January 6, 2007

Vlade Divac on Social Networks & TradeKwame.com

One of my first posts ever was about bumping into John Leguizamo (& his dog Cholo) at my neighborhood Starbucks. I’ve since quit even mentioning the celebs I bump into out here (sharing a coffee shop with Batman or Frodo, a drug store with Kate Beckinsale, etc.). But this one was just too good.
Vlade Divac
I walked into a buddy’s cell phone shop today to check out the newish blackberries. Now this isn’t any ordinary cell phone shop. It’s not your neighborhood sprint (devil) or verizon (lucifer) store. This is a little boutique on Main St., Santa Monica, where plenty of celebrities go to get the “trendiest” phones on the market. I “bump” into Vlade Divac who’s trying to sync his gaming laptop with his new little vaio with his blackberry.

Never one to shy away from an introduction, I met Vlade and started talking Laker Basketball. It just so happens that after a triple-overtime loss to the Charlotte Bobcats I put up a site devoted to trading Kwame Brown. I love the Lakers. Always have, always will. But I just can’t see them winning with him out on the floor. He needs to go.

Thanks to work by What Da Phuk! (originators of KeepLamar.com and one of the most savvy php programmers I’ve had the privilege of knowing), there will be a petition (as though it meant something), AdSense, t-shirts, $0.02 Purple/Gold Silicon “Trade Kwame” wristbands. You know, the usual.

*Disclaimer: If you’re looking at the site now, be forwarned that it’s disgusting. I designed it, and I can’t design a game of hangman. But soon it’ll be an aesthetically pleasure I assure you.

Vlade gave me a high five when I told him about the site. He mentioned that players’ minutes involved politics, but this was just some old-fashioned humor (kind of).

Although contract politics play a role in the amount of minutes that players do get nowadays, Divac mentioned that the online PR generated by sites like TradeKwame.com combined with the power of other social networks are starting to have a say in the matter as well. (His english wasn’t this good; I’m taking liberties here).

There were no expectations and didn’t expect the words, “Digg” or “Del.icio.us” to come out of his mouth. They didn’t. But he did like the idea.

What do you think? How much can reputation management really affect change in the real world?? Do you think we can get Kwame Brown out of LA??

January 4, 2007

How to Put DOWN Your Computer & Get to Work!

No matter what industry you might be in, there’s nothing like feeling productive and worthwhile. Over the last several days, I’ve felt more productive than I have in the past several months. I’ve not only felt more productive, but have actually been more productive.

  • Concrete task lists.
  • Detailed schedule & timelines.
  • Meals eaten at decent hours & at regular intervals.
Close The Laptop

Janet And Her Pencil
PAPER IS NOT THE DEVIL.

All the productivity was because I put DOWN my laptop for a minute and was able to get work done with Paper & Pen. I must admit, I’ve really gotten away from using pens & paper. In fact, I denounce the abhorrent paper. Why use it at all?? It just gets in the way of online calendars, online banking & billing transactions, stickynote software, news from the blogosphere and everything else that can be done better & more efficiently online.

TOP COMPUTER DISTRACTIONS THAT PREVENT PRODUCTIVITY.
I tell myself that social media is “for work”. This has to be the #2 lie I’ve ever told myself. (there’s NO way I’m going to publish #1). While there is some merit to the notion (as all good lies must entail), there’s also a wonderfully deceitful deal of bullshit.

1. Digg. Aaaaaaahhhhhh! Do I really need to be reading this story about… ok let’s pick one on there right now. (I promise I did NOT make this up).

“This video shows how parasitic flat worms take over snail’s minds,…” (digg) (story). Case closed for digg.

