Tuesday, May 31, 2005


I’m convinced that greed, in all its destructiveness, is basically hard coded into our genes. While it may be fashionable to attribute just about anything to genetic predisposition, there is a compelling parallel.

Greed is a bit like gluttony: it’s not because we’ve had enough to eat that we actually stop eating. No, we stuff our faces with some more cheese cake, later some nuts and crisps in front of the box. And so we pile on the pounds and the flab we don’t really need, while others quite literally starve to death. Eating in times of plenty is probably the body’s way of creating a reserve, a back up if as it were. After all, the feast may well end some day…

And that’s something greed and gluttony have in common: successful companies stop at nothing to acquire more market share, get even richer, even if it means blasting smaller competitors out of business. Winner takes all. The cash flow might just stop one day and then capital reserves mean everything.

And in no marketplace does the winner-takes-all attitude apply more than the Internet itself. Search engine traffic and Search Engine rankings relate to each other according to Zipf's law. But if you ranked 100% online Companies by their annual sales revenue and plotted that revenue versus the Company's rank, you'd find it also follows Zipf's Law closely. In plain English, the No 1 ranking Company (the highest revenue earning Company) has a revenue that's 10 times higher than the No 10 ranking Company, which in turn has a revenue that's ten times higher than the No 100 ranking Company, which has in turn... etc, etc [ad nauseum]. Revenue drops off very quickly with increased rank. A few make most of the money, leaving the others to pick up a few crumbs...

On the whole, greed is not a good thing, but we may never be able to avoid it.
Here’s an excellent essay on all aspects of greed that got me thinking. Fascinating reading…


Sunday, May 29, 2005

The ClickBank Web Mall

In a previous post about a new, searchable Clickbank webmall, I suggested that users of other revenue supplementing programs like CommissionJunction and Google AdSense also look at the ClickBank revenue sharing program. The new Dotstart web mall is an excellent opportunity to so.

I signed up for this amazingly low cost opportunity and decided to try and maximise revenue by running the mall under its own flag: this is the new site
that hosts my mall. It fits in well with my other activities because out of 11,000 available products, over 2,000 are in the Internet marketing and advertising area. But there really is something for everyone, from arts to z-cars, usually with prices below $50 (a CB policy). A number of articles and resources will now be brought on to start driving traffic to the site.

But if you just want to bring on some links to selected CB products or put a CB search box on selected pages of your current site, that's perfectly possible too.

Here’s a few good reasons to get your own Web mall:

  • The Web mall is fully customisable: colours, header and footer, fonts and more.

  • Easy to use Amazon plug-in: all you need is your Amazon associate ID.

  • Promote the entire mall or selected products, it’s your choice.

  • Find out commissions on each product.

  • Create sales pages on-the-fly for chosen products: your visitors won’t leave your site!

For more info on getting your own Web mall click here then click on the yellow Get your own Webmall button (top right hand corner).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Has Google zeroed all PageRank?

Much to my surprise [horror is the word] I found out last night that all of my sites had gone from toolbar PageRank 3 – 5 to 0 [in zero seconds]!

Checking out some competitor sites as well as a few blue chips, I found the same to be true for all of them.

But Dumbo here uses
Google.com as my home page [how sad is that?], so it took a few calming minutes to realise that Google’s own PR had plummeted from 10/10 to 0!

No, of course it hasn’t but what exactly is going on here? The toolbar greens are empty... Is this some strange indicator of a new update? Looking at the forums I feel very lonely...

Or is this what they call… an act of God!

Friday, May 27, 2005

New Virus Alert!

A worrying new wave of virus spam washed upon my shores today.

These emails, clearly designed to make a worrying recipient open the attachment, are composed more cleverly than the usual “Hi”, “Hello”, “Re”, “Thank you” type.

Here’s a few samples:

Subject: *WARNING* Your Email Account Will Be Closed

Please read the attached document and follow it's instructions.

Subject: *DETECTED* Online User Violation

We regret to inform you that your account has been suspended due to the violation of our site policy, more info is attached.

Subject: Security measures
We attached some important information regarding your account.

