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Declassified MISC 20


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We've been covering a lot of material lately! DM 19 got too long so I'm kicking off DM 20 today.






Cuckoo clock pair get wound up by time change


LONDON (AFP) - The UK puts its clocks back one hour at 2:00 am (0100 GMT) on Sunday giving most people a welcome extra hour in bed -- but two cuckoo clock enthusiasts will have precious little time on their hands.


Brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski have more than 500 clocks at their Cuckooland museum in Cheshire, northwest England.


And the task of winding back the mechanisms in the antique German clocks is going to take them all weekend.


"It is not as simple as changing a battery-powered clock because they are antiques, with all sorts of complicating factors," said Roman Piekarski, 54.


"It can put you in a real spin after a while, and I have been known to change dozens of clocks before realising I had already done them.


"It is a mammoth task but it has to be done, and it is a labour of love."


The museum, which hosts one of the world's largest collections of cuckoo clocks, also features clocks which mark the hour with quails, trumpeters and monks.


Meanwhile, those who suffer from the winter blues as British Summer Time ends and darkness sets in during the mornings and evenings are being given something to cheer them up.


A telephone helpline of "inspiring" sounds from the mountains and shorelines of the tranquil Lake District in northwest England has been set up to help those feeling depressed as the number of daylight hours dwindles.


It includes a reading of William Wordsworth's poem "Daffodils", the sound of Lake Windermere lapping against a jetty, the crisp crunch of leaves on a country walk, and Cumberland sausage sizzling in a pan.









25 Rules to Grow Rich By




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U.S.-led Gulf War Game Aims a Message at Tehran

With sanctions unlikely to deter Iran's nuclear program, Washington draws Arab allies into a dress rehearsal for intercepting suspect ships



Iraqi prime minister: 'I'm not America's man'






D.C. sniper admits killing golfer in Arizona


TUCSON, Arizona (AP) -- Convicted Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo confessed to police that he and cohort John Allen Muhammad were responsible for the 2002 killing of a 60-year-old man on a Tucson golf course, Tucson authorities said Friday.


"He admitted to the killing of Jerry Taylor," said Capt. Bill Richards, commander of the Tucson Police Department's violent crimes division.


Richards said Malvo spoke to police in Maryland for two hours Thursday after he received a grant of immunity of prosecution. He said the shooting took place while he and Muhammad were in the area visiting Muhammad's older sister, Richards said.


Tucson police had long sought to speak with Malvo about the March 19, 2002, death of Taylor, 60, who died from a single gunshot fired from long range as he practiced chip shots at the Tucson course. The case had never been conclusively tied to Muhammad and Malvo.


Richards and Detective Benjamin Jimenez flew to Montgomery County, Maryland, this week to discuss the shooting. Jimenez said Malvo was contrite and said he was sorry for Taylor's family.


"He welled up a few times in tears during the interview," Jimenez said.


Jimenez said Malvo, 21, shot Taylor as he lay in the bushes and Taylor was retrieving a golf balls. According to Malvo, the two decided to shoot someone on the golf course after conducting surveillance in the desert, Jimenez said.


Authorities said Taylor's body was moved after the shooting and his wallet was near the body but nothing was taken.


Richards said that Malvo agreed to testify against Muhammad if Pima County develops a solid enough case to bring charges. He said police are still investigating and have not submitted the case to prosecutors.


Muhammad and Malvo were arrested for 10 killings and three woundings in the Washington, D.C., area during three weeks in October 2002. They were accused of roaming the area with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle that they fired from the trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice at random victims.


Malvo is serving a life term in Virginia for sniper shootings. He is in Maryland awaiting sentencing for six sniper killings in Montgomery County during October 2002.


The two are suspects in earlier shootings that year in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Washington state, and news reports have linked them to shootings in Florida, Texas and California.


Both were convicted of separate Virginia killings in 2003. Muhammad was sentenced to death while Malvo was given a life prison term.


They were sent to Maryland last year to stand trial for six killings in Montgomery County. Muhammad was convicted in May. Malvo is scheduled to be sentenced November 9.


Taylor's daughter, Cheryll Witz, said Malvo's confession brings closure for her and will allow her to move forward.


She said she wrote Malvo a five-page letter in June imploring him to talk to Tucson detectives. She said she understand his life was difficult growing up without parents and understood how he could have fell under the influence of Muhammad, who was a father figure to him.


Malvo has previously testified that Muhammad trained him to shoot and lured him into a plot to kill people.


"I do believe he was brainwashed and made to kill my father," Witz said. "(Muhammad's) a monster and he set out intentionally to kill people and he knew exactly what he was doing."









Fighting fires, fear and anger in California


BEAUMONT, California (CNN) -- Yesterday I heard a California Department of Forestry chief say, "This is a very difficult day for the Forest Service. And this is a very difficult fire."


I can feel the difference here. I've covered a lot of wildfires, and most times the officials are very matter-of-fact and analytical as they describe what's going on with the fire. These guys are angry.


The anger is fueled by their belief that arsonists are responsible for the wildfire that has killed four firefighters and left one fighting for his life. More than 1,000 people are still putting their lives on the line battling the blaze that's burned nearly 24,000 acres near Palm Springs.


The five-man crew that got overwhelmed by the fire had plenty of experience --each with five to 25 years fighting fires. Today, every guy on the front line is thinking, "That could be me."


One firefighter told me, the winds just kick up and all of a sudden you're surrounded by a wall of intensely hot flames. He said that's his worst nightmare. To be trapped in some remote canyon, with no way out.


You've got to figure it's on everyone's mind as they grab their hoses again today. This is the first time in a generation -- since 1979 -- that as many as four state forestry firefighters have died on duty.


You hear local politicians urging people here to blow the whistle on whoever set the fire, saying things like "turn in this scum." It's personal now


It's hard to hate nature. How do you blame the wind?


I think everyone here wants to put a face on the killer of their friends and brothers on the line.










Overloaded bus plunges off cliff, dozens killed


KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- An overcrowded bus plunged off a mountain road in western Nepal on Saturday, leaving at least 42 people dead and 45 injured, police said.


The bus was traveling near the town of Tribeni, some 250 miles west of Katmandu, when it skidded off the road, plunging about 950 feet into a ravine below, police officer Birkha Bahadur Rawal said.


Police were investigating the cause, but Rawal said an initial probe indicated the driver may have lost control of the vehicle because it was overloaded with passengers. It was not known whether the driver survived, police said.


Some of the passengers jumped off the bus before it crashed and survived, indicating several people were riding on the roof, a common practice in rural Nepal where not much public transportation is available.


A ticket taker on the bus, Jeevan Nepali, said from his hospital bed that the bus was unable to pick up speed on the slopes and the driver stopped. The bus then rolled backward and veered off the road into the ravine.


The bus was traveling toward the southern town of Dang, when the crash occurred.


Among those killed, 32 died on the spot while eight died on the way to the hospital and two while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dang, Rawal said. A dozen of the 45 injured were in critical condition and hospitalized.


Deadly road accidents are common in Nepal, often caused by poor roads and aging overcrowded vehicles.
















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Mexico sends forces to violent city


OAXACA, Mexico (AP) -- President Vicente Fox announced Saturday he was sending federal police into the violence-wracked southern state capital of Oaxaca after a U.S. journalist and at least two Mexican men were killed by gunfire.


The clashes occurred Friday as leftist protesters barricaded streets as part of a five-month-old campaign to oust the governor.


Fox's office issued a declaration saying that the federal forces would concentrate in Oaxaca city on Saturday. His office later clarified that he was referring to federal police, not troops, but did not specify how many were being sent.


The president earlier had repeatedly shied away from sending such forces to the city, apparently hoping to avoid involving them in violence confrontations.


Gunfire on Friday erupted in a rough Oaxaca neighborhood when armed men tried to remove a blockade set up by protesters demanding the resignation of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, according to state officials and witnesses. Both sides fired but it was not clear who shot first.


Bradley Roland Will, 36, from New York City, was shot in the abdomen and died later at a Red Cross hospital, police, witnesses and friends said. Will worked for http://www.Indymedia.org , an independent Web-based media organization and also sold video footage on freelance basis, said friends and Indymedia colleague Hinrich Schuleze.


Oaxaca Attorney General Lizbeth Cana blamed the violence on the leftist protesters, who she has compared to an urban guerrilla group. She said the armed men were angry residents defending themselves.


"The people are fed up with permanent violence, threats and kidnappings," Cana said.


However, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza said the armed group may have been police and the Mexico City newspaper El Universal on Saturday published photos identifying some of the men firing at protesters as local officials.


"It appears that Mr. Will was killed during a shootout between what may have been local police" and protesters, Garza said in a written statement.


Protesters accuse the governor of sending the armed men against them.


"Ulises Ruiz is trying to massacre our people," said protester Antonio Garcia.


An Associated Press video taken at the scene shows people ducking for cover as shots rattle out from many directions. A group of six men are seen running through the street with Will.


Esteban Zurrita, a resident of Oaxaca, was also shot dead in the clash, said Cana.


The third victim was identified as Emilio Alonso Fabian, whose bullet-ridden body was found about two miles from the clash. Many of the protesters are teachers.


Oswaldo Ramirez, a photographer for the Mexico City daily Milenio was also shot in the foot at and taken to hospital, Milenio said on its Web site.


A second shootout erupted between protesters and an armed group outside the state prosecutors office and left three people injured, Cana said.



Barricades and strikes


Protesters have taken over the historic city since for five months, building barricades, driving out police and burning buses. The protesters accuse the governor of rigging the 2004 election to win office and using violence against his opponents.


Friday's clash came a day after teachers agreed to end their five-month-old strike that has kept 1.3 million children out of classes in the state of Oaxaca -- a move that was expected to take the sting out of the protests.


The teachers have been camped out in Oaxaca city's colonial center since May when they first walked out to demand higher pay and better working conditions.


After police attacked one of their demonstrations in June, they extended their demands to include a call for the resignation of Gov. Ruiz and were joined by leftists, students and Indian groups.


Police and armed gangs have led sporadic attacks on the protesters, and at least six people have been killed in violence related to the unrest.


The lawlessness has led to armed groups of protesters and other residents patrolling the street, frequently capturing and beating suspected criminals.


Will, the U.S. journalist, had been documenting the upheaval in Internet dispatches. His reports showed strong sympathies with the protest movements.


"What can you say about this movement, this revolutionary moment," he wrote in a dispatch dated October 16. "You know it is building, growing, shaping, you can feel it, trying desperately for a direct democracy."


Dyan Neary, 25, of Hawaii, a close friend of Will, said he had warned her the situation was dangerous.


"He would always put himself on the front lines," a tearful Neary said. He was a courageous guy. He really believed in truth, public awareness and justice. He was an amazing human being."


Neary said Will had traveled extensively through South and Latin America. He had been jailed and had guns pointed at his head, she said.


On Thursday, a majority of Oaxaca teachers voted to end their walkout. Union leaders met with Interior Secretary Carlos Abascal in Mexico City on Friday to hammer out conditions for their return to classes.


After the meeting, the Interior Department and teachers union released statements condemning Friday's violence and saying they were making headway in coming to an agreement.


Ruiz has repeatedly asked federal authorities to send troops to restore order, but the government of President Vicente Fox has insisted on trying to solve the dispute through negotiations.


The conflict has been one of the biggest challenges for Fox, whose six-year term ends December 1.


Ambassador Garza urged the administration to resolve the problem.


"Mr. Will's senseless death, of course, underscores the critical need for a return to lawfulness and order in Oaxaca," Garza said.









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Wis. city braces for Halloween party

MADISON, Wis. - To avoid the mayhem that previously marred a downtown Halloween party that attracts up to 100,000 people, city leaders are imposing new restrictions and tighter controls this year. Whether the changes are just the trick needed to make the Saturday night event a treat won't be clear until the witching hour, when the bars close and police want costumed revelers to leave. Officers have used pepper spray to disperse the crowd the past four years.


Playboy magazine cited the annual event when it named the University of Wisconsin-Madison the nation's top party school in April. But the celebration is taking on a different look this year, thanks to city and campus leaders who have tired of the violence.


Police had arrested 68 people as of early Saturday morning after the opening night of the celebration, significantly lower than the number of arrests following the party's start last year. Police spokesman Mike Hanson did not list the charges but said 13 of those arrested went to jail.


While the city has not officially sanctioned the event, it is for the first time selling tickets for access to State Street, a pedestrian-only avenue lined with bars, restaurants and shops. Police plan to block off streets to enforce the $5 admission fee.


City officials have lined up bands to play on two stages at either end of State Street. They gave the event a start and end time — 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. — and a name, "Freakfest on State Street."


Organizers hope to put a damper on the rowdy behavior by controlling access to the party. They also hope ticket sales will help to recoup some of the police costs, which were estimated at $600,000 last year.


"Our hope is that we can get through this year without having to use pepper spray or have cops in riot gear," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. "I'll consider it to be a success if the event ends peacefully, and there are no serious injuries and property damage."


But the city is making no promises. A Web site it created with details about the event carries a disclaimer: "The City of Madison cannot and does not guarantee your safety at this event. You enter the event area at your own risk and are responsible for your own actions and safety."


Based on ticket sales in the weeks heading up to "Freakfest," the changes were not going over well with people looking to party. Just 8,500 of the 80,000 tickets printed had sold as of Thursday.


Most tickets will be sold Saturday, in the hours leading up to the event, said Tom Wangard, a UW-Madison sophomore.


Wangard and other students initially argued for changing the location of the party to a nearby street to avoid the city's interference. But after working with city officials, Wangard now supports the event and said he expects it to be a success.


But he also said there is always a potential for mayhem.


In 2002, revelers threw rocks and bottles, breaking at least 12 windows and damaging police cars before officers broke out the tear gas.


In 2003, store windows were broken and at least two cars were tipped over. Then, in 2004, a small bonfire started. Police used pepper spray to break up the crowd and arrested 450 people.


Last year, 447 people were arrested. Police also used pepper spray to quell a crowd of about 2,000.


Police presence this year will be comparable to the past, with 225 officers on duty Friday night and more than 250 on duty Saturday, said Mike Hanson, a spokesman for Madison police.


Even though the bands will stop playing at 1:30 a.m., bars are allowed under state law to stay open until 2:30 a.m. And because daylight-saving time ends at 2 a.m., bar-goers will have an extra hour to imbibe.


The goal is to have State Street cleared and back to normal before the bars empty, said Joel Plant, the city's alcohol policy coordinator. In past years, revelers leaving bars added to the difficulty of dealing with the commotion started by others, he said.


"We're not going to force anything," Cieslewicz said. "As long as it's a peaceful, I don't care if I'm there until 5 in the morning."









Fifteen Ways to a Killer Blog With the Scobles


It’s day three at the Blog Business Summit and time for Fifteen Ways to a Killer Blog with Robert Scoble and Maryam Scoble.


I’ll recap the Fifteen Ways here with some comments mixed in:




1. Blog because you want to


Robert pushed Maryam to blog for quite a while and she resisted because she felt she wasn’t a geek. She didn’t start blogging until she really wanted to, and now Robert complains about what she blogs about. She compared it to a parent who can’t wait for their baby to start talking, and then when they’re a kid chatting away they want them to be quiet.


Robert said if he didn’t want to be writing about what he does, he wouldn’t be able to stay up until 2 am writing posts and interacting with his audience. “If I was doing it for $20 a post without an interest in my subject I couldn’t do it.”




2. Read other blogs


Find the blogs you like and read them for inspiration. Those blogs also will be the ones you’re most likely to build link relationships with.


Maryam: “Another reason I started blogging is because I’d go to conferences or meet people and they’d tell me they’d want to read my blog, and I enjoyed reading theirs so it made sense to start my own.”


Robert suggested becoming an authority in the subjects and blogs you like to read about. He’d read blogs about Microsoft, Sun, Apple, and then link to all those blogs.




3. Pick a niche you can own (be different)


Robert said “It’s a Google world”. He noticed that while he was in Montana meeting with a lot of non-geek people that people used the computers by just using the search field to interact with the computer. Matt Cutts told him that one of Google’s most popular search terms is “Yahoo”. And the same situation is true that one of Yahoo’s top search terms is “Google”.


What this means to Robert is that mainstream users are finding sites through search, and by focusing on a niche you can gain traction in search engines to get traffic. He used the example of a user who has broken pipes in Seattle coming to Google and typing in “seattle plumbing”. If you can blog often about plumbing in Seattle you’d very likely be the top search results.


An audience member pointed out to Robert that his blog is in a very difficult niche being that it’s about technology where there are many early adopter models. But Robert responded giving TechCrunch as an example that is a newer blog that focused on a part of that niche (startups, Web 2.0 companies) and basically has rocketed to the top of the tech blog world as a whole.


Maryam gave an example of a woman she met at BlogHer that was writing a blog about the London Underground. Maryam considered that a pretty boring topic at the time, but when the London Underground bombing happened this blogger rose in popularity and became an authority. Maryam continues to read her blog as it’s actually very interesting talking about “London Underground fashion victims”, interesting stories, and things along those lines.




4. Link to other blogs


Robert led this off talking about Apple having some problems, and Robert using linking to get their attention by linking to them and them seeing it in their referrer logs.


Maryam pointed out that bloggers are generally egotistical, so they look at their referrer list and see who’s writing about them. If you want to get a blogger’s attention and potentially get a link, write about them and they’ll notice it.


Dave Taylor of AskDaveTaylor.com asked if he could pin Robert down. He mentioned how Jason Calacanis talked about that people can become an A-list blogger if they want and have some talent, and how if you’re not on it you suck. Dave asked Robert if there is an A-list, and Robert said there was, and that it’s okay because anyone can get on it if they have interesting things to say. It led to a mini-discussion where people debated if someone can get on the A-list being a one-hit wonder. Finally another audience member pointed out that the A-list doesn’t matter if your blog is near the top of your topic. Robert agreed and pointed out that a plumber doesn’t want to be on the technology A-list blogosophere, he wants to be #1 in the plumbing blogosphere.




5. Admit mistakes


Maryam led off with saying one of the reasons she didn’t want to start blogging was because of the negative comments or abuse Robert received on his blog if he made a mistake. Like in real life, admitting that you made a mistake is the best way out of it.


Robert appreciates it when bloggers admit mistakes, apologize, and change their behavior.




6. Write good headlines


Robert said he sees things changing a bit in our behavior in reading blogs. Instead of subscribing to a bunch of wine blog feeds, he is now subscribing to a Technorati feed for wine and reading the headlines for posts that are interesting regardless of what blog it’s on.


The headline should be interesting to catch people’s eyes so they want to read it, and if they include keywords that their users might be searching for it can obviously help your posts show up in search results.




7. Use other media


Robert said one aspect of TechCrunch that helped Arrington succeed was using logos and images in each post. Robert posts mainly text, and he wished he spent more time. Robert said he thinks bloggers who use audio, video, and pictures can help improve their blogs and rise in prominence. It can be an advantage over competitive blogs.


An audience member pointed out a study that people read 30% slower online than offline, and if you add pictures it actually allows people to read faster and keep them engaged. Halley Suitt pointed out Busblog.com and their great use of pictures of sexy women in the blog, even though the pictures don’t have anything to do with the post.




8. Have a voice


Robert tries to write just how he’d talk. He imagines that he’s just talking to his wife or a geek friend.




9. Get outside the blogosphere


Go to parties, conferences, events, and get out and talk to people. Make relationships with other bloggers, meet them face to face, and you’ll be much more likely to get links and readers. Robert said this was how the first A-list was really formed, by a group of bloggers who all became friends and linked to each other after meeting at parties and conferences.


Robert said that this is where PR people go wrong, they just try to email him pitches for products. But he met Stuart Butterfield of Flickr in the hallway at a conference when Flickr was just starting and he wrote about Flickr after meeting Stuart and checking it out.




10. Market yourself


Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your blog. Maryam told a funny story of when her blog was mentioned as one of MSN’s top blogs and was featured on the MSN home page. She went to Robert and told him she had 40,000 visits that day, and Robert deadpanned and said “That’s because I linked to you.”


Robert mentioned how he often looks at business cards after conferences and meetings and noticed many bloggers don’t even include their URLs on their business cards. He was the first Microsoft employee to put his blog URL on his business cards. He said that alone caused conversations within employees there and got his blog more readers. It’s small little touches like that which can make a difference over time. An audience member pointed out that many companies have their main website URL on all their materials, but never their blog. Many companies get a lot of referrers back and forth between their blog and website, so why not promote both?


An audience member mentioned that advertising wasn’t mentioned as one of the tips, and Robert pointed out that for most bloggers advertising through Adwords or other means may not be profitable for bloggers. Personally I think this depends on how the blogger is monetizing their blog. If they are using the blog to sell products or services, it can make sense. If they’re relying on advertising or not monetizing at all, then spending money on advertising is probably a losing proposition.




11. Write well


Use spellchecking and proof your post before actually publishing it. Make sure your thoughts make sense. An audience member said writing well is hard for some people, so at their company they suggest that if people struggle with writing that they do a linkblog, photoblog, or videoblog to still get some thoughts out and publish. Robert also pointed out a crazy idea that people could try and get educational help on becoming a better writer by taking a class, reading books about writing, and working at improving.




12. Expose yourself


Don’t just write a safe blog. Blogs that read like press releases aren’t engaging or interesting. Spice it up by showing some personality and maybe a little bit of your personal life. Robert said if a few posts out of 100 are about your interests, it lets your readers get to know you without boring them as well. Move the needle towards the “interesting” over the “safe”.




13. Help other people blog


Robert pointed out that Dave Winer has helped a lot of people learn to blog, and that’s come back to him by getting more links and relationships with bloggers.




14. Engage with commenters


Participating in conversations on other blogs grows your reputation and can get people clicking on your link to come back to your blog to read more of what you have to say. Additionally, I’d add that you should engage with people commenting on your own blog as well.




15. Keep your integrity


Dave Winer told Robert to keep his integrity when he started blogging, and he didn’t know what he really meant at the time. Now he realizes it’s really about disclosure and treating people well. If you take free products to review them, disclose it. If your blog has a commercial focus or motive, disclose it and be honest about it. There are lots of examples of things like the Wal-Mart/Edelman incident when pretending you’re something else is dangerous.


Robert said he has his phone number on his blog so that people can call him for opportunities or to ask questions. He said he probably gets 4 calls a day, and the majority of the time it’s a good reason. He’s gotten on TV in the BBC because his phone number was there and the PR firm’s phone number wasn’t easy to find. Extreme Home Makeover also got a hold of him on a Saturday while he was playing mini-golf saying they were doing a house in his area and they needed to get computers by Monday but couldn’t get a hold of anyone, and to see if Robert can make it happen. He made it happen and got some good PR for the company out of it.










Twenty five ways to increase your online conversion rate


How can you make visitors take action? Here are twenty five ways in seven categories.






