Illogical Overinvestment and Attachment to a Topic

Outside of Danny Sullivan few people have probably read and wrote about SEO as much as I have the past couple years, but I think I am going to tune it back a bit.

I like reading the feed reader maybe once or twice a week, and just get bored / burned out if I do it much more frequently than that. I also find that trying to be the first with the news ends up meaning that I end up not reading as many books and it surely crosses beyond the point of diminishing returns.

I plan to post less often, but on average it should be better or less shitty, depending on how critical you are of my posts.

Lots0, one of my true mentors in this field, recently announced he is stopping publicly discussing SEO:

I wonder why some people think that they should receive premium service when they contact a "well known SEO" out of the blue and then ask for "FREE" advice and help.

Then, if you do give them "free" advice, then they always want to argue with you about your findings and how whatever you found can not be the problem (see above posts in this thread).

Time should have a price and a value on it. You can only help people so much before it starts to be at your own expense. Want an example?

I get pissed off when I know that people who were once friends write sales letters full of sleaze and lies to sell more bullshit, even if they are hurting the people buying their products. I have not thought of how I am going to change my sales letter yet, but it says this:

I have spent thousands of dollars developing free custom made SEO tools which are better than tools other people sell for $150 to $300 - saving you way more than the price of the book.

In SEO the tools are as important as the methodology. I hold nothing back. You get access to every SEO Tool I use and all my SEO tips and tricks.

Up until the middle of December that statement was entirely true. I spent well over $10,000 dollars creating tools that I give away. I get feature requests and lots of questions, but at least personally I can create better value for me if I don't make EVERYTHING entirely open. Some ideas just don't scale. Does that make me a bad person? No. It just means I may need to rewrite my sales letter. The only thing that is pure is ignorance.

While supporting open source and helping newbies get up to gear is cool, I am nothing but an asshole if I teach people how to make 6 or 7 figures a year and then consume all my time learning how to teach the topic without stocking away a large large nest egg myself.

I am not all about money per say, but I want it to not matter. If a sleazy company sues me I want to have enough money to be able to do nothing but laugh at them. Being as opinionated and honest as I am means that likely many sleazy or dishonest companies will end up suing me throughout the next couple years.

I may start selling SEO services to high end clients soon. I may also spend a bit more time working with friends on creating content sites. So far I have only completed two content related joint ventures, and the second one was so beautiful that it well paid beyond the losses created by the first one.

EGOL recently stated that SEO has limited value for most people:

SEO by itself is not worth a pile of beans. To have an effecive website you must have more, and that "more" is content, product, salesmanship, etc. SEO has zero value without these things.

I see SEO as a single course in a larger program such as "internet marketing". At present there are very few of these programs but the importance of them is enormous to many businesses.

I have had the chance to speak at an internet marketing MBA class, and SEO was nothing more than part of a larger course. Could it be extended? Sure. But the reality is that as search technology advances, it will get better at displaying various versions of exceptionally popular or exceptionally unpopular opinions in the results. Most people will not need to learn what will eventually become the uber complex SEO field. It will become far easier to directly manipulate people rather than trying to manipulate the algorithms.

Over at Gapingvoid Hugh recently posted tell the truth and the brand builds itself and in that spirit I thought I would post why I perhaps have overinvested so much into SEO. When I first started SEO I was:

  • nearly bankrupt

  • unemployed
  • told that I deserved to be a failure for life by the largest US employer, which even ripped up some of my work records
  • spiritually empty

After a while I got another real job, and while I liked my boss and many of the co workers there I realized that the way I am programmed means that whatever I did I was going to do far beyond what most people would consider normal, and that eventually overworking myself was going to lead to an early death due to wreckless living.

Having said all that, SEO was (and perhaps still is) my escape from all of that. But it does not make sense for me to hold onto something for too long.

If I wanted to paint a more accurate picture of reality blogging has probably made me more money than being an SEO has. I still plan on regularly updating my ebook and posting to this site, but would love to shift more toward posting what I find interesting when I feel like looking instead of trying to catch almost everything and read ALL the news.

Need an example of why knowing SEO may not be as important as some of the other things we pick up along the way?

NickW ran what was my favorite SEO site. While he did he frequently posted about how bad the blogpuppy fucktwits were. He later launched another site about blogging and sold his original site. If you look at the growth of Performancing I would guess that it will probably end up being far more successful than Threadwatch was for him because there are far more bloggers than SEOs, blogging is far more viral, and they will be easier to monetize than some of the members of ThreadWatch are.

