Saturday, June 25, 2005


SEO of course stands for Search Engine Optimisation, while SOM stands for Snake Oil Merchants, the many peddlers of “satisfaction guaranteed”, “instant” lotions and potions that are supposed to propel any website to the top of its SERPs. More about FED below.

SOM are of course in their element when it comes to SEO, simply because it’s actually very, very hard to prove (or disprove for that matter) that any given method “works” (or not). So, SOMs can claim anything they want, mostly unchallenged.

All Google watchers, including myself, are of course a little (some a lot) guilty of making claims we simply can’t really make hard. We jump to conclusions easily without reflecting much on our claims.

Suppose you decided to try something like increasing the keyword density (KD) of a page currently ranking say between 11 and 20 in the SERPs, in a bid to get to the first page.

So you modify the KD and hey, waddayaknow… the page turns up at, say, #5! Success!

But what have you proved? Very little indeed. You didn’t for instance have a “control” or “blank”, a similar page, ranking similarly but which you didn’t modify. You probably didn’t check the rankings of the surrounding, competing pages: what happened to their SERPs? Is your gain simply due to their loss? Have you gained more inbound links during the "experiment"? Was there an algorithm shake up going on?

There could be any number of reasons why your page improved in rankings, many of which would be totally unrelated to the KD modification.

But it’s very tempting to draw that simple conclusion:

Increasing the KD of my page improved rankings, ergo increasing KD works”.

To “test” the validity of your conclusion I suggest wagering a little bet with yourself. If you applied the method to another page and it worked you win the bet and a cool $1,000,000! But if it doesn’t work you lose the bet and you lose your life [it’s a cruel world!]

Would you accept the bet, based on the flimsy “evidence” you have at hand? I bet you a cool $1,000 that you wouldn’t: intuitively you know you’re on shaky ground.

SERPs of any given page depend on perhaps over a 100 factors, many on the page, many off the page, many outside of your power. Making simple changes to any single factor may well “work” but it doesn’t prove much at all.

The “many factors problem” is very common in many walks of life. I was confronted with it almost continuously in my capacity as a material development engineer, in a previous life. As the properties of any given material usually depend on a large number of factors, such as composition and manufacturing methods, material development engineers have to be very careful in drawing conclusions about any modifications they make to the contributing factors and the effect on the material's properties.

“Many factor problems” are usually tackled by means of so-called “Factorial Experimental Design” (FED). In these experiments, a number of factors is manipulated in a precise and controlled manner, holding all others at constant level. Simple statistical analysis then allows to draw justified and solid conclusions about the influence of the various factors on the response variables (such as the material’s properties).

An example of tackling many factor problems
is applied to social research on this site.

Can FED be applied to SEO? In theory, yes, in practice it would be very difficult. FED is based on the assumption that the researcher has complete control over all factors that may influence the outcome of the experiments and that’s simply not the case in SEO.

And that’s why most SEO claims are “guesstimates” at best, rather than precise, founded conclusions… That, of course, includes most of my own guesstimates.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Google Sitemaps True or False

The Google Sitemaps initiative is now a month old or so and despite a pretty unambiguous FAQ section, many Webmasters appear thoroughly confused about what an *.xml sitemap can do for their site and what it can’t do. Below is a small compendium of “True or False” regarding Google Sitemaps, a “Very Frequently Asked Questions” as it were. Disagree? Have something to add? Leave a comment…

Q1. Creating a Google Sitemap will get my site spidered more quickly? True or false?

Q2. Creating a Google Sitemap will get my site indexed more quickly? True or false?

Q3. Creating a Google Sitemap will improve my SERP rankings? True or false?

Q4. Creating a Google Sitemap will improve my PageRank? True or false?

Q5. Creating a Google Sitemap can actually reduce the number of indexed pages of my site? True or false?

Q6. Resubmitting a Google Sitemap several times can make Google eventually take notice of my site? True or false?

Q7. Complaining can make Google eventually take notice of my site? True or false?

Q8. Not taking part in Google Sitemaps means your site will no longer be respidered? True or false?

