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Payday Loan Blog - SEO

 Thursday, 28 June 2007

The IAC Report Card

Next in our series of acquisition report cards for “search” companies, we turn to IAC. Previously we scored Google and Yahoo. How will IAC stack up to these two search powerhouses?

Reading further, we come away thinking that IAC is more similar to Yahoo than it is to Google, with a spammier feel, but a stronger domainer brand focus.

To understand the future, we once again need to peer into the past. With the help of the IAC’s major holdings page, the following is an attempt to score each holding. A “good” or “bad” acquisition is based solely on whether IAC has done anything useful, to date, with that holding, in terms of integration with the rest of the network. Since we have no real insight into the depths of IAC, in terms of key engineers that might have floated from one project to another, it is conjecture at best. But hey, we hope you enjoy the analysis anyhow.






(The original focus, so it is difficult to judge; but there is serious volume behind the home shopping network)

Cornerstone Brands


(Mostly 2nd and third tier brands, which isn’t great, but they are salable through channels such as HSN)



(Same situation as Cornerstone…the brands are marginal, but is better when coupled with the right sales channels)

Ballard Designs


(Again, the same as Cornerstone…most of the brands I’ve not heard of, but it is solid when pushed through the right sales channel)



(not the best brands, but looking at the site, they integrated the other properties nicely)

Garnet Hill


(Another 2nd/3rd tier brand that is packaged well with the owned sales channels)

Grandin Road


(Though it may seem repetitive, this is clearly their business model…buy a weak brand and push sales through the owned channels)

Home Focus


(see above; weak brand, good sales channel integration)

Individual Original Style


(Again with the weak brand and strong channel integration)

Isabella Bird


(If only IAC bought strong brands as well; they’d be unstoppable by now)

Smith + Noble


(another positive for the weak brand is that it does tie in well with some of the other weak home focus brands)

Territory Ahead


(For people that want the experience of REI without driving 2 blocks? Still, at least it has the channel integration)

Travel Smith


(It feels like the softer side of sears, but with links to Hotwire)



(This should be doing better, given the lack of real competition online for the general shoe market; sales integration props up a bad to a mixed)



(it isn’t, but it isn’t far off either. A decent brand with a good complimentary sales channel is “good”)



(They are missing the opportunity to build an overstock competitor, but at least can integrate this with the other weak brands)



(If you can’t read it, it’s because you can’t read Japanese; an important market that they have a decent market share of)



(This is going to be their Chinese version of ShopChannel, which is their Japanese version of HSN. We’ll see if it works.)



(A great brand is important for aggregation, and they’re doing a good job with it)

Reserve America


(Something of a weak brand, but when coupled with services like Hotire, it is at worst a “mixed”)



(Though by itself it isn’t much; it reinforces the original Ticketmaster brand)

Reseau Admission


(Similar to Ticketweb in that it reinforces the market leader position of Ticketmaster)



(Like Admission, but German instead of French)

Billet Service


(Norwegian version of reinforcing the market leader…I’m begging to like Ask’s aggregator strategy a lot more than their retailing strategy at this point)



(same as above)



(same as above)

Live Daily


(While not the best brand for actual concert news, that it ties in directly to Tickemaster makes it good)

Tick Tack Ticket


(Another reinforcement to the market leader – when you are your best competitor, it is hard to lose)



(like Lippupalvelu and Kartenhaus)

Cotton Blend


(I didn’t see a real purpose for an external design firm; there are enough brands to simply develop internally for – cut out the sales force and shave costs)



(Anyone competing against them know how good they are; this is a huge plus for profits alone…but it can tie into the multitude of demographics gleaned from the weak consumer brads; kudos)


(Awesome domain name; easy tie in with LendingTree)



(In most cases, they are the chief competitor to Lendingtree on the affiliate biz…or were until they left CJ with 3 days notice)



(Weak brand, but it ties in with the compliments too well to be listed as “bad”)



(Same as iNet; sort of weak, but with great tie ins)



(This is a pretty good brand on its own, and it ties in well with the complimentary brands)

Service Magic


(I’d give it a mix, but it can be cross sold very well to people coming in through the new home loan channel, making it a solid fit)



(Similar to Service Magic; great fix on a so-so brand)


(Solid brand that can pull from consumer demographics as a primer)



(3 months ago it would be good due to the tie-ins and solid name, but now it is great due to the head-to-head fight with eharmony)



(Kinda weak brand, but subscription model businesses work, and there is no shortage of primer data to build that base up)


(Great name, salable product. I used to hate selling these things in high school though)

Sally Foster


(weak brand, strong channel backing it up)

Interval International


(again…weak brand, but great tie in with the demographic data at hand)

Live It Up


(So-so brand, but with the tie ins, I have to give it a “good”)

Condo Direct


(Just like Live It Up…power in the consumer data on hand)

Smiley Central


(I don’t even want to tell you how much they make from this annoying site…adware is a profitable business)



(lotteries are a tax on the stupid; iWon brings them all together)


(The brand itself is so-so at the moment, but it has great potential once the algorithmic quality is there, plus the tie ins make it insanely worthwhile)



(Personalized Ask at best, but it isn’t terrible. It’d be better just completely folded into Ask functionality)



(This was a has been, but string enough former stars together and you can get a massive gravity well behind the Ask brand)



(local search will become more and more important, and this is a good brand for it, though I feel that it should be incorporated into Ask like myway should be)



(Decent brand to bring people together; a service of Ask might be better – like Google does with its services and products, to reinforce the main brand)



(I would give it a mix, but with Feedburner getting picked up by Google, maybe Ask will use this better to understand consumer behavior)

IAC Advertising


(Like Adwords/Adsense, but a little weaker still)

Emerging Biz

(this is just an incredible domain name; it will be hard to screw up)

Emerging Biz

(A me-too at this point, but it could be decent with the right consumer product tie-ins)

College Humor

Emerging Biz

(By itself, mixed, when tied in with match and chemistry, good)


Emerging Biz

(Good concept for Ask to jump into, but at this point it is well behind Youtube)

Busted Tees

Emerging Biz

(A brand I’ve heard of backed by a very extensive sales channel can make this work)

Very Short List

Emerging Biz

(mostly because it is somewhat confusing. It reminds me of Amazon’s personalized products with Google search history…we’ll see what they do with it)

Judging IAC might be best on a per sector basis first, and then as a whole. As a whole, I’m actually surprised…before the research began, I didn’t realize to the extent they have stretched their corporate tentacles; their good sectors prop up their weaker sectors in a very intelligent way.

Retailing = Mixed
(mostly weaker brands that are pushed through some pretty good sales channels)

Aggregator = Good
(a lot of brand reinforcement and complimentary sales)

Subscription = Good
(mostly due to the dating sites)

Media = Good
(they have the opportunity to tie together their media properties into something to rival Yahoo at the very least)

Emerging Biz = Mixed
( alone makes it good, but some of the other services could be more miss than hit).

The aggregator market is actually better than it appears because aggregation markets prosper when they have access to a lot of consumer information, which they would have due to the retailing market…very clever. The same trend continues throughout their business model.

What is the strength of having a dozen 2nd tier retail sites? Consumer information. How can that consumer information be best used? Dating, mortgages, more consumer products. This Diller guy seems to know what he’s doing. If Yahoo ever gets its act together and ties together the various networks it owns, then the value of that one yahoo account to control everything climbs exponentially. For IAC, a renter that buys a pair of pants online might be in the market for a house, and then in the market for some home improvement. Is the person single? Sell some dating services. What if that person came through on the HSN? Well, send them to iwon and smileycentral, pushing brands all the way.

We have not heard the last of IAC; my prediction is that Diller will continue to quietly purchase mid-brand consumer goods companies/sites, premium domains, and build/buy strong aggregator brands. How long until they own a couple travel aggregators beyond their current deals with Hotwire? If I were in IAC corporate strategy, I’d be bristling with excitement right about now. With that much consumer information, the world is theirs.


Thursday, 28 June 2007 08:45:27 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
 Monday, 11 June 2007

The Yahoo Report Card

Based on the feedback received from a few social media sites, Digg especially, there was certainly interest in seeing how other major search companies fare in comparison to Google, on an acquisition basis. Well before Google started buying everything in site, Yahoo was the major acquirer of everything digital. How do these acquisitions measure up, in terms of helping to create an economic moat?

To understand the future, we once again need to peer into the past. With the help of the wiki article on Yahoo’s past acquisitions, the following is an attempt to score each acquisition. A “good” or “bad” acquisition is based solely on whether Yahoo has done anything useful, to date, with that acquisition. Since we have no real insight into the depths of Yahoo, in terms of key engineers that might have floated from one project to another, it is conjecture at best. But hey, we hope you enjoy the analysis anyhow.





Net Controls

September 1997

Software development

Mixed (A news ticker developer was their first acquisition. It is good in that it was originally considered a ‘killer app’, but bad in the sense didn’t really offer anything to Yahoo in business terms that couldn’t be easily developed)


October 1997


Good (Rocketmail became Yahoo Mail and is widely used today to keep people on Yahoo branded properties)

Classic Games

March 1998

Video Games

Good (freebie video games went hand-in-hand with the Yahoo Mail…this definitely shows their focus on capturing eyeballs)


June 1998

Online storefront

Mixed (it was good at the time for Yahoo to provide a solution, but lack of innovation on this product gives it a bad score…much more could have been done with the Yahoo stores to turn it into a de facto standard)


July 1998

Software development

Mixed (a calendar solution is good to have, but purchase of one that could be easily developed makes it a bad purchase, given that it didn’t help to capture and retain eyeballs)


December 1998

Direct Marketing

Mixed (Good talent purchased with the promise of prominent entertainment sites for their media empire, but what happened with it? Bad)


December 1998

Fantasy Sports

Bad (They basically just bought out a partner with a website as a way to remove competition, when that competitor wasn’t established. Yahoo fantasy sports has room for increasing eyeballs, but they didn’t need to buy anyone to do this)


January 1999

Data mining

Good (A CRM system to help understand the consumer only adds to core knowledge base)


February 1999

Bookmark manager

Bad (Bookmarks at the time were managed more at the browser level than an external software solution; little has changed)


May 1999

Personal websites

Mixed (Good in that this property held more promise than Google’s Blogger purchase. Bad in that it was never made a priority and exists side by side yahoo 360)


May 1999

Registration automation

Bad (there was no reason to spend $130M to help people register their hardware, then or now – it was supposed to help people get online, but that was never a focus for Yahoo)

Online Anywhere

June 1999

Content reformatting

Bad (Yahoo was never in the browser business and this was a browser solution)

July 1999

Streaming audio/video

Good (The cost was high, but for a “media” company, this represents an important purchase in terms of playing in a future channel)


November 1999


Mixed (bad in terms of unknown value due to lack of info; good in that it appears to be for audio/video data store that would tie into the broadcast purchase)

March 2000

Payment solutions

Mixed (Payment solutions would have been interesting to offer on the Yahoo stores; bad since it clearly failed and is now regulated to a parking page)


August 2000


Good (It is now a part of Yahoo Groups, but this is almost a “mixed” purchase since the Groups project has been largely neglected)


November 2000


Good (Yahoo intelligently made a foray into the Chinese and Japanese markets before many other online firms; their share is still strong in Japan)

April 2001


Mixed (Good in the sense of offering auctions, but the idea failed, and now it redirects to a real estate site)

Launch Media

June 2001


Good (Yahoo Music has been a useful product for the media company, in retaining eyeballs and eardrums)


January 2002


Mixed (At the time, Hotjobs as a strong competitor to Monster; since then hotjobs and Yahoo Jobs have taken a back seat innovation-wise)


December 2002


Good (Yahoo needed its own search technology in order to compete against Google)


October 2003


Good (Yahoo’s best purchase, profit wise, but still wasn’t given the attention it needed…and now is second fiddle to Adwords)

3721 Internet Assistant

January 2004


Bad (It should be obvious that this just isn’t a good thing for Yahoo to be doing, but still…it likely made them money)


