Warning Spammers: We Only Promote the Ethical Use of This ____ Generator Tool

Feb 21st

When I read must we piss in every public fountain by Dan Thies, I thought it was a great post. But at the same time, as an internet marketer you have to be pragmatic. Which is why I was unsurprised when 6 months later StomperNet sent out an email suggesting that readers could

visit propeller.com and open up 10 unique accounts using different usernames, email addresses, etc.

Use free email accounts from Yahoo, Gmail, etc. to open up the accounts.

Repeat the process for each of the 29 Social Bookmarking sites listed at SocialMarker.com

and then the next email claimed

Are they borderline? Yeah! We said they were. We pointed out in the email that you need to be careful when walking the line with social marketing. Do spammers use similar techniques to the ones Jeff outlined? I'm sure they do - Spammers are always on the lookout for new exploits... but they usually don't need to learn from legitimate marketing teachers to uncover them.

The difference between an ethical marketer and a spammer is a matter of intent. The ethical marketer seeks to profit by providing real value to real individuals. The spammer seeks only pure profit based on the laws of statistics - throw enough people at any offer, and someone will bite.

So you don't think you are telling people to be spammers when you tell them to set up 10 Propeller accounts? What exactly separates those "10 legitimate accounts" people from spammers? I would love to see an explanation about where that line in the sand is drawn.

If you are sending out an email offer for everything under the sun just because you need to trade publicity to be profitable, are you building a real business or actually providing any real value?

primarily what I got was sales pitch after sales pitch, and “new program” after “new program”, and far too many different forums that offered practically no participation by the original faculty members that were the catalyst to my joining.

Almost every internet marketer explains how other people are spammy, but what they do is somehow legitimate. When I was new and naive I may have bought that crap, but how can people claiming thought leader status still be dishing out such blatant lies in 2008?

I see that as silly. Techniques are either effective or they are not. And they carry an associated risk level. I chose to be technique agnostic because it is the only way you keep learning and keep growing faster than the market. Sometimes you only learn to appreciate the opportunity cost of risk after you get a site burned. But then it factors into future decisions.

At least once a month there is a story about how someone got caught spamming. The Guardian ran a story about how Matt Inman got over 100,000 links to a payday loan site by adding links in viral widgets.

That story did not appear because somebody spammed, it appeared because the marketing was so aggressive and overt. Anytime you have thousands of people embedding something someone is going to notice it. If it was done on a smaller scale it could have lasted for years. A few years ago, for about a 2 year period, one of the top ranked mesothelioma sites was there based on links syndicated with web counters.

Forbes sometimes writes stories about how SEOs are spammers and stories about how Google is clamping down on spam. And then they publish a bunch of cheesy lead generation pages on their site that are linked to nearly sitewide via a dropdown box that hides the links.

Do publishers need to keep content and ads separate to be legitimate, as demanded by this random commenter on a story about Ron Jackson working in a domain start up? No they don't. That is just the lie the media needs to push to be viewed as credible. Almost every popular website does reciprocal promotion and has editorial guided by their business interests. But when people can't follow their own advice and create profit, or they need to lie to just to make a buck, they have headed down the wrong path.

I enjoy helping people. But how I was doing it via endless emails was not working. I was worried that I might get some blowback when I changed my business model, so I could offer higher customer value. But largely the reaction was positive. I got numerous emails like this:

I have admired you and your work for a very long time, and not just that, but also your honest no-hype, no-crap approach to doing business online.

it's been my observance that some aspects of SEO and also 'net marketing' are so sleazy that it's not to be believed. even some people who started out 'legit' and made a bit of a name for themselves now have seemed to let themselves get sucked into the hype and associated with some less than ethical behaviours all to make money.

you know what is kind of funny? i keep encountering all these so-called experts, some in person, but most online, and i always ask them: "hey, did you get that book from Aaron Wall? you know, the SEO Book. what do you think of it?" and you know what? almost none of them have bought it. some of them even ask me, 'Aaron who?'. for me, you set the standard, so i find it really odd.

One member instant messaged me telling me "the community is like heaven for SEOs." I have learned a good bit from the forums too. I am surprised how well it has been working out so far. Are some of the suggestions considered spammy? Of course. Use the right tool for the right job.