1) Make sure your site says hello nicely. If the job of the home page is to convince visitors to move deeper into the site, the home page has to look just like the kind of business you are. The casual visitor only takes five seconds to scan your site and decide if you're the place for him.


2) Like a bloodhound following a scent, we humans follow the information we are looking for until we can't smell it any more. Find different ways to say the same thing so that you are using the different target words that individuals are looking for.


3) Long pages are nice, because they have more opportunities to use the words people are looking for. However, don't create scroll stoppers - I did a whole post about this one recently.


4) Create long links that tell people exactly where they are going. Remember - clicks are precious, and visitors are annoyed when they waste them.


5) Instead of web buttons that say "Submit", how about "Click here for your Free White paper?" Use buttons that tell the customer what will happen when they click (after all, clicks are precious.)







6) Open up your navigation so that the visitor can see subcategories and link deeper into the site. This will also help him find where he is going more quickly.


7) If you can, slice your categories in multiple ways -- such as women's clothing by season (spring, summer, in between) as opposed to just women's clothing by type of clothes (sweaters, pants, etc)


8) Do a little user testing on your navigation - ask your friends what they think the navigation options mean. You know that solutions means "what we do" but the visitor doesn't always.







9) Use words that the customer uses, not words that your company uses. It will help you in the search engines, too.


10) Stop talking about yourself ("Our company this, our company that") and start talking about the customer ("Have you ever...?" "Do you need to....?")


11) Write to the customer as if you were having a one-to-one conversation instead of a one-to-many lecture. Here's an awful example of "writing at" the customer (it's from a spoof site called HuhCorp.com): "Welcome to the world's most dynamic e-business marketing, design and consulting agency. We provide distinct clients with groundbreaking business strategies and cutting-edge designs to aggressively and creatively compete in a changing economy."


12) Sell benefits instead of features. In place of telling the customer that you stock 25,000 kinds of mattresses, you might say, "With 25,000 different mattresses in stock, we're sure to have the one that meets your back's needs so that you can sleep through the night."






13) Give just the right assurance at just the right time. For example, when you ask for someone’s email address, include a link to your privacy policy right next to the email field. Here's another example: tell them about your encryption when you ask for their credit card.


14) Keep your site up to date. As soon as an event is over, remove it from your site (think about how foolish billboards look when they have a time sensitive ad up after the event has past.) Update your copyright every year so that people believe you are still in business.


15) Check your site weekly for broken links and fix them when you find them. You wouldn't hand out a torn brochure, would you?





Respect your visitors


16) Treat email questions as if they were a customer on hold. Tell the individual when you are going to get back to them.


17) Create error messages that you would feel comfortable saying in person, and work hard not to make the customer feel like it's his fault that he couldn't find the page.


18) Don't ask for the same information more than once (don't you hate when you call the phone company, the automated voice attendant asks for your phone number, you key it in, wait for a live person, and the first question is, "What is your phone number?")





Different options for different people


19) Some people love to use the search box - they are like the individual who walks into the store and finds the nearest salesperson and ignores all the signs. Create excellent search -- the kind that can handle typos, that comes back with a manageable number of options, that always suggests something. The larger your site, the more important this becomes.


20) Some people don't want to contact you online. Get your telephone number on every page if that's one of the ways you expect to convert visitors into customers.


21) Some people don't want to pick up the phone. Create online assistance - if not chat, then an IM address. If not an IM address, then a Contact Us box.


22) Give visitors multiple ways to say, "I'm interested," such as joining your email list, downloading a white paper, downloding a demo, signing up for a webinar, etc.






23) Get rid of your Flash intro (if you haven't already.) Not all Flash intros are bad, just 99% of them. When my customers hear that forcing their Flash intro onto all visitors is like forcing everyone to watch a 20 second movie at the supermarket, they always say, "But they can click to skip the intro." True, but clicks are precious.


24) Get rid of little bits of Flash or other rich media that slowly drive the viewer crazy.


25) When the customer is trying to give you his/her money, take it. Don't ask him to create a user id and password. Time kills all deals - you can ask for the new registration after the purchase.






Set your analytics up (you knew this was coming, right?) so that you can look at them daily - get them emailed to you, if possible. Then make decisions based on them.


Robbin Steif, CEO












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Can This Machine Be Trusted?

The U.S.'s new voting systems are only as good as the people who program and use them. Which is why next week could be interesting





It's Lonely At the Top

How the election became a referendum on an isolated President—and how it is likely to reshape American politics




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Sure, there's plenty of reasons to keep rallying. But a lot will depend on this week's earnings and economic numbers, since the bulls clearly are not immune to bad news.




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Thousands still without power as high winds pound East Coast


NEW YORK (AP) -- Thousands of homes and businesses from Maryland into New England were without electricity Sunday as a storm system blasted the region with wind gusting to more than 50 mph, knocking over trees and a tall construction crane.


Gusts as high as 70 mph were possible Sunday in parts of northern New York state, the National Weather Service said.


Search parties in New Hampshire were hampered by the wind and rough water as they looked for a man who fell off a cruise ship on Lake Winnipesaukee during the storm late Saturday. One man drowned in New Hampshire when his kayak overturned on a river that was running fast because of the storm's heavy rainfall, state officials said.


In hard-hit Maine, a 165-foot crane with a wrecking ball attached toppled in one of the most populous neighborhoods of Portland, falling on three houses. No injuries were reported.


The wrecking ball narrowly missed a car. "The first thing I saw was the ball coming down really fast about 10 feet from us. It hit the roadway, and the rest of the crane just fell on the buildings in front of us," said Colleen Mowatt of Gorham, Maine, whose boyfriend hit the brakes in the nick of time.


Utilities in Maine reported 44,000 customers still in the dark at midday Sunday, and said wind gusting to 50 mph was causing new outages even as crews tried to restore service.


New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport, one of three major airports for the New York City region, had wind-caused delays of up to 11/2 hours, mostly for incoming flights, said spokesman Tony Ciavolella.


New York City's Central Park measured 2.54 inches of rain from the storm Saturday.


Power outages elsewhere across the region still affected more than two dozen communities Sunday across New Hampshire, 9,500 homes and businesses in Massachusetts, 1,500 customers in Rhode Island, 2,900 in Maryland, 2,000 in New Jersey, 4,700 on New York's Long Island and 11,000 in upstate New York, state and utility officials said.


The weather observatory atop New Hampshire's Mount Washington reported sustained wind of 100 mph and a gust to 114 mp.The peak also got 11 inches of snow during the night for an October total of 39 inches.


The storm also produced heavy "lake effect" snowfall in parts of New York state downwind from Lake Ontario, including 9 inches at Old Forge, the weather service said. A winter storm warning was in effect for the area Sunday with as much as 18 inches of snow possible at higher elevations.


The high wind and heavy rain and snow were produced by a stronger-than-normal low pressure system that passed through Pennsylvania and New York on its way to southeastern Canada, the weather service said.










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It's my personal take that this individual is a real PR joke.

She really needs to clean up her mouth, with industrial-grade detergent.


Amanda's Background


Buongiorno, il mio nome è Amanda Chapel.


I have 15 plus years experience in marketing communications. I am a former vice president in the Consumer Marketing Group at Weber Shandwick, one of the world's largest PR firms. Prior to Shandwick, I spent about 10 years bouncing around various top agencies. This includes senior posts at Cone Communications in Boston and Porter Novelli in Chicago. I cut my teeth at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in London.


Truth is, I have a killer portfolio. I've been involved in award winning campaigns in key consumer sectors: food and beverage, health and beauty, retail and fashion. I've worked with and advised many blue chip organizations including Kellogg Co., Procter & Gamble, Motorola, American Express, Frito-Lay, Porsche, Kodak, Anheuser-Busch, Mexico Tourism, to name drop a few. But... food and beverage is really what I'm best at. Love food. Giada De Laurentiis is a personal friend (and my hero). I am passionate about all things Italy.


Bottom line professionally speaking, I am 5' 4" tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs. I present well and am most accomodating. I've slept with clients. I sleep with my boss. I am the consummate PR strumpette. When I was 7 my mother told me I'd "never get anywhere with that mouth." I've apparently dedicated my life in proving her wrong.


I have a BA degree in Economics with a minor in Italian Literature from Columbia. I graduated cum laude. I went on to get a law degree from Yale but flunked out after two semesters. They were just way too snooty and serious. To be fair, I think I was just bored.


As far as memberships, I was a member of PRSA but got too cynical and quit. I presently put in a lot of hours doing volunteer work for the local pet rescue group PAWS. At least they're honest and one can occasionally see a meaningful outcome in your efforts.


I am divorced (Chapel is a nice name; it's all I got from my ex and I am keeping it). I am living in Chicago. Having way too much fun. Might just be the poster girl for ADD.




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The New Marketing Pilgrim: Fresh New Wrapper, Same Great Taste!


And, we’re “go” for launch of Marketing Pilgrim 2.0!


(If you’re reading this via RSS, you should click-thru to the site immediately and check out fresh new design).


I’m extremely excited with the new look for Marketing Pilgrim and with it comes a switch from Blogger to Wordpress. While I’ve been a loyal supporter of Google’s Blogger; too much downtime, lack of plugins and an apparent move by Blogger to focus on the Blogspot community, made it an easy decision to make the switch.


Thanks to James Mathias of Onelotus Creative for bringing his expert design skills to the project. James was fantastic to work with, very patient and able to take my scrappy photoshop mock-up and turn it into a beautiful new blog.


Along with a shiny new skin, you’ll find great new features including:


* Categories - Finally, you can filter my ramblings by category.

* Comment email notifications - Now when you comment, you’ll know if someone’s decided to pick a fight.

* Tags - Look for future posts to include tags for even better classification.

* Better Sponsorship Ads - Not only do our sponsors get the supersized 125×125 ads, but they’re also included in RSS feed ads. Let me know if you’d like to be a sponsor.

* Comment RSS - if you happen to be a comment junkie, you can even subscibe to our comments RSS feed.


While we did get advice on keeping the post URL’s identical to the Blogger format, Blogger made some recent changes which meant it didn’t work. Consequently, yours truly had to manually change close to 200 posts, to ensure they matched the old page names. If you find any 404 errors, please use the search box in the top right to find what you were looking for. If you get a 404 for a page that you think absolutely should be there, please email me.


Also, not everything will import correctly from Blogger, so you may see some quirks with any imported post.


I hope you like the new look. Please share with your friends, co-workers, social bookmarks, etc. :-)


Thanks for your loyal readership!








Interview with Brian Prince of Best of the Web (BOTW)


I normally start out my interviews with a nice little professional sounding intro. Not this time - partially because I hate doing it, and partially because the BOTW boys (pronounced bot-wah boys for those who have never had to say it outloud) are too cool and laid back to need it.


If you’ve been to any internet marketing show (or even glanced through pictures from them) you’d think BOTW had 100 employees working each event, because their swag is on everyone’s backs. So how do the acknowledged kings of guerrilla marketing in the search engine marketing world work their magic? That’s what I got CEO Brian Prince to answer some questions about.


[Note: I had no idea Brian would be so candid, lengthy or downright funny as hell during this interview. This is seriously a great read and if you never read anything else at my blog, make this the post. Secondly, I already offered him free alcohol, but he must have been aiming for champange with some of his responses. ;-) I laughed after so many of his comments that I could have interrupted the entire interview with my banter, but lucky for you guys, I chose to make this note instead.]


Rae: Thanks for doing this interview for me – I promise to take you out and get you liquored to say thanks in Vegas. ;-)


BP: Wow, that’s quite an introduction – I hope I can live up to the hype. Guerrilla marketing is responsible for a lot of our success to date, so this is a topic that I am passionate about and enjoy discussing. So thanks for having me. And yes, getting liquored in Vegas – yeah that sounds like a good idea…


Rae: First, for someone who’s been under a rock since 1994, why don’t you give everyone a little bit of background on Best of the Web?


BP: Sure thing – I’ll give you the BOTW elevator pitch. Best of the Web (BOTW) was founded by graduate student Brandon Plewe at the University of Buffalo in early 1994. The original concept was to have the nascent internet community collaborate and vote upon the web’s best sites – thus making BOTW the first “Web 2.0” company before there was even a Web 1.0. Best of the Web recognized and awarded many of the early industry pioneers, even attending the first W3C Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland to present the first ‘Best of the WWW’ awards to the lucky recipients including such industry notables as Marc Andreessen, Eric Bina, Kevin Hughes, and Lou Montulli.


Best of the Web categorized and recorded the annual ‘web award’ winners from 1994 through 1998; and BOTW was even referenced in the original Google paper on The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine as a pioneer in recognizing the best web navigation services available online. Alas by 1999, as the rise of algorithmic search engine took hold, the allure of the “web awards” model as voted upon by the community faded into the sunset. At least until web 2.0 got it’s groove on, ya Digg?


My business partner, Greg Hartnett, happened across the botw.org site one day and we immediately saw an opportunity to take this site that had pioneered the original web award directory model and expand it into an authoritative human-edited directory of the web’s best sites. We transformed the original Best of the Web directory from a few dozen top level categories into a comprehensive general directory that currently includes more than 70,000 categories and growing, but still remains intently focused on recognizing quality, content-rich web sites across all reaches of the web.


Rae: How long have you been doing tradeshows and conferences to promote yourselves?


BP: It amazes me when I think about it, because it really hasn’t been very long at all. Greg & I have been heavily involved with internet marketing since the beginning, but we maintained a low profile and flew under the radar for a long time. We sent the Director of our reseller program, Jared Del Prete, out to the November 2004 PubCon in Las Vegas, but it wasn’t until June of 2005 that Greg & I decided to attend PubCon in New Orleans.


That was our first industry show as attendees, and the energy, the people, the knowledge share, and the parties from the conference all combined to blow us away. I came home from New Orleans and couldn’t talk for two days – no joke. My wife might say that is a good thing, but I say it’s Nawlins – that town sure can party.


We then signed-up as attendees for the SES San Jose 2005 show, and by the end of the conference we were also “Trade Show Exhibitors” thanks to our good friends at Go Guides who were kind enough to share their conference booth with us – which was very cool of them. This act of goodwill actually afforded us the opportunity to test the power of BOTW swag in a large scale environment without the upfront capital cost of a full-scale exhibitor – viva la guerrilla marketing! The feedback during the show was fantastic and we were officially hooked on the conference tour and haven’t looked back since.


Now we’re at a trade show of some sort every 6-8 weeks but we love it. The conferences drive business and keep us tapped into this very dynamic and opportunistic industry that we compete in. The fresh ideas, industry advances, and networking contacts that I take home from every show are priceless. My only regret is that we waited about 10 years before we decided to come out of our shell and engage – I’m sure we missed a bunch of fun parties.


Rae: Everyone brings swag to the events, but no one seems to get anywhere near as many people as you guys do to sport it. Why do you think you have had such success with it?


BP: That Rae, is the BOTW secret sauce in action. I could tell you, but I’d have to off you afterwards ;-)


The short answer is a bit of strategy, some good fortune and some incredible friends. The long answer is rooted in comfort - the BOTW shirts were originally designed by us, for us. We’re a pretty loose crew (go figure) and we thought that as long as we dress in t-shirts at the office daily, we might as well dress in Best of the Web t-shirts and promote our brand. Mix in the wide-spread distribution opportunities that the conference trade shows give you, and boom – you get inertia.


The key for us was the day we sat down to strategize the t-shirt marketing effort and realized the unthinkable – One size does NOT fit all; AND, Women are people too! It’s been my experience that most trade show attendees come home with a bunch of x-large, short sleeve vanilla-style t-shirts that are printed en masse and distributed the same way. We realized that perhaps if we gave different sizes and different styles for men versus women, that we might get lucky and actually get people to wear the t-shirts out and about. That was the holy grail for us – not to just give the shirts away, but to actually get people wearing them and thus reinforcing our brand. Now when we attend a trade-show we give away a full line of BOTW shirts in various styles, colors, and size options – it’s our version of personalized one-to-one marketing. So far it’s been working out well for us, with thanks going out to some industry VIE’s (Very Important Evangelists) like Sugarrae, Jim Boykin, Daron Babin, Roger Montti and other industry notables who have supported our growth and helped to strengthen our message.


People seem to like the gothic look of the shirts, and I think the term ‘Best of the Web’ is easily recognizable and transferable to others, and so embraced. So when people see Sugarrae wearing a Best of the Web tank top, they get it – Rae is very successful and involved with the internet – she must be “Best of the Web.” Hence, instant rapport and understanding through a common ground. If only our world leaders were all sporting BOTW shirts, perhaps we could all get along……


Rae: Did you plan to go the guerrilla marketing route at tradeshows or was it something that just happened?


BP: Guerrilla marketing is in our blood. We got our start in the industry by raising a small amount of “friends and family” capital and then living frugally while reinvesting every cent back into the business for years. Guerrilla marketing was, for us, the only option available to market and compete with the industry titans. So that’s where we’ve earned our stripes and today that is our core competency.


We had high hopes of starting something a little viral at the trade shows, but the overall reception within the search industry has been overwhelming. We never expected to be embraced by our peers as much as we have been and we’re very grateful for that. There are some amazing people working in this business – it’s fantastic.


Rae: Do you plan out your efforts now in regards to guerilla marketing at both the tradeshows and in the online community? Is there an ideal timeframe to pull off your campaigns?


BP: I am very privileged to be surrounded by a team of exceptionally smart and creative people at BOTW. We do a lot of outside-the-box thinking about new promotions, new products, and new marketing initiatives, and we try to create a framework for success to happen if the ideas are executed properly. I don’t think there is an ideal time-frame for a particular campaign; each is launched with a certain strategy and objective in mind. For example, one of our goals last summer was to increase awareness and adoption of our category sponsorship program – so we launched a 60 Day Free Trial and now our monthly sign-ups are twenty-fold what they were before the promotion. So we keep at it, try new things, and measure success one initiative at a time.


Rae: What is the craziest thing you’ve done in regards to marketing your site? Was it a success and which member of your team are you going to give credit for the idea?


BP: This is an easy one. We’re pretty socially conscious, so we decided to mix our guerilla marketing efforts with our philanthropic nature, and have begun a program of distributing our long sleeve BOTW t-shirts to our less fortunate brethren whenever and wherever we can. I’ve done my part here and there, but my partner Greg has taken the torch and run with it, handing out Best of the Web shirts to the homeless in and around San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It’s a noble effort and we believe it to be unique within the industry. Needless to say, the shirts are even better received by the homeless than the trade show crowd.


So next time you’re in San Francisco strolling down Haight Street looking for a good time, don’t be surprised to see a circle of BOTW friends helping to spread the good word about Best of the Web.


Rae: You guys are well liked by everyone I know in the internet marketing community – do you think trust has had anything to do with your success?


BP: That’s a very nice compliment that we take to heart – thank you. I think we try to be genuine, and people feel that from us. To quote an old proverb, we try to “say what we mean and mean what we say.” At our essence we’re a handful of internet geeks who like to snowboard and live the “work hard, play hard” mantra to the core. As a result, it makes me happy to think that we’ve built a certain amount of trust or respect within the industry, if for nothing else than just being honest and direct.


Rae: You run promotions on your blog a lot - have you found them to be successful towards your end goal?


BP: Yes – part of our marketing strategy is to keep people interested and engaged with our products. We sell a nuts and bolts type of service – a Best of the Web directory listing review. It’s a fundamental part of any internet marketing strategy, but admittedly, it’s not very sexy. So we try to engage both current and new customers alike by offering frequent specials, discounts, contests, or giveaways.


This month, as you mentioned, we’re running the Plasma HDTV and Massage Chair giveaway. We try to run contests for items that are of general interest, highly coveted, and generally elicit some-type of a “wow” reaction. We always like to give away items that we would want to win ourselves – who doesn’t need a new 42” Plasma HDTV and massage recliner in the den?


We’ve found incentive-based marketing to be very powerful if managed effectively. Marketing to an existing base of loyal customers can be one of the most productive marketing efforts a business can target. The users are already familiar with the company and the product, so the goal is to simply stimulate and drive demand – and incentive marketing works very well towards that end.


Rae: How important do you feel branding is within our industry and how much do you think it has contributed to your success?


BP: Branding is huge – it took me a while to grasp that concept, but even in an anonymous business environment like ours, the power of the brand is unrivaled. We actually compete in both the “branded” and “unbranded” marketplace so I have experience with each. Greg and I started online in the highly competitive online travel industry, building a network of travel and hotel reservation web sites. Most of our sites are “white-label” sites targeting the higher traffic, keyword-driven, organic search results. Every day we wake up and try to generate new sales from scratch. It’s a tough business, with very little customer loyalty, dominated by industry giants. It’s a lucrative business, but a grind nonetheless.


In contrast to that, we have been hard at work building the Best of the Web brand via trade shows, interviews, conference speaking, t-shirts, reseller program, press releases, etc, and cumulatively this has afforded us the opportunity to build an eco-system of industry evangelists and distribution partners that furthers our reach and solidifies our brand. It has also offered us the opportunity to launch additional products and services like the BOTW Blog Directory and the BOTW Enterprise Software Directory. Each offering extends the BOTW brand and allows us to present users with a consistent quality experience in new mediums.


We believe so strongly in branding, and particularly the Best of the Web brand, that we just went out and spent an ungodly sum of money to acquire the Bestoftheweb.com domain name and remove any confusion in the marketplace. Now we have a new platform available to develop an innovative and integrated Best of the Web portal weaving our various products and services together in one centralized destination. So keep your eyes peeled – it should be an exciting 2007 for the Best of the Web team.


Rae: What are some of your favorite books, websites or blogs on the topic of marketing?


BP: Books: “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Maugorgne, “Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing The Way Businesses Talk with Customers” by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, “See you at the Top!” by Zig Ziglar, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, “Guerrilla Selling” by Jay Conrad Levinson, Bill Gallagher, Orvel Ray Wilson , “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and “Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing” by Harry Beckwith.


Marketing Sites: Marketing Profs, Trend Watching, Pew Internet, ClickZ, Inc.com and Cmoresource.com.


Marketing and Technology Blogs: Marketing Pilgrim, Seth Godin, Battelle’s Blog, Top Rank Blog, Micro Persuasion and Scobleizer.


Additionally I subscribe to many of the top industry technology and SEM blogs like yours – too many to list.


Rae: What do you think you’ve done to set yourself apart from other directories out there? What do you think website owners can do in general to set their own sites apart from the pack?


BP: We were fortunate to already have a successful travel business in place when we started Best of the Web, and this gave us a tremendous competitive advantage during our start-up mode. Contrary to popular belief, the directory model is not a “get rich quick scheme” and it is a long, hard, and tedious road to successfully build, operate, and grow a comprehensive general directory from scratch, let alone try to turn a profit while doing so.