April 2004

Price comparisons

Mixed (Good in that it has been profitable since 2002, but bad in the since it never really made sense for Yahoo to own and hasn’t been integrated)


July 2004


Good (Paid e-mail was good at the time for premium services, but now all those features are largely free)

The All-Seeing Eye

September 2004

videogame server browsing application & service

Good (this was helpful in integrating with the Yahoo Games)


October 2004


Good (complimentary purchase to expand the Yahoo Music brand)

Stata Labs

October 2004


Good (This would have mixed about a year ago, but the features from the “outlook killer” were finally integrated into Yahoo Mail)

WUF Networks

November 2004

Content control

Good (this allows for controls and access to a variety of multimedia, which a media firm should be good at handling)


February 2005

software development

Bad (it was intended to help mobile customers keep in synch with data, specifically Yahoo data. Again, this was not a ‘Yahoo’ issue though, but a device issue)

Ludicorp Research

March 2005


Mixed (Good in that it is a very strong social image brand, bad in that they haven’t integrated it yet into Yahoo. They really need to get better at the integration piece)


March 2005

cross-platform gaming technology

Mixed (multi-platform gaming could have been an intriguing fit for Yahoo Games, should that have been their primary focus. With Yahoo though, focus is an after thought, so as far as we know, it died)


April 2005

Brazilian performance-based advertising network

Good (Any performance-based advertising is key to Yahoo’s success)


June 2005


Good (Yahoo Voice could become the next Vonage, provided they support and nourish its growth)

June 2005


Mixed (This was a great idea for a purchase, in terms of aggregating content from a media control perspective, but again they didn’t do much other than throw a feature on My Yahoo)


July 2005


Good (This is still listed as good since it could be useful for Yahoo’s insanely large and diverse web empire, but given they went and purchased mybloglog that shows the tech was never really used much)


October 2005


Good (Yahoo needs all the help they can get promoting search as a brand, and Alibaba may eventually have intellectual capital in the area that exceeds Yahoo’s)

October 2005

Social Calendars

Mixed (Another social media site is great if truly integrated, but it isn’t…again)


October 2005


Good (Geolocational search will be very valuable as consumers demand localized results)

December 2005

Social bookmarking

Mixed (This is a very promising social bookmarking site that is heavily used, but if Yahoo doesn’t allow it to keep innovating and doesn’t share data with it from other social media sources, what will happen?)

SearchFox, WebJay

January 2006


Bad (A RSS reader was already purchased by Yahoo; this one also fell apart)


April 2006

Digital Media Management

Good (Yahoo’s core is media, so managing media is a helpful compliment)

September 2006


Good (Video editing and hosting could be a good rival to Youtube, if it ever is given internal capital from Yahoo)


October 2006

Rich Media creation

Good (An apparently compliment to Jumpcut, and possibly a future compliment to Overture and Right Media)

Kenet Works

November 2006

Social mobile

Good (Another social concept, with a mobile focus; the same questions remain given Yahoo’s non-integration)

November 2006


Good (Yahoo’s answer to Youtube? Still too early, and practically no buzz)


December 2006

Social Taiwan

Good (Another community, another question of integration)


January 2007

Blog widget

Bad ($10M for a widget that is slowly made into a heavily spammed social networking tool?)

Right Media

April 2007

Advertising platform

Mixed (Good that Yahoo decided to expand their performance-based advertising presence…bad that it only happened after Google bought Doubleclick and was followed by Microsoft’s monster purchase of Adquantive)


Remember that Google was rated at roughly a 3.5 GPA based on its “good”, “bad”, and “mixed” scores, so it was a tough task to measure up to. How did Yahoo do? To say that they’ve had a peanut butter strategy is an understatement – an outsider with no understanding would have a tough time figuring out core competence other than to say “they do something online;” however, the possibility does remain that especially with the sheer number of communities purchased, a simple and effective solution to tie the Yahoo brand and networkability back and forth could create a very powerful company…search at that point almost becomes an afterthought since a consumer of information can become a consumer of goods simply by virtue of connections.

So far, most of the purchases, from the outsider’s point of view, were made…well, simply because they were available. One would hope that an acquisition is made to bolster core search technologies, or expand advertising reach (given that Yahoo is more of a media company than a search company), or perhaps to extend web accessibility value chains and make sense of all the data. Unfortunately, this just didn’t happen, since Yahoo’s strategy, just looking above, has been to buy first and ask questions later. At the time of some purchases the ideas seem fantastic, but the execution has been horrendous… purchasing a key widget maker in 2005 but then not doing anything with it and thus having to purchase another widget in 2007 is unacceptable; given Yahoo’s strategy, I would not be surprised to see them acquire more search technology that never gets integrated, more social networking sites that don’t share information among a standards-based architecture, and the occasional completely unrelated purchase for the sake of spending money that could be spent overpaying a CEO 900+% against peer average (I kid… sort of.)

Does this mean that Yahoo isn’t likely to ever rival Google for online dominance? Most likely. While Yahoo gets more eyeballs to the entirety of its network, the network is so fragmented that its power doesn’t conform to Metcalfe’s law, and thus is underutilized.

It is only a matter of time before the Yahoo brand is purchased by a very smart media/tech company, with pieces spun off at top dollar, and the rest properly integrated to extract true value… IAC or Microsoft? eBay or Amazon? We’ll be watching.


Monday, 11 June 2007 10:01:15 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
 Thursday, 31 May 2007

The Google Report Card

You've probably been reading more and more about Google's recent acquisition binge, what it means to privacy, monopolistic concerns, etc. Unfortunately, I haven't been seeing enough of what it means to Google as a business.will they allow Google to grow more profitably in the future, will they create some sort of economic moat?

To understand the future, we need to peer into the past. With the help of the Wiki article on Google's past acquisitions, the following is an attempt to score each acquisition. A "good" or "bad" acquisition is based solely on whether Google has done anything useful, to date, with that acquisition. Since we have no real insight into the depths of Google, in terms of key engineers that might have floated from one project to another, it is conjecture at best. But hey, we hope you enjoy the analysis anyhow.

The Google Report Card

Date Company Business Area Good/Bad
September 20, 2001 Deja's Usenet archive Google Groups GOOD
(still being used and out of beta)
September 20, 2001 Outride, Inc. Online retrieval tech GOOD
(info retrieval is key to the search business)
February, 2003 Pyra Labs Blogger MIXED
(nothing has been done with blogger since the purchase, but money is made off of all the MFA sites)
April, 2003 Neotonic Software CRM technology MIXED
(good if you count automated support a positive thing; bad if you are trying to actually resolve an issue)
April, 2003 Applied Semantics Adwords / Adsense GOOD
(adwords and adsense made Google the money printer that it is)
September 30, 2003 Kaltix Search engine technology GOOD
(acquiring patents for the core business is almost always good)
May 10, 2004 Ignite Logic Template maker BAD
(aside from use in Blogger, where else does Google need templates?)
July 13, 2004 Picasa Photo management software MIXED
(bad in that they haven’t done anything with it yet, good in that they still could do a lot with it)
October 27, 2004 Keyhole, Inc. Google Earth GOOD
(a popular product with income potential)
Sept.-Dec., 2004 Where2 Google Maps GOOD
(a nice compliment to Google Earth)
Sept.-Dec., 2004 ZipDash Google Ride Finder GOOD
(if it ever gets out of beta it has potential)
2005 2Web Technologies Spreadsheets GOOD
(part of Google’s office suite)
March 28, 2005 Urchin Software Corporation Web stats GOOD
(Google gets more user data.information is power; a recurring theme)
May 12, 2005 Dodgeball Social networking BAD
(nothing was done with this)
July, 2005 Reqwireless Web browser and wireless e-mail MIXED
(good for near term, but long-term the only difference between a office computer and a phone is the browser agent is slightly tweaked)
July 7, 2005 Current Communications Group Broadband Internet GOOD
(this is really good. Control upstream data [more power] and bypass greedier cable companies)
August 17, 2005 Android PDA software BAD
(doubtful that PDA specific software will matter for too much longer - see Reqwireless)
November, 2005 Skia Graphics software GOOD
(part of Google's office suite)
November 17, 2005 Akwan Information Technologies Latin American Internet operations GOOD
(more upstream data; tap into a growing market)
January 17, 2006 dMarc Broadcasting Radio Advertising GOOD
(I think this might be one of their best purchases for expanding the ad network)
February 14, 2006 Measure Map Blog analysis GOOD
(more data, more power…and it can be useful in determining real blogs versus splogs)
March 9, 2006 Upstartle Word processing GOOD
(part of Google’s office suite)
March 14, 2006 @Last Software 3-D modeling GOOD
(possible part of Google’s office suite)
April 9, 2006 Orion Search GOOD
(again…core product is search)
August 15, 2006 Neven Vision Photo aggregator GOOD
(good if it truly is used with Picasa to do something useful)
October 31, 2006 JotSpot Wiki creator MIXED
(similar to Pyra purchase, in terms of controlling the means for people to get started online – good if executed)
November, 2006 Youtube Online video GOOD
(this is a big ad revenue stream about to pop)
December, 2006 Endoxon Mapping solutions GOOD
(technologies will compliment Earth and Maps)
January, 2007 Xunlei Network, file-sharing GOOD
(control the user’s e-mail, virtual hard disk space…the entire dataset of being online)
February, 2007 Adscape Video game advertising GOOD
(another channel to push ads)
March, 2007 Trendalyzer Analysis GOOD
(understanding the data better, even at a fractional percentage, will result in higher revenue)
April, 2007 Tonic Systems Presentation software GOOD
(another product for Google’s office suite)
April, 2007 Marratech Video conferencing GOOD
(continue to control the medium for pushing ads…might be a good fit with dMarc)
May 11, 2007 GreenBorder Technologies Desktop enterprise security GOOD
(securing data and the user experience allows for further scaling)

Google's Boosting Resources

So far, most of the purchases, from the outsider's point of view, were made to either bolster core search technologies, expand advertising reach, extend web accessibility value chain, or help to make sense of all the data. Even then, the acquisitions marked "mixed" or "bad" may have synergies we simply can't see right now, or as theorized above, were made more to acquire talent than any specific technology.

The Future Of Google

Does this mean the pending transactions of Doubleclick, Feedburner, and possibility Salesforce are a good idea? Most likely. Doubleclick could be used to once again expand that ad network, Feedburner would bring access to even more user information, and Salesforce would be a mixed opinion, likely used as a compliment to Neotonic.

I want to know when Google is going to stop holding back though; buy Apple and Nintendo, just to get it out of the way.


Thursday, 31 May 2007 08:49:49 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
 Monday, 21 May 2007

We’ve all heard the phrase that it isn’t what you know, but who you know. I personally encountered this saying multiple times back during my undergrad years when I was interviewing with guys like Deloitte, Compaq, and KPMG. A person could be brilliant, but lose out to someone with better connections (i.e. nepotism); it was usually the difference between an offer and an interview elsewhere.

As we get more ingrained in our respective industries, especially true in affiliate marketing, it isn’t just who you know, but who knows what you know, and who they know. Yes, it is a mouthful, but worth understanding.

My mother-in-law and my mother are both heavily connected in medical communities; as a proxy relationship, I know a lot of “who” individuals. However, it doesn’t do me much good because they really have no concept of what it is I do for a living, yet alone why my firm is better than company X, etc. If I were a newly minted doctor, it'd be striking gold, but I'm not (and I hear about that decision at least once a week).

That takes care of the importance of the first two pieces, and now the final. Let’s say that you know a lot of “who” individuals in your respective industry since you’re ancient, but they also understand what it is you know that makes you so special. This is a fantastic step, and if you are at this point in your career, you’re bound to be successful…now for the clincher and the whole point of social networking (the kind that mattered, before the likes of Digg): it is all about who they know. Metcalfe’s law is very, very important and will open up a sea of opportunities if you know how to use it to your advantage.

Below are some people in our industry that you should get to know for connections, that you should aspire to show off your unique talents to, and whom can probably connect you to an unbelievable amount of other contacts you might not even be aware of. Did I leave a lot of people out? Yes, but mainly because by connecting to these individuals, you are likely to run into the rest due to the size of their respective networks.

