked me what I thought of it. The design looked good, but the writing could have been better. I told my friend that the site had low content quality. But what does that really mean?

On this blog I miss out on many link opportunities by randomly whinging about and not putting much effort into editing. When I told my friend their writing could have been better the editing was an issue, but that really was not the flawed part of the idea. The flaw was that the idea ignored the social structure of the web, why people link, and what keeps people coming back.

If I was going to launch a site about celebrities here are some of the things I would do:

  • Either make the idea niche (about a few celebrities) or try to get some funding.

  • Get a killer brandable domain name that conveys something more. For example, a parked page rests at www.dirt.org and some of the other similar domain names might be available cheap. Dirt.org, Dirt.net, or Dirt.com is a great web brand waiting to happen.
  • Create something people could not get elsewhere. If people are looking up celebrity information sure their birth date is cool, but why not have sections like:
    • Recent Sexual Partners (rumoured)

    • Illegal habbits and fetishes (rumoured)
  • You could further extend that "what you can't get elsewhere" idea by showing:
    • the connectivity of degrees of separation between sex partners (confirmed or rumoured)

    • links to people who got in trouble for the same illegal activities
    • links to people who share the same fetishes
    • etc etc etc
  • To make the idea more social, give away free fan blogs and use a social software program which allows people to rate the best pots and channels to make them more visible. Also hire some editors and grab some news feed to help the network work and ensure there is a decent level of content quality.
  • Encourage people to report the dirt. Perhaps even offering cash rewards.
  • The site might even be more over the top by offering ad space to sketchy advertisers that deal in semi illegal or intrusive stuff such as paparazzi photos and the like.

At the end of the day if you can cause people to talk about something your bank account will swell (unless you get sued). Sometimes lawsuits are a cheap form of marketing as well though. Also many times people are required to inform you of what you are doing wrong before they can sue you for it.

Recently Lee Odden mentioned a new folksonomy tool called Tag Cloud.

I am sure you can spam some information systems such as Tag Cloud, but if you can get your name, your site name, and ideas you made up to be semantically related to the subject of your content then you win. If DMOZ links to many of your celebrity content pages you win. If bloggers frequenlty link in you win. If many people desire your site specifically then it is hard for a search engine to penalize your site and you win.

Lots of other random ideas in my head, but I don't pay much attention to most celebrities. That was an example of how to future proof SEO techniques by making sure the idea is socially well structured for guaranteed longterm success.

Not sure if I have it in me to be a strong entrepreneur, but in a few years I might be willing to try out a bit more of my random ideas.

Mirago Context Stream, Become.com Search Suggestion, PPC Best Practices

Why Does Google Lie to SEOs?
asks Stuntdubl

OptiLink:
Leslie Rhode created a new seo blog, and a new Mastering PageRank video. His OptiLink was one of the first SEO tools I bought and one of the few I ever found useful, although the advancing algorithms are making link analysis harder than it was a short time ago.

Say Cheese:
the demise of a brand - a Kodak moment.

Mirago's Context Stream:
new AdSense competitor spotted.

Spammy Directory Links:
Have still seen them working decent in Google, although I am sure that will eventually change.

About 3 months ago a friend launched a brand spanking new site on an expensive topic which already ranks in the top 30 for a well known short query. The site ranked there before being listed in DMOZ.

Other than a Yahoo! Directory link only a few links from on topic sites or sites that would be well trusted by an algorithm such as TrustRank.

Most of the links popularity comes from general directories. The site also has sitewide outbound links to a couple industry hub resources. Most other sites in the field are not well topically connected and are powered by fake hubs and the like.

Cory Rudl:
Ken McCarthy posted a in memory page with a 1 hour MP3 audio clip of Corey from February 2001, which is well worth a listen to anyone new to internet marketing.

Become.com:
Their search service now comes with a new search suggestion / keyword research tool. Similar to how Snap works, except instead of showing queries which start with your term it shows querries which contain your term. from TW

PPC:
MarketingSherpa best practices - How Autobytel Ramped Up to 150,000 PPC Search Campaigns : 5 Best Practices in Campaign Management. from GotAds

Fear, Greed, & Social Software:
article by Ross Mayfield

Good SEO is Bad to Google. Dareth a Light Flicker On?

