When to Trust Someone...

How do you know when to trust someone?

When talking face to face motive is not always easy to judge, but it is usually a bit easier than it is over the web.

Hucksters & Spammers:
Golden rule #1 for me is if you are so good at what you do there is no reason for you to be wasting your time cold calling me.

If you waste my time in any way: bulk email, cold call, random pop up, etc there is no way in hell I want to do business with you. But beyond that it gets a bit harder:

Sales Hype:

  • Tons of affiliates openly endorse crap. They lie about how good something is to make a commission. From what I have seen the single hardest part of being an affiliate marketer is finding someone who wants to give honest advice.

  • Many testimonials are fake or favors for friends.
  • I could probably at least double my conversions by putting a bit more hype in the sales letter, but I feel guilty being promotional at all. Most of the parts of my sales letter which are hype sounding were wrote by someone else. Some sales letters are litterally 40 pages long.
  • I write a 5 start press release for customers, but usually write a 3 star one for myself.

Selling Things:

  • Credit card fraud is huge. Sometimes not only is the price refunded, but your account can be subject to significant fees.

  • Many people sleezeballs buy products and then ask for a refund within the first minute.
  • One of the people who said my ebook was not a fit for them last June just asked me if they could join my affiliate program. Why would you want to sell something you do not like? Certainly there is at least a little bit of dishonesty hidden somewhere in there. But I suppose that is the standard on the web.
  • Others lie to your credit card processor, saying they never got a product and tried to contact you. Some of which even subscribe to your updates and ask why they are not getting updates after getting refunds.
  • Rarely do people who want a refund give a single reason they are displeased.
  • Multiple thoughtful people have copied my ebook and placed it on their site for free.
  • You can place electronic products or other things in formats to make it harder to steal, at the cost of inconveniencing your legitimate customers. I have not done that yet, but as I grow older and less idealistic it becomes easier to see why so many people do.

Helping Friends:

  • I have helped people promote products and ideas only to later find out that defending them was stupid because their actions were short sighted and driven by greed.

    • Even shittier of them, while I was actively trying to help them, they were planning on turning the project into crap and did not tell me.

    • Instead of creating a legitimate business model they now email spam for a living.
  • Other friends pitch a great idea. You help promote it as a partner and then they do stupid short sighted things to destroy the value.
  • Sometimes you can write a testimonial only to find out that other market forces or a lack of updating can make your testimonial quickly outdated.
  • I tried to lend a ton of help and credibility to a friend and now they make the bulk of their living off blog spam. One of my friends had workers manually comment spamming one of my blogs. Not that blog spamming is entirely wrong, but when it is easily traceable is it entirely stupid.
  • You can help others by creating add on promotional guides for your products only to find them write the same price on their site and write the verbiage in their sales copy as though that bonus is the same or better than your main product. Fairly short sighted IMHO.
  • Some friends later are the first to laugh if you or your site fails to meet their expectations in any way. I have not had this happen to me much, but have seen it over and over again. Not that I am generally friends there, but the IHY forums is usually cutting edge in this category.
  • If you help out charities you get many requests that start with something like "My cousin goes to church once every other week..." Can you give me your business model free?

Community Sites:

  • There are a ton of systems set up to automatically spam social networks. The better the network the harder some of them will try to spam. Some are automated, some are manual.

  • Some of the people who work hard to help others build communities are later burned by the same machines they helped build.
  • It is hard to scale labors of love into profitable business models without offending people.
  • If you have a profitable business model and are opinionated some people like to judge you and use the forums or other community sites to market hate messages. It is far easier to make ludicrous statements over the web. Flame wars are a natural part of broken social software.

Various SEO / SEM Related Problems:

  • Link relationships are based on trust. Most link trade offers are bogus and / or automated.

  • Sometimes even paying for a link in a directory is an issue of trusting the owner not to sleeze out their directory, which is counter the the stream many current directories are swimming.
  • from 10 days ago, many other problems in BadRank & the Ugly Side of SEO

For one reason or another I think many sites and many people are afraid to give people something they can trust. Something they can believe in. From what I have seen Danny Sullivan seems to be one of few unifying forces / people in this industry.