Q9. Taking part in Google Sitemaps is the fast track to success for your site? True or false?

Q10. Google Sitemaps is a scam and it doesn’t work? True or false?

Read our conclusion on Google Sitemaps. Conclusion

A1. False! The spidering frequency is likely to be based on previous Google logs and not on the fact that you’ve a Google compatible sitemap or not. For new sites that can mean lengthy waiting times, even when participating in the program.


A2. False! What Google actually includes in it’s index is based on the content found and inbound links pointing to that content (simply put), not on the fact the content was found on a Google compatible sitemap (or not).

A3. False! Ditto to A2. Google SERPS are based on content and inbound links, not on the fact the content was found on a Google compatible sitemap (or not).

A4. False! Ditto to A2 and A3. PageRank is based mainly on inbound links, not on the fact the content was found on a Google compatible sitemap (or not). Parcicipating (or not) will not affect the PR of your pages, either way.

A5. False! Some webmasters have reported a drop in the number of pages indexed by Google. This is almost certainly a coincidence, caused by the fact that Google is in the middle of an algorithm update (Bourbon), which is shaking things up considerably. Also make sure your sitemap contains all the URLs you want including and not those you don’t want them to see.

A6. False! Resubmitting simply because your sitemap status didn’t turn to OK immediately is likely to be simply ignored by Google. Have some patience.

A7. False! Ditto A6. Complaining to Google simply because your sitemap status didn’t turn to OK immediately is likely to be simply ignored by Google. Have some patience. And if your going to complain, be polite and arm yourself with facts, not rumour.

A8. False! Google will continue to spider the Net simply by following links, as it’s been doing for many years. If your site is well connected it will continue to get found, even if you don’t deploy a Google compatible sitemap.

A9. False! If you’ve read the answers to all questions, you’ll have understood the answer to this question is an emphatic NO!

A10. False! Google Sitemaps works for countless webmasters, including myself. Right now the program is still in Beta, so patience is needed to figure out what the future will bring.

Conclusion: Google Sitemaps offers an alternative method for sites to be (re)spidered, using a uniform format. Inclusion in the program doesn’t guarantee quick indexation, higher SERPS or PR but it can’t penalise your site either. In the future, sites that operate a Google compatible sitemap may have some competitive edge over those that don’t but right now that’s likely not to be the case.

For an abridged guide to installing the Google OEM python based script go to: Google Sitemaps revisited.

Please feel free to include comments and suggestions. Links are allowed. No spam or abuse please.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Patent WO 2005/029368

Google’s latest patent, WO 2005/029368, apparently filed on September 16, 2003 and approved March 17, 2005, aims at improving the search results for news items, when using the Google news feature. Currently news search results are based on relevancy and date stamp. And that means that small news providers (through blogs e.g.) may actually appear higher up in the search results than more “respectable” big cheeses [and we can’t have that, now can we…]

Written by Michael Curtiss, Krishna Bharat and Michael Schmitt, this is a lengthy document in Googlese. WO 2005/029368 makes 31 claims, all aimed at improving the “quality” of news searches. How precisely this is to be achieved is beyond the scope of this post. While no one will deny that an improvement in any type of search results is always desirable, for once I’m joining the chorus of sceptics.

How a machine, no matter how technologically advanced, can possibly decide what the “quality” of a news item actually is, is completely beyond me. Let me put it simply. I dislike tabloids but that doesn’t mean I want them taken off the shelves. What’s quality to you in terms of news, is rubbish to me and visa versa.

Successful implementation of this algorithm is likely to drown out some of the smaller voices in the news community and further shore up the thrones of the current news Kings. Is that in the interest of the news reader? Is it in the spirit of Google’s indiscriminate indexation of web documents, even those with questionable content? Not in my book.

I came across the patent story in the
webpronews newsletter and started searching, using patent WO 2005/029638. Force of habit still makes me go for the classical search rather than the news feature search. Today, in position 3 (out of 220) ranks a Newsfeed – page which has nothing whatsoever to do with the patent at all. It's about someone's garden party...

