The web is undergoing another major shift right now.
The first shift was from direct navigation and directories to search.
SEO was all the rage and we are Foliovision were and are very good at it.
The next stage now is Online Communities or The Social Web.
Manifestations of online communities:
- social websites like MySpace and LiveJournal (perhaps the more exotic AdultFriendFinder could be included in this group)
- forums (countless, for every industry there are usually a few big ones: one of the originals was slashdot)
- social bookmarking sites (delicious and digg spring to mind)
- specialty topic sites like WikiPedia or Squidoo
What's bad about this is that all the black hat search guys are coming up with ways to pollute these communities. At one webmaster forum there are hundreds of paid forum posters available to go out and sign up accounts and start spewing out whatever you want in mainly broken English for literally pennies per post. These guys are harder to catch than the black hat forum and comment bots so the human version must be considered worse.
A very interesting discussion on Aaron Wall's SEOBook about whether Google is contributing to web spam. The best part is in the comments (sorry Aaron!) where two readers to the numbers on AdWords for relatively high priced PPC words.
Basically they just don't add up.
We've been contending with a pricing model for our clients at Foliovision. As Foliovision has grown outside its old bounds as a single person company doing relatively contained projects, our rates have had to rise.
It's not such a problem as we are a lot more productive.
There are two primary models: flat fee and pay-per-hour.
In principle, flat-fee is more profitable (if you charge $1000 but through automatisation can get your time to render the project down to 2 hours from 12 hours you've just made $500/hour instead of $80/hour.
On the other hand, we mainly do made-to-measure work. There is rarely the opportunity to automatise to that extent. We get exponentially better results in our markets than the competition so made-to-measure clearly works.
With made-to-measure work one can spend more time quoting and negotiating spec back and forth than working.
Gradually the client can grow to hate your emails demanding expansion of project scope and budget. Generally the (busy) client would prefer to pay more for something delivered with no hassle, complete and working. Then he or she only pays once for the project, instead of twice.
Twice is their time spent micromanaging what ends up costing more or less the same anyway.
Contrarian business advice from Trizle is always a thrill.
For a taste, Why You Need a Chaotic Business:
Order = Bad Advice
The dude’s well-intentioned “let’s-order-everything, cuz-we’re-like-the-world’s-nerdiest-businesspeople” mindset stands as one of the several “bad, bad, bad” advices we received when we started.
Why? The mindset drives you to do nothing. Nada. Standstill. Blah.
- Instead of moving forward, you’re documenting.
- Instead of increasing sales, you’re recording every little detail of your past order.
- Instead of improving employee morale, you’re entering data of past employee feedback.
- Instead of fattening your bottom line online, you’re trying to perfect every freakin’ detail of your freakin’ website that’s going to take a freakin’ looooong time.
I think the Trizle guy has the E-Myth myth guy clearly in his targets. Michael Gerber is obsessed with turning every company into McDonalds, turning every company into a turnkey franchise.
I am having to learn copywriting (quite a bit of the poetry I wrote in my twenties was published so I have hope of managing copy too).
I wish I had more clients who could write copy as well. What any website needs is more great copy. As opposed to machine generated or offshore article spam (most of the article spam comes from the Philipines and India; why? both countries have large populations of fluent if not particularly literate English speakers for higher for pennies on the dollar).
In any case, one of the keys to great copy is the headline.
How does one make a good headline even better
Sometimes a website can be setup to help one party and instead help another.
For one of my websites, I need to license some photos.
I haven’t had the right language for the contract. I looked at the contracts from the stock agencies but they were way too elaborate. I tried to find a local lawyer but none of them were competent in intellectual property. I sent somebody to contact the international law firms but they wanted thousands of dollars.
Thanks to Carolyn Wright, I now have my new contract by piecing together the parts which are supposed to worry photographers.
I did rewrite my contract to make it more fair to the photographer, allowing exhibition and print rights.
My main concern is to ensure that these images don’t turn up on other websites.