Subject: Account Alert

(Illegible content)

Subject: Notice: **Last Warning**

The original message has been included as an attachment.

The attachments were email-doc.zip, instructions.zip or INFO.zip.

Beware: NEVER open attachments from senders you don’t recognise, no matter how “worrying” the email might be.

Gordon Ramsay is not a TV Chef...

is about as true as me saying: I’m an Internet celebrity. Gordon Ramsay, a self-made top Chef and restaurateur, first caught the eye of the British box lovers with his “reality” TV show Gordon Ramsay’s boiling point where he’s seen at work in one of his own kitchens. Swearing, cussin’ and fussin’ at anything with a pulse and within 500 W reach, Gordon cleverly made an endless stream of profanities his TV trademark. But it’s clear that clever cutting makes it appear the man can only express himself in four letter words, when really he’s a pussycat [purr, purr].

The swearing did land him into a spot of bother once. Gordon had signed an endorsement agreement to promote the Bramley apple variety but in another TV appearance claimed that “these f*****g Bramley apples are s**t!” It didn't go down too well with the sponsors and the lawsuit was settled out of court, or so I believe.

Gordon decided to go back to that place where Chefs belong: the kitchen. By now a nationwide celebrity, he claimed he was not a TV Chef or… a celebrity Chef for that matter.

By my count, Gordon has now starred in at least four fully featured series of various TV shows, including the massive popular (and incredibly vulgar) Hell’s Kitchen. A new series of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares has just started. Gordon’s TV penetration is now threatening to out-broadcast
Delia Smith, not a mean feat. Delia famously taught the British how to boil an egg! [what about beans on toast?]

Gordon still spends a lot of time in the kitchen, as long as it’s inside a TV recording studio!


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Content update at GMNetPromos.com

Whilst our main site had been gradually increasing in size over the past years, the latest content boost was long overdue.
Some twenty-or-so articles on Web development have been brought on, with strong emphasis on developing your business, rather than just your Website [a pet obsession]. You can
find the articles here.

Webmasters can use them with permission by including a link back to our site.

We’re hoping to continue adding more content and articles in the near and continuing future.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Play 20 Questions online

What if Search Engines could read your mind? In other words, could figure out exactly what you’re looking for. That would make all the unreliable heuristics, semantic juggling, link building and the countless filters and patches to provide some search results integrity unnecessary overnight. And searchers would be served with much better results. Webmasters whose sites are currently buried in the back yard of the search results would get found too!

Sounds like a Brave New World. But it might not be as utopian as it would first appear. Searchenginewatch.com reported on
an online version of the popular game 20 questions. This AI application succeeds in guessing an object you’re thinking of, most of the time in less than 20 questions. Try it… you can even play it in your own language!

The Spiritual Rights Foundation

I referred to a new Website about the Spiritual Rights Foundation in
an earlier post. Steve Sanchez’ story of life in a “psychic” cult, based in Berkeley, CA, is getting on in the world. You can find pages of this growing site by searching in Google for relevant search terms.

Although this doesn’t make for pleasant reading, this gritty story deserves to be told.

Buy Steve's book, I tell thee...

Friday, May 13, 2005

More Spammers in the Slammer?

One of the earlier convictions for spam ended up in the right to appeal of the defendant.

Could it be that legal action against known hard spammers/scamsters if finally gaining a little momentum?

From the BBC newsfeed:

The Massachusetts attorney general has filed a lawsuit against one of the world's biggest spam gangs.

An emergency court order granted under the suit should see the network of websites the spammers ran shut down.

The attorney general alleges that ringleader Leo Kuvayev and six others in the spam gang sent millions of messages to drive people to the sites.

Offered for sale on the websites were pornography, pills, pirated software and fake fancy watches.

Bill might be right though, the battle against spam may be easier to win through technological advances than across the courtrooms. Too many defendants to process…

British Gas to supply broadband soon?

Are we soon to receive high speed broadband through the natural gas distribution infrastructure?