2. GooTube. This is the worst. And the best. I learn css hacks and see “dick in a box” at the same time. Marvellous.

3. -Blogs that take me waaaaaaay off topic. (how did i get here??)
-More blogs even off-topic from the off-topic blogs that got me there.
-Some Flashy New “Great CSS Designs” compilations

4. Random ex-colleagues IM’ing me with an excessively old joke.
5. MySpace has been blocked.

PenAndPaper2This is just my shorthand list. There’s countless more, but spending the time to compile the list was really preventing the publication of the post. Can you imagine spending time looking for websites that help you waste time?? Do you know how long that would take?? It would completely defeat the purpose and simulateously establish myself as a beacon of ridicule within the secret time-wasting community of which I currently serve as Provost Chancellor.

HOW TO PUT DOWN THAT COMPUTER:

  1. Close it.
  2. If you use a desktop, shut it down.
  3. Walk Away.

I’m telling you: Give it a shot. Put the computer down, use the pen & paper (or a whiteboard) for just a bit. You’ll be glad you did.

December 17, 2006

Blog Tag! 5 Things You Don’t Know About Abhilash

I feel such “a part of” for being blog-tagged by Ben Wills AND my buddy Josh. I was actually moaning & bitching on Stuntdubl’s blog when I saw that he was tagged in the same post. In the short few days since I was tagged, I’ve seen this game spread viral & like wildfire through a very tightly-knit SEO blogging community. Here’s my attempt to get this post in before it’s too late (which is in less than a week, according to GrayWolf).

  1. I was actually born on the border of China & Nepal. Just kidding. I was born in Chicago, Illinois but raised in Bakersfield, CA (which I can’t BELIEVE I actually just published voluntarily). It’s a country town in the armpit of California.
  2. My first job was selling Kirby Vacuums door-to-door. To be honest, these were damn good vacuums (they’d wash your car, blow your leaves, suck G*d knows what out of your mattress, etc.). But, they were also $2,000/pop (before the haggling tricks). I sold one to my Dad, one to a classmate’s mom & 1-2 others. This is how the presentation went. Everyone should sell vacuums door to door. This is where I learned how to close a sale–check out what Karon Thackston wrote about it.
  3. I dropped out of Columbia U. to help start my first internet company out of a New Jersey basement. 10 months, 50 employees & $25M later the company flopped when the market crashed & funding pulled out prematurely (sucks when that happens). I took a laptop, the stereo, grew out my hair, went island hopping in Greece & accordingly back to school.
  4. I’m not a Hindu, nor a Buddhist. Buddhists believe the universe is empty (even of emptiness). Vedantis believe the universe is full-absolute consciousness as a substratum of reality. These 2 schools of thought meet in a Non-dualistic mobius strip of awareness–in that place exist (or not-existent are) my religious convictions. (I was lucky enough to study in Indo-Tibetan thought with Robert Thurman & Gary Tubb).
  5. A few years ago, I suffered an acute multiple organ failure (Liver, kidneys, esophageal tears, the works). This happened just after I turned 22. Since that time I’ve fully recovered, but for whatever reason I’m able to enjoy every minute of every day infinitely more than I would have, were it not for the physical collapse. If only we could all be so intimately aware of our own mortality…

Ok, the meme continues! Now you guys are “it”: Tony (notsleepy), Lawrence Coburn, Chris Hooley, Randy, Matt

December 13, 2006

I’ve been watching and listening very closely to the guidance of Andy Beal for some time now, but I just read one of the most compelling posts I’ve seen him author in some time.

Perhaps the title is self-defeating (can’t really publish something called “secret”, can we Andy?)…

And perhaps he does write, “I don’t want to sound like one of those overly-tanned, bright-smiled, “gurus” you see on infomercials late at night but…”, (in my opinion these are the smaller things that make Andy’s work so endearing)…

But this was absolutely valuable management consulting advice, some of which he makes good money consulting to impart upon his clients (the PR tip? Great stuff. I would add the possibility of using a service like PayPerClip for smaller companies/startups).

I also loved the fact that this post did NOT have anything to do with Digg, Del.icio.us or Social Media Marketing of some other sort. Nay, this was simply meaningful advice on management & growth strategy.