Back to that topic of identifying spam. If you replaced the word spam with the word profit you would better understand how and why it is policed. Matt Inman's spam simply consisted of using push marketing, viral marketing, aiming it at a large audience, and embedding promotional value for other company assets in it.

When Google partners with large political parties are they actually looking out for your best interests? Google is using push marketing, viral marketing, aiming it at a large audience, and embedding promotional value for other company assets in it. Hmm. Sounds familiar.

Do you have a health records problem? Or is Google solving a marketing problem, helping pharmaceutical corporations push drugs at you based on your genetic flaws? If they are doing push marketing for large established bodies how can they expect anyone else to compete with them without using push marketing?

Build it and they will come...to someone else's site. Be aggressive and use push marketing, or earn 25% of your real market value. Almost everyone who tells you not to spam does not listen to their own advice, or changed their outlook AFTER they got a market leading position. But they didn't get where they are by following their own advice.

Published: February 21, 2008

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Comments

February 22, 2008 - 1:16am

I sense a little venting here. I respect your work, but I do not like that you used Stompernet as an example. Their 30 day challenge has been one of the best things I did. Your SEOBook was my first glimpse into making money online, but I was not able to monetize until I went through the 30DC. Don't get me wrong your high level analysis and SEO tips are the reason I will always come back, but at the end of the day without the details and Stompernet I would still be earning $.05 a day. And no I am not their spokesperson just someone who realizes that following the rules to the T will never get you ahead.

February 22, 2008 - 2:28am

I am not saying that I think the stuff they teach is in any way bad. The thing that I find distasteful is the recommendations for products they would not use themselves. At what level of success do they need to reach before they are comfortable passing up an opportunity to send people another email recommending garbage? If someone paid you $10,000 for an information product would you still keep pounding away at their inbox with offers?

February 22, 2008 - 3:06am

I agree, I had to take myself off of their list just because I couldn't deal with the daily temptations, videos, etc. It's like a part time job looking at all their marketing materials.

...And you know what? Props to them. I think they're awesome marketers, and they found a good niche. People who want to make LOTS of money FAST online, and I think they might provide that at some level. That being said, they beat up their lists.

I do kinda get bummed when they recommend something like signing up for 10 propeller accounts too, because chances are the advantage to having an account will go away soon, and maybe my legitimate work with it.

~NickB

February 22, 2008 - 3:13am

Interesting post Aaron,

I definitely agree with being fed up of so many webmasters bumbling around trying to validate their spam while slagging off everyone elses, I would say SEO is definitely getting to the point where almost no one is white hat 100%. I know I do my best to stay that way but if I take a step back I cannot honestly put my hand on my heart and say everything I have contributed towards the Internet is of high quality.

One thing I am so fed up of these days is half ass SEOs driving every idea into the ground so it becomes useless 3 days after someone talks about it. Dans article was particularly interesting regarding this so thanks for the link.

What do you think the reason is for it being like this these days, too many SEOs or too many bad SEOs or do you think it is a natural product (just like cold calling or junk credit card applications) of the growth of marketing online?

February 22, 2008 - 2:04pm

I think there are a few big reasons

  • the web is getting more competitive
  • making sense of it all WHILE growing out the business side of Google forces them to become more hypocritical in their approach
  • when some people get a taste of success they want more and forget that what they recommend may actually damage their image
February 22, 2008 - 9:53am

Stompernet does provide value there is no doubt .. but it's certainly not in a straight forward manner. It's something I've complained about to them directly, yes the info is there, but it's also cluttered with a mass of other things. Plus you throw a big scoop of $800/month on top of it and well it is what it is.

On the flip side, this blog is one of the few I read on a daily basis. Why? Because frankly you are always correct - oh and it doesn't cost me anything to get the information.

The funny thing about SEO is that it's not hard. But some in the SEO business like to make it difficult so they can sell you the next great product.

Folks, SEO is not hard. Get links with anchor text for your keywords. Get more links, then after that get more links. Oh and don't forget to vary the anchor text. And hey while you are at it, make some nice titles and don't duplicate your meta descriptions. And lastly, get some more links.

Are there more advanced techniques? Sure .. do you need them ? In most cases no you don't.

