Review of Google AdWords 123 by Greg Helsin

May 11th

Google AdWords 123 is a 115 page affiliate marketing ebook by Greg Heslin. While he uses AdWords as the theme & title, the book is more of a beginners guide to affiliate marketing.

Things I liked about Google AdWords 123:

  • Focuses on consumer groups and how consumers think instead of focusing just on keywords. for example:

    • items which would be ordered discreatly (due to embarasement or the like) with little free information on the web is a good thing to sell.
  • he is willing to go agains conventional marketing gurus a few time, explaining his reasoning when he does
  • he has a long history in marketing and covers tips such as Attention, Interest, Desire, & Action
  • points out how to find good sales letters (looking for things like personal experience)
  • pointed out some free quality resources that I have not seen mentioned elsewhere. a few examples:
  • Does not sugar coat things or make them seem too complex. Gives the exact way he figures out what to bid.
  • his guide walks users through setting up their first campaign. He also reminds them that some people may take up to 20 tries to find a profitable product & helps them determine if or when they should pause or delete a word or campaign.

Things I thought could be improved with Google AdWords 123:

  • The book uses affiliate links. I think these are part of the reason why it is cheaper than many similar competing ebooks, but sometimes authenticity of recommendation is questioned when affiliate links are used. A while ago some people complained to me when I used some of them (and so I quickly removed the ones I used).

  • Does not recommend creating separate campaigns with lower bids for content ads. Content ads will typically less have less implied demand and value than search ads.
  • does not talk about dynamic keyword insertion, which is huge for helping ads appear relevant and encouraging high clickthrough rates.
  • points out that software automation is important for effectively using time, but does not point out keyword combination tools such as GoogEdit, ThePermutator, or this one.

Overall I thought it was a pretty good ebook, and at under $50 it was well worth it. Visit the Google AdWords 123 website to learn more.

Review of The SitePoint Search Engine Marketing Kit by Dan Thies

Apr 21st

A while ago I bought Dan Thies's Search Engine Marketing Kit because I think Dan knows his stuff pretty well. Many people miss out on the fact that if you make your product just a little better by understanding what other related products are on the market and learning even just a few things from them you build significant longterm value.

There are some sectors of his kit and my ebook that overlap, but many sectors do not directly overlap.

things I liked about Dan's kit:

  • You can tell that he wants to help people do well. Self promotion is kept to a minimum. It is also obvious that the book is based on years experience.

  • Branded as the keyword expert it is no surprise that he covers keyword research in depth.
  • Throughout the book he reinforces how much the reader has learned. I think my ebook would be improved if I added a few more of the reinforcement statements like that.
  • He offers a good amount of tips on setting up and selling an SEO / SEM service. I think his goal when making the guide was to create something similar to the Web Design Business Kit for SEM.
  • He provides sample documents for prospective SEO businesses. Such as service agreements.
  • Most of his guide is wrote in a manner that it will not be outdated in a couple days, weeks, months, or years.
  • Talks a good amount about server, duplicate content, and technical issues. This is an area where I could improve my guide a good bit.
  • Has some useful interviews in it.
  • Focused on big picture concepts, not irrelevant and/or short term solutions.
  • Well edited.
  • I end my ebook stating that I think people should continue reading and learning about the web as there is no one source that is going to teach you everything to make you do well. He also did that and I think that is a necissary mark of a good book in this space.

things I think could be better:

  • The kit could focus a bit more on creativity, especially in the link building area.

  • Although we are both willing to mention them, he and I both do not usually use or recommend the most aggressive techniques. I think me being indepenant gives me a bit more leway though. For example, I can say I don't think most people need to cloak, but if you do chose to cloak go with the best, Fantomaster.
  • Dan could have done a bit more to talk about some of the social aspects of the web. Some of his examples and his interview of Scottie did help show some of these types of ideas in action though. I think did a fair job with it, but I think it is an issue that is sorely missed within the SEO community. It is impossible to stress the social aspects of the web too much.
  • The resources area at the end of the guide was a bit thin. I think this was a function of a few main factors:
    • My ebook links to a ton of sites and tools, so that may throw my baseline or expectation off.

    • What is a useful tool today may not be a useful tool tomorrow.
    • He did not intend to create a comprehensive tool list.

    The resources he recommend are useful and best of breed ones though.

  • One of the weeknesses of my ebook was that I did not link to much search research because I did not want to make my book too technical. I later added some links on that front due to people asking more about some of the topics and current research. I think he references some, but it would be hard for him to reference the Google patent that came out less than a month ago.
  • Some of the nuances to link building were not well versed. Of course Google sometimes rolls in almost random penalties and lots of concepts that may change over time. It is hard to be exceptionally in depth on the latest techniques and go through the whole publishing process.

How else our guides differ:

Process: Dan covers the importance of process. I do not stress that in my ebook. My philosophy is that it is easy to get stuck in ruts and the things you do should be efficient and flexible. Proccess makes some things efficient, but you should also spend a good amount of time doing unique things. Creative or original ideas do well on the web. I also think it is important to learn markets and learn how to react quickly.