So as a result, we never felt the need to push the commercial model and instead spent the better part of three years assembling a team of paid editors to build the directory out using a set of quality criteria guidelines to create a deep and useful informational resource. We were able to focus on building an authoritative database of quality web sites and let the revenue model solidify after we had a top-notch product to offer.


We’re very proud of the fact that everything on Best of the Web was custom created, in-house, and from scratch. We employ excellent programmers and editors, and it shows. The BOTW software, and our blog and web directories were all created by hand; from the initial top-level nomenclature and taxonomy down to the individual listings and additional search features available within each category. The BOTW reseller program was created in house, as was our category sponsorship program, thus providing us with a proprietary database of the internet’s top marketers. We don’t run any third party advertising on the site, and we think that makes us unique and somewhat exclusive.


My advice to site owners looking to separate themselves from the pack would be to analyze your marketplace and seek out small, but sustainable strategic advantages. Look for the low-hanging fruit that offers efficiencies or speed to market opportunities. Adding a synergistic or ancillary product or service into an already existing traffic stream is a great way to increase revenues, as well as to diversify and grow your business. That is the beauty of this industry for entrepreneurial people – low barriers to entry and unlimited long-term potential across a global marketplace. Awwwww yeah.


Rae: What’s coming up for you guys? What can we expect to see from you in the next six months?


BP: Well, we just announced the hiring of your co-mod on the Link building forum over at Webmasterworld – the revered and renowned Roger Montti of martinibuster fame is now a BOTW Guy, so look for big things ahead for us. Roger is going to head up our BOTW Verticals initiative focusing on B2B lead generation, and we’re very excited to have one of the premier minds in the search industry join our management team.


Additionally, during the next few weeks we will be exhibiting at the Ad:Tech New York and Webmasterworld Las Vegas conferences, where both Roger and Greg are scheduled to be conference panel speakers (as well as the legendary sugarrae I believe?) So if you’re attending one of the trade shows, please be sure stop by our booth and say hello – I’ll do what I can to send you home in some sweet new BOTW swag.


I would hope to have some progress on the new Bestofhteweb.com portal during the next six-months as well, and if history is any sort of indicator, I would imagine that we’ll pull another rabbit or two out of our hats as well.


After that, things get a little murkier as I start to see some significant *snowboarding* in my future as the winter months wear on……and that’s what it’s all about……


Rae: I know from personal conversations that you keep a lot of the pictures people send into you of them wearing your swag – it’s even been rumored there will be an eventual “Hall of Fame” for them. What are some of your favorite pictures and why?


BP: Yes, the often spoken of but never before seen “BOTW Hall of Fame” is a work in progress. My tech team almost had it live after the SES San Jose show, but then we ran into a technical glitch and I believe the project was shelved a bit on the priority list. But fear not – we will get it live for all the world to see, and in the meantime, I have attached a few of my favorite shots for your readers enjoyment:





The Best of the Web softball team coached and managed by Text Link Ads founder Patrick Gavin




Best of the Web’s Greg Hartnett and his long lost twin brother Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy




Robert Scoble, the self-described “Tech Geek Blogger” and author of “Naked Conversations” sports his BOTW pride with his son at an industry trade show




The one and only Sugarrae shows some prime-time BOTW attitude




Kat Ortland, formerly of SEOmoz fame, shows her stuff with BOTW’s Greg and Brian at the 2006 Google Dance in San Jose


This picture is NSFW, I repeat, not safe for work!


An unnamed BOTW Evangelist claims that whenever he puts his BOTW shirt on, women nearby take their shirts OFF!


[Note: Brian wasn’t sure if I’d want to publish this one or not, but, I think we all know my attitude in general is “bite me” - but I did at least make it a link for those of you at the office.]



Rae: Thanks for sitting down with me and doing this. I’m sorry I couldn’t fly up to wine and dine you like some of the bigger news companies have (sorry ladies, he’s a happily married family man) but I’ll be happy to sport a shirt as always at the next event - even if you don’t have me blogrolled. ;-)


BP: My pleasure – I enjoy talking shop and as you can see from the length of this interview, I am not short on words. I appreciate the opportunity to pontificate on BOTW and the search industry at large, and I thank you for the time, forum, and thought-provoking questions. I personally enjoy reading your blog daily and I hope we don’t bore your readers too much with this interview. See you in Vegas!

Posted by Rae :: October 24, 2006 at 9:35 PM

Filed In: interviews :: (4) Comments

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Good interview.


Of course the really cool swag is the BOTW hoodie which I wear even when it’s not an SE event



Posted by Graywolf on October 25, 2006 at 12:27 AM


I forgot to include any pictures of the super-cool BOTW hoodies—thanks for linking one in Michael!

Posted by Brian on October 25, 2006 at 11:29 AM


Dude, everyone *loved* those sweatshirts. I have one of guru he probably wouldn’t be thrilled about me posting in it. ;-) But, I still say a zip up hoodie sweatshirt for the girls would be appreciated - I have no interest to mess up my hair. ;-)

Posted by Rae on October 25, 2006 at 4:24 PM


The hoodies are the best. And I’ve got one dated April 20!


That was best. interview. ever.

Posted by wheel on October 26, 2006 at 8:58 AM










Thoughts On The Search Tornado: The Chasm Revisited


While pondering topics for this week’s column, I was in a quandary. I could join the 1.65 billion people who are penning about the GoogTube deal. I could do something timely about Danny Sullivan’s decision to stick it out with Incisive and Search Engine Strategies for a little longer (yes, if you haven’t heard, it appears they’ve kissed and made up, kind of, and Danny will be around for the New York, San Jose and Chicago conferences, although he’ll be transitioning to a new chair) or I could chat about meeting Marissa Mayer last week (albeit briefly), the person in charge of user experience at Google.


I pick… none of the above!


I’ll loop back to Marissa in a later column, but I’m angling for an interview to talk about some of the things I’ve learned in my rather obsessive detailing of user behavior on Google, so put that on the back shelf for now.


Instead, I’m continuing to pick up the thread from last week’s column. The idea of search marketing crossing the chasm perked up a few ears, notably amongst financial analysts, so I thought I’d spend a little more time exploring the concept and what it means for search. Ironically, the day after the column ran, Google was heading for a new stock high and I was scrambling from building to building and meeting to meeting at the Google complex in Mountain View. I must say, everyone seemed to be smiling. I think the surge in stock prices had everything to do with my column running and nothing to do with their quarterly earning report, but some may argue differently.


If search marketing is indeed crossing the chasm, there are some rather interesting aspects to look at.


Who’s Crossing First?


The ideal strategy for crossing chasms is to gain critical mass in a particular vertical, and then market to adjacent markets that share similar pains, gradually reaching the tipping point where everybody jumps on board. Geoffrey Moore refers to this as the Bowling Alley strategy, hitting the head pin and knocking down the adjacent ones.


Search is well down this road (or alley). Over the last few years, search has gained this critical mass in the verticals that tend to be proficient in direct response marketing. Categories like travel are heavy users of search, and we’re starting to see this extend into areas such as consumer electronics, software and other B2C consumer categories. Hard on the heels of these head pin categories are financial services and automotive. These verticals will be the first to jump.


It will take longer for search to gain critical mass in the B2B sectors, but the early adopters in these verticals are already laying the foundations.


The last to cross will be the local Mom and Pop shops. There are still some challenges to be addressed in gaining local traction, the most notable being a lack of a quality Web presence. But every month that goes by, the functionality of online local search increases to the point where it will be the users driving adoption, since local businesses can no longer ignore the fact that this is where people are searching prior to purchasing. And this is where search can open up vast tracts of unexplored potential.


Reducing the Pain With a Total Solution


Another trend that is becoming more apparent is the assembling of a total solution. The chasm can only be crossed when a significant portion of pain and risk is eliminated from the equation. Early adopters can stomach this, but pragmatists will avoid it like the plague.


The early markets are comfortable with cobbling together pieces of solution from disparate sources, providing the glue that holds them together and investing significant resources in coming up with an advantage over their competitors. This is exactly where search is right now. You need a pretty savvy inside person who can make search click for most organizations. It’s still far from a turnkey solution.


But look at what’s currently happening with the engines: The belated release of Yahoo’s Panama platform. New targeting capabilities from MSN. Google’s offering of free analytics and landing page optimization tools. All these speak to one goal: eliminate the pain for a mainstream market by assembling a total solution. The engines are putting together the package they need to appeal to a mainstream buyer.


Who’s the Gorilla?


The biggest question: Who will the winner be? There can only be one 800-pound gorilla, despite all the talk from the three engines that there’s more than enough market to go around. Google’s current marginalization of Yahoo’s business model speaks to this. The fact is, the marketers will crown the winner, based primarily on market share, which is dictated on the best user experience. Google wins this battle hands down. While it seems as if the engines have up to now been willing to cede the pole position to Google, if they don’t want to end up in the chorus, they have to get serious about this race. It goes quickly–and right now, Google has a huge head start. I’m beginning to think it may be uncatchable. Perhaps that share price isn’t as ridiculous as it seems.


I drop one last King Kong-sized hint for the engines. You can’t pay enough attention to the user experience. And right now, Google’s eating your lunch, and your afternoon snack. Ad management platforms only matter if you have a market to target the ads to.


What This Means for SEMs


So, if we’re crossing the chasm, do SEMs get shut out? No, in fact, the opportunity has never been greater. We can ride along with the main players in this chasm crossing, the engines. But we have to be nimble and fleet of foot. There are plenty of opportunities to add value along the chain as the engines assemble the total solution. But remember, the aim of the total solution is to reduce the pain points, not increase them. Therefore, the engines will be working hard to identify where mainstream buyers experience pain and try to introduce new solutions to eliminate it. That means if a SEM finds a spot where they can add value, i.e. bid management, they have to be prepared for the engines to introduce a solution and wipe out their business model overnight. Another strategy is for SEMs to gain deep vertical expertise in one particular industry, because the engines will be caught in a vortex of demand and will be stretched far too thin to be all things to all people.


So there will be a lot of opportunity, but be prepared for it to be transitory. While this holds true for service-based SEMs, it applies to a much greater degree to technology developers. Sure, this might make it tough to navigate, but if the tornado develops, you really have no choice. Either you hang on for the ride, or you sink.


This entry was posted on Thursday, October 26th, 2006 at 10:00 am and is filed under Gord Hotchkiss. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Responses to “Thoughts On The Search Tornado: The Chasm Revisited”


1. Marc Bodner from Seven-Zero-Eight-Five says:

October 26th, 2006 at 12:31 pm


My one point of disagreement is the 800 pound gorilla statement. Google, Yahoo, MSN are not in the “search” business anymore, they are in the “media” business and in essence are crossing the chasm to become a new ABC, CBS, and NBC. There will be more than enough room for 3 large players (AOL and others will round out the landscape like FOX, CW, and the cable nets and others have in television), and a whole new group of local search provides may crop up. Local search is a feet on the street proposition, and the major players will not make the personnel investment necessary to put out a quality product. White labeling for broadcasters, newspapers on a revenue share arrangement may be there play, but we can speculate that later. Right now they are solely focused on becoming the new media kingpins and gaining as much scale as possible since the big money being spent by the big advertisers only cares about size.

2. Ed Dunn from Fooky, Inc. says:

October 26th, 2006 at 12:54 pm


With comments like this:


//I was scrambling from building to building and meeting to meeting at the Google complex in Mountain View.//


//Google’s current marginalization of Yahoo’s business model speaks to this//


I hope you can understand why I usually dismiss writings like this as another biased rambling by a closet brand advocate of Google, Inc.


However, what I wanted to comment is your following biased statement:


//The fact is, the marketers will crown the winner, based primarily on market share, which is dictated on the best user experience. Google wins this battle hands down.//


Marketers will not crown anything - the customer will at an individual preference level.


I have to bite my fingers from saying what I want to say because I don’t think you can honestly handle the ray of light. But your writing obviously display a clear case of tunnel vision to argue that Google, Inc. is the end-all winner of a technology landscape that is still immmature to what it should be.












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101 Web Marketing Ideas and Tips


From my and my company’s background experience, a 101 list of web marketing tips, ideas and best practices. I tried to cite as many websites and other respectable reading sources as possible:




Global Marketing (emphasizing technical specifications)


1. Don’t use site-wide links. They are highly deprecated in the latest algorithm changes, and may even lead you to a penalization of your website’s SERPs. As a measure of precaution, I recommend a maximum of one site-wide (no matter the number of pages) for every 40 to 50 unique links from 40 to 50 unique domains.


2. Use the title and meta description tags as wise as possible. They are your best choice of avoiding supplemental pages. Try to make each page with it’s own unique title and description, and never repeat more than 20-25% of the title and description tags content on different pages. Use a limited number of characters (8-10) in the title tag, and put the most important of them, relevant to each page, at the beginning.


3. Read my previous post on 14 search marketing questions, asked by Digitalpoint members.


4. Try to use H tags (1,2,3 etc) at the top-most possible location in the pages of your website, in the source order, and NOT visual order.


5. Don’t be a Copycat. Don’t write news or posts just to have something for the big Google. Nowadays, duplicate-content filters are continuously evolving and even if you gain something on the short term you will loose it later. Try to be innovative.


6. Use a pen and paper. Always have an agenda and a pen around. Note down every crazy idea you think of … Most of us have truly great subjects to write about, but during the day we forget, busy with other issues. I always note my ideas. At the end of a day, I am amazed to see a 20 subjects list to write about, versus 1 or two that I can come up with at writing time.


7. Suggest “related websites” in your website’s Alexa information page. That will bring some traffic.


8. If you want that early search engine boost, don’t just buy a new domain and invest $10K on the website design and development. You are better off buying a 5 year domain and investing $5K on the website. Age matters a lot and it will matter good years from now on.


9. If you own a website that contains 80% Google and you are always on the lookout for new content/news to write about, please and I mean PLEASE read Ionut’s Google System. He’s still a student at a University in Bucharest (I live in Bucharest, so I have to meet him soon) and he can write all those stuff about it. Imagine him 10 years from now. He’s great on finding every bit of information, bug, unreleased service or any other thing about Google.


10. Try to build other websites that revolve around your primary niche. Use them to better market and infuse brand and traffic into your primary website. I’m not talking about building scraper websites. Build quality content ones, and invest money and time and work hours in them. But in the end, just make them a vehicle that you will use to better market your primary website.


11. Use Google’s, Yahoo’s and MSN’s(that’s the Moreover ping server which will ping MSN) sitemap services. Not only that it will provide you with invaluable server and website data, but it will get your pages in their index faster.


12. If your website is in DMOZ, and Google and MSN (Live.com) show the DMOZ title and description, and that doesn’t work for you (most of the time, the DMOZ information for your website sucks) just bypass it and use your own ones. MSN and Google both support this function.


13. Don’t ignore Google’s, Yahoo’s, Live’s and Ask’s image search functions. Most of the times, you can get a higher traffic from the image search engines then from the usual search, especially if you have a content rich website. Just a reminder for you: use the title attribute on links that surround the images, and use the ALT attribute on the image tags themselves. Also, always remember to rename your images with relevant descriptive words (a maximum of 4 words works best).


14. Have a look at the websites I read (Bloglines), and subscribe to their feeds. Read them regularly.




Advertising and Affiliate Marketing


15. If you use the Adsense, YPN! or adCenter contextual ads on your website, try to optimize them. Don’t just insert them in your website and leave them. Work with them, change the position, the ad layout, the colors, the content around them. And remember, that at least for Adsense, the ad that’s placed in the highest position possible in the source’s order, will yield the highest income per click.


16. Use affiliate programs once your website has started to receive some quality traffic. Depending on your niche, affiliate programs are a much better way to convert your traffic, then all the other advertising methods like contextual networks, banners, links etc. Commision Junction is a good way to start your research.


17. Effectively lead your readers to your MDA (Most Desired Action). That may be a newsletter box, a banner, an Adsense etc. Place your MDA right below comments, or in the left/right sidebars, or in the header. Experiment. Analyze. React.


18. Build an affiliate system for the services products you are offering. Let others do the PR and sales job for you.




RSS & Newsletter Marketing


19. Don’t trust yourself only in RSS feeds. A lot of users are “old-school” and prefer e-mail newsletters. Always offer this option.


20. Another good newsletter tactic is to offer a periodical e-mail digest with the top stories in a certain period. A week, a month etc. Maybe some of your visitors missed a few interesting posts/articles.


21. Research Robin Good’s Best Blog Directory And RSS Submission Sites (Part 2 and Part 3 available too) and market your RSS feed in all those websites. Don’t know what an RSS feed is ? (if you don’t, you’re either a moron, or you should fire someone).


22. Not only submit your RSS feed to different RSS aggregators, but learn to market it.




Analytics Marketing Techniques


23. Pay attention to your website’s statistics. Install a good analytics tool like IndexTools or Google Analytics. Not only the absolute numbers and statistics (like total users/total visits) count. Try to go deeper and analyze the navigation patterns, entry/exit rates and pages, the new /returning visitors ratio etc.


24. Continuously monitor your server stats, referrers and logs, and try to respond to links and articles that reference your website. That shows dedication and it’s another way to market your website indirectly.


25. Survey your visitors (you need a free user account to read this article). Learn what your audience and demographics are. Strive to improve your readership towards your website’s business goal. Constantly re-survey.


26. Research your market and always be up to date with your competitors. What their prices are, where do visitors go, is the site designed for success ? Look for things like quality code and content, internal/external linking, keyword density in content and links, pages indexed, Google Pagerank, quality titles, headers, site layout and design, conversion process, site load time, dedicated host, what new services they develop and announce etc.


27. Learn to increase your leads


28. Trial and error Trial and measure: raise awareness of your products and services, convert a visitor into a registered user and/or paying customer, persuade exiting customers to make further business, developing loyalty.




Brand and Visibility Marketing


29. When commenting a post or story in another website don’t spam: “OMG that’s uber cool”, “Nice post” or something like that. Instead, try to make your comments in a professional way, show what you liked/disliked/agreed/etc, cite other sources, give examples, bring pertinent arguments etc. Remember, comments are an important part of a post/article. Over 60% of the readers will also read the comments.


30. Try to associate your name or your website’s name/brand with the big boys on your niche. Regularly comment their articles (don’t spam) and from time to time make reviews of their post on your blog/website.


31. Starting your website from scratch, always sucks. Seek out other websites/companies in your industry and try to establish a relationship with them. Try a mutual partnership and/or services recommendations. Don’t try to e-mail/fax your direct competitors.


32. Brand and paint your employee’s uniforms and your company’s cars with your logo and website address. This is especially useful if you have a lot of cars. It’s mass-branding and it will get people, thus future clients in your local area accustomed and comfortable with your logo, website and business.


33. Put your website address, on every possible internal piece of paper or communication device, including, but being limited to business cards, letterheads, invoices, newspaper and/or other print ads, yellow pages advertisements, receipts etc.


34. Always identify yourself with your visitors, especially if you own a publishing website/weblog. Always have your editor name written for articles and it’s best to have a profile too. A picture, a contact method.




Social Media Marketing


35. If you ever want to write something that will end up on any of Digg’s, Reddit’s, Netscape’s, Newsvine’s (etc) frontpage, write about how to get on their frontpage, about Firefox, Wordpress or Apple/Mac. No matter what you write about those, people love them and you WILL get on the frontpage, unless it’s un utterly stupid article.


36. Pay close attention to Stumbleupon. It’s a great alternative social network. Install their toolbar, and if you write a good post, submit it in their system. Be faithful and fairplay with the other members, help each other, and add friends to your account. Ask other members to review you if they liked what you stumbled upon. StumbleUpon traffic had the highest converting ratio (at least for me), in comparison to Delicious, Digg or Reddit users, which seem to be RSS and AD blind.


37. Whenever you have the belief that digging your articles will yield you an increased CTR on your Adsense ads, RSS subscriptions, comments or any other kind of added benefit to your website, you are wrong. I can sustain Davak’s post 80%, except the Alexa part. Digg users do use the Alexa toolbar or plugins that count as the Alexa toolbar. But you won’t notice any increased CTR’s, comments or clicks, no matter the traffic gained from a Digg.


38. Reward helpful and valuable users by promoting their work on your homepage, or develop a rating system. Invest 5 minutes of your time to send a quick email or note telling them you appreciate their help.


39. At least once per year, ask your visitors what do they think about your website’s content. What would they want to read more ? What new facilities should you offer them ? 10 reasons to survey your visitors.


40. Be humble. Don’t forget where you started from, even if you are a professional in your field. No one can be an authority in a certain category if others don’t link to/recommend/interview/blog about.




Link Baiting, Link Building and Research


41. Write controversial content that will self-generate links and discussions/comments. Pick on well-known people, criticize loved websites or brands.


42. When starting your website, try to gather a few links from already established and trustworthy websites. Stop trying to get your link on websites that are 2 months old like yours. Pay a directory submission in Yahoo!, BOTW, Webxperience!, Skaffe or other well known directories. Paying for a directory submission almost guarantees you a faster response time. DMOZ is an excellent way to start but you can’t get your way in fast and with money, so it’s best to “submit-and-forget-about-it”.


43. Build links slowly, to avoid the sandbox. Slowly can mean 5-10 gained backlinks per month.


44. When you research websites for IBL’s possibilities, don’t be fooled about high PR pages. What you need is Trust, not a high Pagerank. How can you tell if a website is an authority website or not ? Just find 5 titles of 5 articles on that website and search those phrases in Google. If the website appears on the first page, then it’s a quality website. After that inspect some of it’s backlinks, and try to see if the website is involved in dubious link schemes or has IBLs from irrelevant and spam websites. If it doesn’t, you’re OK to go. Remember, what you need is Trust, and traffic. Not Pagerank.


45. A good link building strategy is to comment or participate in discussions or content on other websites in your industry. It’s not enough to have good articles/content. The world has to know about them. Make connections/relations with other jounalists/bloggers/entreprenours in your niche, comment their articles, and links will come by themselves, with time.


46. Create posts/articles that help your visitors and attract natural links. “5 tips to …”, “25 easy ways to make …. better” type of articles are the best you can write.


47. Write stories/articles in the most highly-ranked websites of your industry and link to your website from the article. I am not talking about article directories, but industry websites that accept content contributions from members. (like ThreadWatch or WebproNews, for example)


48. Are you in any good relations with an US faculty/university ? Kindly ask them if you can contribute with something, and request a link from their websites. .edu and .gov links are supposed to carry a little more weight and authority then regular links. An excellent post in SEOmoz on ten ways to earn an .edu link


49. Do you write in forums ? Always put your link in your signature, and try to write a few attractive words too, to increase the likelihood of clicks on your links. Many forums like Digitalpoint or V7N, have a latest blog post function. If you have a feed, always use that functions (tip: it works with any feed, not just blogs).