From Engadget:

Not satisfied with the speed of the broadband access services offered by your cable and telecom providers? Another option may soon be available, according to San Diego-based Nethercomm Corp.: broadband in gas (BiG). We have to admit, when we first heard about this, we thought it sounded like a lot of hot air (sorry), but according to Nethercomm, BiG can offer 10-gigabit broadband using “the private spectrum isolated within natural gas pipelines.” Essentially, what Nethercomm is planning is a broadband system that pumps data from existing local hubs, through gas lines and into homes, where it can be accessed using existing cable modems. While the idea of stringing Ethernet cables from our gas line sounds like something we wouldn’t want to attempt on our own, the concept doesn’t sound all that far-fetched after all. Of course this means that in addition to the endless marketing mailings and calls we already get from the cable and telecom companies, we’ll now have to listen to the gas man’s pitch about broadband when he comes to read the meter.

Sounds crazy? Connecting computers through existing phone lines must have sounded even crazier back then… It does put a whole new slant on the old term "copper dsl"!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cracking the Google code...

Under the Googlescope is the intriguing title of the latest featured article of SEO-News (formerly AllBusinessNews) by Lawrence Deon.

It focuses on some serious, albeit belated crystal ball gazing about the United States Patent Application 20050071741 on March 31, 2005. Many have commented on this Google patent, which is generally regarded as the smoking gun pointing to the Sandbox effect.

Lawrence’s article is a lengthy one that tries to cover all bases but as a result ends up (rather unintentionally perhaps) scaremongering.

In Lawrence’s approach to SEO, whatever you do is basically wrong because Google could (emphasis on the conditional tense here) interpret whatever you do as sp@m.

As regards link building, the article is probably right. Fast acquisition of inbound links may well trigger the Sandbox filter. But the Sandbox period isn’t forever: it’s probably a probation period that recently brought on sites will have to endure.

Rather more worrying are Lawrence’s comments on changing content. I quote from the text:

Unfortunately, this means that Google's sandbox phenomenon and/or the aging delay may apply to your web site if you change too many of your web pages at once.

This conclusion is largely based on a section of the patent itself, so it can't just be dismissed out of hand:

A significant change over time in the set of topics associated with a document may indicate that the document has changed owners and previous document indicators, such as score, anchor text, etc., are no longer reliable.

Similarly, a spike in the number of topics could indicate sp@m. For example, if a particular document is associated with a set of one or more topics over what may be considered a 'stable' period of time and then a (sudden) spike occurs in the number of topics associated with the document, this may be an indication that the document has been taken over as a 'doorway' document.

Another indication may include the sudden disappearance of the original topics associated with the document. If one or more of these situations are detected, then [Google] may reduce the relative score of such documents and/or the links, anchor text, or other data associated the document.

This isn’t a sandbox anymore, words like conundrum or quagmire seem more appropriate to me.


So you’ve a small, well designed, niche site with some inbound links and not a lot of content. You’re getting nowhere fast. You set about writing a number of high quality articles with user friendly information. Or even better, you get a professional copywriter (not necessarily an SEO) to write the stuff, according to your spec. You add the new content to your site, for all and sundry to read and enjoy your mastery of the subject of "blue widgets in New Zealand". You’re already not too bright SERPs now really plummet!

Who would be helped by such a scenario? Certainly not the Site owner, but Google doesn’t care about them, so that’s not the point. Does it enhance the searcher’s experience? If the new content is truly worthwhile rather the opposite: this is content that would benefit those interested in of "blue widgets in New Zealand" but not if it’s ranked on page zilch of the SERPs.

Does it help Google? If it’s as content hungry as it claims to be, then certainly not.

The truth of the matter is that the patent is fantastically vague. If Google wants to be the sharpest tool in the box then it'll have to come up with something less blunt than simple content spikes to detect cloakers (if you read between the lines, that's what it's all about). Many bring on legitimate new content on a very regular basis, even out of necessity (e.g. news sites, newspapers, blogs etc, all of which exist simply by the recentness of their content). For these sites there are no "content spikes", there is only... content.

Lawrence’s advice is basically: do nothing but if you’re going to do anything at all, do it really slowly!