Freshness: His book was crafted in a manner to where it would not go out of date in a day. That also means that it is not going to be able to go as far in depth on some issues and cover some of the newest techniques.

Target audience:
His book seems to be more focused on those aiming to sell SEO services. My book seems more focused on those who are aiming to buy services. We both overlap in covering those who want to do services on their own sites.

Generally I do not like selling SEO services as a business model. SEO is a flooded marketplace with a ton of scams in it. Most of the prospective clients have other problems and some view SEO as free money. It may sound arrogent to say that over 90% of the prospective leads are no good, but client greed and the invisiblity of the job make it hard to land clients worth working for unless you are smooth at salesmenship. If you already know how to sell stuff why not create your own products and sites?

To me it usually makes sense to build your own stuff and work on your own sites if you can afford to. Sure you may have a few clients off the start, but the quicker you shed service based work the quicker you can look at creating your own products and websites that logarithmically increase in value as time passes.

In each niche market there are opportunities for a few people to dominate. Many markets related to basic functions related to life and humanity still have zero competition. SEO on the other hand is fierce. Everyone sees Google's stock price and wants to get in on making money cheap as possible.

Dan Thies is the keyword research expert. Patrick Gavin is the link broker. Eric Ward is a site announcement expert with tons of contacts. Jen Sleg is the contextual ads expert. Andrew Goodman is the AdWords expert. Jill Whalen is the content SEO. Kevin Lee is a PPC expert. SEO PR is the company that optimizes press releases. Even writing an SEO book by the name of SEO Book meant that I was joining a crowded marketplace. It took over a year to see significant profits. I am not the best at selling services, but if you do decide to sell SEO services then doing following should help:

  • build brand build brand build brand!!!

  • niche your services
  • try to create services where your pay is not reliant on rankings or other arbitrary figures. get paid for results that matter or get paid upfront and create results that matter.
  • do not be afraid to say no to leads
  • create other revenue streams to make up for the fluctuations in demand.

Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now

Apr 9th

I just got done reading Bruce Sterling's Tomorrow Now, which is a cool book. It looks at how Bruce thinks humanity and the human condition will change in the next 50 years, including the effects of the infusion of technology and biotechnology.

While I occasionally read some Wired articles I did not know who Bruce was until I heard him at a keynote speech at SXSW.

A part of the book spoke about how unstable deprived corners of the world exist due to the desires and faults of many people in developed nations. If we do not tolerate crime we push it off to countries with less stable governments. Keeping drugs illegal provides the profit margins to protect and empower warlords. A failure to provide alternative energy solutions is also a source of crisis which warlords breed on.

Tomorrow Now also spoke about how fascist leaders can attach to religious ideas to push their agendas and how generally as communication becomes cheaper, quicker, and more available government will lose more and more of their power. People will eventually get their desires in spite of overt manipulation attempts.

The book told such vivid stories about war torn countries that last night I had a bizarre dream where I was shot six times because my friend invited me along to a gunfight that I did not know was a gun fight. After I got shot once my friend ran and I was shot an additional 5 times. Even more bizarre was that I was drinking a sip of orange juice at 5am the next morning chatting about how I was all shot up the night before. Perhaps I was also thinking about the advances in biotechnology to come.

Though the words I am typing likely seem like they have little to do with the world of SEO that is entirely untrue. The web is just a social network. Everything that exists off the web will find its way onto the web. Sure you can deny it and push things off into corners, but that is where corruption generally exists. Why not discuss the issues you feel are important?

Some blogging "gurus" will tell you how comment spam is associated with organized crime. And people were shorting airline stocks as they flew planes into buildings. Yet the stock market is still easily manipulated by some figures and blog software vendors created software that was not forward looking.

Tools are just tools. Isn't it what you do with the profits that is important? I distinctly remember some people blogging about WordPress spam being fine because they went to help out a good cause. Well aren't we being a bit hypocritical here?

Not too long ago I posted about some blog spamming software that was for sale. I said that I did not use comment spamming software based upon the social implications and karma values. I also wrote the post in a rather positive light for a few main reasons:

  • I was amazed at the price / value of the software.

  • I had never seen it publicly available before.
  • I wanted to see how people would react to it.
  • Just the act of mentioning it was sure to draw criticism. But how do you fix problems that you can't even mention?

It would have been just as easy for me to post about "I can't believe how this scumbag is selling this software...". It would have likely garnered many more links and more feedback. The conversation would not have been that rich though. Just a bunch of ditto heads echoing each other. My goal was to be honest about it.

I wrote a post title on that post to make people think that I WANTED to rank for the term. The whole goal was to remove the social stigma. It's out there. You know it exists. Why make a big deal out of mentioning it?

I find it interesting about how so many people take personally the idea that they need to (and actually help) control the business model and search result quality of another business.

Here is a perfect example of the typically arrogant & short sighted thought process, as described by a person who hunts down spammers:

If the goal is to get me blacklisted in Google, you can forget it. I’m sure there’s a whitelist as well as a blacklist. If anyone’s on that whitelist, it’s me.