Affiliate Programs

Linda Buquet

Blackhat SEO


Community Development

Lee Dodd


Frank Schilling


Chris Hooley

Link Building

Jarrod Hunt

Organic Search

Aaron Wall


Jeremy Schoemaker

Social Media

Michael Gray

Whitehat SEO

Rand Fishkin

If you can impress just one of these people and can show that you are worth doing business with, it’ll make all the difference.


Monday, 21 May 2007 10:29:13 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Initially the plan was to talk about where search engines might be in 10 years, who the big players might be, etc. I still want to do that, but I wanted to broaden the discussion to touch on more topics relevant to the affiliate community, since I believe other topics will significantly influence how the game is run. Below are a collection of some thoughts on the subject.

1. SEO and domaining will converge leaving zero distinction between the two; it makes far too much sense for SEOs to understand that as search evolves, the exact match (non-hyphenated domain) will have the highest likelihood of being the most relevant, everything else being equal. For domainers, to ignore a channel as big as search is silly…because of this I expect to see quality search agencies getting gobbled up by large domainers and large search agencies buying small to medium-sized domain portfolios.

2. Unsolicited commercial e-mail will shrink. As the intent understanding increases, and the message can be determined on the fly to be commercial versus non-commercial, a series of AI elements should be able to figure out whether you wanted it or not. Consider that the three most popular e-mail addresses are held by the three biggest search engines, and you'll see that the necessary AI advances will have to be produced anyhow. White listing services will be worth their weight in gold.

3. Search will remain an oligopoly, with 4 major players and little else outside of it. Google, Microsoft, eBay and Amazon. Google remains primarily due to their current status and edge, developing algorithmic solutions based on the world's content and historical linking data, with relevancy that varies the way that slot machine payouts vary [and for the same reason]. Yahoo will continue to purchase social media and community-centric networks, eventually showing more and more signs of financial stress, resulting in the company being unable to quickly tie the networks together; Microsoft will help ease the transition by purchasing them outright…the Yahoo/MSN brand is up for grabs, but Microsoft will slowly pull the data together, determining relevancy across and breadth and depth of user data that Google will not have (though they'll be close). eBay's purchase of Stumbleupon, integration of Skype and Paypal, and increased understanding of global markets will make them the number 3 player in search, as the premiere shopping engine; future purchases of shopping agent technology may also be necessary. The number 4 player will briefly be IAC, but after years of trying to make ASK a success in its own right, the technology will be sold to Amazon, who integrates the small but growing community into its own network, competing more head to head with eBay than either Microsoft or Google is capable of doing.

4. Text-messaging, IM, and E-mail will converge; the choice of communication will either be instantaneous or delayed, largely due to when a person is willing to carry on communications - they will grow to become a commercial communications platform, complete with voice and video. A person will have the ability to communicate hidden or in view, silent or aloud. Privacy and unconnected time will be but a flutter of a memory.

5. Affiliate networks will be replaced with affiliate platforms, which make it easy for offline companies to create boxed solutions complete with CRM, the benefit being it will be harder and harder to distinguish between the ultimate retailer and the actual affiliate, especially among the savvier affiliates that corner market after market. While the easy money will likely have disappeared much in the same way it disappeared after each Internet gold rush, there will still be a wealth of riches to be made by those capable of thinking differently and pushing limits.

6. Television and streaming online video will be essentially the same thing; leaders like Comcast will attempt to tie up the cable line monopoly, but intelligent distribution companies like Google, that have been buying up dark fiber and wireless distribution rights, will be able to circumvent the strict scheduling process that the outdated paradigm currently upholds. Entertainment will be real-time or it will be on-demand; product placement and internal advertising will replace commercials; Youtube and its future peers will replace ABC, NBC, CBS, et al.

7. Word of mouth will still be the most effective way to gain mindshare and build a lasting brand.


Tuesday, 15 May 2007 14:30:09 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 30 April 2007

For those of you not intimately involved in social media, there was quite an event unfolding this evening on the popular social news site Digg.

It began with a story containing a HD-DVD key, which according to the DMCA is illegal. Digg, as a business, acted to remove that post.

Cue Russell Crowe yelling "unleash hell" because that's exactly what happened. Posting multiple stories and voting them up as quickly as possible, under the pretense of a revolt revolving around free speech and rallying against censorship, many Diggers made their voices heard.

Where do I as a person stand on this issue? Well...Digg is a business, is owned by Digg, and the DMCA, while arguably an inane law, is still a law. Digg did what was right, and now Diggers are showing the world what many outside the cynical community already knew: it is time to grow up.

Does that mean that dissenters should have their accounts deleted? For simply dissenting, no. For posting illegal material? Yes. Hopefully this will all blow over soon so Digg can go back to just hating us SEO types and burying useful information without actually reading the content.


Update: Digg decided to ignore the C&D, for better or worse. Personally, I don't think it was a good idea to take that stance, and think it is even worse that he publically took that stance, given the ammunition the opposing lawyers will now have.

Monday, 30 April 2007 22:06:38 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Wednesday, 18 April 2007

The Internet continues its constant churning, with heightened deal-making over the past few weeks. What do you make of the following?
eBay acquiring StumbleUpon?
CLEAR CHANNEL in advertising deal with GOOGLE?
Google to Buy DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion Cash?

Now, not everything above is a done deal and is certainly subject to change, but it reminds me of a different time, one that looked like:
eBay acquiring Paypal?
Ask Jeeves in advertising deal with Google?
Google to buy Pyra Labs (Blogger)?

Every few years in business there is an expansion, followed by rampant consolidation and excess VC funding, and then ultimately digestion and contraction; these business cycles aren't really anything new, and because of that, it can be possible to use them to your advantage.

In years of expansion we see little fishes get their start, among a sea of bigger fishes that don't pay them much mind. Why not? The larger fishes are a battled scarred from previous cycles, not paying much heed to these new nuisances; the larger fish are really only concerned with the other larger fishes. Time passes and those little fish start to bulk up a bit, maybe swimming faster and further than some of the bigger fish…suddenly, one of them gets eaten. At that moment, one of the larger fish just got a bit larger than the other fish, which frightens the others, fueling a furry of ferocious fish feeding. After that frenzy finishes, the remaining fish are bloated and lumbering, barely able to move…many die. Time passes and new fish come along.

While a bit cynical, that analogy isn't far from the truth, where companies at some point begin to buy anything and everything remotely related to the buzz phrases of that particular business cycle. Just 8 years ago it was a search for more eyeballs, without concern for profits. After the consolidation and digestion period, purchases were slower and the companies of the time that launched were uninteresting (read: profitable). Now the cycle is in full swing again with bubble 2.0, with the bigger fish again snapping up a variety of unprofitable companies that have a large number of social eyeballs.

Okay, okay. How do you make money in all of this craziness?
Selectively adapt.

I don't advocate ignoring your core business because that business is likely the reason you are even in business (convoluted enough?). Instead, it might make sense to spend 10-20% of your time on a new buzz-related concept, building a tiny fish that looks like it might just be something a larger fish would eat…granted, the original larger fishes would likely sniff that venture and pass on for something more substantial, but the newly larger fishes that are on an eating binge generally don't taken into account true value - the logic seems to be that if it looks sort of like food, even if it isn't, chomp. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Just make sure your 2.0 clone is easily spun off from your core assets so you can go back to really growing your business in the wake of the feeding frenzy, and if you don't actually get eaten, don't worry. Why not? Most acquisitions have a negative combination value, meaning that your venture at some point very well could have a value greater than the originators of the concept; by the time the next business cycle is coming around, you could be one of the first to be eaten.


Wednesday, 18 April 2007 15:10:18 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 13 April 2007

I struggled for a bit on the title because the point of this post isn't to come of as pompous or boastful; rather, it is to instruct on a general way of thinking. A while back, I drew a rather simplistic view of what a search engine is, comparing it to a single data table with a few columns (scoring variables) and a few rows (some URLs). Based on that simple concept, hopefully at least a few people began to realize that the goal of what search professionals do is to try to anticipate what variables will be most heavily weighted, and build sites around those variables. In time that variable mix may be quality content that is appropriately viewed upon by its true peers as important relative to other documents, but that mix just isn't there yet.

So, if the variable mix isn't to the point where quality content that is viewed as quality by its true peers, what is the goal of a search engine? To get there.

How do they get there? Incremental changes usually. We've all seen the changes as search engines evolve, chasing that relevancy perfection that provides the optimal blend of paid advertising and pure unadulterated content…from content to votes, from votes from really authority sites, to votes from really authority sites, etc; the engines do and will continue to evolve.

So, how do you outthink a group of PhDs? By not trying to outthink them.  Are you confused? It is slightly counterintuitive, but you'll see what I mean.

With all the A/B testing that goes on, tweaking filters, employing re-ranking tactics, constantly shuffling and reintroducing data, there can be a whole lot of things to track in your attempt to stay on top of the game. Try not to focus too much on that for the time being though - instead, I want you to develop a list of phrases to track on a fairly regular basis, completely independent of each other. Track historically spammy phrases in the male enhancement pharmaceutical arena to dog biscuits, civil war action figures, to the bicentennial - track a lot of competitive and non-competitive phrases because I want you to be able to see what happens when changes occur. Every week, run through your list of phrases and just look for a few things:
1. Top 10 players, their top 10 incoming links according to Yahoo, and total # links
2. Those that fell out of the Top 10, their top 10 incoming links according to Yahoo, and total # links
3. On each phrase, is the current mix more relevant or less relevant [score 1 for yes, and 0 for no]

Whenever you want to know what the engines currently like, just compare the two sets of data…really, that simple usually. When I say compare, that becomes a bit more nebulous because what I personally look for isn't always the same…sometimes I may notice a keyword phrase within the URL being given more weight, sometimes it might be keyword density, age of site, co-occurrence of related phrases, etc. Usually though, in our current environment, it has been links. How many, how powerful, how relevant? If the score is higher than last week, and you were being honest, expect the changes to stick; if it was lower…a lot lower…you can probably go back to doing something else.

Now, a room full of PhDs would probably assume that some people are going to try to reverse engineer their algorithm and filter sets by looking at a large grouping of unrelated data; thus, what you just did isn't all that earth shattering to them, and I have a hunch that they wouldn't really care, given that for most search professionals, the next logical step is to provide the engines with that they are trying to reach: relevancy.  Yes, holes will be exploited, but so long as their A/B testing shows a measurable increase in overall relevancy from their own grouping of unrelated keyword phrases, that change is likely to stick.

If you can see a certain variable weighting change that would improve relevancy, plan for it occurring; build a site just for that purpose if you have to.  For instance, I think social media marketing will get filtered down a notch in the upcoming year, due to its rampant use, either by taking into account how quickly the links are added (already there, but just tweaking that) and by taking into account more differences between root domain theme / page theme, root domain authority / page authority, inlink theme. Who knows though, the A/B testing may show that the end results of social media marketing actually produce more relevant results.

Have a pleasant weekend.


Friday, 13 April 2007 08:15:44 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
 Thursday, 22 March 2007

This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but is something I was pondering since I've been called the usual due to my peculiar ways: insane, crazy, weird, odd, most likely to build a lair in a volcano, etc.

Thankfully, I'm not alone. Exhaustive research (read: 10 minutes of randomly pulling up blogs) has revealed the following about how weird we marketers are. In some cases I found it more fitting to just pull an image, because they explain those thousands of words that escape me.