Give this a read, if you haven’t already:
Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue to your Interactive Marketing Agency in 2007 | Marketing Pilgrim

December 6, 2006

Santa MonicaThe other day, outside my townhouse in Santa Monica, there were girls in bikinis and guys in boardshorts playing volleyball in the sand and under the sun. The ocean water was warm while the sky was as clear as the day was gorgeous. We took a Sunday evening flight into Chicago, where the air was so cold I could do nothing but just walk and curse. Every moment I spent outdoors during this week was spent as an exercise in vulgarity. After stepping outside the baggage claim, I saw the barrier posts that line the sidewalk. One of them was wearing a beanie to keep warm. This was a concrete post. Wearing a beanie to keep warm. This week was going to be more frigid than Martha Stewart in an Inglewood crackhouse.

On the plus side though, at least the conference was disappointing.

Chicago SidewalksI hate to say it (especially since I was invited to speak at SES), but I was thoroughly convinced that PubCon clearly outperformed SES in the conference circuit this winter. The intimacy of the environment, candor of the participants and elevated conversation levels were better at PubCon without question. Plus, I made $3G’s playing blackjack in Vegas. How are you going to beat that?
I spoke on a panel the second day entitled “Beyond the Single Site Mentality”. To be completely candid, I wished I could have been in another session taking place at the same time with Shoemoney & Jensense covering a contextual ad clinic (although I’m sure that our panel was better, of course). The session covered the issue of microsites, and I was very happy to have been sat beside Bill H. of Microsites.com Tim Converse of Yahoo. I ran short on time and unfortunately did not get to really expound on the subject of domain acquisition strategies which is so important these days; I’ll just have to make it into another blog post. For anyone interested in obtaining the PowerPoint, please grab it here).

A few of the other sessions were still very enjoyable though, and I did walk away with a few gems, mainly on the networking side of veterans’ affairs. Guy Kawasaki is an inspiration. Chris Richardson is one of the most down-to-earth guys in the space. Ben Wills does more work than anyone realizes. Jarrod Hunt & Troy Ireland over at TextLinkBrokers are poised to make a real dent in the industry. The search engines haven’t yet learned to discount paid blog posts, even when they are disclaimed overtly, making PayPerPost, ReviewMe & Blogsvertise totally viable options for those lacking the creativity to linkbait effectively (and much more on that later). Justilien broke into his own as a panelist on linking strategies, and Rand furthered his prodigious reign as the most charming social media optimization expert around (although Neil Patel was a very close second after imparting a most subtle “Don’t be a Dick” lesson on Wikipedia).
It’s definitely tough to come to SES after I had such an incredible & productive time at PubCon. The intimacy of that conference and unspoken “comraderie” among the attendees can’t be replicated on such a grand scale. Certainly not when so many of the attendees are newbies at their first industry show. Perhaps there because “search is something they need to look at”, so eloquently put by SEMPO chair of In-House Committee, Duane Forrester (very cool guy too, btw). But hey, at least it’s cold there.

What did everyone else think of the show?? Thumbs up or Thumbs down? Has SES lost some of its quality, or does it still lead the pack with sessions about Clickfraud, Arbitrage, Ajax & Usability??

November 28, 2006

Do You Really Want that #1 Ranking in Yahoo??

Here’s one reason why Yahoo Rankings & Google Rankings can be mutually exclusive (brainiacs: that means you can’t have them both simultaneously), in the absense of major brand recognition or humongous link pop.

Recently a client asked me if a decline in Yahoo rankings (formerly all top 3′s, now just top 10′s) had anything to do with the increase in organic Google rankings. Naturally, he wanted to improve the Yahoo rankings as quickly as possible. My initial thought was “fine, no problem, I know how to do that“, but it was immediately blocked with the recollection of another jewel this client provided me just a few days earlier:

…In the future we should avoid all “Grey Areas” with regard to Google Ethics and Guidelines. We don’t want to ever take a chance of having our Site pulled down permanently. Even if our competitors are doing Gray Area tactics we should not. Google has gotten me a little scared of what they can do if they want to. Now, that we are ranking extremely well everyone wants to see us go down, especially our competitors. Everyone will be watching our every move. We have to be careful….

