Google Sells Print Ads

Aug 31st

Google sells print ads in PC magazine & Maximum PC for search engine submission services and other advertisers, buying whole pages and selling the various sections to different AdWords advertisers.

Danny also thinks that some print yellow pages may be coming down the pipe from Google and/or Yahoo!. The Google print ad story is also covered on NickW's Threadwatch.

Ads bought through Google are White Hat ads.

Fake SEO Forums Erased?

Aug 31st

It looks though the fake SEO forums launched last September that bashed me and promoted both Traffic Power and First Place are no longer are online:

I wonder if this coincides with other recent events? It sure looks like someone is trying to hide something?

Additional Lawsuit Coverage & Updates

Aug 31st

Slashdot - wow...

and SEW forums.

I think some of the stuff posted in SEW forums tends to be a bit more detailed than many other sites. Of course I can not verify the authenticity of the comments there, but when you look at some of the other sites it seems a bit curious why my site was sued when most others were not.

Perhaps due to it's small size? In a comment on my last post a person going by the name of George asked "Could this be a publicity stunt from Traffic Power?"

Also one reporter has been asking me some leading questions which make it seem as though he might be writing something similar to a past article I read.

In other, potentially related, news a person by the name ironiridis just left a comment on my blog that "web-advertising-info.com has been erased. Site's still up, and apache is still serving a 404..."

For those who have not read about the various fake SEO forums, a while ago I made a post about them here.

Wall Street Journal Mentions Recent Lawsuit

Aug 31st

I am surprised the Wall Street Journal covered the suit, and am glad I was not misquoted, but am still somewhat in awe of what some think the case may mean:

Legal analysts said the suit could be a test case for determining what protections bloggers have or don't have for allegedly defamatory material posted by others. At issue would be the court's application of the federal Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law that, broadly, protects providers of computer services from being held liable for content posted by others.

Had I ever thought they would have been so aggressive with this I may had been a bit more passive in the past (as there are other things far more deserving of time and effort than this case), but you can't really undo the past.

I still do not think I knowingly stated anything wrong or dishonest, and Traffic Power has yet to give me any specific advice of what I should be removing or fixing, other than "everything", which clearly makes it a free speech issue in my mind.

Danny Sullivan also recently weighed in on the case, citing the Cease & Desist letter:

the claim didn't list any specific infringing material that Wall was supposed to remove. Now things have progressed to an actual lawsuit over the matter, one that I can't help thinking will get dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

and my site:

In the post, he talks about being cold called by someone from Traffic-Power and coming away unimpressed. I didn't see anything proprietary when I looked at the post. Libelous? That wasn't an issue in the letter he was sent. Trade secrets? Again, nothing I see any the post anything remotely approaching what I'd view as trade secrets.

Danny Sullivan is probably considered the #1 voice on search (even the founders of Google cite his work in their research), and he said he saw nothing in my post "remotely approaching what [Danny would] view as trade secrets".

Danny also mentioned Google hosts a page answering questions related to Traffic Power's SEO techniques:

there's a Google Answers question that talks about Traffic-Power "doorway pages," describes hidden links as "cloaking" and has a conclusion that "questionable SEO tactics are being employed on your website." If anything, that response on a web site hosted by Google, from a freelance question answerer paid through Google, is far more damaging than what I've seen referenced on the SEO Book blog.

I can't imagine what sort of expert witness Traffic Power may be hoping to use, but I can't see them finding a more credible voice on search than Danny Sullivan, or information hosted on Google.com.

When you go from not doing so well (a couple years ago I was learning about the web while living on credit card debt) to doing really well in a short period of time (I now am out of debt, have got to go to many conferences around the world, saved a small amount of money, and also have been able to donate to a number of great charities) it is easy to think that your site has enough linkage data / authority to survive any algorithm shift, but that is not always true.

In February Google rolled in a filter that caused many sites to not rank for their official names. Most everyone who linked to this site used "SEO Book" as the link text. I also had a large number of blogroll links (which are seen by search engines as sitewide links) using that exact same "SEO Book" anchor text. Their filter and my somewhat abnormal linkage profile caused my site to temporarily not rank for that term until Google rolled back that filter and I mixed up my link profile a bit.

Occassionally some sites may come and go with where they rank for a particular query in various engines (my mentor frequently states that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint), but whenever your site does not rank for your official name for an extended period of time it digs into your credibility, especially if you are an SEO related company.

When my site stopped ranking due to too much similar link anchor text data I quickly changed it to satisfy the algorithm and get below that particular filter, and my site quickly started ranking again.

SEO is both about action and reaction.

Successful businesses and business models will evolve with the web and with the search algorithms.

Some other SEO related sites have not ranked for their own name for a long time.

This case is sorta sad in the regard that the SEO industry is frequently used as a scapegoat whenever many businesses fail to research or take a short sighted approach (selling questionable ads, site owners saying they didn't know when they load auto generated content on their sites, etc. etc.), and I can't see this case cleaning up the image any.

Many people have refered me to online resources for free speech online & small guy legal information:

Google APILity Open Source Google AdWords API Interface

Aug 30th

I have not tried it yet, but apparently at SourceForge there is an API interface program for Google AdWords. If you have tried it please let me know what you think of it.

Via some German SEO blogs: Golem & Internet Marketing News

Google Print Ads on the Yahoo! Publisher Network

Google Print on Yahoo! Ads.In the past I remember reading many comments about Yahoo! Shopping buying AdWords, but am unsure if anyone has ever really mentioned Google buying in on the Overture / Yahoo! Search Marketing network.

I recently saw an ad for Google Print on the Yahoo!s Publisher Network on SearchBlog.

On Feedback & Multiple Meanings of Ideas & Words

Aug 29th

Sometimes I mention something that seems exceptionally important to me that has absolutely no importance in the grand scheme of things (most of my important things probably fall into this category). Other times some things have far greater importance to others for other reasons.

I always learn alot when others change my perspective of why things are important or what words mean.

A while back I read one person explaining to another on a forum about something they learned from something I wrote, stating what they thought I was explaining and what I meant.

What they learned was, in my opinion, something exceptionally powerful, although I absolutely was not trying to convey the message they learned & I had not thought of what they were saying in the same way they did (at least until I read what they wrote).

I learned a ton from their interpretation of what I was trying to say :) The cool thing is, their feedback can be used to change how I think, write, & act; and it was available fast & free.

The most valuable thing anyone in any field can have is the attention and feedback of interested people. Sometimes I shoot myself in the foot by how I ask for it, but far more often I shoot myself in the foot by not asking frequently enough or not giving people reasons to want to give me feedback.

I search for my name and words semantically related to me or things I have done about once or twice a month and often find stuff that made me wish I was searching about twice as often.

Recently I asked my friend Mike to make another SEO related tool. When I initially did I thought it would be cool for feature X, but then I realized the tool would double greatly as a Y, which could potentially have much broader use, and appeal to a wider community for different reasons (which could cheaply net me a TON of high quality inbound links).

Before it launches I may ask a few friends for feedback about it's name. When the rough beta is up I will be sure to ask for feedback on this blog about it's functionality & the like.

Philipp Lenssen recently wrote a cool blog post about meeting a tribal linguist who changed his perspective of many simple words.

I snipped a bit of it and referenced it below, but it is well worth reading his whole post.

I don’t think that after I met this man, I was ever the same again – not when it comes to certain simple words. Nowadays when I think gratefulness would be appropriate, I think back to our conversation, and how easy it is to just say “thanks.” But how hard it is to act instead of talk; to be loyal in what you do, instead of reaffirming with words. How hard it is to change your way of living, to adjust your thinking, instead of saying “I’m sorry.” How hard it is to carry someone in your mind instead of saying “hello” and “good bye.” How hard it is to stick to someone for the rest of your life instead of uttering the words “I love you.” And yet, how much more sincere and good-hearted it might be.

Thanks to all of the people who recently gave me feedback in one way or another.

Another Directory Gets No Love from Google?

Aug 29th

Some directories home pages see their Google cache come and go.

Others may see their Google cache disappear for a while out of nowhere.

Recently when people mentioned that some of O'Reilly's websites were selling off topic text ads Tim referenced a couple directories in a negative light. Now one of the directories that has been advertising on the XML.com website since January is no longer cached in Google.

When thinking of advertising off topic on a high profile sites keep in mind that sometimes search engines may not take action on certain things, and then may be forced into taking action by third party plublicity.

Site Sift has a database of around 17,000 websites, but if Google gives a directory a PageRank of 0, even temporarily, it may have a profoundly negative effect of the profitability of running that directory.

Site Sift also had a couple sitewide footer link to sites on expensive topics, which may have also been the reason for the recent problems with Google, but the timing of the PageRank removal was close to the O'Reilly link selling news.

I don't think it is bad to buy or sell links, but when you go exceptionally off topic with ads you have to expect that search engines will deweight your links. If you purchase a number of high profile off topic links that come under public scrutiny those links may end up costing you a lot more than you paid.

Timely Warnings...Blogging Can Get You Sued!

Aug 27th
posted in

It pays to read the news

As Corporate America wades into the burgeoning world of Internet Web logs, companies are being warned they could face legal hazards when employees are let loose in the free-wheeling blogosphere.

Hmm.

But lawyers see possible legal pitfalls for companies looking to join the blogging phenomenon. What, for instance, would happen if someone at a publicly traded company unwittingly divulged confidential financial information or a trademark secret on one of these Web diaries?

Hmm.

"There's very, very little case law at this point," said Paul Arne, co-chairman of the technology group at law firm Morris Manning & Martin LLP.

Who said I wasn't cutting edge ;)

Fighting For Bloggers' Rights!

Aug 26th

[Update: The judge killed the immoral 100% bogus lawsuit, and thus I am no longer accepting donations. Thanks to everyone who helped me. If you would like to support free speech online please donate to EFF or Public Citizen. Optionally you may also want to read the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers, Chilling Effects or CyberSLAPP, all of which are great resources.]

Well Traffic Power just filed a civil lawsuit against me.

I looked at many of the sites that were referenced in my comments, and it looks as though many of them were forced to remove their comments / content by Traffic Power, or decided to remove it on their own. A couple examples are SEO Consultants Traffic Power section and & SE Roundtable's post located here http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/000596.html

As far back as June 4th, 2004 I removed a comment that I thought was offensive, and I thought generally I was keeping the content in bounds of any sort of legal limit. It is ok to have an opinion. It is ok for others to post their opinions. Since the initial time someone cold called me stating they were from Traffic Power the content has aged over a year and never once has Traffic Power attempted to contact me outside of blog comments, a cease and desist, and a lawsuit.

Could you imagine being a client for a company that communicates like that?

Had at any point in time Traffic Power made ANY LEGITIMATE ATTEMPT to tell me what specifically I or my site did wrong, I probably would have promptly removed it.

Imagine if your company had trade secrets disclosed on a website that got around 100,000 pageviews a month. Would you wait a year to sue for trade secrets being disclosed? Would you fail to point them out specifically so that they may be quickly removed if they were legitimate trade secrets?

Their lawyer has sorta gave me an ultimatum. Verbally he stated that if I removed ALL content related to Traffic Power from SEO Book.com that they would drop the suit. Currently I am drafting a request for a written statement, since verbal agreements do not override papers, and they already filed papers on me.

I have not decided whether or not it was in by best interests to fight this yet. I have a bit of money, but not tons. I have a bit of time, but not tons.

As far as potential upsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would preserve the content others have wrote on my site. I would not go mangling the content of those who aided in making this site more complete and / or more useful.

  • It would teach me a good amount about the legal system at a fairly young age.
  • Few people heavily rely upon me and I have minimal living costs, so I have little to lose on that front. Especially since I am young enough and quick learning enough to where even if I had nothing I could still do well in a year anyhow.
  • I hate to admit it, but I have for some odd reason always been more motivated to take action by negative influences such as incidents like this.
  • It would be an ego stroke to win, although I am not sure what legitimate value that has, and there are much better and cheaper ways to get a good ego stroke.
  • My posts rank well in search results, and it probably drives significant traffic to my website. That, in turn, may save a good number of businesses a significant amount of money.
  • I already rank second for their lawyer's name, and if I beat them I am certain I could easily boost that ranking to #1.
  • Others who were sued (it looks as though 5 people and 5 companies - although many of them might be people who commented on my site) would not need to go it alone.
  • Traffic Power would probably realize that bullying and intimidation are not the solution to bad PR. The real solution is fixing the problems that cause the bad PR. Even if my site has it's information taken down there are plenty of other sites that have similar information posted to them. Unless their business model or client communications strategy change I can only guess that other sites will continue to post bad stuff.
  • Since there is no specific information in the lawsuit it would probably get thrown out of court the first day.
  • There are still blatently defamatory forums created about me. It seems a bit stupid for me to give in because they hired a lawyer when it is obvious that someone out there is doing far worse to me, and that anonymous third party promotes Traffic Power and lies blatently about me.
  • I may be able to countersue, but I hear it is hard to sue companies working out of Las Vegas. That is the reason many telemarketing type companies are located in Nevada.
  • I have some friends who are far richer than I who stated they may be willing to help cover associated legal costs.