1. Some of us don't watch traditional television. Really. John doesn't, and neither do I. I bought a big screen for my wife, but find myself either reading or working on one of the computers.
2. Since I don't watch television for the "content", I periodically check out the commercials to keep up on the advertising. If I had a Tivo, I'd find myself skipping the shows and just watching the commercials.
3. My typical wardrobe consists of a free t-shirt and an old pair of shorts/jeans. Aaron Wall of SEO Book exemplifies this adage of the most important people dressing as though they are the least important. Forgive me Aaron, but I found this image with you and Wendy hilarious.
4. Some marketers want change the world and some just want to mess around with the world while having a little fun. Drinkbait, win a date with a seo? Yep, that's Chris.
5. There appears to be a direct correlation between an unhealthy obsession of well-marketed brands and marketers. Case in point: VM campers, Guinness, and Disney.
6. Just like advertisers that don't consume the media they create, some top online marketers can't type or no write with good grammer.
7. A lot of us idolize Weird Al; some choose to rewrite his lyrics.
8. Cynicism and satire abound with most of us, especially with regard to mass media and large sites/companies, but how do I compete with this though? Quads is king there.
9. Some marketers find clever ways to do everything through mediums, even be romantic.
10. I read absolutely everything I can about everything, because I never want to be the last in the know, and yet I still find myself rereading things from some that are consistently the first to know. Andy Grove was right about the paranoid surviving.
11.  The walls of my office look like John Nash was up for three months straight looking for patterns and the office garbage can has the empty Diet Coke cans to support that theory. Search marketers in particular have to understand the why of what is changing; some of us just so caught up in it that it consumes us.

Know of some really weird things marketers do? E-mail me at and I'll add to the list along with a link to your site.


Thursday, 22 March 2007 08:29:14 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 05 March 2007

If you caught our post regarding the books we read recently you may remember that one that I read was Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb. In the book, Nassim describes various situations where profitable traders are wiped out by what he refers to as a Cygnus Atratus, or a black swan event. In essence, these are events that are capable of destroying a career's worth of wealth and positive history.

So why am I talking about a book that focuses on randomness/luck, numbers, and trading patterns? Mainly because I see many businesses everyday online that are particularly vulnerable to a Cygnus Atratus. In other words, I think people need to pay more attention into developing defensible traffic. Rather than technique and specifics, I aim to provide a thought process for doing so.

Imagine that you are a small company on the web that receives 90% of its traffic from Google, and of that, 80% comes from the single search phrase, loan. In this simple example, Google dumping your search result is your black swan event. It needn't be a delisting, just a SERP move of a few pages. How do you overcome and survive this Cygnus Atratus? Most will probably say to diversify link text, vary content, yada yada yada, with the end result being a site that ranks for multiple phrases. That gets past the first black swan event, but exposes you to another in the event the site truly is delisted, or is simply penalized due to some scraper activity. Take it further and some will say to develop multiple sites to catch as much of the available search traffic for your industry's taxonomy. Better, but what if your privatized WHOIS fingers you as someone with a network of sites? Or if your dedicated server goes down?

It isn't that solving one event leads to another; in reality, it is very similar to what happens when a manufacturing plant adopts just-in-time procedures. On the surface, it may seem like JIT is creating problems, but all it is really doing is exposing problems that already existed, much like an iceberg becoming more visible if the water around it is drained.

Mentally solving these successive black swan events will force you to examine every conceivable flaw in your business model, to the point where you'll find yourself developing what I like to call nightmare scenarios. As you might imagine, these are scenarios where you pick several black swan events, on paper, and make them all happen. For an example, let's pick that small web company again. This time, let's say they've grown to 10 employees and have 50 sites in a variety of sectors, with a clean non-interlinking structure, getting traffic from a variety of sources (search, PPC, e-mail, word of mouth, etc). It seems much better than the first example, but what happens if a malicious employee modifies the WHOIS e-mail and tries to hijack all the domains, at a time when your e-mail hits a snafu and is no longer white listed, over a weekend where the company credit card is stolen and PPC must be halted? Everything comes to a grinding halt.

This isn't really meant to scare you, only to prepare you. By envisioning nightmare scenarios, chalked full of numerous black swan events, and then solving them to the best of your ability, you will be leagues ahead of your competitors. In terms of likelihood, occam's razor holds true, and the simplest of the scenarios will ensue, in which case you'll already be ready for them with defensible traffic and can take the in-depth knowledge about how your business works, that most people never develop, to the next level.

Good luck!

Your friendly neighborhood Cygnus Atratus,


Monday, 05 March 2007 07:30:56 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 19 February 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we found some excellent posts covering a wide range of topics. This week Aaron discusses the gray areas of marketing, Domain Editorial announces an interesting new service for generic domain holders, Michael compiles his views on the Adwords quality score changes, and Bill explains from a patent point of view what the Adscape Media purchase means.

But is it SPAM?
Sendori introduces Pay Per Visitor traffic auction
Google: Greed over a Rollback
Google Acquires Adscape Media: Interactive Online Gaming Advertisement and Gaming System Developers


Monday, 19 February 2007 07:17:16 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 12 February 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, the skew for us was mostly on domain news on this issue. This week Aaron explains issues with scrapers much better than I did, Dailydomainer scoops the launch of Psychic Whois, Domain Editorial lets us know that we should get ready for .com/.net price increases, and and Domain News thankfully reports that we don't have to deal with increased censorship via the .xxx tld.

New Directory, URL, & Keyword Phrase Based Google Filt& Penalties
Preparations for the COM/NET price-increase?


Monday, 12 February 2007 09:34:02 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 09 February 2007

Rather than give you a top 10 list that you might forget 2 minutes after reading it, we at the PLAN wanted to share our top 11 affiliate marketing lessons, encompassing the wide spectrum of elements that is affiliate marketing. This is what I (Cygnus) do when sitting down and saying to myself, "I feel like generating more passive income streams."

By no means should you simply stick to this process; allow it to act as a guideline, and by all means, employ it after signing up for our sub-prime finance affiliate program.

What are the steps?

1. KW Research.
2. Finding and buying a domain.
3. Hosting the domain.
4. Semi-parking the domain.
5. Seeding the site.
6. Finding the right offer(s).
7. Develop the graphical shell.
8. Develop the content.
9. PPC to find your money phrases.
10. Embark on your SEO strategy.
11. Profit

KW Research 
There are a couple different ways keyword (KW) research is generally performed. The most traditional approach focuses on examining the most likely phases used and some of their long-tail cousins which we explained in our KW Research  post, and the other less-used method involves looking for common misspellings as explained in our missssspelllings post. One way that you can really cast a large net is to employ digging techniques into your KW research. After searching for something like 'widgets', you'll have a large list of KW phrases; then run each of those phrases through your favorite KW research tool until you have a large mass of phrases. Finally, run those through a misspelling script in order to generate a massive list of potential KW phrases that you can use.

Finding and buying a domain
New or used? I prefer used, but that shouldn't discourage you from finding a gem that no one has thought to register yet. In the event of new sites, you could take that giant list of KW phrases, strip out the spaces, append .com, and run them through a bulk registration process, like Moniker or Godaddy has, to see if any are still available. Note:  you probably won't want to buy all of them, since probably isn't going to give you much direct navigation traffic. Another method that I wish I had thought of 5 years ago involves locating the top non-trademarked sites, and running them through Psychic Whois - just buy the .net of a taken .com and you're good to go.  

If you want used domains, there are a variety of methods to find a site. You could…search WHOIS for older sites that were once relevant to your industry but are either 404ing or are now lacking DNS information, find sites that are ranking in the deep abyss of Google, past the first 100 results, or you could use an aftermarket service and/or webmaster forum.  After "finding" them, you then need to negotiate on an appropriate price.

Hosting the domain
Shared or dedicated? IIS or Apache? For most of what we do, we prefer a LAMP setup, usually on a dedicated server. If you are just starting out, it usually makes more sense to open a shared account at your favorite shared hosting service (I really have no recommendations here since I'm generally dissatisfied with shared hosting). We'll keep this setup simple since it usually feeds into our next step; just remember to keep an eye on your hosting account.

Semi-parking the domain 
Semi-parking is a term I use to describe setting up the .htaccess properly to handle www vs non-www issues, block obvious junk bots, etc. It also usually involves putting up a properly SEOed plain jane text site with proper title, meta tags, and a few relevant unique paragraphs of information. The goal here is to create something that isn't going to be immediately spit out of the SERPs, and that wouldn't completely discourage links. If you have as many projects going as we do sometimes, it can be a huge pain to realize you've been holding onto an unhosted, undeveloped site for several years, when it would have been so easy to semi-park it and reap the benefits of an aged, on-theme site. If you wanted to take this a step further, you could put Adsense on the site in order to develop a baseline for its earnings, just don't use it as your entire monetization, because Adsense is a terrible business model for websites.

Seeding the site
Sprinkle a pinch of links and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours, or until nicely browned. Seeding the site means pointing just a few basic, non-spammy links to the semi-parked site in order to get the aging process going. We just need enough to get the site indexed. We aren't trying to use link ninjas at this point.

Find the right offer(s) 
If you are looking for the best payday loan affiliate program, look no further. Doing something else? Time to explore the market! There are quite a few affiliate networks out there, and while most new affiliates find themselves on CJ or Linkshare, I really recommend researching more than that. It isn't a bad place to start, per se, but if you are looking to develop a passive income stream, you want a program that is stable, has a solid payment history, and no funny business regarding tracking/uptime/etc (for those reasons I tend to shy away from CJ and I never use Linkshare now). I have a ton of respect for Linda in this area, so definitely check out her picks of the top affiliate programs.

Develop the graphical shell 
I call this process developing the graphical shell because we have a tendency to design the site layout before filling it with content. There are a variety of issues to take into account when developing this way, such as the proper use of whitespace, choosing the right color combination, and how you will highlight your call to action. Although we call this process our graphical shell stage, we still do some content, such as appropriate ALT tags, and placement for proper headers. Don't upload this shell and overwrite your semi-parked site though - we've accidentally done that a few times. Oops!

Develop the content 
Now that you have a shell site, you can see more or less the areas that need the most content. If you used your massive KW phrase list as a guide to help you during the shell process, good for you, because it'll be that much easier to write naturally for some niche phrasing. If you get stuck thinking of what to write about on those pages, consider looking at your log files to see if you've been getting any search traffic, and the queries associated with that traffic. Just keep the content as unique as possible. Still need help? More on article writing.

PPC to find money phrases 
Your site is now complete, polished, and tested, to make sure that links to the products/services are actually getting tracked and conversions where applicable. Awesome. Now it is time to figure out where you should be focusing your SEO campaign by conducting a quick PPC campaign. You can choose to use Adwords or MSN Adcenter; if I need a quick test, I choose Adwords since I generally get more traffic and data points to use - I use MSN for longer tests since I can go deeper into an industry at less of a cost. The key here is to take that massive KW phrase list, and upload it, pointing to your specific product purchase page. In the event that you have multiple products, try to keep the KW phrases as on-theme as possible, so as to not skew your numbers. Run the test and you'll be able to see fairly quickly which phrases are really delivering your traffic, and if you setup conversion tracking, which are converting best for you. If you made a profit during the test, keep the PPC going. Otherwise, pause it, running the test again after a set period of time, just in case the market has changed.

Embark on your SEO strategy 
Your site is complete, and now possibly tweaked to better fit your money phrases, and now you want to start optimizing for the engines. If you're new to this, read everything you can, digest it, and test. To keep it passive, by now you should know how much a targeted visitor is to you, and can estimate how much traffic you might be able to get (due to the KW research and PPC testing); run a simple calculation on what you can afford to outsource your link-building and writing if necessary, and if a positive ROI exists, congratulations on your new passive income stream.

By profit I mean repetition and automation. If you have a positive ROI by doing 1 site, how much do you think you'd make with 1,000? The trick is keeping them unique and something the end-user actually wants. If you can create such an operation, send me a postcard from the beach during your relaxing retirement.

Good luck!


Friday, 09 February 2007 10:10:11 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Tuesday, 06 February 2007

Undoubtedly if you stumbled upon this page from a search engine, you probably have a good idea at how frustrating this realization is. If you are not familiar with it, here's how it works:

1. Site in question (ex. enjoys a solid rank, such as #4 for 'cash advance'.

2. Upon checking the rankings the next day, we find Paydayloanaffiliate is mysteriously missing from the results. After vomiting a little in one's mouth, it is time to figure out if it is a ban, a global issue, or a localized issue.

3. Running a site command I can see that we're still indexed and receiving cache (wipe brow).

4. Now that we know we weren't completely dropped, let's see how global the issue is for the site. Does it rank for any other competitive terms? Yes.