How do you breed trust? How do you know who you can trust? Are there some books I should read? Am I screwing up by reading books and so many web pages? etc etc etc?


On a related note my favorite T shirt designer just put his limited edition shirts online. YIPPIE! Please look through his collection and the first person who comments below that they want one gets one. Comment below and send me an email with your sizing and shipping details.

Adobe to Buy MacroMedia for 3.4 Billion in Stock

Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Macromedia (Nasdaq:MACR) in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion.full release
Not entirely search related, but MacroMedia DreamWeaver & Adobe GoLive are two of the more popular web design software programs on the market. Additionally Adobe created PDF, PhotoShop, and Illustrator. MacroMedia has Flash and ColdFusion.

MacroMedia was also one of the first large software companies to have many employees blog about their work and products.

random tidbit: My old roommate's girlfriend used to work as the secretary for Allaire before MacroMedia bought them out.

Currently Adobe PDF is in a partnership to have their PDF search done with Yahoo! Search. According to the Wall Street Journal the combined Adobe / MacroMedia company looks to be taking on MicroSoft on many fronts.

Mr. Chizen, who took over as chief executive in 2000, has his sights on a larger business-software market, built around Adobe's document-management capabilities. Adobe's sales of such document-management servers were only about $100 million last year, but the company has revamped its salesforce and marketing efforts to push those products, which carry price tags of $50,000 and more.

Documents are the lifeblood of business and governments, and the ability to secure them, sign them and let everybody view them with the free Reader gives Adobe a major head start, he says. "The only other vendor that has that kind of penetration is Microsoft," Mr. Warzecha said.

Macromedia has been working to build its business selling multimedia tools to corporations and media companies. It wants to make Flash the underlying technology to enable users to work with a broad range of applications and devices, such as cellphones, in which small screens and the lack of a full keyboard present special challenges.

In Japan, for example, Macromedia says Flash is used by 60% of the more than 4,000 content suppliers for NTT DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile carrier. Macromedia predicts that in five years, 75% of mobile phones sold will have multimedia capabilities.

Could MicroSoft be fighting on too many fronts?

Self Publishing, Writing Articles, When is it worth Optimizing?

Transparent Business Model:
About.com overlapping ads. Ads actually cover the words in the articles. How annoying. And worthless.

The average surfer is not going to be able to read that article. The average webmaster is not going to link to that content. Who the hell is that article for?

Self Publishing:

Gmail Feeds?
Evehead noticed a feed in his Gmail.

Google Hype:
Google founders only take $1 in pay this year.

No Mamma NO!!!
Copernick says no to being purchased by Mamma.com due to government probes. Mamma.com has become a day trading favorite and is currently out of season on prettymuch all ends.

Ranking a New Site in Google?
can suck.

Not Worth Optimizing:
another article talking about why it is not worth performing SEO services for many people.
also covered here here and here

As a person who gets many inqueries I see many many many prospective clients want $100,000 of results on a $300 spend. If that opportunity was worth doing it would be just as easy to become an affiliate of a competing site, spend $1,000 to throw up your own site, and make $5,000 a month on the same work without needing to deal with clients.

Marketing SEO Services:
Many SEOs who sell SEO services remain somewhat faceless on the web, which is a huge mistake IMHO. I have yet to find a single type of marketing which worked as fast at driving SEO sales as writing and syndicating an article can.

The trick to doing well is to simply be a good salesmen on the phone and ensure your audience is more ignorant than you are. While Stuntdubl thinks it is a solid article, he also points out that DG shows the other side of the coin.

The main portion of my current business model banks on the fact that the misleading confusion of various outdated or incorrect articles, blog post, and / or forum posts will lead some people to want to buy an up to date linear guide about SEO and related topics.

If you do sell SEO services I can't stress enough how well writing articles works. The more you learn about SEO the more you see that many of the branded experts are only experts because they have a strong brand. Articles are a cheap way to building brand. Many businesses outside of SEO could use this technique far more often as well.

