All posts by Tom

Become a Human Trafficker on LinkedIn!

epic-fail

I decided to check out LinkedIn’s new “skill” feature to see what it was all about. To quote the skills page itself, the purpose is to:

Discover the skills you need to succeed. Learn what you need to know from the thousands of hot, up-and-coming skills we’re tracking.

I thought it sounded like it had some potential to help my LinkedIn presence so I decided to do some investigating. LinkedIn skills lets you add all of your ‘skills’ that you have to offer other users, ideally making you more findable.

I experimented with some keywords to see what LinkedIn would autosuggest for keywords related to things I do, and check out what I got for traffic:

human trafficking linked in Become a Human Trafficker on LinkedIn!

Human Trafficking? Really? Definitely adding that to my skill-repertoire.

Is there some sort of legitimate merit to having human trafficking as a skill option? I really hope there’s just something I don’t know…

The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

april-fools-2011.

I’m just going to get down to it…the April fools pranks are on point this year. There are A LOT of great ones but above the rest I found 7 in a league of their own that deserve to be immortalized as some of the best April fools jokes of all time. Without any further ado, here they are:

 

1. [Google] Gmail Motion

image The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

Gmail Motion uses your computer’s built-in webcam and Google’s patented spatial tracking technology to detect your movements and translate them into meaningful characters and commands. Movements are designed to be simple and intuitive for people of all skill levels.

Basically, GMail is helping us move closer to the Minority Report type of computing.

http://mail.google.com/mail/help/motion.html

 

2. [YouTube] YouTube in 1911

youtube 1911 thumb The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011This one is CLASSIC. Remember the vuvuzela button on every video during the world cup? Every video now has a button in the bottom right that says “1911” – when pushed the video you’re watching turns into a sound-free film with an old school grainy sepia filter overlaid on the video and 1911ish music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. [TechCrunch] Google Places Content Farm

googleplacesspam1 The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

TechCrunch stepped up to the plate in this april fools joke to call out Google for showing clear bias towards it’s own brand and products as far as what they consider “spam” and low quality content.

In an extraordinary move to illustrate its independence, say sources, the Google webspam team actually classified Google Places as spam and a content farm, and temporarily removed it from search results.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/31/google-inadvertently-classifies-google-places-as-a-content-farm-and-removes-from-search-index/

 

4. [LinkedIn] People You May Know

image1 The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

LinkedIn created this genius April fools prank highlighting some of the more interesting people you may know within your LinkedIn network.

I really have to hand it to LinkedIn…it’s pretty damn funny. Go check out your People You May Know list on your profile!

 

 

 

 

 

5. [Groupon] Groupon Patents April Fools Day

Groupon took a bit of initiative this year and filed a patent for April fools day. The local deal-of-the-day giant is now taking swift action against any individual or company breaching their patent.

For centuries, April Fools’ Day’s intellectual trademark ownership has been uncertain. That’s why we are proud to announce our patent application for April Fools’ Day. Everyone’s favorite day of daffiness finally has a new owner—Groupon!

image thumb The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

http://www.groupon.com/pages/april-fools

 

6. [Google] Autocompleter Position

Google is looking for fast and psychic typists to autocomplete search queries on Google.

Here are the responsibilities of the position:

  • Watch anonymized search queries as they come in to Google.
  • Predict and type completions based on your personal experience and intuition.
  • Suggest spelling corrections when relevant.
  • Keep updated with query trends and offer fresh suggestions.

If you think you’re up to the challenge you can ‘apply’ here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/uslocations/mountain-view/autocompleter/index.html

 

7. [ThinkGeek] Playmobil Apple Store Play Set

The play set of the future! All of our kid will grow up with an Apple Store Play and one day ask us questions like “Dad, whats a lego?”

 

BONUS: Google “Helvetica”

With Google doing so many April fools pranks this year I’m starting to wonder if I missed any. This one might be a little more niche – but still very well done.