The logical consequence is that I shouldn’t have written this post at all [something Lawrence Deon probably really agrees with]. Yet almost all posts of this really young blog have been indexed by Google and are already attracting some traffic.

Google would do better to concentrate on it's semantic understanding of Web pages: despite all the filtering hype, Google's search results often are incredibly irrelevant. My logs for this blog showed that this post recently was found in Google under "chuckle brothers sayings", a term that partly does appear once, near the end of the page! Look for yourself, the post is about as relevant for that term as it is for, say, "cows eat saffron". A human editor wouldn't in a million years have concluded that the document had anything to do with, or say anything about "chuckle brothers sayings".

Final word. I’m no great lover of conspiracy theories but it’s hard to escape the feeling that Google et al. are so hopelessly complicating matters regarding the main search results, that search marketers are driven in droves to paid inclusion programs… It's certainly a fact that when it comes to developing new SEO technology, there's more going on in terms of engineering successfull PPC campaigns, creating highly converting landing pages etc. Perhaps natural search results will become a thing of the past, sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SEO Nostalgia

The whole SEO sector has become so utterly straight, it’s almost boring. Gone are the days of juicy scandals and mega rip offs by the snake oil merchants of SEO. Sure, you still get the odd flare up and there still a lot of SEO egarbage being peddled but it’s just not like the good ole’ days. Of course that’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong.

But rummaging through some old Web files of mine I stumbled on an old link to one of the more meaty “class of 99" sizzlers of SEO abuse. Nostalgia…

It tells the tale of Ronald J. Penna, Michael K. Osborn and Kevin Smith who owned the Search Engine Marketing firm Website Results, later renamed Intellitech [now clicketyclick.biz? Who knows.]

The story, by
Salon.com (you may need to click through to the actual story, near the top of the page), features a heady mix of bullying leadership, click fraud, black hole Search Engine Optimisation, bodybuilding, a cult-like atmosphere and dreams of Hollywood! This is film noir applied to SEO, a dot noir as it were. Top rankings!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

IHateGoogle.org and ILoveGoogle.org

Here’s a great blog for all you SEO/SEM geeks out there: this guy knows his stuff.

Dan admits [like so many of us] to having a love/hate relationship with the big G. He’s put his money where his mouth is and registered also
ilovegoogle.org which points to the same pages. Sweet!

But this is serious stuff, one to watch I say. Plenty of useful links too. These are great tips and tricks, keep’m coming Dan…

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

WebAwards 2005

From SmallBusinessNewz:

The Web Marketing Association has announced the WebAwards 2005. For the ninth year running, your Website and its designer can win this award for www(eb)excellency [couldn’t resist]. Over 90 categories will be judged.

The winner can expect the traffic boost of a lifetime, but I think I’ll stick to playing the lottery.

You can enter the competition here. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

PartyPoker.com World Open

This year’s PartyPoker.com Texas Holdem World Open Championships closed a few days ago and someone is a million bucks better off.

PartyPoker.com is an interesting example of Website promotion. To Search Engines, this site has little to offer in terms of content and it doesn’t even appear to try and offer any spiderbait. It doesn’t have massive PageRank either, in fact the PR toolbar is empty. It probably doesn’t even rank very highly in it’s niche either. Casinos and related are amongst the most super saturated keyword spaces on the Net, 99.9% of these sites remain firmly invisible in the SERPs. But PartyPoker doesn’t appear to care about SEs whatsoever.

And so with millions of similarly content devoid sites clamouring for the few much coveted top spots, PartyPoker.com chooses to concentrate on:

  1. being an extremely user friendly site

  2. off line advertising rather than Search Engine marketing

The user experience certainly can’t be faulted. I’ve played online Texas Holdem for play money [coward] several times at PartyPoker and I love it.

But it’s the branding of the site that’s really the key point. Televised tournaments like the PartyPoker Texas Holdem World Open have put this site on the map here in Europe. Their playing tables are full and usually you have to join a short waiting list to be “seated”. And if you’re a hard man you can always try and become an Internet qualifier for the next World Open. That million could be yours too!