5. If it didn't rank for the competitive terms, we'd likely do a search for a unique URL string, such as this. Thankfully, we didn't have to.

6. Okay, so we're just gone for 'cash advance'…that's so weird. What if we wrap the phrase in quotes. It's back…interesting.

Why is it back with quotes? It has to do with how the results are filtered, or in this case, not filtered. When I see something like this, I know that a site has either been scraped and has a duplication penalty, was too focused on its optimization and hit some sort of BLOOP filter, or it is just going to be a lousy day. Let's find out which it is going to be.

1. Running copyscape on the PLAN, I see several nasty results. Put that into a separate window for the next test.

2. Run an allinanchor: on the phrase; a lot of people will say allinanchor doesn't really tell you much anymore - I still like it because it tells me a little bit of information; namely, who's trying to really hit this phrase. Interesting results.

Right away I can see what happened. A certain blogspot URL has scraped our content and is trying really, really hard to rank for 'cash advance' by guestbook spamming everything in sight - since Google refuses to do the smart thing and not give blogspot weight for commercial terms, we find ourselves temporarily filtered out for a nice traffic phrase.

Now what? Well, we could submit our site to sitemaps and fill out a spam report I suppose, and really I don't want to discourage people from doing that - we have had clients that reported success when doing so. Instead, I'm going to take a fire fighting approach: get more links for cash advance.

Did this article help you? Place a link…
Title: Cash Advance
Optional text: Beating irrelevant blogspot spam, one day at a time.



Tuesday, 06 February 2007 07:52:23 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 05 February 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we found ourselves returning to some old favorites that really just keep getting better. This week Shoemoney had Brian Axe from Google Adsense on his radio show, Randfish explains why he thinks online advertising needs to evolve, Bill Slawski thankfully tries to air out the abundance of edu spam going on right now, and Jim points out the sad reality of new sites and their ranking issues.

Brian Axe From Google Adsense On Net Income
Online Advertising Needs to Evolve
Web Spam on University Sites
Sorry, I won't do SEO for your new website


Monday, 05 February 2007 08:57:25 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 29 January 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we wanted to again chose from our fantastic Payday Loan Affiliate Mybloglog Community members. This week symbiotic explains how online word of mouth is more powerful than its offline counterpart, pranavchavda breaks the news (at least to me) about Microsoft's possible paypal competitor, zamrin reports on the fallibility of the 5th data security algorithm, and mikemora describes the issues facing local businesses as local search grows.

Microsoft to launch paypal/Google checkout competitor?
Confusing, Costly Choices Ahead For Local Business


Monday, 29 January 2007 14:01:47 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 26 January 2007

It has often been discussed at length that some industries are more competitive than others; to make use of WebmasterWorld lingo, it isn't difficult to rank for "Scottsdale blue widgets", but it can be difficult to rank for "widgets." In that particular discussion, the issue revolves around marketing for the long-tail of search, however there are some industries that are even more difficult to SEO for, to e-mail for, or even to run PPC ads for. What are they, and why is it so hard?

Why? Prior abuse, selective moralization, and subsequent abusive controls. As my friend Chris Hooley is fond of saying, "there are only 50 top 50 verticals"; since the best marketers and the biggest amateurs tend to gravitate towards where the most money is, one can imagine that a competitive marketplace will overtime see its fair share of e-mail spam, quite a few in-your-face-not-following-Google-guidelines tactics, and in some cases, outright fraud. Almost all competitive industries on the web go through this constant cycle of growth and purging, where the strongest survive and where the opportunistic money either vanishes when the latest tactic runs dry, or flourishes when that money is reinvested into establishing a long-term presence.

Okay you say, that might explain prior abuse: where there's quick money to be made, there's opportunistic and temporary thinking that falls outside of the tit-for-tat social framework that keeps competitive marketplaces somewhat decent in appearance. Does that mean that all top 50 verticals are stepchildren industries? No. Even though marketing flowers and gift baskets online to me is a top 50 vertical, I wouldn't consider it a stepchild industry, because it doesn't fall victim to selective moralization.

Selective moralization, if I can be so bold as to coin a proper definition of it on a blog that focuses on the how-to of selling payday loans, is the partial or incomplete moral stance taken, often for personal gain and/or out of fear of retribution. We're all seen selective moralization, but let's see it in practice by looking at five examples of stepchildren industries.

1. Adult Entertainment. Legitimate adult sites are difficult to get legitimate links for, and in some cases are even refused service that is available to any other industry, such as hosting. This is the easiest example of selective moralization at work, and is almost entirely borne out of fear of retribution. If a hosting company has an adult site that isn't playing by the rules, the hosting company fears that it might be shut down. Why are they afraid? Let's just say that at times some government officials have pornography on the mind - let's face it, cracking down on adult entertainment is a popular subject for many a politician.

2. Online gambling. This industry is oozing with hypocrisy and selective moralization both for personal gain and fear of retribution; Quadzilla said it best in his ongoing analysis of what has happened and what will happen with online gambling. In summary, the question to ask there is who will benefit the most from a permanent temporary ban on online gambling. 

3. Pharmaceuticals. Typing in a phrase referenced before in a previous post, we can see a few different things happening: 1)a whole lot of spam in the organic serps and 2)a whole lot of PPC spam that doesn't make a direct reference to the specific pharmaceutical being sold. So we can see that it is profitable and competitive, but is there any selective moralization taking place? You better believe it. Just reference this famous philosopher to see why a lot of people look at you funny if you push pharmaceuticals online.

4. Sub-prime financing (my favorite). Sub-prime loans can be difficult to market at times because they are looked upon less favorably by larger financial institutions, despite that some of the biggest banks make most of their money via hidden fees and other such trickery. Need more proof? Just try getting a link from a high profile site like if you're a payday loan site.

5. SEO. SEOing for SEO in an SEO adverse environment; it is true that a large majority of laymen and novice webmasters see SEO as nothing more than glorified spamming -- unfortunately, when industry partners such as search engines don't step in more to highlight the positive aspects of SEO and its benefit to the end-user, the spam label continues to grow, and SEO as an industry has a more difficult time attaining its legitimacy outside of its sphere of influence. If Wikipedians and top Diggers don't trust us, who will?

Are you in a stepchild industry? Is your site on this exclusion list? Taking an alternative approach to traditional online marketing is probably your best bet to get started. By focusing on the undeveloped and underdeveloped niches within your vertical, you can slowly creep your way into the primary phrases, or I suppose you could just settle for all the traffic that social media seems to be spinning off these days.

Good luck!


Friday, 26 January 2007 09:23:14 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 22 January 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we once again chose from our continually growing Mybloglog Community. This is working so well for us that we plan on doing it again next week as well! Just join up and drop a note on the community board for articles that could really benefit your peers. In this week's weekly list, Frantic describes his views on the Digg story life cycle, WilliamC covers mistakes you must avoid at all costs, gcarswell explains why you need to quit planning and start doing, JamesOmdahl helps you to ensure that contextual advertising doesn't get the better of you, and tazmanias points out some issues to improve your e-mail conversions.


Monday, 22 January 2007 09:46:11 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Thursday, 18 January 2007

Most affiliates that apply to our program write a line or two in the comments section regarding how they intend to market cash advance offers; sometimes it is just to say something along the lines of "I'll be sending PPC traffic", "I'm a SEO", or the always fun "I bought a list of 57 gazillion e-mail addresses that expired back when Netscape Gold was the premier browser; you will pay me millions, right?"

Some of the comments are pure genius, some are humorous, but some truly are worrisome. I worry because I fear that some new affiliates don't have an angle; this isn't necessarily a lateral thinking issue, though lateral thinking would help to determine an angle. This is a competitive research issue; this is knowing your audience; this is basic business.

For a poorly thought out analogy, let's pretend that instead of marketing loan products an affiliate is a single guy at a bar, looking for a date. What's your angle there? Yes, it is crude, but as you'll see it fits…

Nice Guy? Bad Boy? Rich Guy? Handsome Guy? Nerdy Guy? Each is a persona, a role, either fabricated or based on who we actually are. The nice guy is showing you that he'll respect you (translation: easy to get along with). The bad boy is showing you everything you can't have or in some way don't want (translation: you always want what you can't have and some like a challenge). The rich guy is showing the prospective date all the things he can afford (translation: all the things he could buy for her). The handsome guy is showing that he is without surface flaws (translation: good genes). The nerdy guy…well…I'll have to get back to you on that one.

So, how is any of that different than trying to figure out your audience and then market appropriately to it? As marketers we are trying to present ourselves in such a way that a person feels the "need" to purchase the product/service. By being true to our heavily researched niche, to our angle, we'll have a higher success rate. The guy that tries to be the nerdy handsome nice bad boy is probably going to come off as being fake, and thus not get as many "dates"; the nerdy guy that is trying to get a date from women he believes would rather date a nerdy guy has a chance (theoretically, if my college experience is an indication). The affiliate marketer that is trying to sell a prospect on the "need fast cash?" concept via targeted e-mails has a chance to do well, but if that same e-mail is coming off as one of those "we'll make you prettier, get you quick cash, do your laundry, and occasionally take out the garbage on Monday morning" the marketing message is lost because the signal message of "get you quick cash" is lost in the rest of the noise.

Tying this back into the affiliate application comments we receive; here are some ways that you can find an angle, and stick to it.

PPC Traffic
If you try to target "payday loan" as an affiliate, you may wish to reconsider. The CPC can be outrageous at times, and the very top players are the lenders themselves (i.e. deeper pockets, with a higher allowable CPC break-even point). Instead, let's develop an angle…what's your favorite major city? Let's develop a landing page specific to that city, making it appear local. Now, since you have a niche landing page, you should back-off on the broad PPC, instead choosing to geo-target and bid on city-based phrases such as "[Favorite city] payday cash advance", etc. Once it is running, you can expand your niche by developing the process and replicating it for other cities and other landing pages. Whatever you do though, don't try to market too many products and offers on these landing pages; keep it focused and your wallet will thank you.

Going to try and get to #1 organic search for "cash advance"? I hope you make it, but it is tough…very tough. There are certainly SEOs capable of doing this, but if several hundred SEO firms (yet alone the thousands of affiliates) are gunning for this phrase, what is the likelihood of achieving it? You could just as easily develop one of those niche landing pages with a SEO perspective, turning it into a true city destination. Aggressive local search optimization is the subject for another post, but it does work. If you try to expand outward on that single message to include multiple localities, multiple offers, multiple "needs", then your message gets clouded with an abundance of noise, and your true intent is questioned (in other words, fewer commissions).

We covered this example earlier, but the simple and focused e-mail message of something similar to "overnight cash advance" when sent to a key demographic is going to vastly outperform some of the garbage spam I currently get. One example I received today was a blast for "wholesale flowerpots" - I'm not kidding; this was a WHOIS spam, but boy is that an untargeted group…I delete that stuff, but some people will go out of their way to turn that in, boycott untargeted messaging, etc. Keep it focused on the right message, and the right audience.

Not to be confused with the 800 lb gorilla that we all aspire towards, I've seen some remarkably unfocused guerrilla marketing and some excellent examples of it. Auto sign-ups to thousands of forums that post initial "come get a payday loan" may result in some leads, yes, but it'll likely cause a lot more of a headache if your affiliate manager starts feeling heat from it. The good example? Sign up for our program and list in your comment that you want to know about the good guerrilla example and I'll tell you. ;)


Thursday, 18 January 2007 13:10:58 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Ever since contextual advertising reared its ugly head was made available to the general webmaster population, we've seen countless threads in various search marketing forums and blogs over the use of Adsense, YPN, and other contextual programs, questioning whether or not it even makes sense to use such programs.

Noting our obvious bias as a company that makes money nurturing affiliates, I still find it difficult overcome the following points that extol the advantages affiliate programs (especially private label affiliate programs) enjoy over contextual advertising.