The client makes some totally valid points and I absolutely respect his wishes to be boyscout white-hat But what does this mean for the off-white SEO tactics that took the site straight to the top of Yahoo?? Anyone can blog comment spam their own way to the top of Yahoo or MSN. That’s why so many of the sites atop those search engines are so noticeably absent from Google’s page 1. But if a client really wants to abide by those golden rules, and if said client is “in-between link popularity empires”, what are the consequences for multi-engine success??

This really speaks to the nature of the gray area that really makes up the vast majority of the real SEO field of battle. I’m sick of anyone who talks about “white hat” vs. “black hat” (yes, I totally see and cringe at this irony, albeit slightly strengthened by those who tread before me), but there has to be some discussion about battle on the field of gray.

What do you think? Considering the disclaimer above (major brand recognition or huge link pop), are white-hat seo and top yahoo rankings exclusive? Are these top Google rankings & top Yahoo rankings exclusive? What are we missing here??

November 25, 2006

At first, I thought it had to be some ridiculous conspiracy that one of my client’s sites was totally thrown out of the Google index while I was talking with Christoph about Presell Pages. After all, a client’s site had done nothing outside the range of the others in the industry. In fact, I’ve watched others in the same industry continue blog comment spamming, link farming, and mini-site churning for endless months. Instead of partaking in the wasted efforts, I added useful original content, news syndication and contacted sites personally to have them link to the client. As a result the client had top 3 rankings (finally) for all of their major keyphrases. Then–POOF. gone.

So much for white hat strategy paying off in the end. This made for a wonderful thanksgiving, Matt. :’( The site did nothing egregious enough to warrant being dropped completely from the index. Or did it??

Red Flag

Let’s be completely honest: the site did use one tool which I’ve heard (since the site was dropped) could be a very serious red flag. The < "follow, noindex"> tag on the LinkMaps tool suggests it would be helpful to let the big G know about the sites that are linking to yours. However, I’ve since been convinced that even “noindex” links are an implicit endorsement of the sites that link to you, many of which can be low-quality. How can something be “noindex” and yet count as an “endorsement”, you ask? Doesn’t matter, I respond.

Alas, the LinkMaps files were taken off, and even snippets of content that could have been construed as duplicate have been cleaned up. I found out the client did subscribe to a few high-pr links (no kidding–he thought he was helping) and those have been taken down too. The wait-and-see game is a tough one to play once a site is kicked out of the index–especially when the rankings were so great.

What could have happened? Porn sites getting kicked off is understandable, but a legit site that did nothing wrong? As a result the client loses business during a critical part of the year. I’ll be updating this later with a status report…

November 20, 2006


The 10 Best Lessons From Webmasterworld Pubcon 2006

10. Danny Sullivan is still the man. There is no substitute for knowledge, and the value he brought to SES will be sorely missed. Check out his newest endeavor SearchEngineLand if you want to remain hip to the game.

9. Go there to network and make friends. Provide real value to others and let your skills speak for themselves–this incredibly talented community will take care of the rest. If one goes to flaunt an ego, his stories will be buried (thumbs down). There is no greater concentration of truly savvy web marketing minds anywhere else in the country.

8. The Text-Link-Ads guys know how to party. They can even ride mechanical bulls if you put one in front of them.

7. Neil Patel makes a great towel boy for anyone running a mud wrestling show. (I’ve got nothin’ but love for you, Neil)

6. Link Development has gotten significantly more complicated. Editorial (contextual) links are more valid than ever, while most other vehicles for link building (recips, 3rd-4th degree link triangulation, article syndication, etc.) have died gracelessly. Long live presell pages! (Ahem, did you read my link building predictions 4 months ago??)

5. Blog advertising platforms are clamoring over themselves to aggregate as many blogs into their networks as possible. (ReviewMe (Aaron & Andy), Blogsvertise (Emilio & company), Pay Per Post, et al). The growth of blogging power continues.