I am going to launch a few free open source beginer level SEO tools soon. I also am going to start answering many questions I get via email publicly so that I create value for myself when I answer email questions. I am not certain if I should make a separate answers feed for that or if it should be part of the original SEO Book feed.

While some of the readers will tell you that they don't want certain things sometimes the things that are quickly rejected grow to be the most popular, so answering SEO questions right in the main feed may not be adding any noise to the SEO Book brand.

Wishing you a happy-safe-warm-fun new year full of friendship and joy,

Searching for an Appropriate Political Bias

Mark Cuban recently posted about how evangelical political nutters try to force their views onto others, and through various spamming and guerrilla marketing activities try to silence out other opinions.

Not only crazy, it will be impossible to eradicate the influence of these maraunders.

So rather than fighting them, search sites will join them.

I have zero doubt that in the future there will be sliders or some equivalent that represent "the flavor" of search that users will look for. Looking for information about the war in Iraq; push the slide rule to the right till you reach Bill O'Reilly flavored search, or slide it to the left for the Al Franken flavor. The results are then influenced by the brand you prefer to associate with.

The news is no longer just the news. A holiday is no longer just a holiday. A song is no longer just a song. A search result will no longer just be a search result. We will blow it up into a symbol of something must larger. It wont be of course, but it will happen anyway.

I don't think the sliders will be there. I think engines will just automatically learn to adjust the results to fit your worldview.

Greg Linden followed up stating about how he got a bunch of hate mail for Findory offering too broad of a spectrum of news.

The idea is to avoid pigeonholing, to show people views from across the spectrum, to give people the information they need to make an informed judgment.

For some, that is exactly the problem. They don't want to see both sides. They want a filter, a political lens. As they see it, reading an opinion article on the left should only give them other opinion articles on the left (or visa-versa), reinforcing the opinion they already have.

They don't want discovery. They don't want new information. They don't want to learn. They want to be pigeonholed.

I have always stated that I thought there was a lot more really polarized biased media out there than unbiased media, but Mitch Ratcliffe said that he thought my opinion was likely due to a sampling error. He also said the mainstream media was far more likely to point toward or deliver the biased stuff.

From top to bottom I think that most content producers are more parrots than original thinkers though. When I make many posts I create content that sells ad space, even if I write nothing but me too posts. Original thought is so much more effort. Most people usually prefer to let others do a certain amount of their thinking for them.

Also consider that those who are the most evangelical about something also have the following going for them:

  • a possible detachment with reality that allows them to over invest into an idea compared to what a normal person would pour into doing the same thing
  • it is easier to cite really biased information because it either fits a bit of our worldview or is so far off that it is easy to debunk
  • it is far easier to identify with a known bias.

A friend of mine that goes by the name of Ian said that he thought much of the overt bias and polarization of information online will be settled as more people adopt the web (becoming content producers instead of just consumers) but I am not so sure I agree with him.

Beyond domain age what can a search engine use as a sign of quality that would not potentially also heavily overlap as a sign of strong political bias?

Is there any research on how being able to quickly select unknowingly or unthinkingly biased information from an alleged oracle will effect who we trust or how we create ideas?

Yet Another Google Sanbox Thread...

Search Engine Watch has another thread on the Sandbox concept.


Mike Grehan tends to think Sanbox is synonymous with garbage website, but much of his perspective may be biased by the size and quality of the clients he works worth.

Macia points out that she thinks usage data may matter, referencing this Google patent.

Andy Hagans writes about search results becoming more like the real world in how they learn to trust marketing and branding.

Jason D hints that the sandbox effect may not apply to all TLDs. Numerous friends have confirmed this with me.

Orion has a great post about researching the effects of site age on PageRank and relevancy.

In the next 6 months many of Google's algorithms will likely greatly shift away from trusting raw link popularity and domain / link age to go more toward rate of change.

Lots of good stuff in there. It's really worth a read for anyone interested in SEO.

NYT Links at Blogger Book Reviews

The NYT recently linked at some blogger book reviews of popular highly blogged books.

While it usually makes sense to stick on a niche sometimes talking about things that are popular across the web graph or related things that are highly community oriented makes it easy to get links.

The NYT blogger book review articles are lame though, becuase they did not mention any of my reviews ;)

Matt Cutts = Best SEO Blogger?

Matt kicked our asses in the recent best SEO blog vote.

If we work out ways to spam his index hard enough maybe he won't have time to make any posts. ;)

If he beats us again I start investing into creating a wide variety of automated content / site generator software :)

Thanks to everyone who voted for me.