Jun 7th

Doug Heil, the evangical whitehat SEO, is worried that the new Google Sitemaps offering may remove the USP for good SEOs.

Gasp, dare I say that Google probably does not give a crap about your or my business models?

Rule #1: to Google there is no such thing as a good SEO business (unless SEO somehow means spending big money on pay per click ads).

As a bonus, there is another good Doug quote in the thread:

Make no mistake; I know exactly why Google is trying this out. I certainly have never been called naive.

hmm.

Danny Sullivan on Fair and Balanced

Jun 7th

Danny Sullivan weighs in on Google's long memory stirs privacy concerns stating that the focus on Google is somewhat unfair.

Books and article titles are made to sell. On the search scene today nothing sells as well as Google. Until something does Google will be in the title of most search articles, both good and bad.

Then again, with some companies using names like ShopZilla it's no wonder some of the competition does not get a lot of ink.

Marketing a Search Engine

Jun 7th

Since search sites themselves have no product other than the contents of other sites how do you launch a search site? How would you market a new search engine?

One idea I have thinking about is giving people the perception of user feedback. Since many search engines have editors (like Yahoo!) or employ remote quality raters (like Google) this data can be used to train the algorithms. You also could collect information from random surfers and use that as feedback, although Direct Hit proved that relying too heavily on that data is a flawed idea. The direct information from surfers may have a greater purpose though.

What if you did not necissarily use that data that much, but gave people the idea that you valued their opinions. You could maket the search service as your search. Tell the people that by searching and rating sites they personally were responsible for making the web a better place. If people believed it was true then to them it would be. If they could spread the idea far enough (telling many of their friends about how great it is) then maybe the search service could steal enough market share to sell enough ads to be able to afford the right people and algorithms to make the search the most relevant.

Of course the service would need to be fairly decent off the start as well, but it might be a decent idea. How would YOU market a search engine?

A Random Instant Message Conversation

Jun 7th

[03:07] random person: hello
[03:08] me: ?
[03:08] random person: how u?
[03:09] me: bot or person?
[03:09] random person: person
[03:09] random person: u?
[03:09] me: bot
[03:09] random person: :)
[03:09] random person: work?
[03:10] me: ?
[03:10] random person: do u work
[03:10] me: all bots do
[03:10] random person: no i mean do you have a job
[03:11] me: yes
[03:11] me: arbitrary question really right
[03:11] me: i mean if you didnt know that then why message me
[03:11] random person: just wondered if you had ever been involved in network marketing
[03:12] me: i market on the largest networks
[03:12] me: google, yahoo, msn, ebay, etc etc etc
[03:13] random person: doin well?
[03:13] me: again. arbitrary question
[03:13] me: well enough
[03:14] me: what do you do to where you IM random people
[03:15] random person: i dont im random people you are on my contact list and have been for a while
[03:15] me: hehehe
[03:15] me: well ur not on mine and I have been up for a long time
[03:15] me: my URL http://www.seobook.com
[03:16] random person: ill check it out
[03:18] random person: my URL'S [multi level marketing useless spam shit]

and so our conversation abruptly ended. I am sure it will pick up again in a few months.

More on Google's Secret Review Labs & Why Google Hates Affiliate Sites

Jun 7th

Henk posted a couple more posts about his interactions with GoogleGuy on WebmasterWorld, as well as explaining his reasonings for creating the Search Bistro site:

The published insights are not that spectacular. But insight in Google's evaluation of websources is rare. I wanted to forward the details to the web community to get some discussion. Why? People should know how a search engine works. Basically, it's a stupid thing. Intelligence has to come from the user. If he/she doesn't ask a smart question, he/she gets a stupid answer.

Spam Guidelines:
In my last post about Google Search quality evaluators I also forgot to post a link up to the Spam Guidelines document (doc) that Henk posted.

GoogleGuy requested that the documents not be posted, so they may get removed. Downloading copies for internal use and training may be a good idea. The spam guidelines document goes on to show a number of sites deemed as search spam and how / why Google would evaluate them as such. Since affiliate marketing or reselling pay per click ads are the usual forms of search spam most of the examples fall into those categories.

When comparing spam sites to good sites the document states:

To appreciate the difference, ask yourself this question: would any user want to go to www.bookfinder4u.com rather than directly to Barnes & Noble? To http://us.store-directory.org/dvd/movie/B00005JM5E.html rather than to Amazon? The answer to the former question is Yes, because at Barnes & Noble, the user would not be able to see any direct price comparison between the B&N’s price and competitors’ prices for any given item; the answer to the latter question is No or Indifferent between the two.