1. Ad blindness
One of the biggest issues currently facing Adsense, and any marketing tool that is overused really, is that the target audience becomes effectively blind to ad copy. Consumers became blind to banner ads, and according to heat-map studies by Jacob Nielsen, consumers may now be becoming Adsense blind. I blame a lack of variance allowed in the ads as the main reason this occurs; there are layout options, but Blumey would probably point out that these differentiations are so slight that they probably account for proper usage on perhaps half of the ad-ready sites out on the web.

2. SEO ranking conspiracy theories
While I don't like to feed into conspiracy theories and would rather just own stock in Reynolds than actually wear it as a hairpiece, the conspiracies of suppressed rankings still abound, with some seemingly more plausible than others. Rather than go into them, it is easier to just search for some Adsense conspiracy theories.

3. On-theme, on-target, on-the-money
If you're running a pretty generic site without a defined demographic or a specific person you're trying to reach, then by all means throw some Adsense on there, but how many sites really fit this model? If you're writing about payday loans, and you put Adsense code on there to earn some click rev, do you know how much you're even going to get paid? Quality scores have been pretty subjective at times, so it can be tough to say; even at its best though, the amount per click is usually going to be a lot less than what you could get with a specific payday loan offering via a reputable payday loan affiliate site. The same argument could be made for just about any niche; find a good affiliate program and you'll be offering a specific need to your specific audience.

4. Psst…arbitrage
Hey Adwords/Adsense arbitragers, remember this? Yeah…good times. But wait, you say, doesn't Y! Marketing and MSN Adcenter --> Adsense still work? From what I understand, yes. However, drawing once again upon point #3, there is far more money to be made doing an arb job from Yahoo, Msn, or Google to an affiliate program when using highly specific affiliate offerings; a certain man with the skills to pay the bills has made this plainly clear. Travel up the foodchain!

5. Spam footprinting (MFA)
I was tempted to group this under point #2, but think about the obviousness between spam detection and footprinting. What do most made for Adsense (not made for affiliate, mind you) sites look like? Take a hard look at a couple dozen examples of MFA sites and ask yourself, "do I really want to create a footprint similar to these sites?" I'm not saying using Adsense will cause you to get lumped in with RSSGM-type MFA sites, but the more footprint diversification you can do, the better. If you are using similar templating features, why not choose a more unique monetization method that will at least result in less off-site duplicated content?

6. Blending, images, and click here now!
Policies governed by some affiliate programs are more lax than programs such as Adsense. Don't put images next to ads because it might make people click more? Granted, that is a CPC versus a CPA issue, but if you are a member of our affiliate network, I want all the traffic you can possibly give; sales is a numbers game - the more visitors that you give me, the more I have a chance to convert. I can't cash a 80% conversion rate on traffic, but I'll take 1000 visitors at 50% conversion over 10 visitors at 100% conversion all day long. Don't encourage people to click or use incentivized offers? Ouch. Some of the best performing affiliate programs out there let you use incentivized offers; again, affiliate managers want all the quality traffic you can send.

7. Send an e-mail
Speaking of send, don't forget that e-mail is still a very effective marketing tool when used properly. Adsense won't let you embed ads into the HTML of your newsletters, but an affiliate manager that you've gotten approval from to do e-mail marketing will probably let you. Develop an opt-in list of people that might want payday loans? Great, send them an offer.

When it comes to making money with your payday loan site, choosing a contextual advertising program will just result in leaving money on the table; pick a top payday loan affiliate program, and grow richer in 2007.


Wednesday, 17 January 2007 11:00:49 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 15 January 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we decided to do something a bit different, opting to select posts from our growing Myblog Community. We're going to do the same thing next week, so for consideration of your post, just join up and drop a note on the community board for articles that could really benefit your peers. In this week's weekly list, Bill has an interesting patent take on Microsoft's voice search, Joe Whyte discusses various ways to get links, Andy covered me (sorry, shameless plug), Cornwall SEO covers Mybloglog spam issues, and Neil talks about pages.

Dialing Microsoft for Voice Search
15 types of links and how to get them
Making your content


Monday, 15 January 2007 07:27:18 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 12 January 2007

Hi. My handle is Cygnus and I'm a lateral thinking SEO.

There have certainly been some interesting posts lately about the cyclical debate over white hat vs. black hat SEO, which lends itself to debates over whether SEO is easy or hard. Having been in the industry more or less since mid 1997, I've had the fortune (or misfortune) of seeing these things time and again, but then, like others have mentioned, this isn't particularly unique to SEO. I'm fond of saying that the pendulum is constantly swinging between ignorance and arrogance; whenever I feel myself getting a bit too big for my britches, I can almost expect to feel like a fool. That said, there is a divide in our industry, and one that should be addressed more than it is.

Some might call our divide as nothing more than understanding competitive webmastering, which isn't a bad description, and some will stick to WH vs. BH; I am beginning to think of it more as those that have the ability to think differently and those that unable / unwilling / do-not-need to do so: lateral SEO vs. traditional SEO.

I don't want to get into whether or not SEO is easy; it is like saying CSS layout is easy or hard - if you learn a skill and practice it for a while, it'll become easy, and so long as there is a sufficient demand for that skill, market forces dictate what can be charged for that skill. Since SEO, web design, programming, and a lot of these fuzzy fields are so difficult to quantify in terms of skill and a non-commoditization of the basic skill sets has not occurred as of yet (and probably never will), the rates charged will be all over the map like miniature plastic soldiers during a game of Risk.

What I do want to say is that some people will take the base rules of any system and will try to do whatever they can to become optimal within the boundaries of that "explained" system. I'm using the word explained here because it is rarely the case with any system that the explanation is comprehensive. This has been called white hat in the past, but I don't like that term because it implies naivety; in truth a better description might be conservative SEO or traditional SEO. In many cases, this is what I would suggest people do for non-competitive phrases and for heavily established brands. Again, note the choice of words here…non-competitive. If one were to try to rank using the defined rules in various industries, the end result will not be pretty, unless the brand is heavily established already.

So what about black hat? All that really means to me is using the unexplained rules of the system. It isn't evil, it isn't fraud, and it isn't hacking. To do any of those previous nasty things would be outside the scope of aggressive, competitive, lateral thinking search engine optimization. Understand that and stop trying to divide the industry in such black and white terms (of which their descriptions are so aptly defined). A lateral thinking SEO will do what makes sense within the explained rules, but will then say to him or herself "I'm in a competitive industry" and/or "This is not an established brand", and then follow up with a very important "What can I do that will set myself apart within a search engine's algorithm?" If you dumb down what a search engine is to the level of a single database with a single data table, and a couple hundred fields, then it is easier to see what is happening. At any given point of time in an algorithm's evolution (yes, they evolved, get over it…from bubblesort no less!) certain variables are going to be weighed more heavily than others, and some that fall into certain ranges are going to be treated as red-flags. Thus, lateral thinking SEO from the perspective of someone like me is to say to "when that giant sort button is pushed, how can I make sure I rank for something like payday affiliate?"

That's all fine and dandy you say, but how does one go about developing lateral thinking? I don't think of this in white or black terms either; some people really are gifted lateral thinkers, and some admittedly will start out with the traditional mindset and Forrest Gump themselves into thinking differently as a means to survive. If you find yourself more in the camp of Forrest Gump, don't worry, you and your rankings can be like peas and carrots again if you observe absolutely everything you can, digest as much information as you can, become a skeptic that experiments, take risks, and learn from your failures as much as your successes. One very quick way is to take a look at that various industry again - I don't even feel the need to point out specific methods being used because that will just date this post more than my love for polka music; the phrase is extremely competitive. Go back a few years and those lateral thinkers were stuffing meta tags, then they were stuffing keyword density, then links, then "quality links", then authority domains, etc. The point is, the evolution of the system will dictate the explained and unexplained rules. Choosing to play with the system may ultimately result in a site no longer being listed in the search engine, but that is the market risk, and perhaps why some people label lateral thinking SEOs as black hats. At that point the algorithm has evolved once again (hurray for quicksort), either eliminating the variable manipulation factors previously in place or simply moving them by overweighting another set of variables with adjusted ranges on the variables that just got you banned.

As a conclusive point, lateral thinking and its implementation does have varying degrees. For this site I'm not about to copy the above industry example and mimic their practices because I want this site for the long-term. This isn't to say that I'm not thinking laterally though, or that this site would be considered pure snow white hat. Remember those variable ranges and their weighting; moving within those unexplained ranges as they change can help to ensure longevity, while helping to rank in moderately competitive markets, which is what I'd consider the payday affiliate industry. Understanding and selectively employing methodologies learned on both the search engine guidelines and search system architecture side of SEO is what lateral thinking is truly about, transcending white or black, potentially making the hard look easy (which is easy to forget if you've been doing something for a while).

Good luck in your lateral thinking SEO journeys!


Friday, 12 January 2007 11:00:07 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Wednesday, 10 January 2007

What a long week this has been already!

Last night a few Phoenix, AZ area search marketing professionals got together for a little bit of industry fun at the Rock Bottom Brewery, with the goal of possibly figuring out how to bring together more Phoenix, AZ area search professionals.

I won't remember everyone's name since I didn't get too many business cards, but thankfully I think I remember all the companies that were there:

Joe Griffin's team from Submitawebsite
Chris Hooley the original thinkbaiter
Jarrod Hunt's team from Textlinkbrokers
David Wallace of Search Rank
Payday Loan Affiliate

While I don't think we really came up with a true action plan, we definitely think it is worthwhile to have followup get togethers. This raises an important point for affiliate marketers everywhere. Do you and your team members consider yourselves specialists in any one area, whether it be search strategy, e-mail, coding, or design? Get out there and network in your local areas! In addition to usually being a lot of fun discussing issues that seem to only be interesting to a niche group of people, you can occassionally learn some invaluable advice on what to do or what not to do.

Now, for those of you in Phoenix, if you want to join up with us on the next get together, send me an e-mail at and I'll try to hook you up with our next date/time when available.



Wednesday, 10 January 2007 07:13:37 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
 Monday, 08 January 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we're lucky enough to not only have found the best posts of the week, but the best posts of the year. All done; dial up 2008 now…it's okay, I can wait…alright maybe not. What did we learn this past week? Adsense probably won't pay you nearly as much as we can on targeted traffic, Shoemoney ponders what would happen to Matt Cutts if he ever left Google, Rebecca details some of the problems Adwords newbies run into, Jim explains a common domain scam, and Chris somehow manages to equate SEO to reptiles.

Guy Kawasaki Uses Google AdSense - Leaves Money on the Table
Would You Hire Matt Cutts?
Google AdWords is Giving Me a Headache
Many say Liberty Names of America are Scammers


Monday, 08 January 2007 07:25:51 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 01 January 2007

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, it is not surprising that many of the best posts are introspective, looking into where 2006 took us and where 2007 might take us; pay close attention to the world around you and you might just make gobs of money...
Emulating Top Ranking Anomalies
From the Front Lines: Mobile Marketing Predictions for 2007


Monday, 01 January 2007 08:48:50 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 29 December 2006

As the year end draws near, we are often given pause to reflect upon our previous goals and how our performance compared with those goals. In addition to the obvious monetary goals, I particularly enjoy trying to gain insight into market disrupters, and use these giant "what if" scenarios as possible changes that may occur in the next 1, 2, 3+ years down the line.

I believe it was about 18 months ago that I was having lunch with Morgan Moran of Tout Media and David Wachs of Cellit Mobile Marketing, talking about where marketing has been and where it might be going. Morgan and I both had more of a search background, and as such, were lamenting over the absolute gold rush the early search marketers experienced and wondered what medium could possibly experience this type of growth in the future. As a mobile marketing evangelist, David was pounding the importance of embracing mobile marketing as the next gold rush.

This begs the question for which the post is named: is mobile marketing the next search marketing?

Yes. No. Maybe.

Yes in the sense that mobile marketing will definitely be experiencing some steep growth as more and more cell phones are upgraded to using premium SMS services and as the average age of text messaging users enters the late 20s and early 30s (looking at how the average age of search engine users has changed). David could probably expound more about this, so I'll ask him to post about it, but the parallels between search users and texters is certainly there.