50. My best advice for gathering a LOT of easy links is to create and release free templates for any wide-spread, free CMS system out there. Wordpress, PHP Link Directory, Joomla, Mambo, Typo66, Drupal, etc. You are not a designer ? Hire one to build you some templates. What’s the benefit ? That small “template by X” in the footer of the template, that will reside in all the websites that use it. The more functional and beautiful the template is, the more people will use it. Colleen, from Kalina Web Designs as well as Chris from Pearsonified come highly recommended by me and others. It’s not worthwhile to tell you that I too have a design company. We’re too expensive for your ass ;)


51. If you are interested about Pagerank rather then relevancy, whenever you submit to directories or other websites that accept links, try to search the most relevant page with the highest PR, and submit to that. Keep the relevancy pretty high on your list though, otherwise they will reject your website for sure. I would and will.


52. Viral marketing, word of mouth, tell a friend schemes can get your server on fire in hours. Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. I guess this Threadwatch article about a Mini-Cooper AD will tell you more.


53. Ask friends or colleagues in your industry, to review your business website. If you have high profile friends, then you are sure to bring a high traffic and increased authority impact to your website.


54. Build a funny 404 page that will make your visitors laugh a bit and maybe will attract some links.


55. Don’t overlook linkbaiting: Organize a contest, adding a competitive element to it and offering a prize, post a very cool and funny post (usually a video or a cartoon or something that everyone would understand visually), ideally related to your industry etc.


56. Take a 6 months/1 year college class and get a personal page on the university’s .edu domain. Prices are usually cheap




Corporate & e-Commerce Marketing


57. Issue press releases for your website. No matter the field, a well written press release can not only improve your marketing strategy and gain a few inbound links and link bait from other websites, but can lead to journalists that will cite your company in their offline/online magazine as well as in online news websites like Google News and Yahoo! News.


58. If you have a company or product presentation website, try to provide multilingual pages. Helps for ranking in different localized search engines and user experience …


59. If you have local conferences or shows, that relate to your industry attend to them. Go yourself, or send an employee. Make business connections, friends, discuss daily issues, socialize. You wouldn’t imagine how much that will help you on the long run.


60. If you sell products or services on your website, regularly offer discounts or promotional coupons. That will not only increase sales and visibility but will attract links and stories, especially if you are a well known company. Issue a press release each and every time you offer that discount. Journalists and news search engines like Google News usually pick up the press release if it’s written correctly.


61. Offer a Privacy Policy (think about how much information is on the Internet; your credit card, your home addresses, your personal letters by email. etc.), a FAQ section, a Help section or any other functionality that will bring your website closer to your visitors, increasing authority, trust and re-visit rates.


62. No matter your writing skill, read a few pointers about how to write a professional press release (excellent 21 pages e-book on the new rules of PR - local mirror) and try releasing a free press release at PressBox, Free Press Release, PrLeap, i-Newswire, 24/7 Press Release, PR.com, PR Free or ClickPress. After you’ll see the benefits, hire a professional press release writing service and do it by the book at PrWeb, PrNewsWire and/ore other global, more authoritative PR distribution services.


63. Read the PccPolo 101 marketing tips (local mirror) and the United States Small Business Administration 100+ Marketing Ideas.


64. Your customers are always right!


65. Thou shalt remember that not only Google has a Bible: The 10 Commandments of Marketing (you need a free user account to read this article).


66. Personalize your company’s cars license plates


67. Optimize your website’s shopping cart and watch how your average order size increase and your cart abandonment rate decrease.




Blog Marketing


68. Do you have a company or corporate website ? Build a blog for yourself. Blogs are a common way of internal company communication as well as a good source of PR. Clients and possible clients feel close and can interact with your team, online.


69. Do you blog ? Pimp your blog with social bookmarking tools, a Feedburner account with the FeedCount option activated to show your RSS subscribers.


70. If you have a blog (but not only a blog) take full advantage of Technorati. Technorati offers you the chance to submit 20 tags relevant to your blog, when you create your account, and start to claim each blog/website. Don’t let that stop you. Use Technorati tags, tailored for each post individually. Technorati pages rank extremely well, and it’s a great source of traffic, so it’s best to use it to your advantage. Watch how PrWeb uses Technorati tags in every press release, to it’s advantage. The advantage is that your specific article will show up in searches of each of those tags.


71. Whenever you write a post on your blog, or an article in your publishing website, or a press release, try to think search too. Research with Overture and Wordtracker (if you have an account), what are the best words to use in your title. They tend to help a lot, because the title usually is used in the meta description and URL too. That will boost your page a little in the SERPs.


72. Plan your blog’s start. When starting a new blog, it’s important to realize that every detail counts. Don’t start with a default theme and ‘hello world’ - like posts and then ask for links. Try to start with 2-3 good written subjects. Always plan ahead and write today, tomorrow’s post.


73. Always link from your blog. Link to as many quality websites as possible. Don’t be afraid to “spread your PR thin” or some other BS like that. Link to good posts of people, link to good newspaper articles, and most importantly, link to relatively unknown blogs/websites that feature a good original story. In most cases that will yield you some free PR. Most other websites (like PrWeb or blogs etc) have trackback plugins so they’ll feature your story in their comments.


74. Read Quadzilla’s 9 rules about blogging (disregard rule #10) and Seth Godin’s how to get traffic for your blog post.


75. Have a blog ? Always ping update services. Here are the Update services I use for this blog (For Wordpress, they are located in Options/Writing/Update Services):









I use the Bloglines, Technorati and Google Blogs pings to update those services immediately and not wait for services like Pingomatic to notify them hourly.




Design, Content, Accessibility and Usability Marketing


76. The quality of the layout and design matters. Don’t release an ugly, badly design website. I would rather wait to do a much better design and release the website afterwards. The same situation for websites that are already online. Got an ugly design ? Redesign the website. It’s proven that a new, more beautiful and accessible design for a website strongly increases the likelihood of bookmarking, re-visiting, and subscribes to the feed and newsletters.


77. Write with the user in mind. A BAD post example is like writing a long citation of another blog-post/authority site, and actually writing no opinion of your own. Try to add your own analysis and views of the subject. No matter how many other websites blogged or wrote about a story, they will never write the same post as yours, with the same pro’s and con’s.


78. Spell check your content. There’s no other big mistake for a publishing site than users criticizing the misspells. Take those extra 2 minutes to check the spelling errors in Word or even Google.


79. Try to get your readers to comment and to involve themselves with the subject at hand. Uses phrases like “I’d like to know what you think?” / “I’m waiting your suggestions about …” etc.


80. If you can’t write good stories, don’t. Hire an experienced publisher to do the writing for you. John Scott hired Peter Da Vanzo to blog for V7N’s blog. Not because John can’t, but because he’s not the writing geek and because he wanted a professional blog. That does the job well for him and that can do the job well for you too.


81. If you have a website where people can pay online for products, make the job easy. Put a BIG button or text, use multiple processors like 2CO, Paypal etc. Don’t hide the payment link in some footer or sidebar space. Make it visible. If you don’t have your own shopping cart, then let the visitor know that he will be redirected to a 3rd party website, to complete the payment process.


82. Make sure the website is consistent in look, feel and design. Nothing is more disturbing to a visitor/customer than feeling as if they have just gone to another website. Keep colors and themes constant throughout the site. And yes, this is a marketing tool too. You DO want your visitors to come back right ?


83. If you have a content website, try to keep your posting frequency regular. If you decide to post 1 post per day, then post 1 post per day, every day, every week, 365 days/year. So what if it’s Christmas ? Just don’t make your posting habit irregular. Today 1 post, tomorrow 5 posts, 1 week no posts etc. That disturbs visitors and that will hurt your RSS subscribers and newsletter subscribers numbers.


84. If you just invested a lot of cash for a beautiful Web 2.0 design and layout (Web 2.0 hotties and how to design Web 2.0 style), why not make the best of it ? Make sure that it’s a valid XHTML and CSS layout and submit it to the hottest CSS galleries around the world like CSS Beauty, CSS Import, CSS Remix or CSS Vault.


85. Always personalize your e-mail responses, newsletters, invitations and any other material that ends up at your existing or possible future clients. Never send a bulk message. Most of the current clients get offended by such messages and the future possible clients will just ignore them.


86. Send out a “thank you” email to all existing customers and alert them about your plans for the next year.


87. Add interactivity to your website. Visitors need to have a communication highway one way or another. If you still haven’t included a commenting system, a forum, a blog or other interactivity systems to your website, do it now. Always ask questions from your readers and try to involve them in your world.


88. Create an (extensive) glossary of terms in your industry, like Aaron did for his industry: search engine marketing. That will set you apart and will make you an authority website in your niche.


89. Create powerful anti-spam blocks for your website. No-one will trust your authority if your website is full of spam. Use a Captcha module, or a math module, asking visitors to identify a string or to do a mathematical calculation before their comment gets approved. According to Akismet, 93% of (blog) comments are spam. Loren Baker’s Search Engine Journal got hit with 850.000 spam comments since he installed Akismet (thanks for the info Loren).


90. Put the accent on visitor experience not traffic. Traffic is useless if you can’t convert it into paying customers. A visitor experience optimized website with 500 visits/day can bring you twice the income then an un-optimized one with 10.000 visits/day.




Only 90 ? I want you guys to continue with the last 11.


Have a great week-end.


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Technorati: Website Marketing, Blog Optimization, Marketing Ideas, Marketing Tips, SEO Tips, Internet Marketing, Online Marketing, Offline Marketing

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25 Comments so far

Isla Scotts said:

October 27th, 2006


Just wanted to say that I thought that this was a very informative list. I especially appreciated the links to other pages. I found that when I wanted more information the links provided me with what I was looking for. I will be bookmarking this page (and probably more.) Thanks!

Sander said:

October 27th, 2006


Well done Cristian! Great marketing seo tips, thx. Very much like reading your blog.

Zoltan said:

October 27th, 2006


Great List. Good work.

Just one question about the sitewides. What if you link from the same domain to 10 different links of another domain name?

For example: site A has 10000 indexed pages. On every 1000 page you link to siteb/3.html, siteb/3.html, siteb/3.html… siteb/10.html.

Zoltan said:

October 27th, 2006


Sorry, I meant “siteb/1.html, siteb/2.html, siteb/3.html” not “siteb/3.html, siteb/3.html, siteb/3.html”.

Can said:

October 27th, 2006


I think you forgot the simplest -yet the most important- thing..


Make sure that your site loads fast.

Zerp said:

October 27th, 2006


WTH!! I want 101!


Goodstuff ;)

Terinea said:

October 27th, 2006


A great post, will you be updating it when you get 101?

Paperless Office said:

October 27th, 2006


My #101 tip:


Don’t be the ‘ZERO’ between everyONE… Once you internalize these tips, read them once a week. Do it, and you’ll find yourself adding your 102 rule!


Best of Luck

Cristian Mezei said:

October 27th, 2006


Zoltan, that’s a more acceptable situation, yes.


Can, It’s a Dual Xeon Server. What the heck to do more ? :)


Terinea, you were supposed to add the rest.:)

Megan said:

October 27th, 2006


Forums are good for a lot more than just signature links: getting to know people who are interested in your niche, networking with potential customers and/or colleagues, making friends who might link to you too. That also applies to posting blog comments on other sites and anyplace else you can find people who care about your topic.


For blogging - trackbacks are an excellent way to build traffic. If other people in your niche are talking about something, get in on the action and leave some trackbacks! I got an excellent link when I left a trackback to another blooger. She picked up on it, liked what I wrote, and linked back to me :) Trackbacks let other people know you exist.

Cristian Mezei said:

October 27th, 2006


Megan, excellent 2 tips :)

John Larousseau said:

October 27th, 2006


Good content.. thank you..


Just read another article that offers some other good suggestions:


The Dirty Dozen: 12 Suggestions For Making Your Mark In The Blogosphere

Zoltan said:

October 27th, 2006


Cristian, more acceptable or it does actually have a positive effect?

Better than simply displaying one link from the homepage?

Maybe I am asking too much… ;)

anada said:

October 27th, 2006


this is the best web marketing tips i’ve ever seen! I just began to blog for about 2mth and your tips are very helpful to me.


Only 90 ? I want you guys to continue with the last 11.


this is a great way to encourage lurkers give comments, too.

Cristian Mezei said:

October 27th, 2006


Better than simply displaying one link from the homepage?


I for one, would still preffer a link in a single article, or a link on the index page and that’s all.

Ben said:

October 27th, 2006


People really like “top” lists, so go ahead and make an article about the “top 10″. For example, I saw this “101 …” article and wanted to read it.


Great list!

Ciprian said:

October 27th, 2006


Excelent article Cristian. I hardlly manage to read my emails in the last couple of weeks but I must say I read your entire article and I think it worthed.


I would like to add something that might get into that 101 list, if you think it worthed:


If you can, invest a little money in local sports, schools, charity different events that would love to have your banner for a small fee, to help them pay the event. The bennefits are huge, and you pay much less than an outdoor advertising campaign.

Cristian Mezei said:

October 27th, 2006


Excellent tip Ciprian .. I will complete the last 11 ideas from the comments on this post and I will link to the guy that came up with it :)

hm said:

October 27th, 2006


I recently found a very interesting website:


There you can purchase ad space for your Blog etc.

Tim said:

October 27th, 2006


Great ideas and tips. I’ve always had trouble finding a free place to blatantly advertise my products and services so I made one: http://bla.st/

I will definitely be trying as many of these tips as I can, thanks!

Valentin said:

October 28th, 2006


Excellent article! Some of the best marketing tips I’ve read!

Farennikov said:

October 28th, 2006


if you write a short down to the point book about it - I will buy. 101 in the book, though, not 90.

jeet said:

October 28th, 2006


Great post! Cannot wait using some of the tips you mentioned here.

Thank you.

Bill Skywalker Edwards said:

October 29th, 2006


Excellent, excellent job. Very informative. I have a few sites in the top 10 on all three SEs, but I want more of my sites to get there. Now I have a better cnance.


Bill Skywalker Edwards

Autoresponder Letters

Davak said:

October 29th, 2006




I now agree with you as well about the alexa toolbar. As digg has become more popular, I believe the alexa toolbar use as really increased among the digg population.


Thanks for the link to my article.










3 Link Bait Lessons From a Master Baiter


Yesterday’s off-topic post of 250 movies made it to the digg / popular page and is right now climbing on the delicious / popular page (and more delicos would be nice – Hint. Hint.)


But was it REALLY off topic?


Today’s post will focus on why that post was successful and give you 3 helpful lessons to write better link bait.


The real story started something like this:


From the land of off topic posts, I present to you a list of the 250 Best Movies Made in the Last 30 years.


Why the last 30 years?


Well I’m creeping up on 30. Since I’ll be returning to the States in December for a few weeks, I want to get a 500 Gig Hard Disk full of movies I enjoy for my return trip to Brazil. One of the things I miss about being down here is not having access to movies.


So I started researching which films I’ve enjoyed and every time I see these “Best Film Lists” they always include the same stuff from the 40s, 50s, 60s and early to mid 70s.


My younger brother owes me about $1500 and he agreed to try to round up and rip all the movies on the list to work off some of what he owes me. I just put in the order for the 500 GB external hard drive and a new Mac Book Pro. Plus, I’m sure if I post a list like this I’ll get some great feed back on the movies I missed.



I took a look at the post as written and realized it was shit. Why should you (my readers) give a rats ass about me? The focus needed to change from ME to YOU for you to be interested. That’s when the idea for the first Hook came in:


Wouldn’t it be great if you had a 500 Gig Hard Drive full of all the best movies ever made?



By changing the focus from ME and my life to YOU and your life the post becomes 100 fold more engaging. Suddenly, we’re working on hooking you up and fulfilling your dream, rather than blabbing on and on about my life.


Link Bait Lesson 1: Good link bait focuses on the Reader not the Author.


Now, if you recall from the ten ways to make the front page of digg:


9. Insult as many groups as you can. Flamewars are popular for a reason. Throw out bombs that dare people to comment on your story.



I didn’t have to just omit the classics – I had to shit on them! That way, someone is bound to get pissed off and throw out flames. I had to say that MY list was the best and that if you like old movies, you suck. So the intro evolved to:


Who wants to see that old crap?



Link Bait Lesson 2: Controversy will incite passion. Passion drives links.


Then to pepper things up, I remembered that everyone hates the RIAA. Since the post was not likely to get many DVD sales if it didn’t get links, Dugg, or Delicoed anyway, the best rout was to not bother with those Amazon links (less work, less spammy) and say the reason was so that we can sick it to the RIAA!


but I’d rather you go download or Rent & Rip them just to piss off the RIAA



Manipulative? Sure a little. But that’s what link bait is. You have to think of these things so your stories have hooks to draw people in.


Link Bait Lesson 3: If you can pile on to a quasi-political cause that has widespread acceptance, it will drive support and fanfare.


But Quads – who is the master baiter?


I am. Master Baiting is what I was born to do. ;)









Tactical SEO vs Strategic SEO


After talking with Andy Hagans and a few other friends I have got to thinking a lot more about tactical vs strategic SEO and marketing.


Many SEO tactics work well at achieving a certain goal, but to be wildly profitable you usually needs more than tactics, you need love from the strategic front. Many people who are great tactical SEOs do not build much equity because tactics without strategy have little value.


Here are some examples:



Buy AdWords and AdSense ads to drive revenue.



If you are new to a fairly saturated market use AdWords and AdSense to roughly break even, hoping to increase your site exposure, link equity, and mindshare in the process...knowing that the real profits from an ad campaign can show up indirectly over time via organic search and product recommendation on other sites.



Get links.



Avoid actively seeking low quality links until your site has a significant history which includes many trusted backlinks.



Get quality links.



Create content, tools, or other packaged value systems which allow you to gain high quality viral links for a low aggregate cost. Create things that will make competitors want to talk about you.



Do anything to get links. Link bait link bait link bait.



Consider the potential outcome of your link bait if you are trying to cut others down to prop yourself up. As you build a trusted brand become more risk adverse.



Blog spam for links.



Talk about and become friends with the people you want links from.



Put everything on one exceptionally authoritative domain.



Own multiple brands that allow you to tap different market segments, or publish things that might not fuse too well with your main brand without hurting your brand. Design the brands so that they can extend in different directions.



Keep all your profits by doing almost everything yourself. Stick to what you know.



Admit your weaknesses and take on partners where neccessary. Find partners who add value where you are lacking.



Create high quality content.



Control content costs and make boatloads of average content. Build the authority of the site using exceptionally high quality content. Leverage that authority to profit from your boatloads of average content on that site. Segregate your high quality and high attention content from your lower value content, but after attention has passed ensure that the high quality content links trough to your lower quality content.



Use descriptive page titles to improve CTR and anchor text.



Title your pages such that the story spreads far. After the story has initially spread, consider changing the page title to something more descriptive.



Create a niche site in a low competition vertical.



If the vertical should be easy to dominate, make your core brand name broad enough that if you later want to expand you can.



Make as much money as you can right now.



Invest and reinvest. Make less upfront. Create passive income streams from properties that were designed around minimal customer service and growing into dominant self-reinforcing market positions.



Montize right away.



Limit initial monetization. Make the site look like a hobby or fan site made out of love for the topic so it is easy to link at. Program it such that it is easy to turn on monetization when the day to monetize comes.



Use consistant ad formats and layouts throughout your site.



On the home page and other high attention portions of your site use less ads to make your site more linkworthy.



Design for maximum ad clickthrough rate.



Consider linkability as a cost. Place ads in a slightly less aggressive position to make your content easier to link at.



Stay on topic to reinforce brand image.



Write some content for links, while writing other content for conversion. Occassionally drift off topic if there is a way to make a high link equity / high value / high authority idea relate to your site. If you are creative enough, everything in the universe belongs in a relational database that is tied to your content ;)


I am sure you probably have lots of other good examples about why strategy is important. What are your favorite SEO strategies?


Posted in: seo tips







Terrific post.


My experience is also that few people would think to go beyond the tactics mentioned, or even know how to do so, and I count myself in that group (although not for too much longer, thanks to you and others). Frankly, you could probably write a book based on this post. Oops, you already did :)

Jacob Share on October 29, 2006 04:12 AM


Copycat! I made a post about stragety vs tactics earlier this month on my blog. Just kidding, great stuff, although I was thinking strategic more along the lines of timeline.


Just as in warfare, you have to understand the tactical side to really achieve success strategically. This is why there are billions being poured into startups and stocks, while guys like Markus Frind rake in millions a year single-handedly (much in part thanks to those big spenders.)

Andrew Johnson on October 29, 2006 04:58 AM


Another great post Aaron.


"If the vertical should be easy to dominate, make your core brand name broad enough that if you later want to expand you can."


I cannot agree more with this. We have all been in this situation where we have been taken by surprise by a niche and in which the branding we chose in the beginning limits our expansion possibilities.

Dave Davis on October 29, 2006 08:36 AM


Refreshing read Aaron.


I see some of these patterns as well, since I am involved in coordinating all forms of marketing for our company. The SEO guy is bloodthirsty for links, the affiliate guy only wants leads, the top brass only wants growth. It's my job to make sure we're all getting max value from each opportunity.... so I'll be forwarding this to at least 5 people in my company :-)

Chris Hooley on October 29, 2006 09:14 AM


Control content costs and make boatloads of average content. Build the authority of the site using exceptionally high quality content. Leverage that authority to profit from your boatloads of average content on that site. Segregate your high quality and high attention content from your lower value content, but after attention has passed ensure that the high quality content links trough to your lower quality content.


That is probably the hardest one to balance. I try to keep all my content on my sites for the visitor. It is the long term strategy. But as you say, content costs, measured in my time, are high. So the question you have to ask yourself is, how much average content is to much? At what point does it degrade the user experience?


I'll give a recent example. One of the blogs I read every day has always posted daily, if not more. Lately I get the feeling many of the posts are just filler without much meat. They keep tossing in gems often enough to keep me coming back but there really was a point where I almost dropped it. The % of fluff was getting to high to make it worth it.

Jeremy Luebke on October 29, 2006 09:41 AM


Aaron great post. I think you hit the monitize part right on the head. For many people starting a new site it is hard to wait on putting up as etc.


I am trying an experiment with 2 sites to see the "linkworthyness"


So far you are 100% right more ads means less links. In the future I am going to hold off for 6 months.

Sam on October 29, 2006 09:54 AM


Hi Jeremy

I think the issue is that if you have a channel people are paying attention to you can do other things if you want to introduce "large volumes of content" without introducing "noise" ... for example, some people might put the noise stuff on a part of their site powered by a different cms or off a different feed, while others might backdate their noise, etc. such that the average reader paying attention to their channel does not get the noise


Balancing it is a tough issue, though.

aaron wall on October 29, 2006 10:00 AM


Could you give an example of



Invest and reinvest. Make less upfront. Create passive income streams from properties that were designed around minimal customer service and growing into dominant self-reinforcing market positions."