They also bolded the following statement:

To determine whether participation in affiliate programs is central or incidental to the site’s existence, ask yourself this question: Would this site remain a coherent whole if the pages leading to the affiliate were taken away?

They also go heavily into reviewing hotel sites, stating IAC properties are whitelisted, and showing many spam sites, offering additional tips such as:

One cannot both be an affiliate of others and offer affiliation opportunities. So the presence of the link to become an affiliate is your hint that the site has its own booking functionality and can complete transactions for its visitors.

Automation VS Unique & Useful:
As a summary, most search spam sites are heavily automated and provide little useful, unique, or compelling to the end user.

Recently Rand did a review of a paper about link spam as well, stating

The paper also notes the common achilles heel of spam pages - automatic generation.

and

It is also the opinion of the author that link spam will eventually require such sophistication and effort that it lose its ROI and become a less effective tactic than attempting to obtain natural incoming links through quality content and legitimate promotion.

Why the Spam Guidelines Document is Useful:
Google's reviewers may not be used to directly effect search results, but at the very least they are used to help train the relevancy algorithms. By seeing how Google trains them you get to see what Google wants. If you know what they are looking for it is far easier to give it to them.

Just like pay per click, SEO is a game of margins. Search engines aim to decrease the margins on both fronts so they can extract maximum profits.

Automation can bring great returns until it is caught. Algorithms, editors, search reviewers, and other webmasters who may link to you all look for reasons why people should WANT to visit your site instead of thousands of competing sites.

Due to a lack of sophistication (especially within the young MSN Search) many people are still making large sums of money from low quality bulk affiliate or AdSense websites.

Owning a few of those types of sites might be a good call for creating passive revenue streams, but most webmasters who like the web would do well to create at least one great site about something they were passionate about.

Further coverage on the Google search review labs:

Don't Forget to Try FindWhat too... Changing a Name.

FindWhat and Espotting are being renamed Miva. Very rarely do I disagree with AussieWebmaster, but he said:

They have decided to take a completely new name so neither party could feel the upper hand in the relationship. Smart move in my opinion.

Many people in the know still recommended FindWhat. I think about a year ago I remembered Dana Todd saying FindWhat is almost like a tier 1.5 engine instead of a tier two engine (although there has probably been further market consolidation since then).

FindWhat drives nowhere near as much traffic as Google or Yahoo! / Overture, but they still have a few decent partnerships.

There are lots of posts out there telling people they may want to try FindWhat. On the other end of the spectrum you have people saying LookSmart is the worst traffic they have ever bought. Most smaller pay per click search engines could correctly be renamed pay per click fraud search engines.

So you take what is a somewhat clean search engine, which recently cut it's income heavily to get rid of bad partners and you give it a brand new name out in the wild which will make all the old recommending posts sound outdated or incorrect.

Sure FindWhat has had a bit of a bad rap for its stock price getting ahead of itself and the Miva Merchant buyout not leading to as many advertisers as desired, but the stock buyers and market price will eventually follow the value created.

Investors have a longer memory than webmasters, and based on FindWhat's market capitalization not many people are buying it.

Google Search Result Quality Evaluators

Jun 6th

Google's search quality evaluation process site may have been around for years.

SearchBistro recently posted a 22 page PDF titled General Guidelines on Random-Query Evaluation that was last revised on December 31, 2003. In addition to posting the Random-Query Evaluation PDF, Henk van Ess has recently posted:

  • examples of offensive (or low quality) sites

  • some whitelisted sites:
    Here is a non-exhaustive "white list" of the sites whose pages are not to be rated as Offensive (nor as Erroneous):
    Kelkoo, Shopping.com, dealtime.com, bizrate.com, bizrate.lycos.com, dooyoo.com;

  • tips for rating sites:
    If it's a machine-generated, no added value affiliates, it's Spam. If it provides some unique values, for example, customer feedback, local information, it should be rated on the merit scale even if it has some affiliates. Similarly, if the game site allows you to download a game, without being intrusive (i.e. install a spyware without notice), it should be rated on the merit scale, instead of Spam.