No in the sense that search marketing is more nebulous than organic search marketing, as it was originally viewed as; search marketing now includes more traditional advertising type services such as PPC campaign management, and in the foreseeable future will be so well integrated with online ad purchases, reputation and publicity management, and e-mail list type CRM management that I see it as becoming a conglomerative concept…digital marketing. Holding that view, I'd see mobile marketing as a piece of digital marketing, similar to how search marketing would be a piece. Thus, it wouldn't be the same gold rush type new medium, though even in this scenario, it would be a huge piece with a very bright future.

Maybe in the sense that even though we aspire to be technical and business visionaries, it can be difficult to foretell what the marketplace will accept. If the major carriers relax restrictions on acceptable programs, cell phones advance to the point where they can replace standard laptops in information management, and the ad blindness for text vs PPC/e-mail/banner occurs in an inverse relationship, then a perfect storm of the mobile marketing gold rush may surprise even those that are most expecting it.

Where will 2007 take you? Are you going get bigger in the PPC industry? Are you going to explore the deep dark waters of SEO? Are you going to develop unique and innovative mobile marketing campaigns to capture an untapped payday loan market? Regardless of what your future goals are, we hope that we can help you to get there, making 2007 your most profitable year ever.

Happy near year from!


Friday, 29 December 2006 09:17:10 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Tuesday, 26 December 2006

…or, “not everything needs to be in enclosed in <H1> tags.”

We’ve been trying out a few on-page SEO variables on our test sites, and a recent update by Google showed that the overuse of the H1 tag can lead to troubles as far as ranking is concerned. This is a particularly valuable piece of information to know, especially considering how hard so many sites out there seemed to be hit by recent search engine updates. Why is this important? I smell the perfect opportunity for a clever analogy…

If you’re like me, it was difficult to pick just a few words from a paragraph in your college textbook; if you’re even more like me you highlighted entire pages at a time. This sort of defeats the purpose of highlighting altogether, doesn’t it? Header tags work off the same principal – it’s basically useless to make everything on a page an H1 since it dilutes the potency/purpose of that particular tag. H tags are supposed to underscore important points within a body of text, so the frequent/overuse of a tag not only distracts a user, it can be an obvious indication that a webmaster is trying to use H tags to sway search engine favor. Let’s take a look at why:

Rule One: No More than One H1 on a Page / Logical H Tag Order

This is the most valuable lesson of this recent study, as sites that utilized more than one H1 on a page seemed to take the strongest blow. An H1 tag tends to indicate a main topic, and if you think about it you really ought to only have one main topic on a page. You may use H2 and H3 tags to further break out that topic on the page, but keep your H1 tag reserved for the title/main focus of whatever you’re discussing.

It’s also useful to use H tags in a logical order by surrounding the tag with relevant text or related topics.

Rule Two: No Hidden H Tags or Tags in Weird Places

When I play site sleuth I like to see if I can’t visually identify an errant <H> tag before I cheat and view the source of a site; this only highlights the purpose of the exercise, since the purpose of an H tag in HTML is to identify a key point and it should probably be treated as such when displayed on-page. This means no using sneaky white-on-white text, margin-left:-1000px, or other tricky tactics to transform your tags into otherwise unidentifiable text (you can thank spammers for that one).

Rule Three: No Specific Keyword Phrases Only

Using H tags, while handy for SEO benefit, should always be a visual cue for a reader to learn about that tag’s contents. In other words, promoting a cash advance site by having multiple H1/2/3 tags with just “cash advance” or “cash advances” in it is bad news. If a client is on your site chances are they know you’re giving them the opportunity to apply for a cash advance, so an H tag with just the target keywords phrase is useless at best. From a spider’s point of view this is an obvious attempt to use H tags to artificially inflate the visibility of a target phrase, and it would appear that search engines are now discounting sites accordingly (you can thank spammers for that one too).

Putting It All Together

Here’s some example HTML of properly formatted H tags in action:

<h1>We’ve got Cash Advances for Every Occasion!</h1>

Whether you’re looking for a cash advance to cover an unexpected expense, emergency medical bills, or that much needed vacation, we’ve got the cash you need!

<h2>Cash Advances: Perfect for Unexpected Bills</h2>

With the cost of energy on the rise and record-breaking temperature lows, it’s easy to see why bills can be overwhelming. Did you know you can use a cash advance to cover unusually high utility payments without worrying about disconnections or late fees?

<h2>Paying for Emergency Medical Expenses</h2>

Sometimes life’s emergencies come without warning, which is why instant approval cash advances can come in extra handy should the unthinkable occur. Our cash advance products are favored by consumers because …

  • <h3>Cash Advances are Fast</h3>
    Once approved, you’ll receive your funds electronically overnight
  • <h3>Applying Online is Easy</h3>
    Our application only takes a few minutes, and in many cases no faxing will be required

(…and I could go on.)

As you can see, H1 was used to highlight the topic (cash advances for any occasion), followed by the enumeration of that topic with H2 tags (types of occasions), and then finally support for a specific topic (qualities that are attractive for a specific occasion). You might have even noticed that I didn’t use “cash advance” in every tag in order to avoid keyword stuffing; instead I would recommend using words that consumers might use to describe your product or your product’s qualities (in this case, “applying,” “fast,” and “easy” were used since these are common search descriptors). A good rule of thumb would be 75/25, meaning 75% cash advance or related phrases and 25% product descriptors.

Related Topics:

- Blumey

Tuesday, 26 December 2006 14:14:36 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Wednesday, 20 December 2006

I promised a few SEO people that I'd very candidly report my experiences over at the Elite Retreat which took place Dec 18-19 in San Antonio, TX, so below is my foggy recollection of what may have occurred before and after that hazy period of imbibing scotch and spamming the Howl at the Moon message of the minute bar board. While some of the attendees were looking to give their website a tweak or a tune, others definitely benefited from the buzz.

Just to clear things up for those that also attended: Cygnus is a dirty black hat spammer. Sorry, I think Dave Taylor was editing for a bit here. What I meant to say is that a large amount of material was covered, ranging from the pure snow white hat "content without concern" to the existence of some darker stuff, that could lead a site you truly care about to get axed (be safe or don't be sloppy granddad always said).

For someone in my position, the true value of such a get together was not in the actual information "presented"; rather, it was a chance for a guy that tends to keep to himself to get out and meet some interesting people face to face. While I've probably traded comments on various forums with Aaron for several years now, I've only now just met him; the same now goes for Jeremy (and I'm glad I did; they are both very human and approachable for those of you just starting out in this business, hardly any cyborg qualities that I could detect). Having been around for a while in this industry, and having little non-working waking time available, it was nice to get away for a couple days.

So did I benefit from going? Dropping $5k on a conference that could potentially have just been repeating anything I probably already read in the dozens of forums and blogs on my daily radar? Yes…not in the conventional sense, but yes nonetheless. I naturally didn't get a lot out of the more basic material regarding blogging, forums and how to monetize them, standard PPC arbitrage, or even the normal SEO layout issues, but there were various signals I picked up on that occurred mostly in side conversations. You see, whenever a high enough bar is set for an attendee, one can almost be assured to get as much out of fellow attendees and side conversations with the presenters as from the one-on-one with presenters themselves at regular conferences. Though I can't go into details for obvious (going to cost more than $5k to wring it out of me) reasons, I did get some juicy nuggets regarding things I've suspected but couldn't empirically test, a couple tricks that I had long abandoned that now work again, and some information from previously unknown sources that flat out works and I now need to spend about a week trying to figure out how and why.

Anyhow, so that is from someone that's been around the block, who is running a decent-sized operation; for someone newer, the more obvious value is in the presentations and the face-to-face visits. For those of you new people, I'll personally have to track you down if you don't follow up with the one-on-one consulting…take some time to digest everything that happened, but then formulate the most important things you can do and try to do them - when you hit your second or third roadblock, setup the calls.

Cygnus on future Elite Retreat conferences
Please don't expect anyone at any conference to simply spill all their trade secrets (without offering anything in return) or run your business for you; that just won't happen and is a recipe for failure. If you instead go with an idea of what you hope to accomplish in terms of a few key takeaways, and keep your ears open at absolutely all times (to absolutely everyone, no matter how good or bad you think you are), you can do quite well.

I have some ideas on ways that the Elite Retreat could be even better for the next crop of attendees, but I'll keep that off of the public posting for now.


Wednesday, 20 December 2006 16:22:23 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Tuesday, 19 December 2006

What better way to be a true blogger than to blog about blogging? I can’t think of a single one…

(How embarrassing.)

We’ve been hammering home the importance of not using duplicate content on your cash advance site, but up until this point the assumption has been that “duplicate content” comes from copying other websites either verbatim or in chunks; what we haven’t talked about is sites that repost content in more than one location. A blog like ours is the perfect example of this, so the question is: will a site be penalized for owning pages with duplicate content throughout just because a blog tool slices the content differently?

What Might a Cash Advance Blog Look Like

Adam Lasnik of the Google Webmaster Central Blog offers a very thorough overview of what duplicate means to Google in a recent blog post, the gist of it being that Google’s algorithm can tackle the duplicate content and decide which page is the “best version” of the content you’re trying to present. So what does all this mean if you manage a blog for your cash advance clients? Well, let’s take the Payday Loan Affiliate Network Blog as an example – this post will be, at its maximum, located in five separate places:

  1. On the page
  2. On the month listing for December
  3. On the day listing for December 19th
  4. On the category listing page for “content”
  5. At the article’s unique URL (probably the desired “home” of the unique content in most cases)


If that doesn’t scream duplicate content then I don’t know what does. When I got to thinking about this I began to sweat profusely, get the spins, and – I’m not gonna lie – I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit. Sometime between updating my résumé and thinking about the terrible irony of forcing the duplicate content issue on the very same blog that would later be penalized for duplicate content it occurred to me… surely Google has a device to deal with this!

If you have a cash advance blog and it posts similar to the way our does then yes, you do have duplicate content – but that’s not a bad thing necessarily. Google will sort out which page it thinks is the most relevant; an example of this can be seen by running a site command on, which will reveal the unique blog post URLs long before the month, day, and category assortments (they’ll be at the very end of the blog).

You can use cues such as internal/external links as a method to suggest which pages you favor to Google and the other search engines. Additionally, you can use redirects, .htaccess mods and other methods better explained by Jon (hint hint) to hammer the point home because, let’s face it, leaving Google to its own devices can spell SERP disaster.

The point? So long as you’re presenting relevant blog posts about topics of interest to cash advance consumers and you’re doing it in a manner that will help a search engine determine which is the most relevant then you are all set. Sweating, spins, and throwing up is all unnecessary – unless you’re Blumey, of course.

- Blumey

Tuesday, 19 December 2006 13:26:05 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 18 December 2006

There were several excellent posts last week on closed-network communities like Webmasterworld regarding a possible OOP or Over-optimization penalty assessed on Dec 7th; if you lost an affiliate site recently to Google's ever-changing index, that might be why.

For this week though, I'm going to briefly cover the importance of education; I'm writing this post from the back row of the Elite Retreat conference.

No matter how good you think you are at affiliate marketing, search optimization, branding, etc...there's always a little more that you could know. Even if you find out how people are doing the wrong things, you'll have still learned something valuable. Everyone has a lesson to share, if you listen closely enough.

How are some ways you could continue on with your education? Read as many affiliate marketing blogs, forums, and newsletters that you can. Most will eventually contradict each other, in some form or fashion, and no one source should probably be taken as gospel. Instead, it is vital to gain multiple persepctives on what you believe will and will not work, and then put those perspectives to test.

Until next week!


Monday, 18 December 2006 07:49:33 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 11 December 2006

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we found a lot of buzz associated with Adwords (and much of it is negative)...