Ford Explorer Teaches Me to Ignore Google AdWords Ads

So I have been doing a bit of surfing around recently and I have been seeing Ford Explorer AdSense ads everywhere.

Are they bidding on a list of stop words or the letters of the alphabet perhaps? At $8 a click? Or what is up with those ads being everywhere? I thought the US auto industry was screwed? While GM is in the hurt locker it doesn't seem Ford is fairing much better.

By Google delivering those damn Explorer ads that are so far off target they are teaching site visitors to ignore the ads, and may be costing themselves and publishers a lot more than they realize. If people learn to ignore textual ads then funding good content production is much harder. If people can't afford to make good content then Google is going to be full of garbage.

I know I have read a number of times about how Google did not like when people bought off topic links. Do they think they are doing the web a favor by putting those Explorer ads on exceptionally off target websites? Where does the targeting end? Why is it legitimate to publish AdSense ads so far off topic if off topic links are bad?

Of course it would be ironic if the ads were behavioral and typing this post meant Ford ads for the next 5 years for me.

Black Hat Getting Harder? or Requiring More Cover?

So I have been diligently reading my feeds, and came across a few ideas that are worth cross referencing. DaveN recently said:

DaveN also mentioned that he is starting to work on a search engine, and has been producing legit content...even posting niche channels with furry animal USB drives.

In a recent WMW supporters thread Brett Tabke said:

I count 15 independent blackhat SEO's that have went to work for other corporations. The actual number must be closer to 50 or 60 that have thrown in the towel and went to work for the man.

But Marcia added

If the newer breed of the SEO black arts involves link-based manipulation, how could anyone assume there wouldn't be a good degree of underground collusion involved?

Contextual advertising and easy blog related links are making niche channel content production a no brainer. Even if it was only self funding or moderately profitable a content network would still allow you the ability to help market anything in a hurry. Partner up with a few friends on the idea and you are talking about some serious link authority that can be shifted to and fro.

So long as it is scaled out in a logical manner I think many SEOs are going to start becoming large scale publishers of many niche networks.

Sure the blog hype might be overrated, but there is something to be said about having your own network which can be used to help launch newer sites. Content costs are usually a one time fee, and so long as your niche selection is smart within a year or so the revenues should be able to outpace the cost on most channels.

Many paid links may be a bit obvious to engines and discounted, but there is only so many links they can chose to ignore. If you have a legit network that does not blatantly sell links your link popularity and content base will likely be leveragable in more ways than you can count.

I think the SEO theme for 2006 is networks and friendships with network owners.

How to Create a Search Engine Tips

When I interviewed Matt Cutts he stated that some people who want to know how search engines work might do well to create one. Here are some tips on how to create one.

Advertising, Value, and Marketing....

When something is free, that's what people expect to pay for the next one.

When overpaying people have to talk to others about what they are doing to justify their course of actions.

Many people need marketing messages pounded into them to act.

Today I noticed this review, stating:

Wall states that while he markets the book as being about SEO, it really is more about conveying everything he knows about the web. And providing the reader with lists of valuable resources so they can do more research on their own.

This book is for anyone with a website, who wants to get out there and get noticed by search engines. And I suspect that is everyone with a website. If you want the world to know about you, you need to know about SEO.

but they also said my ebook is expensive. And yet I am highly tempted to raise the price.

Today I also got this via email

If I buy your ebook will it stop inserting your ebook advertisement when I browse your site?

to which I responded

Unfortunately I don't have user custom accounts set up...the site format is the same for all site visitors :(

If you subscribe to the RSS feed there are no ads in that.

Ads are annoying and I hate them, but the day I moved my SEO Book ad inline my sales tripled. To move it out of the content area could likely be a big risk.

Leaving the RSS feed ad free makes it easy to subscribe to and recommend, but most of my potential clients probably have not heard of RSS or do not use it.

Local Trusted Links

Justilien posts a few ideas for getting easy well trusted local links.

OR, Loco Broadmatch Style

Rand reports on OR being an ignored as an ad targeting word in Google AdWords.

Pretty bad deal for those using their keyword selection for regional Oregon AdWords campaigns.

I don't do as many power searches as I should, but today I noticed that when I searched for "blah" or "fla" Google ignored the boolean function until I capitalized the term. Can't they trust that a capitalized OR stands for something in the ads too?