Automated Content:
becomes academic. hehehe

The Architecture of Participation

Lots of Various Links

Spainish Ask Jeeves

Lycos to use AlmondNet to target contextual ads

Who Owns Culture?
Webcast at 7pm Eastern tonight. Steven Berlin Johnson is one of my favorite writers, and he will be chatting with Jeff Tweedy and Lawrence Lessig.

Like Search Research?
DG's Desk links to a bunch of research papers.

this looks like a cool new blog about eBay, but why not spend the $8 /yr to buy a static domain name?

also, Gawker media lagunched Sploid. I think they come up with some pretty cool names.

Try Again:
Google alternate searches being tested? that or spyware...

Gel Conference:
April 28-29, 2005 New York City. Looks pretty cool.

of MSN Search.

Across the Ocean:
apparently in the UK Online ad spend trumps airwaves

A Good Blog:
about social, legal, and economic issues.

Dirty Words:
Marcia. hehehe

Paris Hilton:
still looking for that video? view the Paris Hilton porncast podcast. you KNOW stuff is overhyped when a megacorp has Paris doing something.

Yahoo! Shopping:
rss feeds

AOL tries to be undead, launching a VoIP service. pricing structure hosed from the word go?

Outsourcing & a Tim Bray Interview

Outsourcing & You:
It's a Flat World, After All (found on SEB)

An Interview:
of Tim Bray (found by Gary)

Interesting News for the Day

Try Google Gulp. buy the gear on eBay

Special Offers:
MSN Personalization
Google Search Today

Yahoo! Adds Weather:
forcasts a big index change.

Stormy in Austrialia?
Google wiped you guys off the map. sorry mates :(

Blog & SEO Business Models: Hosting Content Spam

SEOs Are Scum:
For a long time many bloggers have stated that SEOs are scum, as said best by Anil Dash.

I've always had a pretty low opinion of the Search Engine Optimization industry. Though there are of course legitimate experts in the field, it seems chock full of people who are barely above spammers, and they taint the image of the whole group.

Content Spam:
Blog comment spam is one common type that bloggers know all too well, but creating tons of rubbish content is another type of spam.

HotNacho hires writers to write low quality articles for $3 each. The articles, being of low quality, have little value by themselves. However, if you can get an authoritative site to host the articles you can make a ton of money from advertising.

Affordable Quality Hosting:
WordPress - an open sourced blog software make which is part of the anti spam brigade - hosted over 100,000 HotNacho spam pages, linking to them from the home page using a negative div.

Hmm... manipulating search results for personal gain by posting complete crap to a hidden section on your site.

What makes that action more ethical / better than actions of the average SEO?

Is this the type of openness we should expect from open source software? Where is the transparency? hehehe.

Google Funds Web Pollution, Again:
Google is funding that web pollution with their AdSense program.

If the stuff is bad enough that it needs kicked out of Google's index then how were they displaying ads on over 100,000 pages on that site without noticing the problem. Why are the ads still there?

I think this is the real story that everyone is missing. Google's AdSense quality control is a complete joke.

Advertisers and content publishers should be disappointed in Google's lousy policing of their AdSense program. Much web pollution would not exist if Google did not lucratively fund it.

The WordPress moto has never been more true:
Code is poetry!!!

Google Funds Information Pollution

Yesterday I was using that Hub Finder tool I had made.

In not so competitive industries it can help find some good resource pages & potential links, but in some competitive industries I was amazed at how many scraper websites were running AdSense. I knew it was going to be a ton, but sometimes you just have to see it to appreciate it. When I called out their AdSense product manager at the SXSW conference he used the whole concept of people and technology to say that is how they are dealing with bogus AdSense sites.

I think a friend of mine recently described the AdSense quality control process a bit better:

and they dont even kick out that scum when its reported!

I would guess there are probably hundreds of thousands of sites which are nothing more than AdSense on top of a search engine results page.

Google says you should control who you are linking to and then adds autolink to your site & Google News displays Nazi news. hmm...

They also are funding a ton of useless clutter. In some cases I am seeing both Yahoo! and Google cache live Google search results through caching the AdSense for search program.