  • How reviewers communicate to come up with solutions when review quality scores are far apart from one another

Search Classification Types:
The Google review guide classifies searches as being

  • navigational (example: a search for United Airlines)

  • informational (example: how do I..)
  • transactional (example: buy 18K White Gold Omega Watch)
  • any mixture of the above categories.

Resource Quality Rating:
Google then asks raters to classify sites listed in random queries using the following categories:

  • Vital

    • most queries, especially generic type queries do not have a Vital result.

    • Vital result example: search for Ask Jeeves returns www.ask.com.
  • Useful
    • these should have some of the following characteristics (although it likely will not exhibit all of them): comprehensive, quality, answers the search query with precission, timly, authoritative.

    • This is the highest rating attainable for most pages on most search queries.
    • Useful result example: search for USA Patriot Act returning the ACLU page covering the USA Patriot Act.
    • For some plural queries, such as Newspapers in Scotland, the best results may be lists of related sites. Reviewers must also check some links on the page to ensure the page is functional.
  • Relevant
    • One step down from Useful. Relevant results may satisfy only one important facet of a query, whereas Useful results are expected to be more broad and thorough.

    • Results that would have been Vital if a more common interpretation did not overshadow it are considered relevant.
  • Not Relevant
    • Not Relevant results are related to the topic but do not help users.

    • If a person searching for Real Estate finds a San Diego Real Estate website that would probably not be relevant since most people searching for that do not live in or want to move specifically to San Diego.
    • As the San Diego example is too narrow geographically other sites could also be too narrow in other non location based ways, such as being outdated or too specific to a subset idea of the query.
  • Off Topic
    • Is not a useful page. Irrelevant.

    • Usually occurs when text matching algorithms do not account for some terms that can have multiple meanings.
  • Offensive
    • Pages or sites that often do not hold merit on any query.

    • Example Offensive sites: spyware, unrequested porn, AdSense scraper and other keyword net type sites, etc.
  • Erronious
  • Didn't Load
  • Foreign Language
  • Unrated

Vital to Offensive are in order of quality. The higher the better. Erronious through Unrated are cast as non votes. When in doubt between rating values raters are expected to rate at the lower of the two rating values.

Why this is Important:
By learning how and what they want evaluators to look for it makes it easier to understand how to deliver what the search engines want.

This post was a quick review of General Guidelines on Random-Query Evaluation. If you are heavily interested in SEO it is well worth your time to read the original document, which lists many more examples and is in far greater detail than this post.

Random Thoughts:
With how relatively low the wages are for these positions ($10 - $20 an hour) you have to wonder:

  • why it took so long for this information to come out

  • if some of these people are using the information they gained from participating in other ways
  • if these people know anything about Google's business model, and how much THEY could be making on a per click basis if they created well cited content that fit Google's guidelines.
  • and a far off tangent! what would happen if Google's business model made self employment too profitable to where they could not afford to pay workers

AdSense Tips, Google Israel, Google Updates Webmaster Guidelines, More...

Jun 6th

AdSense:
Subscribers thread at WMW offering tips to making money from AdSense

here is an example of some of OddSod's advice:

Adwords cost:
unreliable hosting £0.04
server going down £0.04

If you do a special landing page and convert those to dedicated server (£3.00 of which you'll likely get £2) you need only a 2% CTR to break even. Many sites find it quite easy to achieve 5%.

Shalom:
One of the few words I remember from my brief stay in Israel. Apparently Google wants to go there too, as they are pondering opening up a new office.

Webmaster Guidelines:
Google recently updated them.

The Beauty of Search:
rant post by Sebastian

Google Server IP Address:
DaveN pointed at a cool new FireFox plugin that shows the IP address your search results are coming from.

Glossaries:
A hip SEO technique. says Woz

Sites Postioned Above Mine:
thread about ways to penalize sites which are overtly manipulating search relevancy. A few interesting posts and points of view in there, as well as links to a white paper on the topic.

ClickTracks:
Interview of John Marshall

Like the French, Germans to Challenge Google Print

Jun 6th

Not too long ago there were many reports of French trying to rival the Google print program. The International Herald Tribune reports the same thing is now happening in Germany.

Then this year, when Google started wooing publishers to sign on for its own digital book project, that German executive, Matthias Ulmer, decided the time was ripe to seize control with a homegrown counterattack.