I think Rand's post about OR is a good example of how just being around and experiencing SEO or SEM teaches you many tricks, problems and ideas that most would not naturally think of before playing around in the field.

Perhaps if Oregon becomes part of Baja Canada Google will not have to worry about this problem. If CA and WA stop working as intended then we will know Google is trying to send a hint, and adjust our ads to target Baja CA.

Google has been involved in political redistricting in the past.

Does Google Know What Sites You Own?

Google created trending information about personal search history data. Matt Cutts also posted how internally they get to take a peak at aggregate search data. I so would love to take a peak at that stuff, but all I can do is be the searcher drone :)

Having said all of that, who is the top visitor to your sites? Usually you. What sites do you usually visit the most frequently? Your own. For example, 4 of the top 10 sites that I visit are also sites I own.

Aaron Wall's favorite sites.

Google does give you a morsel of the aggregate search data by recommending searches that similar searchers did. Anyone have idea what language #4 is in or what it says? Will clicking that search link mean that federal agents will come question my media consumption habbits? :)

Searches that weirdos like Aaron Wall searched for.

And as Gurtie has many times speculated, I never sleep, as proved by my nearly constant search history by hour. WTF is that?

Price Points, Customer Quality, Content and the Buying Cycle

Now I know people say you should always be nice, but I sometimes screw that up. Most potential business relationship offers are garbage and the guy who accepts every offer he gets is lucky, born rich, and/or likely eventually homeless.

It takes a dumb business person to try to help everyone who contacts them because if you develop any real brand value many more people will want you to help them than you possible can help. Couple that with the easy of communication and the anonymity of the web and it gets easy to feel a bit shitty if you don't do things to filter out the noise and scamsters (and yet I still get astrology websites claiming to be legitimate charities).

Recently I had one person contact me about 5 times a day asking questions like where is the Overture suggest tool. Stuff that would easily pop on the first page in Google if they used the exact same queries as they instant messaged me with. I explained to them that search is there for a reason and my time was limited, but my explanation was to no avail.

Had I not progressively ignored them and gave continuously shorter answers to encourage reading or searching I would have probably got about 50 questions a day from them. Eventually things were not going to do well.

They asked me questions which to me seemed to show they did not even attempt to read my book. In essence they said they bought my ebook, but I think what they wanted was a full time SEO tutor for a one time $79 fee. Sure I answered a bunch of questions but then after a while I told them I couldn't answer any more because it was not an honest or functional business model for me to continue to do so.

$79 is a bunch to pay for an ebook that you don't read, but $79 is not enough for a real time long term ongoing one on one internet business strategy consultation. People create autoresponder lists and write books and build software to leverage their time because individuals only scale so far.

I think the person who contacted me is probably a good person, but I think that even attempting to make myself widely available on IM is probably not a great idea as it makes it too easy to chat away instead of spending time learning.

I have spent a bunch building free tools to help people leverage their time. Some people are not going to appreciate you do no matter what you do or how hard you try though. Likely their expectations are unreasonable, selfish, or (most likely) they do not place much value on their own time and project their valuations on your time.

You still can learn something from clients who frustrate you and site visitors who seem like they don't have a clue. I am not sure if I will launch it anytime soon, but I think there is a good business model to be made by running an SEO Q&A service for a fee. If I did that it would solve multiple problems:

  1. If I placed a tangible value on each answer people would value my time more.

  2. I still could answer free questions if I wanted to, but would not have to worry about people viewing me as arrogant if I chose not to.
  3. Much of the content on this site is not geared toward picking up newbie targeted traffic from search engines because I can't keep hitting the same questions and ideas over and over as I learn more and the industry changes. Most potential customers are early on in the learning cycle, and this blog started after I had already learned for about a year, and that was a couple years ago. By having a feed of nothing but high quality answers to common newbie questions that content would rank great for many queries and likely convert at around 2 to 5% depending on search query and page layout.

How do Search Engines Work?

Via Gary Matt Cutts recently wrote a brief article about how Google works. It does not go through all the advanced spam filters layered over the top, but is a good beginners guide to how search engines work.

Matt Cutts also did an audio interview on WebmasterRadio, talking about many webmaster related issues. A few things Matt notes:

  • Some people waste too much effort going after a trophy phrase instead of going after a broad array of easier phrases.

  • Goes over some duplicate content issues at a low level.
  • Start out with a niche and build out.
  • It takes time to develop...don't expect a 4 day old site to compete.
  • hidden text penalties can take 30 days to 90 days to lift, longer for multiple instances

A while ago Jeff Dean did a behind the scenes look at Google video broadcast.