Google Phone Spamming With Auto Dialers
Google Undermining Paypal in Their War on Affiliates
Google TrustRank drops another point
How Google Could Commoditize (Nearly) Everything


Monday, 11 December 2006 09:56:36 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 08 December 2006

We've touched upon keyword research in the past for payday loans, but we wanted to give a couple examples of processes that have worked in the past. The problem, dear reader, is that trying to rank for "payday loan" is really tough, especially over a long period of time. However, ranking for "Indianapolis Payday Loan" isn't quite as difficult - the more niche the phrase is, the easier it gets to rank for. Additionally, if your content is tailored to that specific phrase, the conversions on your traffic are likely to benefit as well.

One of the golden oldies I like to use for quickie research is a script developed by Shawn at Digitalpoint. Plugging in our "payday loan" phrase, we're given a host of other phrases that could be relevant in our payday loan keyword research. The results shown are both from Wordtracker and Overture, but since Overture can be odd in the way it displays data sometimes, coupled with a nasty habit of combining singular and plural usage of keywords together, we'll just use

payday loans
payday loan
instant payday loan
no fax payday loans
no fax payday loan
advance cash loan payday quick
online payday loan service
faxless payday loans
payday loans online
bad credit payday loan
payday cash loan
savings account payday loan
cash advance payday loan
no teletrack payday loans

That smattering of phrases looks promising, but is there anything else we could do? If only there was something that could tell us similar phrases…something, like a thesaurus!

It is surprising how many SEOs don't consult the thesaurus when it comes to keyword research; more commissions for you I hope!

Since we're lazy around here, I typed in "loan" to my handy tool and was given a few results that might work. "Advance" sounds promising - substituting that word in the Digitalpoint tool I'm given a slightly different result set of lovely payday loan related phrases (this time selecting the Overture data):
payday advance
cash advance payday loan
payday advance loan
payday cash advance
advance cash loan online payday
online payday advance
fast cash advance payday loan
no fax payday advance
advance cash loan payday quick
fast payday advance
payday loan cash advance loan
quick payday advance loan
advance til payday
faxless payday advance
cash advance until payday
fast cash payday advance
no faxing payday advance
1000 advance payday loan
cash advance loan payday internet
no fax payday cash advance
check advance payday loan
no fax payday advance loan
cheap payday advance
advance till payday
advance loan online payday
payday advance service
1000 payday advance
cash advance payday loan software
payday advance california
online payday cash advance
instant cash online payday advance
payday advance loan texas
payday advance services
payday advance cash faxless loan
payday cash advance texas
payday advance loan new mexico
get payday cash advance
payday advance illinois
payday in advance
advance loan military payday
payday advance loan washington
payday cash advance new york
payday advance utah
payday advance michigan
payday cash advance today
payday cash advance washington
faxless advance payday loan
advance cash from loan online payday quick toda
payday check advance
payday cash advance personal loan

Now, if you were to build a site around "payday cash advance today" and followed the other marketing advice given on this blog, the chances of your ranking aren't too shabby.

Good luck!


Friday, 08 December 2006 14:27:13 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 04 December 2006

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, it looks like this was a good week for technical and philosophical approaches, whether they be how to redirect traffic via JavaScript or how to design niche sites...

How Google AdWords Ads Manipulate Google's Organic Search Results
Designing and Marketing Quality Niche Content Websites
SEO Advice
Is PPC Arbitrage Dead?


Monday, 04 December 2006 14:47:21 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Tuesday, 28 November 2006

If search engine optimization is one of the ways you attract traffic to your site, you might want to consider capitalizing on the wonders of niche phrases above and beyond the usual payday loan / cash advance arena. I’ve covered the adjectives that can be used to describe our payday loan product features in the content section of this blog, but what about non-traditional descriptors such as typos? Is this type of search even lucrative? How do you even figure out common misspellings of a phrase?

Case Study: Payday Loans versus Payday Laons

Speaking in terms of SEO, everyone and their mother is targeting the keyword phrase “payday loan” since that’s the most common descriptor for the type of product we’re selling. The problem is, you’re going up against every other person out there who ever thought about using SEO to rank for this phrase, and you can’t really hope to get to the top of the SERPs where the best traffic sits. Rather than dumping a whole bunch of time going after the phrases everyone else is targeting, you may wish to consider the phrases that are less popular – phrases that are misspelled.

Give a look at Digital Point’s keyword suggestion tool and type in “payday loan” – you’ll see a whopping 25,000+ number of times that this particular phrase is searched for in a day. Now try the phrase “payday laons” (the a and the o are transposed) and you’ll see the a meager 8+ searches a day. Since most people are going after the big phrase it would be reasonable to assume that you’d get very little (if any) of the traffic; in the case of a typo, the competition is significantly lessened and your chances improve. If you capture even 25% of the traffic from being in the top ten for a misspelled phrase (in this case you would have gotten 2 loans totaling $40 to you) then you’ve already beaten your chances of getting applications from the regular spelling of the phrase. Neat, huh?

How Do I Find Out Other Misspellings?

I don’t really have any favorite tools for this type of SEO, but when I give advice for finding common typos I do suggest a Google search for “typo traffic generator” as a starting point. Let’s take’s generator for an example; the phrase “cash advance” yields these results:

  • acsh advance
  • ash advance
  • caah advance
  • caash advance
  • cadh advance

…and these are just the first five. I count a total of 89 possible typos for this phrase alone, and you could go on and on with niche phrases such as “fast cash advance” (126 results), “instant cash advance” (149 results) or “emergency cash advance” (166 results). If you got one cash advance per week per permutation for one of these phrases, you would have banked $7,120 in one month’s time. Not too shabby if you ask me!

Driving Traffic Using (You Guessed It) Content

Now let’s take this idea and apply it to previous themes such as unique content generation. I’ve covered the reasons why it’s important to make use of unique cash advance content in a previous blog posting, but it’s important to take this new misspelled keyword idea and apply it to the same schema. Unique content is the stuff that makes search engines say “this site is important to people looking for (keyword phrase here)” and will subsequently cause them to rank you for your keyword phrase of choice. One of the methods you could use to hit a misspelling such as “acsh advance” home would be to write an article titled "acsh-advance.htm" using the phrase “acsh advance” throughout the page. Lather, rinse and repeat for the rest of your misspelled keyword phrases and bam – instant niche phrase targeting for relatively less competitive keywords. All you need to do is point some on-topic links to each of these pages to get them indexed (I’d recommend Digital Point's co-op ad network) and you’re good to go.

Othr Helpflu Tpis for Mispeled Contnt

  • Keep an eye on your web traffic and make sure you have a stats solution that will tell you how clients are arriving at your sites as well as which phrases they used to get there. If it turns out that you get more traffic for misspellings of one niche phrase over another, divert your efforts to variations of the more lucrative niche phrase.
  • Grow your site organically – add a new misspelled phrase once a day or week and interlink these articles to ensure maximum exposure.
  • Misspell the links pointed to your pages to give your misspelling strategy that much more weight within the SERPs.

- Blumey

Tuesday, 28 November 2006 10:26:48 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 27 November 2006

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we encounter a Thanksgiving week mixed bag of news and thought provoking questions...

Google Responds…Finally
Google UI Testing on Blog Search
The Most Common SEO Mistakes Big Brands Commit
Yahoo! Mining Flickr Data to Sell Me a New Camera
The Competitive Web and Affiliate Marketing - doomed?


Monday, 27 November 2006 13:43:24 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 20 November 2006

In this week's round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forum threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans, we encounter some corporate shuffling, politics, and a few SEO ideas...

Yahoo internal memo : Fire 20% of workforce
Internet Gambling Ban Being Eyeballed
The big three search engines announce joint sitemaps support
Reciprocal Link Exchanges - Are they Useless?
A quick and dirty proxy that (nearly) anyone can do


Monday, 20 November 2006 11:08:25 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 13 November 2006

In an effort to continually expand our affiliates' knowledge on everything marketing related, we thought it'd be a good idea to provide a weekly round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forums threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans. Adsense / Adwords quality score changes dominate this week's posts…

Fumflockerkin - Breaking Open the Google Black Box
Adwords Quality Update II = Price Gouging Round II
New Adwords Quality Score Bot Aims To Nuke Arbitragers
New Research in Form Creation
Recycling Successful Rankings


Monday, 13 November 2006 11:06:54 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Monday, 06 November 2006

In an effort to continually expand our affiliates' knowledge on everything marketing related, we thought it'd be a good idea to provide a weekly round-up of what we felt were the best blog posts / forums threads on SEO, affiliate marketing, and anything else that might be relevant for marketing payday loans.

Interview of Caveman: aka Scott Smith
Mini-tutorial: How to Understand Google's "Refine Results" and Stop Losing Traffic
The Secret Army of Digg Trolls
Green SEO - The only color worth doing
Duplicate Content - Revisited
Elite Retreat December 18-19 San Antonio  - I'll be there
Lycos Partners With Ask, Clickbots Rejoice

Good luck entering the cash advance busy season!


Monday, 06 November 2006 14:21:15 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Friday, 27 October 2006

It begins so innocuously, rising on a sunny Monday morning, coffee in hand, logging into the top-notch Paydayloanaffiliate reporting interface to see how much money you've…oh no! What happened?!

Shaking with fear, you immediately pull up your domain's logs to see that traffic disappeared over the weekend, a fear every webmaster knows all too well, the fear of being banned by a search engine.

Before your coffee comes back up the esophagus, let's sit down and look at the three major players on how to check to see what happened and learn what you can do about it. For simplicity, we'll use as the sample domain.

1. In the Google search bar type in "" without the quotes. At the time of writing this, I see 61 results. If I were to go from 61 to 0 results found, I'd be suspicious of something being wrong. Carrying on the example, let's say that the site has disappeared; now what?
2. For any site that has been truly banned in Google, a reinclusion request is necessary. The purpose of the request is to let Google know that you've fixed whatever TOS infraction the domain may have caused, and that it won't happen. In order to do all that, you'll need to verify to Google that you are the owner of the site by going here: and then filling out the reinclusion request. 

1. In the Yahoo search bar type in "" without the quotes. This time, the offending result is to show just 1 page. Granted, one page sites will make it tricky, so there is something else you can check. Copy a piece of unique content from the domain, usually a very descriptive title tag. One from our domain might be "Payday Loan Blog - Payday Loan Affiliate Blog" - search for this phrase in Yahoo. If it is the last result returned, then it is possible that the site may have been penalized.
2. Send some extremely polite e-mails explaining what you believe happened to or fill out a form saying the same thing at -- really though, I've done both just to be sure.

1. In the MSN search bar type in "" without the quotes. Like Google, a banned domain will not return any results. Fortunately though, MSN is probably the quickest in responding to banned domain inquiries.
2. Send an e-mail (please be polite) to with the subject "re-inclusion request", explaining the matter in as much detail as you can provide.

It is our hope at PaydayLoanAffiliate that you never have to use this article; if you do though, we hope that you find the information useful in getting back into the search engines.


Friday, 27 October 2006 09:53:01 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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 Wednesday, 06 September 2006

Much has been written about search engine marketing, covering everything from intensive mathematical studies by Dr. Garcia to fairly simplistic link-building techniques. So how do you move forward, marketing payday loans?

Over the past several years, our search-based payday loan affiliates have had the most success by doing the following:

1. Write a few unique articles and sales letters that are unique to the industry, peppering in synonyms in place of ‘payday loan’, such as ‘cash advance’, ‘payday advance’, etc.

2. Placing a well-designed banner or some call-to-action “apply now” type links on the copy to assist the potential customer in finding the loan that is right for him/her.

3. Get some quality, on-theme links. Getting links is a forum/blog all on its own, but the general idea here boils down to the question “would you actually get traffic from that link to your page?” I ask this question instead of the relevancy question because the chances are, if you can get traffic from the link, in addition to the purpose of potentially improving your rank, then chances are the link is relevant and will help you in your search marketing goals.

Really, that’s it. Write some content and get some links. Granted, it may seem oversimplified, and there are multiple ways about which you can do both of those tasks, so for the purposes of this post, here are some of the resources I read to keep up-to-date on organic search:

Lee Odden's List


IR Thoughts

SEO Book





Need to find something to write about? Here's some inspiration:




Wednesday, 06 September 2006 10:10:06 (US Mountain Standard Time, UTC-07:00)  #     
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