So, despite all the
Bourbon, Google’s main search results are still “contaminated” with irrelevant nonsense. May be they should concentrate on fixing that first…

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Swiss Lotto Scam

These lotto scams just resurface once in a while, like the Dutch lottery scam I mentioned recently. There is now a Swiss version, that’s clearly wanting to out bluff the Dutch version: in the Swiss lotto scam, “winnings” are $4,000,000 as opposed to the measly $1,500,000 Dutch winnings!

Here’s an abridged version of the email I received today:

4002 BASEL
REF NUMBER: CSL/74/368/04
BATCH NUMBER: CS-121-LT-8-12-04

We are pleased to inform you, THAT AS A RESULT OF OUR RECENT Lottery DRAWS
HELD on the 18th May, 2005. Your e-mail address attached to ticket number63538953216-435
with serial number 172-488 drew lucky numbers 1 - 8 - 13 - 15 - 20 - 22 +
45 which consequently won in the 2nd category.

[blah, blah, blah]

Sincerely yours,
MRS. Rita Kelly

N.B Acknowledging the receipt of this mail with the

Don’t fall for it!


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Virus Spammers active again

A new breed of virus spammers is working hard at increasing their “conversion rates” by sending out emails designed to gain the trust of the unsuspecting recipient. The email messages aim at getting recipients to open the following attachments:,,, and others.

Here’s few examples of emails I received today:

Subject: your password has been updated

Dear user gmeyers,

You have successfully updated the password of your Gmeyers account.

If you did not authorize this change or if you need assistance with your account, please contact Gmeyers customer service at: mail@(deleted by me)

Thank you for using Gmeyers!
The Gmeyers Support Team

+++ Attachment: No Virus (Clean)
+++ Gmeyers Antivirus – www.(deleted by me)

Note the clever use of +++ Attachment: No Virus (Clean)

Here’s another one:

Subject: Warning message: your services near to be closed

Dear Gmeyers Member,

We have temporarily suspended your email account bob@(deleted by me).

This might be due to either of the following reasons:

1. A recent change in your personal information (i.e. change of address).
2. Submiting invalid information during the initial sign up process.
3. An innability to accurately verify your selected option of subscription due to an internal error within our processors.
See the details to reactivate your Gmeyers account.

Sincerely,The Gmeyers Support Team

+++ Attachment: No Virus (Clean)
+++ Gmeyers Antivirus – www.(deleted by me)

Assuming the attachments actually do contain a virus (I can't be positively sure, as I didn't open them), they must still be in beta because the sender obviously relies on email address harvesting.

The best anti virus protection? Never open email attachements, unless you're absolutely positive about the identity of the sender (and it doesn't cost a penny!)

For more examples of the latest generation of virus spam emails, check this post.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

My Own Googlewhack!

In a previous post I made light of the so-called googlewack, even though I misspelled it.

Somewhat to my surprise, a recent post has generated a whole array of Googlewhacks in,, and an obscure Italian SE (Virgilio). No I’m not going to disclose the post, that would be telling.

You would think of a Googlewhack as a tiny and completely uninhabited island in the ocean of search results. But strangely enough, this particular Googlewhack has been driving Google traffic to the post in question, at a rate of 10 – 15 UVs per day, since the day it was indexed by the mighty G.

Of course that means had I managed to get a good position on another, related search term, traffic might have been quite a lot more abundant [every cloud...].

Here’s a good site about


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bob Geldof and eBay

Bob Geldof and eBay aren’t the best of friends right now (via a BBC newsfeed).

Saint Bob, patron saint of third world poverty, [don’t get the wrong end of the stick, I support the debt cancellation initiative fully] has declared his disgust for the fact that some people are reselling their live 8 tickets on eBay.

eBay’s first laconic response was “that reselling charity tickets isn’t illegal in the UK”.

Geldof then suggested that ebay buyers would place bids of “£300 million” on the tickets and then refuse to pay (thereby generating God knows how many eBay buyers with very, very bad buyer feedback). Clearly Sir Bob isn’t much of an eBay buyer himself.