I ran across the most amazing niche website yesterday – dedicated to the possibility of a crash in house prices in the UK…. His forecast for house prices is for “a 30 to 40 per cent fall over the next three to four years”, a fall he describes as “a healthy correction”.
Great guidance on how to anonymise your surfing via proxies:
The danger is that unless you do it just right you risk more than you gain. Specifically that the proxy holder can grab all your unencrypted passwords (email, site logins).
Our clients are ready for another round of SEO.
One component we will be doing more of in this round is directories. It’s too tedious and slow to have someone senior do it.
There are lots of directory submission services.
But you want to be sure to be applying to directories worth being listed in.
Here is a very good list of directories which are mainly pay for play.
Here is another list of quality directories which are mainly free.
For project preparation, you should fill in the data in the form at addurl.nu for each site for which you are creating a directory campaign.
Another huge concern with a directory campaign is having too many links come online at the same time. One can count on the search engines not to index all the directories at the same time so that the new links will appear more gradually, especially on the more obscure regional categories.
On the other hand, it would make sense to go through a hundred directories per month to avoid any sudden surge.
Even with these vetted lists, I worry that too many of them wouldn’t pass my own bad neighbourhood test.
Dynadot is a great company. Nowhere better to register one’s domain names.
- fair prices
- great backend interface
- fast loading website (for a domain registrar where one spends a lot of time doing repetitive actions, speed is extremely important
- telephone support
But lately Dyandot has been getting a lot of bad press for purportedly selling names their customers are searching for.
When doing bulk seraches for available names, make sure you stay away from DYNADOT. In the last few days I had few names I queried about (that were avaibale at the time) registered by somebody else withing 24-48 hrs. (including some by that notorious serial registrant "Mrs. Jello" from this board).
Dynadot is obviously selling their query logs to the likes of that slimy character, so beware.
Okay, world, take a deep breath. This does happen. Last year there was a domain that I really, really wanted. I’d spent a week thinking about the name, looking at what was available and finally leaped, two days after having queried initially. Bingo, the domain was gone. This was on the .at registrar.
This was not a topical, news type domain name so it had nothing to do with collective consciousness or spiritus mundi.
In 5 days I received about 25 applications. Of these 25 applicants, 20 of them had a better combination of skill set and experience than any resume that I have had float across my desk in the last year....My providers are highly skilled, great communicators, detail oriented, affordable, and they WANT TO WORK! When is the last time you went to the university down the street and picked up a developer with those credentials?
I've checked the resumés myself and Adam's right.
Actually oDesk is more than a place for outsourcing, but a whole system for hiring and managing coders. It's rather techcentric. It's not the sort of thing that a client would enjoy managing (one does need to know how to spec a project in technical terms and how to speak to a developer). It's something for someone like me with one foot in the commercial realm and the other on the technical side. But to be honest I would probably have John do most of the developer management (depending on the project).
We are planing to start using article marketing much more often this year for our clients. While the train may have left the station for Internet Marketing or Make Money at Home hype articles, with complete oversaturation of those markets, my sense is that there is still lots of demand for quality, original content in other subjects.
EzineArticles.com seems to be the place to start (and strangely enough they allow affiliate links in articles now).
Beyond EzineArticles, what are the top article directories to submit to?
It’s not as easy as it looks. Here’s one guy’s experience:
I’ve been getting my ass handed to me by Google trying to promote "successful" clickbank products. Seems the product owner and one affiliate are making sales but not me even with good ctr and position. Tried direct linking and also landing page. Still no sales. I do believe you that this works, however, for every clickbank product that ranks fairly high it seems there are always other affiliates already kicking it. How does someone like me, a newbie, compete with the dozens of other affiliates, LIKE YOU? How many people can play this game like you and sustain numerous losing campaigns before a winner comes along? So far every product I’ve picked seems to have a few successful affiliates already, so what makes me think I can beat them (you) if they’re more savvy marketers than me? I really struggle with the selection process because it just seems like a roll of the dice
What’s hilarious is Andre Chaperon – full-time internet marketer since 2003 – spent a month working on a campaign and documenting. At the end of the day, he managed 18% ROI. He blames it on a mistake setting his PPC prices, but making a mistake seems to be part of the territory. There are a lot of things to go wrong.