What websites would you consider to have this property at the moment?

Peter on October 29, 2006 02:08 PM


Well think in terms of verticals and think in terms of business models within those verticals.


My amount of required customer service does not drastically increase if I sell 20 ebooks instead of 2 or 3.


Then there are entire verticals where you can give the perception of adding lots of value without really requiring much customer interaction on any level at all. Those are beautiful, of course, but they are also typically wildly competitive.


As a general rule of thumb: the closer your product is to money the easier it is to make money without adding any real value. And if you sell the dream of making lots of money people will pay a lot for that dream even if their actual chances of doing well from it are quite low.

aaron wall on October 29, 2006 06:03 PM













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Trusted vs Untrusted Links


About a year and a half ago I wrote an article called TrustRank and the Company You Keep which offered an image showing how many of the cheesy "buy PageRank here" type general directories were not well meshed into the web.


That same image can be extended well beyond directories. Article submissions, reciprocal links, press releases, and other low effort low cost links put your site in a community of low trust sites. Even if the source originally had great trust, if they offer much greater value than cost, market forces such as:


* other marketers using the same marketing techniques to promote low quality sites

* improving relevancy algorithms



are going to neutralize the value. And then all you are left with is the risk.


Worse yet, a new site which is heavily co-cited alongside low quality sites may never be able to build enough quality votes to offset all of the votes of non-quality. So after you gain too many garbage votes, even when you decide to splash out to put the effort in or spend the money necessary to get quality votes it may not matter. The site status may be beyond repair.


And as long as you think of SEO as I need links I need links I need links then you are going to be more inclined to pick up a disproportionate volume of junky links, especially if you are not thinking of the web as a large social network. If you know your market well enough to read market demands then it is much easier to get editorial links that will hold value, and perhaps even increase in value as relevancy algorithms evolve.


Nothing is absolute of course, but it is all ratio driven. If the first thing you do with your site is put it in a community of low trusted sites then you are going to need to work much harder to develop a trusting relationship with Google. If you go for quality first then you have more room for error down the road.


Each engine has its own values which determine the quality of a link. Google is typically the best at scrubbing link quality, and Microsoft is generally no good at it. If the market seems so saturated that you think Google will be prettymuch out of reach no matter what you do, then it might make sense to concede Google rankings and be a bit more aggressive with getting bulk low quality links to dominate Yahoo! and MSN.


Posted in: seo tips


by Aaron Wall


Your Thoughts? [ 6 ]


October 28, 2006


Digg It | Post to del.icio.us | Post to Reddit



I think you're right, but do you think search engines are able to sort out an unwanted increase of low quality links ?


A new site with few but high quality links (.edu, .gov...)

Got a link or two on Wikipedia (legitimates one).

The Wikipedia pages are mirrored few hundreds times.

The handful of high quality links are drowned in hundredth of links from MFA.


I wish search engines will be smart enough about those junky neighbourhoods.

Sergi on October 29, 2006 12:50 AM


Do it the opposite way (trusted domain, throw tons of crap links at it) and you're set... for now.

nuevojefe on October 29, 2006 01:49 AM


I was thinking... it is quite easy for people to build up a huge quantity of low-quality links.

Don't you think that it could be used as a "tactic" to lower the position of competitors ?

gareth on October 29, 2006 06:10 AM


I have seen it done. And I have seen it both work and not work, on a case by case basis.


The newer and less established a site is the easier it is to blow them out of the SERPs...but older established sites pick up many automated scraper links just by ranking well, so Google wouldn't want to nuke those sites for something that is a direct result of being authoritative and ranking well.

aaron wall on October 29, 2006 10:10 AM


"I was thinking... it is quite easy for people to build up a huge quantity of low-quality links.

Don't you think that it could be used as a "tactic" to lower the position of competitors ?"


It's an idea, but it's the kind of thing that requires the same amount of effort as it would building quality links for your own web properties.


So is it worth your time? Considering that you could be spending that time doing much the same thing but with quality for yourself...

Wayne Smallman on October 29, 2006 01:33 PM


It is actually far easier to build spam links for a competitor than it is to build quality links for yourself...like soooo easy to automate...but there is no guarantee it will hurt them.

aaron wall on October 29, 2006 05:59 PM

post a comment


Please leave useful relevant non spammy comments below. It is in your best interests to not spam this blog.






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Weird Al Gets His Due Thanks to the Long Tail







Internet propels Weird Al's album into Billboard Top 10


After 12 albums over nearly 30 years, "Weird Al" Yankovic has finally made it big. His latest album, titled "Straight Outta Lynwood," debuted this month at the No. 10 spot on the Billboard 200, marking the first time in his entire career that one of his albums has been in the top 10. His single "White and Nerdy" from the album, now at no. 9 on the singles chart, has also eclipsed his previous high on the Billboard Hot 100, 1984's "Eat It," which made it up to no. 12.


What happened to propel Weird Al into sudden success after all this time? Well, aside from his continually-witty song parodies, he names the Internet as the main reason why his most recent singles and album have exploded. The music video of "White and Nerdy," parody of the Chamillionaire song "Ridin' (Dirty)," spread like wildfire over video sites such as YouTube upon its release, appealing to an entirely new audience of connected youngsters who may not have otherwise heard of the artist.


Additionally, online music download services have helped Weird Al in ways he didn't expect. He told CNN that he had "kind of written off the chance of ever having another hit single, since record labels weren't really releasing commercial ones," but online venues such as iTunes—which has had "White and Nerdy" in its Top 5 downloads for several weeks now—have allowed him to make strides again as a "singles artist."


The combination of YouTube and iTunes popularity could only have been topped off by a profile on MySpace, which has allowed Weird Al to accumulate almost 213,000 (as of this writing) "friends" ever since he created the profile last July. His MySpace profile is actually managed by Weird Al himself, and he has personally added each and every friend. "I used to be a little pickier. Now I just kind of click as fast as I can," he said.


Yankovic says that although there has been a lot of griping lately that the Internet is the big, bad wolf that steals food out of artists' mouths, it's been a huge promotional tool for him this time around. It certainly has worked, and he appears to be elated by his newfound popularity. He even released a couple of free singles on his website—"Don't Download This Song," which equates using P2P networks to selling crack and running over schoolkids with your car, and "You're Pitiful," a parody of James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"—which only seem to have helped his album's success instead of stunted it.


Indeed, it seems as if the Internet's quick-spreading, viral nature has been almost singlehandedly responsible for Weird Al's return to the spotlight. Free, non-DRMed downloads and user-uploaded music videos on YouTube are both things that the music industry has fought vigorously, but instead have managed to produce a Top 10 hit for Weird Al. Perhaps Weird Al's success will prove to be a learning experience for the music industry.









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Har, me hearties! Crew excavates Blackbeard's ship


BEAUFORT, North Carolina (Reuters) -- Nearly three centuries ago, the notorious pirate Blackbeard ran aground in his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, off what is now a North Carolina beach town.


This month, a crew of 13 heads out to sea each day, hoping for clear-enough weather to dive the 20 to 25 feet to the ocean bottom to excavate what they believe is Blackbeard's ship.


The team has found cannons, a bell, lead shot of all sizes, gold dust, pewter cups and medical devices, like a urethral syringe used to treat syphilis with mercury.


"A saying at the time was 'a night with Venus and a month with mercury.' And mercury doesn't even cure you," lead archeologist Chris Southerly said in an interview.


In past years, Southerly and his team did spot digs to map the debris field measuring 150 feet by 70 feet.


This year, divers are excavating the southern one-third of the site. They use PVC and aluminum pipe to measure five-foot squares and meticulously record where objects are found.


But, working 1 1/4 mile off North Carolina, there are problems that landlubber archeologists don't encounter.


"Once we excavate down 2, 3, 4 feet, because of the currents and sand, it falls back in," said Southerly.


This classic archeology focuses on one of the most unusual men of an unusual era -- Blackbeard.


His real name, which may have been Edward Teach or Thatch, is the subject of speculation, as are his birthplace and birth date. He knew how to navigate, but there is only one sample of what could be his writing -- a ship's log entry.


"We don't know how tall (he was), but he seems to be taller than average for that period. One account calls him a 'spare' man. He certainly had charisma," says Lindley Butler, a retired history professor of Rockingham Community College, in Wentworth, North Carolina. Butler specializes in North Carolina history.


There were accounts that he tied slow-burning cannon fuses to his long black hair before going into battle.


"With the fuses in his hair and heavily armed, he's a frightening person," says Butler, who added that pirates preferred to take ships without a shot. "There were some psychopathic pirates out there, but Blackbeard was not one of them. We have no evidence that Blackbeard ever murdered anyone or ever tortured anyone.


Blackbeard at first fought with the British as a privateer, a kind of legal pirate, attacking Spanish and French ships in the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 18th century.


With the war's end, Blackbeard and thousands of other unemployed sailors turned to piracy. His troop captured a French slaver called La Concorde in a brief skirmish in November 1717, says Butler.


He renamed the ship the Queen Anne's Revenge, which was probably 90 to 105 feet long. The band also had three smaller sloops, with about 400 men under arms.


In May 1718, Blackbeard's pirates sailed into the port of Charleston, South Carolina and, in a stunningly audacious move, blockaded the harbor. The ransom demanded, and paid, was a chest of medicine worth 400 pounds, says Butler.


"In a way, I guess it did sort of terrorize that port. Blackbeard at that time had a fleet of four vessels, with 60 cannons. This was the most powerful fleet in this hemisphere at this time," says Butler.


Shortly after terrorizing Charlestown, Blackbeard lost his lead ship, running the Queen Anne's Revenge aground on one of the many shifting sandbars off North Carolina, says Butler.


After the wreck the governor granted him a royal pardon, and Blackbeard went into at least semi-retirement in June 1718, spending chunks of time in Ocracoke, a barrier island off North Carolina.


But Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood was apparently unconvinced Blackbeard had actually given up pirating.


"Gov. Spotswood was having nightmares about this pirate sitting down here in North Carolina," says Butler.


He sent troops to find Blackbeard, and the two sides battled it out on November 21, 1718 on tiny Ocracoke.


Blackbeard was killed in ferocious fighting. Casualty figures vary but at least eight other pirates were killed, and eight British seamen. Blackbeard's head was cut off and stuck on a stake. His body was tossed overboard.


Blackbeard was probably in his 30s when he was killed, and had been a pirate captain for just about a year. During that time, his force had taken a town hostage and captured 40 ships.


"It's astonishing that he's had such an iconic role in such short a time. It's like a comet almost," says Butler.


With so little known about Blackbeard from primary sources, perhaps the best chance to get to know Blackbeard is through the wreck of the ship believed to be the Queen Anne's Revenge.


Archeologists on the dig, which runs from October 2 to November 9, have found a ship's bell from 1705, a 1713 cannon and stemware that was made made between 1714 and 1720.


"All of the artifacts are in the right time frame," said Southerly, who estimated that excavating the entire ship would take three to 3 1/2 years.


Sailors tend to have few belongings, maybe extra clothes, a pipe, a knife and a few other things. Few of these items have been found.


"The lack of personal effects of what we're finding so far is one of the interesting questions for us," he said. "We're trying to get back to the people."








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Mainframes making a comeback


BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) -- Cheap little servers handle so much of the Internet's dirty work that giant computers known as mainframes, which debuted 50 years ago and often cost more than $1 million, are supposed to be passe.


When Hoplon Infotainment, a startup video game company in Brazil, let it be known that it uses a mainframe to operate its signature online game, "People would actually take a step back and say, 'What? Did I hear correctly?"' said Tarquinio Teles, Hoplon's CEO.


Yet mainframes are inspiring new ways of doing things at organizations like Hoplon. The trend is driven by and anxiously watched at IBM Corp., which makes the vast majority of the world's remaining mainframes and continues to be hugely reliant on them.


After dropping nearly 8 percent in 2005, IBM's mainframe revenue is up 10 percent this year. That includes a 25 percent gain in the most recent quarter.


Mainframes were IBM's fastest-growing hardware segment after the microchip division, which is enjoying a nice ride making microprocessors for the top three video game consoles.


IBM does not release precise figures, but analysts estimate mainframe revenue at roughly $2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2006. While that is a small chunk of IBM's overall sales of $65 billion so far this year, mainframe revenue is especially precious because the machines drive huge software and maintenance deals, making them IBM's most profitable line of hardware.


Of course, the huge third-quarter boost is unlikely to be sustained. IBM is benefiting from having released two new mainframes in the past year, and sales eventually should taper until an upgrade comes, at least a year from now.


Such ups and downs are typical: Unisys Corp., a much smaller vendor, has seen mainframe sales drop this year, but spokesman Brian Daly said the numbers strengthened in the third quarter with the release of a new model.


Still, for IBM to be having success with mainframes at all is somewhat surprising. Because if you were to break modern computing history into its simplest terms, it would go something like this: There was the centralized-mainframe era, and then there was the distributed-computing era. And the former ended a while ago.


Mainframes emerged in the 1950s as room-sized hubs that did it all. They crunched numbers, administered transactions, ran simulations and stored data.


By the 1980s and '90s, however, information technology was flourishing with flexible and smaller pieces of hardware that took on traditional mainframe duties.


Cheaper server computers could calculate stuff and serve up Web pages. New communications gear ferried information around networks. Separate storage machines made more efficient use of memory. Millions of desktop computers flowered.


Sun Microsystems Inc., a leading maker of servers, denigrated mainframes as "dinosaurs," prompting IBM to call its next mainframe line the "T-Rex."


As mainframes ceased to be the center of gravity, they mainly lived on in government agencies, banks or complex networks like airline travel systems.


Many such places needed mainframes' heavy-duty security and processing ability, but others were locked into the specialized programs they had written in mainframes' unique language.


"Where the mainframe still has a long-term home is running long-term code," said John Parker, chief information officer for A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., a financial services firm that recently dropped its French-made mainframe but still runs key functions on a mainframe operated by a third-party hosting service. "Every industry has it, in my experience."


Since inertia is not growth, the market for mainframes and servers costing more than $500,000 dropped from $19 billion in 2000 to less than $12 billion last year, according to analysts at IDC.


One huge challenge has been the machines' old-school reputation. Programming mainframes still involves typing code on a green screen, much like early versions of DOS, the operating system that dominated PCs before the visual "windows" approach.


To try to encourage younger software developers to write programs for the machines, IBM recently announced a $100 million effort to simplify and modernize mainframe programming. Earlier it began encouraging customers to run Linux, Java and other low-intensity software on mainframes, in hopes of keeping the machines from falling deeper into specialized niches.


IBM also is trying to get creative in luring customers. In April it launched a "business-class" mainframe that costs $100,000 and up, targeted at smaller companies that want mainframes' high level of security and reliability.


One key pitch is that mainframes can do so many tasks at once that they are more energy efficient and take up less space than a comparable cluster of smaller servers.


"For every application, many times it takes five servers in a distributed environment," said Jim Stallings, who runs IBM's mainframe division. "Many customers are saying, 'I can't deal with the complexity."'


The University of Toronto recently bought a business-class mainframe to manage enrollment and other administrative functions. Eugene Siciunas, director of computing services, said the main attraction was flexible pricing.


The university saved money upfront by selecting a mainframe that runs at less than top capacity. Then on days when computing loads are heavier, the school can buy a short-term boost of extra processing power. Network managers call IBM, which remotely tunes the mainframe to deliver better performance.


Hoplon, the Brazilian company, is using a mainframe's processing might to build a complex "massively multiplayer" online game. But rather than shelling out precious startup capital to own a mainframe, Hoplon is remotely accessing one stashed in an IBM data center in Brazil. The same machine manages a retirement fund for IBM's Brazilian employees and handles operations for a building-tools manufacturer.


Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Inc., said IBM has had to adopt such sales methods to "maintain the platform's viability."


"The company has done a good job of continuing to gain leverage out of the mainframe," King said. "For a platform that a lot of folks have claimed is essentially moribund or headed into a very dark, bad future, it's got remarkable legs."










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GOP chairman takes first steps toward '08 bid


SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, known in the military's echelon for his congressional role but hardly a national name, said Monday he was taking the initial step in a 2008 presidential bid.


"This is going to be a long road, it's a challenging road, there's going to be some rough and tumble, but I think it's the right thing to do for our country," Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a waterfront news conference.


The declaration to form an exploratory committee allows the 13-term California congressman to begin raising money and organize supporters in early Republican primary states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.


Hunter is a familiar face on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon as chairman of the powerful panel that oversees military policy. Not so beyond Washington and San Diego, and his White House bid surprised many Republicans.


He had not been on any list of potential 2008 candidates that included more familiar names such as Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

A long shot


Analysts immediately characterized the quest as a long shot.


"You never say never, but Congressman Hunter faces extremely long odds given that practically no one apart from students of Congress knows who he is," said Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "He's a good member of Congress, a very effective chairman of Armed Services. It's just that he has no following within the party."


Hunter, 58, became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2003 -- a position he would lose should Democrats take control of the House after the Nov. 7 midterm elections. By making an announcement now, he can begin raising money while still heading the committee.


The Vietnam War veteran, a recipient of a Bronze Star, has made his mark in Congress by advocating for a strong military and border security. He played a leading role in the construction of a 14-mile double fence on the U.S.-Mexico border that is nearing completion in San Diego. He co-authored legislation signed by President Bush last week that would extend the border fence to 700 miles.


Hunter voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement and opposed the fight against the global General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and most-favored-nation status for China. This year, he was a vocal critic of a deal that gave a Dubai company control of some operations at six American ports.


Hunter has cruised to re-election since he, as a 32-year-old criminal defense attorney, rode Ronald Reagan's coattails to unseat a nine-term Democratic incumbent. The Riverside native faces token opposition next week in his bid for another term representing San Diego's eastern suburbs.


Hunter was a close ally of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican who was sentenced to more than eight years in prison this year for accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. Hunter has accepted $46,000 in campaign donations from the same contractors at the center of the Cunningham scandal, Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade.

Preparing to lose chairmanship?


Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego's Mesa College, said Hunter may be preparing himself for losing the Armed Services Committee chairman slot.


"Duncan Hunter is looking for something to do if the Democrats take control of the Congress," Luna said. "He doesn't want to have to go from being chairman of a powerful committee to just another backbencher."


Things didn't end well for the last California House member to run for president -- Republican Robert Dornan in 1996. Dornan, a vociferous conservative known by the nickname "B-1 Bob" for his support of military programs and bombastic style, spent his time and money on a fruitless White House bid and ended up losing his House seat to Democrat Loretta Sanchez.










Victim's cousin charged with tattooing killer


COLUMBUS, Indiana (AP) -- An inmate accused of forcibly tattooing a slain 10-year-old girl's name onto her killer's forehead in an Indiana prison was the victim's cousin, a family friend said.


Jared Harris, 22, is a cousin of Katlyn "Katie" Collman, family friend and spokesman Terry Gray told The Republic newspaper. He said he did not believe they knew each other well.


Harris, 22, who is serving time on a burglary conviction at Wabash Valley state prison in Carlisle, has been charged with battery and accused of tattooing "KATIE'S REVENGE" across Anthony Ray Stockelman's forehead.


Harris told prison officials the attack was in revenge, according to an affidavit.


Stockelman is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to abducting, molesting and killing the fourth-grader, who lived about 70 miles south of Indianapolis. She was missing for five days before her body was found January 30, 2005, in a creek about 15 miles from her home.


The affidavit said that prison officials transferred Harris to the same prison wing as Stockelman on September 19, three days before the attack, and that Harris subsequently threatened Stockelman's life several times.


Harris slipped into the open cell Stockelman shared with another prisoner on September 22 and, when Stockelman returned, Harris closed the locking cell door, according to the affidavit.


Stockelman told investigators that Harris put his right hand around his throat and told him, "I'm either gonna stick you and leave you bleeding or I'm gonna tattoo you." After applying the tattoo, Harris discarded the tattoo gun in a prison trash can, he told investigators.


It was unclear how he had gotten the tattoo gun.











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Cave an Ice Age time capsule


SPRINGFIELD, Missouri (AP) -- The bear that left a 3-foot-long claw mark in an Ice Age clay bank was the largest bear species ever to walk the earth, about 6 feet tall at the shoulder and capable of moving its 1,800 pounds up to 45 miles per hour in a snarling dash for prey.


The claw mark by the extinct giant short-faced bear still looks fresh today in a southwest Missouri cave that some scientists are calling a national treasure -- an Ice Age time capsule sealed for thousands of years.


Discovered accidentally five years ago on the outskirts of Springfield, Riverbluff Cave is slowly yielding its fossil treasures as a small team of scientists and volunteers gingerly explores it while trying to preserve a rich bed of remains, from bones to tracks and dung.


"We found 5,000 microfossils in just one 1-foot by 2-foot block of clay," said lead paleontologist Matt Forir, the naturalist for Springfield-Greene County Parks.


Remains in the cave date back at least 830,000 years and possibly over 1 million years. At some point at least 55,000 years ago, it was sealed by rocks and mud until a construction crew blasted a hole in one end while building a road in September 2001.


The first major excavation is set for this fall after years of carefully surveying the 2,000-foot-long cave and collecting remains from the cave floor or protruding from the limestone and clay walls.


Just based on what was on the surface, the finds so far include mammoth and horse bones and beds clawed out of the clay by the short-faced bear, possibly while denning with cubs. Peccary tracks are the first proof that herds of the pig-like animals roamed in caves rather than just being dragged in by predators.


There are tracks of large cats, possibly saber-toothed tigers or American lions. Foot-long shells of previously unknown turtle species stick out of a wall.


Forir said every discovery raises new questions. Mammoth bones and a juvenile tooth dated around 630,000 years ago came from one of two species and it will require more adult remains to tell which one it is. He hopes the excavation will provide answers.


"We either have the oldest wooly mammoth in North America or the youngest Meridian mammoth. Most of the stuff in this cave is like that, always raising more questions," he said.


Paleontologist Larry Agenbroad, who heads a major mammoth excavation project called The Mammoth Site in South Dakota, said the number of remains of large animals and the fact that Riverbluff Cave was sealed like a time capsule make it a rarity.


"This is a national paleontological treasure," he said.


Greg McDonald, senior curator of natural history for the National Park Service, said Riverbluff Cave offers rare insight into Ice Age ecology. By combining animal bones with other traces, including tracks and dung, it can show how Ice Age animals lived, what they ate and what killed them off.


"It's a unique combination of traces and the quality of preservation that makes it such a phenomenal site," McDonald said. "It's probably going to become a major reference site that will help us better understand the remains we have at other sites."


If research confirms that dung in the bear beds is from the short-faced bear, it would be a first and could provide real clues about what the bears ate, McDonald said.