4. Rand might seem shy, but when it counts he’s ready to throw down (& strip down) at a party. Don’t search flickr for “webmasterworld las vegas”

3. Viral/Social Media Marketing (and the creativity upon which it is built) is the fastest way to build a brand (or the best way to reinforce the one you’ve built).

2. Sexy Widgets kick ass. Their proliferation will fuel the future of social & viral web promotion without question. Lawrence Coburn gave a super-interesting presentation on the importance of widgets and the opportunities that lie therein. There will be many more posts on Widgets in the coming months, no doubt.

1. Bruce Clay can get your site banned from google. The LinkMaps tool is a total endorsement of everyone that links to you. Even though you’re using a “noindex, follow” tag (and telling Google NOT to index), you’re implicitly linking to–& endorsing–every low-quality site that scraped a link to yours. Do NOT use this tool. Ye hath been warned.

Pictures would probably get me in trouble. But the lessons were incredible. Thanks to Brett & all of the others who helped make this the greatest PubCon yet!

November 9, 2006

This is a project I’ve been watching for about 6 months. I’m also now participating first-hand in the project by reviewing the service myself (and getting paid for it doesn’t hurt).
Quite a while ago, I remember asking Andy what he knew about getting editorial links from within the body content of decent blogs. Further, I didn’t want to have to deal with networks or paid-for-positive posts. Of course, always being one to jump on a market need, Andy was already on it. He assured me that “some very intelligent people” were already working on such an effort and that I should stick around because it wouldn’t be long.

Low and behold: ReviewMe launches today!

Some of the more interesting points of differentiation between ReviewMe & other networks (PPP especially):

  • ReviewMe PAYS. Seriously. These posts are “$20-$200 per review”. That’s not bad at all. Definitely the way to go if you want to gain a network of bloggers quickly. This sets a new price point altogether and I believe will carve out a nice little niche for itself
  • Technology is impressive. Just by looking at the exterior, it’s evident that ReviewMe has some pretty innovative (not to mention cool) technology behind it. Categories are displayed by a wordcloud which is navigation unlike most others. Really flavorful usability there.
  • Advertisers do not pay for “positive” reviews. Bloggers get to review honestly and in their own voice. This can be an expensive risk from the advertiser, but it might just be very worthwhile to engage the audience.
  • There are indeed some very savvy internet marketing folks that are also part of this outfit. Built-in edge over competition if you ask me.

I’m looking forward to watching this venture over the coming months (and presumably years). Good luck guys!

November 7, 2006

Text-Link-Ads Just Acquired by MediaWhiz

I got an email today from Patrick Gavin announcing the official acquisition of Text-Link-Ads.com by a company called MediaWhiz. Until now I hadn’t actually seen much of MediaWhiz in the search space, but it appears that’s because they’ve been spending quite a bit of time and LakeCapital‘s money building an affiliate network, a lead gen network and also an email marketing platform. Pretty diverse, and TLA looks like a good fit.

Personally, one of my favorite aspects of TLA has always been their proximity to search and the degree of familiarity & friendliness that they’ve always retained. I know that this attitude and culture has been a big reason why they’ve done so well. Even though I know they’d been on the block for sale for a while now, I just hope that becoming part of a larger agency doesn’t compromise this meaningful culture that they’ve created so delightfully (even though Matt Cutts blows ‘em up from time to time).

What does this mean for TLA in the future?

Text Link AdsIt probably means that they will start using a sales force to solicit sites and build their inventory. That’s bad news for the rest of the text link vendors, for sure. TLA will certainly find some partners in other LakeCapital investments, most suitably probably Respond2 for more direct response marketing & Haggin Marketing for whatever they mean by “juice”. Alternatively, it could just mean that the network gets under-appreciated and the growth becomes a bit more stagnant, mired in the corporate quagmire of processes and meetings about when to have the next meeting. Here’s the official press release.

One last part is that it looks like RBC Capital Markets was the primary financial M&A strategist for TLA. They do very good work–I hope Patrick & his team did very well in the deal–they deserve it.

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