Now Ulmer and a five-member task force of the German book trade association Börsenverein are organizing their own digital indexing project, Volltextsuche Online. The effort of the 6,000-member association of booksellers and publishers comes in reaction to Google's plans, unveiled in December, to start digitizing books in the world, with the first step being major university library collections in the United States.

Ultimately variety is going to be important to keep the free flow of information possible. A few companies controlling the information supply is a scary thought, though it looks as though it is where we are headed.

The scalability of search and requested ad networks requires that anyone jumping into the market either

  • creates a strong brand in a niche, or

  • jumps in big

It will be hard for Google and others to appease publishers as they try to convince them to allow others to control free copies of their content, which at the least will transform the publishing business model and could eventually undermine large segments of it.

Even if some of the uprising forces have little effect on the outcome being a leader in an outraged group helps market the leaders as being market leaders. An article with "challenges Google" in the title is bound to get syndicated thousands of times.

If you can find some angle where you can go against Google which others find nobel it might be some of the cheapest marketing you ever experience.

Whether or not people view Google's desire to control information as evil it is hard to deny that they are at the forefront of pushing others to modernize data.

Marketing via Blog Channels - Creating Blog Networks

Jun 6th
posted in

Duct Tape Marketing Channels:
Recently John Jantsch has partnered with many new authors to create a bunch of new channels for various related marketing ideas such as branding, pr, and innovation.

I think it is rather hard to satisfy the egos of a bunch of marketers & reward them well enough to keep them on. MarketingVox (formerly known as Marketing Wonk) is a good example of a similar type of project. It was exceptionally strong about a year and a half ago but seems to have slipped a bit as many of the channel managers have left.

Best of luck with the new project John, It's gonna be a ton of hard work to keep it going.

Speaking of Blog Networks:
John's network is a targeted quality one, but when everyone and their dog starts to make generic blog networks will they add anything useful to the web, or just try to gain a market position from which they can exploit profits by cluttering the web with noise?

The new Mortgage Refinancing Blog makes the Weblog Empire suspect from the word go.

Why as a Concept Blog Ethics = Garbage:
Not too long ago Darren Rowse mentioned what a horrible human being I was for mentioning a blog spam script. Yet when you look at some of the example blogs in his blog network you find zero original content.

Here is a good example blog from an ethical pro blogger: http://www.breakingnewsblog.com/depression/
Try to find something useful, original, professional, or compelling on THAT.

Cashing In:
Is a cross linked off topic network only abusing its power to manipulate search results if they are not wrapping the network in AdSense?

Should every socially connected person run a poker, casino, pharmacy, or credit blog? Or a network of them?

On Being Wrong...

So yesterday I posted about Corey Rudl dying, and a couple people sent me anonymous hate messages. I just posted about it on a group post in passing. I figured it would be interesting for some people, but I did not know the guy well. Some people took great offense to my mention, going so far as calling it pathetic.

My Corey Rudl Experience:
A while ago I bought his course because I was going to make a marketing review site. While I am interesting in marketing, I probably am no longer interested in creating such a site. I have not yet read his course, but I did watch the upsell DVD series.

I do find it interesting how attached many people were to him. But I also found the followthrough on some of his techniques less than desirable. For example:

  • After buying his course weeks later I got more emails asking me why I had not bought it yet

  • His DVD contained information about SEO that was nearly a decade outdated. Others have proved that you can make audio or videos that stay relevant as time passes. His info was generic and dated. He owed it to his customers to give them accurate information.
  • Occassionally when people order my ebook the order messes up. I tell them sorry and send them a download link promptly.

    After people copied my ebook and placed it on their site to sell or give away I bought Corey's ebook program to make it harder to steal and redistribute my ebook. I never got a download link. When I told them that I got an email telling me I was all screwed up and I needed to whitelist their email address.

  • I acted as though I was interested in buying a mentorship program that I probably did not need just to listen to the sales messages. I never followed through with it, because I ended up finding some of the hard sales techniques offensive.
  • When I got an affiliate check and letter the letter said "dear valued affiliate". how hard is it to personalize that? You already have my data if you are writing me a check.
  • One of my first SEO customers bought his affiliate software and course and whatnot. He was losing a ton of money. Within a couple months of meeting me that same customer started to make many thousands of dollars profit per month. At that point my personalized service cost less than what my friend considered old school outdated techniques. I was selling a service and not a dream.