Forir said the short-faced bear was the largest land predator of its time, roaming much of North America and catching its prey with a jaw power of more than 2,000 pounds per square inch. Its name comes from a shortened muzzle, more like a lion's than a black or brown bear's.


"It was the T-Rex of the Ice Age," Forir said.


The cave remains closed to the public to preserve its remains. After an attack by vandals, it was sealed by the county behind locked metal doors equipped with an alarm.


But with the help of the Springfield-Greene County library system and Ozarks Technical Community College, Forir installed a fiber optic network that lets him broadcast pictures from the cave for school classes and the public.


"This is where the Ice Age meets the Space Age," he said.


The cave has also spawned another educational project, Missouri's first natural history museum.


Forir won a grant to build a 4,000-square-foot building near the cave that will house a new Natural History Museum of the Ozarks. The museum, which should be constructed by early 2007, will showcase the cave's findings as well as regional natural history.











KFC to use no-trans-fat oil in chicken


NEW YORK - KFC Corp. said Monday it will start using zero trans fat soybean oil for its Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, Potato Wedges and other menu items.


The news preceded the Board of Health's first public hearing Monday on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.


KFC's systemwide rollout is to be completed by April 2007, but the company said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched to low linolenic soybean oil, replacing partially hydrogenated soybean oil.


KFC President Gregg Dedrick said there would be no change in the taste of the chicken and other food items.


"There is no compromise," he said at a Manhattan news conference. "Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our food and preserving the terrific taste of our product."


Crispy Strips, Wings, Boneless Wings, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, Popcorn Chicken and Twisters also are part of the menu change.


"We've tested a wide variety of oils available and we're pleased we have found a way to keep our chicken finger lickin' good — but with zero grams of trans fat," Dedrick said.


Some products including biscuits will still be made with trans fat while KFC keeps looking for alternatives, he said.


The change applies only to U.S. restaurants for now, Dedrick said. He said the company was trying to find replacement oils for its overseas restaurants. He added that KFC outlets in some countries already use trans fat-free oils, but he would not say which countries.


Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the

Food and Drug Administration, yet so unhealthy, city health officials say it belongs in the same category as food spoiled by poor refrigeration or rodent droppings.


The switch was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued the Louisville, Ky.-based KFC in June over the trans fat content of its chicken.


KFC isn't the only business preparing for a trans-fat-free future.


Dow AgroScience, a maker of three types of zero-trans-fat canola and sunflower seed oils, said it has ramped up production capacity to 1.5 billion pounds a year — enough to replace about a third of the 5 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil sold annually in the U.S.


Wendy's, the national burger chain, has already switched to a zero-trans fat oil. McDonald's had announced that it intended to do so as well in 2003, but has yet to follow through.


If New York City approves banning food with artificial trans fats, it would only affect restaurants, not grocery stores, and wouldn't extend beyond the city's limits. But experts said the city's foodservice industry is so large, any change in its rules is likely to ripple nationwide.


"It's huge. It's going to be the trendsetter for the entire country," said Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., where students are experimenting with substitute oils and shortenings.


New York's thousands of independently owned restaurants are beginning to look for ways to make changes too — not all happily.


Richard Lipsky, a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said many eatery owners rely on ingredients prepared elsewhere, and aren't always aware whether the foods they sell contain trans fats.


Invented in the early 1900s, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil was initially believed to be a healthy substitute for natural fats like butter or lard. It was also cheaper, performed better under high heat and had a longer shelf life.


Today, the oil is used as a shortening in baked goods like cookies, crackers and doughnuts, as well as in deep frying.


Ironically, many big fast food companies only became dependent on hydrogenated oil a decade and a half ago when they were pressured by health groups to do something about saturated fat.


McDonald's emptied its french fryers of beef tallow in 1990 and filled them with what was then thought to be "heart healthy" partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.


"They did so in all innocence, trying to do the right thing," said Jacobson, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Everybody thought it was safe. We thought it was safe."


Some restaurants were still completing the changeover when the first major study appeared indicating that the hydrogenated oils were just as bad for you, if not worse.


When eaten, trans fats significantly raise the level of so-called "bad" cholesterol in the blood, clogging arteries and causing heart disease. Researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health estimated that trans fats contribute to 30,000 U.S. deaths a year.


"This is something we'd like to dismiss from our food supply," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, immediate past president of the American Heart Association.


On Monday, Oct. 30, at a news conference in New York, KFC said it would stop using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil - the primary source of artificial trans fats - at all 5,500 of its U.S. restaurants. The announcement came on the same day that New York City's Board of Health was holding its first public hearing on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.









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Digital Privacy – A Shattered Utopia


Recent reports of YouTube and Yahoo's cooperation in providing private user data to third parties has drawn the attention and criticism of bloggers and information journalists alike. The question begins to arise: Just how private is your online life?


One of the notable draws of the Internet during its fledgling days was the notion of complete anonymity in the realm of cyberspace. The idea that an individual was afforded total privacy concerning his or her activities generated a significant amount of allure for most online enthusiasts.


However, the utopian ideal of digital ambiguity has been effectively reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble -- demolished by the clockwork machine of industry and the iron fist of the bureaucrat.


Perhaps that analysis seems a bit melodramatic, but the inescapable truth is that every click, every keystroke, and every transmission made across the Internet is meticulously being tracked and stored for the sole purpose of identifying user activities and web trends.


Take, for example, the charges of copyright infringement brought by Paramount against YouTube user Chris Moukarbel. When subpoenaed by a San Francisco judge to turn over Mr. Mourkabel's identity in reference to an allegedly copyrighted video clip, YouTube obligingly sang like a canary.


Additionally, Yahoo recently turned over data to the Chinese government that resulted in a 10-year prison sentence for Shi Tao, a Chinese man accused of e-mailing details of the Chinese government's plans to handle news coverage of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2004.


Companies such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc. house libraries upon libraries of personal data - demographic information, financial records, spending trends, search histories… all neatly arranged in data centers across the United States.


Just how secure is all that data?


Think of this alarming comparison…


Law enforcement officials are required to obtain a search warrant before they have the right to search an individual's residence. The key in obtaining a search warrant is a little phrase known as probable cause.


Basically, authorities have to provide a judge with sufficient information to suggest that an individual is breaking the law in order to search that person's residence.


Conversely, if a third party wants to obtain digital information about an individual, all that is required is a subpoena, or essentially saying, "I want that person's information."


The party requesting the information is under no obligation to establish probable cause in its efforts to obtain an individual's digital records.


As would be expected, the vulnerability of personal user information has sparked a wave of near panic in many online communities. Many are outraged to discover that the "security and privacy" concerning their online activities is anything but secure and definitely not private.


Of course, it's easy to define the problem. The more arduous task, however, is contriving a workable solution.


John Battelle offers up the idea of storing the data offshore:


Anyway, one idea that's been bumping around my head a long time, and which I hope you all can help me think through, is the concept of what I'll call the "Data Switzerland." The concept is simple: why can't companies that hold massive amounts of our personally identifying information - companies like Yahoo, AOL, Google, Verizon, etc - simply warehouse that information in a country that has consumer-friendly data privacy laws? Why can't my search history, my particular entries in the database of intentions, my clickstreams, be housed in this Data Switzerland, if I so chose?


Perhaps storing data in an offshore repository would allow for a greater measure of security and privacy for the individual. The Swiss Bank Account has worked for those with wealth for years in providing a shelter for their money, why can't it work with data as well?


Companies such as HavenCo are embracing this concept and looking to provide that means of offshore data storage.


However, there are those who feel that offshore storage alone is not sufficient.


Over at the Lifehacker blog, Google becomes the target of a poster's ire. The writer feels that more user control regarding his or her stored data would be a step in the right direction. This is outlined in what the writer refers to as the Google Data Privacy Petition


GDP would allow me to review all of the information that Google retains on me across all services, from all devices, and from all sources. GDP would allow me to determine the maximum data retention period for each of my services. GDP would allow me to selectively opt out of cross-service data mining & correlation, even if it reduced the quality of the services I receive. GDP would allow me to correct any inaccurate data in my profile. And GDP would log and alert me when my data was queried by other services.


Other bloggers realize that this not just a problem in regards to Google. The writer at Fred's House adds, "One point made in various places is that focusing on Google is too narrow; our personal information is held by dozens or hundreds of 3rd parties, mostly beyond our control. I agree, this is not just about about Google."


The fact is that personal data and usage statistics are held by various companies, all of whom are just a subpoena away from handing it over to third parties. Will Google, Yahoo, AOL and others take steps to provide greater security and privacy regarding an individual's online activities?


It seems that even when you're on the Internet, big brother is still watching.











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2 questioned in Calif. wildfire probe


CABAZON, Calif. - Authorities investigating an arson wildfire that killed four firefighters questioned two people Monday as crews remained confident that the blaze would soon be fully contained.



Sheriff's deputies took two men and three bags of material from a house in Cabazon, said neighbor Robert Dunham, 70, who lives three doors down from the residence a quarter-mile from where the fire started.


Authorities released little information about the two people who were interviewed at a sheriff's station and later released. No arrests had been made.


"We're trying to work through the leads that we have, and going through the process," Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle said in a telephone interview.


Authorities said the fire was deliberately set at the base of a slope in Cabazon, west of Palm Springs. Cabazon residents have said they saw two young men leaving the area where the fire began.


Since it started around 1 a.m. Thursday, the fire has burned 63 square miles, or 40,200 acres, as fierce Santa Ana winds swept through the region and fanned the flames. It was about 90 percent contained, and authorities expected full containment Monday night. It has destroyed 54 structures — 34 homes and 20 other buildings.


Last week, a shift in the winds turned deadly when a gust pushed a wall of flames around five firefighters trying to protect a house. Four of the firefighters died, while another was hospitalized with serious burns over most of his body.


Pablo Cerda, 23, remained in critical condition Monday, three days after undergoing surgery to remove damaged skin.


About 50 of Cerda's relatives gathered at the hospital, praying for him.


"They want everyone to know that Pablo's dream was to help people, and on Thursday morning, that's just what he was doing — protecting and serving," said Eddie Cortez, a family spokesman.


Meanwhile, the

FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives donated $25,000 each to the reward pool, bringing the total to $550,000, ATF spokeswoman Susan Raichel said.


Vigils were held at several Southern California churches and fire stations for Cerda and to pray for the families of the fallen firefighters. Killed were Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, of Idyllwild; Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto.









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Are you the ugly American?


Certain actions -- whether stemming from ignorance or arrogance -- will brand you a jerk. Experts offer advice to avoid the 10 most common faux pas among travelers.



Find the local rhythm


Americans have a hard time adjusting to a pace of life that isn't as fast as their own, says Jacqueline Whitmore, author of "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work." As a result, they're sometimes labeled as rude and pushy. "In Germany, dinner can take three hours or more," says Whitmore. "It's an experience. You can offend the waitstaff by trying to speed up the process."



Make a good first impression


"In some cultures you hug, in others you shake hands and in others you kiss," says Cindy Post Senning, a director at the Emily Post Institute. "It's easy to disrespect locals if you aren't familiar with how to greet them, both formally and casually."



Avoid careless judgments


Travelers love to talk about how places are different from home. Unfortunately, says Senning, innocent observations can come across as superior and judgmental, as in: "Your cars are so small here!" or "I can't believe this restaurant doesn't have ice cubes."



Mind your table manners


Educating yourself about local customs is the only way to know that Chileans expect wine to be poured with the right hand, and that the Japanese frown upon sloshing soy sauce on rice. As for those times when you're served food you can't bear to look at, let alone eat, but you don't want to disrespect your host? Smile and eat as much as you can, says Colleen Rickenbacher, author of "Be on Your Best Business Behavior."



Speak the language


You don't have to be fluent, or even close; you just have to make an effort. "It sends an offensive message when you don't even acknowledge 'good day' in the language," says David Solomons of CultureSmart!Consulting, which publishes country-by-country etiquette guides. "It's total and utter anathema to the French when an American starts a conversation without beginning it with bonjour."



Don't overtip


Monica Francois Marcel, of consulting firm Language & Culture Worldwide, says nobody tips as much as Americans (and that isn't always commendable). "It gets at the economics of a country," she says. "A taxi driver could easily interpret your tip as flaunting your wealth." Marcel recommends asking a concierge to explain local expectations, and then tipping the concierge the proper amount. Of course, undertipping is never a great idea, either.



Watch your gestures


The wrong move with your head, hand or foot can be a surefire way to get on a local's nerves, or even pick a fight. "We also fail to do our homework about space relationships," says Roger E. Axtell, author of eight international etiquette guides, including "Do's and Taboos Around the World." "Latin America and the Middle East have smaller personal 'bubbles,' so you must refrain from stepping away when they move close."



Dress respectfully


Classy everyday attire might have faded in the U.S., but it's always a good idea for tourists to look smart, says Whitmore. Conservative "global colors" -- grays, blues, blacks -- are generally safe bets. If you're going to a warm climate, avoid the temptation to pack only shorts and sandals. Include slacks and dress shoes, especially if you plan on dining at nice restaurants or visiting houses of worship.



Use clear English


Many people speak English as a second language, and it's hard for them to understand when tourists use slang and neglect to speak slowly. "We clutter our speech with jargon and sports and military terminology," says Axtell. "Try to stay away from idioms and slang, and watch for reactions to make sure communication is going well. Americans also forget to avoid phrases like, 'Hi, how are you?' in which we aren't really looking for an honest response."



Be a thoughtful guest


As in the U.S., if you're staying at someone's house or going over for dinner, bring flowers. Souvenirs from home -- T-shirts, refrigerator magnets -- are appreciated, too. Small gifts can smooth out everyday interactions. Marcel recalls the warm response when she handed out $1.50 bottles of Jim Beam to Russian officials checking passports on the trains. "It made the process a lot faster, and they looked out for me," she says. Gifts don't have to be expensive; as always, it's the thought that counts.











KFC phasing out most trans fats


KFC said Monday it is phasing out trans fats in cooking its Original Recipe and Extra Crispy fried chicken, Potato Wedges and other menu items, but hasn't found a good alternative yet for its biscuits.


Health experts say trans fats raise levels of artery-clogging cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.


The restaurant chain said it will start using zero trans fat soybean oil systemwide in the United States with the rollout expected to be completed by April 2007. KFC said many of its approximately 5,500 restaurants already have switched.


KFC President Gregg Dedrick said there would be no change in the taste of the chicken and other food items.


"There is no compromise," he said at a Manhattan news conference. "Nothing is more important to us than the quality of our food and preserving the terrific taste of our product."


Crispy Strips, Wings, Boneless Wings, Buffalo and Crispy Snacker Sandwiches, Popcorn Chicken and Twisters also are part of the menu change.


But Dedrick said some products including biscuits will still be made with trans fat while KFC keeps looking for alternatives.


The announcement came just ahead of a New York City Board of Health public hearing on a plan to make New York the first U.S. city to ban restaurants from serving food containing artificial trans fats.


The change at KFC applies only to U.S. restaurants for now, Dedrick said. He said the company was trying to find replacement oils for its overseas restaurants. He added that KFC outlets in some countries already use trans fat-free oils, but he would not say which countries.


Artificial trans fat is so common that the average American eats 4.7 pounds of it a year, according to the Food and Drug Administration.


The switch was applauded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which sued the Louisville, Kentucky-based KFC in June over the trans fat content of its chicken.


KFC isn't the only business preparing for a trans-fat-free future.


Wendy's International Inc., the burger restaurant chain company, has already switched to a zero-trans fat oil. Fast-food leader McDonald's Corp. had announced that it intended to do so as well in 2003, but has yet to follow through.


At the Board of Health hearing, restaurant industry representatives said they would need time to implement the proposed ban on artificial trans fat and questioned whether there is enough U.S. supply of alternative oils to make up for the product if it is banned.


If New York City approves banning food with artificial trans fats, it would only affect city restaurants, not grocery stores. But experts said the city's foodservice industry is so large, any change in its rules is likely to ripple nationwide.


"It's huge. It's going to be the trendsetter for the entire country," said Suzanne Vieira, director of the culinary nutrition program at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where students are experimenting with substitute oils and shortenings.


New York's thousands of independently owned restaurants are beginning to look for ways to make changes too -- not all happily.


Richard Lipsky, a spokesman for the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, said many eatery owners rely on ingredients prepared elsewhere, and aren't always aware whether the foods they sell contain trans fats.


Invented in the early 1900s, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil was initially believed to be a healthy substitute for natural fats like butter or lard. It was also cheaper, performed better under high heat and had a longer shelf life.


Today, the oil is used as a shortening in baked goods like cookies, crackers and doughnuts, as well as in deep frying.


Ironically, many big fast food companies only became dependent on hydrogenated oil a decade and a half ago when they were pressured by health groups to do something about saturated fat.


McDonald's emptied its french fryers of beef tallow in 1990 and filled them with what was then thought to be "heart healthy" partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.


"They did so in all innocence, trying to do the right thing," said Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Everybody thought it was safe. We thought it was safe."


Some restaurants were still completing the changeover when the first major study appeared indicating that the hydrogenated oils were just as bad for you, if not worse.


When eaten, trans fats significantly raise the level of so-called "bad" cholesterol in the blood, clogging arteries and causing heart disease. Researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health estimated that trans fats contribute to 30,000 U.S. deaths a year.


"This is something we'd like to dismiss from our food supply," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, immediate past president of the American Heart Association.


KFC is part of Yum Brands Inc., which also owns the Taco Bell and Pizza Hut chains.


Yum shares rose 84 cents to $59.80 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, near the upper end of their 52-week range of $44.21 to $61.84.



















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No stopping adventurer from breaking records


Adventurer Steve Fossett doesn't mind going it alone -- in fact going solo has helped him break and set records in sailing, aviation and ballooning.


In 2002, he achieved the first solo balloon flight around the world, traveling 20,626 miles in 14 days. In 2005, he completed the first solo, non-stop, non-refueled airplane trip around-the-world in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. A year later he used GlobalFlyer again to break the world's flight distance record, traveling more than 26,000 miles in 76 hours.


He's recently wrote a book about his life's passion for breaking world records in a book titled "Chasing the Wind."


CNN.com Technology Producer Peggy Mihelich talked with Fossett about his achievements and what his plans are for the future.


MIHELICH: How has technology helped you break so many records?


FOSSETT: In the solo balloon project and also in the GlobalFlyer project we had to advance technology in order to do the around-the-world trips.


In balloons, we had to nearly quadruple their capability. We also had to add an auto pilot, the first auto pilot in balloons.


The GlobalFlyer technology was a new level of lightweight construction in airplanes.


This airplane was capable of carrying 82 percent of its takeoff weight as fuel -- which is unprecedented. This was achieved because of the technology and design that went into the airplane.


The GlobalFlyer was also an excellent demonstration of fuel efficiency and reliability of jet engines. My jet engine was not only fuel efficient it was reliable enough that I could plan on flying non-stop around the world without a significant risk of engine failure.


MIHELICH: Will GlobalFlyer technology end up in commercial airplanes of the future?


FOSSETT: GlobalFlyer is more of a demonstration so that the airline industry can see how much more can be done with efficient design.


MIHELICH: What more is possible in aviation and ballooning -- have you gone as far as you can go?


FOSSETT: We don't take these steps frequently. The record before GlobalFlyer had stood for 20 years. Improvements will be made but they come very slowly.


In balloons, now that the around-the-world flight has been done there's not a lot of motivation right now to take it beyond what I had done.


MIHELICH: What's your greatest passion?


FOSSETT: Gliders, I love flying them. I've been intensely involved in setting and breaking gliding records for the past 4 years.


At the end of August I flew a glider into the stratosphere to conduct scientific, metrological research. I flew down into the Polar vortex -- the winds that circulate Antarctica at high speed and high level and are very much involved in the Ozone hole. Being able to fly into the Polar vortex opens up possibilities of additional research into the Earth's climate.


And I'm going to Argentina this week for a month to try and get the fastest of the glider records. I already have the altitude record and now I want to get the fastest speed record for gliders.


MIHELICH: Any other records you are eyeing?


FOSSETT: I'm working on breaking the land speed record. I want to drive a car faster then has ever been done. The car has a single jet engine which in after burner has 45,000 horsepower. I will need to drive it supersonic in order to break the existing record which is 763 miles an hour.


The hardest part will be keeping the car on the ground when it goes trans-sonic. We are designing very high speed wheels made of solid carbon. I'm also revising the cockpit to utilize safety features found in Indy car racing.


MIHELICH: What speed do you hope to reach?


FOSSETT: I hope to break 800 miles an hour.


MIHELICH: How long will it take to reach 800 miles an hour?


FOSSETT: It will take about 40 seconds.


MIHELICH: Does the car have a name?


FOSSETT: The tentative name is SonicAreo.


MIHELICH: Will you conduct some test runs?


FOSSETT: Yes, I'll be testing in Nevada in July 2007 and go for the record in the fall.


MIHELICH: You recently penned your autobiography, tell me a little about it?


FOSSETT: It's called "Chasing the Wind." Many people over the years have told me I should write a book. In the past I kind of just told my story to friends at a cocktail party. It was important to tell the really good stories and talk about the major projects I've been involved in.


I hope the book will stimulate people to think about what more they can do. Everyone should figure out what they are most interested in, and make a plan to pursue those goals.


MIHELICH: What record-breaking feat has been your personal favorite?


FOSSETT: The first solo around-the-world balloon flight. We had to really upgrade the technical capability of balloons and the flight was much more difficult then I'd ever imagined it would be.


I tried six times over the course of six years before succeeding.


MIHELICH: Where does your adventurous spirit come from?


FOSSETT: The boy scouts. When I was 12 years old I climbed my first mountain, and I just kept going, taking on more diverse and grander projects.


MIHELICH: You seem fearless, does anything scare you?


FOSSETT: Yes, lots. In fact I don't like to be scared. I think I'm a risk adverse person, which might sound very strange because of the sports I'm involved in. What I do is try and reduce the risk. I don't do any of this for the thrills. I'm doing them for the personal achievement.


MIHELICH: How long will you keep at this?


FOSSETT: I imagine that when I'm 80 years old and sitting in a wheelchair that I might do something like take a remote control airplane and try and flight it around the world.


I plan to be setting and breaking records indefinitely.









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After 50 years, Bob Barker to say goodbye to TV


Bob Barker is heading toward his last showcase, his final "Come on down."


The silver-haired daytime-TV icon is retiring in June, he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.


"I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young."


He'll hang up his microphone after 35 years as the host of "The Price Is Right" and 50 years overall in television.


Though he has been considering retirement for "at least 10 years," Barker said he has so much fun doing the show that he hasn't been able to leave.


"I've gone on and on and on to this ancient age because I've enjoyed it," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it."