Politics, SEO and Spreading Stories

Mitch Ratcliff had an interesting post about Why Conservative Blogs are More Effective - they are more inclined to spread a consistent message...whereas liberal bloggers are more likely to slightly change the message to fit their version of the story.

In some markets it may make sense to tell stories in a manner where people use consistent language and anchor text and create a story that they will push far amongst their demographic.

At other times it might make sense to make your post or framing a bit less clear to ensure the anchor text is mixed around a wide variety of phrases and such that the story can appeal to different demographics.

The framing can help determine who picks up what stories and how far they will run with them. It is easier to syndicate spin, hype, and biased information, but it is a balancing act because too much can equate to lowered authority.

Highlighting Known SEO Circles

I think few things that has really changed for me over the past year are:

  • A greater appreciation for the amount of data the search engines are working with.

  • A realization that links that do not drive traffic and are not from authoritative sites will likely eventually drive no value.
  • A greater appreciation for viral marketing as it relates to traditional SEO.
  • Price points matter. If you make something free market forces will move to drive it's true value to nothing.

Having said all of that, would you think

  • sites that offered free links

  • and advertised on SEO sites
  • and link back to spammy sites offering a free directory that many spammy directories are powered by

would drive much long term value?

A year or two back the whole conversational bits of the web were sorta just kinda being felt out and were perhaps a bit slow moving. Now there is enough various feedback mechanisms that can be tracked to where I wouldn't suspect primarily commerce related directories that were highlighted on SEO sites that provided free listings would drive much value, at least not for Google.

Another tip for any link selling company that wants to sound like they deliver long term value and quality links that work while also appreciating the whole risk vs reward concept...don't use buy-google-pagerank in the URL.

As Martinibuster always preaches, thinking outside of known SEO circles is a good way to do well with SEO.

Andrew Goodman Interviewed

Lee Odden interviews Mr. Google AdWords. Of particular interest to me, Andrew speaking on creating his guide to AdWords:

The first one, of course, came out in ebook form in March 2002 and really took off the moment I started selling it. A bit later, MarketingSherpa and many others helped to publicize it. Believe it or not, I'd been working on a comprehensive SEO document for eighteen months by that point, but I kept feeling like the subject was too broad and no one would get excited about it, so I never completed it.

I think I sorta proved there would / could be demand for an ebook about SEO, as many other SEO book authors have, but I would bet that Andrew has made far greater profit by targeting a niche that is prequalified to have money to spend on ads.

Many people want SEO because they don't have a functional business model and are looking for a free ride. Sure there are probably more searches for SEO than AdWords, but probably less buyers. And another thing that hurts the SEO Book concept is that many of the people looking for SEO believe that there is some automated solution that will make them gobs of money. I know I personally bought a bunch of junky SEO software before I bought any books on the topic.

While he did not discuss organic search in deep depth in his book Andrew Goodman's ebook was the first legit book covering the search space that really helped me better understand some of the limitations of SEO as a service. I think his ebook was the first ebook I read where I didn't feel that the author wrote it to up sell me some sleazy garbage software or put me on a list to spam my inbox.

The Indirect Value of Going to Conferences

Not sure if I posted about this before, but sometimes just by being around you get links. Having an outgoing personality like Dax helps as well, but I have got many links just by being around. I have also met many people way smarter than I who offer me many free tips about business related issues.

The following bit has nothing to do with Dax, but is related to speaking at conferences in general. Sometimes you will see speakers who seem to have little to do with a topic. When questioning why they are there don't just think about learning and sharing, maybe they are tapping into some free public relations and link building that is both legit and hard for their competitors to get.

Create Good Stuff or Create Garbage

So yesterday on my drive cross country I called back a person who wanted some strategy advice for marketing his sites.

He was creating satellite sites using stuff like but putting quality useful articles on those sites.

There are two ways to do well on the web. Create uber high quality channels or create lots of garbage. The people at the top of the content pyramid gain from the additional public relations and linkage data. The people at the bottom gain by appearing relevant for so many random queries. If you are stuck in the middle you are going to get ate up from the edges.

If you are creating garbage you need to keep your costs low - both in attention and in money. If you are creating good stuff you want to have something that is original and one of the best channels in your field such that you can get linked from the experts in your field and even some web experts outside your field.

100 small satellite domains probably are not going to work well at promoting your main channels directly unless they are niched down to be uber unique and/or require essentially no ongoing commitment.

