The pitch is this: We’ll sell you a blog, and your content will live alongside that of Forbes’ journalists and bloggers. This isn’t the “sponsored post” of yore; rather, it is giving advocacy groups or corporations such as Ford or Pfizer the same voice and same distribution tools as Forbes staffers, not to mention the Forbes brand.
“In this case the marketer or advertiser is part of the Forbes environment, the news environment,” Mr. DVorkin said.
If that stuff has legs & spreads across most the major media sites then Google’s “authority first” relevancy algorithm strategy is dead.
Google has always considered paid links bad (as Forbes certainly knows) but as paid content spreads how will Google fight it? And if that content contains links then is it still a paid link? Will Google once more end up purging the payola?
The other question is … when media has tons of press releases alongside the articles, what value add is there for consumers to pay attention to the media? And if the media teaches advertisers to create their own media, won’t many of those advertisers do so on their own websites & cut the mainstream media out of the loop?SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.
Anyone over the age of 30 who spends any amount of time online has to be aware of the gradual erosion of online privacy and how we are slowly moving to a point where our online life has become opted-in by default.
A disturbing trend among people in the valley and other technology centric locations is the subjugation or near-complete surrender of one’s work, one’s copyright, intellectual property, and sometimes complete self to the great computer singularity (a concept I am shamelessly stealing from Jaron Lanier). All of your work and data becomes part of the collective sum of information. The value of the individual is subservient to the singularity of data. Your work, even if it’s under copyright, is used and often abused in mashups by others building and growing this singularity. Your sense of self worth and individuality are, as Mark Zuckerberg would have you believe, not your own: they belong to the collective body sum of human knowledge. If he sells it to the highest bidder, you shouldn’t have done it if you didn’t want that to happen
This isn’t just a Facebook only trend. Google has been opting you into things automatically whenever they wanted to for years. In fact at this point it’s standard operating procedure. If they opt you into a program that puts your life in jeopardy with your abusive ex husband … oops! Sorry, our bad. We’ll try harder next time to not invade your privacy. But really we are working towards this singularity of storing all the world’s information. And not to worry: our leader Eric Schmidt says you just shouldn’t do things you don’t want online, like have an extra marital girlfriend. Don’t worry–Google will find out about it (when they invade your privacy by snooping your wifi networks, emails, passwords, and lord knows what else).
Now, bloggers, who often fancy themselves as reporters, are considering your tips as opt-in by default. Send them a tip and, unless you explicitly tell them otherwise, they will sell you down river almost as fast as Mark Zuckerberg will. When I grew up, we were taught the value of trust, and confidentiality was the normal rule when dealing with the press and reporters. That’s not the case anymore. Silicon valley wingnuts, who have a zealot-like, almost-religious devotion to building and becoming part of the computer singularity they are constructing, will sacrifice your privacy on the altar faster than an Aztec Priest could ever rip out your still-beating heart and spill your blood on the steps of a ziggurat.
Welcome to the age of enlightenment and progress …!
I’ve long stated that I prefer full feeds over partial feeds. Now that I’ve spent the past few weeks using an iPad, I feel even more strongly that full feeds are the way to go and that offering partial feeds is an obstacle to getting your posts read by as many people as possible.
Two sites I read on a regular basis that offer partial feeds are Search Engine Land and Wired Magazine. I like both websites and read them on a mostly daily basis, using a either Google reader or the Newsrack iPad app. In an effort to be clear, I’ll disclose that I am also a regular columnist for Search Engine Land.
My typical routine includes scanning the list of feeds 1-3 times per day. If an article is interesting and something I want to read, I’ll send it off to Instapaper to read on the iPad while I’m at the gym later that day or (if absolutely necessary) on the laptop. The iPad has really affected the way I consume. It’s much easier to read on the iPad than it is on a laptop or desktop computer.
When I encounter a partial feed, it’s problematic because I have to send it through a middle service provided by Google. Google actually scrapes the content and provides a “light” version. You can see an example at this URL or the screen shot below.
As use of blackberries, iPhones, iPads, android, smart phones, and other Internet consumption appliances increases, I think it’s time that publishers rethink the use of partial feeds. Providing content that has barriers to consumption isn’t a smart long term solution.
