Your work is marvelous...

according to the world's most benevolant comment spammer, hoping to use spam to fight world hunger :)

Smart Speaking, Deep Writing About Shallow Reading, & Great SEO Content

J.K. Rowling gave the Commencement Address at Harvard this year. Two killer quotes:

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.


Those who choose not to empathise may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

Nick Carr, who I was lucky enough to interview a few months back, wrote the cover article for this month's The Atlantic. His story, about how the web is reshaping our minds, is important to consider from both a sanity perspective and a marketing perspective:

The Net’s influence doesn’t end at the edges of a computer screen, either. As people’s minds become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media, traditional media have to adapt to the audience’s new expectations. Television programs add text crawls and pop-up ads, and magazines and newspapers shorten their articles, introduce capsule summaries, and crowd their pages with easy-to-browse info-snippets. When, in March of this year, The New York Times decided to devote the second and third pages of every edition to article abstracts, its design director, Tom Bodkin, explained that the “shortcuts” would give harried readers a quick “taste” of the day’s news, sparing them the “less efficient” method of actually turning the pages and reading the articles. Old media have little choice but to play by the new-media rules.

You can learn a lot about how ideas spread by playing on the web 16 hours a day, but many of the best ideas are either recycled from other markets and/or sparked by deep thinking from reading about other markets and determining how those markets & ideas intersect with your own. When I play online too much I start to feel stagnant and like I am not learning anymore. Reading a good book cures that.

And, more SEO related, Joost de Valk wrote a 12 page Guide to Wordpress SEO, which goes nicely with our Blogger's Guide to SEO.

Will Wikia Search Turn Into Spam?

Wikia recently announced that their search service was finally almost worth using. It is easy to rate and vote sites up to the top of the search results. When they have limited marketshare they will not get much spam. As they start building marketshare will they be able to get enough people engaged in the project to fight off spam? And who defines what is spam anyhow?

You can comment about the results, rate a result, spotlight it, and add images to it. With over 100 edits so far today, SEO has to be one of the most frequently edited pages. I am not sure if voting is cumulative, but please vote for SEOBook just in case. :)

Here is an image of a couple results for SEO. Notice how I put my logo in the SERPs

If this project gains any momentum and they provide a list of most frequently edited search results you can expect that to be a nice list of commercial keywords, much like Mahalo!

Wikia Search also offers a nice keyword suggestion tool in their Bloom tool, which shows related search queries based on an input query.

Interesting SEO Links...

Roger Montti offers an insightful post on link building for new websites in 2008. If you have no traction you need to find a way to buy/beg/borrow/steal attention. Use that exposure to spread content that turns people on / gets them excited / evokes an emotional response / ties in with their worldview and identity...and watch the links flow like wine.

Debra mentioned how she sometimes has a hard time telling people that their sites will not get links because they are boring. I actually enjoy doing that because it forces them to take some ownership over their own success (it is hard to drag a company across the finish line if you are an outside consultant - much easier to win if they are at least willingly walking in the right direction).

The way I teach people that concept is I remove them for their ownership role. I ask "If you did not own this website why would you tell other people about and/or want to visit it at least once a week?" Once they can answer that question honestly with something that is inline with their market it means they have something worth marketing.

Steve, an all around great guy and moderator of our forums, made a great thread in our local website marketing forums worth checking out if you are a subscriber.

Predictably Irrational (great blog/book name) has a great post on the power of defaults in emotional transactions.

Google is hyping image pattern recognition technology they call VisualRank in the media. Either they are about to improve their image search or they want us to think they have the most sophisticated technology.

Here is a cool example of a nice image script that helps build links.

Brief synopsis of how AdWords has changed over the past couple years - killing off many of the bottom feeder advertisers. The long tail of SEO keeps growing, but PPC is a winner take most game...from head to tail.

Brent Csutoras shared his social media marketing presentation online.

Firewall Script - a tool used to help keep sites secure, mentioned by DaveN so it is probably pretty good.

SEW published an article about analyzing log files to audit redirects.