Personal Biases:
The above was my own personal experience with what I knew of Corey Rudl. It does not necissarily make him good or bad, just states that my personal experience was not that great. He still got some of my money though, so he must have been doing something right.

I did admire how well recognized he was and how good he was at selling stuff. Often though many of the most successful people that sell courses, services, and products about living a dream grow detatched from reality.

Not saying that his stuff is bad, just that as time passes successful people tend to become detached from reality. I wrote an article about blinding success long before I was in any way successful (which I still don't really consider myself so today in the grand scheme of things). It is one of the things I fear most. In many markets you have to build a reputation before you can compete, but after you build that reputation the things that are true to you are not true to the average person. To me the just make quality content (without mentioning social interaction) advice many SEOs give parallels the problem of people forgetting where people came from.

Before I get any more hate mail for kicking a dead guy, that is not the goal of this post. The goal of this post is to show why my perceptions may not have matched some of my readers, and perhaps why his death did not mean as much to me as it did to some of the readers of this site.

Selling a Dream:
When people learn new subjects they need somewhere to start. Even if a large amount of the things I say are without tact or in some way wrong, hopefully I am generally helping people.

I think think the same way with Corey, but on a much larger scale. I am sure thousands of people are doing well due in large part to Corey's guidance.

With a decade of experience and front runner marketing techniques it makes sense that many people are attached to Corey and sad to see him go. The guy did die doing what he loved though, and most people who live to 100 do not expereince as much enjoyment as he probably did in his short life. Perhaps that is another reason I was not as sad as some people were about the issue. Most people never get to do what they really want to. At a young age he already did.

Sorry:
Was I wrong to post about Corey dying? I don't think so. Could it have been done with more compassion? Yes.

On another site I covered the topic more in depth, but I did not think that most readers of this blog would want in depth coverage.

When you get lots of readers and do not get lots of feedback it is easy to do things that offend some of them. If I offended you sorry. Here is a good thread about Corey if you want to post.

PubSub Link Tool

Jun 4th
posted in

There are a ton of tools that show blog connectivity data. Many people have already mentioned this tool, but I didn't because I figured it would be a boring me too type tool. I just tried it out, and it looks pretty cool.

It shows inlinks and outlinks by date, which should make it easier to:

  • see how ideas spread

  • find a few hundred more related blogs to add to your feed reader
  • find on topic ad buy locations
  • perform guerilla marketing

A couple ideas that would make this technology even cooler are:

  • clustering the links around posts or ideas

  • organizing the links in order of appearance

I have not dove deep into PubSub or Technorati, and am not a programmer by trade, but they both probably have some interesting marketing research data. It will be interesting to see if and how they market it, and how bloggers will respond.

I Bet They Win...

the search engine gaming ad lawsuit continues...

major search engine websites lost their motion to strike core allegations in plaintiffs' complaint in the case of Cisneros et al v. Yahoo! et al (San Francisco County Superior Court). These allegations ask the Court to provide a remedy against the search engine's alleged illegal advertisement of Internet gambling. The Court made a ruling that allows the case to move forward.

If you are interested in buying an on topic online casino ad on this page please send me an email.

Spam Reports, SEO, & Focusing on One Shady Competitor

Jun 4th

Today I got a phone call and about a half dozen different emails about the same issue. Many people see someone else in a great market position in the search results which they deem to be using risky or shady techniques.

All sites will randomly mix about from time to time, but focusing on one specific shady site does not really do much to build longterm value for your own sites.

Should you pattern your actions after what one shady site is doing right now? There is no correct answer, but here are the justifications why

yes:

If you can use throw away domains then why not take risks with a few of them. Even if your sites get banned in some search engines you still get to learn about the SEO process and search algorithms by trying to create a few different aggressive test sites.

If you have an exceptionally strong brand and are spending millions of dollars per month on AdWords ads you likely have a bit more leeway than average Joe webmaster. Even if you are risky make sure you are relevant and do not take risks you can't afford to take.

no:

Search algorithms continuously change. If something looks overtly shady and many people are doing it then likely it is a hole which search engineers would like to plug soon. If you are trying to create a longterm business with real tangible longterm value then it is best not to pattern your actions after sites using aggressive shady techniques.