Google “helvetica” and take a peak at how the search results are displayed

image thumb1 The 7 Ultimate Online April Fools Jokes of 2011

If you do any design/graphic/film work this will probably make you burst out laughing. If you don’t get it, this video gives you an idea about how designers feel about fonts like comic sans.

 

Did I miss any GREAT ones? What are some of your favorites this year?

How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

ethically-steal

I know how it is being stuck at a certain position in the search engines for a keyword and not being able to move up at all, no matter what I do. No matter how many links I build or what kind my website just sits in the same position, losing all the traffic to the guys in front of me. I have a little technique I use to give my websites a boost when they seem to be stuck where they’re at, and it works extremely well.

The tools available today for looking at your websites backlinks are extremely robust and so feature driven you can rank a website using the data from them alone. I’ve used lots of tools for checking backlinks to my websites and there are two that I always end up going back to: Yahoo Site Explorer and Open Site Explorer. Open Site Explorer is much more intuitive and gives all kinds of cool data for links but Yahoo Site Explorer is more comprehensive with a larger data set, so I like to use both and cross reference the data when I can.

image How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sourcesimage1 How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

ANYWAY….lets jump into it.

I’m going to use Yahoo Site Explorer to show you how to do this, It’s literally push button simple so don’t worry if your techie skills are lacking. Basically what we’re going to do is look at the inbound links of the top competitors for the target keyword and try to replicate their link profile. That way we have the same links as them on top of any links we’ve built using other methods. People often use Site Explorers to look at their own inbound link data but don’t realize it’s just as powerful for looking at your competitors links so you can copy their link profile and outrank them.

So here’s what we need to do:

1.) Pick a keyword. You need to find a keyword that you want to improve your ranking for. This usually works best for me with a keyword where I’m on the first page but in a lower position. I’m going to target the keyword “Myspace Advertisements” which I currently rank #6 for.

image thumb How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

 

2.) Look at the Top 10 Results. Looking at this search engine results page, I’m probably not going to outrank the official MyAds website so we won’t even look at that one. You generally don’t want to target big authority or brand sites like Wikipedia, CNet, TechCrunch, etc. because the link relevancy is likely less of a ranking factor than brand bias.

 

3.) Pick a Website to Reverse Engineer. Pick a website in the top 10 that’s ranking in front of you that isn’t a brand or authority site to reverse engineer. I’m going to go with MySocialMarketing.com because it’s the first result that meets the criteria I outlined above. If there is a specific page ranking make sure you note that page so you can see the inbound links going to the exact page that is ranking.

 

4.) Go to Yahoo Site Explorer. Copy the website that you want to reverse engineer and paste it into the Explore URL box.

image thumb1 How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

 

5.) Click on Inlinks and select “Except From This Domain.” Click on the button that says Inlinks and select “Except from this domain” on the dropdown. This is going to show you all of the inbound links in the YSE link graph for the website you entered.

image thumb2 How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

 

6.) Find Places to Post Your Link. Look at the results that show up and find websites that you can get a backlink from. If there is no way to leave a comment or backlink, contact the owner of the website and ask if they will link to your website. Give them a good reason to do so like being a more up-to-date or informative resource than the competitor. Just asking and not pointing out how it would add value to their website will hurt your odds.

image thumb3 How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

Usually you won’t have to do too much outreach and you’ll find plenty of websites that you can openly leave a backlink on.

Looking at the results for my YSE search there are quite a few places that I can easily leave a link on. YSE generally does a pretty good job of ordering link importance from top to bottom, so start from the top and work your way down.

After checking out a few of the sites I found a blogger blog that allowed me to leave an auto-approved comment with my link and keyword as the anchor text (Myspace Advertising).

image6 How To Ethically Steal Your Competitors Backlink Sources

7.) Wash, Rinse, and Repeat. That’s all there is to finding where your competitors get their backlinks and duplicating their link profile. It’s a SUPER simple process that is surprisingly effective. If you can get inbound links from the same places as the competitor above you why SHOULDN’T you rank higher?