The most common argument revolves around advertising and not being able to include it in the feeds. To be honest, this really isn’t a valid argument. There is a lot of off the shelf space available right now for free. You can use the feed footer to randomly insert advertising links in the bottom of each post. Want the ads at the top? Use the RSS Footer and you’re all set. If you need a more sophisticated solution you should have enough of a budget to build a custom plugin.
The next biggest argument is that the posts will get scraped. Getting scraped sucks but, to be honest, it’s a non issue most of the time since Google is pretty good at figuring out the original. They aren’t perfect, but they are right more often than they are wrong. Lastly in most cases getting scraped works to your advantage.
Another solution would be to turn full feeds into a revenue-generating opportunity. You could offer partial feeds for free, and publish full feeds using a subscription model. Give each subscriber a unique feed that redirects to the full feed published at a secret URL. If the subscription is expired redirect to a partial feed. Change the full feed secret URL every month to eliminate people sharing or getting access when the subscription expires. Concerned about people republishing? Embed a unique identifier in each feed in the form of a tracking bug. Its not a perfect or foolproof solution, but it’s a big step forward.
I think it’s time for publishers to rethink using partial feeds as consumption habits change and devices allow content to be read in new ways. Publishers have to adjust and make changes.
PS: I’ve read a lot of reports about mobile consumption and, unless you are delivering rich media, you should consider providing a “lite” or “mobile” version. If you view this website on an iPhone, iPad, blackberry, or even a Wii, you’ll see a slightly different version. I use the wptouch plugin with some custom user agent settings, and it works pretty well.
photo credit: Yutaka Tsutano
This post originally came from Michael Gray who is an SEO Consultant. Be sure not to miss the Thesis WordPress Theme review.
A Look at Full and Partial Feeds in an Increasingly Mobile World
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A lot of people who are well known as SEOs spend too much time on self promotion and not enough time on business development. BTW I would classify myself as being in that camp, though I have been slowly migrating since meeting my wife
So much of SEO stuff is sorta ego in place of performance IMHO. And the problem when you hire top SEOs is that even if they have a strong brand and do great work on their own sites, the market pricing for services tends to be so dysfunctionally under-priced that…
Getting serious cashflow out of servicing the SEO market is akin to squeezing water out of a rock, especially when compared against running your own websites.
To me, the measure of an SEO’s success is not in their knowledge, but in their ability to leverage their knowledge to build cashflow. I know money isn’t everything, but we live in a world where the algorithms grow more complex every day. So each day you are working for less than your market value is a day closer you are to being broke!
Spamming and jamming can get you some paydays, but its not easy to *consistently* pull down 7 or 8 figures a year in profit if you are not building at least 1 or 2 properties with serious staying power and momentum behind them.
Given the complexity of SEO and the lack of liquidity in the SEO market I think that by and large the best SEOs who generate the greatest profits derive most of their profits from publishing. Given that I thought I would highlight some of the people who I would view as top SEOs (and why).
Few people have Danny’s knowledge about the history of and trends in search. Even fewer have that type of knowledge while being accessible. And even fewer yet would have been able to put a decade in building up momentum for a brand and website in the industry, stop, start over from scratch, and compete against what they had built for a decade.
Imagine the strongest site you have, giving it a decade of effort, and then one day trying to start from scratch competing directly against it with a similar business model. And yet he pulled it off.
They built a software program which is almost as sweet as cloaking would be (if you could get away with doing it constantly with no risk), but partnered with the right kinds of (big brand) companies and branded their GravityStream solution appropriately such that it was never viewed by Google from a negative lens. This created a business model where they could get paid based on performance (like many affiliates do) but be paid for the performance of the core brand website!
NetConcepts was sold to the SEM company Covario, which will be able to benefit from tying the GravityStream technology to their predictive analytics and Google’s quick-indexing caffeine search results.
As people, at this point I don’t really trust or respect them (and feel that those who do might be in for some eventual bad news). But as far as being efficient at running businesses, few can compare. Patrick took a gamble and build the Text Link Ads link brokerage into a company he was able to sell for mid 8-figures. And his latest venture in the SEO space was so bold as to call “ensure you are not buying any links” an advanced SEO tip. Meanwhile on Andy’s personal site he recommends iAcquire for your link buying needs
Not content with sitting on the results from TLA, they invested the proceeds (and other investor funds) into building a domain portfolio that even Kevin Ham or Frank Schilling would admire. But they also turned those domain names into functional websites, and have kept cost structures low, while creating blogs with more top x lists than the rest of the web combined and sending out millions of “congrats” emails at potential link sources. The net result? They have built a lead generation business that has been rumored to be pulling in 8 figures a year.