Reaching dual milestones, 50 years on TV and 35 with "Price," made this an "appropriate" time to retire, Barker said. Besides, hosting the daily CBS program -- in which contestants chosen from the crowd "come on down" to compete for "showcases" that include trips, appliances and new cars -- is "demanding physically and mentally," he said.


"I'm just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me," he said. "I might be able to do the show another year, but better (to leave) a year too soon than a year too late."


Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corporation, said Barker has left an enduring mark on the network, calling his contribution and loyalty "immeasurable."


"We knew this day would come, but that doesn't make it any easier," Moonves said in a statement. "Bob Barker is a daytime legend, an entertainment icon and one of the most beloved television personalities of our time."



Starting on 'Truth or Consequences'


Barker began his national television career in 1956 as the host of "Truth or Consequences." He first appeared on "Price" on September 4, 1972, and has been the face of the show ever since. (The show was originally called "The New Price Is Right"; the original, which ran in the '50s and '60s, was hosted by Bill Cullen.)


A CBS prime-time special celebrating the show's longevity and Barker's five decades on TV was already under way, a network spokesman said.


To kick off his retirement, Barker said he will "sit down for maybe a couple of weeks and find out what it feels like to be bored." Then he plans to spend time working with animal-rights causes, including his own DJ&T Foundation, founded in memory of his late wife, Dorothy Jo, and mother, Matilda.


He said he'd take on a movie role if the right one came along, but filmmakers, take note: "I refuse to do nude scenes. These Hollywood producers want to capitalize on my obvious sexuality, but I don't want to be just another beautiful body."


Freemantle Media, which owns "Price," has been looking for Barker's replacement for "two or three years," Barker said. And he has some advice for whoever takes the job: learn the show's 80 games backwards and forward.


"The games have to be just like riding a bicycle," Barker said. "Then he will be relaxed enough to have fun with the audience, to get the laughs with his contestants and make the show more than just straight games, to make it a lot of fun."


As for his fans, Barker said he "doesn't have the words" to express his gratitude.


"From the bottom of my heart, I thank the television viewers, because they have made it possible for me to earn a living for 50 years doing something that I thoroughly enjoy. They have invited me into their homes daily for a half a century."


But when it comes to saying his final TV goodbye, Barker said he'll do it the same way he does each day on "Price": "Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."














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Bringing Your Retail Vision To The Web


For retail people, for many small business owners, they have a vision of the web site that they really hope to see, but have problems then translating from their vision to the details that technical folks need so that the vision can be realized.


Being able to take that vision and then turn it into wire frames or functional specifications that technical people need to make that vision a reality is a good skill to have. Many folks still do not speak geek, nor should they be required to speak geek in order to get their ideas across so that the vision that the retail store has can become reality.


First, while not truly an information security issue, anyone that walks the line between business and technology knows that there are some things that need to be done, and done well to ensure that the process is smooth, and well understood by both parties in the process.


Developing a quick project template, charter, and working with the business folks on must have, nice to have, should not have is important in bringing a project on line. This is where the technical translator or e-commerce liaison should be working with the business owners to work out exactly what they are looking for. Even down to color, systems it should talk to, and what role that web site will play in the greater role of the company. It does not matter the size of the web site, really in working with the business unit, or small storeowner, they should have a document trail to follow back on, and as the consultant, so should you. If the storeowner comes along later to move a nice to have to the must have category, you need to have a document trail that shows the initial thoughts, and then explain that this kind of change will do X Y or Z to the project, cost or timeline.


Standard project management, time lines, functional specifications, color schemas, charters, wire frames, and signed approval of all of them by the storeowner. Working with non-technical people who are requesting that what ever is designed must do things, and would be great if we could do this as well, then need to understand how the impacts to change will alter the product. Business people start thinking, and then start wanting to throw everything possible into the original 1.0 version of the web site. When really, it might be best to wait and see how the technology will be adopted down the road and then maybe waiting until V2.0 or even the V3.0 web site will incorporate that technology. Bringing the visionary to the table and explaining reality may be difficult, but showing them what others in the space are doing (follow the herd mentality) has benefits when dealing with any business owner of a project.


Readers are probably yelling at this point, yes, but what is the point?


The point is that small business owners, small retailers and even business projects within business units see something that they want, either because it is new and shiny, or because the competition is doing the same thing. The technical liaison between the geeks and the business unit needs to guide both sides into something that can be done, meets as much of the vision as is technically possible, and leave a lot of the nice to haves until later versions of the web site. That is a very important and difficult message to get across in any project, and one that is critical to the success of the project. A retailer is either not going to want to learn that they have to maintain, update, and otherwise work with the web site, or they do not have the bandwidth to do so, or the technical staff to do so. Nor are they likely to want to keep on thinking that the web site is going to continue to consume company resources that could be spent elsewhere.


A metaphor I have often used in deflating and working with this mind set is that the web site is like a car, you have to change the oil, windshield wipers, and make sure that it stays clean. A well run web site is no different, and while a car has 15,000 mile checkups, the web site is going to go through a continual evolution as the market landscape changes. The web site cannot be static anymore than the store can always sell the same goods year after year. The metaphor seems to work, even if it is simplistic, and should not be confused with the idea that the internet is a series of tubes or that anyone got the internet last Tuesday.


Retailers are not computer scientists, nor are computer scientists and programmers business folks. The bridge point liaison needs to be able to walk in both worlds, and know what is possible and what is something that should be left until later in the process. Good project managers should be able to play this point with both must haves and nice to haves ,and work with the vested parties to work out a suitable schedule. Even when dealing with very vague ideas, asking a lot of questions of the business unit, in getting them to sit down with the project manager and working out as much of the vision as possible before ever getting to a developer pays off in the longer run.









Choosing The Right Words In Keyword Selection


Selecting the right keywords can help give a website a huge boost in visitor traffic. Webmasters who choose the wrong keywords to target often end up with less than desired numbers of visitors.


Lower visitor numbers will mean lower overall sales. Fewer total prospects means a lower level of potential customers for the products and services on offer at the site.


Spending some time, effort, and even a bit of money to find the right keywords, will pay off in the long run. Focussing on the best keywords for the site, and improving the site's ranking in the search engines, will create much larger numbers of visitors. Website owners should always be aware of what searches are finding their web pages.


Employing several strategies in combination, will ensure that the correct keywords for the website, receive the most attention. There are several techniques to determine the most appropriate traffic building keywords for a site. Utilizing as many available keyword tools and methods as possible, will enhance the probability of focussing on the heaviest traffic builders. Instead of spending time on keywords that add few visitors, maximum effort can be put into the keywords that work.


Emphasising the right keywords for your website might be the most important factor in developing a strong traffic flow to your web pages. Gaining visitor traffic from the major search engines is entirely dependent upon your keyword selections. After all, that's why people use search engines in the first place.


Search engine users are trying to locate sites that provide products or information on their chosen search terms. To get those internet searchers to find your site, you need to include keywords that are part of their searches.


A good place to begin a keyword selection program is by employing such keyword search tools as Wordtracker and Yahoo Overture. By establishing the most sought after keywords, a website owner can be certain that searches are actually conducted for those terms. Being ranked number one for a term that receives no search volume will definitely not translate into any visitor traffic.


After you have determined the major keyword phrases for your site as quantified by the major search tools, it's time for some low tech keyword phrase discovery. Start by writing down every keyword phrase that you think is related to your business and industry. Don't bother editing it as you write. There will be lots of time for shortening the list later.


The next step is to ask your staff, your clients, and even your family how they would find a business offering a product or service similar to that of your company. Add their phrases to your list as well. You might find some duplication. That's a good thing as it shows the importance of those search terms. Real world searchers often look for the unexpected too. Take those offbeat searches into consideration.


Now you are ready to write your onpage information copy, add your site title tags, and develop your site. You can start out your online business with the confidence that you are targeting the search terms that will provide several benefits. Your site will rank highly in the search engines for those terms. You will also rank well for terms you never dreamed of considering as a direct result of your keyword phrase discovery efforts.


The searchers finding your site through Google will represent real customers who are actively seeking your products and services. After all, a number one ranking has no value if it brings in no paying customers.


Selecting and emphasising the right keywords pays off in the end.









The Web Is A Remote Control, Not A Medium


The scales on the back of my amphibian neck contract whenever I hear otherwise intelligent people refer to the Web as a "medium."


Sure, the Web is a platform for content. You can watch TV on it, listen to the radio on it, and read magazine content on it. The Web can easily shape-shift to emulate any form of media, and I suppose that's why so many ad people think it's just another medium. But the Web's most powerful aspect is its ability to emulate a remote control device addressing a theoretically infinite number of channels. A remote control which touches, or will soon touch, every piece of media ever made, and which can be used to create, synthesize, zap, jam, and reprogram this media in any way its user sees fit.


The shift from radio to TV did not involve a similar passing of control. This is why WPP CEO Sir. Martin Sorrell and other old line advertising men are wrong when they liken what's happening now with what happened in the 1950's, when network radio yielded to network TV. According to their logic, the advertising industry, which only took a few frantic years to wrap its mind around the unfamiliar medium called television, will only take a few years to extend its hegemony over today's user-controlled environment.


It's almost funny how badly the old ad industry guys misunderstand what's happening today. Last week, I almost fell right out of my lily pad when I received an email whose subject line was:


"Taking Control of User Generated Content: Learn How at the (name withheld) Agency Summit."


Hmm. Isn't the whole idea behind User Generated Content that users, not agencies, not marketers, not manufacturers, are driving the bus? How do you take control over someone's remote control device (except by force?) Somehow, I doubt that I'll be paying $995.00 to go to this conference.


Recently, a few forward thinking ad agency types have actually been speaking more lucidly about the challenges posed to marketers seeking to participate in the new, user-directed media (or meta-media) space. "We must give up control," one said recently at a big industry summit, and his remarks reflected a healthy shift in the way that the ad industry thinks about the new media landscape. Unfortunately, he's just about three years late with this pronouncement. Control has already passed, and will continue to pass to the user, whether or not the ad industry decides to "give up control," or whether it digs in its heels and continues to over-invest in one-way 30-second spots running on untargeted media whose ROI to advertisers has been decreasing steadily for years, and whose prospects for creating quality content seem to diminish each week (last week, after failing to net enough "upfront" money to pay for its expensive scripted shows, NBC decided to lay off 700 people and shift programming in its 8:00 PM prime time spot to cheaper game shows).


Most recently, ad industry barons such as Sir Martin Sorrell appear to be changing course, and he has called for much higher levels of spending on online "media." By acknowledging that spending allocations are badly out of synch with where the world's attention is being spent, he's taken a significant step away from denial. But ad agencies need to completely rethink how they regard online if they are to reach tomorrow's generation of users, for whom the computing device, whether it's a PC, a smart phone, a portable media device, or an undreamt of contraption that they will wear on their bodies, will be the central interface between the individual and the world.


Simply spending more on online isn't the answer: it's how one spends this money that will make or break a given campaign. The 30-second spot may still have its use, and new forms of sponsored content are already being experimented with. However, it's how one tracks this spending and makes changes in one's advertising that determines whether a given campaign really delivers on its objectives, which today can be quantified in ways impossible in untargeted media. I am not convinced that the old line ad industry has made the investment in technology necessary to run these kinds of sophisticated, multi-channel campaigns, and this lack of technological sophistication may be this industry's real Achilles' Heel.












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Choosing The Best System For Managing Your Website Content


Just when you think you understand the content publishing trend of the day, here comes another one to mess up your plans.


If you're frustrated, confused and don't know how to fit everything or if you even should. It's not easy coming up with a web content publishing management strategy. It's something I struggle with from time to time as well.


I believe it's a personal choice. All these are just different methods of publishing your content. There are some key questions you might want to consider.


What is your audience most predisposed to?


The reason we publish web content is so people will find, it, read it, use it and hopefully generate a sale for your products. It doesn't matter which is the best format but what is best for your audience. Which content format do they respond most to? Are they highly mobile people, always on the road? Do they prefer reading to listening? Are they technically savvy enough to understand how to use an RSS reader? If you don't know, ask them.


You'll naturally have a hodge podge of answers and sometimes even after asking, the result is not always clear. Overall, written content still triumphs over multimedia for several reasons. People cannot scan an audio or video file so if they want just one piece of information from that hour long recording, they are forced to find an hour of their time that they may not be willing to give. Why are you building that site?


How do you picture your website?


For example, if you start a site answering 'questions about coaching' then a blog would be an ideal type of publishing to use because you can easily publish the questions and answers. Blogs are perfect for sites like product reviews, launch updates, deal of the day, news and event reporting and FAQ's. You can always use a blog and articles as a compliment to existing sites.


Other sites especially those built for educating and dispensing information would be better off with a regular article based site. While you can use a blog as a content management tool for your articles, a regular website offers much more control when you're trying to optimize each web page individually. True, you can optimize a blog however, overall I find it's easier to optimize a website.




This is where a good long look at your overall business helps. Some people build sites in all kinds of niches, from gadgets to babies. Others, find their niche and build upon it by creating different sites related to that niche. Example, the main business is coaching. They have one site on coaching FAQ's, one for coaches, one for life and balance articles for a working mother and so on. If your business is structured like the latter, it's going to be a lot easier for you to figure out which approach you should go for.


This is because all of these sites are working in tandem to support your main business. It doesn't matter which you use, in the end, the focus is on your business, you are promoting your services no matter where people go and you'll reap the rewards. Each of these sites also become a network of content. Doing so also means you could keep only one blog and use it to direct people to new articles, highlight special articles or alert people about a teleseminar call, kind of like a news hub just for your business. Another nice plus to this is you don't have to build so many blogs you can't keep up with.


An example is this page you're on. Some of you are directed here because I mentioned the article on my blog. Some of you come here from my newsletter. Some from reading the blog's RSS feed.


When to podcast


Although there are many benefits to podcasting , it can take up an awful lot of time. It's hard work publishing a show every week or every other week for that matter. So, make sure you can commit that kind of time before doing so. That doesn't mean you can't publish audio your blog when you have an audio to publish.


Many people misunderstand podcasts, they look at it like they see radio and magazine which are totally different things. Fact is, many podcasts are blogs and vice versa.


If you think podcasts are just a little too much to handle right now, here's one way you can leverage them without committing yourself to it. Become a guest on someone else's podcast who reaches the same niche as you. Podcast publishers are always looking for great content and people to interview so, fill their need. Why create your own when you can piggy back.


There are so many things to consider it could go on forever, but given this time slot I'll make it quick and point out a few key areas.


Some sites are just made for blogs - reviews, FAQs, deals, news and updates.


Look for synergy. I'll usually start off with a regular articles based website. I think you cannot go wrong with it. It's the basis of the Internet and will be for a long time just like books are still in publication today, it's not going anywhere. However try to also see if an existing blog can help drive traffic to this site simply by highlighting articles or mentioning certain things about the content.


Sometimes time itself is of the essence and we just do not have enough of it. If you find this to be true you can still create an influence of a podcast by being a guest on a show or even by contributing recorded segments. You could create an audio of an article that you've already got written so that it doesn't take up much of your time. This could also apply to blogs. If you find you don't have time to write a blog, or another blog, then see if you can be a contributor to a relevant blog. You could even set up a 'community blog' where three or four people will add there posts so that it is busy without one person having to do all the work.






Follow Yuwanda Black’s Article Marketing Case Study


Yuwanda Black, who blogs at Creative & Editorial Freelancing ( http://inkwelleditorial.blogspot.com/ ), recently left comments on one of my older posts reviewing my efforts at article marketing - Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time? ( http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/405/a...articles-review ).


She commented that her article marketing results have been great (while my own back then were not so good) and has gone ahead and started a new case study on her blog, which you can read the first part of here - How article marketing is significantly increasing my income (Part 1 of 5) ( http://inkwelleditorial.blogspot.com/2006/...rketing-is.html ).


I have plans to use article marketing again in the near future so I’m keeping my ear to floor (does that make sense?) on this topic. Let’s hope Yuwanda’s articles can help us all significantly increase our incomes using article marketing.






Case Study: How article marketing is significantly increasing my income (Part 1 of 5)







Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time?


Regular readers of my blogs know I’ve been testing article marketing using the article distribution and repository service from Ezine Articles. Ezine Articles allows writers to publish articles that include a special area at the end called a resource box. In the resource box the author leaves a link or two along with a couple of sentences. Other webmasters and publishers are allowed to reprint the article on their own websites, newsletters or blogs, as long as they keep the resource box intact.


You can see an example of one of my articles with the resource box here - http://ezinearticles.com/?id=141082 - note the photo isn’t usually part of the resource box, you only see it when you view the article at Ezine Articles.


The idea from the writer’s point of view is that you can increase your exposure by having your content reproduced around the Internet. Your are rewarded with one-way incoming links from the resource box, you don’t have to reciprocate as you would with link exchanges, which in theory should reward you with better search engine rankings.


From a publisher’s point of view it’s free content. If you are struggling to keep a regular email newsletter going reprinting articles can be a fantastic way to reduce your workload. You can also use the content to populate a blog, website or any publication as long as you follow the reproduction rules.



My Article Marketing Test


I started article marketing by reprinting a small selection of the articles I published to Entrepreneur’s Journey from about July 2005 onwards. I didn’t put too much energy into it, spending a few minutes before I went to bed submitting an article every few weeks or so. I usually had to modify the articles slightly to make sure they follow the guidelines (for example you can’t include too many outgoing links) and it would take about 10-15 minutes to submit each article.


I devoted the majority of my energy to submitting at EzineArticles.com because it’s the market leader. Applying an 80/20 approach I figured if I was going to submit articles manually, as opposed to using automated software, then I should work with the service with the most traffic. I briefly tested with two other article directories, both of which had an inferior interface and less traffic than Ezine Articles. After receiving next to no results from the other sites I decided to stick to only Ezine Articles.


Last month I submitted my 20th article to Ezine Articles and feel that I am now in a good position to assess my results. By submitting more than ten articles to the site I was given “Platinum Status” which grants me unlimited article submissions, (before that you are limited to ten). While this sounds great it’s not really that big a deal, as long as you contribute reasonably coherent articles you will be promoted to platinum once you clear the threshold (it does make you feel cool though when it happens).


Incidentally the number of authors at Ezine Articles that have platinum status follows an 80/20 ratio as well. The greater majority of authors never make it beyond single figure article counts, with the prolific writers enjoying the most significant traffic rewards because they publish many articles, but only a handful of authors are like this. I am part of the minority in this case, having reached 20 article submissions, which I hear from “word on the street” is around the mark when you start to get good results (it’s not a “hard” rule).



Looking At The Numbers


To assess the success of my campaign I looked for two specific results -


1. Incoming links from websites

2. The number of times the article was reprinted in non-website publications.


The first was easier to track - incoming links from websites - because I could use services like technorati backlink lookups and my blog statistics so see whether any backlinks where coming from my republished articles. The other statistic was harder to track but thanks to a recently introduced feature at Ezine Articles you can get a fairly good idea how many people are republishing your articles in newsletters or other non-website sources.


On each article at Ezine Articles there is a quick publish button that spits out a html-formatted version of the article allowing publishers to copy and paste the content into a website or email. As an author I’m provided with statistics on how many times that button is clicked as well as how many times my article has been viewed, forwarded by email and a few other neat statistics.


Besides republication it’s important to note that Ezine Articles itself is becoming quite a good repository of knowledge. While not every article is written by an expert, and no doubt there are a good chunk of pretty “light” articles published, there is a broad range of quite useful articles on many topics. Because of this Ezine Articles gets a lot of traffic and your articles can be pulled up in internal search many times.


Total views (pageviews) is included in statistics and I can report at the time of writing this article my 20 submitted articles are about to reach 5000 views total. Top authors report figures in the hundreds of thousands, however they are publishing over 100 articles. You get back multiples of what you put in and depending on keywords, titles and subject matter you can expect varying results (more on this below).




Lessons Learnt




Testing Article Titles


Besides the direct traffic results there are some other important benefits from using article marketing. The one thing I’m really noticing is how important the article title is. Those of you who are copywriters or regular bloggers will be well aware that the title of your articles has the most impact on how often your article is read. The same of course applies in article marketing but it also impacts whether your article is republished. Given that most publishers first search article directories for content, your article title has to have the right keywords and has to be interesting enough to be clicked and finally, if you are lucky, republished. That’s a lot of steps to go through and a lot riding on how good your title is.


Thankfully you can go back and change the title of any article (in fact you can change any element of your articles at any time but it has to be re-approved each time), however you should aim to get it right straight out the door. This is because your article is featured in the Ezine Articles main highly-trafficked category page when it is first published and will very quickly drop off as newer articles are published by other authors. You don’t get this benefit when you go back and alter an existing article.


Short And Sweet


It’s well known in the article marketing industry that the short, 400-600 word articles, generally get the most traffic. People have short attention spans and they want quick, easily absorbed tidbits, not long in depth quality articles (like I write!). Yes okay, I had trouble adhering to this rule and I still have trouble getting a point across in so few words. The statistics don’t lie though and the short articles will get you more exposure and more traffic, so I spent some time cutting down some of my blog articles to give them a better chance of syndication.



The Vital Few


Every now and then one article will do much better than all the other articles. When you get the right combination of a solid title, a brief word count and a popular topic your article can go viral and be picked up many times. I can’t really say that any of my articles went viral but a few did standout while others really struggled.



Quantity Over Quality


Speaking from my experience, most of the backlinks I generated from article marketing where not from quality sites. I can think back to maybe one or two instances where I was pleased to see my article republished in what appeared to be a reputable website, with high PageRank and a real audience. Most of the time I spotted my article reproduced at splogs (spam blogs) - websites and blogs that republish content, slap a bunch of AdSense ads around it and hope to get into the search engines and make money from it. These still count as backlinks and help your traffic cause, but it’s really a case of quantity over quality, which is not sound strategy when it comes to search engine marketing.



What About The Duplicate Content Penalty?


The duplicate content penalty is a major concern when republishing content. Remember Google (and other search engines) may penalize websites that produce duplicate content by removing the page from it’s index or reducing it’s search ranking. Now my understanding is that the original source of the article, as in the first place that Google finds the content or the version it deems as the oldest, won’t be penalized. This is not a verified claim, I’ve heard counter arguments against it and in some circumstances if your source content is found after it’s republished somewhere else (which can often be the case if your site is not regularly indexed in search engines and the site that republishes your work is), then it’s your site that risks the penalty.


The answer of course it to modify your article before submitting it to Ezine Articles or similar directories so it’s not a direct reproduction of the article on your website. In my case I reduced the size of most of the articles I submitted so they were not exactly the same as the originals, although they certainly would have shared paragraphs so I probably didn’t do enough. I’ve yet to notice any penalization but there are a lot of forces in play here so if you are really worried, take the time to modify your articles or only submit original content.