As far as potential downsides to proceeding with the legal ordeals:

  • It would eat time that I could use to focus on productive and useful ideas, tools, marketing methods, and learning.

  • There may be something worth suing for in the posts or comments. I am rather naive to the laws that govern such behavior. I do know that by me deleting and annotating the deletion of that one offensive post it shows that my intent was not purely evil or negative. It also helps show that if Traffic Power made any legitimate attempt to tell me specifically what was wrong they may have got a solution prior to them needlessly spending money talking to a lawyer.
  • The lawsuit would eat money that I could invest, give to charity, or spend on better things.
  • The Traffic Power story has died down, and it may make me look like a lamer to keep being involved in that story.

When I asked for more information or specifics Max D. Spilka told me it was too volumous to state. Some of my legal friends have stated that too volumous usually means there is nothing there.

Some of the opinions are fairly harsh, with some people stating things like:

  • In my opinion, all trafficpower.com is is just a bunch of cheep everyday crooks. They should all be in jail.

  • traffic-power.com called me today at 4:34am in the morning!!! What the F*@k ! They do not even check the time zones of who they are calling? I line in Hawaii .. Can anything be done to stop these people?!?!

I also left the posts that were pro / for Traffic Power as well, while also noting that none of them ever listed a specific URL.

For those who want to dig through the archives:

  • here is the initial post I made about the time I was cold called by a person who stated they were representing Traffic Power.

  • that post may have led to me being included in the bogus defamatory hate forums I noted here
  • on this page, someone asked me why I am not suing them over the content which is on the fake forums
  • this post notes that they may have changed names, as originally referenced by an SEO Consultants page that was later taken down.
  • here I cover what I thought was a fake press reference to the situation
  • recently they sent me a cease and desist order
  • they also recently sued Traffic Power Sucks

I am fairly certain I am probably just going to pull the content. Not so much for the legal reasons, but more for karma related ones, sorta like Nick's reasonings here.

If you bring enough negative crap into your life then eventually you can't help but become it.

Also, if Traffic Power did not exist, some other company would take that market position. This blog can not really help those people because I can't keep giving extended coverage to everything I do not think is good or my blog will just become a rant blog or whinge blog.

I tried creating something that was free and more of a bottoms up thing for SEO when I was a bit more naive than I am today, but if fell flat on it's face because some people claimed it was a self promo maneuver, even though I registered it by proxy and tried to remove much of my personal bias from my writing.

Ultimately though I am just an exceptionally small voice in an exceptionally crowded field. Recently O'Reilly even mentioned that one of my affiliates was a deceptive advertiser because they bought a link next to his cuban cigar link and had a footer affiliate link on their site.

Danny Sullivan is one of the few people in this industry that has a credible voice outside of this industry. He is probably one of the few people who can set initiatives, bring things together, and change things. I am still a bit too young, naive, and not-so-business-savvy to pretend that what I do can in any way fill that sort of a role. I really don't think me actively highlighting one or a few specific companies really makes anything better in the grand scheme of things.

If you posted comments to any of the prior posts please make sure you keep a copy for yourself if you want it, as the posts may be taken down soon.

If you post comments to this page make sure you also post them on your own blog or website, as this post may be taken down soon.

In the extended portion of the post is a rough copy of the "NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED" notification. I am interested in your thoughts and comments. -------------------------------------------------------

Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic Power.com., a Nevada corporation,
Plaintiff
vs.
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO Book.com, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,
Defendants.

CASE NO.: A508400
DEPT NO.: V

SUMMONS - CIVIL

NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED. THE COURT MAY DECIDE AGAINST YOU WITHOUT YOUR BEING HEARD UNLESS YOU RESPOND WITHIN 20 DAYS. READ THE INFORMATION BELOW.

TO THE DEFENDANT(S): A civil Complaint has been filed by the Plaintiff(s) against you for the relief set forth in the Complaint.

Aaron Wall
SEO Book.com
144 Dahlia Drive
State College, PA 16803

1. If you intend to defend this lawsuit, within 20 days after this Summons is served on you, exclusive of the date of service, you must do the following:

a. File with the Clerk of this Court, whose address is shown below, a formal written response to the Complaint in acordance with the rules of the Court, with appropriate filing fee.

b. Serve a copy of your response upon the attorney whose name and address is shown below.

2. Unless you respond, your default will be entered upon application of the Plainiff(s) and this Court may enter a judgement against you for the relief demanded in the Complaint, which could result in the taking of money or property or other relief requested in the Complaint.

3. If you intend to seek advice of an attorney in this manner, you should do so promptly so that your response may be filed on time.

4. The State of Nevada, its political subdivisions, agencies, officers, employees, board members, commission members and legislators, each have 45 days after service of the Summons within which to file an Answer or other responsive pleading to the Complaint.

Submitted by
____________
Max D. Spilka, Esq.
Neveda Bar No.: 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave, Ste. 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
(702) 933-5400
Attorney for Plaintiff

SHIRLEY B. PARRAGUIRRE, CLERK OF COURT
By: PATRICIA BOGGESS AUG 11 2005
Deputy Clerk Date

Clark County Courthouse
200 South Third Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89155

-------------------------------------------
MAX D. SPILKA, CHTD.
Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Telephone:(702)933-5400
Facsimile:(702)227-0799
Attorney for Plaintiff,
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba Traffic-Power.com., a Nevada Corporation,

DISTRICT COURT
CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA

Software Development and Investment of Nevada d/b/a Traffic Power.com., a Nevada corporation,
Plaintiff
vs.
Aaron Wall, an individual, d/b/a SEO Book.com, and DOES I through X; and ROE CORPORATIONS I through X, inclusive,
Defendants.

CASE NO.: A508400
DEPT NO.: V

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES
Arbitration Exemption Claimed: Injunctive Relief (exraordinary relief)

Plaintiff, SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT OF NEVADA dba TRAFFIC-POWER.COM., a Nevada corporation, ("Plaintiff"), by and through its attorney MAX D. SPILKA, ESQ., for its causes of action against the Defendant, AARON WALL, an individual d/b/a SEO BOOK.COM ("Defendants"), and each of them, complaints and allegations as follows:

GENERAL ALLEGATIONS

1. Plaintiff is a corporation duly organized and validly existing in the State of Nevada doing business as Traffic Power and is in the buisiness of internet advertising and internet placement optimization..

2. Upon information and belief, Defendant AARON WALL is an individual residing in Centre County, State of Pennyslvania, and doing buisiness as SEO BOOK.COM.

3. Defendants DOES I through X, and ROES Corporations I through X, are individuals and entities of unknown form whose names and capacities are unknown to the Plaintiff who, therefore sues said Defendants by the ficticious names. The Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon allege, that each of the Defendants designated as DOE or ROE, is in some manner responsible in whole or in part for the transaction and occurences alleged herein and through their negligent, intentional or reckless conduct caused damages to the Plaintiff as set forth more fully below. The Plaintiff will seek leave to amend this Complaint to intert true names and capacities of DOES I through X and ROE Corporations I through X when Plaintiff ascertains them.

4. Plaintiff is informed, believes, and thereon alleges that at all times relevant, that Defendants, and each of them, including the ficticiously named DOE or ROE, were the agents of the other and in doing the things alleged herein, were acting within the course and scope of such agency and with the consent and permission of the co-defendants. For ease of reference, the named Defendants may be referred to collectively in the singular as "Defendant", and reference to one shall constitute reference to the others as well.

5. The actions complained of herein arose out of the conduct of the Defendants, and each of them, regarding Defendants' misappropriation of Plaintiffs trade secrets and Defendants' defamation of Plaintiff.

6. Plaintiff undertakes rigorous and extensive measures to safeguard information about its business. Internet placement optimization is a highly competitive business, and if Plaintiff's trade secrets are revealed competitors can gain a prejudicially unfair advantage over Plaintiff. Accordingly, Plaintiff's trade secrets are provided to a limited number of people, only on a need-to-know basis and subject to strict confidentiality agreements.

7. An unidentified individual, acting alone or in concert with others, has recently misappropriated and disseminated through web sites Plaintiff's confidential information. This information could have been obtained only through a breach of Plaintiff's confidentiality agreement. The unauthorized use and distribution of this information violates Nevada's trade secrets statue and has caused irreparable harm to Plaintiff.

8. Information concerning Plaintiff's trade secrets is not commonly known to the public or to others who can obtain economic value from their disclosure or use. The secrecy of this information provides Plaintiff a substantial business advantage.

9. Plaintiff competes in the highly competitive markets for internet advertisers and internet placement optimization. To succeed, Plaintiff must develop innovative market strategy and bring that strategy to the market before its competitors.

10. If Plaintiff's competitors became aware of Plaintiff's trade secrets, those competitors could benefit economically from that knowledge by directing their own market development and strategy to frustrate Plaintiff's plans. This strategic advantage to Plaintiff's competitors could, in turn, irreparably harm Plaintiff. Consequently, Plaintiff maintains such market strategy and development as trade secrets.

11. Plaintiff invests significantly in advertising and promotional activities surrounding its market strategy and development. The unautorized disclosure of Plaintiff's trade secrets causes Plaintiff to lose control over such information. Accordingly, Plaintiff protects such information as a trade secret.

12. Plaintiff takes reasonable steps under the circumstances to maintain confidentiality of its trade secrets. Plaintiff has established trade secret policies for its employees and requires all employees to execute strict confidentiality agreements.

13. Further, during their employment, Plaintiff's employees are reminded repeatedly that information learned durring the course of their employment is confidential. Moreover, when employees leave Plaintiff's employment, those employees are required to return all property belonging to Plaintiff. Plaintiff's information subject to its confidentiality agreement constitutes "trade secrets" under NRS 600 A. 030.

14. At unknown date or dates, Doe I, alone or in concert with Does I through X, began disseminating Plaintiff's trade secrets to the public, with such information now available on various web sites. Among other things, Defendant or Defendants posted proprietary relating to Plaintiff's solicitation, procedures on publicly accessible areas of the internet.

15. Also at unknown date or dates, Defendants maliciously published or caused to be published false and defamatory information over the internet concerning Plaintiff and Plaintiff's business.

16. Pursuant to Defendant's malicious intent, the publication has been read by the public.

17. The false and defamatory matter is calculated to damage Plaintiff's reputation, and at the time Defendants published or caused to be published such false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff over the internet, Defendants knew that the information published was false and defamatory and making such defamatory publication, Defendants acted with malice toward the Plaintiff.

18. Plaintiff has always enjoyed a reputation for honesty and truthfulness.

19. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in a current amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined.

20. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

I.
FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Misappropriation of Trade Secrets)

21. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 20, as though fully set forth herein.

22. Defendant Doe I, alone or in concert with Defendants Does I through X, misappropriated Plaintiff's trade secrets by:

a. Acquiring those trade secrets by improper means such as theft, bribery, misrepresentation, breach or inducement of a breach of a duty to maintain secrecy, and/or espionage (hereinafter, "Improper Means");

b. Acquiring those trade secrets by Improper Means and disclosing them to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent;

c. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had acquired them by Improper Means;

d. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were acquired under circumstances giving rise to a duty to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of those trade secrets;

e. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were derived from or through a person who had a duty to Plaintiff to maintain the secrecy or limit the use of the trade secrets; and/or

f. Disclosing those trade secrets to the public without Plaintiff's express or implied consent, without a material change in Doe I's position, and with the knowledge or reason to know that the trade secrets were in fact trade secrets and that knowledge of those trade secrets had been acquired by mistake or accident.

23. As a direct and proximate result of the breaches set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

24. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

II.
SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Defamation / Liable Per Se)

25. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 24 as though fully set forth herein.

26. As provided earlier, Defendants published over the internet false and defamatory information regarding the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business with the intent of causing substantial injury to Plaintiff's reputation.

27. At the time Defendants published or caused to be published the false and defamatory information about the Plaintiff and the Plaintiff's business, Defendants knew that the published information was untrue.

28. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursement, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

29. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

III.
THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Injunctive Relief)

30. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 29 as though fully set forth herein.

31. Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendats are continuing and will continue to misappropriate Plaintiff's trade secrets. By reason of that ongoing misappropriation, Plaintiff will suffer severe and irreparable harm and damage, which damage will be difficult to ascertain, and Plaintiff will be without an adequate remedy at law.

32. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' actions set forth herein, Plaintiff has been damaged in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

33. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

IV.
FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF
(Punitive Damages)

34. Plaintiff repeats the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1 through 33 as though fully set forth herein.