For me, it’s like chess. A great way to practice hunting big game.
This tip comes from one of those hardcore marketing sites. What do I mean by hardcore? They are selling marketing education to marketers or even to non-marketers (hardcore giveaway in the excerpt below: dubious punctuation and capitalisation).
But as our clients move to building prospect lists and incorporating informative sequential autoresponders, we are seeking ways to get more people to offer their information. It’s not easy.
But one answer was sitting right in front of us. If we can put a search box on every page, why not an opt-in box?
What should you have on every page of that website???? Answer: An Opt-in form.I’m as serious as a Heart Attack and a MAJOR Stroke combined. Your Opt-in Form should be on every page of your website, it gives the surfer/visitor multiple chances to Opt-in to your service, free report, eCourse etc.I don’t know what you’ve been told in the past but the above steps Blows Everything Else Out Of The Water when creating a presence on the internet and garnering Opt-ins.
Speaking of which, where is the opt-in box for Foliovision?
Many people are focused on duplicate content penalties. I’ve haven’t seen the duplicate content issues as big a problem as people make it out to be but here are some very helpful tips on handling vBulletin to reduce any chance of duplicate indexing.
1) disable the "search engine friendly" archive. All this does is create a duplicate copy of your entire site, which is what we are trying to avoid.
2) Add the following entries to your robots.txt file This will stop bots from crawling pages they don’t need to crawl:
Disallow: /sendpm.php3) eliminate the " Â« Previous Thread | Next Thread Â» " bread crumb at the bottom of threads. This can be found near the bottom of the "SHOW THREADS" template. The problem is that these two links create two additional copies of threads (e.g. /forum/showthread.php?t=87654&goto=nextoldest). This is bad, very bad and how many people actually notice these links actually exist let alone use them? Oh and yes DP needs to kill these two links.
This is good advice for any CMS. Just use the robots.txt file to handle the principal crawlers and keep one’s site out of trouble. Some of these shopping sites should do the same thing with their multiple access points to the same material.
As most of you know by now we are big users of Ecto for editing our weblogs, across all platforms including WordPress and Typepad. Lack of Ecto support for WordPress is one of the main reasons I stuck with Typepad so long. Ecto just makes things so much faster and more convenient.
One very large irritation when using Ecto with WordPress is the inability to get a hold of the Pages section via XML-RPC. Developer Adriaan Tijsseling is tired of questions about why doesn’t this work, pointing out quite curtly in his Ecto 3 progress notes that it’s not in his power to fix:
Pages isn’t in the API for editing blogs, so if you want to edit pages, you have to ask WP to allow editing pages via the API. It’s nothing any blog client can implement.
There are two solutions out there. One is to modify the core WordPress files, specifically wp-includes/functions-post.php.
John prefers that we not modify any core files for the sake of future compatibility (we got burned on this on what is now a very difficult upgrade on another CMS platform).
Andrew Grant has come up with a WordPress plugin to allow all sorts of games with keywords and to improve compatibility with Windows Live Writer (whatever WLW is).
His plugin has some side benefits:
Static WordPress pages (e.g. â€˜Aboutâ€™) can be edited via Ecto / Windows Live Writer.
I suspect we’ll go this route. Unfortunately I want to edit my pages now (and need Ecto to do so efficiently).
We’ll get there.
This is a great commercial website which has really taken advantage of online video – they call it Topskips TV but it’s really just rubbish bins.
A very visual demonstration of their rubbish containers of different sizes, it’s certainly easy to watch.
Topskips TV has convinced of the value of video on the web. It certainly beats all those terrible camstasia cameras recorded computer screens.
We plan to bring video to most of foliovision clients websites in the new year.
Finally, we’ll go full circle – from television producer to web design company to online marketing company to television producer!
A very interesting discussion at Slashdot earlier this month about how to stop spam.
There were many suggestions involving images with obscured characters, but that's just not acceptable for business.
What do we do for our own clients to lighten the spam load?