Wherever there is an economic distortion in the economy leading to a large bubble you can bet these guys have at least a half dozen to a few hundred sites, chipping away at the markets 24/7/365. And the only thing increasing faster than their scale is their efficiency!
I always hate when I see Matt Cutts listed on top SEO lists and think “hey he is not even an SEO”
how many SEOs have seen Google’s source code? How many have written a good chunk of it? As one of the top few search engineers at Google, Matt not only has a pulse on what is changing with the web, but he constantly tracks & battles the evolution of spam. His knowledge and experience set allows him to just look at a search result and be able to spot the algorithmic weaknesses & exploits at a glance.
Further, Matt Cutts is better at public relations than 99% of public relations experts are. He is able to constantly promote Google products and engage in issue shaping while rarely being called out for it. And he rarely makes *any* mistakes on the public relations front, even when defending some of Google’s most bogus & hypocritical policies.
Imagine if your company had a b/s slogan of “don’t be evil” while operating with the above strategy. And yet he somehow manages to make it work.
Imagine entering an industry pulling in attention by calling everyone in the industry a bunch of scumbags – stating that you will clean things up through the use of manual intervention. Then imagine using the economic downturn to fire almost all your editorial employees and leveraging your built up domain authority to create a low quality automated general purpose web scraper, which stuffs Google with indexing their own search results (heavily wrapped in ads). And then imagine link farming to build authority, then using the leverage of that platform to start selling SEO services to corporate clients & selling links!
When Matt Cutts described scraper sites a few years back he said they were “shoot-on-sight“. And yet Jason’s crappy site keeps gaining traffic while almost never adding any value anywhere.
Whenever I think of Mr. Anus, I picture a used car salesman who moved to the state which doesn’t have a lemon law just so he could get the enjoyment of duping people with broken cars. And yet somehow he manages to pull it off. For public relations brilliance he gets a +1. And the same goes for claiming ignorance of SEO and claiming to be anti-spam so he can get away with passing his spam garbage off onto everyone else while rendering Google’s spam team flacid.
In 1999 Richard Rosenblatt was able to sell iMall (have you ever heard of it?) for over a half-billion Dollars. He then sold MySpace near the top for 0 million. Trying to strike gold once more, he formed Demand Media and bought eHow.com to build a search-arbitrage content farm. Once growth rates began to slow he then created a controversy by trying to legitimize his model in the media, building his site tons more links. He then used that platform as a success story to get other publishing websites to engage in profit-sharing partnerships where he posts articles on huge trusted authoritative domains like USAToday.com.
Now Demand Media is rumored to be gearing up for an IPO or sale:
Demand Media, a closely watched startup that mines online search engine data to generate thousands of videos and web stories a day, has hired Goldman Sachs to explore an initial public offering.
People familiar with the plans say the company could file for an IPO as early as August. Details have yet to be finalised, but the discussions involve pricing shares around November in an offering valuing the company at about .5bn.
A little known fact amongst the SEO industry is that Richard also is the chairman of iCrossing, which is currently being rumored for sale to Hearst Publishing for ~ 0 million:
Under the deal, which is in the final stages of negotiations, iCrossing, one of the nation’s biggest independent digital-marketing shops, is likely to fetch about 5 million, plus bonus payments if it reaches certain targets, these people said.
One person familiar with the matter cautioned that iCrossing, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz., could still decide to remain independent if it doesn’t attract the right price.
Nice side gig!
That guy flat out prints money. If he keeps it up, in a few years he might put Ben Bernanke to shame.
Over the past few years certainly Jeremy Shoemaker, Brian Clark, and SugarRae have built up some nice empires – each with a vastly different approach. The Caveman is great at tying SEO metrics into real world marketing advice, and has the cashflow to prove it. In terms of being great at building on the consulting model, Bruce Clay comes to mind. Tim Armstrong is tasked with turning around AOL, and if he is successful with it he would deserve a mention. I would also put Cygnus high on any SEO list, but he tends to be a bit shy, and is not very boastful in terms of what he has accomplished. John Andrews would make the list too, but then he doesn’t like lists! SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.