35. Defendants' conduct described herein was done with a conscious disregard for Plaintiff's rights, and with intent to vex, injure, or annoy Plaintiff, so as to constitute oppression, fraud and malice under Nevada law, entitling Plaintiffs to punitive damages in an amount appropriate to set an example of or punish Defendants.

36. As a direct and proximate result of the Defendants' wrongful conduct, Plaintiff is entitled to punitive or exemplary damages in an amount in excess of $10,000.00, plus costs, disbursements, and interest in an amount to be determined at trial.

37. It has been necessary for Plaintiff to retain the services of an attorney to prosecute this action and Plaintiff is entitled to an award of reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

WHEREFORE, for all claims and causes of action as alleged herein, Plaintiff demands judgement against the Defendants, and each of them, as follows:

1. For an amount exceeding $10,000, plus interest and costs, in an amount to be determined at trial;

2. For a Preliminary Injunction restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

3. For an Injunction permanently restraining the misappropriation of Plaintiff's trade secrets;

4. For a judgement awarding punitive damages;

5. For interest on all claims from the date of damage;

6. For attorney's fees and cost; and

7. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper in the premises.

Dated this 11 day of August, 2005.

_______
MAX D. SPILKA, CHTD.
Nevada Bar No. 4388
8330 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 290
Las Vegas, Nevada 89117
Software Development and Investment of Nevada
dba Traffic-Power.com., a Nevada Corporation,

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Marlon\Traffic Power - Wall\Complaint.wpd

Page 7 of 7

Traffic Power Proprietary and Confidential Information

As reported on Traffic Power Sucks News Page:

I received a little letter from the same lawyer threatening me with a lawsuit if I didn't take "proprietary and confidential information related to Traffic Power's business" off of my website. I called the lawyer and asked him exactly what information he was referring to. He had no idea what I was talking about. This was the guy who signed the letter, and he was clueless. If anyone can find anything at all on this website that could possibly be considered Traffic Power's "proprietary and confidential information", drop me an email at webmaster@trafficpowersucks.com.

How do you sue a person without giving them any specifics? Is anyone reading this into legal policy much? Is that legal?

Teaching Children to Spam

Aug 25th

Spam from children...it's coming...

The same words, sent in the exact same way, carried two completely different meanings. In the "default" case, it's just another shill hawking just another product. In the second, it's a real request from a real person who is not even directly involved with the product, who happened to think it (and, more importantly, the folks involved with it) were neat, and wanted to get the word out.

Same words. Same medium. Very different meanings.

I think some of the people email spamming with poor english would probably do far better if they also tried sounding young or whatever in some of them. Sounding authentic is the key.

Most of my link requests talk about other subjects as well. If only I were 20 years younger...arg..am...getting...old.

I really like the Threadwatch tagging thingie. It's where I found this link & is a good way for people to submit stories without actually having to submit them :)

Oh My GAWD is O'Reilly a Huge Search Spammer? ...

Aug 25th

Late to the Party:
I thought about posting on this earlier, but I like Nick so much that I decided not to really voice my opinion until now.

Well Known Tech Sites Get Noticed:
I sorta agree with Phil's take, that the cuban cigar ads are a bit spammy for high PageRank tech heavy sites.

Not that my opinion of search spam in any way matters, but when you think of the web on the whole, how often do you see link popularity naturally flow like this:

huge open source projects -> sitewide links to open source directory -> sitewide links to Cuban Cigars

Generally it doesn't.

I am not saying that I am morally opposed to manipulating search results (as that would make me a twit), but the cuban cigars ads are high risk.

It's Search Spam, Only Because the Engineers Discounted it:
O'Reilly is WELL KNOWN and odds are search engineers surf their sites often, and aim to de weight those off topic links, as noted by Google engineer Matt Cutts on the thread:

Tim points out that these these links have been sold for over two years. That's true. I've known about these O'Reilly links since at least 9/3/2003, and parts of perl.com, xml.com, etc. have not been trusted in terms of linkage for months and months. Remember that just because a site shows up for a "link:" command on Google does not mean that it passes PageRank, reputation, or anchortext.

While In the Neighborhood:
After the search engineers de weight those links they may be interested in taking a closer look to WHAT ELSE those advertised sites are doing. For that reason those types of ads add risk to both the cigar sites and the other sites advertising there.

In the past I have got a number of links that later turned out into pages which got a bit spammed out. Inevitably if they price of advertising is below value the market will usually find it's way to the page, especially if you have a high ranking site. If the page has limited or non existent editorial policies you can bet that your investment, at least as far as SEO goes, will eventually lose it's value.

Risk vs Reward:
Hence it is an issue of risk vs reward.

If you are that far off topic (open source to cuban cigars), the direct traffic is probably not going to pay for the ad. If search engines are going to de weight the activity for off topic ads then buying the ad adds more risk than reward.

The SPAM is Elsewhere I Say:
I also find it humorous that Tim O'Reilly, perhaps the single most respected technology publisher calls one of the directories that he sold ads to spam because one of my affiliates had a link to my site on it:

The ads do in fact point to sites that provide the advertised service. (The one exception that I found in clicking through on the links was one to a site that was labeled Web Directory, and on first click appeared to be a directory, but on second click down into any category, simply contained ads for a book on search engine optimization. That one I'm clear about: it's a deceptive ad, and needs to come off the site right away. Another so-called Web Directory is indeed a directory, but the only content when you get to the bottom of each category is a set of Google Adsense advertisements for the category.

Most General Directories Are Garbage:
O'Reilly doesn't probably realize it, but he really nails the issue with most directories, most of them are devoid of legitimate useful content. However for him to call something deceptive because it has a footer link to a somewhat related site is naive for a person in his position.

What does that make an open source site linking through to cuban cigars? MUCH MORE DECEPTIVE. But that is just my opinion, which counts for little or nothing.

Whiter than White...or Maybe Not?
Then you got Matt Mickiewicz over at Sitepoint stating the following on the Sitepoint site:

At SitePoint, we’ve made the concicious decision to reject all PageRank based advertising, because it looks tacky, unprofessional and adds no value to our Website.

while offering Sitepoint text ads to things like Cheap Domain Registrations in the page footer. For some reason Matt missed the memo about the nofollow attribute, because he isn't using it when he sells / trades PageRank amongst various sites.

Deflection of Problems & Competitive Business Models:
Everyone likes to deflect the issue, not taking care of their own gardens first. It is not really the publishers fault though, they need to stay competitive, and it is an economy that Google created.

Most Content IS Garbage:
Tim stated that they need that text link ad revenue to fund the free content they create and that Google AdSense and other contextual programs were not paying enough. To me that seems to be the inherent problem with Google's current business model:

  • most content is not of amazing quality
  • only about 15% of search clicks are on the paid ads, and that means there is a market 5 times that size available for those who naturally deserve it or manipulate their way to the top of the regular listings
  • the programs Google created to encourage producing great content (like Google AdSense) usually are more effectively integrated into mass automated content production than in quality original content, further marginalizing the original content creators

The Semantics of Relevancy: All Links are Paid:
Some companies will pay $28,000 for a grill cheese Sandwich to get press coverage, some will have world class content that merits links, some will have strong business partnerships with large companies, some will leverage the power of their network of sites (as SourceForge recently was doing), some will list their sites in a million directories, some will write 1,000's of press releases or articles, some will buy expensive off topic links, others will buy links from within their community.

And then you have the occasional blogger who outs someone like O'Reilly for something they have BEEN DOING FOR YEARS and gets coverage on ThreadWatch, SearchBlog, SEW, BoingBoing, O'Reilly Radar, Sitepoint, etc etc etc.

Some bloggers play both sides of the fence, both whining about search engines talking to spammers, and then whining about people outing potential spam, playing both sides of the fence just so they can have something to talk about and have an excuse for other naive new blogpuppies (stole Nick's word there) to LINK TO THEIR SITE.

When you play both sides of the fence intent is obvious.

What makes one method of promotion legitimate and another illegitimate? Above I mentioned that I thought the cuban cigar ad was spam, and the reason I stated that was it was obvious that search engines would want to de weight it and there was a good chance they would find it. Surely I have some search spam out there which has been de weighted as well, as most any good site does.

Look at SlashDot, they have a supporters page that will link to poker sites. I link to off topic sites that mirror some of the tools I have made. Off topic links are common, especially when relevancy is the eye of the beholder.

They Make Money off Your Content, Why Shouldn't You?
Is it wrong to work your way to the top of the search results? Probably not if it is ok for Google to make billions of dollars a year serving ads next to CONTENT LIKE YOURSTM without giving you a cent.

Until Google gives premium publishers some payment for their content or Google AdSense is competitive enough to pay more than direct ad sales people will cut Google out of the loop. As they should.

Tim's post continues, asking the boundaries of SEO:

Where are the boundaries between legitimate "search engine optimization" to help people find stuff that they will appreciate, and "search engine gaming", to inflate the rank of sites that are less useful? Whose responsibility is it to solve this problem? Should web sites turn away advertisers just because they are performing arbitrage on Google and other search engines? Or is it the search engine's responsibility to adjust their heuristics to counteract any attempts to game the system? Or both?

Links Hold the Web Together:
Surely search engines do work to de weight some portions of link buying, but they probably can't and do not want to de weight all of it. Human review and links are what help give relevance to their vast bodies of unstructured data stuck in Google's data centers.

In some industries the known link sellers are considered the useful sites. Look at the legal field. You have the established sites like FindLaw (which rank for everything under the sun) and then you have a bunch of smaller individual sites that try to claw their way to the top using every kind of search spam imaginable (I just did some research on legal sites, so that's why the field is so fresh in my head - after looking at about a dozen sites I saw bad cloaking, bogus cross linking, invisible miniature text, etc etc etc). Real estate is also similar to legal. Most sites are unoriginal garbage offering the same stuff offered on other sites, with limited creativity or thought put into designing the site or improving the user experience.

Why Should I Defend Google's Business Model?
I find it fascinating how many webmasters, bloggers, etc believe it is their job to police search spam activities though. The blame does not always make sense either. Heck, Tim O'Reilly's network was selling Cuban cigar links and now my site gets tarnished as being part of a deceptive advertising scheme because one of my affiliates bought a link off his network? How bogus is that, Tim.

Why is a sitewide ad on someone else's site wrong if you can advertise Cuban cigars sitewide?

Haves vs Have Nots: Blame Pushing 101:
The web is a huge social medium, and it is an easy story to spread about how pure you are, how great your content is, and how impure some other group is. Almost every time someone with good social connectivity (PageRank) gets caught leveraging that they push it off on the evil people who bought the ads, or the evil firm that contacted them. Of course the search business model created the problem.

Is it wrong to work your way to the top of the search results? Probably not if it is ok for Google to make billions of dollars a year serving ads next to CONTENT LIKE YOURSTM without giving you a cent.

Good SEO Companies Stay Relevant:
The main reason many bloggers and web developers LOVE to talk down to SEOs is because they think that no matter what the SEOs are doing they want to annoy people with Cuban cigars. That is not how many of the smart ones work though. Some of the better link brokers, such as Text Link Ads, have long ago stopped selling ads based on PageRank metrics, and now focus their ads on relevancy. Sure occasionally some ads might not have a 100% relevancy match, but AdSense is the same way. You try to get as close as you can.

Sucessful Businesses do Not Let Other Businesses Arbitrarily Control Them:
Publishers looking to increase the quality and profitability of their content will continue to push the boundaries of profiting from their content. When legitimate publishers get caught doing things they would call blatantly disgusting if someone else was doing it they state how what they are doing is pure, and that SEOs will stop at nothing to be shown as relevant even where they do not belong.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you don't like the idea of people manipulating the search results then don't sell your votes. Don't link to advertisers.

In life & in business some people will be exceptionally successful while others fail. Search services would like to make it to where the only legitimate ad is one bought or sold through their network, and will base their policies around things that drive toward that goal. If you close mindedly stick to that philosophy you may find yourself as one of the pure content providers who can no longer afford to create content. In that scenario nobody wins.

Even Search Companies Buy Links:
If buying and selling text links is so bad, then why have some companies which own search engines (like Yahoo!) been buying links which manipulate their own results? Why do the sell links as well? What makes them an approved ad buyer or ad seller?

Staying Below Radar:
Successful sites need visitors and links, and those links have to come from somewhere. The more time we spend analyzing stuff like this the less time we have to go out and get links. Even though he was absolutely out to lunch with his timing the story was great for Phil Ringnalda, as it got him a bunch of link popularity. Also in an ironic twist, all the examples that Tim referenced got free links, but I would say those sites, like Tim's ad space, are on Radar, and may be worth less than some would have hoped. You want to be aggressive, but you do not want to be seen as being far more aggressive than your competitors. That is how you get above radar & penalized.