If your field is really spammy you can eventually do well by starting off with one of the least spammy channels if you can keep it fairly low cost until they are profitable, but as the markets get more competitive and become attention markets eventually some of the profits need to be reinvested or you end up losing market share.

Stuntdubl Interviews Martinibuster

Running a Contest? Always Ask a Friend First

I generally steer clear of awards because they seem a bit gratuitous and self serving, but they are great for link building.

Loren recently created a 2005 search awards contest. The awards have been mentioned on most every major search blog and have even got a bit of coverage outside the typical search sphere.

When Loren did his recent contest he ran it past me first and I said that he should re-categorize some of the stuff and add at least one category that could go viral or would be inclined to be talked about.

The category which fit that profile well for me is

Matt or Jeremy: who is more likely to flame you for spamming?

Sure enough both Matt and Jeremy blogged about it.

I have never done a contest to build links, but if I did here are things I would think about

  • which people should I run the award ideas past before it exists so I can refine it? This could help improve the contest categories, and it gives those people a reason for them to want to help market it since they gave feedback on it. Plus asking for feedback is a bit more tactful than asking for a link.

  • Are there any official sounding endorsements that would make the contest seem official like?
  • Who do I REALLY want links from? Those sites should be listed in small categories that really fit there niche?
  • Will any of the contestants get pissed if I email them to tell them they are in the contest? If not which contestants should I email?
  • Can I make something funny or interesting that people would want to link at?
  • Outside of the problem of self selection can I get a consensus on something that generally has no consensus?
  • Can I relate this study to bloggers or any niche markets that typically link virally or link with authority?

There are probably a bunch of other good ideas with contests, please let me know which ones you like.

Link Love for the Link Lover

Traditional Link Building Dying to Viral Marketing

In many ways a link in and of itself may not constitute a vote of quality. How do you discount sites like FT selling hidden links or links that are out of the way ads?

Brian thinks search engines may use clickstream data.

Throwing out the book on SEO is another post covering site visitor action, and the concept has to be at least a bit valid because Rand's recent beginner's guide to SEO already ranks in the top 30 for SEO. If you look at Rand's link trend or information you can see that he has had a sharp increase in viral linking and SVA recently.

Peter D recently posted on finding relevancy in hyper saturated markets. The solution to the problem?

  • buy old

  • go viral
  • do both

Get Out of The Google Sandbox Free Card

DaveN offers up a Sanbox tip

on the sandbox... try this .

so you have a site loads of content, yet you know deep down that you should be ranking but you're not .. ( I can't confirm or deny that this is the sandbox ), you have good links and a good site structure.. but still you don't rank ( I can't confirm or deny that this is the sandbox )

You rank in Yahoo and Msn .. but no where in Google ( I can't confirm or deny that this is the sandbox ) ..

ok get an old domain, something which google crawls, then put a subdomain on it ... original and copy the site exactly on the sub as it is in the orginal date last modifed to a few months after the domain was first registered ... yer i know that makes all the content look really really old ... lol

Add a link from the www. to the forget about seo anchor text links, these are just to let google in.. now 301 the subdomain to the new site

New Years Resolution....Get More Links

So New Years is just around the corner. Many people will act in predictible ways, saying that this year they want to do this or that. Odds are there are some good linking opportunities pent up in that demand. This page currently ranks #7 in Google for lose weight.

Reading List on PageRank and Search Algorithms

cool post with links to a variety of search research. I hope to have time to read all the referenced papers.

Greg Linden asks

The probabilities of jumping to an unconnected page in the graph rather than following a link -- and briefly suggests that this personalization vector could be determined from actual usage data.

In fact, at least to my reading, the paper seems to imply that it would be ideal for both of these -- the probability of following a link and the personalization vector's probability of jumping to a page -- to be based on actual usage data. They seem to suggest that this would yield a PageRank that would be the best estimate of searcher interest in a page.

But, if I have enough usage data to do this, can't I calculate the equivalent PageRank directly?

Ho John Lee answers Greg's question here.

Interview of Greg from BOTW

I recently interviewed Greg from BOTW. He chats about directories, blackjack, and running some of his other web based businesses.

He also offers a discount for BOTW submissions at the end of the interview.

The Googleverse

the Googleverse is a forum with posts on Google and biz related issues. Have not read it all yet, but some of it is a bit boring and some of it looks uber cool. Will post about some of it's threads in a bit more depth soon.

The Guardian Launches a Free Branded Feed Reader

Steve Rubel posted about The Guardian launching a feed reader.