And yet the search engines do not agree with certain aspects of business, like marketing, so they try to push link buying and marketing off into a corner somewhere. Google's lack of accepting the world for what it is perhaps is their biggest strength and their biggest weakness at the same time.

By pushing it into a corner they create more markets and build business models.

Most of us make enough profits to pay our bills, pay for our vices, pay for our families, pay to grow, and then support things we believe in.

Some people look at the addictions of others as profit streams. And rarely are their easier profits. I had a page mentioning casinos on a completely crap online mall affiliate site. Really a low quality site, but when I created it I was new to the web and did not know any better. It still didn't stop that page from generating thousands of dollars of income on $0 of ad spend.

Another thing I find fascinating is how selfish many of the purported experts are. Eventually you trade on your reputation and it becomes all you know...unless you force yourself to keep taking risks and keep learning.

Review of Daniel H Pink's A Whole New Mind 2005 SXSW Speech

A Whole New Mind
Daniel H Pink, who spent 10 years as a political speech writer, stated that the keys to a good Monday morning speech were brevity, levity, and repitition. He then went on to explain some of the concepts in his upcomming book by the name of A Whole New Mind.

In the past he stated that left brain dominant people have had an advantage. Well paying jobs existed for those who exceled at linear, logical, rational, and analytical types of thinking.

He then went on to state that due to automation, abundance, and Asia that people who exceled in right brain dominant thinking will do well going forward. Those who are empathetic, wholistic, artistic, intuitive, and big picture thinkers will receive more than a fair share of the upcoming windfall of profits.

Abundance:

  • 2 in 3 US own their own home

  • more than 1 car per registered driver in the US
  • self storage is a $17 billion dollar per year industry. (which is more than the motion picture industry

Asia:

  • overhyped short term

  • underhyped long term
  • 1 in 10 US IT jobs will go to India in the next 2 years.
  • 1 in 4 IT jobs will be outsources by 2010.
  • 2010 more people from India will speak English than the number of people doing so in the United States.
  • they work for 1 / 6 of the wages
  • cost of phone connections has moreless reached zero
  • routine jobs (such as scripts and specification sheets will be the first to go)

Automation:

  • "Software is a forklift for the mind." - Tom Peters

  • John Henry beat the machine and died.
  • Kasparov retires from chess.
  • TurboTax
  • YourDiagnosis.com
  • legal fees:
    • uncontested divorice ~ $3,000

    • Complete Case.com $249
    • US Legal Forms.com $14.95

Affluence, technology & globalization
agriculture -> Industry -> Information -> Conceptual (creators and empathizers)

Women have a much larger corpus callosum and are thus better at multitasking.

questions to see if you are in the wrong business

  1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper.

  2. Can a computer do it faster.
  3. Will there be demand for it in an age of abundance.

He adds the buzz words high concept and high touch to explain products and services he believes will do well.

Design, story, sympathy, play, meaning, and empathy are fundamental human attributes which will help people succeed.

He then gave examples of how design could be easy and why it is important.

  • "I see us as being in the art business. Art, entertainment, and mobile sculpture, which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation." — Robert Lutz, chairman of General Motors North America

  • Daniel also showed how quickly one can learn to draw by taking a five day course, showing his before and after self portraits.
  • US Army using video games to recruit.
  • Daniel also points to the hokey 2000 Florida state ballot which had many old Jewish ladies voting for Pat Buchanan

Review of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink

Jan 25th

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a new book by Malcolm Gladwell which discusses and breaks down the concept of rapid cognition and why it is often better than years of scientific data.
He also reviews when rapid cognition breaks down and how it can be refined. Excitement can cause a temporary state of autism. A lack of time and / or exepreience can also cause us to make quick, irrational, and / or biased decisions. The hardest thing to guage is the intent of another person.

Typically under normal circumstances when given enough time or experience (so as to manage our stress reaction) our immediate gut feelings are often correct.

How this book relates to SEO...

  • Many SEOs analyze large sets of data and can quickly state what changes have occured and what they would expect next due to past experience.

  • Many others are quick to say "prove it to me" and do no testing of their own.
  • The web is a social network. You need to learn to judge the intent of others in your community (that includes the people running search engines for SEOs) - and often you do not get to see the telling signs of a face.
  • Its important for your longterm success for you to learn who you can trust and build social relationships with.
  • If you can afford them conferences are really worth going to. If you can not afford them sometimes you can get free passes from friends or by helping set them up (as a bag stuffer or chair setter or whatever).
  • If you are uncertain who is worth trusting then testing and small steps would likely be useful. If you do not test or test poorly and consistantly state "prove it to me" you are likely to be found repulsive by the people who would have likely been willing to help you most.
  • I think I am more interested in how minds work than how search algorithms work, though if you learn a bunch about one I am sure that can also help you relate better to the other.

Free book for you?
First person to

  • reply to this post -and-

  • send me an email with their address and Blink as the subject wins a free copy of Blink.

Please do not request the free copy of this book unless you are sure you will read it, especially if you live in a country where sending you this book would cost me $60 in postage.

This contest is void where prohibited :)

[update: NickW stated he does not want it...next person wins]

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