Now on the flip side where Stomper thrives is in business building. Andy's done a great job with his ecomm's (and now with stomper) so it's a nice act to follow. Their conversion testing and information is far above anything I've seen for free (with real results). And they reall like to think outside the box sometimes.

alright .. exit soap box stage left.

February 22, 2008 - 2:10pm

Because frankly you are always correct

I am not sure if it is a good thing that people think I am always correct. I would like to think I make a lot of errors in the learning process. Or else I am probably not learning that much. :)

February 22, 2008 - 12:55pm

It is unfortunate SEO's beat technique into the ground rendering it useless. The reason it happens is people want to grow their blog and think by giving away these tips they will gain visibility and ultimately end up selling via their blog rather than through their properties.

StomperNet email blasts are very annoying. Their podcast are an hour long. The reason they do this is to not give you enough time to seek other "experts" or god forbid figure some of these things on your own. They are truly brilliant.

My only concern is maybe I missed the boat and now that I feel comfortable for SEO it might be too late to make a good living and leave the cubicle. I keep hearing teach people what you know, but I know SEO, and unfortunately that market is getting crowded. (not trying to knock you Aaron)

February 22, 2008 - 2:05pm

If you apply your SEO knowledge to another field you can still do well. For most people there is more money in applying SEO to their sites than in teaching. I have been lucky enough to do well with both.

February 22, 2008 - 1:35pm

The battle never ends between spammers and those trying to prevent it eh? It seems there is a fine line between some sort of aggressive marketing campaigns and spam. We agree with mostly everything you stated here and agree that setting up 10 different propeller accounts is not the way to go. To promote something on a slower and consistent basis seems to be the best approach as anything else could be considered spammy.

February 22, 2008 - 5:22pm

flipsideinvest: Everything depends on your market. There a in reality a billion "niche's" and markets out there. Most have very little competition, because most companies can't create a quality site, never mind a strategy.

I wish I know now about 5 years ago and I would have been rich using Traffic Equalizer.. alas sometimes the best [[dirty]] tricks you only learn after the fact.

February 23, 2008 - 10:40am

Aron, I did not expect that you will support stompernet for supporting their spamming tip which is out of the good rule of SEO. This is sheer sugar-coated bitter pill.

No doubt stompernet has done good launch but it doesn't mean that they should start to abuse SEO rules.

Soory, but disappointing blog this time.

February 23, 2008 - 12:46pm

I am not sure if it is a good thing that people think I am always correct.

Good call on that one, because nobody's correct even close to 10% of the time unless they never take risks or recycle previously known material... which you don't do. I'd much rather follow the advice someone who is wrong regularly, admits it, but never gives up and is eventually redeemed with some winning ideas.

February 24, 2008 - 11:16am

Hi Aaron,

I couldn't agree more. I purchased your eBook many moons ago. I'm a also a Simple Stomper. I have certainly learned some useful stuff over there. However I am very unhappy about the direction they are heading in. Comments I make to that effect are deleted. I am voting with my wallet and joining your new community instead.

Cheers,

Jim

February 25, 2008 - 4:37am

I'm not so sure the push/interruption approach is the only way. If you read Seth Godin's latest book Meatball Sundae he gives a lot of examples where interruption just doesnt' work. He recommends strongly that you create something remarkable, something of value, and create an environment where people can find you better.

Google didn't get where they are through interruption marketing. And think about that - who could have predicted a startup could take on the advertising industry - and win. They didn't do it with spammy techniques. Microsoft couldn't knock off the iPod with interruption marketing. And of course Microsoft didn't launch with advertising. Interruption is the way big companies have done things in the past. But the web has enabled many different ways to market, and many large companies are vulnerable to smaller ones - it didn't use to be that way to anywhere near the same degree.

What if the non spammy ways of marketing are in fact better? Google may be heading down the interruption path, but as to whether that is a good call only time will tell. Maybe the spammy approach to life is in fact less effective than focussing on being more relevant. I vote for Seth's approach any day.

February 25, 2008 - 4:59am

In an ideal world I vote for Seth's approach too, but I have also spoke with well known consultants who wasted a decade of their life because they just figured people would realize how brilliant their stuff was. You have to be aggressive when you are new if you want to avoid that risk.

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