Automated Article Distribution


Automating article submissions is a very efficient (80/20) thing to do and as such I don’t recommend manual submission unless you are a cheap-n-silly control freak like me. At the basic level you can employ a virtual secretary or administrative assistant to do article submissions for you. Depending on your results this can be a cost effective means to market your website, but do a cost/benefit analysis (time vs results) before hiring someone to do it for you.


There are article submission services that will submit your article to X number of article directories for $Y dollars, for example - ArticleMarketer.com. There are also professional software packages that will do the submission for you, so all you need to do is put your article into the software and sit back and let it role. Two examples of this software are ArticleSubmittPro and Jason Potash’s Article Announcer (which I believe takes the cake for longest sales letter ever!).



Article Announcer by Jason Potash


I’m really very keen to try this software because it comes from Jason Potash and he has a fantastic reputation (along with all the other marketing gurus in his inner circle like John Reese, Armand Morin and Jeff Walker - a big shout out to Mike Long as well!). At the moment the sales copy on Article Announcer didn’t convince me to spend the nearly $400 to buy the full package although I may yet give it a go. Apparently the software is really only half of the value and the education provided from the articles and audio are equally important.


I did email Jason (or his support staff anyway) to ask for a review copy for this blog but unfortunately I was turned down. All I have got to go on is what I have read in forums and reviews of Article Announcer. The software, while being certainly more efficient than manual submission, isn’t completely automated and you apparently still need to do some grunt work to submit your articles to all the different directories. Anyway, until I get a copy of Article Announcer all I can do is speculate.



Is Article Marketing Worth The Time?


Yes and no. I don’t feel at this point with only 20 articles published, my on-again, off-again efforts and no testing of an automated system that I can make a conclusive judgement. I like the concept, I think it’s better than link exchanges in some ways because you get one-way links but bad in others because many of the links come from poor quality websites. The potential for a viral explosion makes it very tempting and certainly if you work in mainstream niche industries (is that an oxymoron?) then your results may be fabulous (I’d love to hear about it if you have stories to tell - leave a comment please!).


Something else worth noting is the benefit of appearing as an “expert author” at EzineArticles.com. This is a powerful credibility tool and handy search engine optimization trick. Thanks to Ezine Article’s significant presence in search engines (high PageRank and lots of backlinks) web searches for your name will often pull up your author homepage. If your name is reasonably common and faces a lot of competition in the search engines, your Ezine Articles expert author page may have enough of an edge to make certain that any searches for your name result in you as the first result. Your author homepage includes details that you can change anytime and you may include web links back to your own website or blog.


For an example of an author homepage at Ezine Article you can see mine here - Yaro Starak - EzineArticles.com Expert Author.


The other thing I like about Article Marketing, which is one of the main reasons I like blogging as well, is that it contributes to your overall exposure one little bit at a time. Personal branding is about lots of little things adding up to a tipping point where amazing things can happen (think mainstream media coverage and even penetration into the public consciousness).


Your traffic keeps coming because you have lots of little streams pouring in from many different sources. Article marketing is another stream. Unless you do some major publicity work, pull off a media stunt, or are already famous, using many techniques over time is one of the best marketing methodologies available to you. You may not reach that tipping point quickly, but it will happen, and your traffic foundations will be like a diversified investment portfolio - solid.


Yaro Starak

Article Marketer

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Another great article Yaro. I tried an article submission site before but I decided not to go that route as I had a bad experience with google and duplicate content.

I had speed problems with my blog and set up a copy on a different OS server, I found that the linux version was much faster but because I had forgot to delete the mirror version, it got spidered by all 3 search engines and combine that with some nice fan (I’m awfully polite!) who copied my site, 95% of my title and almost 100% of my content (albeit the links were changed to protect their referral biz) I suddenly lost my top 3 listing in google search results :-(


luckily, as you mentioned above about being listed on other high rank directories or submission sites, I still get good results for my keywords but not for my site directly but for the directory sites that have me listed.


Still not as nice as having a higher link than the company I am an affiliate with (even using the company’s name!) as used to happen. But all it takes is one more click to get to my site so all is not lost. besides, there’s MSN which is surprisingly good for traffic and yahoo which is just starting to hold hands with me :-)


you’re not the only one that finds it hard to be brief!




Comment by Andy Bailey — March 8, 2006 #



Hi Andy - hey you are the lottery blogger from the BlogTopSite listings right? I always found your niche quite, umm, confusing but clearly it’s doing something useful for people. Gambling is always a good niche.


Thanks for your comment - it’s interesting to hear from someone that actually got hit by the duplicate content penalty. In your case though it sounds as if the duplication was quite obvious.


Comment by Yaro — March 8, 2006 #



Sorry Yaro, but article publishing seems like the kind of thing every marketer does. “Think different”, remember? but if you guys want to go that way…


Comment by Javier Cabrera (ClearYourMind) — March 8, 2006 #



Oh Javier, you are quite right, but there is no harm in testing it out. It also appears that only a very small selection of people use it to good effect (I’m not there yet myself), so I would definitely recommend testing it to see how well it performs in your niche. My niche, Internet marketing, is probably too saturated to get great results but I’m sure some not so crowded niches would get spectacular results because of lack of the lack of content out there. You might get some fantastic syndication.


Comment by Yaro — March 8, 2006 #



Hi Yaro. Nice post! I’m a big fan of article marketing for a few reasons. In my opinion, (nearly) anytime your name appears on another person’s website it’s great for credibility and branding. Those 5000 visitors could have visited your site numerous times and may be regular, loyal visitors.


I also like the fact that your articles can be compiled into a book to be sold evenyually. By the way, any idea what percentage of the 5000 visitors opted in to your newsletter? Again, a really great post.


Comment by Gaston Collins — March 8, 2006 #



Gaston - unfortunately no, I don’t have any conversion stats. I can ask the question though -


Did anyone reading this article first come to Entrepreneur’s Journey via EzineArticles.com?


Your other comments are quite valid Gaston although in my case it wasn’t because of article marketing that I had written so many articles, it was because of blogging (a form of article marketing I suppose).


Comment by Yaro — March 8, 2006 #



The one commenter above is correct when implying “everyone” is doing it (submitting articles) so its effect will lessen over time.


Like all great promotion methods, everyone and their grandmother is jumping on the bandwagon to submit articles, however not all of them are very good… And now some of the major article directories are separating the wheat from the chaff; discarding obvious spammy and low quality articles that’re submitted to them.


Another consideration when submitting articles is to ensure you have a really good ‘authors resource box’ at the end. Offer a free report or free membership or otherwise lure them into clicking on the link there with something tantalizing.


Ezinearticles, as you mention, is one of the best article directories to submit to - and its Google PR rank is a good indicator of that. I’ve got a free article directory resource that indicates (among other things) each site’s Google Rank, and there are a couple more within that same PR range.


Just go to Google and my resource is #1 when you type in: article directories


Great post as usual!


Comment by Steve Gill — March 9, 2006 #



I’ve submitted a few articles to ArticleCity.com, and got OK results. Nothing spectacular, but a steady trickle of incoming traffic from the handful of sites that published them. Certainly better than nothing, considering they took very little effort to write and submit.


Where I have had more success is in writing articles and emailing them to specific blogs and websites for publishing consideration. For example, I had a couple of articles published on Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography Blog that brought in several hundred visitors each in the first month, and are still bringing in a hundred or so a month several months later.


Targetting specific sites is more effective in a few ways:


1. You won’t suffer duplicate content problems, since only one site will carry your article.


2. You can go after better-known sites, and get higher-PR, more authoritative backlinks, and get read by a massive number of visitors.


3. You look more like an expert, since a highly-regarded blogger/webmaster ’selected’ your article for publication.


4. You can name-drop and tell people you’re a ‘guest writer’ or ‘guest blogger’ on several high-profile sites.


5. It helps you establish a good reputation and solid relationships with the main sites and personalities within your niche.


6. You might even get an offer from one of the other publishers to print one of their articles or participate in some other form of joint venture.


A few tips, though:


1. Make sure your article is very well-written, pretty original, and laser-targetted to the blog/website you’re submitting to.


2. Only submit to one site at a time, and give them time to make a decision (at least a couple of weeks) before trying the next one.


3. Only let each article get published once or twice - you don’t want duplicate content problems, and you want to make the publisher feel special. They much prefer good unique content over mass-reprinted drivel.


4. Be nice, be humble, and don’t take it personally if you get knocked back. Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep trying different sites. Any articles that don’t get picked up by others can still be published on your own site.


Let me know what you think, Yaro! This sounds like an interesting topic for a future podcast.


Comment by One Stop Under — March 9, 2006 #



One thing to mention that I’ve been reminded of in an email this morning from Bill Nixon, is that often your articles are republished without the resource box. This means you don’t get an incoming link but you still risk the duplicate content penalty. Not to mention that you have to get out there and find the culprits who do it, ask them to fix the issue and most of the time it’s on some reproduction blog with no original content.


One Stop Under has a great point. Approaching a prominent blogger and asking if they would publish an article is a much more effective article marketing strategy. The only *issue* is you should submit original content since no blogger is going to want to reproduce something you have already published on your own blog or website or somewhere else.


I know if someone approached me, handed me a really solid article I’d be more than happy to publish it. It makes my job easier for one day because I have some fresh content and it sends some traffic to another blogger. It’s win-win.


Great point One Stop Under!


Comment by Yaro — March 9, 2006 #



Article marketing is a good way to bring in new traffic; I plan on sending a few articles to Ezine from my blog that is focused on entrepreneurs (Students) at www.cashcampus.com/ftt .


The way I see it is that it wont hurt to get some articles around on different sites, it can only help, right?


David Askaripour



Comment by David Askaripour — March 9, 2006 #



[…] have experiences to add to Yaro’s so head over and have your say. If you enjoyed this post Bookmark it at del.icio.us and Subscribe to the Free ProBloggerNewsletter […]


Pingback by Is Submitting Free Articles a Good Strategy for Blog Growth: ProBlogger Blog Tips — March 9, 2006 #



I came to read this article becuase of a refernce Darren made to it. Thinking back, at the same time he recommended it he did warm it was a bit inconclusive.


I don’t mean this to sound unkind and I do appreciate the work I seeing you put in, but really, as you yourself mention, you’ve got to say more with less words.


This post is too long by about twice, and it draws no concusions. You did provide many usefulfacts, but I could find all those facts on my own … I read your posts or Darren’s, or Freedy’s or Jane’s becuase I want to know their opinion.


Anyway, I did learn a lot looking over your results and ther article site themselves I doubt it’s anything I want to spend my time with .. but that was my opinion before I read your post … I was looking for abit more of ‘you’ in the article.


Best regards



Comment by Dave Starr — March 9, 2006 #



Hi Dave, sorry you were slightly disappointed. I’ll refund the price of admission.


In other news, I’ve decided to invest some cash in a couple of article distribution services to see how well they work, however it won’t be for a while as I want to use some content I’m working on for BlogTrafficKing.com.


It seems people want more of a conclusion from this article so here goes -


Based on just using manual submission to Ezine Articles I would not recommend doing an article marketing campaign. The results are not significant enough to warrant the time to do it manually.


I’ll let you know the results of phase two of my experiment once I have completed my tests.


Comment by Yaro — March 9, 2006 #



It would be worthwhile to see some clear and conclusive results.


Comment by Kingsley Tagbo [Web Analytics Blog] — March 9, 2006 #



Hi Andy - hey you are the lottery blogger from the BlogTopSite listings right? I always found your niche quite, umm, confusing but clearly it’s doing something useful for people. Gambling is always a good niche.


Yeah that’s me! I’ve had a couple of people saying they’re confused at the sites purpose but I think that’s just because I haven’t made the blog to make money directly, I maintain it to give advice to my affiliate team and to anyone that knows about the affiliate site. Signups and referrals come as a (welcome) side effect.


It seems my google searches are suddenly back working, my PR went up to 5 a little while ago and I think it may be something to do with that.


Now for vwd lottery I am very high in google.co.uk searches (number 2 and 3 and a directory listing of me is 4) and today I notice a much much higher google referral count so looks like duplicate content penalties can be overcome.


I did a search for the name of the company’s top recruiter and my site turned up as number 1 for it. LOL


I’ll donate a fiver towards your journey and if I win the big one this week, I might even pay for it all! (here’s hoping)


Comment by Andy Bailey — March 10, 2006 #



When you say “the results are not significant enough to warrant the time to do it manually”, what exactly do you mean?


Wouldn’t the time-consuming bit be actually writing, editing and preparing the articles? Submitting to EzineArticles.com is more or less just a copy-n-paste operation, isn’t it?


Or do you mean that you think you’d get better results by submitting the same article to dozens of directories? I can see how a submission service could save time there.


So, are you really saying that submitting to just one service will limit your results, and that you think it’d be more effective to submit to many services?


Comment by One Stop Under — March 10, 2006 #



One Stop Under - Exactly, you answered your own question. One article directory is not worth the effort. To post to many manually is not worth the effort.


The one thing left to test is posting to mutiple locations using an automated service or software. That’s the question I will attempt to answer in part two of this series.


Comment by Yaro — March 10, 2006 #



Cool, thanks for clearing that up! I thought that’s what you meant, but it wasn’t explicitly stated that way.


Comment by One Stop Under — March 10, 2006 #



Bingo, now ya got it:


“Based on just using manual submission to Ezine Articles I would not recommend doing an article marketing campaign. The results are not significant enough to warrant the time to do it manually.”


Now instead of you owing me, I owe you twice the cost of admission. \\Thanks\\


Comment by Dave Starr — March 10, 2006 #



Touché Dave - glad I could be of at least a little bit of assistance.


Comment by Yaro — March 10, 2006 #



Dang was that interesting! But, so true about my short attention span, because after reading all of this .. I couldn’t really determine if you are For or Against free article marketing! I will have to remember to read your articles in the mornings, instead of late at night :)


btw - I am a “user” of these free articles. I really do use Ezine a lot in my PetLvr blog. I try to get many different authors, and keep the resource section and links intact. I hope the authors get traffic from my use of their articles and, I imagine clicking on the authors links would be the same for my readers, as it is for me. If the article is interesting - I definately want to see what the author’s page is all about. I don’t pick any article because of their ‘expert’ status though. I just don’t trust anybody who calls themselves an expert and want to offer my readers 20 different other viewpoints or suggestions. (as in relation to a pet site that is)


By the way .. in my RSS reader, I’ve seen your name pop up once in my bloglines .. i believed you used “pet” and “training” in one article! But, I didn’t post it in my pet blog :) so there should be no penalties!


Comment by HART (1-800-HART) — March 10, 2006 #



Thanks for the info. I probably won’t get into article submission - I already have enough trouble writing consistently for my blog. It’s good to know that I’m not missing out on too much!


Comment by Tim — March 11, 2006 #



Terrific post. Submitting articles was the most aggravating experience. Different publishers have different seemingly arbitrary rules. Ezinearticles, for example, has a limit of 6 URLs in each article.


I had 7. I asked them why 6 and if they would consider letting them all stay in (none were self-serving). They said no.


Other sites accepted the article as-is, and others had other arbitrary rules to apply.


While I did get a slight traffic bump from each article (they were mostly blog entries from affiliateblog.com), the whole process was annoying.


Comment by Matt DeAngelis — March 13, 2006 #



[…] For those who enjoyed my recent article - Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time? - you will find this case study over at Blogging My Pursuit worth watching. Article Submission Project […]


Pingback by More On Article Marketing - Article Submission Project » Entrepreneur’s Journey - by Yaro Starak — March 22, 2006 #



[…] The first part of the report you will be familiar with because it’s my article Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time?, but the second part is all new content from Brian that will really help your article marketing campaigns if you decide to implement this marketing method. […]


Pingback by More On Building Traffic with Article Marketing » Entrepreneur’s Journey - by Yaro Starak — March 22, 2006 #



I use Article Post Robot. They even take payments for there software. My articles are showing up everywhere. And they submit to Ezine Articles. Just type in the name


Christine Bettridge


If you want to help a fellow submitter out you can order it through my website. It is located on the right hand side of the site. it looks like a blue box and it says articlepostrobot


The website is http://aboveallcontent.com


Comment by Christine — March 28, 2006 #




Discovered this blog when searching in Google for 1. entrepreneurs

2. (search within results) submit articles.

My friend and book coach, Judy Cullins, uses article submissions to great results.


Her suggestions are to submit more than on e at a time (5++) to a site. You can also train an $8.00 person to do same and submit weekly.


All your insights, ie, artilce title and keywords are valid.


Check out her site at:


for more linspiration.


I think for mini-internet saturation, this works.


Also, try a google alert with the title, or just your name, to see where your articles are coming up, esp from the warehouses that provide these articles to non-writers.


I have more of my articles on the internet than I do on my site. Cheaper.So far.


May thx,


Joanne Victoria


Comment by Joanne Victoria — April 18, 2006 #



A handy guide to those who have no idea about marketing their sites over the net


Comment by evision — May 17, 2006 #



Articlemuse.com is an article directory just like ezinearticles.com!


Comment by free article search engine — May 19, 2006 #



EzineArticles and ArticleMarketer have worked really well in raising my profile, though some of my early articles were scraped and appeared on splogs. That aside, it’s been a very effective tool. Great, balanced article.


Comment by Sharon Hurley Hall — May 25, 2006 #



There is also a free article submitter for article directories based on article dashboard.


Comment by Online Backgammon News — May 29, 2006 #



I write a lot for www.oocuz.com the revenue sharing article directory

The owner is some german guy that let you place your own advertisement in the membersarea and it shows up 100% of the time in your own articles so you get the full revenue that is generated trough clicks.


But ezinearticles.com is 100% an articles directory where one must submit, because its really well known.


Comment by peter — August 3, 2006 #



Seems like I am a little late responding….


I just wanted to give you my thoughts on article marketing. I have used this method for a variety of clients from the wedding industry to VoIP and I have had great results. However, I am sure that we all know that this should not be the only tactic employed in a marketing strategy. The number one rule of course is to write a good article that has value and educates the target consumer. Most of the articles I see are a few paragraphs of gibberish that just link to an adsense sites; and that irritates the crap out of me.


Article directories come a dime a dozen and I don’t submit them to each one. I have a select few that I have had outstanding results from.


- Ezinearticles.com

- Goarticles.com

- Aricledashboard.com

- Articlesfactory.com

- Arrivenet.com

- ArticleAlley.com

- And a few others.


I also submit my articles to Findarticles.com, Marketingprofs.com and Webpronews.com; although these are harder to get into.


If you are writing articles to promote your own business, I would refrain from posting the entire article in your blog. Instead, post a quick summary of why you wrote the article and then link to it somewhere it has been posted online. My blog isn’t like that yet but I am not thinking very strategic at the moment.



Michael Brito



Comment by Michael Brito — August 13, 2006 #



Hi Yaro,


Ive also had great results using article marketing. Please feel free to check out my recent project at articlemessenger.com We will soon have our Article Distribution Service up and running.






Comment by Helen Morris — August 28, 2006 #



Article submission is perhaps one of the best ways to leverage your products and services on the Internet.


Link Exchange is dead like a dodo.


One should dwell more on “quality” than on “quantity.” One well written article will do you a lot more good than numerous short and less captivating ones.


Write articles that people will “want” to post on their blogs and websites - That’s where the traffic is. Just filling up an article directory will do you no good.


Here is my two cents on article submission - perhaps the best SEO Tool.


Comment by James Opiko — September 12, 2006 #



James. I agree with you 100%. I just posted something similar in my blog.




Comment by Michael Brito — September 13, 2006 #





I read your post with great interest because I am one week into doing this very same test. I have been a freelance writer since 1993 and have been have a niche site online since 1999.


I’ve been a part of the Google Adsense program for about a year and a half. I’ve made decent pocket money with this program, without putting any effort into it. All I did was slap the ads on the pages and forgot them.


I’ve also been marketing with articles for about 3 years now — submitting to a few major directories a couple of times a month (mainly ezinearticles.com and ideamarketers.com).


Upon deciding that I wanted to create more passive income, I decided to give article marketing a REAL try. I decided to submit one article to 25 top-rated directories for 30 days straight.


Only a week into it, my Google Adsense income has quintupled (increased 5 times) and my subscriber rate has increased 3 fold. And this is after ONE WEEK.


Now, my site has been around a while, but my Alexa rank sucks (although my site does have a PR rank of 6).


Anyway, given these very early results, I’d say that article marketing does work. BUT, you only get out of it what you put into it. I’ve been submitting articles manually and it does take up a chunk of time — about 2 hours a day.


I’m always skeptical of “easy” money-making techniques, but I’d read so much about article marketing and had experienced newsletter growth from limited efforts with it in the past, so I wanted to see what it would be like if I really pushed it.


Now, if I could just get some feedback from users on which article submission software to use — that would be great.


Sorry to be so long-winded, but I wanted your readers to have a complete picture so they could understand my conclusion about article marketing.


Continued success to you, and thanks for the post.



Yuwanda Black, Publiser




Comment by Yuwanda Black — October 26, 2006 #



Hi Yuwanda,


Thanks for your report and congratulations that’s some awesome work.


This article is still part one for me, and later, probably next year when I have my blog traffic products to promote, I will start a serious article marketing campaign again.


I believe article marketing can certainly be effective but it really does depend on what you write about.


What topic area are you using for your article marketing campaign?


When I did it I was promoting in the very popular “Internet Marketing” area where, to be honest, the market is very skeptical and loaded with bad information, which made my campaign that much harder I believe.




Comment by Yaro — October 26, 2006 #





Regarding your question:


I write about the business of creative freelancing. Offically, my site is THE business portal for and about freelancing in the editorial and creative communities.


I owned an editorial staffing agency in NYC for 8 years and have been in publishing since 1987, so it’s a topic I have a lot of experience with.


And, you’re absolutely right, most info out there on internet marketing is not honest, so it was refreshing to read your very detailed and honest post.


I’ll keep you abreast of my little experiment.


Continued success!

Yuwanda Black, Publiser




Comment by Yuwanda Black — October 27, 2006 #





FYI, I updated my blog about how my article marketing experiment is going.


Many people have written me to be sure to keep them informed. I don’t know if some of them came from your blog, so I’m sending you this little note so that you can let your readers know how it’s going.


All this week (10/30/06 thru 11/3/06) I will be updating the blog with details of my article marketing experiment. It ends on 11/18/06.


My blog is at http://www.InkwellEditorial.blogspot.com.



Yuwanda Black, Publisher




Comment by Yuwanda Black — October 31, 2006 #



[…] Yuwanda Black, who blogs at Creative & Editorial Freelancing, recently left comments on one of my older posts reviewing my efforts at article marketing - Is Article Marketing Worth Your Time?. […]


Pingback by Follow Yuwanda Black’s Article Marketing Case Study » Internet Marketing | Entrepreneurs-Journey.com - by Yaro Starak — October 31, 2006 #


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