But eBay have now “listened to their customers” and decided to withdraw the vilified live 8 ticket auctions. So all is well again in auction land…

And the tickets? They'll be "auctioned" on the streets and at the concert gates, as per normal.

"A storm in a teacup" springs to mind...

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Google Bourbon Update Complete?

In a previous post I mentioned latest Google algo update, dubbed Bourbon, almost “in passing”. That was unfortunately a slight understatement.

According to Google’s “Chinese volunteer”, their spokesman dubbed Googleguy, this is one of the largest algo updates in Google’s history. To stop the search results from totally “quaking”, the update has been split into 3.5 updates. How much is 0.5 of an update? 0.03 more that 0.47 of an update, everybody knows that!

Apparently the whole thing is now nearing completion, some tongue waggings indicate it’s actually done and dusted.

And so we’ll all be able to enjoy Google’s fandabydosy, super-trooper new search results. New! Now without spam and more accurate that ever! [I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I was you].

But as usual with Google algo changes, nobody's given any thought to setting up extra AE centres to accomodate suicidal webmasters who've lost out in the ranking wars or have been driven bonkers by total lack of sleep over this trying period of time.

Anyway, here’s what Googleguy has to say about Bourbon.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Telephone spam

There’s been a serious increase in what I call “telephone spam”, at least in our neck of the woods. Telesales have been on the rise over the last few years, with increasing numbers of Companies turning to this intrusive form of cold calling. Anything from telephone services to double glazing and much, much more is being promoted by means of telesales. Call centres set up in low wage countries like India have made this form of product promotion lower in cost and affordable to even more businesses.

But I wasn’t even referring to cold calling. What I call telephone spam is literally just that: less than scrupulous operators using auto-dialling and pre-recorded messages to invite you to call a premium rate 0900 number to “claim your prize” or “claim your holiday”. It’s rapidly becoming the offline equivalent of email spam. And it has another thing in common with spam: it’s mainly used by scam artists.

Is there anything you can do to avoid receiving these intrusive calls? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure whether the practice is actually illegal. There may not be any legislation pertaining to it at all.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Get more visitors to your blog

As blogs are really no more than simple websites, the rules that apply to driving traffic to your blog aren’t very different from those that apply to any other site.

But there are a few secondary methods that can drive small amounts of very targeted traffic to your blog.

1. Forum/discussion group posting: many forums allow you to include a URL in your post. By choosing forums that are highly relevant to the topic of your blog or to a specific blog post, you can capture highly targeted traffic to your blog, simply by including your blog (or blog post) address in your contribution to the forum.

2. Posting comments to blogs that are very related to yours and including your blog address in the comment. Many blogs allow you to do so and many bloggers will actually be grateful for the attention you’ve paid to their post.

3. Technorati tags: find out more by following the tag at the end of this post.

The first two methods are time consuming and labour intensive but they can also contribute to your inbound links (PageRank) and provide more ways in which surfers can find their way to your scribblings.

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Google Sitemaps and Blogger blogs

In a previous posts I suggested joining the new Google sitemaps initiative and posted a no-nonsense tutorial on getting up and running with the program.

I immediately started pondering what to do with my own blog, which currently is still hosted by Blogger and not in my own webspace. This of course makes it impossible to create a sitemap using the script.

Someone suggested submitting the atom.xml feed, intended for content syndication, to the program. Google sitemaps’ help section clearly states that RSS feeds and Atom 0.3 feeds are acceptable formats.

So I did and the feed was accepted and given “ATOM FEED” status.
Still find it a little hard to believe that “that’s it” but wait and see…

Keywords: ,

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dutch Lottery Scam alive and well

The Dutch lottery scam, presenting itself as the MULTIDAG LOTTERY INTERNATIONAL is still in business, promising huge wins to unsuspecting victims. What exactly happens when you do respond to claim your “winnings” I’m not quite sure but it’s most likely to involve a “processing fee”, a “transaction fee”, or an “accounting fee” which seems small compared to the $1,500,000 you’re about to “receive”. Alternatively they may require your bank details (oops!) to “transfer the winnings” (these guys really do "play to win"). Needless to say, this is nothing but a trap to make you part with substantial amounts of cash. I quote from the lengthy email:



REF: MDLI/XLV2005-01


Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the Category "A" draws of MULTIDAG LOTTERY Program. We are happy to inform you that you have emerged a winner under the First Category, which is part of our promotional draws. The draws were held on the 8th June 2005. Participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn from 4,000,000 names/email addresses of individuals and companies from Africa, America, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Middle East, and New Zealand as part of our International Promotions Program. You/Your Company, attached to ticket number 05-765204AC, with serial number 90-77 drew the lucky numbers 2, 1, 20, 39 and consequently won in the Category "A". You have therefore been awarded a lump sum pay out of $1,500,000 (0NE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS) in cash, which is the winning payout for Category "A" winners.

Etc, etc. (my intervention)

This lottery program was organized by our group of philanthropist promoted and sponsored by Mr. Bill Gates of Microsoft Inc, eminent personalities like the sultan of Brunei, Multi Choice and other corporate Organizations. This lottery program was organized to improving the use ofcomputer software and for the benefit of every Microsoft user.To begin your claim, please contact your file processing officer.

Mr. Reuben Seligson Wash


Email: (deleted by me)
Email: (deleted by me)
+31 625 385 239



As you can see, this one harks back to “Bill Gates, the great philanthropist[sic]. If you buy into this it’s definitely a case of “buyer beware”…

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Corey Rudl and MLM

Corey’s death actually took me back to the heady days when I first started to think about “starting something” on the Internet. Like so many I’d been made redundant and started browsing the Internet for “work from home”, “work at home” and similar search terms.

Unwittingly I had foraged into one of the largest Internet market niches of all time: the Work (from, at) Home” or MLM (Multi Level Marketing) niche. This is the land where computer dummies are promised instant Internet empires, overnight, with no experience, no effort, using “set and forget technology”, to quickly generate multiple income streams of up to six figures a month…

Clever MLM program owners have long realised that:

  • increasing numbers of redundant/disenchanted workers would flock in increasing numbers to the Internet gold rush

  • the power of dreams, however unrealistic, is indomitable

If you sat down with anyone drawn to these “instant fortune generating opportunities” and reasoned calmly with them, they would soon see the error of their ways. If anyone, regardless of previous experience, business acumen or even sheer intelligence for that matter, could get rich from shaky MLM schemes, then we’d all be rich (and paradoxically, we’d all also be poor)!

But in the privacy between the Internet and the desperate fortune seeker, there is no voice of reason to intervene and the power of dreams prevails.

And so, millions have thrown themselves at MLMs, most simply losing money, some making a few dime a month, some making a little more, very few making anything substantial (like a living). Those that do make some are often self-confessed keyboardaholics, spending more time that ever at work, a far cry from the promised “automated income streams”.

Together with the birth of MLM came the emergence of an entire cottage industry of self-help ebooks, traffic generators, traffic boosters, motivational ebooks, how-to ebooks, tutorials, half-baked "business plans" etc, designed to tap into the ever increasing army of MLM members that simply couldn’t find the gold…

Corey was a master at exploiting that market. No one mastered the skill of appealing to the people’s power to dream of a better life on an island in the Caribbean, occasionally checking your order influx and bank account from your flashy laptop and doing little else beside it. Corey literally sold dreams.

And managed to live the dream. If he could do it so could you… But looking at Corey’s body of work, he too must have worked extremely hard and the playboy, Internet-kid-made-good image was largely a smoke screen. Sure, he played hard but he worked hard too.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Internet marketing Guru Corey Rudl dies at 34

A car crash ended the life of Corey Rudl, one of the few Internet marketers that became a truly self-made millionaire, alongside a few other big cheeses like Mark Joyner and Shawn Casey (Mining Gold).

So what were the secrets to Corey Rudl’s success? Apart from hard work, gritty determination and a general intuition to be in the right place at the right time, I believe the following ingredients contributed strongly to his success in creating a small fortune from a PC and Internet connection.