Hub Finder 3.0

Aug 24th

My friend Mike just updated Hub Finder again. Version 3.0 now allows you to:

  • grab the top 10 search results from Google, Yahoo!, or both, and compare the backlink data.

  • highlight a result column using DHTML to make it easier to view potential hub pages that link at a specific resource

Additionally for those who download the source code you can adjust the settings such that you can view the co occuring backlinks from more / deeper than just the top 10 search results.

The other main features that may be worth adding are:

  • showing what postion a result ranked if it was pulled from an engine (G1 or Y3 for example); and

  • add a sum feature to show how many suspected hub links each authority page had.

One person, with a cool burrito blog no less, also suggested that I created a default ignore hub list for some common sites such as Geocities, but I think there are sometimes good pages on those sites (having once seen a freewebs page with natural PageRank 8 interior pages).

Do you guys think there should be a default list of sites to block? Or is it easy enough just to glance through?

Not sure how to set the default block list if I created one, but one mans hub is another mans scraper site :)

Scraper links may be an issue for many terms in some industries. Does allowing adjustable backlink depth setting work well enough at filtering those, or you do think there is a better way?

Live Launch Google Talk, Free Computer to Computer Calls for All

Aug 24th

So Google launched their Google Talk IM service. Unlike others, they made it fairly open such that people could create extensions and easily use it with other services:

The market is constrained by the fact that the most popular services - MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and AOL's AIM and ICQ - generally do not allow users to send messages to those on rival services.

Google hopes to change that by basing its software on emerging internet standards and by making the program interface available to third-party software developers.

This will allow some existing instant messenger software to work with Google, so Google Talk users will not be forced to use Google's software to send messages.

Google's recent desktop search was exceptionally rich with features. Google Talk could not look like much more of a modest program. It's interface is rather spartan, and sorta reminds me of an Ipod. I think the reasons for the exceptionally modest / plain design are:

  • Google wanted to keep it simple such that they really push the free voice service that goes along with it. (I wonder what the people at Skype are thinking right now?)

  • Google wants to encourage / train their users to make the system they want to use.

To get some of the features you need to have a Gmail account. Some people are added without you adding them because you have emailed back and forth in the past.

Some people with different groups of friend sets and business partners might find the feature set a bit lacking, but I think they just wanted a simple clean launch from which they could collect user feedback.

Google Updates Google Desktop, AdSense, and to Launch a Chat Service?

Aug 24th

Google launched a version 2 of their Desktop Search product. My new computer has a bunch of RAM & raided high speed hard drives, so the additional load has not been noticable.

Gary Price has his usual good coverage of the new product. I think the Sidebar idea makes it easier to consume massive amounts of information. Sometimes when I am bored I look at stock prices or financial news to find scoops. You still have to click through to Google News to find the news, but the numbers are easy to see in an instant, although sometimes they don't make sense (not sure why the two THK prices are different).

Google Desktop Sidebar Image.

You select what channels you like, and it gives you information on from that channel / type. As you click on a category it pops out a sub box with more information.

They also have a box for web feeds, and sites that you visit often automatically have their web feed added to your feeds box.

I think it is a fairly cool product thusfar. There are also a wide array of plugins available, including one for AdSense.

Speaking of AdSense, Google has been busy on that front as well. Allowing publishers to apply extra weight and / or ignore parts of a page, and also giving publishers search terms (which may help them make additional profitable content).

Rumours are also flying about a new Google IM launching tomorrow, and they may pop VOIP into it. With people having contacts on so many different messengers I think the first mainstream messenger that lets people login to all accounts at once will probably kill the others in marketshare, especially if it is feature rich.

I still am not so high on audio though, I have grown accustom to the pause for thought that instant messaging allows.

And why would Google leave the search results alone? No reason. May as well try inline search suggestions as well.

Google is changing stuff all over the map, including a new Address Geocoding patent. Some of these patents may be bad stuff down the road for consumers.

Yahoo! is working harder on the relationship front, partnering with Verizon for $14.95 DSL services.

Similar Logos: Branding & Social Networks 101

Aug 24th

Sometimes near similar looking products hurt your brand, while other times it is a bit of flatery.

Kinda cool that people can get logo's for $10
http://www.webdesigntalk.net/showthread.php?t=117937

Even cooler that they grabbed the sample and used it with word sample in the background, instead of paying for a non sample.
www.seoscene.com
When you work dirt cheap clients work much harder to rip you off.

Coolest of all, Google AdSense ads are showing my image banner next to their logo hehehe :)

I guess that is sorta like attribution?

As time passes more and more content is developed to emulate other content which ranks well or is widely scene. While on some fronts it may compete it also probably offers a cheap marketing channel so long as there isn't much click fraud there.

When you are new to the web you have to start somewhere, but it is usually better to be overly simplistic and plain than to emulate the design of someone in the exact same field as you.

Admitidly I am a big fan of the buy a logo and slap it on a somewhat defaultish template style of design...unless you are designing a site selling web design services, but the word sample in the background is cheesy and the logo does not do much to add credibility to their site.

Splitting Straws - Bad Linking Strategies 101

Aug 23rd

So when I announced Backlink Analyzer I posted a detailed blog post, which got many links from solid authority industry related sites.

I later moved the bulk of the info to the download page, and now most people will probably link at that.

The reason I posted so much info on the blog part is that I wanted to make sure that people read it / saw it. I probably should have had a bit more self confidence with that and placed the bulk of the information on it's own permanent page right off the start.

One of the biggest things many webmasters do that hurt their sites is not being consistant with internal linking or not being consistent with where they tell others to link.

Pubcon 10 & Powerhouse Linking Conferences

Aug 23rd

Pubcon 10 Occurs in Las Vegas during Nov 15, 16, 17 - 2005.

Until September 1 they have an early signup discount price of $375.

My link building buddy Debra Mastaler is also holding a link building conference with Eric Ward in Charlotte, NC on October 27/28, 2005.

If you are UK based maks sure you don't miss the amazing SEO Roadshow.

Ebay - Charity Auction Link Building

Aug 23rd

I am sure I have seen some coverage of this before, but not much recently (although I have not been reading around as much as I used to).

Some people auction off stuff on eBay and share the profits with some non profit organizations. They contact non profit websites when they launch the auctions and try to get links to their auction and their website on the supporters pages.

Some of them start two auctions in parallel supporting different charities such that bidders aim to outbid the other item to show how much more important their charity is and how much more they support it.

After paying back the costs sometimes the links are way cheaper than buying similar links directly, and you help charities. Win win.

Google AdSense Funds File Sharing & Other Shady Sites...

Aug 23rd

Google AdSense funds the business models of websites that steal others content and run AdSense as a business model.

They believe they have absolutely no responsibility for the quality of the content which they throw ads on or make money off of, or at least this recent AdSense statement indicates that:

Google AdSense is a program for web publishers who want to display advertising on web pages they control. By placing AdSense code on their web pages, the publisher can display text-based Google ads that are relevant to the content readers see on the pages. Publishers, not Google, control what pages have ads and the content of those pages.

Google is a provider of information, not a mediator. We serve ads targeted to certain web pages, but we don't control the content of these pages. For these kinds of questions or comments, it is best to directly address the webmaster of the page in question.

So if Google is a provider of information and not a mediator, why do they ban some websites? Why don't they let me run warez, file sharing, and crack ads on Google if they are willing to fund those types of sites away from Google? If it is ok for Google to fund sites that steal copyrighted work would Google give me no retribution for scraping PageRank and making it freely accessible outside of their toolbar?

I generally like Google as a company, but they shouldn't ask for user feedback if they are going to tell their users to go screw themselves. They are probably better off just not responding, and maybe just not even asking for feedback.

It ALWAYS Hurts Worse When it is Your Own Toes

Aug 22nd

So it is a bit hard to navigate the internet marketing front without stepping on a few people's toes. Sometimes when other people step on your toes they do not realize it or do not care. Those people are usually the quickest and most easly offended people when you do things that invade their territory.

Truth be told I always wanted to create the ultimate link analysis tool. A while ago I thought ThreadWatch was going to do it, but that idea - for one reason or another - fell through. Later down the road a person contacted me with a pre beta type version of Backlink Analyzer, and offered to sell it to me for $1,200, which is not a lot of cash.

I had a few friends look at it, and they said it looked decent. Almost everyone noted how much quicker it was than other related software on the market.

I bought it and have been working with the programmers to add and remove features such that it would hopefully remain useful while being search engine friendly, which has costed me a few thousand more. By the time it is fully where it needs to be it may likely end up costing somewhere into 5 figures.

That is a lot to pay to develop free software that does not have a revenue stream, but my goal is to help new webmasters be able to compete with larger established players. A large part of that business model is going to be referencing cool stuff, creating cool stuff, & giving stuff away, and hoping that out of it good karma sorta comes back and helps me on the marketing front. In many ways it has - perhaps even more than I deserve.

I think the single most important part about creating stuff is that it gives you an excuse or reasoning to create original content around the tools or ideas. So many of the channels are just "blah said blah" and at times I often feel like I am letting myself do that. It is really easy to do too, especially when you got guys like Gary Price, NickW, and Danny Sullivan digging up so much good stuff.

The biggest cost in developing such software is time though, as you have to go back and forth a number of times to get exactly what you are looking for, and then if you get any serious distribution you have the potential customer support issues.

I remember when SEO Elite first started out. It went by the name of Link Proctor. I was one of the first people who gave Brad Callen a ton of feedback to make his software better, even telling him to change the name and features to add. Over time it got better, but the marketing got more and more aggressive.

His software essentially cloned OptiLink, but with a few added features and much more aggressive marketing.

I eventually wrote a mini guide for him, which I sold him the rights to package with his software. Later while looking at his sales letter I noticed that he put $79 as the suggested value of that bonus . Not so surprisingly that is the exact price I sell my full ebook for. He later changed that price after I told him how bad it pissed me off, but it was no accident that he marketed my free bonus as "newly released" and at "$79". He knew what he was doing. Stepping on my toes.

If people asked on a forum he would tell them that my ebook has broader coverage, but he was driving a ton of traffic at his sales letter, and it clearly led people to assume my ebook was a throw in.

I still get tons and tons of emails from people asking for free product support for his software or my ebook that comes with it. Even today I had some.

That is surely a valuable lesson in branding. Giving away a similar product to your main revenue stream on another channel for a one time fee or additional exposure can be an exceptionally bad call for branding purposes. Dumb dumb dumb.

Recently Brad sent me an email thanking me for "undercutting someone that's been more than kind to you. Anyway, just a little hurt that you would try to purposely undercut my means of earning a living."

I don't consider some of the marketing methods he was using as being more than kind to me.

  • What did he think he was doing to OptiLink when he cloned their software and marketed it aggressively? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."

  • What did he think he was doing when he put a $79 price point on the guide I wrote for him? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
  • What did he think he was doing when he put a banner on SEO Chat offering a free SEO Book to all SEO Chat members? With the banner using similar colors to my site no less? I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."
  • What did he think he was doing when he created a free SEO Book for affiliates which allowed them to insert their affiliate ID number into the book? When combined with the above I bet that "undercut someone's means of earning a living."

In the past he also wanted me to give his software home page advertising on my blog in exchange for higher affiliate comission or ads on more static websites he ownes.

The thing is, should I have been able to create faster software than that was on the market for only a few grand? Were the people selling the leading software holding up their end of the bargain?

Does the software automate your ability to cash checks? Some does, but most link analysis software just saves you time...it does not fully automate the process. Are the sales letter claims that the software creaters do not spend a dime on advertising true? Probably not. Especially if they sometimes complain about how expensive certain ads are. Are the claims to get hundreds of free links in under 10 minutes honest?

I could have launched the $1,200 version and it would have been better than many of the other programs, the only thing that stopped me from doing that is that I did not want to get banned by Google for scraping PageRank.

This is in no way a hate post toward Brad. He and I chatted a good bit in the past, and I think he generally is a smart marketer.

I always wanted to create killer free link software (see Link Harvester or Hub Finder), but the low cost of Backlink Analyzer combined with Brad's SEO Books should be free marketing made creating more and better link software a no brainer.

About My Website Feedback - SEO Book SEO Forums? Bad Call?

Aug 22nd

So I have been getting a large number of about my website type emails recently from people who have been using my free link popularity analysis tool.

One of my friends recently sent me this feedback:

I know there isn't much point duplicating the existing webmaster
forums out there, but if you are going to offer tools, a support forum
is probably a good idea.

It may also be a good accompanyment to your blog, adding space for
discussion and creating a broarder landscape for your sites.

Anyway, I'm sure you would have considered it in the past... just a
prompt to consider it again today.

In the past I debated the idea of a forum, but many of my friends have told me bad call bad call bad call.

So do you think I should start a forum or not? What is the best way to efficiently answer questions related to the tools? Forums? Make an FAQ page? Both?