The Problogger Book is out. Congrats Darren and Chris. :)

Danny Sullivan has a nice recap of the Microsoft Yahoo fiasco. His forward to Philipp Lessen's new book - Google Apps Hacks is also a great read. Congrats to Philipp on finishing the book. :)

Breaking the Digg Code - free guide to getting the most out of Digg, though if you market an SEO site it is not worth marketing it on Digg. The average small-minded short-sighted Digg user thinks all SEO is spam - they are a reflection of the dumbest and loudest parts of society.

Use Intwition to see what posts from a site got the most Twitter links.

Why whitehats need to know blackhat SEO - as noted in the comments "nothing wrong with having a well rounded education."

Seed Keywords is a cool tool which allows you to pass a question on to friends or customers and ask them what they would search for to solve a particular problem.

Yahoo! May Carry Google Ads

Yahoo! may announce a deal to carry Google ads in the next week, according to the WSJ:

While a broad search ad pact would likely attract intense antitrust scrutiny, the options Google and Yahoo are discussing include a nonexclusive arrangement that they believe could satisfy regulators, say the people familiar with the matter.

The basis of such an arrangement would be a real-time auction system that would choose the most lucrative ads for any given consumer query from among those sold by Yahoo, Google and any of their competitors, the people say. Microsoft, for example, could potentially connect to the Yahoo system and have search ads it sold displayed alongside Yahoo Web search results, under an arrangement where they likely would share ad revenue.

It is easy to claim to be in support of open standards with a propriety closed-box system after you already own monopoly marketshare. Unfortunately for Yahoo! this short term revenue boost puts them in the same risk category as the common webmaster - Google is Venice; Webmasters are Constantinople.

Will the TV networks allow Google to do the same to their ad marketplace?

In a recent interview Eric Schmidt said

We're really focused on this huge opportunity before us, which is automating the trillion-dollar industry that is advertising. We won't get all of that, for sure, but we should be able to get a significant part of that over the lifetime, certainly of my service to the company.

Are You Following Google's Marketing Strategy?

I just read Google and The Value of Web Supremacy, comparing Google to the history of Venice. It is a great blog post well worth a read.

Google's position on top of the web allows them to monitor any area of growth, and give themselves the first slot for any area they want to compete in. If they are uncertain of their competitive positioning they can list a couple other competitors alongside until their internal stats show their product is superior. Free exposure and free benchmarking are great advantages.

Their relevancy standards and universal search product allow them to vote for or against any type of information or company. From a business standpoint, anything they buy or launch can be tightly integrated in the search results like they did with YouTube and Google Checkout.

Their protective moat extends out from that position with the following assets

  • the default video hosting platform
  • the default display & contextual ad networks
  • the default blog feed management company
  • the leading feed reader services
  • the default web analytics service
  • the default mobile operating system
  • the default standard for map sharing
  • free payment processing for non-profits (good for public relations and a cheap way to buy market exposure)
  • (soon to be) the default web development platform - Google App Engine

Given the size of that moat and diversity of their offerings, holding Google stock is like holding a mutual fund with a long position on the web. As SEOs we monitor Google too closely to talk about why and what they are penalizing and how to get ahead, but I think you can learn more about marketing by watching what they do to build their brands and dominate their markets, and try to do the same in our markets.

When you have a well known brand, a good idea, and do an aggressive launch sometimes your idea sticks as the default answer for that question. You end up owning ideas - sometimes for years. In some cases idea ownership requires extensive maintenance costs, but in many cases there is little ongoing cost.

  • Even if a domain name costs $50,000 or $100,000 it is only $8 a year going forward.
  • A good site design might cost $5,000, but earn you that much each month.
  • Some software tools and downloads rarely need updated.
  • The difference between an average blog post and a piece of feature content might only be 8 hours of production and 4 hours of marketing.

Once you have default status in a category the web's network economy works for you and works against the competition.