Only take the best pieces of their marketing mix and look for the best marketing pieces of other top ranked sites. From there look to create partnerships, tools, ideas, and market positions which are not easy for others to duplicate.

Ten Years of Alertbox & Various Ways to Say Marketing

Jun 4th

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox celebrates 10 years. An interesting excerpt:

In 1997, I wrote the "Do Websites Have Increasing Returns?" column, discussing the relative value of big and small websites. I predicted that small sites would generate 75% of the Web's total value because they can be more targeted than big sites. ...

Most current discussions of the long tail underestimate the non-hits and assume that each point on the curve has the same value. But on the Web, being small means that you can better target your content and thus provide higher value per unit than more generic services.

Jakob also mentions a few of his hits and misses and points out some of his Alertbox articles which he feels deserve far more traffic than they get.

I have a bit of a hard time balancing self worth and ego, but it is interesting to think that hundreds of thousands of people could read your not well received work and still view it as deserving of more attention.

It seems to me that whether a person calls something usability, long tail, conversion marketing, SEO, story telling, brand building, or whatever, the end goal is to create enough value to extract profits while serving customers needs.

Usually most of the tips and information can be generic in nature (ex: track results or increase usability) - or deeply specific using some random vocabulary set (ex: Use location based keyword modifiers and bid for third position on Overture for expensive terms. Daypart your bid prices or ad display times to match the optimal point on the profit elasticity curve.) - because most of these terms and ideas are geared toward creating websites or systems which specifically target the needs of a small group of people. It is easy to fill the needs and desires of a small group of people.

It also makes me wonder if I should broaden or shift some of my interests (and more importantly, the way I market them) to a label other than SEO.

When in the UK I asked a ton of questions about demographics, law enforcement, power generation, social services, transportation, and the like. I find it fascinating to watch how some systems scale. It will be amazing if / when people figure out something that can beat out AdWords. MSN's new product may offer more data, but it may be confusing and just a bit ahead of its time.

Corey Rudl Died, Free AdSense Widget

Jun 3rd

Corey Rudl:
The well known internet marketer died in a car wreck. That sorta makes me feel old, because he was not that much older than I am.

Free Widget for AdSense Ad Buyers:
Track Google Contextual Advertising. Spotted by AussieWebmaster

Cool Name:
Shagster

Domain Name Tool:
sure there are a bunch of these on the market, but a friend sent me a link to this one

Yahoo! Australia:
getting greedy. dominates their search results page with internal links and ads.

HMM...
Celine Dion singing Michael Jackson's "Bad"

Review of Seth Godin's All Marketers are Liars - and He Better Comment on this Post if He is Tracking How His Stories Spread

Jun 3rd

All Marketers are Liars in Seth Godin's latest marketing book based around story telling. On to the review All Marketers are Liars is a book which is marketed as marketers being liars, but immediately switches to the fact that consumers
tell themselves lies to justify their actions. Marketers who can find the bias and lies people tell themselves and create a story around fitting that worldview can make large sums of profit.

After sleeping on junk beds for about a decade I recently bought an expensive bed. I paid more than I had to because I wanted the story. I was buying more than a bed.

It is sexy to make worldview changing products and stories, but it is
usually easier to extract profits by making your story fit a known
worldview. People tend to ignore things that do not fit their
worldview and more frequently remember things that do. The quality of
a product or service is frequently determined before the purchase.

To quote Seth, the curve goes like:

Here's what Tom did. He

  • found a shared worldview;

  • framed a story around that view;
  • made it easy for the story to spread;
  • created a new market, which he owns.

My Site - a Case Study:
If you look at the marketing message and framing of this site:

  • found a shared worldview: SEO Books are ALWAYS outdated and a complete waste of time

  • framed a story around that view: "A new chapter every day." & "The only current SEO Book on the planet." These stress that the consumer is right, SEO Books are outdated. They also say this one is not.
    • Eventually I may publish a hard copy version of my ebook, but it is not something I want to rush to do and will have to consider carefully because I do not want to mess up that story.

    • The home page logo says a new chapter every day, which is subtle.
    • When people go to the sales letter they get a less subtle version
      of the same story.
  • made it easy for the story to spread: I did not create a one page sales letter site. Instead...
  • created a new market, which he owns: the Overture search volume for "SEO Book" was 0 when I started my blog about a year and a half ago. On average there are around 50 searches each day for that same phrase.
    • The only way I will not rank well for that term is if I have an unnatural linkage profile or if search engines ban my site. For a brief period this site did not rank for its own name and sales were still right near their historical averages. It would likely cause brand erosion if that lasted for too long though.