The problems with forums are:

  • even if they start off great eventually they lose their appeal to some extent.

  • the bigger they grow the more of a problem management is.
  • they are exceptionally time consuming & can cut into my ability to have time to learn other things.
  • I am not exceptionally even keeled. Sometimes I like to work hard and other times I like to take a break, plus I go away from home somewhat often now.
  • I really need to become more physically active, and I don't see running forums helping that any.
  • even if I started a small one just for tools I am sure it would eventually widen out, as that is what happened to Shawn, although he did it in a manner where he does not need to spend much time on moderation.
  • You can get sued for anonymous comments that occur on chat boards. More on that later today.
  • although sometimes I have grand ambitions I am not sure forums work profitably unless they have an amazingly huge reach, and I am not sure if I am that ambitious.

The positives of running a forum:

  • it would make it easy to launch new items / ideas / software projects.

  • it could help teach me more about social interaction
  • so far today I have probably answered about 200 emails. there is no archive of that information, although if it were on a forum all that information would be reusable and able to help more people.
  • If I was making enough money from advertising I could change my business model & potentially be able to afford giving my ebook away. But then again if I put a price of $0 on it that is exactly what some people would value it at: as being worthless.

I have learned a lot from SEO forums, but I have also got to do IM chat with people like Dan Thies and NFFC. The biggest complaints with forums are noise, and learning everything in such small chunks that you view them out of proportion. Getting to listen to guys like NFFC or Dan Thies in an IM conversation it really helps you step back and view things from a broader perspective.

Link Bait

Aug 21st

Perfect examples of link bait (although some examples may offend certain religious people):

Although those are both on exceptionally popular sites, you can do that with obscure sites if the story is easy to spread and / or funny.

You really only need one well known person to link in on something like that and it just spreads. This PageRank 0 site recently got a homepage link from AOL.

If you are in a field that can't build links naturally create linkbait. Goldenpalace.com, an online casino, always buys random overpriced crap for the promotional effects. Others state unpopular claims with minimal bets that get them far more plublicity than the cost of them losing.

Other interesting stuff...

Google AdWords Update

Aug 21st

I posted about this before, but recently Google updated the AdWords system to the quality based minimum bids system.

Old disabled words remain disabled, and in about a month or so they intend to purge the disabled terms from the accounts. To re enable your disabled terms

  • go to edit your keywords

  • copy the list
  • delete the disabled terms from the active account
  • go to add the words and past the whole list from before. It will enable most of the disabled terms, although some may also require you raise your bids to meet the new quality standards. Also I found that sometimes I had to post the keywords into the ad groups twice for them to load.

Email Spamming Solutions

Aug 20th

So I get a ton of emails from people offering to rank my website for me. Usually I delete them, but sometimes I reply, asking if they also offer email spamming solutions.

I think the word solutions makes them think I am serious. Sometimes changing or adding one word makes a big difference. Most of them think I am serious and try to sell to the lead. Some manually follow up multiple times. Most of them use a phrase like high volume email deployers. Funny.

(the Jon Stewart video was found on ThreadWatch - I really like the De.lic.ious tags thingie.)

Google Dance Getting Mainstream Press Coverage

Aug 20th

Google dance keeps company engineers, Internet entrepreneurs hopping includes information about:

  • THE couch

  • black hats
  • keyword stuff - which really ought to be modernized & replaced with the term "link stuffing"
  • dancing
  • and a nickname that may well stick, the Mick Jagger of search. To get an appreciation of how swamped Matt was take a look at Chris R's picture of Matt, literally being cornered in.
  • I am a bit surprised that the writer did not research to see how some people got to meet Larry & Sergy at the dance.

Free Link Popularity Software - Back Link Analyzer

Aug 19th

Download Back Link Analyzer Beta:
download Back Link Analyzer Beta (downloadable software for Windows)

What is Back Link Analyzer?
A free link analysis tool. It shows what anchor text is linking into a page or site.

Additional coverage on the Back Link Analyzer permanent page.

You may also want to subscribe to our free SEO tools update notifications:



We Value Privacy

Affiliate Program Management 101

Aug 18th

So I do not do the best affiliate program management here (I have not marketed it hard), but a friend of mine recently saw ads for his site that were so bad that he thought someone was trying to sabatoge his brand and business model.

It was one of his affiliates!

I guess it can happen to anyone, but if you are large and your affiliate program is going to be a small part of your business model you may want to make sure that you put out some fairly strict guidance on it until you can figure a way out to help grow it into significance.

Also to affiliate program companies, if you make links contain an affiliate id number it should be easy to search through affiliates.

Long Time No Post...Various Links & Entrails

Aug 18th

Scraped Content?
Not sure what this is, but it may eventually be interesting to some. Odds are most of those really into scraping have their own setups already though?

Google Sandbox:
Confirmed, ish.

Although a bit technical or transluscent, some think a good tip may be hidden in this post.

Google Print:
Now says they will respect copyright. Perhaps the only reason they were so aggressive off the start was so that they could make it look like they were complying more by changing to somewhere in the middle ground?

China:
Google named 3 authorized AdWords resellers in the ad market
Yahoo! invested $1 billion into China ecommerce play Alibaba, although they may have got more than they bargained for:

Lawyers and officials monitoring China's counterfeiting industry say the alliance with Alibaba may even make Yahoo! effectively a partner in what several advocacy groups and analysts say is a burgeoning marketplace for counterfeit American merchandise

Interesting that few have brought up Google's investment in Baidu in similar terms (as one of Baidu's main search drivers is music piracy).

Yahoo! Site Explorer:
Yahoo! to launch a service offering listings of indexed page and linkage data called Yahoo! Site Explorer (although the site is not up yet)

PDF:
potential exploit problems

I still might have a few notes from SES worth peaking at and posting in the near future.

Stuck in Ruts

Aug 18th

My internet connection was down for 4 or 5 days recently (due to a short in the line), and when I came back to it I did not feel that I missed that much (eek, what an underinspiring blogger).

It is kinda weird, because most any success I have ever had has came from the web, but sometimes I do not necissarily appreciate how fortunate I am, while other times I feel so lucky that I resist change at nearly any cost. Both of which are opposite extremes and probably a bit bad.

It is easy to think that what made you do well in the past will make you do well in the future, but that is not always true. While offline I did not go out link hunting, I created no new content, and did not post on any forums. Oddly enough my income was about the exact same as it was when I was online a bunch, which means that something outside of what I attributed my doing well for was causing my income.

Ultimately a lack of posting will lead to less visitors, a lower share of voice, and lower income, but sometimes it is worth changing things up a bit though. I think if I posted far less frequently and put far more thought into each word I would be more helpful to others and far better off myself.

At times I think I have gotten a bit ahead of myself, and realize that most any success I have had has come from friends my than myself. Recently I pissed one of them off really bad, and to her I say sorry.

I hope to be spending a bit less time on the web in the near future such that I am more efficient with the time that I do spend, and so I do not get stuck in ruts.

My customer of quality service has probably slid a bit recently due to downtime and deciding that I need to have a business model that makes sense. Some people send me like 40 emails that take a half hour each to answer, and that is a lot of work for one ebook purchase (although I am sure it leads to word of mouth marketing) but there has to be some balance to that.

I need to take time to re evaluate many of the things that I am doing such that I am not stuck in ruts and I need to make sure I do not piss off friends, because without them there really is little point to the web.

Pay Per Click News...

AdWords Quality Based Minimum Bids:
have gone into effect. useful for those generic terms or low volume terms that used to get arbitrarily disabled, as well as terms that were slightly unprofitable at 5 cents a click.

AdSense:
has a new blog (from JenSense)

They also are beta testing allowing publishers to define user profiles for ad targeting.

PPC Trademark Law:
US courts say it is fine to use a trademark term to trigger ads, but not OK to use trademark terms in ad copy.

Miva vs Yahoo!:
patent dispute solved for $8 million, which is far cheaper than what Google paid, although Miva is forced to give Yahoo! an undisclused cut in future earnings as well.

Yahoo! Search Marketing:

Review of John T Reed's How to Write, Publish, & Sell Your Own How-To Book

Aug 18th

I recently read John T Reed’s How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book.

His website is not pretty, but his writing is great. I suspect he can only get away with such a non-pretty looking site design because he was well established long before the web, & he does not use words like non-pretty. He would just say disgustingly ugly or something like that.

Onto the book review:

  • He says to sell a book you need market for the idea (although it is hard to test the absolute demand) and a desire or interest in the topic. You also need enough credibility or experience with the topic to write a book on it, and an anger toward the books on the market in said topic…either they are dated, biased, or incomplete.

  • Many people are bad writers because they water down their voice.
  • John says you do not need much skill to write how to books, so long as you can write like you would talk.
  • He talks about writing making you a member of the press and talking to people as member of press…don’t be afraid to try to contact the right people.
  • He goes in exceptional depth about why it is best to sell books direct via your own website (sell a branded product instead of competing against yourself as a commodity in an unneeded arbitrary long supply chain).
  • He goes into great depth about customer service and why he stopped accommodating problem customers. One area I do not fully agree with him on is that he says higher prices lead to more complaints, which seems to be an inverse of my experience thusfar.

His book is only 128 pages, but is fairly information dense. He whinges on about a few things, but most of it is great useful information from many years of experience. Well worth it's cost of about $35 after shipping.

Criticisms:

  • Presents an overly simplistic view of how search engines work based on his own experience. He had about 20 years writing experience building up his personal brand before he took to the web. He also has many shady guru review / hate articles on his site which act as great link bait to improve the overall authority of his website. His site is well established, as is his reader base, so his experiences probably are not going to match Joe average publisher if they are new to the publishing process. He would do well to also research or also mention [cough] books on SEO.

  • He states search is his primary means of driving new sales, and openly admits that he has little understanding of how search engines work (a claim which may have something to do with an associated lawsuit for him outranking someone for their name in Google). While normally rather in depth information he states rather lacking stuff in this area.
  • He fails to mention pay per click marketing at all, which is huge for how to book publishing, and may even prove useful to find the right topics to write on or how much demand there is for a topic BEFORE you even write the first word. If he is recommending that search drives the bulk of your sales surely he should mention how to research market volume?
  • He does not mention the social aspects of the web, and probably does not realize that link popularity from his review articles helps pull up his site rankings for other terms as well. Those review articles also drive sales as well. I only found out about his name because his Rich Dad Poor Dad review was mentioned in a WebmasterWorld thread. I like John's writings well though, and I bet he would sell 2 or 3 times as many books as he does if he also ran an associated whingeblog. He has the perfect writing style to pull it off.
  • While his blunt this-is-me language probably helps convey his message well and is the voice of his writing you can’t help but be offended by at least one thing if you read through a whole book of his. He makes fun of the Spanish language, the French, and presumes guilt on the part of all people in jail, which is either a strong display of ignorance or arrogance. I suppose I can’t fault him for his voice, but I think sometimes he goes over the top with it to get his point across. His points are in many cases valid though. For example, he is not a fan of special consideration customers. I have grown that way too, as most of the people who ask me to special accomidate them are the people who never pay, bounce checks, or reverse charge. There is no reason to give people better customer service for being bad customers.
  • He also has a rather plain website, which can work. He also mentions that some people may need more graphics, but I think most people could not pull off a site as "non pretty" as his unless their writing is of an exceptional caliber. Put another way, I think I would only have about 5 to 10% of my current income if I created my website around his design and structure

In spite of the negatives I just mentioned I still think his book is a great book. If you add his book to a web savvy person with a deep interest in a topic you should be able to do really well.

Capitalizing on Your Weaknesses

Aug 18th

Some people have rare or frustrating conditions which disable them or take significant focus away from living their lives. In the past these conditions would be nothing but a cost, in terms of: money, time, social energy, and emotional energy.

The worse a condition is, the greater value there is in a solution to the problem. The problem with the past is that you needed a large enough market and substantial marketing money to reach like minded people. The web allows searchers to define their targeting. This means that targeted websites, solutions, and personalities can create exceptional value for being news filters and creating useful targeted channels based upon the needs of similar people.

Contextual advertising such as Google AdSense can automate the ad sales to where all you have to do is pour your effort into learning about solutions to your problems and have income automatically deposited in your account.

Whatever sets you apart or makes you different can also be leveraged to make you wealthy if you have adequate interest in those topics. The web makes it possible for "small" people to start with nothing and work their way to notoriety or financial stability while avoiding the rat race that is corporate America.

Sometimes though if your productivity is driven out of hatred, or fear, or something negative it may be hard to shift those gears to positive motivation once you start to do well, and eventually you have to if you want to do well longterm. A friend of mine recently gave me a link to a killer poem, which is so much more than that.

Review of Rich Dad Poor Dad

Aug 18th

In Rich Dad Poor Dad Robert T Kiyosaki talks about the differences between those who are wealthy and those who are not, stating that society is sorely lacking in financial intelligence.