The best part is that if you still don’t move up you can just do this with another competitors website over and over until your website moves up in the search results. There really are no boundaries with this and it will make your website rank better. For some link variation try using the Open Site Explorer mentioned earlier as well – you might find even more link opportunities.

If you have an employee, intern, VA, or anything of that sort this is a great task to delegate to them because of the simplicity. Just have them follow this guide and you’ll be on your way to higher search engine placements.

Ok…I just handed you an exact blueprint for passing up your competitors and getting more traffic. Now…go and actually implement this instead of noting it as a ‘to do” for later. Enjoy and keep me posted on your progress!

Blacklist Your Competitors Out of Google Search Results

google-spam

A recent post on the official Google blog has a lot of webmasters and SEOs in a state of panic and on the edge of their seats awaiting the next big algorithm updates.

Matt Cutts made it clear that Google is making big developments towards fighting problematic spam like content farms and hacked websites. It’s been a tough uphill battle for Google keeping the search quality up with the amount of spam being pushed out every day. These new changes have brought upon some speculation from a specific question Matt answered about reporting spam.

Here are the question and answer that was posted on Hacker News:

Matt,

Can you speak about the possibility for personal domain blacklists for Google accounts? I know giving users the option to remove sites from their own search results is talked about a lot in these HN threads. Is there any talk internally about implementing something like this?

[Matt's reply] We’ve definitely discussed this. Our policy in search quality is not to pre-announce things before they launch. If we offer an experiment along those lines, I’ll be among the first to show up here and let people know about it. icon smile Blacklist Your Competitors Out of Google Search Results

This caught my attention more than the hacked sites and content farm problems. I can see Google attempting to implement something along these lines to let users help fight spam and clean up the SERPs. There’s only one major problem with this approach, it has huge potential for manipulation. If Google gives users that much control over the SERPs, SEOs are going to have a field day black listing every website that ranks in front of them.

Of course Google would make this process seamless and simple otherwise people wouldn’t bother. The second something like this is implemented I can see 100 services popping up in some variation of: “blacklist your competitors on 1,000 different IPs and 10 different countries for $10.” It would be pretty simple to setup a service like this for an extremely low cost. Pay people to click the button or submit the form that throws up the spam flag on your competitors websites over and over again until they’re gone.

It honestly scares me that it might come down to something like this and I hope Google realizes how flawed of an idea giving users that much control is. If they think the spam is bad now, every legitimate and white hat SEO will be out of business before you can say black hat.

Googles Newest Feature: Filter by Reading Level

google-filter

Yep…just like the title suggests – Google’s newest feature lets you filter your search results by the reading level of the content. There are 3 different reading levels to choose from – “basic”, “intermediate”, and “advanced.” The breakdown of my blog is: 62% basic, 37% intermediate, and an extremely impressive 0% advanced.

 Googles Newest Feature: Filter by Reading Level

This could become really interesting if people actually use it. If someone is looking for a basic/beginner explanation of something they can drill down and choose to only view content that’s considered “Basic.” On the flip side of that if they consider themselves highly knowledgeable in the particular area and want more advanced content they can choose to filter it that way as well. Imagine being able to write separate content for both beginners and experts that will bring both groups to your website.

Just for a quick example of how powerful this could turn out to be if you search for “astronomy” you’ll notice the following reading levels:

astronomy example Googles Newest Feature: Filter by Reading Level

Only 3% of the results are considered basic by Googles new filter. Astronomy gets over 100,000 exact match searches a month and I’m willing to bet a lot of them are from beginners trying to learn more. If you ran an astronomy website you could easily create basic-level content and pull huge amounts of traffic because so few people (3%) are writing at the basic level.

Keep this in mind when you’re creating new content – you can dramatically increase your traffic if this new filter gains popularity just by altering the way you write.

