Illogical Overinvestment and Attachment to a Topic

Dec 31st

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,
Aaron

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 site...you 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 seobook@gmail.com

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

SEO Book.com turns 2

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

Traffic Power Has Not Yet Replied to the Motion for Summary Judgement

I recently spoke with the lawyer again about the evil / shoddy anti free speech lawsuit the fine folks at Traffic Power thrusted upon me.

About a month ago my lawyer filed a motion for summary judgement.

Stuff in the court system tends to drag out, but my lawyer said Traffic Power's response is at least a week late & he filed a reply of non oposition [doc] requestion that the motion be granted.

Learning from Errors and Random Investigative Comments

Oct 28th

So recently I have been getting phone calls from someone saying they used to work with xyz-firm but are no longer associated, along with copies of cease and desist letters they sent to xyz-firm.

When the person contacted me, telling me they were trying to help me, I told them that if there is anything they felt they could do to help me they may as well make it public. It does no good to give me half information or one perspective of a murky story that I can pass along as hearsay.

I also have been getting investigative comments about how that person and their business is associated with xyz-firm. Although the most recent one I deleted because it is off topic. I may have to look and see if there are any others that need deleted.

Taking a longer glance at the whole situation this stuff may be at least a bit of a waste of time. Ultimately there is no way to be a clearing house of information about who you can't trust and why you can't trust them. Scammers and scam systems constantly evolve to find the shortest distance between you and your money.

We all make mistakes and we all learn. I once hired an SEO firm who told me to use hidden text and other shoddy techniques (copy your home page and change the filename to these words and cross link them back and forth with invisible small text using these words in the link text). At that point I asked that person what would stop me from automating it and doing it over and over or writing a program to do it. They did not reply. At the time the company that provided shoddy services to me was ranked in paid listings and organic search results for competitive phrases.

I think when you hire people to do technical stuff in nature you should ask questions or want to know why. Things change over time and sometimes people do things because it has always been that way. As you become more successful it is even easier to get away with doing things the way you used to and living by them, even if others would see different results trying to do the same thing. And it is harder to hold the passion in a topic and think of unique and useful things to say that have not yet been said, so we all recycle.

Sometimes I don't even agree with things I said in the past. And I think it should be that way. While sometimes I am a bit more thickheaded than I would like to view myself as being, I should learn from my mistakes. If you keep learning you make more and different mistakes, but hopefully better ones.

I think the aim in saying that xyz or yqp are deceptive might be a useful public service if it is true, but ultimately it makes little sense for me to try to keep up with zpw or whatever other fictitious companies come out. If consumers are lazy and do not investigate they deserve to waste their money as I once did. Maybe ritually burning x dollars is part of the learning process.

I don't think the aim should be why you can't trust others so much as why you hopefully can trust me. I think Andrew Goodman once said something about that in SEW forums...about the value of having a voice when most people try to hide.

When you are new and nameless there is little to no reason to avoid risk - after all you have got little to lose. Some of the stuff I did in the past I probably would not do today. And some of the stuff I do today I am certain I wouldn't do tomorrow.

Anyone Know Anything About Business Licenses?

A friend of mine pointed out that on the BBB Traffic Power page it states:

The Bureau has been unable to ascertain that the firm has a valid business license. Consumers who do business with an unlicensed firm do so at their own risk.

The company previously had a license, which was issued on February 19, 2003. The license became inactive as of April 30, 2004.

This Nevada Secretary of State page shows a revoked license for Traffic Power.

Is there a way of telling if they later got a different business license? If they don't have a valid business license, then how can they sue anyone under that business name?

Thanks to Danny & Ian

Sep 24th

Sorta started to make this post the other day and forgot to save it. I just wanted to say thanks again to Danny, Ian, and everyone else who has helped me with this lawsuit stuff. I have been getting a crash course in public relations.

Danny recently posted about the support Ian offered via SMA-NA, and how SEMPO decided they wanted to steer clear of it. ThreadWatch also recently commented on SEMPO's tone & position.

In related news, Red Herring posted an article about the legal challenges of blogging.

Answer to the Traffic Power Lawsuit

Sep 22nd

My lawyer recently answered the Traffic Power lawsuit [PDF]. No doubt some strong keyword density in that document :)

For those who want some background on the lawsuit check out this post, which highlights when they sued me and the lack of specifics in the lawsuit.

Traffic Power Lawsuit Update

Sep 15th

Initially when I was sued by Traffic Power I partnered up with the fine folks at Traffic Power Sucks and helped share their lawyer fees.

Some of my friends donated far more than I could have ever imagined, and said they wanted me to buy the best lawyer I could find. A friend of mine in the SEO space who is legally well connected recommended I go with Ariel Stern from Jones Vargas.

Ariel had the case moved from state court to federal district court. The case number in federal court is CV-S-05-1109-RLH-LRL, and the website is located at www.nvd.uscourts.gov. I believe interested parties can follow the case developments using the Pacer service, but will need an account to log in.

The legal support calls and emails back and forth are flowing nicely and all is well on that front. Some bits of the case are sorta like a holding pattern though. As I learn more I will share it, although there are some bits I have been told not to share until some time passes.

Thanks to everyone who donated.

What are the best RSS Feeds

A while back I bought a new computer and forgot to transfer all my RSS feeds over to the new one. Starting from scratch, what all cool feeds should I be reading?

Do you like any obscure hidden gems?

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