Many people in the middle class get stuck in debt because they buy liabilities which prevent them from saving for assets. Expensive mortgages from a bigger house, higher car costs from larger and more expensive cars, having kids, and other similar incremental expenses that come with age perpetually keep people fighting just to get by, even as they receive pay raise after pay raise. If people slow consumption to pay off debt and allow their income to help build assets compounding interest can help them.

Robert also talks about paying yourself first, a concept where you make yourself save money and stash it away before you pay off all your bills. The need to pay the bills can be a force to help you create additional income, although sometimes I think the added stress may not be a good thing for some.

Robert also suggests that money spent on learning / investing in your brain is the single best investment you can possibly make.

As a warning, some of his specific investing examples may require strapping on the wading boots, as noted by John T. Reed. Some statements, such as lose big when you lose, might not be too well in tune with reality for good investment advice for most people. Also Robert T Kiyosaki was not well known until he got together with a group of multi level marketers, which makes some people question whether or not he only got wealthy by / after telling others how to do so.

If you focus completely on the money some of his advice is exceptionally shallow, but some of the general ideas are good stuff.

Important Bloggers Know All About Spam, Search, & Google...

Aug 18th
posted in

Once again Jason Calcanis talks about that which he is clueless about.

Another funny for the bloggers, a person running a mortgage refinancing blog whines about Google talking with search spammers. Perhaps Google sees more value in the knowledge of the spammers than the content of mortgage refinance blogs? And really you got to hand it to the best search spammers, because most of them have a true interest in search.

I guess that bloggers think the approved spam business model is to follow the template:
[snippets of others content] * [expensive topic (even if you have no interest in the topic and limited knowledge about the topic) ] * [wrapped in AdSense] = $,$$$,$$$.$$.

Bloggers think that cutting Google in on their profits by selling ads through Google will make them untouchable, but at SES I was recently told by one exceptionally large AdSense earner (multi million dollars per yer) that they sorely and sadly discovered otherwise. A real shame, because I was looking for writers for my Viagra and Phentermine blogs for the AdSense-Search-Spam-Blog.com network.

On a related note, Feedster recently created a list of 500 top blogs, which is no doubt a good link building technique (since most of the top blogs have a wide readership and goodl link popularity). Funny to see they are already adding erata to appease bloggers egos.

Yahoo! Launches 20 Billion Item Index, Google does Amazing PR to Downplay Story

Aug 18th
posted in

Biggest, Baddest, ETC:

  • Yahoo! says 20 billion items in their index

  • At SES DaveN predicted heavy spam problems for them (read as Dave making bank from stuffing spam in their index).
  • Interesting to see how little coverage Yahoo! has got compared to Google's similar size matters mentions in the past.
  • While Jeremy defends the index size traditional media sources like the New York Times looks to Google co founder Sergey Brin as a credible source to discount the story, and Danny is sick of the size comparisons.
  • Google also slightly increased their number (from 8,058,044,651 to 8,168,684,336), which may be an attempt to further refute / undermine Yahoo!'s claim. Gary says Google gave them the new number before Yahoo! did, which makes me wonder if Google has a few people who know the pulse on Yahoo!
  • Google always used index size as free marketing it's whole way up, and now that someone is ahead they simply said the figure is useless and everyone agrees. Amazing PR.

Google Announces Secondary Public Offering: How Much is Google Worth? Why do they Need More Money?

Aug 18th

Is Google...

ThreadWatch, Contextual Ads, & Noise

Aug 12th

Recently NickW started testing IntelliTXT. I dislike those ads. The perfect example of why I think they suck is when the people from Vibrant Media posted "feel free to email us directly" and the word email became one of their green ad links.

The problem with those little green ads is that they are more noise, which goes counter to the less noise more signal tagline on the site.

The audience of ThreadWatch has some serious cash, but what they are most interested in that which is shared freely amongst friends.
The people you make money off are not necissarily going to be the same people who help build up the network though, but you still can leverage that market position and those friendships to help sell a related idea.

I think if Nick created a guide to community building and blogging it would get far more support than my ebook does.

One of Nick's friends said that he wouldn't want to let a guide to cloning ThreadWatch to get out there, but:

  • if they were smart enough to clone it they probably wouldn't need a guide

  • few people are going to want to work as hard as Nick has building up that site
  • few people have as many friends as Nick does
  • eventually the fakeness or cloneness comes out in the writing if people try to clone it
  • without a highly profitable business model few people will likely want to clone it
  • adding more and a wider variety of advertisements to that site goes counter to why it became successful
  • as you add noise you lose mindshare, and that is the only thing that will make it possible for others to duplicate ThreadWatch...if it becomes more noise less signal

The first version of my ebook was free and sucked, but over time it got better. If Nick threw something out there and was open to feedback then the people there would help make sure he was offering something they would want to recommend, plus they would be more invested into helping it become successful if they offered suggestions and feedback and his site saved them a bunch of time.

Even if Nick starts off as only a 10 or 20 page guide it can get reshaped and improved as time passes. The key is to just pick an idea and start writing about it. Some people who in the past sent me hate mail now point unrequested link into my sites in part because I accepted their feedback.

As search algorithms advance guides which help people do well with community interaction will have far more value than guides about algorithms and engines, because ultimately the algorithms and engines are just trying to emulate people. For many people it will be far easier to create something others want than to push something they don't.

Matt Cutts Started a Blog

Aug 11th

Google software engineer Matt Cutts recently started a blog. I thought I had the scoop since I just talked to him, but it looks like others have already mentioned it.

I think I am also going to be able to do an interview of Matt pretty soon :)

I usually get about 1 to 1.5 hours of email a day, so I can only imagine how much he gets. Cool to see he has comments enabled, but his blog would be a bad one to comment spam ;)

Keyword Discovery Offers Search Competitive Analysis

Aug 10th

Recently HitWise jumped into the keyword research market by offering their Keyword Intelligence tool starting at $89 a month. Trellian's Keyword Discovery just joined the competitive analysis market.

It is cool to see another competitive analysis tool available for those of us who can't afford to splash out the $20,000 or so for HitWise. Trellian's new tool costs $65 per month per URL.

A few things I do not like with Trellian's package are:

  • limited data reach (most of these types of tools do not have much data when you compare them to the likes of Google or Yahoo!, but none of the big portals have decided to sell this type of data yet, probably for fear of a privacy backlash & bad press).

  • they don't have a package deal. you have to keep ordering one domain at a time, which could probably lead to confusing credit card bills and the like.
  • When they tell you the number of domains that they have tracked traffic from they don't group the subdomains with the main domains, so that can throw the numbers off.

Before you subscribe they tell you how many keywords and websites they have listed for that domain. They state that they have stats for the top 100,000 domains.

I bought one domain, and did not see any gems from it, but I suppose if you find one or two good spots to market from it then it would be a good buy and $65 is not much risk.

I will post some stuff on the conference soon. Off to the Google Dance.

Google Cache Tool

Aug 7th

I am having a friend of mine named Mike make a tool somewhat similar to this, but recently a free tool that checks to see if pages are cached in Google was created.

I am off to SES San Jose. The plane leaves in just over an hour and a half and I got to do a bit of shopping. I should show up around 3:30pm - 4pm today, so if you are out there I might run into you and my cell phone number is 401 207 1945.

War in Northern Uganda...Help Stop It!

Aug 6th

There are always screwed up things going on in the world, but some of them are moreso than others. This story relates to search, because you really have to search hard to find any information about it...

Recently Andy Hagans mentioned to me that in northern Uganda there is a war where children are being abducted and trained to kill or abduct other children. For safety at night many children are forced to leave their homes and sleep in a pool of overlapping bodies hoping they are not abducted or killed, living in perpetual fear.

Invisible Children is a recent DVD which shows what is going on in Uganda. If you would like, I have a couple of them and I can send you one (just send me an email with address, etc).

The war has been going on for about 19 years and has got next to no legitimite media coverage here in the United States. Andy Hagans has been helping Uganda CAN do SEO, but the problem is nobody is going to be searching for it if nobody knows about it.

Recently some people from Uganda CAN got a bit of coverage on a few articles and on NPR. The online petition to stop the war was getting about 10 signatures an hour, but that number has started to drift back downward :( I think if blogs really got ahold of the story that number should be able to run well into the thousands / hour. With enough voices of concern the US government will hopefully be forced to help the Uganda government face and fix the problems.

Not too long ago, when Ian Turner was missing, search related bloggers helped spread his name to where it was the #1 search term on Technorati. Hopefully we can raise the war in Uganda to #1 as well.

If you do not like the idea of children being abuducted, murdered, and living in constant fear please help. A few options:

Techorati Tags:

Story of Bill Gross forming GoTo / Overture

Aug 6th

John Battelle tells the story about Bill Gross's arbitrage candy selling as a kid, and how he later came to form GoTo, which pioneered the underlying business model that currently powers search.

I heavily practiced arbitrage with baseball cards when I was young. Below is my arbitrage story.
When I was 10 I remember this one guy had a game where it costed 50 cents to roll dice and win the prize. I kept landing packs of the first run 1990 Donruss baseball cards with the Harold Baines reverse negative and other error cards. I kept selling the packs for $3 - $5 to other dealiers, to go back and do more rolling. By the time the day was done I had a Tony Gwynn rookie, a Brett Saberhagan rookie, and about a couple hundred dollars worth of other cards from $5 spent on the roll a dice game.

Around the same time I remember buying Score Dream Team cards in bulk near book price and selling them to a dealer two tables over for double book price.

In high school I started selling baseball cards. I would buy cards out of people's 3 for a dime and quarter boxes and sell the cards for $1 each. It was an easy sell to have a huge case full of cards worth 25 cents to $4 each and organize them by player and just price them all at $1 each. It allowed people who did not collect baseball cards to start buying their favorite player at my table.

Sorry for the tangent...arbitrage is such a yummy topic. I don't collect baseball cards much anymore, but those are some fond childhood memories :)

WordTracker free keyword research PDF

Aug 6th

WordTracker created a free online PDF guide to help people with their keyword research. The ebook is 75 pages, and describes some of the basics to the keyword research process.

I see the guide as being pretty good for people new to the search market, as it gives them the snapshot of a variety of voices helping them get a better picture of the keyword research and internet marketing process.

The three big criticisms I have with the guide are:

  • it promotes KEI, which I think is a garbage measurement of competition, and Dan Thies recently said the same when I interviewed him.

  • the guide recommends using WordTracker as a fairly strong quantitative measure of traffic, when I think it is actually a bit more qualitative.
  • there are other tools which can also help the keyword research process, but many of them are not given much coverage due to the goal of the guide being primarily wrote to sell WordTracker

If you have been around the block you probably will not have your hair blown back by the guide, but it is definately good for newbies. They also licensed the guide via Creative Commons.

Baidu IPO Hot

Aug 6th

Having limited finacial assets, I have never shorted a stock, but the Chinese search engine Baidu (ticker: BIDU) seems a bit pricey at $120 a share, a 350% increase from the IPO price.

There are rumours of Google wanting to buy them, but I doubt they want to spend billions of dollars buying them and end up needing to worry about the issues of music sharing and the like, especially while Google wants to court some of those music labels to spend on search.

If I see internet stocks go up based on hits or pageviews I will make sure I am ready to sell what little stock I have. ;)

Personalized Link Exchange Requests - People are Predisposed to Avoid Change

Aug 6th

Most emails that are sent from unknown strangers are garbage. Sending a somewhat vanilla looking link request email means people are going to be predisposed to wanting to ignore you.

Seth explains why timely, targeted, and personalized link requests are much more effective than the average link request. (although he is talking about a different topic I decided to try to relate it to SEO) When I was new to the web I worked much harder on link building than I do today. I usually found the best link requests only worked if I took the time to really understand the motives of the webmasters or made it look as though I was just trying to help them out.

An example technique I did, was when a site was taken down and redirected to another site I:

  • used a tool similar to Hub Finder to find authority links pointed at the old site.

  • manually reviewed the sites to look for their motives and how on topic the page was to my site
  • emailed webmasters of some rather powerful websites reminding them that they had an outdated links, told them the new site location, and listed a few other highly recommendable resources (one of which was my own site).

By breaking link to me down into a 4 or 5 step process to highly qualify the leads and make myself look like I was helping them I was much more effective at building links than the random rogue hunting methods.

By making it look like I was trying to help them make their sites better my link conversion rate was like 30% to 50%, and these were for free powerful links.

Around the same time I wrote an article about Google's Florida Update that got to be somewhat well known. Some people want to know your status or whatever, and when some ask I played down any success I had up to that point and said well I just wrote an article a couple days ago... and based on that even more people converted.

Here is another, similar example, that blatently failed. A while ago I used a tools like Hub Finder, Link Harvester (I should soon add a feature to limit the domain type on Link Harvester), and Yahoo!'s Advanced Search Page to find some of the college sites that linked into search engine submission companies years ago.