SEO is Not Dead

SEO is not dead

I keep hearing how “SEO is dead” which is an interesting observation to me. It’s always from the same group of people that usually tout themselves as something along the lines of “social media experts” or “social media strategists”. They seem to believe that because social media exists, SEO and search is dying…how they’ve collectively come to that conclusion is beyond me.

My first question is, how can social media ever replace search? I can’t seem to grasp the idea of going to twitter or facebook to find banana bread recipes, a local dentist, or anything really. Why would any of these sites even try to step into the ring with Google? It wouldn’t end well for them. There will always be search, social media is not equivalent to search and never will be. Social media is great and has it’s place, but there is no logical way for it to replace search. Yeah, aspects of social media can influence aspects of search, but that in no way shape or form kills SEO.

To say that SEO is dead is to say that search is dead, as long as there is search there will be SEO. The means of optimization and strategy for raising position in the search engines might change but optimization will still be alive and well. I think most of the…well…lets just call them misinformed “social media experts” are referring to current methods of search engine optimization. Sure, link building, PageRank sculpting, keyword density, and all of the buzz words of SEO might mean nothing in the future, but something WILL invariably replace it.

Lets (hypothetically) say that everything we know about SEO goes out the window. In this fantasy land the search engines decide to use social media and create different metrics based on how users interact with a website to decide where it falls in the search engine results page. This could be a number of different things like: the click-through rate of the website whenever it’s posted, the number of likes it receives, the amount of people that tweet it, and anything else a search engine would deem a quality metric. Even in this scenario an opportunity would still exist for webmasters and search engine optimizers to either try to game the system or ethically gain social approval and increase interaction to OPTIMIZE their rankings.

Lets say that if your website has the most number of likes in your niche, it would show up for keywords that are most often mentioned on your fan page in the Google search results. As soon as that ranking metric is discovered there is instantly an ability to optimize. That’s exactly how search engine ranking factors have come to be known, through testing and discovery. This scenario would follow the exact same SEO process used today.

As long as people are searching for what they need when they need it and businesses can make any kind of money from ranking well in the search engines, optimizers will have no lack of work in the near future.

What it comes down to is that search engines use computers to grade, prioritize, and rank websites. As long as there is an algorithm calculating rankings there will always be some form of optimization. Until the day when Google employs the entire human race to sort through every website on the internet, optimization will still exist.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to Matt Cutts:

0 SEO is Not Dead

SEO is still alive and kickin’ and will be into the foreseeable future.

Are Duplicate Content Penalties a Myth?

duplicate-content

Sort of, Let me explain…

I’ve been seeing A LOT of duplicate content questions lately and I want to take a few minutes to debunk any myths, misinformation, and wrong interpretations. First of all, if you aren’t sure what duplicate content is here’s a quick definition:

“Duplicate content is a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one web page, even on different web sites.”

In other words, if you write an article and I aggregate it, or even steal it without any modification that would be considered duplicate content. Also, if I have multiple versions of an article on my website that is also considered duplicate content. Get it?

There’s this myth (and it really is just a myth) that if you have duplicate content on your website it will receive a PENALTY from Google. This is pretty far from the truth. If I post an article on my website that is then indexed into Google and then create a printer friendly version of that article the second copy would be considered duplicate content. Will Google penalize me for that? NO! I don’t understand why people believe this – it just isn’t logical. This is what will happen…the first and original version of the article will be indexed, rank for any keywords it might contain and add to the search engines index. The SECOND copy (printer friendly) will remain OUT of the search engine index.

To sum all that up: If you have 2 version of an article on your website, the original will be indexed and the second one will not. There will NOT be a duplicate content “penalty” they just won’t both be indexed.

If you’re trying to get a website to rank that is just aggregated content from article directories and nothing is unique it’s going to be very difficult. As I said before – you won’t be penalized for using content (unless it’s blatantly stolen and not meant for reuse) but you won’t reap the benefits of having unique, indexed, and fresh content.