Some Google search technologies are a bit more advanced than some of their competitors, and perhaps that gives them a bit more of a competitive edge to be profiting from sites that undermine competitors relevancy algorithms? And maybe they want to clutter the web up with junk so it is hard to sort through it?

Any way you slice it, it is hypocritical for a company which has the mission statement:

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Not so long ago GoogleGuy spoke on the coop ad network leaving this comment:

Seems like a very ill-advised program to me, because it's quite likely that as spam creeps into this link network, it will greatly affect the reputation of the people that link to the spam. Just my hunch though.

replace the word link or link to with ad and advertise on and you get:

Seems like a very ill-advised program to me, because it's quite likely that as spam creeps into this ad network, it will greatly affect the reputation of the people that advertise on the spam. Just my hunch though.

Google does not let advertisers opt out from being seen on individual sites and generally ignores the concept of publisher quality control. This

  • limits how much good publishers get since companies will be more inclined to opt out.

  • could hurt the advertisers brands.
  • may lead to quicker text ad blindness.
  • tarnishes the Google brand.

What am I missing? I thought the whole point of AdSense was to help fund the creation of quality content?

Then again, Google did give me a black hat and maybe I am seeing things wrong ;)

AdWords Professional Hat.

Various Wonderful Links

NYC SES Pictures:
Stephen Turcotte took some pics. There is a pic of me wearing a FireFox T shirt standing next to AussieWebmaster, and there are lots of other pics.
link looted from PeterD's blog.

Buying the Best:
CGI Holdings snags Mike Grehan. It is unbelievable how many companies they have acquired recently.

Ad Spend:
UK online ad spend increased ~ 50% in 2004. Europe SEM spend is expected to increase 65% in 2005.

Has dropped their subscription fees. Good stuff.

Why VCs Suck:
A Unified Theory of VC Suckage - its how they get paid.

Tension on the Web:
Adam Bosworth riffs about privacy and sloppy folksonomies. He also states breaks make everything more clear when you come back to work.

Seth Interviews:
Hugh email interviews Seth & Clikz does too

Seth also has another seminar coming up soon. If you work at a small company it only costs $400. If you are a charity you might be able to go free.

Our Media:
our media launches. free media storage. cool.

new SEO tool site from Chris Ridings. his first tool creates a topical OPML file

You Gotta Love:
how blunt Rob Frankel is

The widespread ignorance of branding is a scourge on the economy

2005 SXSW Interactive Conference

Review of the first couple days of the South by SouthWest conference. It does not much relate to search, but if you like other web, design, and interactive media stuff it might be worth glancing at. Friday, March 11

Ducking Bullets and Blowing Up Barriers
Thomas Fulp talked about independant game design. He runs the flash website Newsgrounds and recently launched Alien Hominid. His game looks cool enough that I am debating buying a Playstation 2.

He talked a good amount abut how being independant helped the creative process. I think I am a good bit more creative and efficient without structure and barriers real jobs and employers provide.

Saturday, March 12

The Imagination Challenge: Points of Departure for Design in the Knowledge Age

Alexander Manu talked about how the industrial revolution split work and play. He stated that play is where most of the creative ideas come from. Being a grown up child makes it far easier to expand the limits of technology & creativity.

Yet another presentation that makes me want to go out and buy some more video games. ;)

Ramblings from the Ranch
Chipp Walters and Michael McGar, a couple well known vets from the Austin tech scene talked about some of the trends they have seen in industrial design.

As time passes artificial intelligence and genetic algorithms will become more and more intertwined into the design process. They also stated that one thing that really helped Austin take off in the tech scene is that many of Austin's early industrial design firms openly shared their work and products with one another.

Zeldman gave the Opening Remarks Saturday keynote. His The Daily Report site is rather popular and he also works on A List Apart and The Web Standards Project.

He was a funny speaker who ended his speech with a which one of these things is not like the other game. He emphasized the importance of having fun, meeting people, and social interaction at SXSW. He also brought up Matthew Mullenweg to explain how South by SouthWest helped Matthew create WordPress.