I wanted to see if I could persuade them that search engine submission was outdated, and that they could keep current with search news by linking through to some of the search related blogs (one of them of course being my blog).

This had horrific conversion rates, and probably was a complete waste of time. Why? Because I was asking people to make multiple changes at once:

  • First it requires them to admit that their information is outdated, incorrect, or useless; and unlike a site moving location I did not have blatent obvious proof of this fact assembled.

  • I did not sell why they should change the page as mutch as I needed to
  • students changing sites need permission to change stuff and
    • they have little reason to believe me or care

    • most of them get paid next to nothing and would probably rather work on their homework or real job than worry about me
  • most professors like to think of their own information as pure and correct.

How could that have been more effective? I could of asked Danny Sullivan or Robert Clough or one of the other authoritative search site owners if they would publish an article about search engine submissions being outdated. I could either write that article myself or pay a friend to ask those people if they can write it and have it published. Then I could have used that article to quote various search reps as saying submission is outdated, as well as link through to other more effective ways to list and rank sites, and then use that as reasoning for people to avoid submissions.

I could also write a part two to the article describing many submission services as scams, going over how they use submit your site buttons to gather link popularity and many of them also are notoriously well known as email spammers.

By sourcing authoritative voices on the topic I, or at least by developing my credibility beyond a random person sending emails, I would:

And the other hidden tip sorta mentioned in the post is that while you have credibility, traffic, media coverage, authority, etc etc etc you should work harder at building links or spreading ideas, as your effort will be much more fruitful if launched on the back of some other success. Find a hit and run with it.

Interview of Lots0

Aug 6th

I recently interviewed another one of the great SEO oldtimers, who goes by the name of Lots0. Lots0 talks Google Sandbox, SEO Ethics, & a bit of SearchKing.

Thanks for the interview Lots0.

Hub Finder Updated

Aug 6th

So a while ago a friend of mine created a tool called hub finder. While the tool functioned, there were some features that I thought would make it cooler. Another one of my friends had spare time, I had a bit of spare cash, so we worked out a deal and hub finder has been revised.

The gist of hub finder is to find hub sites and hub pages to get links from (as those links may help more in many modern search algorithms). The new features of Hub Finder 2.0 include:

  • optional CSV output of link research results
  • finds hub sites that may link to similar resources from slightly different pages. each link is marked with an X and links to the page the link is on.
  • allows you to set the search depth... since Yahoo! places many of the best links near the top of the backlink list this can be used to help filter noise.
  • allows you to set the number of matching domain names... this can be used to help filter noise or find the most important hubs.
  • optionally allows you to compare the backlinks for the top 10 ranked sites in Yahoo! for any term. (I may eventually add a Google API Key area for grabbing the top Google results and comparing their Yahoo! backlinks.)
  • does mix and match, allowing you to look at sites you entered, top ranked Yahoo! sites, or any mix of the two
  • allows a forced inclusion feature. using this feature can require that a site links at a specific page or site and any other combination of related resources.
  • lists how many hub pages were found out of the total number of sites analyzed.
  • if you want you can grab the source code for hub finder 2.0 here

Please let me know if you mirror the tool so I can link to some of the mirrors and please let me know what you think of Hub Finder.

Open Source Link Profits

Aug 5th

Sourceforge, the open source hosting site, aggressively interlinking their sites.

Sorta makes it compelling to create an open source site, or some site that has a pure sounding mission, which makes people want to heavily link at it, so that you can push that link popularity through the rest of your high profit network.

Are search algorithms saying every web based businesses should start off with a strong relationship to a socially conscience 501 C 3 (or equivalent)?

Then again, even Google is paying Mozilla for making Google the default Firefox search engine, so it seems search engines MUST endorse donating to charities for search engine traffic.

Vertical Directories...How Will They Change?

Aug 5th

My friend Brad runs a good number of vertical directories and wonders how they will change going forward.

I think over time the directories that are
link info
link info
link info
will continue to erode in significance.

Using link info link info is a hard setup to display the personality of the site owner unless there is also some editorial information portion of the page or site. With the low cost of publishing information (or misinformation) and well over half the web being for profit spam it is hard to trust anything.

If a site is without personality it may as well be created algorithmically.

Yet when a single person has to do everything it can become easy to burn out. How do you create social incentives to make others want to build your site / network while still preserving the quality of the content?

One area where I really feel like I am cheating myself, and the readers of my book or this site is that I have not created any communities from scratch or tapped the user driven content market yet.

The lone wolf blog with a personal voice getting a few random comments here and there is cool, but those who can create software or social systems that others inherantly want to work with will do far better than the average blogger like me.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are Obnoxious Poachers

Aug 5th

Larry Page and Sergey Brin are obnoxious according to each other. Rumour has it they are also poachers.

Stories are a few days old, but I couldn't resist posting that. The first link is about when Larry met Sergey and the second is about their recent hire away from MicroSoft.

AussieWebmaster Interviewed

Aug 5th

Frank Watson is a good friend of mine, and just about any decent pay per click search engine. He manages some rather complex pay per click accounts.

I interviewed him asking about pay per click tips and strategies. Read it here: seobook interviews Frank Watson

Google to Test Longer Ad Copy, MSN PPC Beta, Baidu Sets IPO Price, Yahoo! Audio Search

Pay Per Click:

  • Google beta testing longer AdWords ad descriptions (up to 200 characters).

  • MSN to ramp up beta testing of MSN Keywords. Their ad copy specs will match Google's original 25 characters in the title & 70 characters in the description.
  • apply to beta test Yahoo!'s publisher ads
  • Ask Jeeves recently said they will show less pay per click ads. (Although they have also reported this in the past.)

We the United Spammers of Engines:
stuntdubl offers reinclusion request tips

Why the Desktop is So Important:
targeted marketing - Yahoo! sending email marketing based on data returned from the Yahoo! Toolbar.
Mozilla Corporation getting donation love from Google

Internet Stocks are Hot:
Baidu raises IPO price:

Baidu.com sold 4.04 million shares at $27 each, according to a person familiar with the transaction. The price was higher than the $23 to $25 range the Beijing-based company outlined in an Aug. 3 filing with U.S. regulators.

Amazon and eBay have both rose sharply recently.

The Sound of Search:
Yahoo! announced their audio search

Review of Jose Canseco's Juiced

Aug 5th

Not really a SEO related book, but I used to watch a ton of baseball and sold baseball cards in high school, so I was interested in reading Jose Canseco's Juiced.
Steroids:
Jose said he had arthritis, scoliosis, and degenerative disc disease, and believes he would have never been able to play at the major league level without steroids.

Juiced presents steroids as the way forward for professional sports - and life for many people in general - saying that used properly they make for better athletes and a better life.

I do not know as much about the subject as he does, but I am not so confident he can predict the side effect of steroid use after many generations. Does it eventually cause higher occurances of cancer, increased violoence, or other diseases?

He also talks about how mentally stable he is and talked about how he had a mental breakdown when he was in jail. Some drugs or health supplements don't really screw with you really bad until you stop taking them, which sometimes is forced to happen due to economic reasons, manufacturer profitability, or personal / social reasons.

Jose also slightly bashes other drug usage, which makes his approval of steroids sound a bit hypocritical.

Inferiority Complex:
He goes into his background about being somewhat shy and reserved and not having a high self image, particularly because no matter what he did his father was hard on him (citing how his dad asked him what happened in his other at bats when he called his dad to tell him he hit 3 home runs in a June 1994 baseball game with the Texas Rangers). He stated that many media members took his shyness as arrogence.

Racism:
Jose felt he was getting picked on frequently because he was a minority (especially in the minors as a latin baseball player in the 1980's) and he didn't know how to handle the media well. Even mentioning that he got pulled over going 202 miles an hour and got no ticket, it seems he generally forgot many of the breaks he did get.

Corruption:
He also talks about some of the general coruption that surrounds baseball, stating things like:

  • some players cheating on their wives and naming many players who also used steroids

  • "And, given how quiet he was about the subject at the time, I was pretty surprised years later when Bush actually raised the issue of steroids in his January 2004 State of the Union address. By then, it seemed to me that a lot of people, Bush included, were trying to turn this into a witch hunt - even though they themselves had played a role in helping move the steroid revolution forward, by giving a berth to me and other steroid-using players during my heyday, and benefiting from our enhanced performance." (p. 134)
  • "Believe me, if as an athlete, you don't do charity events for umpires, they start opening up the strike zone on you as a hitter." (p 162)
  • "The funny part is, there might have been a few players who didn't even know what was in the shots they were getting. I never pulled any of them aside and asked, "Did you know he's injecting you with steroids?" I just assumed they all knew, but looking back I am not so sure. There may have been a few who were so out of it that they weren't even aware of what was going on." (p. 211)

Good Old Boys Club:
He talked about the good old boys club and how guys like Cal Ripken, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez got a free pass while guys like Albert Belle and him were left in the cold.

Passing the Buck:
When Jose got into baseball many people used speed (baseball drug usage goes way back), but over time much of that drug usage shifted to steroids.

After the 1994 strike baseball was in the hurt locker, so Jose believed the owners did not care about the spreading use of steroids because they were helping to revive the game. Eventually baseball grew more popular but player salaries started to get out of hand and then the owners flipped their position to market steroids as a huge problem. Jose said he was one of the first people to be blackballed from baseball for steroids.

Stuck in the Past:
He also seems to focus a bit much effort on what might have been, talking about being 37 homers shy of the 500 club, getting traded away from the league leading A's, and about he got robbed by the 1994 strike in what would have been a career year, stating that he would have liked to see what the Rangers could do in the off season. Sure they were leading the AL West, but they were an embarrassing 10 games under 500.

On the last page of the book he says "Do I think about the disappointments I've had in life? Not much." which is something you would not get by reading the rest of it.

Why I felt Mentioning this Book is Relevant to this site:
With the one off controvercy associated with writing the book many people will blow off Jose as writing it as a plublicity stunt or revenge tactic, perhaps even saying that he was just whining.

If he fully believed in what he is saying, imagine how many links it would build if he had a related website and perhaps a regularly updated journal about the topics covered in the book.

Ratting out others does little to build credibility and tell the story...it just makes him look like a whiner.

The more controvercial a story is the easier it is to spread. Sure a book can help tell a story, but if you really want to change public perception you have to give them a reason to keep coming back to you to keep hearing more of your story.

Now I am not saying he should say "I just injected a load of powerdose deca and blah blah blah..." but certainly there is something he can mention other than what seemed to be a bit self centered and self serving of a book.

Rafael Palmerio, who Canseco cited as a juicer, recently failed a steroid test. Lots of ditto head sports writers are writing contentless rehash opinion articles. Imagine how much traffic Canseco's site would be getting if he gave his take on the story.

The regular news media is a goldmine for SEO, especially when they are driving such targeted traffic.

Also, as far as the good old boys club goes, that happens in any job or social network. In the Navy I was absolutely not part of the good old boys club. At my second job, as a middle level manager, I quicly was, but that was perhaps out of dire need and the fact that my boss was not willing to show people respect I usually was. When I first got on the web I absolutely was not in any sort of a club. Now though some of the people who in the past took time out of their day to send me hate mail link into my sites. Whenever you start off in a new network it takes a while to earn your trust level, and you have to put up with a ton of crap off the start.

Not too long ago I asked Dan Thies "What were the biggest surprises that came out of writing books about SEO?" and he replied:

The biggest surprise was how much hostility came out of the SEO people. They didn't like my sales letter, and figured me for just another marketer. I had to do some things to make my point, like pushing my sales site up into the rankings for "search engine optimization," which was pretty easy to do, but the "optimized" copy didn't sell as well.

When you jump into a new field you can think everyone is evil or recognize hard times and overwork / underpaid as a passing phase and part of breaking into any field. After a while things change if you work hard and want them to, but if you think everyone is out to get you then you can make life much harder on yourself, as Jose gracefully did.

Self Conflicting Sales Copy, SEO Features that Sound Not Good, & Perpetual Sneaky Sneakiness

Aug 4th

Someone recently told me there was a thread about SEO Book over at Digital Point. I replied a while ago, thanking people for the kind reviews, but I just went back to take a peak to see if there were any more replies and there were no more.

A site targeted AdSense ad on the page did catch my interest though. Text Link Brokers had an ad for presell pages starting at $10, which seems way too cheap to me if they are making quality pages on quality sites.

Sometimes price points and sales copy give conflicting messages, which end up driving away the low end and high end market at the same time.

The $10 presell page price point makes it seem as though the product is geared toward newer webmasters with limited funds, but then they talk about the copywriters:

Who writes the Content?
We will either write it or you can. However, we strongly suggest you let us do it since we have some of the best SEO/Marketing copywriters in the country working for us.

which makes it sound a bit more high end, but then...