    • By not charging subscription fees and sending out somewhat regular useful updates I remind people that they should recommend my ebook.
    • I may eventually charge recurring subscription charges, but am in no rush to do so as I want to make it easy for my story to
      spread.

The domain name seobook.com had virtually no value until the above
story was created. Doing some of the above things also helps me to keep my story authentic. For example, it is hard to be active in the forums and write blog posts nearly every day without learning.

Seth is great at writing books that market themselves. I always laugh
when I read them though, because I frequently use many of the same
examples and ideas that are in his books. Not that long ago I emailed
him about General Mills placing A Whole Grain Food on Coco Puffs
as a market lie to match the health concience mother. Of course, I just read that example in the book as well. His Free Prize Inside book ended with an example from one of his conferences which I emailed him about.

It was a pretty good book. The executive summary (hi Patrick) would read like create authentic stories about something people care about and make bank.

The two areas where I think All Marketers are Liars is lacking are:

  • while he uses the concept of permission asset he does not also talk about social currency. I don't think the ideas exactly overlap.

  • he does not break the book down into how you can tell many different similar stories at the same time.

Example of stories & social currency:

  • I sell many ebooks. That story works great.

  • I get many unrequested links. That story works great.
  • I get many unrequested recommendations. That story works great.
  • I do not get many links from most official type sites. Part of that is sector branding (ie: many people think SEO = scum), and another part of that is my style (unedited & being a bit random on occassion).
  • While I have great social currency with many independant webmasters I lack strong social currency from most offial type resources. There are perhaps some ways I could encourage more official type sites to want to link at my sites by creating another story which they would find appealing. Perhaps this is not the correct site for that story, but I certainly could create another brand or whatever to tell a story that fits their needs or desires.

His books are usually not too technical and use large print. They also tell stories which make them easy to read. Instead of focusing on numbers they are more ideas oriented. Buy the Book or Check out the All Marketers are Liars website.

Forging an anti-terrorism search tool

Jun 3rd

The government is counting on new search technology to sniff out terrorists.

The Federal Aviation Administration are investing in a new search engine being developed at the University of Buffalo to do some of their more sensitive detective work. ...

For example, the engine might find an association between John Smith, who belongs to an association that sponsors radical right-wing discussions, and company B. Company B owns a subsidiary that is the same organization that sponsors the discussions. The search engine would find the link automatically.

Google Using Human Reviewers, Google Launches Google Sitemaps

Jun 3rd

Human Reviewers:
Google using humans to improve relevancy. They may eventually accept feedback on AdSense publisher quality. Maybe.

GoogleGuy:
exclusive thread. He thinks summer is a good time to code. New Orleans is only a few weeks off.

Lazy Crawling:
One of Google's major hangups with paid inclusion was that it allows lazy crawling. It appears that is no longer an issue, as Danny spots the free new Google Sitemaps program. FAQs here

eBay Buys Shopping.com, MarketingSherpa Buyer's Guide

Jun 3rd

Shopping:
eBay buys Shopping.com

Addiction / Selling One's Soul:
Steve has some new competition. Andy Beal launches a blog about blogging.

To be fair, I have numerous rantblogs and the like, but will never run a blog about blogging. The idea seems too reality TV meets blogging for me. Then again, maybe there is a good reality TV show idea there. Oooppppsss, I forgot CNN is already doing that.

Buyer's Guide:
MarketingSherpa launches their newest SEO buying guide. From my perspective smaller SEO companies are typically better than large ones, and reports like these may not give adequate coverage to some of the best SEO companies like WeBuildPages.

ThreadWatch Stansted Pics & Edinburgh SEO Roadshow Reminder

Jun 3rd

Stansted Pics:
Watch Aaron sleep, & many other pics. I am very photogentic while tired, or maybe not.

In London I got to enjoy eating some pan king, and as Mick G can attest, thats not something everyone gets to do.

It was cool getting to meet everyone.

It has to be said:
yuck. Lots0 is once again right on the money.

Hopefully he will be attending Edinburgh, although a friend has warned me that the town sucks.






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