  • if you already rank that exposure can become self-reinforcing (until someone creates a better idea)
  • if you are already well known it is easy to get listed in DMOZ and get other trusted 3rd party citations
  • if you have a well known brand you can charge more and be selective with who you sell to
  • if you have a lot of exposure people new to your field are likely to quickly run in to you and help promote you while they learn from you

Google is Quietly Consuming the Internet

TechRepublic asks "Will the Google revolution engulf IT departments?" Each time I write a newsletter, about 80% of the items are about Google. They keep innovating faster than other companies their size. Here are some examples of things they have done over the last ~ 2 months.

  • Changes organic search results based on prior search query.
  • Added a search box for site search inside the search results, giving Google a second taste at displaying ads even on navigational queries for a specific website.
  • Started crawling site search forms on trusted sites, which (along with sitelinks, universal search, Youtube, and branded video ads) distributes more traffic to large trusted sites and business partners, with less traffic going to smaller websites (search keeps getting more editorial).
  • Offered App Engine, which provides free hosting to developers (in exchange for being stuck on their network and letting them spy on your usage data and growth).
  • Created a marketplace for people building on the Google network.
  • Begun policing widgets not on their network, a topic that deserves its own post.

Not only are dumb companies buying into the everything Google strategy, but even some semi-intelligent ones are. After logging into Dreamhost recently I was shocked to see them integrating Google apps and email on all customer domains. What happens if/when Google buys GoDaddy? How does Dreamhost compete when Google gives away hosting as a loss leader?

There is big risk to Google consuming the web. The issue is not only information diversity and innovation, but what happens when your Google account gets hacked? I regret my reliance on Gmail, but am unsure how to fix it.


Adam Audette has been posting some great stuff lately. Check out his posts on link building fundamentals and internet marketing and the limitations of language.

Dan Durick posted about how the economy can affect search behavior. Look at the numerous sources and graphics included in his post. It adds a lot of depth and credibility to the piece, because it relies on third party data and is more work than a typical spammer is willing to do (though many low level linkbaits do source 3rd party stats as a strategy). Anytime you add in 3rd party data you become a guy speaking truth and teaching rather than the salesman. Just by glancing at that blog post and knowing what you already know about search and market research data you have a big advantage over 99% of your market.

Lee Dodd announced the "Biggest Webmaster Forum Contest Ever!" offering over $25,000 in prizes, and 5 chances to win a free 3 month trial of our SEO training program.

Are You Using Twitter Yet?

While I signed up nearly a year ago, I just recently started using Twitter. As a marketer I find it both interesting and it is more transparent than most social networks are. People often write back and forth using @username when they want to send another person a message, which sometimes draws you into other conversations. And since everyone you follow is someone you know or related to someone else you know it is really easy to get pulled in. And the social pressure of being associated with everything you do (no anonymous domain registration here folks) prevents Twitter from becoming a spam filled mess. Maybe there is some way such a system could be applied to search?

People can subscribe to get short blurbs from you (and whoever else they like), and the system is almost instantly self-correcting. It is the complete opposite of email spam hype marketing - if you want off the list you get off the list. If I were to spew nothing but hollow hyped up marketing messages nobody would subscribe (and many would unsubscribe). Conversely, if I help give people a laugh (and share the goodness of pearl drink worldwide) people subscribe. Next to peace and SEO, pearl drink is the best thing you can spread.

Ok...back on topic, so where was I.... I recently started using Twitter. From a social network and marketing standpoint Twitter is worth checking out and understanding. If you would like to check it out you can sign up here, and if you want to follow me, I am awall19.

Here are some of my favorite Twitter feeds: webgirl, Graywolf, Rae, Copyblogger, Mike McDonald, Chris Winfield, ChrisG tamar, Stuntdubl, Lee Odden, Barry, Debra Mastaler, Todd Mintz, Vanessa Fox and Danny Sullivan.

Henry Rollins is using Twitter too!

And by far, Neil Patel is out in front on the "people subscribed to" list, with over 8,000! I think (once he finds time to) he will finish up writing that final blog post about stopping everything else in favor of reading Twitter 23.9 hours a day. ;)

Introduction Thread #2

It turns out the Drupal setup for comments per page leaves the maximum at 300, and our original introduction thread exceeded it is time for a new one. :)

Who are you? What do you do?