We also have a feature that no other company is offering. We will randomize the content on every site where we host your HMP pages. For example, if you order 50 HMP pages on 50 sites, we can write one professional article and then randomize it 50 times,

What is the point of even writing a professional article (using one of the best SEO/Marketing copywriters) if it is going to be randomized? Does that undermine the sales point if you don't explain how it is randomized? I know Article Bot is supposed to be good at randomizing content, but doesn't that sales copy send mixed messages?

In other link related news, excuse the AdSense only above the fold area on the other end of this link, but it looks as though Linkworth might be handing out some less than stellar link advice:

It is being said that Google is looking for keywords on websites related to the selling of text ads. Rather than waiting around to see what happens, or if it is true, we feel it's in the best interest of all partners and advertisers to consider changing the titles used, alter locations of text link ads and separate ads.

Odds are good that if the links are heavily off topic and they are selling many that the pig is going to look like a pig no matter what kind of lipstick you put on it (I think I got that line from Aussie).

Why not just work out contextual relevance and matching advertisers to publishers a bit better? It seems to me that hide the links advice is counter to the whole point of running an open link market.

As search algorithms continue to advance I don't see how scalable SEO markets should be handing out advice to hide the business models instead of trying to improve the quality of the offering. After all, it is no real secret that Yahoo! LOVES to buy links for SEO.

As search advances you can try to be sneeky or try to be more open. Both will probably work if you do them right, but if you are buying links from one of the largest link networks or link brokers that probably is not going to be very sneaky, especially if many of the content sites selling links link back to the network.

How can Linkworth be telling people to worry about link rental sounding words and fail to mention that some of the content partners linking back to Linkworth probably makes it fairly obvious that the site stands a good chance of selling links? I am not sure if it is still there, but a while ago I think Linkworth also had a directory of their ad publishers openly availabe on their site as well.

NickW of ThreadWatch Interviewed

Aug 4th

Recently I interviewed NickW. I asked him mostly about community building and ThreadWatch. His replies were mostly about the importance of being authentic, timely, and being different. Surprisingly Nick moderately used curse words, although he did work some into the content. :)

Thanks for the interview Nick.

Michael Martinez - Getting Links / Being Remarkable by Being Annoying

Aug 3rd

Some people are so annoying that they are comment worthy. Although some of my friends may like him, I absolutely can't stand Michael Martinez. This thread shows well how annoying he is.

He is one of the give me proof crowd, that always wants all your proof while he makes crap up and throws it out there as fact. A few months back I showed him some screenshots and he called it smoke and mirrors.

This is not some sort of retribution post or anything like that, just reminding people that sometimes being annoying can hurt or help build linkage data.

Sometimes people do not realize how annoying they are. Other times people know exactly how annoying they are and do it for attention or linkage data. For most people the annoying way is probably not the best way to build linkage data and brand, but Michael Martinez - as wrong as he may be - is still far more memorable than most people in the SEO market.

Verizon Online DSL is Garbage, Google AdWords Customer Support Good?

Aug 3rd

A friend had a Google AdWords ad group waiting for review which was waiting for about a month. There was a glitch in the system to where the group did not get reviewed.

I called the Google customer support phone number (1 866 2 GOOGLE) and the Google employee told me ads should be showing by tomorrow, and they were on syndicated content sites in under 5 minutes.

I can't imagine how tedious it is reviewing all those ads, but they sure are quick on it when they throw your site at the top of the stack :)

Compare that with Verizon DSL customer service:

  • Verizon charges me for a full DSL service even though they are down like 20% of the time.

  • Verizon has sent people out to my house multiple times and still has crap service.
  • Verizon has typically had over a half hour wait on the support phone line.
  • Verizon has no option to call you back.
  • Verizon randomly hangs up on you while you have been on the phone waiting for like 30 minutes.
  • The only phone number with quick and useful customer service is the signup for a new account number. Out of sheer frustration when they waste my time this is the only number I call because I want to help cause attrition at their company and make their workers less efficient. Screw them.
  • Two days ago I got told that I needed to talk to their consumer advocacy department and to call before 8 pm.
  • Yesterday I called Verizon at about 5 pm. They transfered me through to consumer advocacy department, without giving me any sort of a wait time suggestion, even though I asked for one. I waited for about a half hour or so and then it randomly hung up on me.
  • I called back a bit later and they told me to call before 4 pm, stating they were from New York taking Pennsylvania overflow, and that only sales reps are availiabe in the evening.

Yesterday driving around town I found the Verizon office. Next time their service sucks I am going directly to the local office.

The Value of Search & Contexual Ads...

Aug 3rd

SearchEngineWatch, a decade in the making, sold along with ClickZ and the Search Engine Strategies conference for only $43 million.

IndustryBrains, a small rather obscure contextual network recently sold for $31 million. Sure they have a few good publishing partners, but their business model is absurdly easy to replicate.

Many advertising companies depend on large off the web media organizations being inept at selling online media. As time passes and consolidation continues many obscure businesses relying on market ineffiencies will watch their business models erode.

I find it mind boggling that IndustryBrains sold for about the same amount as SearchEngineWatch did, but many people have stated they think SEW was underpriced or there is something missing in the story, and Jupiter's stock was down sharply today on slower image sales growth.

The point of this post though was that the single most authoritative voice on search was priced at about the same amount as a third tier contextual ad seller, which goes to show how much money there is in search ads and contexual ads.

New Yahoo! Contextual Ads

AdSense has some competition coming. News.com posts Yahoo to launch blog ad network:

Yahoo is planning to launch on Wednesday an ad network for small Web publishers intended to strengthen its hand against rival Google, a source familiar with the plan told CNET News.com.
...
Yahoo's new service will differ from Google in that it will add human editorial judgment to the selection of ads for content pages. In comparison, Google's service relies on technology.

There are many fronts they can beat Google on:

  • open revenue sharing policies

  • unlike AdSense, they could actually enforce some legitimate quality standards - which may be likely if they put a bit more human interaction into the system
  • more flexible, offering XML feeds or customizable ads instead of making people use arbitrary ad blocks
  • Allow advertisers to run various ad copy lengths.
  • Allow advertisers to pick what sites they want their ads to appear on or block.
  • Better reporting of where ads are being displayed.

It looks like some people are already testing the new network. Earlier Oilman mentioned the Yahoo! context ads on Women's Finance, and looking around, they also appeared on Mom's Budget. I wonder what sort of revenue sharing Yahoo! is offering.

Yahoo! quickly needs to expand their inventory before they lose their partnership with MSN to avoid becoming a second tier pay per click engine.

I looked around and a few of the search related blogs, like Jeremy Zawodny, JenSense, and SE Roundtable were also displaying ads. Some of the publishing partner ads looked a bit botched. The ones on SE Roundtable were frequently off topic and cut off. I mean, how compelling is this ad:

Contraxx by Ecteon
Providing premium contract...

I know that as a user I probably would not click that, if I was the site owner I would be angry for wasting my screen space on that, and if I was paying for that advertisment I would be angry about that ad wasting my money. Why not just use shorter ad copy instead of cutting it off?

How can Yahoo! even think those chopped up ads are useful? Didn't they do some sort of testing on the system? How can an editor think that above six word ad is anything other than complete garbage?

Some chopped ads may send the wrong branding message and work to destroy brand value. Not good, IMHO.

RSS Updates to SEO Book

So some people at Threadwatch suggested that I made RSS updates to my ebook available. If I did that, what is the best way to add security to the update mini site, and should I enable comments on the updates?

I Still Like Directories

Aug 2nd

I realize I am playing both sides of the fence here, but directories are getting a bad rap. Directories in and of themselves are not necissarily bad neighborhoods or whatever, but what some people call directories, and some of the stupid or greedy things that people are doing with directories are making them match the profiles of scraper sites and other sites search engines would not want to index.

Not too long ago a person launched no 2 or 3 but 5 different general directories using the same linkage data. Well that is probably an example of the types of things to avoid.

Some directories have 10,000 pages and only 300 listings. Duplicate content filters are not going to want to keep that site in the index.

Some directory owners build all their link popularity from other free directories and forum signature files. Some directories have no quality standards and do not even properly categorize the sites. Others fail in both categories: inbound link quality and outbound link quality.

Many directories sell sitewide pharmacy or debt consolidation links. In doing that they parse out a ton of their link popularity, which means less of their pages stay in the search index, the lower category pages have less value, and there is less reason for search engines to want to trust any link from that site. When you sell lots of off topic junk the site becomes ghettofied and the path the site must go down is chosen.

If you believe in the good link vs bad link algorithms some engines may have then it would make sense to steer clear from most the sites that excessively exhibit many of the above characteristics, but not all directories are built that way.

Many directory owners do not try to be unique and market their position with anything other than raw PageRank. The more a directory looks like a discount PageRank brokering service without quality standards the more likely search engines will be to want to discount the sites.

We the pundints, us with blogs, and spare times to chat on forums, need to have something to talk about. So we raise an issue up and the knock it down and then hunt on the prowl for the next issue to talk about.

Everything comes and goes in waves like that as the algorithms evolve.

When people talk about directories dying they are stating that algorithms are moving away from them more and more, but for a significant period of time the ROI on directory listings was absurdly great. Even if it drops off somewhat the search engines still have to trust something. In many industries outside of a DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory link there are less than a handful of sites worth trusting. How do search algorithms rank sites in those kinds of industries? They need to trust something.

Even if Google was not placing significant weighting on directory links I still would use many of them for how they work in the other search algorithms, but with that being said it may also be worth looking more into other sources of link popularity as the business model of junk general directories is dying.

I think the business models that will work the best longterm will be those that have a strong social position in their marketplace, those who can afford to advertise a ton, those who can get media coverage, or those that naturally pick up the random citation on random blogs and community driven sites that provide many random unrequested links. Not every business fits in those groups though. The end goal should be to figure out how to get in those groups, but until placed in those groups we do what we have to to get by :)

JupiterMedia Sells SearchEngineWatch

Aug 2nd

Well definately huge news for those of us in and around the search space...Jupitermedia, the owners of the #1 search related site sold SearchEngineWatch and the ClickZ network for $43 million to London-based trade publisher Incisive Media plc.

Reading Meckler's blog you never would have guessed he would do such a thing.

I just can't see being the #3 stock photography resource as being a better market position than the single most authoriatative voice on search. What am I missing?

from MarketingVox

Jim Boykin, of We Build Pages, Interviewed

Aug 1st

I wanted to interview Jim Boykin, from WeBuildPages a while ago, but some of my questions were evil and it took a while to get around to do the interview. I recently came up with a new list and asked Jim many SEO business related questions, in large part because he runs one of the few SEO companies that I feel comfortable refering leads to. At the recent WebmasterWorld conference I had not one, but two different people come up to me and thank me for refering them, which makes me feel great for recommending them.

In our interview Jim gives lots of good web design and link building tips, and he also confirmed the rumour that WeBuildPages will be entering the original content production market!

To me it seemed like that market was waiting for more competition, especially considering that some of the other networks that do it place competing ads on the same pages that webmasters pay to have create.

Read the full interview: Aaron Wall interviews Jim Boykin, founder of We Build Pages.

Ask Jeeves Pay Per Click Paid Listings

Aug 1st

Ask announced the launch of their pay per click advertising network. Advertisers will be able to buy pay per click ads directly from Ask as soon as the 15TH of this month.

Danny Sullivan has an article about the new Ask launch, and a subscribers only more in depth version as well.

For the most part their internal ad network will be a duplication of much of the core AdWords ranking technology (ad rank based upon CTR and CPC), and they will still use AdWords to backfill their ad network when they do not have many high value internal ads.

MSN should be launching their network around the end of this year, which will place Ask's ad network at #4 in terms of reach. With limited reach (Ask has around 5 to 6% of US search traffic), and the ability to buy ads that list on Ask directly from Google, it is going to be hard for Ask to build a large advertiser base.

What could help Ask gain exposure and mindshare for their new ad network (and may open them up to legal liabilities) is if they allow certain types of ads that people can't buy on other ad networks (such as US targeted gaming related ads). Controvercy equals free marketing.

They also should be able to do well in travel, loan, dating, and event ticket related verticals if they open up network ad space on IAC partner sites. Where would sold out concert ticket ads have any more value than being advertised on TicketMaster.com?

Advertisers will follow the inventory, so if IAC markets the heck out of Ask and increases search marketshare they will sell more ads. Running an internal ad network will allow them to be more flexible with how they monitize other properties and will make them less dependant on Google for revenue.

Ultimately the soon launching PPC networks has to be bad news for the smaller pay per click providers. Instead of Google, Overture, then FindWhat soon FindWhat (recently renamed to Miva) will be a number 5 position player, which can't bode well for their perceived traffic quality with how some of the other smaller pay per click engines are doing.






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