Many sites that are hard to link at or are in fields where many people are competing on near similar content theme and quality may be able to boost their overall site authority scores by creating something that people with lots of link popularity would like to link at.

SEO Copywriting = Rubbish

Bob Bly, the well known copywriter, recently wrote an article about why he did not hold much stock in SEO copywriting.

To create powerful copy, you need to have a single core audience in mind and concentrate all your effort on writing to that one audience. When I write copy, that audience is the prospect, the potential buyer of the product I am selling.

However, with SEO copywriting, you pander to another "audience" — the "search engines" and not the reader. And by creating copy that's optimal for attracting search engines, you are, to some degree, weakening that copy's power to sell. You dilute its strength because you are worrying about two audiences - the reader and the engines - instead of focusing every word on the customer. That's not how to write copy that sells.

As a copywriter, I would expect him to say something like that. But to a large extent I think many people would be better off if page titles and content had viral marketing or conversion in mind more than the search engines.

If the page is good enough at converting the following will happen

  • affiliates will push traffic at it
  • you can afford to buy in on PPC
  • you can afford to place many link ads or hire article writers or hire a public relations firm and the links will boost your natural rank

Using common permutations of your keywords in the anchor text will help you rank better. If the page converts at getting linked at or selling something that's about all you least as long as you understand a bit about how search engines work.

Dear Sir

I hate rules...but I have a new email rule. If a person emails me with Dear Sir
they probably will not get a response unless I know them well (in which case they would not use dear sir).

I recently started doing this a bit more with some of the give me a free ebook because I am a fake charity scam emails and it feels so good deleting it that I want to broaden that out a bit more.

I have to value my time because eventually I will die.

Article Syndication for SEO

Andy Hagans loves Ezine Articles

How To Make Money From Search Engines

Peter D set up his Squidoo page.

Not sure how set out he will be on updating it, but the guy knows his shit and it is well worth a read and RSS subscription if he is gonna teach only 1% of what he knows.

A few of his opening tips:

Don't Think of Adsense As Advertising, Think Of Adsense As Content - Ads can answer your visitors questions just as easily as your content. So let it. Integrate it. Mix it into your written paragraphs.

Comprehensive Content Does Not Necessarily Equal Great Adsense Revenue - If the visitor is so engrossed in your article, or you answer all their questions, they may be less likely to click on your ads. Don't answer all the visitors questions. Leave them wanting more. The Adsense ads can, and often do, provide that "more". Let them.

I have been well known to almost always screw up on that second tip (writing way too much). More content might bring in more traffic, but if that traffic does not do something you want them to do then what is the point?

I have found that being an altruistic publisher often equates to being a poor one, at least compared to the guy with many lines in the water driving visitors to targeted profitable goals.

Less interesting content per page lets you split your information up and makes the ad click a higher probability action.


Matt Marlon, CEO of Traffic Power, who was recently profiled in the WSJ:

Mr. Marlon, 61 years old, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy-court protection in 1996. In 1997, Mr. Marlon was indicted on charges of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, related to possession of a chemical used to make methamphetamine, and was sentenced to three years of probation, including six months of home confinement. The court record for his drug offense said he also had an alias, "Jimmy Ray Houts."

He recently had a fan site created at Matt I wonder if he will send them a bogus lawsuit like he sent me.

Link Exchange Evolves...Sorta

I don't know how many link exchange sites there are (way too many), but someone created a content + link exchange site.

Ultimately this still has similar problems to traditional link exchange sites:

  • Over 99% of websites are useless

  • Most people attracted to the trade your way to the top schemes couldn't create useful stuff on their own site or else they would not be using community based schemes.
  • Many of those who have content worthy of exploiting the effects of commmunity linkage are already doing so in better systems like

link via Rand and Donna

Free SEO Book: Helping Charities and Setting Expectations of Value

If you are not a real charity and desire my ebook (but not enough value to consider paying for it) I recommend grabbing a dated version of the ebook from a file sharing network.

This may sound a bit harsh, but I am trying to keep up my ability to support legit charities as long as I can...and for that to happen some things need to change.

My charity support is going to require more effort from the charities. In the past I have done lots of work trying to help anyone and everyone, but I need to take a little load off the inbox.

If I try to make myself freely available to everyone and they expect fast responses for me giving them my business model free then I am setting up a piss poor value proposition. There needs to be some effort put in on the end of the charity so that I am not a charity verification service and so they value what I am giving them.