That’s all I’ve got.

Seth Godin on Standing Out – TED.com talk

sethgodin

Seth Godin is without a doubt one of THE most innovative marketers in the world. I recently watched this TED talk and found it super informative and interesting, it also has some great jokes. Enjoy!

 

 

How To Invite All Your Friends To A Facebook Group With One Click

facebook-logo

Inviting all of your friends to your fan page or facebook group can be insanely tedious and agonizing. When I made my fan page for my blog I wasn’t about to click 400 names to invite all my friends, that’s just a pure waste of time. Instead I found a way to invite ALL of them with a few clicks and it works like a charm.

To invite ALL your facebook friends to your fan page/group do the following:

1.) Copy/paste this code snippet:


javascript:elms=document.getElementById(‘friends’).getElementsByTagName(‘li’);for(var fid in elms){if(typeof elms[fid] === ‘object’){fs.click(elms[fid]);}}


2.) Go to your fan page/group and click the “suggest to friends” button.


 How To Invite All Your Friends To A Facebook Group With One Click

3.) Once the box pops up asking you who you’d like to invite, paste the snippet into the URL bar of your browser and click enter. It’ll automatically select all your friends, then all you have to do is click send invitations!

 

 How To Invite All Your Friends To A Facebook Group With One Click

That’s it! One pretty easy, quick, and useful trick that saved me a lot of time.

How To Get Dirt Cheap Clicks On The Second Biggest Social Network In The World

myspace-myads-logo

Yeah yeah, I know Facebook is the new hotness, and I know you think you need to be a pro Facebook advertiser to make some real money from social networking sites. You don’t. There’s a huge opportunity right now to do well if you:

  • Are an affiliate
  • Own a product
  • Have a website/service or just SOMETHING to advertise

I’m talking about one of the opportunities people will talk about in a few years and say things like:

“what the hell was I doing?”

“I wish it was still that easy.”

“I can’t believe you could get clicks that cheap.”

and so on.

With Facebook continuing to not only dominate the social networking space but the INTERNET in general, other popular social networks are starting to BLEED. This presents a HUGE opportunity in paid advertising.

MySpace Ads or “My Ads” has undergone some monumental changes in the last few months. I was spending a lot of my advertising budget on My Ads last year when I was heavy into affiliate marketing and had some amazing results. There are A LOT of things I like about My Ads; I honestly am a bigger fan of the My Ads advertising platform than Facebook’s. My Ads offers more targeting options and advanced features like pixel placement, conversion tracking, and remarketing.  Another reason I’ve always been a huge My Ads fan is that all of their ads are banner based. Banners have always had much higher CTR’s and conversion rates for me than plain text ads in almost every niche/scenario.

Anyway, back to this big opportunity over at My Ads…

Since they are slowing way down in traffic/signups and losing users every day they’ve lowered the costs behind their advertising to encourage more use. You can get suggested bids as low as 1 cent per click on your ads now which is very rare for the rising cost of paid advertising. The more targeting options you try the more likely you are to find a combination that will offer dirt cheap clicks.

I found that by targeting Males 23-45 that are interested in “PC Computer Games” my suggested cost per click is $0.04 – $0.09.

 How To Get Dirt Cheap Clicks On The Second Biggest Social Network In The World

Just to contrast how big of a deal this is – last year the cheapest clicks I had EVER gotten were around 40 cents per click on My Ads. This is one of those amazing opportunities people moan and complain about missing out on all the time like direct linking on AdWords. You might be thinking that the traffic must suck now because people are leaving but that’s not the case at all. There are still over 71 MILLION active users on MySpace for you to market and sell to. I played with different targeting options for awhile and found quite a few different demographics that offer very inexpensive clicks.

Please take advantage of this opportunity – things like this are rare these days in the internet marketing space. I’d love to hear what kind of suggested bids you’re getting and results from your campaigns!