How to Hot-Wire the Creative Process
Curt Cloninger gave what I thought was generally a kick ass presentation. He pointed out some of the ideas he uses and encourages his students to do to think up creative ideas.

a few of the concepts he stressed were

  • people should use processes but they are not universal or one size fits all

  • as designers we are editors. nobody really starts from "scratch"
  • we should all have test sites to practice and learn on. if you do not want to make a formal connection you can annonymously publish it.

a few of the cool resources he pointed out were

He also posted his presentation online.

Blogging Without Borders: Bridging the Digital Content Divide
Panel talked about the effects of weblogs in emerging countries and how they affect social and political conditions.

They talked about raising money after the recent tsunami and how some people crossed large plots of land to bring their ideas to portions of the country which still had web access.

In the Q&A section Hossein Derakhshan, a popular blogger who covers Iran, was asked what was the biggest worries with Iran country going forward. The response was the worry of war destroying the recent buildup in the country. He also stated that the country has some semi democratic processes and the corporate controlled government in the US may not compare all that favorably to it.

He also stated that most of the youth in Iran is not politically active. He said what would really help the country move forward is if they could get a journal of a 50 yr old Iranian who was politically active when he was young and upload those entries to the web each day.

Sunday, March 13

Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote speech. He primarily discussed some of the rapid cognition and inherant natural predjudice concepts in his book Blink. He has rather strong carisma and is a great public speaker.

Later he was signing books and I got a signed copy of The Tipping Point - a key pickup as it is one of my two favorite books.

We The Media
After Gladwell's keynote Dan Gillmore was the next speaker I watched. He covered concepts which were in his We The Media book and talked about various points in the history of online media where he felt that he noticed a shifting in media.

He pointed to

  • an email a random guy in Florida sent him during a conference - which allowed near real time feedback

  • September 11 coverage - where many pictures came from the web first and vivid accounts such as now I know what a burning city smells like.
  • feedback he found on the Interesting People newsletter
  • coverage of the Challenger space shuttle entry
  • coverage of the tsunami
  • coverage of the 2000 election - and how he was getting great coverage by mixing and matching to roll his own news

He stresses that if you are a journalist no matter what you know your audience will know more than you and that presents a huge opportunity for journalism.

After his speech I think I was the first person to get a signed copy of Dan's book and I think I also overheard him say that his speech will be on IT Conversations.

How to Build Your Brand with Blogs
Panel hosted by Jason Fried, DL Byron, Molly Holzschlag, Jim Coudal, and Robert Scoble.

They stated that blogs are not for everyone and that if you don't have something interesting to say there is no reason to expect people to read it.

One of the most important things for writing is to be authentic.

Scoble ever so slightly talked about SEO (primarily saying that people should use descriptive title tags). He also stated that he uses PubSub to track various post topics for MicroSoft.

In the Q&A section someone asked about clients who may not like you for comments you may make on your blog. Jason said that you should not want clients who would be upset by you writing your opinions. He said he is well known for dropping the f-bomb and the s-bomb and that he you should not change who you are for clients.

Being fake kinda undermines the whole point of the web. With the Long Tail there is a market for just about anything so long as it appears honest and thoughtful.

I got a pre signed version of Jason's book. I wanted to wait and get one signed in person and have him put F-bomb in the autograph.

That is probably a good link building idea for whoever does it first, create a logo for people who support gratuitous amount of F-bombs in their content.

The Web Awards occured after the conference on Sunday. I sat next to a MicroSoft employee and chatted search a small amount. I was stoked to see TheMeatrix amongst the prize winners at the show. Moophius came on the stage and claimed the prize.

After going to NYC and seeing how many people are covering search coming here and seeing that the Interactive portion of this conference probably only has about 1,000 people seems amazing.

With the breadth of the topics covered here and the quality of the speakers and visitors you would expect many more people to be here, but I guess it just goes to show how new the web is. From what I have seen there are few marketers here and I have not seen much discussion about search or broad based marketing, but then again there still are a couple days left in the conference and there is a panel called how to make money with online ads Monday.