Earlier today I got this gem of a comment:

We are an Embassy of India School in Moscow, Russia and requested per your post "If you are a certified non profit, charity, church, open software developer, or school I can provide you with a free copy." for a free copy. It is now more than a week and we are still waiting. If you don't intend to send for free, than do not post the crap about sending free on your site.

And generally I am pretty quick with email, but sometimes I miss a few (and now have about 700 in the inbox to sort through - and get around 100 a day). With the charities I sometimes ask for verification. Based on the initial emails and the lack of follow through with some of them I would estimate that over 50% of the charity requests I get are fake.

Some people have went so far as trying to spoof their sent from email address. Others have created near similar sites and done bait and switch website techniques.

The number of demanding fake charity sleazeballs eating up my time is unfortunate. They are a scourge on my ability to learn and help good people and I am not going to let them change my perception of legitimate good causes. I will simply not waste my time servicing the fake ones.

Going forward for a charity to get my ebook free they must email me the following:

  • my name (if you use dear sir expect sir to be synonymous with spam bin, because that is where it is going)

  • an email with an address that matches the URL of the charity site (if you are an outside consultant helping a charity and you think it will really help you then it should not be that big of a deal for you to set up an email address)
  • some sort of verification that they are a legitimate charity. (ie: see we are referenced by Network For Good here... or something like that...wherever they are referenced that MUST link through to the charity site matching the email)
  • Most legitimate charities create a site and get no traffic before they even realize they could use something like SEO. If you have no website and outside verification then you can get that sorted before contacting me.
  • you must also email me a URL from the charity site where there is a contact form or email address listed that I can mail back access of the ebook to
  • if you have a charity registration number that also helps

Other requirements to get a free ebook:

  • you do not have to be a registered charity if you are a legitimate good cause. If a site like World Changing wanted my ebook and was not an official charity of course they can have it free, but they would need to have content that made me feel like they were a good cause to me and possibly others stating what a good cause they are on their website.

  • Legit open source stuff, legit schools, and things that I just think are cool qualify as well.
  • I am uncertain as to what religions are right or wrong, but I believe many organized religions cause more harm or conflict than good. I feel like I am being fake if I help spread things I do not believe in to promote myself. Thus going forward the only religious institutions I will offer my ebook to for free are those which represent interdenominational institutions (ie: those that accept all types)...and it should say so on your should point me to where it says this.

If you send me a charity request email and it does not comply with any of the above do not expect a reply.

Mail requests to

Love it or hate it please let me know your thoughts :) or :(

SEO turns 2

neato...this bloggie is 2 years old today.

Apples to Oranges

I always noticed that some blogs and sites like Threadwatch got uber tons of comments while this blog did not get many.

I recently bought Threadwatch, and the last couple days I have put far more effort into that site, but have noticed a good number of comments on this one as well. It sorta goes to show that sometimes by changing your perspective you can appreciate stuff more.

Thanks to everyone who has been commenting and whatnot.

Now another thing that is a huge difference between this site and that one is that in the past I think I spent lots of time thinking about and analyzing stuff to the point where few people would want to comment on any of the posts (ie: if you already say it all then there is nothing left).

On Threadwatch the audience, editors, format, and whole system is more geared around an infoporn mechanism. Find cool stuff and let others comment on it. Try to find at least 1 or 2 things every day that make readers become smilers and most likely writers.

If you want others to comment sometimes it is easy to leave a bit out. If you work really hard to say both sides of a story it is much harder for readers to quickly add something than if you mostly highlight one side and give people easy things to add.

Shorter is typically better as well. As far as social interaction goes short sweet and funny will typically beat out comprehensive and perhaps being a bit overly wordy.

I still need to work out lots of the mechanisms for the social stuff, but that is one hell of a site to be able to learn on and while I hope it does great even if I hosed up I think the experience is worth so much money. Thanks again for the opportunity Nick and all the readers / editors / writers at TW.

It's Not Just What You Read, but Also How You Read It

Oilman was recently contacted by Anthony Noto, the world renowned stock analyst and phone spammer.

A while ago Randy Ray pointed at a post called The Ultimate Secret to Winning Poker, where Bill Rini posted about how he failed at being a stock broker because he did not cold call enough people. He spent too much time trying to study the market and perfect the craft. He did not read or understand that just calling calling calling was the most important step until it was too late.

That post also mentions that if people read many books on a subject and still do not understand the subject then the answer does not necessarily rest in some obscure passage they will one day cross, but more likely in a book they already read, but did not read closely with enough attention and an open mind.