Firstly, Corey was a master copywriter. He used killer mini sites superbly to pull every conceivable rabbit out of his sales hat. In particular, Rudl concentrated on the old idea of working less for more money. “2 hours per week for $100,000/month” sounds as unbelievable as it is impossible but Corey really managed to convert even the most sceptical of prospects.
His own copy tells the story better than I can. He tapped into the elusive American Dream like no other “epreneur”.

Secondly, Corey exploited the concept of a “revenue pipeline” cleverly and mercilessly. His products always promoted his other money making sites, thus generating back end sales. And as he marketed his stuff to mainly other marketers, eventually getting together a small army of affiliates (someone quotes 11,000) contributed perhaps even more.

Thirdly, Corey Rudl was a shrewd brander of his own image of a playboy lifestyle work-at-home-guy, the type YOU just would LOVE to be. Corey always managed to convince you that it was just him and his computer against the world, while when he died his empire employed more than a hundred people! And if he could do it, so could you…

Did I like the guy? Well, I didn’t know him but had to admire him for pulling it off, big style. Truly one of the very, very few independent Internet marketers that successfully chased the six figure dream.

What about Corey’s products? I’ll let this independent review do the talking.

He lived life to the full and will be remembered fondly.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

ClickBank set to Accept PayPal!

With my ClickBank commission check of this month came a yellow flyer with some announcements, the major one about their plans to accept PayPal as a means of payment:

Did you hear that ClickBank will be accepting PayPal?
Yes, it’s true! Expect to see the PayPal option on our order from on July!
This is a slightly bemusing move because ClickBank and PayPal are both competing third party merchant account providers, so God knows what kind of arrangement they’ve cooked up.

But for
ClickBank merchants and affiliates alike, this must be good news. This can only increase conversions seriously, which is obviously the motive behind this coup.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

Google sitemaps revisited

So I put my money where my mouth is and decided to take the plunge with Google Sitemaps. When it comes to scripting, I’m neither geek nor luddite [a geedite?] and it took me some figuring out but with hindsight the whole thing looks far more daunting than it actually is, so let me summarise how it works.

Firstly you need to understand what you need to make it work:

1. Python 2.2. (or higher) has to be installed on your webserver. That’s usually the case, but do check with your webserver administrator.

2. You need Telnet or SSH access to your webserver. If not currently enabled, most webserver administrators will enable it for you, provided you tell them why you need it.

Download the script and a few associated files here, bookmark the page, as it contains the detailed instructions. Unzip the files.

Then, get to work!

Firstly decide how you want the script,, to calculate your sitemap, which will be called sitemap.xml.gz:

  • from a list of URLs, stored in a *.txt file, supplied by you
  • by letting the script map your domain automatically
  • from access logs

Your choice will determine how to edit the example_config.xml file, so it contains information about your domain which the script needs to create the correct sitemap.

Save the example_config.xml as a text file, e.g. config.txt, so you can edit it in Notepad.

In the areas where it says “modify or delete”, you need to do just that: don’t leave an area unmodified, if you don’t want the script to use it, because it will cause errors. Next save the config file as config.xml.

Now upload config.xml and to your webspace. If you’re using the URL list option, you need to upload the *.txt file containing the URLs as well.

You’re almost done but I found the next bit the trickiest. You need to run the script from the command line of your server using Telnet/SSH.

Connect to your webserver using Telnet/SSH and at the command line prompt $ type in:

python /path/ --config=/path/config.xml --testing

Where /path/ is the exact location of the script and the config file (I’m assuming you’ve uploaded them to the same location). The most common error encountered here is where you get:

$ python: can’t open ‘/path/’

What the snake is telling you is that it can’t find the file, probably because you’re specifying the wrong path. Make sure you have the right path, or try eliminating the starting ‘/’ (path/ instead of /path/).

If it works, run it again, this time without ‘--testing’ bit, now it will create the sitemap.xml.gz file and notify Google.

Next you need to
submit your sitemap to Google. You need a (free) Google account with Froogle, Groups or any other user group. Submit your sitemap, and sit back to wait for approval. Currently it only takes a few hours.

Good luck!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Google sitemaps

WebProNews’s feature article this week unveiled Google’s latest initiative: Google sitemaps. This initiative would allow most webmasters to have their ever changing website content crawled almost continuously (although that’s not actually guaranteed).

It works when webmasters generate an XML formatted sitemap of their web pages, containing a list of all URLs, along with optional information on how often a given page is likely to change. Auto-notification is supported, so that when a sitemap changes, Google knows about it and can recrawl the site. Sounds like a dream come true, has Google actually gone
webmaster friendly, as suggested on their blog? ( that’s so cute, they use their own free service!) Is the bourbon hitting home already?

And all this in a drive to stay on top of the ever changing, ever growing WWW.

Learn some more about the philosophy behind Google sitemaps in this
interview with Google’s ubergeek.

Participation is free (you need an account though) and software to generate the sitemaps is also freely available.

This could be truly big.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Google takes a shine to Bourbon

So there IS a Google update underway, as previously assumed and it’s been dubbed Bourbon (after the drink we’ll all need when the dust settles?)

Expect the forums to suffer from serious assumptivitis over the next few weeks.

Google Guy is urging us all not to check rankings for a few days [for a maximum surprise?] and I think I’ll do just that. Chill out with glass of bourbon...

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PayPal Phishing emails

Phishing emails, in which the sender pretends to be someone he isn’t (aka spoofing) are nothing new and I receive eBay spoofs usually several times per day. But until this morning, never a PayPal spoof.

Here’s what the cat dragged in today:

Subject: PayPal Security Measures

We are contacting you to remind you that: on 05 May 2005 our Account Review Team identified some unusual activity in your account, one or more attempts to log in to your PayPal account from a foreign IP address.

(follows a list of bogus IPs from Romania and Poland)

In accordance with PayPal's User Agreement and to ensure that your account has not been compromised, access to your account was limited. Your account access will remain limited until this issue has been resolved. To secure your account and quickly restore full access, we may require some additional information from you.
To securely confirm your PayPal information please go directly to (link deleted) log in to your PayPal account and perform the steps necessary to restore your account access as soon as possible or click on the link bellow:

As far as forgeries go, this one was almost word perfect, including the fake sender address

When in doubt, forward the entire email to They usually respond within the hour, confirming that the suspect email did indeed not originate from PayPal.

A universal telltale sign of spoofing is the request for Credit Card information: that’s what phishing is all about…


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Online Sales on the Increase

According to Internet Retailer, online sales were up 21% for the week ending May 1 over the corresponding week a year ago, reaching $1.3 billion from $1.07 billion, comScore Networks Inc. reports.By comparison, total retail sales for the week ending April 30 were up 4.7% from the same week a year ago, reports ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate.Online travel sales for week ending May 1 were up 37% to $1.12 billion from $818 million in the corresponding week a year ago, comScore reports. (Source: SubmitNet newsletter).

Before online retailers start blowing their own trumpets, it’s useful to realise that online sales remain small compared to high street sales and that many issues will have to be resolved before online retailing can truly compete with offline retailers.

In particular, concerns about CC fraud are holding potential customers back from using plastic over the Net. In response, many e-retailers have imposed draconian measures to ensure purchases can be made safely. But these measures often make the payment process a lengthy and frustrating experience. And frustrated customers are unlikely to come back any time soon…

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Latest Google tweak?

Apparently there’s been another Google update or are people getting confused with the last one? Or is it just a tweak? A little aftershock of Allegra? Who knows, I lose count.

Clint isn’t happy. Whenever Google tightens a screw in their machinery somewhere, it’s usually accompanied by the sound of Webmasters falling out of their prams. But Clint really takes the biscuit: when someone starts calling Google “these Google N@zis” (sic) you know they’re in serious danger of hyperventilating.

Strange how someone like Clint is clever enough to get dozens of top Google positions in a fairly crowded niche, is also stupid enough to rely solely on SERPs to make a living.

Talk about putting all your eggs in one very, very shaky basket…